Quality Reloading Setup For Under $500?


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cogun4hire
January 4, 2012, 11:39 PM
Hey guys,

This is my first post, although I have been cruising the forum/been a member for quite some time now. (I suppose this is my first post because that nifty search button is so darn handy!).

My question is one looking for more opinion, but also some knowledge I suppose. I am looking at getting into reloading (hooray!) finally and am looking for the best setup I can get for the money (around 500). I would like to do it right the first time, so hear are some criteria to help narrow down what's best for ME....

-I have ample space and a quality workbench area
-I will be loading almost primarily only handgun cartridges to begin with. These will include .45 acp, .38 special, and 10mm.
-I am looking at only needing about a total of 100-200 rounds a week as it will be mostly a hobby/cost saving practice (single-stage press enough)
-I am not necessarily looking at casting in my first year or so, unless I REALLY SHOULD...?


Bottom line is I would like to know EVERYTHING I will need to get started (including cleaning solvents, primers etc.) and what brands/products you recommend. I appreciate your time! If there are links to threads that cover something you may have already discussed covering a similar topic, feel free to post!

If you enjoyed reading about "Quality Reloading Setup For Under $500?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Kevin Rohrer
January 4, 2012, 11:44 PM
Your first step is to get Lyman #49 manual and read the Basics section. It will tell you everything you need to buy and how to use it. Everyone is going to recommend you make that purchase part of your expenditure.

Otto
January 4, 2012, 11:50 PM
I own three progressive presses: RCBS Pro, Hornady LNL and Dillon 550.
My recommendation would be to get the Dillon.

chris in va
January 4, 2012, 11:53 PM
150 rounds a week? Heck I make 500 a week with my hand press. No need to spend $500 for that little amount.

A Lee Classic Cast turret would be more than enough for your needs.

J_McLeod
January 4, 2012, 11:57 PM
+1 on the Lyman #49 manual.

For a press, one of these options would fit your needs, in no order.

1. Lee Classic turret: This press is probably what you want. It will allow you to make 100-200 rounds per hour, can be used as a single stage, is inexpensive, reliable and takes only seconds to change calibers. If I could only have one press, this would be it. Kempf's gun shop has a kit that includes almost everything you need. You could buy a kit with it for 100-150, and have plenty left over to spend on accessories and components.

2. Hornady LNL AP: Even though you only need 100-200 per week, why do it an an hour when you can do it in 15 minutes? Getting everything you need will cost more than 500, probably 600-700. Caliber changes will take 5-10 minutes and you can produce 300-500 rounds per hour cyclic. I have this one as well, and really enjoy working with it.

3. Lee Pro1000 or Loadmaster: Will cost you 200-500 for what you need, depending on what you get. Some people love them and others can't get them to work right and get rid of them. Not for people that expect stuff to work right out of the box. It's also a progressive, so if it does run right, it'll make you lots of ammo in a little time. 300-500 rounds per hour. Caliber changes will take 10-20 minutes and require disassembly of the press.

4. Dillon presses have a great reputation, but I don't know enough about them to comment on them.

None of the kits that I know of come with calipers, so you'll need to buy some. Also a bullet puller for your mistakes. Case lube isn't needed, but makes that cases go smoother. Eventually you'll want a vibratory tumbler to clean your brass. If you decide to buy brass, check the Trading Post, you can find good deals there.

Since you want three calibers, if you get a progressive you'll need a shellplate for each, and if you get the turret you'll need a turret for each caliber or set of dies. The 45 and 10mm use large primers and the 38 uses small. This won't be an issue with the turret, but it will be with the progressives.

ArchAngelCD
January 5, 2012, 12:26 AM
For the amount and type of ammo you want to load I highly recommend a Lee Classic Turret Press. (Classic, not Deluxe) I can safely load between 180 to 200 rounds an hour using that press. Extra turrets cost ~$10 each so you can quickly and easily change over calibers which saves a lot of time.

For $199 you can buy a Lee Classic Press Kit fron Kempf's Gun shop (https://kempfgunshop.com//index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=shop.flypage&product_id=630&category_id=190&manufacturer_id=0&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=41) online. At the bottom of the page make sure you add the upgrade to the Pro Auto-Disk for only $12. It's a far superior tool to the standard Auto-Disk.

