Going to start reloading: Set up, Required Equipment Etc.


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CmdrSlander
January 1, 2012, 12:16 AM
I know enough about reloading to know that I want to do it :) I've always been a bit of geek and like to work on my computers, guns etc. so reloading is a natural extension of that. I can't shoot all that often but when I do I spend a good bit of time at the range and spend a fair amount on ammo. I love shooting and firearms but the range is a long way away, reloading would give me something firearms related to do when I'm can't make it to the range but have spare time. I need a decent amount of education about reloading and some suggestions on what equipment to purchase. Specifically: Give me a list of everything I will need to buy (within reason) to reload: .45 ACP, .223 Remington and 30-06. I prefer Hornady ammo and have been saving brass for the aforementioned calibers for a while now, from what I have read Hornady is good brass to reload, am I correct? I'm not sure whether to get a single stage or progressive press, so opinions on that are welcome. Also, is it safe to reload in a populated area (risk of explosion)? My home is flanked by two others no more than 50 yards away, should they be informed? I'd be working out of my basement but have windows I could open if fumes or an issue.

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rcmodel
January 1, 2012, 12:21 AM
Why not read the Sticky at the top of this forum:
For the New Reloader: Thinking about Reloading; Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST

Right now, it's three threads above this one.

Then come back with questions about anything you don't understand.

I'm not even going to attempt to type answers to your questions until you get at least that far.

rc

CmdrSlander
January 1, 2012, 12:26 AM
completely missed that :banghead: reading it now.

J_McLeod
January 1, 2012, 12:28 AM
I'd recommend starting with a Lee turret kit. That will include everything you need start reloading except a caliper and components. It's between a progressive and single stage in speed and can reload all the calibers you asked about. You can also use it as a single stage if you like. I'd also recommend starting with the .45 ACP. Handgun brass is easier to reload since it doesn't need to be trimmed. Check out the stickies on this board for a load of good info. It is safe to reload in populated areas, it's no more dangerous than many other things we do in residential neighborhoods. At the least you'll need:

press
dies for each caliber
components, powder, primers, bullets, brass
powder scale
powder measure
caliper
solid workbench (check out the show us a picture of you bench sticky)

Rifle only:
case trimmer
chamfer/debur tool
case lube

CmdrSlander
January 1, 2012, 12:32 AM
What exactly do I have to trim with a case trimmer? And why wouldn't it have to be done on a pistol cartridge?

J_McLeod
January 1, 2012, 12:45 AM
Rifle cases tend to grow when fired. After a varied number of firings they grow beyond maximum length and must be trimmed. That is why reloading manuals will list a trim to and max length. Straight walled handgun cases do not grow as much when firing and generally are not trimmed and do not need to be.

One of the first things you'll need is a good manual. Get the Lyman #49 or the ABCs of reloading.

CmdrSlander
January 1, 2012, 12:56 AM
So, if I bought this: http://www.cabelas.com/presses-dies-lee-deluxe-turret-press-reloading-kit.shtml?WT.tsrc=CSE&WT.mc_id=GoogleBaseUSA&WT.z_mc_id1=740033&rid=40&mr:trackingCode=04127452-F5D2-DF11-82EF-001B21631C34&mr:referralID=NA What else would I need?

J_McLeod
January 1, 2012, 01:01 AM
Lyman #49 or ABCs of reloading
Die sets for each caliber
calipers
One of these for each rifle caliber http://www.midwayusa.com/product/107333/lee-case-length-gage-and-shellholder-223-remington
Double disk kit or powder measure for the rifles. Lee's perfect powder measure is one option. The Pro Auto disk in that kit won't dispense enough powder.
If you have the money, a turret for each caliber will make you much happier with it.

The reason to get the turret to start with is that it is inexpensive, easy to use and hard to break, and capable of producing more rounds than a single stage. About 1-200 per hour if you're good with it. If you like reloading and shoot a lot you'll want to upgrade to a progressive eventually.

CmdrSlander
January 1, 2012, 01:03 AM
Thanks!

J_McLeod
January 1, 2012, 01:07 AM
I don't see case lube in the picture. You'll need that too. If you look around, there are many threads on this board about where to find components.

