questions for you reloading vets


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nra-for-life
September 21, 2011, 12:34 AM
hello all.

i am new to reloading/handloading and i would like some advice on equipment. i have done quite a bit of research but am still trying to figure a few things out before i dive in.

I would like to handload for my rifles, i like the idea as a hobby in itself, but my main goal would be to better my group sizes for long distance shooting, to learn, and to become a more proficient shooter. As a secondary goal i would like to be able to reload 223 as a money saver. This only because 223 is the only caliber i usually ever shoot fast and a little more recklessly.

I have several rifles that i would like to put through their paces and see for myself just how accurate they can be and i think that i have reached the limit of what i can do with factory loads.... The calibers i currently would like to load are: 204 ruger, 22-250, 223, 300 winmag, 300 wsm and 308. Starting out i would like to learn with 223.

so my questions: what king of accuracy difference would you expect out of a progressive loader vs a single stage or turrit style?

id like to buy a scale with an automated dispenser such as an rcbs 1500combo or equivilant? what scale/dispenser combo do you feel is best or most accurate?

if i buy x brand press, am i generally restricted to using xbrand press dies and parts or are a lot of the different brands interchangable with dies and accessories?

right now i am leaning towards getting an rcbs turret deluxe kit and supplementing it with and rcbs 1500 scale/dispenser, a Hornady Lock-N-Load Power Case Prep Center and probably the cablas tumbler recomended in the sticky post for newbies, as well as some other various accessories. any advice on this equipment would be much appreciated. id like to get started in this with 223 with a practical budget of around $1200 for my main equipment. my main thing is i want high quality stuff.

any guidence here is much appreciated. thanks in advance.

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GCBurner
September 21, 2011, 01:09 AM
With the same components and loads, you'll get the same accuracy with a progressive press as with a single stage press, you'll just turn out loaded rounds faster.
Presses and dies have pretty much standardized to a common size for most calibres of 7/8" x 14 threads per inch, except for giant rounds like the .50 Browning Machine Gun or .577-450 Martini-Henry, which require a larger diameter die opening, and a larger press overall to handle the cartridge length. If you think you might be be reloading for your elephant gun someday, the Lee Classic Press or the RCBS Rock Chucker have the length of opening, and removable die bushings to handle the oversize cartridges. Otherwise you're free to mix and match dies and presses from different makers. Companies who made dies and presses with non-standard threads are all out of business now, but be sure to check the size if you buy equipment used from ePrey or someplace.
Case tumblers are pretty generic, I think. They all work, so get one that seems durable, and inexpensive. For tumbler media, I think ground walnut shells produce a shinier case, but ground corn cobs seem to work faster; your mileage may very.
I don't have an electronic scale or automated powder measure, so I can't express an opinion there. I use a RCBS adjustable manual powder measure that has worked pretty well, and check the loads at random with a RCBS balance beam scale. Not as easy as pushing a button, but it doesn't require batteries or an electric outlet.
Read the manuals that come with the equipment, get some load books, check the powder and bullet manufacturers' online load data, and have fun.

35 Whelen
September 21, 2011, 01:11 AM
With single stage equipment, there's much better accuracy and quality control. If it weren't true, then the benchrest competitors would use progressives.


id like to buy a scale with an automated dispenser such as an rcbs 1500combo or equivilant? what scale/dispenser combo do you feel is best or most accurate?



I do everything by hand, so I don't know.

if i buy x brand press, am i generally restricted to using xbrand press dies and parts or are a lot of the different brands interchangable with dies and accessories?


All currently manufactured single stage presses use dies that are threaded 7/8-14. I can't say for progressives, but I believe they're the same. I own three different brands of presses and 5 or 6 different' brands of dies and they all interchange.

right now i am leaning towards getting an rcbs turret deluxe kit and supplementing it with and rcbs 1500 scale/dispenser, a Hornady Lock-N-Load Power Case Prep Center and probably the cablas tumbler recomended in the sticky post for newbies, as well as some other various accessories. any advice on this equipment would be much appreciated. id like to get started in this with 223 with a practical budget of around $1200 for my main equipment. my main thing is i want high quality stuff.

Turret presses are a great alternative to progressives. I use an old Lyman. It's my understanding that the Redding turret press is and extremely good press but I love RCBS equipment. Top notch and their customer service is incredible. Really, all the brands you mention are fine. I use and old inexpensive Midway brand vibrator/case cleaner and it's served me well for a long, long time.
One word of advice, good used equipment such as the brands you mentioned above will serve you just as well as the new stuff and save quite a bit of money. My RCBS Rockchecker press is way over 40 years old, has loaded countless thousands of rounds and still works perfectly. Use the money you save to buy components!