Add a tumbler, calipers, reloading manual and components and you're all set...

35 Whelen
January 5, 2012, 12:30 AM
+1 on the Lyman 49th Edition.

Another thing I will add is you DON'T have to buy new equipment! My RCBS press is around 40 years old and will easily outlast me. Used scales, dies, powder measures, etc. work every bit as good as new. Spend $200 or so on good QUALITY used equipment then use the remaining $300 for components.

Regarding casting, the only two things that determine whether or not you should do it are 1) How much are you going to be shooting and 2) How much money do you have to spend?

If you can find a source for wheelweights, then your bullets are essentially free, less equipment costs of course. I cast and can load a box of fifty 38 Specials or 9mm's for about $3.00 or so, a little more for .45's.

35W

RandyP
January 5, 2012, 01:07 AM
Another VERY satisfied Lee CLASSIC 4-hole turret owner here.

Harbor Freight Digital calipers work very well for my needs as does a $30 MTM digital scale.

ArchAngelCD
January 5, 2012, 01:23 AM
Just to add to what I said above, with buying that Lee Classic Turret Press Kit you can probably buy everything you need and possible have some of that $500 leftover.

gahunter12
January 5, 2012, 01:29 AM
You can't go wrong with the LEE Classic Cast Turret. That being said, I just purchased my first press and equipment. I have been reading manuals and this fourm among others. I started flip flopin between the Lee and Dillon RL550b about 2 months ago. After crunching hard #'s I decided to go with the Dillon. My reasoning was: 1) The "NO BS" Warranty that Dillon includes on all there presses, scales, etc. 2) I knew that I would be moving up to a progressive soon. 3) The RL550b can be used as a single, turret, or manual index progressive. 4) when you buy the RL550b you get the powder measure and primming feature with it. That it self will save you from buying a nice measure like the Lyman or RCBS ($70-80) and hand primmer (RCBS $40-50). After much thought I went Dillon and have no regrets.

ArchAngelCD
January 5, 2012, 01:36 AM
Sure a Dillon 550 is nice but the Dillon press will blow the $500 budget right out of the water.

GT1
January 5, 2012, 01:49 AM
Sure a Dillon 550 is nice but the Dillon press will blow the $500 budget right out of the water.

Not only that, the OP wants to make 150 rounds a week. I'm sure the blue press is nice, but that is a huge waste unless one is in to competitive shooting or some similar massive ammo need...

+1 for the Lee Classic Turret. The whole shebang will run $250 leaving plenty left over for primers, powder and bullets. I'm starting with fmj bullets myself over cast, much more forgiving though a little more cash, no sizing, no lubing etc.

Get the books for the intros and how to(I have the Lyman#49, Lee modern, and Speer#14, all good), the load data is okay in them, also plenty of load data on the powder manufacturer sites to cross reference with.

res7s
January 5, 2012, 01:53 AM
I'd get Lyman 49. I'd buy the Lee Classic Cast pistol kit, digital calipers, case gauges, Lee deluxe carbide dies, extra turrets, and an Ohaus scale, take the money I saved and buy components. If you plan on loading rifle ammo later on, get a used powder measure, The RCBS Uniflow, Hornady LNL, and Lyman are good. There are better ones, but that runs into money. https://kempfgunshop.com//index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=shop.flypage&product_id=630&category_id=26&manufacturer_id=0&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=41

Wildbillz
January 5, 2012, 01:55 AM
If it were me? I would look at one of the RCBS packages. I got the one with the RockChucker press back in 1978 and I still use all the equipment I got with it to this day. Loaded lots of rounds off that press.

But thats just me
WB

gahunter12
January 5, 2012, 02:16 AM
Sure a Dillon 550 is nice but the Dillon press will blow the $500 budget right out of the water.
I agree. Just tossing that out there. I will only be shooting 100-200 rnds each of 9mm and 40 s&w between my wife and I. I spent $638 on my press, powder measure (included), strong mount (not needed), dies, scales, extra primer tubes, and DVD. All in all I spent less than $800 for everything to reload 40 starting out. Thank goodness I have had my reloading manuals for 8 months now. I consider myself to be on a tight budget, but decided to save for an extra month to get the Dillon. Now that I have my press, Im spending my extra money on the bench. I understand that may not be a option. That's why I said you can't go wrong with a LEE classic Turret. I have nothing against Lee turret presses.