Hondo 60
January 1, 2012, 02:38 AM
Manuals, manuals & more manuals.
RTFM (read the fine manuals)

Lyman's 49th is my favorite.
That's the absolute best place to start.

Lost Sheep
January 1, 2012, 03:04 AM
Here are 10 advices I composed for the new reloader.

My perspective is that of a handgun reloader, but I tried my best to make this universal, at least for metallic cartridges for handguns and rifles. Shotgunners, sorry, very little applies beyond the broadest generatlities.

When I first started (with a single stage press) I could produce about 50 per hour. I recommend doing things one process at a time. Multiple operations at a time are too complex for me to keep track of. My due care kept me moving too slowly. I used progressives for a while, but but finally have settle on a Lee Classic Turret as my preferred machine. Others may choose differently, but this one suits my style and temperament. I have thought of a few things I think are useful for handloaders to know or to consider which seem to be almost universal. So much is a matter of personal taste and circumstance, though. So, all advice carries this caveat, "your mileage may vary".

Bonus advice: Advice zero, if you will, "Why load?"

At the same time as I bought my first gun (.357 Magnum Dan Wesson revolver), I bought a reloading setup because I knew I could not afford to shoot if I did not reload my own ammo. It cost me about 1/4 of factory ammo per round and paid for itself pretty quickly. However, most shooters will not realize any savings at all. Instead of shooting for 1/4 the ammo cost, you will shoot four times as much for the same cost.

Eventually, however, handloading can be more than a means to an end (money savings or increased accuracy). It became a satisfying satisfying pastime in itself.

The pride of punching tiny groups in paper or harvesting game with anmmunition you created yourself is great. The independence to create your own designer bullets (velocity you choose, bullet shape you select, recoil you adjust to your purpose teaching someone to shoot a 44 magnum is much easier if you can start them off with soft-shooting loads, for example). Independence - priceless.

Now, here are my Ten Advices.

Advice #1 Use Reliable Reference Sources Wisely
Books, Videos, Web Sites, etc. Study up in loading manuals until you understand the process well, before spending a lot of money on equipment. I found "The ABC's of Reloading" to be a very good reference. Short on loading data but full of knowledge and understanding of the process. Check out offerings in your local library. Dated, perhaps but the basics are pretty unchanging. Read as many manuals as you can, for the discussion of the how-to steps. What one manual covers thinly, another will cover well.

As far as load data in older manuals, the powder manufacturers and bullet manufacturers may have better information and their web sites are probably more up to date. But pay attention to what the ammunition was test-fired from. (regular firearm vs a sealed-breech pressure test barrel, for example) The reason you want more than one or two manuals is that you want to read differing authors/editors writing styles and find ones that "speak" to you. You also get better coverage of the subject; one author or editor may cover parts of the subject more thoroughly than the others. The public library should have manuals you can read, then decide which ones you want to buy. There are instructional videos now that did not exist in the '70s when I started. Richard Lee's book "Modern Reloading" has a lot of food for thought, and does discuss the reasoning behind his opinions (unlike many manuals, and postings). Whether right or wrong, the issues merit thought, which that book initiates. It is not a simple book, though and you will find it provocative reading for many years. Only after you know the steps can you look at the contents of of a dealer's shelves, a reloading kit or a mail-order catalog and know what equipment you want to buy. If you are considering a loading kit, you will be in a better position to know what parts you don't need and what parts the kits lack.

Advice #2 All equipment is good. But is it good FOR YOU?
Almost every manufacturer of loading equipment makes good stuff; if they didn't, they would lose reputation fast and disappear from the marketplace. Cast aluminum is lighter and less expensive but not so durable (e.g. abrasion resistant) as cast iron. Cast iron lasts practically forever. Just think about what you buy. Ask around. Testimonials are nice. But if you thing Ford/Chevrolet owners have brand loyalty, you have not met handloaders. Testimonials with reasoning behind them are better. Better equipment costs more generally, and better customer service also translates to higher prices, usually. But there are exceptions. Lee Precision is generally considered the "economy" equipment maker, but some of their stuff is considered preferable to more expensive makes. (e.g. their hand primer)