35W

loadedround
September 21, 2011, 07:17 AM
35 Whelen: I don't wish to get into a spitting contest with you, but in my 45 years of reloading experience I have never seen a difference in quality or accuracy in loading with a single stage press or progressive press assuming the same quality dies are used on both presses. I have shot competitively for many years and when progressive presses became available reasonably, I changed over to them. Rifle loads( both 223 and 308) then were worked up on a Redding single stage press and loaded in bulk on my Dillon 550 progressive press...again no effect on quality or accuracy. All my ammo these days is loaded on my two Dillon 650's both for speed and accuracy. So come on over with your components and we'll give it a try and I'll spring for the beers afterwards, :)

cfullgraf
September 21, 2011, 07:42 AM
Single stage presses are always handy to have around. There some reloading tasks that just work better on them.

As already said, most presses these days use standard 7/8"-14 threaded dies so dies are interchangeable between manufacturers presses. But, the die setting between presses are not the same. So, if you want to be able to load the same cartridge on two different presses, like between a single stage and progressive, you will need two sets of dies or readjust them when changing presses.

Personally, I do not see any advantage of a turret press although the Lee auto index feature might have some benefits. I have been involved with several discussions on the production rates on a turret and I just don't see it from my experience. A turret press still does one operation at each stroke of the handle. So, it still takes several strokes to complete a round. I would rather spend less money on a good single stage and use the savings to buy other stuff. Others do disagree with that. Just my opinion.

Progressive presses do not work well on small batches of ammunition. There is too much time setting them up to process just a few rounds.

To find the best accuracy rounds for your rifle, you will want to adjust loads alot until you find the sweet spot. So, you won't be loading lots of rounds at a time during the development. And even then, you may still not load enough to make a progressive session worth while.

223 Remington blasting ammo would benefit from a progressive.

A Dillon 550B might be a good alternative.

It may be less expensive to buy a progressive for 223 Remington and a single stage press for the other cartridges versus buying cartridges change kits for the progressive for all the cartridges.

RandyP
September 21, 2011, 07:45 AM
If you plan on using that trickling scale for all your powder throws, you are going to be batch processing. That does not lend itself to taking advantage of the benefits of a good turret or progressive press.

A lot depends on the volume of ammo you want and your budget. I load 50-75 rounds per hour on my Lee single stage and at a relaxed pace 150-175 on my Lee CLASSIC turret. This is pistol ammo. I do not yet reload any rifle so I'll let others who do chime in.

I have not found any 'accuracy' variances in ammo I've made single stage vs my turret. That is just my experience.

35 Whelen
September 21, 2011, 07:46 AM
35 Whelen: I don't wish to get into a spitting contest with you...

Well of course I have no experience with progressive reloading where metallic cartridges are concerned. I assume a progressive will do anything as well as a single stage with , as you point out, good dies.
My assumption lies in the fact that when loading with single stage each and every powder charge is hand measured while with a progressive it is not. Maybe I'm wrong...? I can see consistent charges were a fella to be loading an easy metering ball powder, but what about extruded?

35W

Siggie
September 21, 2011, 08:45 AM
I have to agree that when you are developing loads, a SS turret press is actually more convenient as adjusting a progressive press is taking more time if you want to do this every 5-10 rounds or so. As for accuracy and consistency, I have never noticed deteriorated accuracy or powder charges that where off in my progressive.

The reason why I prefer both?
Dies are interchangeable (if you pay attention to the thread)
SS Turret, I use for developing loads (being 9mm, .308 and .223).
SS Turret, I use for the .308 always. no need to go progressive for 20 rnds/week.
Progressive I use for the bulk stuff. 9mm for IPSC training and matches and .223 for plinking, target shooting and IPSC rifle trainings and matches.

But I am no Benchrest shooter, so I don't measure every bullet. They might advise different.

In short, if spending the extra time and cycles of a progressive with small amounts of ammo does not bother you, get one. If you can afford it try to get both. A good turret press is never money wasted.

gamestalker
September 21, 2011, 02:45 PM
From a different perspective, I am a hard core single stage reloader and have been for over 3 decades. My point revolves around the ability to closely monitor powder charges when using a beam scale v.s. a powder bushing, especially with extruded powders.

And then there is the whole new to reloading scope of things. When charging cases by hand, your more likely to spot a double charge or squib if practicing proper safe reloading, and not allowing yourself to become complacient.

I'm certain the much quicker reloading methods wouldn't exist if they were prone to safety of unreliable performance, both at the bench and at the range. Regardless of the method employed, it all comes down to how much attention we invest into the process, that determines how reliable and safe a cartridge turns out.

rcmodel
September 21, 2011, 02:53 PM
Not as easy as pushing a button, but it doesn't require batteries or an electric outlet.And you don't have to stand around twiddling your thumbs waiting on it to throw large powder charges!

An auto powder measure might be nice.

But a standard powder measure and scale is way faster to reload with.