Mike 27
January 5, 2012, 02:29 AM
Lee makes good presses. Their accesories are a bit on the cheap side, but I use alot of Lee stuff. I have a classic kit and the powder measure and scale work well. The trimmers are fast and only run about 5 bucks for each caliber. I recommend the turret to get started, and later if you stick with it get a progressive. My hornady lnl is in the mail after 3 years of the hobby. But I am glad I started on a single stage, much easier to learn on.

GLOOB
January 5, 2012, 04:30 AM
Bottom line is I would like to know EVERYTHING I will need to get started (including cleaning solvents, primers etc.) and what brands/products you recommend.
As far as I know, you don't need any solvents for reloading. I don't use any. :)

Your 3 starting calibers are perfectly suited to saving big money! I dunno if you did the research, or maybe you're just really lucky. You can easily come out ahead already with $500.00 initial investment on a SS press, accessories, plus components.

You'll need small pistol primers for 38 special and large pistol primers for 10mm and 45ACP.

What's best for you? Well, just to take a guess, if you have a lot of space you can dedicate I would skip the SS press and get at least a turret press if not a progressive. Alternatively, you could get a cheap SS press to see if reloading is for you, at all. Even a $20.00 C frame will make plenty of good pistol ammo. (But the $55.00 Lee Breechlock Challenger's priming system is the cat's meow of SS presses, IMHO).

You will want a caliper to determine OAL, a scale for weighing powder, and some way to throw powder. Either a powder thrower, or you can just make your own scoops for a SS. (If you get the Lee Classic Turret, you'll also need an additional riser for the powder thrower.) You will generally need to buy the bolts/nuts to secure the press. Most don't come with those, since the right size will depend on the thickness of your bench. You'll obviously need dies and a shellholder for each caliber. If you buy Lee dies, they come with a shellholder. That's about it. A tumbler is nice, but not necessary. If you get a tumbler, you'll also need a media separator or a big colander. Hmm. You may also need a powder-through expander die if you go turret or progressive. Lee sets come with that, also.

jhamilt
January 5, 2012, 06:05 AM
I just bought the Hornady LnL single stage kit from midway, a caliper, bullet puller, 3 dies, 500 38 bullets, and seems like one or 2 other things all for 480. It would be a little more expensive now as I bought the kit on sale, but with a little finagling it shouldnt be hard to stay at 500. So far I'm loving everything about that kit except for the junk scale it comes with. RCBS beam scale is in my near future.

beatledog7
January 5, 2012, 08:07 AM
+1 Hornady LNL single stage kit.

IMHO, an aspiring reloader should not start with a progressive press (too many simultaneous operations to get right and too great a risk of overlooking a malfunction that will cause a double charge, squib, etc.). Further, there is a negligible convenience advantage to a turret over a bushing mount like the LNL. Even the "junk" scale in the kit in sufficient to get anyone loading safely.

I nearly bought a LNL-AP, but I'm glad I didn't try to take that big a bite without some real experience. I may get one soon, but that's because now I have a hands-on understanding of the challenges it will pose.

An added advantage to buying Hornady (I think it's still going) is their bullet rebate. My LNL kit garnered me 500 complimentary bullets.

35 Whelen
January 5, 2012, 08:34 AM
IMHO, an aspiring reloader should not start with a progressive press


Very, very true. Like GLOOB said, get an inexpensive, used single stage or turret press to use until you get a feel for reloading THEN get a progressive.

35W

BeerSleeper
January 5, 2012, 08:47 AM
If you're absolutely crunching the budget, I think Lee's kit that includes the turret press, for about $100, isn't a bad way to go.

Hornady's LnL Classic kit is a good way to get (most) everything you need to start up, single stage, in one box. If you go that route, you will also need a pistol rotor, extra LnL bushings for your additional calibers, and dies.

