Sanity check starting from scratch


March 4, 2010, 12:15 PM
This is just another new guy post asking for first purchase advice but this is really adding up so I thought I'd ask for a sanity check.
I've already dropped 9mm and 45Colt from my original plan but buying the tools, the tooling and the components from scratch to load.308, .223, .357Sig and 410 is stunning.

I see most purchase advice posts asking about the big ticket items but the components and cost per caliber not so much. I don't like to make the mistake of eventually wanting to trade up and would rather try to get setup well in the first place and grow into what I have. But maybe I need someone to talk me back from the ledge?

I've tried to do my homework (THR has been great) and think I'm using good sources. Cabela's is my first source only because I decided to cash out of an award program at work using Cabela gift cards. I choose Grafs & Sons for their shipping policies and filled in the rest with Midway.

The list's structure is based on the sticky "Read this first for the new reloader". Does it look like I missed anything?

1. Reloading press:
Hornady Lock-N-Load Auto Progressive | Cabelas | $439.99
MEC® 77 Sizemaster Reloader | Cabelas | $236.99
Hornady Lock-n-Load Classic™ | Cabelas | $139.99

2. Dies for the caliber(s) of your choice:
Hornady Rifle Two-Die Sets | .223\5.56 | Cabelas | $32.99
Hornady Shell Plate #16 | .223\5.56 | Cabelas | $29.99
Hornady Shell Holder #16 | .223\5.56 | Cabelas | $4.99
Hornady Rifle Two-Die Sets | .308\7.62 | Cabelas | $32.99
Hornady Shell Plate #1 | .308\7.62 | Cabelas | $29.99
Hornady Shell Holder #1 | .308\7.62 | Cabelas | $4.99
Hornady Pistol Three-Die Sets | .357 SIG | Cabelas | $64.99
Hornady Shell Plate #10 | .357 SIG | Cabelas | $29.99
Hornady Shell Holder #10 | .357 SIG | Midway | $4.49

3. Powder measure: Planning to use the one on the LNL AP.

4. Powder scale: I plan on having a little UPS plugged in for this electronic scale.
DILLON SCALE D-TERMINATOR Scale | Grafs | $139.99

5. Calipers:
Frankford Arsenal Electronic Caliper 6" Stainless Steel | Midway | $12.99

6. Reloading manual(s): Have Lyman 49th and Lyman Shotshell 5th. And Will be looking for deals on other recommended ones.

7. Snap lid plastic storage containers: Plan to buy as needed or use what I have.

8. Akro plastic bins: (I read this to be boxes and trays for cartridges as well as the bins)
223 REM 100 ROUND AMMO BOX SMOKE(005) (2ea) | .223\5.56 | BrassWorld | $7.96
MTM 100-Round Large Rifle Cartridge Box (2ea) | .308\7.62 | Cabelas | $23.98
357 SIG 50 ROUND AMMO BOX SMOKE(408) (5 ea) | .357 SIG | BrassWorld | $14.95
Frankford Arsenal Perfect Fit Reloading Tray #2 | .223\5.56 | Midway | $5.99
Frankford Arsenal Perfect Fit Reloading Tray #5 | .308\7.62 | Midway | $5.99
Frankford Arsenal Perfect Fit Reloading Tray #4S | .357 SIG | Midway | $5.99

9. Adjustable wrenches: Have plenty

10. Bullet pullers:
Hornady Cam-Lock Bullet Puller | Midway | $19.99

11. Brass trimmer: I get cramps just filling out paperwork and I have lots of old brass so..
Hornady Lock-N-Load Case Prep Center | Midway | $339.99

12. Cartridge gauge: I'm trying to understand the advantage over the calipers and am not seeing one for .357 SIG .

13. Case lube: The Hornady Dies are not supposed to need lube but will be getting Hornady One Shot to clean powder measure so will have some.

