New to reloading

December 14, 2009, 10:50 PM
Hello there looks to be a large box under the tree and I think santa is bringing me a new 550b reloading press. So I have built my reloading bench bought a scale, bullet pullers the cool little primer flip trays, a vibratory case cleaner. I am almost done with Mr Lees book. As the day draws near for me to open my big box under the tree I am finding more questions than answers, What powder to use lead verses plated bullets, the post on high lead levels worries me. How do you figure out what powder charge to use on bullets not listed in all the mauals. Which book do you use when there is a discrepency in powder charge, with what looks to be identical material. Wow that is alot of questions. As for what I am looking to do here I recently picked up a Smith and Wesson M&P in the 40 Cal, I have been through the missouri conceled and carry class, I would like to take atleast one more handgun class maybe tactical one. I have been shooting atleast once a week weather permitting, bare min of 100 round usually 200, of the winchster 100 round target boxes. I am looking for a hobbie, I wanna shoot cheaper and maybe pick up a 9mm when the right one pops up. I wanna be safe and be able to have good reliable practice ammo at the ready when my buddies wanna go shoot.

I am not interested in pushing the limits of my gun or my amunition, don't wanna even get close to that. So in short haha what is a good load set up for 40 cal that will give me the best groups for the cheapest bang for my buck!! Thanks in advance sorry for the long post.

If you enjoyed reading about "New to reloading" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
December 14, 2009, 11:01 PM
Good questions. Spend an afternoon or evening reading posts on this board - you'll learn a ton. And, you'll find a lot of your questions have been asked and answered. While most folks here don't mind repeating the info, do some reading on your own. The search button is your friend, and so is a google search (for example: lead bullets Don't forget the stickies!!!

Lee's book is a good place to start. Lyman's Pistol and Revolver Reloading manual is another good one I recommend to new reloaders.

Your manuals will give you guidance on powders to use with various bullet weights of both jacketed and lead. You'll get lots of recommendations on bullet and powder combinations (I don't shoot .40, so I can't help you on that one). In the end, you pick a combination from your manuals or suggestions given here and try it - safely - following the protocols of reloading.

Good luck. Keep reading & asking questions.


December 14, 2009, 11:40 PM
Wow, that is a lot of questions!

First, welcome to THR and especially to reloading. Also Merry Christmas. And not necessarily in that order.

Some thoughts:
• Assuming that your 550 was ordered set up for 40, you'll still need a set of reloading dies for "40 S&W". Dillon does not included dies with the machine. Any standard die set will work in your 550. Lee, Hornady, Dillon, Lyman, RCBS all make great die sets.

• One required tool is still missing: a set of calipers. I suggest the type with the electronic digital readout window. These are called "digital calipers". Having the numbers displayed prevents a lot of measurement errors and they cost no more than any other caliper.

• You're going to want to hunt up some "Small Pistol Primers" from your local gun store, BassPro, or gun show. Call before you go because these have been scarce lately and a lot of shops have been completely out. Brand seems to be inconsequential.

• A new loader is going to find loading and shooting plated bullets to be easier than dealing with lead bullets. And there will be no lead vapors to worry about. Lead bullets are cheaper. Lead is fun. But IMHO save lead until you've got your process down.

• The powder used is based on the bullet weight. For target practice a middle-of-the-road 180gr bullet is going to do just fine. These may be available in several nose shapes. Get 100 of each and have fun experimenting until you find one that feeds well in your gun AND hits the target. You might look at the Berry Manufacturing web site for starters.

• An excellent powder for 180gr which is easy to locate and easy to find load data for goes by 2 names: Hodgdon HP-38 or Winchester 231. It's one of the standard handgun powders. It measures well in Dillon equipment and shoots really well. There are tens of powders which do well in this caliber, but you want something really common to get started. It won't go to waste and you can use it in 9mm too.

• As far as powder loads: you ALWAYS start with the lowest load and work up. If only one load is given, then the minimum is assumed to be 10% less than that shown. NEVER exceed the maximum load shown. Hodgdon data shows the 180gr sitting on top of 5.0gr of HP-38. Therefore your starting load for HP-38 is 5.0 minus 0.5, or 4.5gr. Increase by 0.1gr until you're happy, which will probably be around 4.6 or 4.7gr. Every time you change the bullet or the powder you start over at the minimum load again for that combination.

