Starting from scratch... build me the perfect setup!


May 30, 2011, 09:56 PM
Ok guys I had another thread started and I wasn't getting the feedback I am looking for... I am looking to get started in the progressive pistol reloading world.. I will be purchasing the Hornady Lock N Load AP reloader so that is pretty much set in stone. Also I am not going to get the bullet feeder or case feeder now as that will come down the road.

What I am wanting is some feedback from the guys out there who have been there and done that... i want to get it right the first time...

What dies should I get?

what powder check die? Hornady, dillon, or RCBS?

I will be reloading 45 colt to begin with...

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May 30, 2011, 10:56 PM
I have the Hornady LNL-AP and it a good choice. I added the brass feeder after I had recover my initial investment. As for dies I have been replacing my RCBS dies with the Hornady Dies. Their Ti insert makes easy work of sizing. The bullet seater with the drop down tube for holding the bullet in alignment is easy on the fingers.

Powder cop die I have, I think it would better replacing with the RCBS Lockout die. The lockout die will stop the press from doing another stoke till the problem is resolved. I find it's best to clear stations while your fixing a problem. Dump the powder so you don't make the mistake of double charging. With AP you must do full cycles, short cycling can double charge.

Lost Sheep
May 31, 2011, 03:17 AM
If you are not getting the feedback you are looking for, it might be because you are not asking the right question, or asking it in the right way.

Please include in your query;

What quantities you will be reloading and in what other calibers than the 45 Colt you already mentioned.

How soon you will be adding those other calibers.

Is(are) your goal(s) 1) reducing the cost of shooting (and how quickly you want to amortize the investment in equipment) 2) supreme accuracy, tuned to your individual firearms (more applicable to long-range rifle calibers or hunting guns) 3) freedom from retailers 4) some other goal(s)?

How much space do you have to devote to your reloading? Will it be dedicated space or multiple-use (for example, carpentry, home repair and reloading)?

How often will you be switching calibers?

How much time will you (or expect to) devote to reloading?

Do you reload already? What gear do you have experience with?

What's your budget? Are there any other constraints we should be minding?

Do you want to start small and work up to full production capacity (on your 45 Colt) or do you want to start with the very basics and add speed-enhancing accessories over time.

You basically asked for a shopping list for your perfect setup. That is as difficult an answer to give as asking someone to pick out a bride for you.

After 30+ years of reloading, I gave my reloading setup a complete overhaul, replacing almost every piece of equipment I had (for about $450). It serves my needs perfectly, but then I load for 7 pistol calibers, shoot just for the fun of it and do only a couple hundred rounds (of centerfire) per shooting session maybe twice a month. My Lee Classic Turret, accessories and methods would probably not suit you.

Help us help you by giving your parameters, please.

Lost Sheep (truly lost, here)

May 31, 2011, 07:34 AM
Since you have already eliminated the press from the discussion of 'perfect setup' about all that's left to discuss is the accessories.

You will need a scale and calipers - I prefer inexpensive digitals.

Reloading manuals

Wilson Case gages are handy tools.

STRONG workbench with a task light. Comfy chair or stool.

Ample supply of components for each caliber. I only reload plinking pistol and only use Win 231/HP-38 powder for all calibers.

What is a 'perfect' setup for one person may well not be that great or even needed for the next guy or gal.

May 31, 2011, 09:23 AM
What's a "perfect set-up"? I can tell you what's "perfect" for me AND what's perfect for my friends but none of us use the same stuff for reasons that seem good to each of us.

We now have what, 6-7 major tool makers? And each has been in business for decades. So it may be that they all produce quality products? Most differences are personal taste based on looks, the user features that vary by indivitual tastes, perceive dollar value and mechanical ability - used correctly it's all good, used incorrectly none of it's any good; pick what you like. If you don't know what you like, pick something and live with it. If you know - or can learn - what you're doing all of it will give you good service no matter who made it or what model it is.

Given time and experience you will come to like certain ways of doing things and will likely acquire stuff to match what you prefer but even that won't mean it's 'better' than its competitors. That's why I rarely mention what I prefer, it's usually irrelivant to anyone but me!

May 31, 2011, 09:44 AM
I don't know anything about Hornady dies but I do know Dillon and just about every one else. RCBS has caused nothing but trouble on my progressive presses. I own Dillon progressives but I imagine it would be the same for other presses. With RCBS the decapping pins keep coming loose and breaking. I even had one unscrew and fall in the case. After switching to Dillon dies the problem went away.

Powder check die I'd probably go with an RCBS only because I don't know if the Dillon check die will work in a LnL.

May 31, 2011, 10:19 AM
right now I only have the 45 colt but I plan to add a new pistol to my collection each year... so next year I plan to get a 9mm

I won't have a great deal of time to reload but enough to take my time and do it right on a progressive (how do i know this? because I currently reload 12 ga on my SL900)

I will prolly reload 500 rounds in an average session...

My bench is currently 15 foot long and I have plenty of lighting and space to go around... also I am building a new house this year so I will be able to add more space to it

My goal in reloading is to save money on ammo... plain and simple... i hate paying 32 bucks for 20 rounds of 45 colt at my nearest store...

May 31, 2011, 11:05 AM
i would love a load counter.... anybody ever made one or know if someone makes one?