I got mine two years ago, and it's been great. A previous poster complained about the scale, but I've had no troubles with mine. I'll take it over a beam any day.

benzuncle
January 5, 2012, 09:20 AM
Welcome cogun, your 1st post!
Add me to the pro Lee Classic Turret Press reloaders.
I bought mine 4 years ago and have loaded thousands of rounds through it in 3 cailbers. I bought mine through Kempf Gun Shop also. Great people; very good price. Here is my cost breakdown at that time for comparison:

Lee Classic Turret Press Kit for 45ACP 149.95
Upgrade to Pro Auto Disk Powder Measure 11.95
Upgrade to Lever Prime System for Lg. & Sm. Primers 8.00
Lee Safety Powder Scale 20.95
Kinetic Bullet Puller 14.95
SS Dial Caliper 24.95
Thumler Tumbler Model UV-10 with cleaning media 99.95
Kit included 6-50 round ammo boxes 0.00
Sub-Total $330.70

Workbench from COSTCO 75.00
4ft. Fluorescent light 31.00
TOTAL $436.70

I realize these prices are old but this will give you an idea of what you need.
Good luck in your decision. BTW: adding carbide dies and a 4-hole turret cost about $50 per caliber.

dbarnhart
January 5, 2012, 09:48 AM
100-200 rounds per week is achievable even with a Lee Whack-o-Mole (Lee Loader). Expect however that as you start reloading you will also start shooting more and your production needs will go up.

As 35_Whelen said, Don't overlook used equipment. A year ago I got back into reloading. For $500 I bought a guy's complete used RockChucker setup (scale, powder measure, everything I needed) AND enough components to last me for several months.

accrhodes
January 5, 2012, 09:51 AM
As you can see people love the lee classic turret press. It's the best value on the market IMO. I think benzuncle hit the nail on the head with his listing. It would get you started and if you wanted to upgrade later - the lee turret press holds its value well on the used market.

Best of luck.

kingmt
January 5, 2012, 09:55 AM
" Not for people that expect stuff to work right out of the box. "

I had no problems out of the box with my press. I did take the time to learn how it works tho.

I seen a guy buy a new bike & totaled it before he got off the lot. There wasn't anything wrong with the bike but the guy had never ridden before. Moral of the story is just because you don't know how to use your tools doesn't mean it is a bad tool.

aerod1
January 5, 2012, 10:00 AM
I own three progressive presses: RCBS Pro, Hornady LNL and Dillon 550.
My recommendation would be to get the Dillon. :banghead:

He said for $500.00!! :cuss:

gspn
January 5, 2012, 11:09 AM
Lee Classic Cast for all the reasons already mentioned. I've been using one for the last few years to load .45 ACP, 7 mm Mag, .243, .44 mag, .41 mag, .357 mag, .38 spcl, 10mm.

It's an affordable, efficient, quality machine that generates the volume you're looking for. And caliber changes are cheap...$12 for a turret head then the price of the dies. It takes maybe 5 minutes to change everything. If you're measuring powder by hand then the caliber changes will take maybe 30 seconds...just take one turret off and slap another one on.

Otto
January 5, 2012, 11:24 AM
He said for $500.00!! :cuss:He also said he wanted a "quality reloading setup"...that leaves out Lee.
Besides, many if not most people who venture into reloading sooner or later abandon the hobby. With a Dillon he'll be able to easily recoup his money.

kingmt
January 5, 2012, 12:12 PM
He also said he wanted a "quality reloading setup"...that leaves out Lee.
Besides, many if not most people who venture into reloading sooner or later abandon the hobby. With a Dillon he'll be able to easily recoup his money.
What a idiotic statement.

CHALK22
January 5, 2012, 12:16 PM
Oooooooh, now that wasn't nice. Typical Blue Army statement. There are more than a handful of happy Lee owners out there. In fact I bet if you did a study, more people own Lee, than Dillon. Not trying to start a Red/Blue war here. He stated in his OP that the budget was $500 for the WHOLE setup, not just the press. Besides, I believe a progressive is not the first press a new loader should have.