See this about that:
http://www.6mmbr.com/powderdispensers01.html

rc

Funshooter45
September 21, 2011, 05:12 PM
First of all, I am in total agreement with getting the RCBS Chargemaster combo unit to dispense rifle powders. I initially just bought the Chargemaster scale part of it and I like it a lot. But now, sure enough, I'm getting ready to order the dispenser part. I am tired of trickling powder in to get that last .2 gr.

But something to be awware of regarding a turret or progressive press if all you're going to load is rifle cartridges. Yeah, I believe they can probably load ammo just as well as a single stage. When I first got my Lee Classic Turret press, I used it for all my revolver and rifle loading as well. I really really like it for the revolvers. But what I discovered is that it doesn't speed up loading for rifles one bit. The reason is that after you size a rifle case, you need to take it off the press and measure and trim for length. Then you need to chamfer and deburr the mouths. And for my rifles, there is no way the Pro Auto Disk powder measure will ever throw 60-70 gr of powder, so you have to measure and weigh the charge anyway. So what's the advantage of a turret press or a progressive? You are constantly taking the case out of the press to do all those other operations anyway. It kind of negates the auto index feature so you disable it and do everything in batches.

So there is no real speed advantage, is there an actual downside to using the turret or progressive for rifles? Well, no not exactly. And if you only have one press, then it will get the job done. However, when I went back to using a single stage for rifles, I upgraded my single stage press to a Redding Big Boss 2. Wow. Talk about leverage. It is just much easier to FL size a 7 mm mag shell on that unit than it is to do it on the turret press. And the other thing is purely psychological. When seating on the turret press, there is a little bit of play or "slop" in the system. Yes, it's consistent, so the bullet gets seated justs as consistently as with the single stage, but with the single stage, it just "feels" so much more solid, it just makes me feel more secure.

ranger335v
September 21, 2011, 06:12 PM
"..in my 45 years of reloading experience I have never seen a difference in quality or accuracy in loading with a single stage press or progressive press assuming the same quality dies are used on both presses."

Ditto. People stress far too much over which press is "better" for accuracy. IF the user knows what the smell he's doing he can do it on almost any press made and IF his dies and components are the same the end results will be the same.

The press makes a difference mainly in how rapid the production is. Most of us are in no hurry and find it easier and relaxing to work precisely with a single stage.

No turret press except Lee's excellant "Classic Turret" with its unique auto-index feature has a time advantage over a single stage, IMHO.

Progressive presses are great ... for turning out large volumes of the same load in a short time. Disadvantage is price and difficulty/cost of switching calibers and the fact that most progressives are made for handgun cartridges, not large rifle cartridges.

The supposed advantages of a digital powder dumpster or a manual measure and beam scale rests mostly on two points. For "speed" it matters a LOT how well a conventional measure/beam scale/trickler are positioned for a smooth and easy work flow AND how clumsy we are with our hands. So far as accuracy of the dropped charges go, it's strickly up to the user how well he measures his charges but no electronic system at any price is any more accurate (if as good) than a careful reloader using manual tools. (I'm a retired precision electronic measurement equipment tech from the space/defence programs and I'm not turning MY powder charges over to ANY consumer grade electronic gadgets.)

osprey176
September 22, 2011, 01:18 AM
If you are new to reloading I suggest you start with a single stage press to learn the basics.You will make mistakes,and using a single stage press will help keep the numbers down.Nothing sucks worse than finishing up a 500 round run,only to realize your powder measure was set wrong.Make haste slowly!

GCBurner
September 22, 2011, 12:46 PM
Regarding speeding up the reloading process - the MOST time-consuming part of reloading fired cartridges is the case preparation and inspection. I've started doing this in batches, when I have some free time. When I have a couple of hundred or so cases, I'll deprime them all with a Lee Universal decapper die, and tumble polish them all at the same time, then inspect them for damage and sort by headstamp into plastic Ziplock containers. Once any cracked or damaged cases are sorted out, I'll resize, trim, and chamfer the cases, then go ahead and prime the cases with a hand primer.
When I'm ready to actually reload, I just pull out however many primed cases I need and add the powder and seat the bullet.

Hondo 60
September 22, 2011, 12:49 PM
If your main goal is saving money ....

.223 probably isn't the best caliber to reload.
Even with cheap 55 gr FMJs, I've found that I only save about 10-15%.
A lot of times I find .223 ammo on sale & save almost nothing by reloading.

Where the real savings come is in handgun reloading (for me anyway).
.38 spl I can save roughly 50%
.45 Colt I can save 70%

Of course YMMV (your mileage may vary)

Funshooter45
September 22, 2011, 01:13 PM
It''s true that the cost savings will be smaller with the .223 loading. That's assuming you compare it to the el cheapo special sales, which is fine as long as you just want something to make noise with. With a little care, your ammo will still be a bit cheaper than that but it will be much higher quality.

