reloading beginner equipment, supplies ?'s


December 29, 2011, 05:01 PM
I have a POF-P415 Ar-15, 16" barrel with a 1-7 twist chambered to 5.56 that I am going to be loading for. I bought the Lee breech lock press kit and the Lee deluxe die set. I have the the following handbooks: Lyman 44th and 48th edition, Speer #6 and #12, Honrady book of cartridge reloading, the ABC's of reloading, and Hodgdon's basic reloading manual. As for supplies I bought a pound of h335 to start with, a thousand lc brass from, thousand 62g fmj surplus from, a case of federal primers, and one shot case lube.

Am I missing anything that i need?
what is the best way to clean brass?
What are some preffered powders?

Any advice, techniques, and wisdom is greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

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December 29, 2011, 05:38 PM
I'm still new myself, but how are you measuring/weighing out your powder? You need a scale or dispenser for that. Probably case trimming tools too since you are loading rifle brass

Master Blaster
December 29, 2011, 05:49 PM
and one shot case lube.

A tool to remove stuck cases from your sizing die if you use oneshot. Some different lube like imperial sizing wax, a good scale like an RCBS balance. A good powder measure, redding benchrest. You can prime on the breech lock if it has the lee press priming tool, or get an RCBS hand priming tool. You need a zinc primer flip tray if you use the press primer, the hand tool will come with its own flip tray.

December 29, 2011, 07:30 PM
I've resized several hundred cases using one shot, and I've only had one stuck. It got stuck on the neck expander so I didn't even need a tool to get it out. I put all my cases in an old ammo tray, spray them, rotate 1/4 and spray again. The Lee lube that came with the kit will also work if the one shot doesn't.

The OP mentioned the Breech Lock Press kit. It comes with a Perfect Powder Measure and Lee scale. It also comes with a case trimmer, but you'll need one of these ( to use it for .223.

You'll need a caliper and a bullet puller is nice to have, but not needed. The best way to clean brass is with a tumbler like this one ( This is the tumbler I use, but there are lots of good ones, and other places to get them. I use Zilla Lizard litter for media.

H335 is a popular powder for .223 and meters well. Varget is good for accuracy but doesn't meter well. Just check for load data before buying the powder and there are lots of powders that might work well.

Your press has a plastic tube to direct spent primers to a trash can, but I bought a cork from the hardware store, put it in and just empty when full. Much easier.

I hope that you are reloading for quality or fun. You won't be able to produce ammunition quickly enough with this set if you shoot a lot and the money you save may be offset by the time it takes to load them. It'll be easy to shoot off an hour's work in a few minutes with an AR. You can save time by priming pistol rounds on the press, but with a rifle it'll probably be fast to use the Auto Prime. Just leave the priming tool in the ram to keep the spent primers going the right way.

December 29, 2011, 08:06 PM
Master crack me up! My sentiments exactly! I know a lot of people love it, but the only time I have EVER had stuck cases was with 223s and OneShot. Perhaps I'm just too old school. :D

December 29, 2011, 08:12 PM
Sounds like you have a good start.

You will need to be able to trim the cases. You will need the Lee case gauge and trimmer shell holder to go with the cutter that J_McLeod said came in the kit.

You can do without the calipers and trim every case every time but with a caliper, you can only trim the cases that are too long. Trimming is my least favorite reloading task. Midway has digital calipers on sale for $20, dial calipers for $30 right now.

With a single stage press, do things in batches. Do a bunch of resizing, then trimming, cleaning, priming, and finally reloading. It will go faster than trying to do several steps sequentially. Later, if and when you get a Lee turret press or a progressive, things will change a bit.

I prefer to prime with a hand tool even when I am using a progressive. Particularly with a single stage, a hand priming tool like the Lee Auto Prime XR can be a time saver.

Enjoy your new hobby.

December 29, 2011, 08:18 PM
You can do without the calipers and trim every case every time but with a caliper, you can only trim the cases that are too long. Trimming is my least favorite reloading task. Midway has digital calipers on sale for $20, dial calipers for $30 right now.

True, but you'll also need one to make sure the finished rounds are the right length. Sometimes Harbor freight has them for $10.

I hate trimming and am willing to pay for brass that doesn't need to be trimmed.

December 30, 2011, 12:19 AM
I got the $10 (with coupon) HF digital caliper & am very impressed with it. I figured it would be a "you get what you pay for" type deal but this is a very nice mic - esp for for $10!

Does the deluxe set come with the full length sizing die or just the neck one? You might want a FL die if your set doesn't have it.

