Just picked up my first reloading steup... Tips?


May 28, 2010, 02:14 AM
Well, I just made the jump today. The wife and I found a decent deal on the Lee Deluxe Turret Kit that I've been eying, and Father's Day came early. I've been shooting for years, but reloading is a new ballgame.

We were at Bass Pro today and I was toting around about $60 worth of .303 Brit and .45 ACP when I meandered over to the reloading region. I mentioned to my wife that they had a good price on the kit I wanted and she said I should get it. I told her I was going to hold off. She then proposed that I put back the ammo that was in my hand (which we both knew I didn't really need) and she would match me for the money on the Lee Kit as an early Father's Day gift. She added "It's really the smart thing to do. We blow through a ton of money at the range and you already have a whole shelf in your closet full of saved brass waiting to be loaded." Who could argue with such logic?

I've read up on a reloading a good bit and have definitely scoured the stickies here. I plan on grabbing Lyman's 49th tomorrow (and maybe Hornady and Nosler as well), and I have yet to buy any components or dies. I guess I'm going to start out with .45 ACP or .38sp (unless there is any reason another caliber would be a better starting point).

I will be starting out with pistol rounds. I have at least one gun for every common caliber and I'm not picky about which one I should chose to get my feet wet with. Anybody have a suggestion on the best starting point?

Also, I'd like a bit of info on powders. What would be the best all around powder to buy for pistol loads?

As stated above, I'm planning on starting out with Lyman's 49th. I hear this is a good manual to start with. Any others I should pick up, or will Lyman's be fine to get warmed up?

I'd appreciate any advice on other components as well. Bullets are obviously bought to suit one's individual wants, but what about brass? Is Winchester any different from Remington?

One last thing (for those familiar with this particular kit)... Is there anything that I should consider upgrading from this kit? It seems like the scale might leave something to be desired. I'm become very accustomed to using digital scales in labs over the years, and it seems like they would be better for this application. Would this be an erroneous assumption?

At this point, I'm not planning on loading anything until I do a bit more reading and research. When I do get started, I'm probably going be using my turret as if it was a single stage until I feel comfortable bumping it up a notch.

If anyone has any good links besides what is already in the stickies, please feel free to post em' on up. Seriously, I'm a newb on this one. I know the theoretical basics, but I've haven't put nary a concept to practice.

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May 28, 2010, 05:28 AM
Congratulations on the kit, and welcome to the club.
Defintely get the Lyman manual it is excellent.
I find rifle reloading easier to get started with than pistol, purely due to the difference in volumes of ammo shot and number of steps.
For pistol dies please do your self a huge favor and get carbide dies.
I have a Lyman DPS III digital scale, and when loading pistol it is the biggest bottleneck. For my pistol loading requirements I have switched to the Lee dipper but do weigh every 5th charge out on a RCBS 505 to ensure I am well within spec.
There are a huge number of knowledgeable people eager to help on the forum. Please remember there is no such thing as a stupid question. Reloading is fun and easy but requires discipline.

May 28, 2010, 06:50 AM
Read the Lyman 49 front to back, and 90% of your questions will be answered. Of course, then you will have new questions. ;)

Either .38 Spl or .45 ACP would be a great caliber to start with. Two of the easiest and most forgiving there are to work with.

May 28, 2010, 06:56 AM
As to powders, if you are a new reloader, select powders that make double charges unlikely. Some powders are very dense, some are very fluffy. For a given caliber, powders that use small charges make it difficult to visually see whether the charge is too small, too big, or just right. I like powders that use a charge that at least half fills the case. That way, a double charge overflows. Unique would do this for you, and works well in most every pistol caliber.

Set up a procedure that makes double charges impossible. As time goes by, I use loading blocks not at all for pistol calibers, going straight from the powder measure, through a visual check on powder charge, to bullet seating.

I like older Lyman manuals, in that they gave recommendations as to what loads shot well in most every firearm in the caliber. The newest Lyman manuals are still very good.

For the .45 acp, I can't tell a difference on target between the brands of brass out there. For the .38 Special, I can tell a difference. I have no preference between makers of pistol brass, but I would say that nickle plated brass will not last as long as ordinary brass.