Looking at the cartridges the OP intends to load in the future, he will be astonished at the savings he gets with the 300 WSM and 300 Win mag. Factory ammo for those is selling in the $50-60/box range for the good stuff. You can make your own custom amo using the highest quality components for around $18-20/box not counting the brass.

rfwobbly
September 22, 2011, 01:52 PM
Reloading equipment is like modern cars in that they 1) are priced according to features or usefulness, and 2) generally optimized for a specific market segment.

So you need to sit down and determine....
► What calibers you want to reload now and for the foreseeable future (for instance: both rifle and pistol, all rifle, or all pistol)
► How many rounds per week and in what combinations. (For instance: 200 9mm Luger pistol, plus 20 .308 rifle, plus 35 .223 rifle.)
► General quality (plinking vs. Palma match quality)

That info will narrow your choices to a maximum of 2 systems which will make your final choice much, much easier.

VaGunNut
September 22, 2011, 03:34 PM
I use my Dillon 650 progressive as a single stage press when loading rifle except 223 or 7.62x39. These I use in semi-autos and match accuracy is not a factor when plinking.

Searcher4851
September 22, 2011, 04:28 PM
My two cents:

For rifle cartridges, especially if your looking for best accuracy, I use a single stage press. (a 30 some year old RCBS Rockchucker). My reasoning is that there's a lot of experimenting involved to find the load that your particular rifle likes best. There's no need to pump out mass quantities until you find a load that both you and your rifle like. Different powders, different bullets, and hours at the range will lead to the best load for you and your rifle. As mentioned by someone else, there's a lot of case preparation that just doesn't lend itself well to progressive presses. I pretty much do separate operations at different times. I've never used one of them new-fangled fancy nancy powder dispensers, but i know that since every charge has to be weighed, for peak accuracy, and I've heard those electronic ones can be a little on the slow side, I've stuck with a powder dump, manual scale and trickler and have gotten pretty quick with it over the years. I don't load a lot of rounds at a time, rarely more than a hundred, now that I have loads worked out for all my rifles, and I enjoy reloading, sort of a hobby in itself, so speed isn't the real issue for me. I would however be interested in a progressive for handgun ammunition, just for the mass quantities that can be produced.

Lost Sheep
September 22, 2011, 10:43 PM
How you load will determine what equipment will be the best fit for your style. Sometimes it takes a lot of thinking, questioning and experience to figure it out.

For example, if you load 500 rounds at a sitting, a progressive would SEEM to be a good choice, but if those 500 rounds are 100 each of different calibers, maybe not. Switching calibers on a progressive can be 1) expensive, 2) time-consuming or 3) involve a lot of fiddling and adjusting.

An "O" frame press (like the RCBS RockChucker) with a lot of leverage is good for large rifle rounds, but "C" frame presses because of their open front is slightly more convenient, especially if you have large hands.

Your budget (and tolerance for frustration from your equipment) will determine other choices. My friend gave up on one electronic scale because he was frustrated with its long "calming down" time after turning it on or just moving it. He settled on an RCBS Chargemaster, but I think it is more money than I would ever willingly part with for the convenience. I am with Searcher4851 if I wanted to weigh each charge. Besides, a balance-beam scale is immune to a lot of things that bother electronics. I trust mechanical devices more. And they are generally cheaper.

Choosing between single-stage, turret, auto-indexing turret or progressive (manually indexing or automatic) involves a whole lot of thought. And money. I will save that discussion for another time.

Good luck. Welcome to handloading and thanks for asking our advice.

Lost Sheep

nra-for-life
September 22, 2011, 11:57 PM
hi everyone.

first off, thank you for all of the helpful replies!

it is interesting that there seems to be somewhat of a debate amoungst the shooting community as to whether or not a single stage press is more accurate if any than a progressive.... i guess i was expecting the response to be unanoumously that a single stage would have better results, but that doesnt seem to be the general opinion.

okay so i have zero handloading/reloading experience, but just looking at videos available on youtube and around the internet, it seemed that the guys running a single stage were taking a lot more time and consideration on their loads. i was lead to believe that using a digital scale with a dispenser for each load would yeild more accurate results than the automatic dumper thing (forgot what its called) that is present on the progressive presses...? also the progressive presses skip some stages that guys running a single stage were doing, such as cleaning and sizing the primer pocket. so is this step just not all that important?

the reason i was thinking of getting a turret was because i was thinking that it could be used as a single stage press but i would would have a little more speed if i wanted to try to handload a little faster....based on the what you all have said i think i will probably get a single stage press for now and ultimatly once i have developed and tested several loads and found what i like, then possably get a nice progressive. but i dont think that the turret is what i want anymore.


more questions:
several times people have said that the quality of the rounds produced will be dependent on the quality of the dies used (i guess not so much the press?) what features should i look for that makes one die higher quality than another? what dies are you using that you feel are the highest quality?

how acurate are the powder dumps on the progressive presses compared to using a digital scale to measure and fill each case individually?

is it important to crimp rounds? i have three semi autos and the rest are bolt action, if this is relevant to crimping.

how relivant is it to clean the primer pocket? seems like the progressives just punch the primer out and pop a new one in. are you guys that are using progressives removing your primers first, cleaning them, and then just skipping this stage on the progressive? or are you just skipping the primer pocket cleaning all together?