Be aware that many handloaders don't use brand names, prefering themanufacturer's chosen color, instead. RCBS equipment is almost all green; Dillon, blue; Lee, red. Almost no manufacturers cross color line, so many handloaders simply identify themselves as "Blue" or whatever. But this is not 100%. I have a Lee Powder Scale that is green. On Kits: Almost every manufacturer (and retailer) makes a kit that contains everything you need to do reloading (except consumables). A kit is decent way to get started (with less puzzling over unknowable questions). Eventually most people wind up replacing most of the components of the kit as theirpersonal taste develops, but you will have gotten started, at least. Assembling your own kit takes more effort, but yields a good bit of knowledge as well as the equipment.

Advice #3 While Learning, don't get fancy.
Progressive or Single Stage? Experimental loads? While you are learning, load mid-range at first so overpressures are not concerns. Just concentrate on getting the loading steps right and being VERY VERY consistent (charge weight, crimp strength, seating depth, primer seating force, all that). Use a "fluffy" powder, that is, one that will overflow your cartridge case if you mistakenly put two powder charges in it, and is easy to verify that you have not missed charging a case with powder.

Some definitions are in order at this point: Press types: Single Stage, Turret and Progressive. Single stage press mounts one die at a time and performs one operation at a time. A turret press mounts multiple dies in separate stations, but still only performs one operation at a time on only one cartrdige at a time. A progressive press mounts several time dies in separate stations and performes multiple operations simultaneously. The single stage is best suited to batch processing. Take a batch of cases (ususally 20 or 50 or 100) and do step #1 to each case in the batch, then swap dies and do step #2 to each case, swap dies and so forth. A progressive is best suited to continuous processing. Take a batch of cases and feed them into the press. Each stroke of the operating handle performs all the steps (#1, #2, #3, etc) simultaneously on a number of cases, producing one round per stroke of the handle. A turret press can operate in batch mode as if it were a single stage, or continuous mode (by leaving one case in the press and performing all the steps, in continuous sequence on that one case, before moving on to the next case in the batch). That makes it LIKE a progressive because you take each cartridge from empty cast to finished round before moving on to the next cartridge (continuous processing). But it still only does one step at a time and takes multple strokes of the handle to produce each finished cartridge. In other words, a turret press is essentially a single stage press with a moveable head mounting several dies at the same time. What makes it like a single stage rather than a progressive is that you are still using only one die at a time, not three or four dies simultaneously at each stroke.

Whether you are learning on a single stage press, a turret press or a progressive press, perform only one step at a time during the learning process. It is too easy to miss something important when many things happen at the same time and are thus are hard to keep track of. Mistakes DO happen and you want to watch for them ONE AT A TIME until handloading becomes second nature to you. You can learn on a progressive, but it is easier to make mistakes during the learning process. Most reloaders recommend against starting to learn to load with a progressive. Many recommend a single stage. Also, a good, strong, single stage press is in the stable of every reloader I know, no matter how many progressives they have. They always keep at least one single-stage.

Advice #4 Find a mentor.
There is no substitute for someone watching you load a few cartridges and critiquing your technigue BEFORE you develop bad habits or make a dangerous mistake. (A mistake that might not have consequences right away, but maybe only after you have escaped trouble a hundred times until one day you get bit, for instance having case lube on your fingers when you handle primers 99 times, no problem because primers are coated with a sealant, but the hundredth primer may not be perfectly sealed and now winds up "dead")

I started loading with the guy who sold me my press watching over my shoulder as I loaded my first 6 rounds to make sure I did not blow myself up, load a powderless cartridge or set off a primer in the press. I could have learned more, faster with a longer mentoring period, but I learned a lot in those first 6 rounds, as he explained each step. I educated myself after that. But now, on the internet, I have learned a WHOLE LOT MORE. But in-person is still the best.

After you have been mentored, mentor someone else. Not necessarily in loading or the shooting sports, but in SOMETHING in which you are enthusiastic and qualified. Just give back to the community.