May 28, 2010, 06:59 AM
Welcome. If my memory serves me right, you should be getting the auto disc wth the kit. That, in combination with the scale will have you rolling on pistol ammo in short rder. Just set up your dies, look up the appropriate disc for the powder you choose and prime and charge a case. Then just weigh the charge to assure it's what you want and you're golden. You will find that the auto disc throws light charges, so you most likely need to go to a large hole in the disc. As far as the scale, I have a couple and the Lee is one of them and it is very accurate and does work pretty good. Another good book to read that is downright down to earth is Lee's reloading book. He lays it out in a manner that is very understandable and in a way that explains just how easy and enjoyable reloading is.

I reload for almost 25 calibers and I think I could use Unique in just about every one if I really wanted to. I do use it in every pistol caliber that I have and it does give good results. I also have not had a problem with it metering in the auto disc. I would recomend getting the Lee carbide dies for the pistol calibers, but everyone will have a different opinion on that. If you ony have a three hole turret, that may change things as far as the 4 die sets.

Have fun and welcome to the addiction!

May 28, 2010, 07:08 AM
Go on you tube, there are a lot of very informative videos on there. Particularly from a guy called Ammosmith. Watch as many as you can find. I wish I had that resource back when I got started.

May 28, 2010, 07:57 AM
Welcome to another great part of the shooting hobby.
You're starting out right, so I doubt you'll have any problems. And the advice you just got in here is right on. Especially choosing a powder that will spill over on a double charge. Just read the Lyman 49th cover to cover and do what the book says.There's a lot of knowledge tucked into those pages. Have fun.......

May 28, 2010, 08:42 AM
Carbide dies are good but I don't think anyone makes straight wall dies that aren't carbide these days.

The best "tip" I can give you is build or modify a work bench specifically for reloading. No other "tool" or anything else you can get will be a helpful later. Spend the time to get the bench right before you get too anxious to start.

The bench top needs to be about twice as large as you think. No point in wider than 22-24 inches but at least 6+ feet long will be good. For a while anyway! Put the top at a good working height for a man, not at kitchen counter hieight for smallish women. Put it at elbow height when standing (mine is perfect at 41" and I'm not tall) and use a "bar stool" (Flea market/yard sale item) for seated work.

The top should be sturdy but it need not be massive, 3/4" plywood is good enough. Put extra framing and leg (a 2x4 is plenty) under the press location for total rigidity. Paint at least the top with a tuff, smooth sealer so you can keep it clean. I prefer at least three (or four) coats of marine polyurathane (Minwax from Walmart), sanding between coats.

Block the press up so you can fully depress the lever without bending over, your back will thank you. (The Lee press' adjustable angle handle makes this easier!) If you're right handed, put center the press about 14" from the right end of the top to leave the left open for other stuff while you work.

Lots of over head light. Lots of sturdy storage shelves. Convienient AC power outlets for tumblers, batter chargers, radio, vacuum, etc. Carpet or "throw rug" on the floor to pad the stuff you drop.

Make the effort and start right, it will increase your fun later!

May 28, 2010, 09:37 AM
Only have one can of powder open and on the bench at a time. That single tip can save you money (by avoiding the contamination of powder from inadvertent mixing) as well as your life and limbs (by preventing you from using powder that is too fast for your application by accident).

Enjoy your new hobby!

May 28, 2010, 10:06 AM
c919, welcome aboard for the wonderful world of reloading!

Powder - W231/HP38 is a good powder to start out with that meters well with medium recoil. If you can't find W231/HP38, Ramshot Zip and Green Dot are good substitutes. Bullseye is a faster burning powder good for most pistol caliber with more snappy recoil.

Good 200/230 gr 45 ACP load is 5-5.5 gr of W231/HP38 to start you out with.

Bench - Although I have a reloading bench setup in the garage, I have been reloading primarily on a 2'x3' portable bench on casters I made from 2x4s and plywood/OSB for the past few years. It allows me to reload anywhere I want and as summer approaches - I can reload inside with air conditioning while watch TV or out in the patio in the cool afternoons while watch the sunset and sipping iced tea. I have a flat plastic tray (size of a cookie sheet) I bought from the Dollar store cut around the press and it catches all the spilled powder/primers.

Hand priming tool - Although you can use the bench mounted priming tool, I really enjoy using the Lee Auto Prime hand priming tool. At $15, it is a great tool to have.

May 28, 2010, 10:59 AM
I recommend the Lee adjustable charge bar and an inexpensive digital caliper. Mine is a Harbor Freight for under $20.

+1 on Win 231 (the same as HP-38)

the Lee manual is also pretty good.

My MTM DS1250 digital scale was very affordable and works great for my needs.