35 Whelen
September 23, 2011, 12:28 AM
several times people have said that the quality of the rounds produced will be dependent on the quality of the dies used (i guess not so much the press?) what features should i look for that makes one die higher quality than another? what dies are you using that you feel are the highest quality?



I agree that quality dies play a role in accuracy, but ultimately, attention to detail and qualty bullets are more important than dies. For example and just to name a very few, I use Hornady dies for my Whelen, RCBS for my 220 Swift and .308...in other words "common" brand dies, yet handloads for these calibers routinely shoot well under 1" and many times, especially the 220 Swift, shoot under 1/2". That being said, the better quality dies will all be more expensive. Redding, Forster and Wilson are all high end dies. I personally think it's a toss-up between Redding and Forster.

is it important to crimp rounds? i have three semi autos and the rest are bolt action, if this is relevant to crimping.

I think crimping is totally unnecessary EXCEPT in the case of tubular fed cartridges. I as a rule crimp the bullets on my 375 Winchester and my 45-70. I never have on either my Garand or my Mini-14. IMHO if your bullets will not stay put without a crimp, you have problems that need to be addressed. I shoot High Power with guys who shoot AR's and Garands and I know for certain they don't crimp their bullets.


how relivant is it to clean the primer pocket?


In and of itself, not very. A clean primer pocket just aids in consistent ignition and primer seating depth. BUT, this added to other little things like uniforming flash holes, weighing cases, controlling bullet run-out etc. all contribute to more accurate ammunition.

Do yourself a favor and pick up or subscribe to Handloader magazine. It's a fantastic rag that I've been reading since the 80's.

Good luck,
35W

Arkansas Paul
September 23, 2011, 12:55 AM
I'm with 35 Whelen in that crimping rounds is only necessary with tubular magazines.

the reason i was thinking of getting a turret was because i was thinking that it could be used as a single stage press but i would would have a little more speed if i wanted to try to handload a little faster

Actually, a turret press IS a single stage press because it only performs one single function with one pull of the handle. There are just stations that allow you the option of not having to reset your dies every time you switch functions.
I personally think that the turret is mainly an advantage for loading handgun calibers. I prefer a regular ol single stage for rifle.

That "automatic dumper thing" is a powder measure and a good one can be very accurate, depending on what powder you're using. Some meter better than others.
I agree with rcmodel that a good powder measure and scale is the way to go when just starting out. For rifle rounds, with most powders, I like to throw a charge about a half a grain light, and trickle up to where I want it. It takes a little time, but I know EXACTLY what is in the case. I'm OCD like that though. :)

Happy loading.

GCBurner
September 23, 2011, 12:58 AM
Re: Primer pocket cleaning, conditioning, etc. Benchrest target shooters are more picky about this than people who just plink, hunt, or shoot tactical type matches. Once-fired military brass with crimped-in primers needs to have the crimp removed or swaged before repriming, civillian ammo doesn't. Target shooters have tools to make the primer pocket absolutely uniform, as well as the hole in the case. Personally, I just deprime the cases before I tumble polish them, and check and make sure the pocket is clean of any polishing media when they're done, but I'm not a benchrest shooter.

Re: Measuring powder charges with a manual powder measure, or dipper, versus an electronic powder dispenser. Depending on the type of powder you're using, a manual measure with a micrometer adjustable measuring chamber can be remarkably consistent, to within less than a tenth of a grain, pretty much the same as an electronic dispenser. The electronic dispenser weighs every single charge, and target shooters do the same. Based on my experience, I don't think a variation of a tenth of a grain plus or minus is going to make a huge difference at a 100 yard rifle range, or 50 yard or less pistol range. I usually use a RCBS manual measure, and double check every few rounds on a manual scale for consistency. If I were shooting at very long range, or in benchrest competition, I'd weigh every single charge. For practice rounds with a handgun, I frequently use a set of Lee powder dippers; they're consistent enough for IDPA practice at 15 yards or less, and it's a lot quicker than having to set up and adjust the RCBS measure.

Re: Quality of reloading dies. I don't know any manufacturer still in business that makes bad dies. Some specialize in target dies, with claims of tighter tolerances, some full-length resize, some just resize the neck, it just depends on what you're looking for. I mostly use standard Lee Precision dies, because they're less expensive than most, and reload most ammo back to factory ammo specs; standard RCBS and Dillon dies do the same. Forster, I think, goes more for the target-shooter market, offering tight tolerances and high prices, that benchrest shooters and 1,000 yard shooters want.
You pays your money, you takes your pick. :)

Siggie
September 23, 2011, 09:25 AM
hi everyone.
how acurate are the powder dumps on the progressive presses compared to using a digital scale to measure and fill each case individually?