Advice #5 Design your loading space for safety, efficiency, cleanliness
When I started reloading, I did not use a loading bench at all. I just mounted the
press on a 2" x 6" plank long enough to wedge into the drawer of an end table My loading gear all fit in a footlocker and spread out on a coffeetable, end table and/or the lid of the footlocker. Good leverage meant the table did not lift or rock. I still use the same plank, but now it is mounted in a portable folding workbench. A loading bench "bolted to the center of the earth" (as some describe their setups) would be more stable, but I do not feel deprived without it. You will probably spill powder or drop a primer eventually, so consider what you have for a floor covering when you pick your reloading room/workspace. I would not try to vacuum up spilt gunpowder unless using a Rainbow vacuum which uses water as the filter medium. A dropcloth is a good idea. Cloth, not plastic.

Advice #6 Keep Current on loading technology
Always use a CURRENT loading manual. Powder chemistry has changed over the years. They make some powders differently than they used to and even some powder names may have changed. However, if you are using 10 year old powder, you may want to check a 10 year old manual for the recipe. Then double check with a modern manual and then triple check with the powder maker. Exception: "The ABC's of Reloading", an excellent tome on the general processes of reloading is timeless. Any edition in the past 40 years is good. Check your local library where you could read several for free.

Read several forums on reloading; here some I read.
TheFiringLine.com :: Handloading, Reloading, and Bullet Casting forums.accuratereloading.com/eve :: THE ACCURATE RELOADING.COM FORUMS RugerForum.com :: View Forum - Factory Ammunition and Reloading RugerForum.net
:: (there are some VERY EXPERT guys on this one,
including the illustrious Iowegan.)
TheHighRoad.org

Let me share with you some posts and threads I think you will enjoy. So get a large mug of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, whatever you keep on hand when you read and think. Then read through these. Don't read just my posts. These threads in their entirety will be useful to you. Like manuals, which have many different authors and different writing styles and emphasis different aspects of loading, the different authors of the posts in these threads will give a wide variety of viewpoints with different styles. Some writers may "speak" to you better than others.

The "sticky" thread at the top of TheFiringLine's reloading forum is good, entitled, "For the New Reloader: Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST " thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=230171

The "sticky" thread at the top of TheHighRoad.com's reloading forum is good, entitled, "For the New Reloader: Thinking about Reloading;
Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST"
thehighroad.org//showthread.php?t=238214

The first draft of my "10 Advices..." is on page 2 of this thread, about halfway down.
rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=13543

Most Recent Draft of "10 Advices for the Novice Handloader"
thehighroad.org/showthread.php?p=7672653

rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=22344

My thread, "Budget Beginning bench you will never outgrow for the novice handloader" was informed by my recent (July 2010) repopulation of my loading bench.
It is what I would have done 35 years ago if I had known then what I know now.
rugerforum.net/reloading/29385-budget-beginning-bench-you-will-never-outgrow-novice-handloader.html

I have a thread "To Kit or Not to Kit?" that describes different philosophies of buying or assembling a kit one piece at a time.
rugerforum.net/reloading/33660-kit-not-kit.html

rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=13543

Minimalist minimal (the seventh post down)
rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=107332

Thread entitled "Newby needs help."
thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=430391

My post 11 is entitled "Here's my reloading setup, which I think you might want to model" November 21, 2010)
Thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=439810

thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=448410 scale choice

Advice #7 You never regret buying the best (but once) When you buy the very best, it hurts only once, in the wallet. When you buy too cheaply it hurts every time you use the gear. The trick is to buy good enough (on the scale between high quality and low price) to keep you happy without overpaying.

Put one way: "The bitter taste of cheap equipment lingers long after the sweetness of bargain pricing wears off." Another way, "The sweetness of quality gear lasts much longer than the pain of the price paid."

Advice #8 Tungsten Carbide dies (or Titanium Nitride) T-C dies instead of regular tool steel (which require lubrication for sizing your brass) for your straight-walled cartridge cases. T-C dies do not require lubrication, which will save you time. For your rifles' bottlenecked cases, a carbide expander button avoids the need for lube on the inside of the cases.