14. Brass:
LAKE CITY BRASS 223 REM UNPRIMED BULK- Per 500 | .223\5.56 | Grafs | $113.95
Remington Brass 308 Winchester - Per 100 | .308\7.62 | Grafs | $41.58
Pistol Brass once fired Spear- Per 500 | .357 SIG | BrassWorld | $25.00
MagTech Shotshell Brass Per 100 | 410 Ga | Cabelas | $91.96
BPI Shotshell Hulls 410 2-1/2" Primed Skived Bag of 100 | 410 Ga | Midway | $17.99

XX. Primers: (I think this needs to be added to sticky)
MagTech® Primers Small Rifle | .223\5.56 | Cabelas | $31.99
MagTech® Primers Large Rifle | .308\7.62 | Cabelas | $31.99
MagTech® Primers Small Pistol | .357 SIG | Cabelas | $31.99
CCI Shotgun Primers #209 | 410 Ga | Grafs | $31.99
CCI Large Pistol Primers #300 Box of 1000 | 410 Brass | No source has stock

15. Powder:
ACCURATE POWDER 1LB 4100 2/CS (3 ea) | 410 Ga | Grafs | $53.97
ACCURATE POWDER 1LB #9 2/CS (3 ea) | Pistol | Grafs | $55.17
ACCURATE POWDER 1LB 2460 2/CS (3 ea) | Rifle | Grafs | $56.97

16. Bullets:
FED BULLET 22c 55gr FMJBT (.224) BULK - Per 500 | .223\5.56 | Grafs | $42.70
Hornady .22-Caliber.224 55 Gr. SP W/C Free 400 | .223\5.56 | Hornady | $0.00
HRN 30c(.308) 150gr FMJBT BULLET BoatTail PER 100 | .308\7.62 | Grafs | $20.59
Hornady .30-Caliber, .308" 150 Gr. SP Free 400 | .308\7.62 | Hornady | $0.00
Hornady .355 147 Gr. HP-XTP-BT Pistol Bullets Per 100 | .357 SIG | Cabelas | $17.99
Hornady .355 115 Gr. FMJ - Pistol Bullets Per 500 | .357 SIG | Grafs | $68.35
Ballistic Products Nickel-Plated Lead Shot #5 | 410 Ga | Cabelas | $54.99
Hornady Lead Buck Shot #00 | 410 Ga | Cabelas | $24.99
Hollow Punches for card cutting | 410 Brass | Harbor F | $6.99
Remington Wads - Per 500 SP410 | 410 Ga | Cabelas | $15.99

17. Safety glasses: Have plenty

18. You will need to clean the brass:
Ultrasonic Cleaner | Harbor F | $47.00

A nice, stable reloading bench: I will be asking more about this as I build it in the next few weeks.

Also plan to get:
Frankford Arsenal Powder Funnel kit | Midway | $18.99
Hornady Primer Turning Tray | Midway | $4.79

Anything I should just plain skip or I could save on by getting something else or somewhere else?

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March 4, 2010, 12:30 PM
13. Case lube: The Hornady Dies are not supposed to need lube but will be getting Hornady One Shot to clean powder measure so will have some.All of the bottleneck calibers you listed will require case lube for sizing.

Only straight-wall handgun calibers using carbide or whatever it is Hornady calls the stuff they use do not have to be lubed.
If you don't lube rifle cases, the first one you run in the sizing die will be firmly stuck with the rim torn off.
Trust me!

It appears to me from your list you will be quickly overwhelmed with "stuff" and owners manuals for all of it.
And you really have no idea what you will use and what you won't.

I'd suggest you start out with the Hornady Lock-n-Load Classic™ kit and dies for one or two calibers at most.

Then add on as you gain a little experience.


March 4, 2010, 12:40 PM
Wow. I spent little over $300 on everything to load 3 calibers. I agree with RC... get a kit, and get started. I did... and every couple of weeks I find some little doo dad I need but not much, those kits are pretty good.

Jesse Heywood
March 4, 2010, 12:50 PM
I have to agree with rc on starting with just one caliber. After you master one, then move to the others. What you learn with the first will help on decisions on buying for the others.

Also, go ahead and purchase some books, giving yourself some study time before buying the equipment. ABCs of Reloading and Lee's Reloading Manual are places to start. You can't have too many reference sources or too much knowledge.

March 4, 2010, 01:04 PM
If you're starting from scratch and have no dies yet, unless you really planning on shooting rifle ammo by the thousands, consider a Dillon SDB for batches of common pistol rounds (didn't you mention 9mm?), and a single-stage press for rifles rounds and everything else. Use the single-stage until you know what you are doing, otherwise if something goes wrong on the progressive you might miss it because so much is going on at once.