May 31, 2011, 12:01 PM
there is always the RandyP frugal guy round counter. I call it empty ammo boxes. As I reload I fill the plastic tray slots with the completed round, 50 rounds per tray/box. Easy-peasy, no extra cost.

Hondo 60
June 1, 2011, 04:30 PM
i would love a load counter.... anybody ever made one or know if someone makes one?

Do a search on this site. Yes, I've seen a couple of pics of presses that include a counter.

There's even one that will beep if you forget to advance the shell plate on a Dillon 550

June 3, 2011, 11:46 AM
First you requested information on the "Perfect Setup" and then said you were limiting the options. How can a setup end up being "Perfect" when you eliminate from the start things that can make it perfect, like a Case Feeder and Bullet Feeder.

Better request would be for a "Less than Perfect" setup or just simply, "A good setup".

Regardless, the most important consideration is organization. Make sure that your bench "Flows". From processing brass to finishing loads, every "station" needs all the support items and supplies readily available. Once the "stations" are established, then just place the equipment you select in them with the supplies in the storage locations you provided.

Here's some reading on a process that has made its way into the American Factory's and workshops in order to organize work flow:Kaizen (

June 3, 2011, 11:52 AM

Here is a "load counter" that also monitors the operation of a Progressive Press. Will keep track of the operations and warn of short strokes. Also has reminders like to add primers and powder. Can be set up to show how much powder remains in reservoir and can analyze powder usage.

At $169 for the basic unit it's not all that expensive.

June 3, 2011, 04:50 PM
sure the perfect setup would be one with case feeder and bullet feeder AND press monitor but I am on a budget... those are things that I can definitely add later and not have to try this and try that to get it just right... I was just looking for some help on selecting the other things involved with buying a new setup

one step at a time my friend... thanks for the PMD that will be pretty sweet at some point

GW Staar
June 4, 2011, 01:27 AM
You don't want to hear this probably, but I think you are going to find out that there is no such thing as the perfect setup....don't care what your budget is.

Gaston Glock thinks he makes a perfect gun, Steve Jobs thinks he makes a perfect computer, and the Dillon folks think they make perfect loading tools. Sorry, no such thing.

What you are going to find is that no matter what press or other tools you buy, you will have to put up with weaknesses, failures and problems. You'll have to come up with work-a-rounds, temporary tweaks, and your equipment will require a certain & consistant amount of TLC to keep it all running in top form. Yet its not at all a bleak situation, because we don't have to have perfect tools to load great (albeit not perfect) ammo, and to love nearly every minute of it. It's more than worth while and is a source of great fun for almost all of us.

You pay more for quality, and top of the line quality is sometimes the best answer...but it's not always. Depends on an individual's means, tastes, needs, habits, and certainly his point of view.

For example, people say Sinclair's hand primer is the best there is....yet, it loads only one primer at a time. I personally prefer RCBS's APS strip primers, bench-mounted or the hand version. While the Sinclair is a bench rest shooter's delight (and status symbol) on any range, I don't think one at a time is the best answer for most of us.

Another example: Dillon's 1050 press is hands down the best press out there. But if you want to load 8 calibers often and you can't afford 8 1050's, perhaps a quicker changing Hornady AP or RCBS Pro 2000 may be more "perfect".... No...perfect's not the right word...more useful for you.

I know you're looking for specifics, but I can only give specifics for what I do from my point of view. Same with every other answer you get in this thread. I've been playing in this hobby for 40 years, but the progressive press bug only hit 3 years ago. So from my view....

Here's what I like, (beyond the RCBS APS primer system): Lyman 2500 Tumblers with 20/40 Corn Cob & Dillon Polish, Powered Forster Trimmer with 3-way cutter, (Giraud is very nice for others, but my arthritic hands say no), Hornady Pistol Bullet Feeder, RCBS Rifle Bullet Feeder. Those are more trouble-free than Hornady's Case Feeders. I'm liking Lee or RCBS pistol dies just fine. RCBS and Forster Rifle dies. RCBS 10/10 beam scale. RCBS Chargemaster electronic scale/trickler. Dillon 500 Swager. RCBS Trim Mate, or Lyman's version if you have room for it.........and I like my torsion beam style of bench building ( Perfect? Nah, but close enough for me.:D

June 4, 2011, 08:35 AM
One thing I've noticed with progressives pretty quickly is they need to be kept clean. You will get dust from the knocked out primers under the shellplate as well as some powder. This will eventually cause problems unless you break the press down and give it a thorough cleaning.

Make sure it has a sturdy mounting. Any movement of the press can cause primer seating problems.

One thing I tell anyone considering a progressive is get a powder check die. Without it you will eventually get into trouble. I won't run a progressive without this option and have it on both of mine. You may be fine without the casefeed for awhile but I urge you to not pass on the check die.

Never used a bullet feeder and I think you could live without that option pretty easily.

Dies are a touchy subject with everyone. I always bought RCBS till I owned a progressive. I found the primer punch loosens from use in a progressive and will eventually unscrew its self or break. For that reason I've been switching to Dillon dies.

Also found that it's better to seat a bullet and crimp in 2 steps as opposed to 1 step. I bought Lee FCD dies for anything I crimp and use them.

If you enjoyed reading about "Starting from scratch... build me the perfect setup!" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!