Buy components in as much 'bulk' as your budget allows. If you buy primers/powder online that hazmat fee will take away any discounts unless you buy in quantity. Primers and powder last purt near forever.

May 28, 2010, 11:06 AM
Anyone who uses Lee Precision equipment should get "Modern Reloading" by Richard Lee - for you with a Classic Turret Press it would be a better choice than Lymans which is better in general. +1 on the Auto Prime - get two - one set up for large primers and one set up for small primers. Grease it as recommended and it will serve you well. Hand priming is the way to go. I like to use Lee Powder Dippers and just have a funnel on the charging die. I hate using scales and even if you trust you powder you will need to weigh every few "throws" but with the dippers you only have to weigh the first charge to make sure you have the right powder once you have experience with the dippers and know what you are doing you will rarely use your scale. Many use Unique as I do. I think it is a fine powder. There is a reason it is so (the most?) popular.

Old Shooter
May 28, 2010, 11:11 AM
With a wife like that, this has to be fiction! :)

Seriously, read every word in the manual you will be using.

Go slowly at first, double check every step so you catch any loose adjustments, drifting powder charges, seating depths etc.

One can of powder at a time is a good idea for eneryone.

Buy a good scale and learn how to set it up properly, overuse it to begin with.

Don't play with top end loads until you are very comfortable with your abilities, even then, don't push top end with the 303 British. Cases tend to stretch and head seperations are common.

Have a great time! Reloading is a very enjoyable hobby and saves money in the bargin.

May 28, 2010, 11:33 AM
^^^ Yeah, I have heard some talk about the .303 being a tricky round for reloading.

Is this because the Enfield chambers are generally a bit over sized? That was the best I could figure...

With a wife like that, this has to be fiction!

Nope. She's real. I definitely caught a keeper...


May 28, 2010, 11:49 AM
Excellent, but get her to get her shoulders forward. Get her top half over her bottom half basically. For balance. We should shoot from a good athletic position. Yep, looks like a keeper for sure.

May 28, 2010, 12:12 PM
I've not acquired equipment yet, but I've been investigating getting into reloading for about six weeks or so.

In addition to having read Lyman's #49 manual, I also purchased and read the latest edition of the Speer manual. The latter seemed to have a little more detailed information, at least to me.

Congratulations on taking up reloading. I hope to join you soon.


May 28, 2010, 12:30 PM
Get a good balance beam scale, calipers, and inertia bullet puller if your kit doesn't already have them.

Powders? many to choose from - I like Clays and Universal clays because I also reload shotgun - both of them, along with Bullseye, work great in 32, 38, 9, and 45.

My reloading bench is in my garage, but my components are kept inside - it's humid here. It is made up of two 4' long sections of industrial racking with 2 pieces of 3/4 plywood - glued and screwed - for a top

Good luck

May 28, 2010, 01:05 PM

We've been working on stance, but she just seems to lean no matter what anybody tells her. I'll come over and show her, and three shots later she looks like she's standing in hurricane winds. :D

May 28, 2010, 01:41 PM
Yea, it's hard to break habits.

May 28, 2010, 02:10 PM

Lymans 49th - great choice.

Go to your local library, and check out a copy of 'the ABC's of Reloading', or 'the Complete Guide to Reloading' (by John Traister). Answered a ton of my questions. There are a ton of knowledgeable folks here who always seem to come up with some new 'tool' to save time & money & effort, and answer some of my questions.

Good Luck, and happy reloading!


May 29, 2010, 06:37 AM
1. Buy a good digital scale and powder dispenser combo. Yes, it's several hundred $ but it will save you so much time and guarantee consistency and accuracy in every load. Just press the button and while you're putting the bullet into the previous case, the next load is being measured and dispensed for you. I have the RCBS Chargemaster 1500 scale/dispenser combo $300 at Cabelas). I'm sure other manufacturers are just as good as RCBS and there are probably better deals to be had.

2. Buy Lee factory crimp dies for those cartridges that require a heavy crimp. At least for me it's been so much easier to ensure that I have a heavy crimp and I don't have to worry as much about buckling a cartridge (i.e. too much crimp). Read about their advantages. This has been important for my 44 mag, 460 mag and 45-70 where a heavy crimp is very important.

Welcome and good luck. I think you'll find this site to be as invaluable as I have over my years of reloading questions.