I have a Hornady LnL-AP progressive press. I like it. I probably still use my single-stage presses more.

March 4, 2010, 01:28 PM
MagTech Shotshell Brass Per 100FYI: You can't load brass shotshells on a MEC press designed for plastic hulls.

Loading brass shotshells is a whole nother deal.

You need a hammer impact bullet puller.
The Cam-Lock puller will not work on most handgun ammo because all of the bullet it needs to get a grip is inside the case.


March 4, 2010, 02:22 PM
Thanks everyone, this board is great. Writing this reply I kept refreshing and having to add to it.

I should have explained my fortunate circumstance that I have the chance to go "all in" since I got out of the company award program before they canceled it and if I don't use it up on reloading I’m sure my wife will be more than happy to go shopping at Cabella’s instead.

Thanks, admittedly I lack any practical experience but I am trying to get some idea what I will use and what I won't. The kit was originally on my list but has been out of stock and I didn’t think if I got the progressive I would want the separate powder thrower. The Dillon scale was a better option in the long run I thought. But I take your point on gaining experience before jumping in on with multiple calibers. Out of calibers listed is there a better one to start with?
I may still buy the Dies just to keep my wife from getting new boots but I think I will hold off on the components for at least 2. And will get both the one shot lube and probably Imperial lube.
Am adding an impact puller.

Thanks, what year was that? I’m failing the sanity check by going overboard but I don’t see 100.00 per caliber to really get started today.

Jesse Heywood:
Thanks, my 2 Lyman’s have post-its sticking out all over and are beginning to look like they are getting some use coffee stains and all. I did want to see which books have more loads for .357Sig and 410 than Lyman’s before buying another. So I plan on browsing books at this month’s gun show.

Thanks, I let my range membership lapse awhile ago but have 3 to choose from close by so hopefully hundreds if not thousands of rifle. Would you suggest starting with .357Sig and holding off on .308 and .223? Cabela’s doesn’t carry Dillon so I didn’t torture myself even though my friend who will hopefully be helping me out agrees with you.

Thanks, yep looks like the consensus is that it was a good thing I did a sanity check.

Again thanks, The MEC got on and off the list more than any other item (along with the plastic hulls) .
I should have left the 410 brass off the list even if I do buy it to put it on the shelf I don’t have the right powder or primers either. I do have several of the online how to load brass shotshells printed out but am hoping to find someone local to talk to first.
Am adding the impact puller.

March 4, 2010, 02:36 PM
Here is something that you can buy but hopefully you will never use. But it's real nice to have when you need it. It's a "stuck case remover". It's for that day you forget to put a little lube on a case. They're about $16 and well worth it if you ever need it. I think I had mine for roughly 30 years before it ever came out of the drawer. lol

March 4, 2010, 02:38 PM

Welcome to the world of reloading. I'd start with whatever caliber is going to save you the most money, and be sure to give this a little thought. Before I started reloading, I shot mostly 9mm, but it turned out that 9mm is almost the last thing that I want to shoot given a choice.

A good single stage is slow at best, but it's almost fool proof and WILL crank out ammo none the less. I also think that single stage is the best way to go for loading rifle rounds. I do handgun on a progressive and rifle on a single stage.

I'd take a hard look at the Hornady LNL Classic kit for around $300, I believe. It has everything that is necessary to start reloading. As time goes by, you'll find other stuff that you need, but you can get that as you go.

Getting a single stage won't be any sort of waste. If you really get into reloading, it's more than likely that you'll have at least some use for it after you upgrade. Like I said, I still do rifle on a single.

March 4, 2010, 02:53 PM
I hope you don't take this the wrong way but throw your list away. Since you have not reloaded before, just get the Lee hand loader kit in 223 or 308( just one caliber to start with) and a good scale. Balance beam scales are cheaper and as accurate as you need. You probably will not need to trim any cases. Just use your calipers to check the leanth and seperate any cases that might be over size.
You can take everything to the range and try out different loads with this setup and you will have spent less than $100. You will also find out if you like reloading before spending big bucks. The only thing the more expensive equipment will do for you that this set will not is be more convenient and load faster. Your reloads will not be any better. If you decide you like reloading (some don't) you will have a set up you can add to as you become more involved. Also look for used stuff. A lot of times you can find good stuff really cheap (remember some people find they don't like reloading).
Good luck, Jim

March 4, 2010, 03:02 PM
Thanks, what year was that? I’m failing the sanity check by going overboard but I don’t see 100.00 per caliber to really get started today.