Depending a bit on the powder used, but for me VV N133 (for .223) and N320 (for 9mm) do throw within 0.1 grain consistently. (I do measure every 10 rifle charges and every 50 pistol charges. but I spend a lot of time in verification as I found it irresponsible to myself to follow internet advice blindly (no pun or offense meant though) ).

longdayjake
September 23, 2011, 11:55 AM
Because you are wanting to load mostly rifle stuff, I suggest that rather than spending $500 on a progressive, you should buy four of the RCBS Rockchuckers. That way you can have a couple of calibers set up at a time with both the sizing dies and seating dies.

I started out with a Rockchucker. I thought that going to a progressive would be tons better. I found that reloading rifle stuff on a progressive is probably only going to be a ton faster if you do it on a dillon 1050. So, now I have two progressives and two chuckers. One progressive for strictly 9mm and the other to do various kinds of pistol stuff that I don't shoot as often. The two chuckers are for loading up the rifle stuff.

rfwobbly
September 23, 2011, 07:00 PM
Reloading equipment is like modern cars in that they 1) are priced according to features or usefulness, and 2) generally optimized for a specific market segment.

NRA -
All the questions you are asking are wholly dependent upon YOUR preferences, which you have chosen to tell us very little about. The questions you are asking are similar to asking, "What car is good to drive to work?"

Well some of us drive only 2 miles, in which case a Yugo running on 2 cylinders and burning a quart of oil a day will do just fine. Others here who drive 70 miles to work over a mountain pass that is normally covered with ice 9 months a year are going to insist on a vehicle with all-wheel drive. Still others who have to take a load of concrete block with them to the job site are going to tell you that a pickup truck is the only vehicle to have.

Some here insist on automotive features such as heated seats or GPS, that others would consider absolutely frivolous luxuries. And it's the same in the reloading world. The difference in answers is based simply on the responders perception of what is "best". That is to say, "best" for them. Sorry, but only you can say what is "best" for you.

So you need to sit down and determine....
► What calibers you want to reload now and for the foreseeable future (for instance: both rifle and pistol, all rifle, or all pistol)
► How many rounds per week and in what combinations. (For instance: 200 9mm Luger pistol, plus 20 .308 rifle, plus 35 .223 rifle.)
► General quality (plinking vs. Palma match quality)

Hope this helps!

Lost Sheep
September 24, 2011, 12:36 AM
hi everyone.

first off, thank you for all of the helpful replies!

it is interesting that there seems to be somewhat of a debate amoungst the shooting community as to whether or not a single stage press is more accurate if any than a progressive.... i guess i was expecting the response to be unanoumously that a single stage would have better results, but that doesnt seem to be the general opinion.
Unanimity is not in our repertoire. Differences of opinion is what improves the breed, yes? (to mix a metaphor)

okay so i have zero handloading/reloading experience, but just looking at videos available on youtube and around the internet, it seemed that the guys running a single stage were taking a lot more time and consideration on their loads. i was lead to believe that using a digital scale with a dispenser for each load would yield more accurate results than the automatic dumper thing (forgot what its called) that is present on the progressive presses...? also the progressive presses skip some stages that guys running a single stage were doing, such as cleaning and sizing the primer pocket. so is this step just not all that important?

Consider yourself blessed. When I started handloading, videos were non-existent and the internet was an experiment in some college geek's undergraduate lab. Automatic dumper? I'm with you. I still don't know what to call it. "Powder Measure" is too generic to specify. Could mean anything. But it seems to be the most popular word choice.

the reason i was thinking of getting a turret was because i was thinking that it could be used as a single stage press but i would would have a little more speed if i wanted to try to handload a little faster....based on the what you all have said i think i will probably get a single stage press for now and ultimatly once i have developed and tested several loads and found what i like, then possably get a nice progressive. but i dont think that the turret is what i want anymore.
You are correct that the turret can act as if it were a single stage, but provide more speed when you change from Batch processing to Continuous. But a really strong single stage is a good thing to have in your tool inventory no matter what else you have.

I load a few hundred rounds at a sitting and an auto-advancing turret is what I chose. If I loaded 300 rounds or more of the same caliber at a sitting, I might choose a progressive (despite my discomfort with multiple operations occurring simultaneously-I have a hard time keeping track.) because of the efficiency.