Franklin has a very inexpensive vibratory tumbler. Got mine on Amazon for $40ish. While at HF getting your $10 caliper, get the 25 lb box of fine crushed walnut media. I forget how much it was but it was cheap, & it's enough to last for long, long time. I added a couple squirts of liquid car polish & my cases come out looking very nice. If you want to go the ultrasonic route, HF has a nice sized cleaner for under $65 (use the 20% coupon for it). I'm using both - initial cleaning with the US & then final polishing of assembled ammo (totally unnecessary but makes it prettier) in the tumbler. The ultrasonic alone does a really good job and it scrubs out the primer pockets so there isn't a separate step of cleaning them.

Someone recommended the RCBS hand priming tool. I've never used it but have the Lee one that costs 1/2 as much. They both look very similar so unless there's something I'm missing that the RCBS offers that the Lee doesn't, I'd say get the Lee one. It's really easy to use & I like it a lot.

I have the Lee & Possum hollow case trimmers. Forget which thread it was, but I recently put up a mini review/comparison of the two. Both are nice tools, but buy the adapters for either to use with a cordless drill if you have a lot of (1k) brass to go thru. If you're just going to do a few a day, you can do it by hand, but for large batches you'll be glad you spent the $9 for the drill adapter. I have the RCBS and the Lee chamfer/deburr tools. Both are inexpensive. The RCBS one costs a lot more but is a much heavier tool and easier to use powered or by hand. But they both do the same thing.

I haven't tried any other lube than the RCBS case lube 2. It's cheap, a 2oz bottle will outlast the 1k of brass you have thru all its reloadings, and it's water based so it will wash away in the ultrasonic cleaner with no problems. One Shot might also - never used it so don't know.

If your kit came with the Lee Safety Scale, get something else. Dipper, measure, digital, whatever. It's ok, but if your plan is to just use that for all your powder measuring you're a very patient person. It's good to verify your faster measure, but if its all you have, you'll really hate it. You'll also need something to get the powder into the case. the .223 neck is too small to pour it directly in from the scale pan or a dipper. I have the RCBS funnel & really hate it, but it's all I have. It gets *most* of the powder in the case, but I'd prefer that it got *all* of it instead of dumping some on my table every time. Next time I'm at Target I'll check the kitchen stuff to see if there's a plain old funnel small enough to fit inside the case mouth - the RCBS one goes around it which allows it to dump some powder outside the case. I might not be using it right, but it is just a funnel after all - would be hard to get that wrong.

You'll need more powder. a little under 4 lb for 1k. Smart just getting 1lb to start in case you don't like it. I'm using H335 also & it seems really good. But there's a bunch & everyone likes what they like. A lot of cheaper ones out there too for .223 that people really like.

I've read & asked about primers. There's conflicting info out there on whether you should use a harder military or magnum primer with an AR due to the floating firing pin. Since I don't know, I'm playing it safe & using CCI #41. I'm maybe paying a 1.5 "premium" vs other brands/types but since it *might* be safer, I can live with that. I'll save money buying Lee stuff whenever practical so I can splurge on primers :)

You didn't mention if your LC brass was new or 1x fired. If it is 1x fired or if you have M193, M855, etc (military surplus) in your stash that you'll want to reload you'll need something to remove primer crimps.

What else? There's lots of little odds & ends. Ammo boxes are really nice to put your finished rounds in. I like the semi-clear plastic ones. Just write on them with a sharpie to note what is where in the box & then wipe it off with alcohol to remove the sharpie later. The large Ziplock or Gladware plastic containers that are rectangle shaped (around 8x10x3") are really handy & cheap. As you're moving your brass from stage to stage, you can keep it segregated in those containers & the lids keep you from dumping them by accident. At every step, you need some sort of container for what needs processed & what has just been processed if you're working in batches. The ziplocks are perfect for that. They hold about 350 pieces of brass and the sides are low enough it's real easy to reach in - unlike something taller like a coffee can. You can also do the sharpie thing to mark what's in them or what stage they're in (i.e "sized to 1.750 and deburred" or "primed & ready to load").

If you don't have a stout workbench, get or build one. I thought it would be a great idea to use a small folding steel portable workbench with a top clamped to it. That way I could fold it up & put everything away when not in use to save some space. What a bad idea! You need a sturdy, level table. I quickly made a really small - 36"x18" - workbench, but it's rock solid. Made it with laminated 2x4s and a 3/4 hardwood top. I mounted the press to a piece of 6x12x1" red oak and C clamp it to the tabletop. I can get the press off the table in seconds to use it for other stuff. I built another much smaller one to sit next to the main workbench to hold the scales. that way I'm not bumping them and working the press isn't affecting them. Probably not a big deal if you have a nice big bench & work area, but being cramped like I am, it's nice. Again, if you're using the little Lee scale, you really want it segregated from anything else. So easy to bump it or the table & get it hung up on itself or knock it out of zero. Anyway, for the bench and the little scale table, I drilled a 45 pilot down thru the bottom of each leg & then secured to the floor with a 3" deck screw. Kind of the best of both worlds for me - I have a compact space saving design but the sturdiness of a huge, heavy workbench.