Last month... But, I was shopping on a budget. At almost $3000 you clearly are in a different financial situation then me...

Lee 50th Kit ($90)
9mm Dies ($38)
38 Special Dies ($32)
7.62x39 Dies ($25)
Tumbler Kit ($50)
couple thousand 9mm.... (Donated)
Casting oven and 3 molds... ($110)
I bought 100 New .38 spcl ($20)
1K Primers - $32
Powder - $25
Books - $25
Other Stuff I had - $50 (Cutters, trimmers, case gages, etc....)

Ok.. so, "little over" $300 ($497) but I am casting my own bullets and have already put a few hundred rounds on the shelf. My stuff will be paid off in no time. By the time I run out of powder and primers I will at the break even point on my initial investment.

March 4, 2010, 03:38 PM
Here's the press I started out with (an ancient used one), and I think I lucked into a good choice. It is unusually fast for a single-stage press and would serve you well for any rifle reloading unless you're loading for a machine gun or a .50 BMG. :D

Also you need a good reloading manual, like Lyman's 49th, and a balance-beam powder scale (you can get a digital scale later), and a digital or dial calipers. Everything else (except for dies and shellholders) you can get by without, at least at first.

The most important part of all this is the reloading manual; not for the load data section, but the general instructions in the first few chapters.

March 4, 2010, 04:15 PM
And just when you think you're done buying someone makes you a believer in projectile casting.. then swaging... then lathing.. then...

March 4, 2010, 06:00 PM
Thanks, getting something I may only need every 30 years does sound like something I might do. lol

Thanks, I own 9mm but already dropped it from the list since I stopped carrying the P226 in favor of the P239 quite a while ago. And it seems cheap and easy to buy for now.
The LNL Classic is on the list and with the LNL bushings thought they would work well together once I get up to speed

Thanks, but on one hand I know I want to shoot more and on the other I can't bear to part with the ammo I've horded so I feel like I will be reloading as a necessity it's just finally the right time for me to get started.

Wow, guess I am seeing thing differently now days. I just survived a 40% layoff and figured the company could pay for the stress they are stupidly putting on everyone. And with my boss a rabid anti, I thought it would be fun to let him know I was buying "gun stuff" with the company's money.

I may wait till after the next local gun show to see if any legendary deals can be found. But the last show just convinced me that buying new was like investing the money since used single stages seemed to be barely less than new. I did pickup the 2 Lyman manuals so the show wasn't a total loss.

Thanks, Sounds all too familiar ;-)

March 4, 2010, 06:18 PM
will be getting Hornady One Shot to clean powder measure so will have some

Don't use Hornady One shot as a cleaner for powder measure, it is a lube not a cleaner!

Keep it out of your measure!

Jimmy K

Leaky Waders
March 4, 2010, 07:08 PM
Hmmm...I'm no expert but:

1) Buy a mech junior 410 setup.
2) Buy the components needed for the 410 - wads/primers (hulls if needed). Put 45 long colt back on your list!
3) Buy lead bullets with .452 diameter and that weigh at 200 - 255 grains.
4) Buy 1,000 pieces of starline brass in 45 Long colt.
5) Buy all the large pistol primers that you can find and shotgun shell primers that you can find.
6) Buy powder that is compatible in 410 and 45 long colt.
7) Buy the dies you want for the other calibers - get carbide sets for the ones that have them.
8) Buy a Colt SAA - Cabelas sells them.
9) When you're at the local range shooting your awesome new hogleg, pick up the other brass laying on the ground from your list.


March 4, 2010, 07:19 PM
Don't use Hornady One shot as a cleaner for powder measure, it is a lube not a cleaner!

Keep it out of your measure!

Jimmy K

Thanks, but I'm just following manufacturers instructions:

Installing and Using the Lock-N-Load® AP (

Step 4: Preparing the Case Activated Powder Measure (

March 4, 2010, 09:36 PM
And with my boss a rabid anti, I thought it would be fun to let him know I was buying "gun stuff" with the company's money.