• So how do you remember all this? You don't. Never trust your memory; write it all down in a notebook. You buy a notebook just for your reloading data and you write down OALs, powder brands, powder weights, and bullet types. And when you shoot you write down even more notes.

• Always compare loads you read about on the internet to published information. You may wish to buy a Lyman Reloading Manual, visit the Hodgdon web site, pick up the free powder pamphlets at the gun stores, or "D. All of the Above". You can't have too much published information. Never pass up the opportunity to collect free published data.

There's a lot more, but this will get you started.

December 15, 2009, 01:52 AM
Hey Wirenut,

Welcome to THR!

You do know this place and this hobby are addictive, right?

You've already been given good advice so I'll just add this -

Have you given any thought to the possibility that the big box under the tree is a weight set? or a new microwave?

Merry Christmas!



December 15, 2009, 02:06 AM
Welcome to the forum and to reloading...

Don't worry too much about lead. Lead gets into your system when ingested. As long as you don't eat, drink or smoke while reloading and wash your hands well after reloading, you will be fine.

December 15, 2009, 06:50 AM
Welcome Wire! As usual, RFWobbly was nuts on with his advice, except for one thing:
Never trust your memory; write it all down in a notebook.
It's much better to use an iPhone. ;)
When it comes to lead, a little common sense goes a long way. When you do first shoot lead, you'll see LOTS more smoke than FMJ or plated - don't panic - it's mostly the lube, not vaporized lead. Also, by shooting lead you get to make great jokes about "throwing up a smoke screen as I shoot n' scoot" or "it looks better on the video replay".

December 15, 2009, 07:44 AM
Get someone to show you how to do it....That's when it really clicked for me. Reloading can be very dangerous you need to double and triple check to make sure all the settings are correct......and that you're doing the steps properly.

But once you learn how to do it, you will take pride in the ammo you are shooting!

December 15, 2009, 10:32 AM
Before you start a digital or beam scale is a must. As you get going, you will find use for a case tumbler and media, perhaps some plastic storage containers, a small needle nose oiler (for the press), a sack to take to the range to gather up the empty brass, tweezers,....stuff like that.

For me the lead vs plated debate was settled by my local indoor range. They prohibit lead reloads.
December 15, 2009, 09:15 PM
Haha Seedtick humm cause I kinda picked it out bought it came home and watched the wife wrap it. I have a Dillion beam scale and plan on picking up a pair of calipers. Thanks Rfwobbly, around the 175 or so range is what I was planning on using, the main thing that worried me is the different styles and composition of bullets, so if I use say 180 rn but a manual lists rnfp's is it safe to use there charge loads listed for that grain bullet. Addictive haha hum new scale, press, bullet puller, vibratory cleaner, primer flip tray, 40 cal dies, the plastic brass sorter from dillion, the 40 cal length checker, a , very well constructed I might add, reloading bench with a fresh coat of stain on it industrial power strip, peg board to hold various items couple shelfs, and my wife asking me how many times are you going to clean that gun. Naw I don't think addictive covers it!!!! Thanks agian for all the info will check on those powders here at 417 guns where I bought my press. I like to use local merchants then I don't feel bad picking there brains!!

December 15, 2009, 10:33 PM
Never trust your memory; write it all down in a notebook. Good advise even for the young bucks who still have some memory left. ;)

I keep all my data in an Excel log I made. I back it up in two places and print out hard copies to put in 3 ring binders.

Sounds like you will be busy making ammo the day after Christmas. :)

December 15, 2009, 11:41 PM
Thanks Rfwobbly, around the 175 or so range is what I was planning on using, the main thing that worried me is the different styles and composition of bullets, so if I use say 180 rn but a manual lists rnfp's is it safe to use there charge loads listed for that grain bullet.

• The powder used is based on the bullet weight.

Here's an extreme case: Let's say your reloading manual has a safe load for a 180gr Jacketed Round Nose, but all you can find locally is 180gr Jacketed Hollow Point bullets. You know that dangerously high chamber pressures are what you're trying to avoid. You know that chamber pressure is caused by 1) the amount of powder 2) burning in a set volume, 3) all trying to force a 180gr bullet down a tube.

Here's my thought process...
• A jacketed RN is just as hard to force down the barrel as a jacketed FP, so there's no change there. (We're close.)

• Both bullets weigh the same, so start with the minimum load data shown for the 180gr RN. (We're very close.)