Damon555
January 5, 2012, 12:29 PM
This RCBS kit is exactly what you need......plus a few things you don't really need. The quality is beyond question. It's on sale too.

http://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/item.asp?sku=000449357

RustyFN
January 5, 2012, 01:17 PM
Just to add to what I said above, with buying that Lee Classic Turret Press Kit you can probably buy everything you need and possible have some of that $500 leftover.

Should have quite a bit left over.

classic turret $199.95, kempf, comes with Lg & Sm safety prime
pro disk upgrade $8 Much better powder measure
bullet puller $14.95 kempf
Dillon beam scale $55 Graf's
caliper $19 Harbor Freight
tumbler $53 Cabela's tumbler

Total = $350

Dies and turret to add a new caliber is $46.

I agree with the people that recommend the Lee classic turret. I have been loading on mine five years now. It has been a great press. Very easy for a beginner to set up and operate. The safety prime system has been near flawless. The pro auto disk measure will throw consistant charges all day long. In the five years I have had mine nothing has wore out or broke and I have loaded thousands of rounds in four calibers. It is the perfect press for someone that wants to load a couple hundred rounds and change calibers and load a couple hundred and so on. You can change calibers in 30 seconds including the primer system.

cogun4hire
January 5, 2012, 01:58 PM
Thank you all SO MUCH for your insight. Like I said I was really looking for different opinions and that is exactly what I received. I am now heavily leaning towards the Lee Classic. Some of you have stated that I will eventually desire to produce more weekly, this is probably true. Though I figure if I can safely pop out 150 and hour x 4-5 hours of free time a week that will be... sufficient to say the least :)

If anyone has any other suggestions, please chime in. I'm sure this thread may help someone else down the road. The high road that is!

springer99
January 5, 2012, 02:11 PM
+1 on the Classic Cast Turret kit from Kempt.

Rusty gave you a pretty complete list of what you'll need to get started. Just add a $7.00 cartidge case tray or two to that and you'll be gtg.

I doubt you'll ever wear that press out.

Damon555
January 5, 2012, 02:14 PM
Don't forget to add shipping costs to everything....that might make for a good argument to order everything from the same place.

thorn-
January 5, 2012, 03:08 PM
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hornady-Lock-N-Load-Classic-Kit-085003-/190618436818?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c61be84d2

Lock-N-Load classic single stage press
Lock-N-Load Powder Measure
Digital scale
The 7th Edition Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading
Three Lock-N-Load die bushings
Primer catcher
Positive priming system
Automatic primer feed
Universal reloading block
Chamfering and deburring tool
Primer turning plate
One Shot Case Lube

~ $300 including shipping.

Dies: approx $45/caliber.
Scale (if you dont like the digital that is included above): RCBS 505, Dillon - any quality beam scale. ... $40-50

We're up to around $400. A caliper is about $25, a tumbler for $50, and a bullet puller for $15.

That doesn't include primers, powder, or bullets. You'll really have to skimp on equipment to get EVERYTHING under $500, so I recommend you get good gear FIRST.

thorn

budiceman
January 5, 2012, 10:27 PM
I'd go for the RCBS at Midsouth Also!

Lost Sheep
January 6, 2012, 12:07 AM
Thank you all SO MUCH for your insight. Like I said I was really looking for different opinions and that is exactly what I received. I am now heavily leaning towards the Lee Classic. Some of you have stated that I will eventually desire to produce more weekly, this is probably true. Though I figure if I can safely pop out 150 and hour x 4-5 hours of free time a week that will be... sufficient to say the least :)

If anyone has any other suggestions, please chime in. I'm sure this thread may help someone else down the road. The high road that is!
Lee could use some help in its naming conventions. Be careful when you order if you buy on the web.

The Lee Classic is a single stage press. The Lee Classic Turret is a turret press. A single stage press is probably incapable of more than 100 rounds per hour (I rarely exceeded 60 per hour myself). On the Turret Press I loaded 100 rounds in 47 minutes my first time out.

Note also (on Lee's naming conventions) that the Deluxe Turret is far older and inferior to the Classic Turret.

For 200 to 500 rounds a week of a variety of calibers, you can't do better than either Lee Turret (but the Classic is a better press though a bit more expensive). If you only load one or two calibers, a Lee Loadmaster, Hornady Lock'n'Load or any Dillon you can afford might be better. but if you like to change calibers a lot a turret press is a lot simpler in setup and in operation.