Lastly, this site is a great resource. I'm a newb too & have found the members here are extremely patient and helpful. Most gun-related boards have their share of knucleheads, but this community seems to be the exception.

Oh I almost forgot. You need to find a huge jar. Something like those huge glass pickle jars you see in bars sometimes. You'll have to search because most stuff is plastic nowadays, but you want the largest glass jar you can find. Whenever you buy primers, take them out of all that cardboard & plastic they come in & dump them immediately into the pickle jar. :evil:

December 30, 2011, 01:23 AM
the brass i have is once fired mill surplus, I'm reloading for both fun and quality i have an eddystone 1917 30-06 and a 03A3 i will eventually start loading for figured i'd learn with the 223 then get a better press and just use the breech lock for the 30-06 rounds.

What would you suggest to remove primer crimps?

I've heard of primers in glass:what:.....never ends well haha

and thanks again for all the advice all is valuable to me

December 30, 2011, 01:32 AM
What would you suggest to remove primer crimps?

Dillon Super Swage 600 (

Supposedly one of the better solutions. There is considerable force required if you use a "die type" swager.

The cheap solution is to just ream them out with a dull screwdriver, but I believe the above tool will be both easier to use and give more consistent results.

December 30, 2011, 01:51 AM
For crimp removal it's up to you. I just found out the hard way that my RCBS primer pocket swager won't work on my press, but it's a $20 option if it will work on yours.

The Dillon Super Swage 600 looks very nice but it's a $100 single purpose tool.

If you go Midway's website & put "military crimp" in the search box you'll see a bunch of different options for swaging or trimming the crimp.

It looks like a lot of the "trim it away" options would be real easy to overdo and ruin the pocket but that might not be the case. Since I've never used them that's just speculation FWIW.

For the ones I've done so far, I'm just seating the primers with the Lee Auto Prime XR without doing anything about the crimp. Most have just gone right in smoothly. A few have had some resistance & felt like they were binding a little but still seated. This is probably not a good practice and might rank up there with the glass jar.

December 30, 2011, 10:00 AM
Just get a <$10 primer pocket reamer for cases with crimped primers.
The key to getting the cost down in reloading is buy in bulk quantity. 1K or more bullets, 5K primers and 8# of powder for starters. Bulk cost are substantially cheaper.
If you shoot much you'll be looking at a progressive press soon. If you can afford one, a progressive press is the way to go starting out. Regardless of what others may say, you can ALWAYS load 1 round at a time like in a single stage on a progressive until you feel comfortable.

Kevin Rohrer
December 30, 2011, 04:56 PM
If you read the Lyman manual (#49 is current), the Basics section in front will answer your question.

February 7, 2012, 06:57 PM
Some said that a caliper is not needed at first. IMO I would put a digital or dial caliper on top of your list. You are going to need one without a doubt. And the lee scale is OK at best IMO. I use a RCBS 10-10 scale. You should upgrade your scale to something similar ASAP as well.
Get a decent scale and a caliper and sounds like you are ready to reload. One more thing.. I find the lee case lube to do just fine, a little goes a long way. Have fun and dont be in a rush when on the reloading bench. take care.....

February 7, 2012, 07:27 PM
Someone recommended the RCBS hand priming tool. I've never used it but have the Lee one that costs 1/2 as much. They both look very similar so unless there's something I'm missing that the RCBS offers that the Lee doesn't, I'd say get the Lee one. It's really easy to use & I like it a lot.

the RCBS hand priming tool doesn't require special shellholders. it uses the same shellholders you use on the press. RCBS also has a universal version that doesn't require any shellholder.

February 7, 2012, 09:42 PM
I use the RCBS primer pocket swage die for mil crimps. It works for 5.56x45 and 7.62x51. Under $30.

Hornady OneShot works ok for 5.56 but I prefer LEE case lube. I lube every fifth case or so inside the neck and the body of the brass. The rest I lube the body as I handle them putting them in the press. If the press is getting tough on brass, about every fifth piece, I grab a piece that is from the inside neck lube and standard body lube pile. Imperial is nice, but LEE seems to clean off much easier. YMMV.

February 7, 2012, 09:56 PM
A tool to remove stuck cases from your sizing die if you use oneshot.

Good show !

Some equipment I would recommend :

A caliper. Digitaler the better !

A bullet comparator ( trying to get pointy bullets to COAL is tricky without it)

A primer pocket cutter. Especially useful unmangling your primer pockets while you are getting good at removing military crimps..... you will mangle quite a few. They are also very useful for cutting an even pocket base which is especially useful when learning the force required to seat primers correctly.

Mike 27
February 7, 2012, 10:18 PM
Use the one shot and see if you like it. Spray liberally and let it dry a few minutes. I have used it for 3 years and never had a problem or one stuck case. You need a caliper and a puller and you should be good to get started.

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