Advice #9 Safety Always Safety All Ways.Wear eye protection, especially when working with primers. Gloves are good, too, especially if using the Lee "Hammer" Tools. Children (unless they are good helpers, not just playing around) are at risk and are a risk. Pets, too unless they have been vetted (no, not that kind of vetting). Avoid anything that might distract you (e.g. cause a no charge or a double charge, equally disturbing). Imagine everything that CAN go wrong. Then imagine everything that you CAN'T imagine.

I could go on, but it's your eyes, your fingers, your house, your children. Enough said?

Advice #10 Remember, verify for yourself everything you learn from casual sources. Believe only half of what you see and one quarter of what you hear. That goes double for everything you find on the internet (with the possible exception of the actual web sites of the bullet and powder manufacturers). This advice applies to my message as much as anything else and especially to personal load recipes. Hare-brained reloaders might have dangerous habits and even an honest typographical error could be deadly. I heard about a powder manufacturer's web site that dropped a decimal point once. It was fixed REAL FAST, but mistakes happen. I work in accounting and frequently hit "7" instead of "4" because they are next to each other on the keypad.

Good luck.

Lost Sheep

Lost Sheep
January 1, 2012, 03:17 AM
Welcome to reloading and thanks for asking our advice
And congratulations on determining to do research before jumping into the deep end.

Most of the Lee Turret Kits are built around the Lee Deluxe Turret. The press (the red part) body is aluminum. The Lee Classic Turret's body is cast iron. Cast iron is stronger and more durable than aluminum and most everybody recommends the Classic Turret over the Deluxe. The Classic Turret also handles spent primers better, has more vertical space for your hand to insert cases and bullets and a larger diameter ram, which enhances rigidity and durability.

The turret head itself for both presses is aluminum, but that is no big drawback and they are only $10 to $13 each.

Check Kempf's Gun Shop online for a nice kit built around the Classic Turret. Sue Kempf uses one herself. Talk to her if you can.

Do not get the Lee Classic Turret mixed up with the Lee Classic Cast. The Classic Cast is a single stage press.

Lost Sheep

Blue68f100
January 1, 2012, 11:11 AM
Welcome on your new to be Hobby. It will can can provide a lifetime of enjoyment.

If your going to be loading high volume of pistol ammo don't over look a progressive. Most all can run a single round through using 1 die. I do prefer that newbe's start with a SS setup to learn how to correctly setup the dies. If you are reloading for more than one gun the same caliber the use of shims under the die locking ring can be used to make the fine tweek in sizing. Then as your get more comfortable you can start the progressive or auto progressive. You did not mention what your needs are target, bullseye or just general plinking. Rifle target for accuracy will require the most detail so every one is the same and is best done on a SS. Not that a progressive will not work it's that tighter tolerances can be held with a SS press easier.

The Hornady dies are among of the best you can get. There presses are very good too and is also Red.

Just because a press is made of Al does not mean it's weak. If you look at material specs some grades of Al is stronger than some steels. Buy equipment with a Lifetime Warranty and don't look back. If a press only has a 3 yr warranty or less will tell you it's not built to last the long haul. The RCBS Rockchucker is among the best SS press you can get. Built like a tank and will last generations.

Just a little reminder. You are working with controlled explosions, if you mess up it can be bad. No wild catting, go by the books and confirm the load with at least 2 other sources.

Be safe...

CmdrSlander
January 1, 2012, 03:21 PM
Quick question, I'm on Hornady's website looking for my preferred 68 grain Boat Tail FMJ's but can't find them in the .223 caliber section, in the .224 caliber section I can find them. According to the internet .223 Remington uses a .224 diameter bullet, so am I clear to use the .224 Hornady bullets in my .223 Remington Reloads, correct?

J_McLeod
January 1, 2012, 03:23 PM
Yes, .224 is correct for a .223 Remington or 5.56x45 NATO.

CmdrSlander
January 1, 2012, 03:35 PM
Thanks J_Mcleod. Do you know what the "old standby" powder is for .223? I haven't had a chance to pick up a manual yet but I am trying to work out what my consumables are going to cost me.

J_McLeod
January 1, 2012, 03:42 PM
Judging from this thread, I'd go with H335. http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=632362 I personally have not used it.

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