May 29, 2010, 08:34 AM
I would just get the basic tools, like your doing. Learn to use them, and the worry about the other "extras" much later.. In my opinion, jumping from A to Z, without learning the steps between, is asking for trouble. You will accumulate the luxuries as you go. Trust me! As you accumlate them, you'll also have an appreciation for them and why you bought them. Your just starting out and have picked a fine kit to work with. You have everything that you need to reload high quality pistol and rifle ammo with. Someone mentioned the Lee dippers, and I fully recommend them for rifle reloading. Your already set for your pistol with the auto disc, as long as you use Lee dies with the powder through expanding die.

As I mentioned above, get the Lee book and read it. It explains reloading from a practicle standpoint, and pretty much tells it like it is. Some of the reloading books I have read would have you think you need every gadget made, and would have you thinking that reloading is some mystical art that is a complex as building an A bomb. In my opinion, it's not. Just keep it simple and start below the max loads, follow the basic directions, and you'll be cooking with gas in no time! Most of all, have some fun!

May 29, 2010, 08:45 AM
It sounds like you are off on a good start. A few pointers if it will help.

Get a nice slow powder bulky pistol powder. Alliant Power Pistol or Universal Clays are nice ones to tinker with. You can crank the velocity up and down quite a bit (within published load limits) and a doublecharge is unlikely. I would try the .45 ACP first due to less case volume and chance of ooops. .38 Special is an old black powder case and depending on what type of bullet is used and how it is seated can leave quite a bit of extra volume.

Carbide dies are always good.

Electronic scales are very nice. It is a nice luxury to have. I would get one with a battery and power adapter. I always use the battery, but when the 9V goes who has extras in their house? Not the most common household battery. Keep a spare in the box.

The best advise I can give is develop a rhythm and stick with it. Do not allow any distractions, reload by yourself for the first 100-200 rounds until you get the hang of it. It is still good advice after you become accustomed to loading.

May 30, 2010, 01:06 PM
I plan on grabbing Lyman's 49th tomorrow (and maybe Hornady and Nosler as well).....

All the books are good. The Lyman book is great!

Let your bullet selection determine the second book. If you hunt with Nosler, then the Nosler book will help you the most. If you shoot Hornady, then the Hornady book is going to help you the most.

Remember that not every bullet maker makes a bullet for every gun. And if they don't make the bullet, then there's no info on that caliber in their book. So if you want to reload for your SKS, pre-buying a Nosler book (although it's a good book) may not help you. Follow?

DO be sure to pick up or send off for the free powder manufacturer's reloading pamphlets laying around in gun stores. That's a free and invaluable way to expand your library.


May 31, 2010, 12:37 AM
Ok, so over the past couple of days I've read all of the info that pertains to my needs from ABC's of Reloading (ie everything except shotshell stuff, and the specific stuff for serious hunters and competition shooters) as well as everything in Lyman's 49th with the exception of load data for rounds I don't own. Yeah, I've had some much needed down time. :D

Before I get started, I plan on reading all of this (and probably one more manual) again at least once (and of course having both open at my side when I do start gearing up).

Until then, I have some more questions for collective of wisdom that is the H&R section.

The more I learn, the more carbide dies seem to make sense. However, it seems to me that the only die that really benefits you is the resizing/decapping die. I like the idea of not having to lube the cases. I have read that they last longer, so that is a plus. Is longevity the only reason to buy an entire carbide set?

One thing that has surprised me is the lack of FMJ/TMJ bullets. As a beginner, I'm not going to buy bullets from any companies who don't publish their own data. I would love to get some lead from Brad/Missouri, but I need to get my feet wet first. Anyhow, everywhere I've looked it seems that JHPs are much more available. Which leads me to this two part question...

A) What is the best data source/bullet supply for, say... 9mm, .45, 38sp/.357 in the lead/fmj/tmj variety? Ok, "best" is subjective. So, in other words, what do you use?

B) I'm not opposed to loading JHPs, but it just seems like a waste to be throwing XTPs into a berm for no real reason. Also, I won't be casting my own anytime soon. So for a guy who is just looking to reload for basic pistol shooting (not requiring tailored, super accurate loads), what would be the best manual to pick up next? I was planning on Lee's Modern Reloading, but if there's one that might fit my needs better, suggest away. I have definitely realized the need for multiple, more specialized manuals.

Also, what do you guys think of those "everything for one caliber" spiral bound books that you can get at Gander? They look like they could be a valuable tool once one gets acclimated to the reloading process.