• Since a Hollow Point of the same weight MUST be physically longer to make up for the hollow interior, if seated to the same OAL (tip-to-tip length) the base of the HP bullet will be deeper into the case. A bullet seated deeper into the case is reducing case volume and thereby raising chamber pressure an unknown amount. So to stay safe, length must be added to the OAL (say ~.025") OR the powder must be slightly reduced (say ~0.2gr).

It's not always physically possible to add length to the OAL. Will a "test cartridge" (no powder; no primer) at the longer OAL drop into the naked chamber? Are other rounds listed in the book at a longer OAL? Did we exceed the SAAMI maximum cartridge length?

Reduction of powder is probably the easier way to go. Load 5 rounds at 0.2gr under minimum. Load 5 rounds at 0.1gr under minimum. Load 5 rounds at minimum. Etc... Shoot them in that order and see. The slide probably won't even cycle below the minimum published load for the RN, which means all our fears were unfounded. However, all of our actions were sound safety practices so none of our time was wasted.

OR, you can shortcut the whole mess by having a reloading library and simply thumbing through several reloading manuals until you find a published load for your exact bullet!! This is just one reason to pick up every piece of free literature printed by the powder companies, buy additional reloading manuals, and make sure you have load data before you buy bullets.

It pays to have reloading books, reloading buddies, and keep good a notebook.

December 16, 2009, 12:45 AM
rfwobbly, that is one heck of a useful post.

I might add that another reason to go the route you suggest is that both bullets might be from different manufacturers, which increases the possibility the jacketing varies in hardness, and that bullet diameter might also vary a tiny bit too. Both factors can affect the resistance to being pushed down the barrel.

December 16, 2009, 01:29 AM
hay wirenut.... what model did you get, 40 or 40c? let me know how it works out for you. i just bought my M&P 40c Thursday, haven't had it to the range yet but ordered my die set already. and i already have a lb of bullseye i use for my 38/357 but never tried to reload an auto. only my revolver... i am kinda worried about jamming or fail to feed.... i will be looking for your successes in the new addiction...

thanks in advance
December 16, 2009, 07:02 PM
Got the M&P 40, I love it so far, managed to be the only one out of 12 people in our conceled and carry class to hold all my rounds in the ten ring, there where a couple deputies there that had to look over my gun when we where finished they liked the changable grip. Just so you know you qualify here in MO at 21 feet haha, so my amazing shooting kinda goes away!!:banghead: But I was happy it was cold as fuzzz out that day and a 20 mile an hour wind. I will get back into the shop where I plan on purchasing my stuff from and see what he sells and can get on demand.

December 16, 2009, 08:52 PM
Bullets of the same type and weight class are mostly interchangeable. There are of course slight differences that will change pressures somewhat, but there are many other variables when loading as well. Fast barrel, slow barrel, big cylinder gap, small cylinder gap. Tight barrel loose barrel. Different lot of powder, heavy brass, light brass. Many more variables than just a different bullet of the same weight.

rfwobbly made an excellent point about how deep in the case the bullet is. I record the length, as well as the diameter, of all the bullets I load. That way I can take my O.A.L. and my bullet lengths and tell if one bullet is deeper in the case than another. Just because you have a shorter O.A.L. with a one bullet doesn't mean it is deeper in the case than another with a longer O.A.L. You have to know the lengths of the two bullets as well as the O.A.L.'s of the loaded round and do the math.

Just something to gnaw on. :)

December 16, 2009, 09:48 PM
rfwobbly, I'm a new reloader (handguns about 6 months). I read lots here and find most of the time now, I just read to re-affirm what I've already learned, but your last post has given me a new prospective of the cartrige. I am very careful about COAL but never thought about case volume. So far I have only loaded flat points and only to mid range. I'm a careful guy and will keep loading mid range 'till I'm confident about moving up. So, you have re-affirmed for me that my decision to stay at mid range for now is good. walkalong, I'm gonna start measuring bullets. I learned something here tonight thank you both. Rick
December 17, 2009, 08:00 PM
Like I said I have the Smith and Wesson M&P 40 cal how do I figure out if the pistol provides complete support of the case head? In my Speer reloading book is gives a warning about this.

December 24, 2009, 03:12 AM
must be a tough question...

December 24, 2009, 12:09 PM
Not tough, just no pat answer since their are several variables to take into consideration. :)

If you enjoyed reading about "New to reloading" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!