Getting started reloading: which caliber?


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carbuncle
December 24, 2011, 11:31 PM
So I asked for the Lee Anniversary Press kit for Christmas: a Midway box was sighted at the door and there's a present under the tree that looks suspiciously like universal shell tray so I think I'm on my may. Now I need to decide which of the three calibers I own that I should start loading for. Keep in mind that I'm a complete rookie!

Ugh: meant to ad a poll in here...

So, I own guns in:

.380
9mm Parabellum
.40 S&W

What's your opinion on which is the best to start loading for?

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Metal Tiger
December 24, 2011, 11:42 PM
Well lets see what the wisdom speakers say.

First get the Lyman Reloading Manual and read it through before getting in too deep.

For me I would ask you which caliber do you shoot the most of? Second, I think the price difference between commercial 9mm and 40 cal is fairly large so it would be cost effective to load for the 40 cal first.

Once you get up and running on the 40 or the 9mm to add the other caliber would be faily simple using the same primers. The .380 I would leave to last unless you shoot it a great deal.

Finally, maybe the Lee came with some dies? That would be the ones to start with.

J_McLeod
December 24, 2011, 11:42 PM
I'd start with the 9mm. All three are pretty similar to load, but I think the 9mm has the most load data, and widest selection of bullets, though the 40 is pretty close. I'd suggest Win231/HP-38 as it can be used in all three, but there are other popular powders that also work with them all.

Good point, you might have to start with the ones you have dies for. The .380 will also mean a significant cost advantage.

carbuncle
December 24, 2011, 11:46 PM
No dies yet, it's a blank page. Still need to load up on some more supplies before I get started, but I do have a metric crap-ton of 9mm range pickup brass and half a metric crap-ton of .40 brass. I do shoot less .380 than the others, so setting that to the end of the line is probably good advice.

Metal Tiger
December 24, 2011, 11:49 PM
Since you have lots of brass for the 40 and 9mm, flip a coin.

Heads its 40 cal, tails is 9mm. You can't loose:)

J_McLeod
December 24, 2011, 11:50 PM
Do both. Same shell holder, same powder, all three use the same primers. If you plan it right you can use the same settings on the powder measure.

kingmt
December 25, 2011, 12:10 AM
I'd buy all 3 at one time & save the shipping. Factory Sales is the cheapest but shipping is $15 no matter how many you buy.

zxcvbob
December 25, 2011, 12:19 AM
.380 because it's a lower-pressure cartridge, so it's less susceptible to small variations. Also the ammo is pretty hard to find sometimes.

.38 Special or .44 Special or .45 ACP would be better yet.

ArchAngelCD
December 25, 2011, 12:31 AM
All 3 are similar and none are difficult to reload. If you want to load only 1 for now pick the one you shoot the most...

carbuncle
December 25, 2011, 01:16 AM
Thanks for all the input, folks. Merry Christmas!

kingmt
December 25, 2011, 01:26 AM
380 is the most likly to cause problems.

1SOW
December 25, 2011, 01:43 AM
JMcLeod:

I'd start with the 9mm. All three are pretty similar to load, but I think the 9mm has the most load data, and widest selection of bullets, though the 40 is pretty close. I'd suggest Win231/HP-38 as it can be used in all three, but there are other popular powders that also work with them all.



I totally agree. If you had a 45ACP on your list, I would have picked that hands down. It's a LOT more forgiving of reloading variations than the all high pressure rds your using.

Your 9mm gives you the most load choices and availability of components when just starting out. Free range brass is also a BIG plus.

mookiie
December 25, 2011, 01:44 AM
I would be sure to get a digital powder scale and a lee auto-disk powder measure if you plain to do pistol reloading.

FROGO207
December 25, 2011, 09:12 AM
OH-OH You have opened a can of reloading worms.:D The reloading dies are like Frito's you can't just have one.:evil: I am up to over 41 calibers these days and lusting for a set of 45-90 dies as we speak. Do get a reloading book or three at least. The propellant manufacturers will provide a free paper book just for the asking. The bullet manufacturers do charge money for theirs but IMHO it is money well spent, I prefer the Speer manual the most. The on line stuff is great and always up to date but I am the kind of guy that likes a piece of paper in my hands to compare side by side with. Also paper will still work when the internet is down or you are in an area that has no access. Hope you get just what you were wanting.:cool:

Blue68f100
December 25, 2011, 09:38 AM
I would suggest the 9mm or 40 first. The 380 has such a small case and loads are so light the std error deviation of the powder charges is the greatest. There is lots of data for the 9mm so start there.

Enjoy your new adventure. Be careful, don't rush that's when mistakes happen. If ever in dought, ask. There is no such thing as a dumb question when you working with controlled explosions. The search feature on this forum will find the answer to most questions.

Now to get the most savings out of reloading you must buy supplies in Bulk. 5k+ primer, bullets. As for powders, buy local if you can, 1 lb at a time till you find the one you like, then buy the larger 4-8# cans. Remember there is a $25 HAZMAT Fee added to all orders + S&H when buying on line. So when you decide to buy take that into consideration, it can easily double the cost of a 1# can of powder.