I'm building myself a new workbench as well. I have most of the wood already, just need to pick up a good top. I think I'm going get a solid core door, sand it, and slap some polyurethane on it for this part, then I should be ready to build. I'll post some pictures once it's off the ground.

tasco 74
May 31, 2010, 02:39 AM
a tip i can think of is wipe all the powder handleing accs down with a new dryer softener sheet or two and and run a full hopper of powder through the powder measure and back into the canister to lube and static free things.........

May 31, 2010, 11:01 PM
Things that I learned here:

1. The concept of headspace is critical. Especially if you like your fingers, nose, ears, teeth, and eyes where they are currently situated.

2. The Lee Hand Priming tool is worth its weight in gold. You can 'feel' the thing working correctly.

3. Chamfer and de-burr your case mouths. It helps.

4. You can chuck a case mouth tool, and a primer pocket uniformer in a handheld drill. The amount of awesomeness that results from that cannot be described by mere mortals. It's even more awesome in a drill press.

5. The plastic case loading blocks (made by MTM, I think, and Hornady) are like having a third hand.

6. Loading ten rounds of something that doesn't go bang, is a lot better than loading a hundred rounds that do the same thing.

7. You'll be making more trips to the reloading supply store, and fewer trips to Wal-mart.

8. Overhead lights - you can never seem to have enough of them.

9. Harbor Freight and IKEA both have websites.

10. The local library actually stocks books about Reloading. No fooling! Mine even had a few loading old manuals. Copy machines are also cheap there as well - I photocopied a few of the pages I was interested in, and returned it to the shelves.

And finally:

the Internet - it's open 24hrs. Good Luck!


June 5, 2010, 07:12 AM
A. I've found Nosler to be a good bullet source for pistol and rifle if you want to stick with one manufacturer. Yes, you'll have to shoot JHP in your 9mm, .357 but it's only $0.14/bullet and even less in bulk. Also, I find the Nosler reloading manual to be pretty comprehensive. I load Nosler, Hornady, Speer and Barnes for a dozen different calibers and have a manual from each company. I generally stick to Hornady for my pistols (44 mag and 460 mag) because I hunt with the XTP Mags, Nosler for my longer range hunting rifles (308, 7mm-08) because of the reputation of the Accubond and Partition bullets which are great on deer, and Speer Gold Dot and Barnes Original for my more traditional rifles like 30-30 Win and Marlin 45-70 because they are more traditional soft point hunting bullets. It's a very personal choice.

B. As for good books, you probably already have the basics so you should just get started and research as you have questions (which you will). The "everything for one caliber" books are handy but they are just copying data from the manufacturers' books. I bought all of them when I started, referred to them initially and now they all sit in the corner of my reloading room with dust on them. Buy the reloading books for the bullets you like and also refer to the load data published by powder manufacturers for comparison purposes. Hodgdon has a fantastic site if you intend on using Hodgdon, IMR or Winchester powders. If you want more initial instruction, buy a DVD on basic reloading from Midwayusa, cabelas or maybe they have them at Gander. I found that actually watching them perform the tasks is much better than a book. I believe that RCBS even has a free intro video on their website.

C. You commented before about carbide dies. I believe that most pistol dies today are carbide. However, even with carbide, you still want to lube a little, maybe every 5th case or something. Although I use all RCBS die sets, I did buy Lee factory crimp dies for all of the calibers that require a very heavy crimp -- you might want to research the same but that's probably not as important for the calibers you're looking at reloading now.

D. Good luck! I've only been reloading for 2 years and I still come on here to ask questions. You'll find this crowd to be an extraordinarily helpful resource.

June 5, 2010, 08:30 AM
Mostly everything is covered already.

Carbide good.

Double charge bad. Bulky powder good. No charge just as bad (lodges bullet in barrel=KABOOM on next shot).

Recipes need to be confirmed within safe limits on 2 sources or more. And sites with names like billybobsuperboom.com, etc. is NOT A RELIABLE SOURCE.


Reloading is a great hobby in and of itself and a way to improve quality and cut cost. BUT-----It is a hobby wherein you can screw up and kill yourself and not know it at the time. Don't EVER forget that and you will be fine.

June 5, 2010, 09:16 AM
Someone may have mentioned it and I missed it, but you'll want a moulding around the back and side edges of your work bench to keep things from rolling off. There's lots of round things in reloading.

June 5, 2010, 01:18 PM

Haha, like I can ever turn off the OCD switch when I'm dealing with anything guns. "Just one last spot and this thing will be clean as whistle...." :rolleyes: :D

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