It is a matter of balancing personal comfort and style against efficiency. And money. Good progressives are expensive. Cheap progressives cost you in different ways than dollars.


more questions:
several times people have said that the quality of the rounds produced will be dependent on the quality of the dies used (i guess not so much the press?) what features should i look for that makes one die higher quality than another? what dies are you using that you feel are the highest quality?
more important (my opinion) than the brand of dies is if they fit your reloading style. If you have a process/procedure/algorithm that suits you, use the dies that can perform in that sequence. Very little variation in accuracy between brands of dies. Large variation of convenience between brands of dies.

how acurate are the powder dumps on the progressive presses compared to using a digital scale to measure and fill each case individually?
You want accuracy? Don't use digital. (another opinion, but supported by theory as well as by fact) A mechanical balance beam scale is immune from electromagnetic effects of flourescent lights, voltage fluctuations and long "settling down" setup times. All factors of digital scales, though the better ones are better, nothing is as good as a decent balance beam. And you don't have to buy batteries.


is it important to crimp rounds? i have three semi autos and the rest are bolt action, if this is relevant to crimping.

You taper crimp most semi-auto rounds, as they headspace on the case mouth. A roll crimped case mouth won't headspace with reliability. Rimmed or shouldered cases headspace on the rim or on the shoulder, so crimping is less critical for headspace, but is still critical for strength of bullet pull. Bullet pull is VERY important for establishing the correct pressure, which is essential for the proper burn and pressure.

how relevant is it to clean the primer pocket? seems like the progressives just punch the primer out and pop a new one in. are you guys that are using progressives removing your primers first, cleaning them, and then just skipping this stage on the progressive? or are you just skipping the primer pocket cleaning all together?

Case length trimming and primer pocket uniforming are important for good feeding, headspacing, accuracy, etc, but do not have to be performed every time you reload a case.

Primer pocket uniforming may only be required once in the life of a case. How often case length uniforming may be required depends on many factors. Hot loads, soft brass, more often than light loads or stiff brass.

There are "Many ways to skin a cat". I hope my observations and opinions have shed some light. Your questions show forethought and insight. Good for you.

Lost Sheep

nra-for-life
September 24, 2011, 12:55 AM
hey wobbly,

the calibers id like to load are 204 ruger, 223, 22-250, 308, 300wsm, 300 win mag. so 100% rifle.

as for how much i plan to load in a week that is something i dont know if i can answer. i guess it varies a lot and part of my wanting to reload is to help get me out more to practice my long range shooting. i do a lot of hunting, i usually always try to sight in prior to hunting and i like to hunt pigs several times a year. i also deer hunt usually one to two times a year. i also shoot a lot out at my duck club in the winter on the bluebird days when the ducks are not flying. i hunt coyotes a few times a year usually and i have a few spots that are great for mountain quail and varment. in between hunting my family and friends do a lot of camping and shooting. a lot of times when i hunt my friends and i will stay out and shoot for a while.

i guess on quality id like to err on the side of higher quality. im not trying to compete on a bench but id like like to be able to shoot the highest quality i can. i have two rifles built by a gunsmith called accuracy systems that i would like to develope some loads for to try to see what groups they are capable of. one is a mini 14 in .223 and the other is a remington 700 in 300winmag. my other rifles range in quality and are used for hunting except for my ar 15 which, other than maybe an occasional ground squirrel, is just for plinking. i love all my guns and i love to test myself and my guns against my friends and to set personal bests on group sizes. so where that puts me between plinking and palma match quality, ill let you be the judge and advise me accordingly.

hopefully that can help you advise me on what to get.

anyway ive been doing more research. ive had the some specific advice from a member here in a P.M. I just read the book: the abc's of reloading. i think ive set upon buying a single stage press, at least for now. id like to buy a high quality one. i was thinking of the forster, i saw it on sale for like $250 ish. also my local sportsmans warehouse is having a sale on the rock chucker kit right now that has the press and a scale and a bunch of basic stuff for about $250 also. im not sure what im going to yet.

anyone here using the forster? also what are your thoughts on the hornady lock and load bushings? seems like it would be pretty good for me because i think im going to be doing a lot of caliber changes. thanks again for all the advice, it is much aprreciated.

codefour
September 24, 2011, 04:35 AM
Well, here is my $ 0.02 worth from a member that was in the same boat as you a 18 months ago.

The progressive vs. single stage dilemna in my experience, there is not much difference when it comes to accuracy with two exceptions: You will have greater observation and quality control on a single stage. I load my hunting / match ammunition on a single stage because I like to trickle the exact, desired charge. I guess you could trickle on a pogressive but would be rather tedious.

I started with a used Rock Chucker Jr ($40 from fleabay) and then purchased a Redding Big Boss II. The Redding press is IMHO better than a standard R/C and has greater levereage. It is offset at the case openeing and the spent primer collection is really good. The slide primer arm works great as well. It is onyl 20 or 30 more dollars than the R/C.

But, a progressive does have its place. When i am loading bulk blasting ammo in .223, I can crank out the rounds on my RCBS Pro 2000.