I support that thinking :)

March 4, 2010, 10:19 PM
Thanks, but I'm just following manufacturers instructions:

You are correct about the One shot part, but only one part.

The guy said to use Hornady One Shot Gun Cleaner and Dry lube which comes in the Black can.

Hornady makes a One Shot "Case lube" which comes in the Red can, which should not be used in the powder measure.

"Case Lube" and "Gun Cleaner" are two different dogs.

Only trying to help.

Jimmy K

March 4, 2010, 10:30 PM
Christmas in March. Very nice. Enjoy.

One piece of advice you were given struck me as particularly useful, and bears repeating: This is to start by figuring out how to reload one type of ammo (handgun or rifle or shotgun) at a time, rather than jumping around and trying to do it all at once.

I would add that if you buy the tools for one type of ammo, and hold off on buying the tools for the others, these later purchases will be much more satisfactory to you.

March 5, 2010, 12:12 AM
Leaky Waders:
Thanks, the 45Colt Dies were just out of stock along with all large pistol primers when I dropped it. I do see the point of starting with a straight case and sharing powder with 410. Accurate #9 says it can be used for 410, 45 and is a favorite for .357Sig so I'm hoping I was going in a good direction there. and I think I will be keeping an eye out for new guns in fewer calibers too.

I stand corrected; I referred to one shot for lubing cases in ignorance. I knew I was getting some for assembly of the press but not that there were two types. Thanks for either keeping my powder measure working or not getting a case stuck.


Thanks, keeping focus and getting comfortable with one or two calibers is a common theme here and I'm stepping back from the ledge a bit now.

March 5, 2010, 12:30 AM
I want to chime in on the 410 reloading. The way I am doing it is that I have some Magtech brass shells and some 444 Marlin brass. I got a set of 444 Marlin dies to resize the brass after a couple firings. You can still use the punch set to cut wads but I get them from Ballistic Products Inc for a real good price. The plastic wads will not work in the brass hulls. They will not seal the gas and allow blow by. The hulls will not need to be crimped as the top card can be glued in with Duco cement or equivalent. I am experimenting with a hot glue gun to seal but it is dirtier. The 444 brass will be shorter but the wad length can easily be adjusted for that. Make sure to get Nitro cards for the over powder cards as cardboard will not hold up for sealing between the charge and regular wadding. Also the powder charges will be somewhat different. Look into the process of loading black powder shotgun shells for the proper way but use modern propellant and the associated weight of payload. Use cream of wheat as a buffer as it is cheap and works well. I use large pistol primers for the Magtech and large rifle for the 444. Make sure your 410 will eject the 444 brass as the rim is smaller in diameter. My NEF Handyrifle as well as my assortment of Savage 24's all will eject OK. This should get you started.


BTW You could trim down on some of the stuff on your list and get more components ie bullets for some calibers that you plan on shooting a lot to use up your cards on or more primers/propellant as it is more cost effective to get larger amounts due to the hazmat fee.

Also think you should get a quality single stage press or kit. Get a progressive also but a single will have lots of uses.

Leaky Waders
March 5, 2010, 12:36 AM
Right now, I only load 28 gauge and 45 long colt (and schofield - bascially a short colt).

I really enjoy reloading the 45. It's fun. I'm like always searching and reading on the net and various magazines about the 45.

With the craze of CAS, there's a lot of people reloading 45 long colt and other older calibers - I read their boards and am always learning.

Right now in 45 long colt I have an old style vaquero, model 25 and a beretta/uberti 1873 wincester. My new SAA comes next week - I can hardly wait - it's a new Colt and instant family heirloom.

My family - wife and 2 sons - love shooting the 45's. Easy on the hands and big holes in cans and paper are fun.

Plus the 45 long colt is very easy to reload. It builds a lot of confidence reloading that round. And, there seems to be a lot of interest in it. Just search anything related to 45 long colt on the high road and you'll see it generates a lot of interest.

March 5, 2010, 12:47 AM
Scale: I would suggest a beam scale over an electronic one. That's just a personal preference.

Calipers: I've read that the quality of the one you've listed is a bit sketchy. I looked at that one, and wasn't impressed. I bought a Lyman dial caliper instead, and it's been 100% great.

OneShot Cleaner is great stuff.

Case lube: Mix your own with lanolin and alcohol.


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