Walkalong
December 25, 2011, 01:57 PM
All 3 are similar and none are difficult to reload. If you want to load only 1 for now pick the one you shoot the most...Agreed.

carbuncle
December 25, 2011, 02:09 PM
Thanks for all the advice! I did get the Anniversary press kit, so it looks like all the range pick-up brass will finally get put to use. I've had the ABC's of Reloading for about a year, read it several times, and I plan on getting the Lee and Lyman books before I get started (like I said, I still have some supplies to pick up). I went with the single-stage press because, while I'm only shooting pistol right now, I plan on reloading for numerous rifle, revolver and pistol cartridges eventually and I want to take it slow to get it right before I graduate to the world of progressive press reloading. I've also been lurking in this forum for some time and picking up tips: the stickies are extremely helpful and I'm looking forward to getting my bench put together once all of my other holiday break tasks are taken care of.

Mike 27
December 25, 2011, 05:22 PM
I personally like the larger cases. I do alot of 9mm, howver with the lee deburring and chamfer tool you will not be able to debur the outside of the smaller cases, unless someone else has a trick. I think you will enjoy the 40 a bit better than the small rounds. It may just be me but they annoy me doing the case prep on them.

1SOW
December 25, 2011, 09:17 PM
Mike27, there is virtually zero benefit from deburring/chamfering 9mm Luger cases. I'm getting closer to 30,000 proofs for this statement every day.

Clean 'em, polish if you prefer (I do), size them properly, load them and shoot them.

AFK
December 25, 2011, 10:35 PM
Mike27, there is virtually zero benefit from deburring/chamfering 9mm Luger cases. I'm getting closer to 30,000 proofs for this statement every day.

Clean 'em, polish if you prefer (I do), size them properly, load them and shoot them.
+1 on this. That's all I do for my 9mm, .45, and .38 special. I also will do that with my .380 as well once I start, which will be tomorrow.

JO JO
December 25, 2011, 11:14 PM
I would get a good reloading book and start with the 9mm lots of data,and componets
are preaty cheap as far as brass and bullets so much info on 9mm and try to pick a powder that fills up the case a slower burning safer to start with just my opinion
good luck its a fun a addicting hobby

thorn-
December 26, 2011, 01:43 AM
I have *never* deburred or chamfered a 9mm... and never plan to, either. Tumble, reload, shoot, repeat.

thorn

gamestalker
December 26, 2011, 02:23 AM
I would start with the .40 because it is the least sensitive to things like seating depth and powder increments. .380 and 9mm are both easier to experience pressure spikes with from powder and seating depth variables. Speer states in their #10 that in testing they found that a load deliberately seated .030" deeper than published minimum experienced pressure spikes of more than double the published estimate going from 28,000 to 62,000.

But regardless of which you decide to start with, some suggestions I have to keep you on a safe track, would be the powder you choose. In this respect, I would go with a slow burning powder because they are less pressure reactive regarding spiking, due to small variations a new reloader may have, and, accidental double charges slipping by unnoticed are virtually impossible because the charge won't fit into the case.

Another thing I would do is start with jacketed bullets. The published data and process is far more straight forward than with non jacketed. It's common for most new reloader's to have issues finding data for lead bullets such as OAL considerations, crimping issues, and a huge mass of varied powder data because of so many different types of lead projectile and hardness ratings, just to name a few of the matters you'll encounter. It can get quite confusing and even over whelming. Nothing wrong with loading lead once your comfortable with the basic process of reloading, but honestly speaking I've never loaded lead and not just because of my opinion that it is plagued with variables as stated above, and a few other's, but I won't put it through my firearms.

beatledog7
December 26, 2011, 08:00 AM
Both 9mm and .40 are easy to reload as long as you stick with FMJ or JHP bullets. Plated bullets are easy as well except for the sometime confusion over what load data to use. Lead bullets can be problematic because of the great variance in ogive shape and chamber tolerances.

It's wise for first time reloaders to match bullets to specific load data; e.g., to load Hornady JHPs, meticulously follow Hornady's starting data for that bullet number. Success is thus assured. Experience teaches reloaders how to interpolate data that doesn't match the exact bullet they want to load.

I very lightly chamfer the inside of semi-auto pistol cases because it's easy to do while I'm cleaning primer pockets. I do not chamfer the outside since the round needs that edge to achieve headspace.

I've read a lot on this and other fora and have talked in person with a number of experienced reloaders; many load semi-auto calibers without chamfering or cleaning pockets to no apparent ill effect, so maybe taking these steps also makes no rational sense. For me, the ease of flaring and getting bullets started into a chamfered case and the amount of crud that I get out of the primer pockets are why I do take these steps.

RandyP
December 26, 2011, 09:55 AM
Congrats on the gift. The Lee Anniv kit is a great affordable entry into this hobby and is built to last a lifetime.

9mm is a good start. Lots of load data out there and plenty of 115gr and 124gr plated or FMJ round nosed bullets available.

I use Win 231/HP-38 for all four of my calibers -.380, 9mm, 32-20 Nagant and .45ACP. Works great, not pricey and meters VERY reliably in my two different Lee dispensers. The bench mount one that came with your kit is very consistent. The Pro Disk is used on the turret and progressive press.

You need calipers, the $9 digital ones forom Harbor Freight work well, and look to be exactly the same model made in China sold under numerous 'house brand names' for twice that price.

To start out focus on powder charge and OAL, stay low-mid range on the load data published. The Lee self-help videos show all you need to know about setting up their dies.

Happy Reloading
http://leeprecision.com/xcart/Single-Station-Adj.html

Pick up a breech lock bushing for each die - they do not cost much and make swapping dies a snap without changing die settings.

carbuncle
December 26, 2011, 11:40 PM
More very helpful advice and perspectives, thanks again!

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