Start on a single and work your way up. Your reloading bench will grow. Mine did. I had to build a second bench! I didnt mind.

rfwobbly
September 24, 2011, 08:57 AM
the calibers id like to load are 204 ruger, 223, 22-250, 308, 300wsm, 300 win mag. so 100% rifle.

hopefully that can help you advise me on what to get.

anyway ive been doing more research. ive had the some specific advice from a member here in a P.M. I just read the book: the abc's of reloading. i think ive set upon buying a single stage press, at least for now. id like to buy a high quality one. i was thinking of the forster, i saw it on sale for like $250 ish. also my local sportsmans warehouse is having a sale on the rock chucker kit right now that has the press and a scale and a bunch of basic stuff for about $250 also. im not sure what im going to yet.

anyone here using the forster? also what are your thoughts on the hornady lock and load bushings? seems like it would be pretty good for me because i think im going to be doing a lot of caliber changes. thanks again for all the advice, it is much appreciated.

Ah! Thank you. Now we can get somewhere!

► Your PM was correct. You're going to reload less than 50 rifle rounds, with a maximum of maybe 3 calibers per week, with the caliber mix changing throughout the year. I too will tell you that any kind of true progressive will be a waste of your time and money because of the need for "case trim". Therefore your choices are (only in order of number of choices) single-stage, traditional turret, or maybe the Lee classic turret.

► Understand that in the context of quality , anything you reload is going to be twice the quality of factory rounds, even if you use a rusty Rock Chucker from the late 1960's. So if you are typically satisfied with the accuracy of factory, then you'll be grinnin' like a pig in you-know-what after you settle in with whatever system you choose.

► The average reloader with your needs typically ends up with a mixture of brands. That is to say, since there in no single kit that supplies everything you need, reloaders of your genre typically 'pick and choose' to get the best pieces from several brands. Most of these people end up with 5-7 different brands over 20 years in the hobby. Picking the best of this and that as the need arises, and as time and money allow. But if you're willing to hurry things up a bit and 'spend your children's inheritance' then it can be done from the start!

The Press
You want a good strong press with LOTS of leverage. Make sure the press will open wide enough to accept your longest cartridge. O-frame presses (like the RCBS Rock Chucker, and Redding Big Boss) are the most prevalent, which, due to frame flexure/distortion, are usually preferred over the open-front C-frame. A twist on this would be the traditional turret like the Redding T-7 or Lyman T-Mag. These allow you to leave a greater number of dies in-place, which can be an asset when you don't own a spare press for odd jobs. The Forester has a action all it's own. It is the least common press but may be the most accurate, that is to say, bench rest quality.

For the budget conscientious, Lee makes several presses which are all half the price of those above which can be great ways to start off.

Considering everything, cleanliness will probably play a huge part in your 'gosh I wish I would have known' list 1 year from today. May I suggest starting with the Redding line up and work up or down from there.

Scales / Powder Measures
You have 2 ways to go. You can get a basic beam scale and a good powder measure which is accurate, inexpensive, and will sever you for decades. Or you can get a high-end electronic scale that measures out every load. You have previously pointed to the later, and if you can afford it, this would be a great way to go. What you do not want to have is a cheap electronic sale anywhere in the mix.

Static is a big issue in dealing with powder. Therefore great powder measures tend to have all metal parts. The exception to this are the high-end electronic scale dispenser types.

Trimmers
All bottleneck rifle cartridges have to be trimmed at some point. Trimming is a pain and the "better" trimmers tend to be motorized simply because some of us here trim 500 to 1000 cases at a time. That's not you. Any basic hand operated trimmer, as long as it's bolted down, will serve you well. Start with the Lyman as the low-end choice and work up. The Lyman offers a drill motor adapter if the job gets to be too much. Avoid anything that's not bench-mounted.

Starter Kits
Of the starter kits, the Lyman T-Mag comes the closest to what you need due to it including a case trimmer. RCBS Rock Chucker and Hornady Classic are probably next. None of these kits includes a 6" caliper. Most of these kits do include a bottom-end electronic scale of dubious life expectancy.

Hope this helps!

35 Whelen
September 24, 2011, 10:49 AM
You want a good strong press with LOTS of leverage.


While I agree that presses with lots of leverage are nice they certainly aren't required. I have an old Rockchucker (and by the way, a "rusty Rock Chucker from the late 1960's" is as good as the latest, greatest, shiniest O-frame press. That's why they've been around for 40+ years) as well as an older Hornady 007. I still find myself using the petite little Lyman turret press even though it doesn't have near the leverage. On that little turret press I've loaded a couple dozen calibers ranging from the .22 Hornet to a 358 Norma Mag and that inclides straight wall numbers like the 45-70, 357 Mag., etc.
Don't over think this. Just buy good equipment!
35W

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