Personally, I like the simplicity of a Turret because I don't like trying to watch multiple simultaneous operations. It unrelaxes me.

Operating my Lee Classic Turret, I get "in the zone" and enter a relaxed state of attentiveness that makes it easier to make quality ammunition than I ever could on my progressive presses. (You may be better suited than I. Many are. But I recognize my limitations and am content.)

Lost Sheep

Nick93
January 6, 2012, 12:40 AM
This RCBS kit is exactly what you need......plus a few things you don't really need. The quality is beyond question. It's on sale too.

http://www.midsouthshooterssupply.co...?sku=000449357

This is a great kit to start ... RCBS tools are REALLY good products and its a good option for making rifle match grade rounds ...and think this ... if you deside to upgrade to a progressive you can make a spacer to adjust your dies in the SS one by one and once you have them right were you want you can put them in the progressive without fooling around :)

Hope this helps!

p5200
January 6, 2012, 01:02 AM
My Forster Coax seems to load some accurate rounds and enough for my needs. :)

APIT50
January 6, 2012, 11:08 PM
+ 1 for Forster co-ax caliber changes no sweat , clean resizing , has priming ability, low runout if loading rifle eventually

Redneckly33
January 6, 2012, 11:58 PM
I agree with what has been said above from the other Guys. My best advice is to start with something simple. I made the mistake of buying a Dillon RL550B right off of jump street. Boy, was that a mistake. There is entirely to much going on, on a Progressive press for the inexperienced Reloader to tackle. I have wished many times, I had bought a single stage press to start on. You will have a better knowledge gained from a single stage than you will get from a Progressive. My Son wanted to get into it and wanted the Hornady Lnl AP. Fortunately, I talked him into a Single Stage first. The Guys on this Forum know what they are talking about, when they say, stay away from the Progressives until you have the experience and knowledge.

Best of luck,

Robert

Lost Sheep
January 7, 2012, 01:01 AM
Bold subject line, eh? Let me qualify it down. I load for handgun only; 5 calibers, about 100-400 rounds per session and fewer than 5,000 rounds a year. I stow my gear in toolboxes when not in use. If this comes close to describing your situation, you might like to read on.

For the three calibers you name and the quantities you suggest, I believe you can get a truly first-class setup for under $500. I spent $700 replacing almost everything I have collected over the past 3 decades when I finally figured out what I really needed and decided I was too old to compromise any longer.

35 years after starting, I found I outgrew some gear and overbought elsewhere. So, I cleaned house. I emptied my bench and populated it with the best equipment I could find precisely fitting my loading needs. I could have saved a lot of experimentation and waste if I had known back then what I know now (about handloading and about myself).

Informed by my experience reconstituting my loading bench, I compiled a list of the barest essentials that would allow a novice loader to load well and which would still be gratifying in 30 years. (In my opinion and somewhat matching my style of shooting and loading.)

I think it makes an ideal shopping list for the handloader just starting out. I hope you do, too.

Press, scale, dies, a way to measure powder and a work surface are all you need, really. Everything else just makes it easier or faster.

$17 ABC's of Reloading. Ok, it's not really equipment, but tools without knowledge is just dead weight, right?
$10 Loading Data. The "One book/One Caliber" pamphlets are $10 each and are LOADED (get it?) with loading data.
$0 Loading manuals. They cost, but I didn't want to skew the budget; you do need at least a couple. Check the local library if money is tight.
$0 Eye protection. No cost, because you DO already have a pair of shootingglasses, DON'T YOU!?
$85 Press, Lee Classic Turret (Chosen because it is the only turret press that auto-advances at the discretion of the operator.)
$33 Dies, carbide. Lee because it includes a shell holder, a plastic dipper for powder and the "powder through" design.
$5 Work surface. Mount your press on a plank of scrap 2x8 and secure it to a (padded) coffee table.
$0 Dropcloth to catch any spilled powder or lost primers (dead or live). Use an old sheet. Quieter than plastic, less static and drapes better.
$150 plus shipping At this point, you can reload, but are limited in flexibility and speed.
$8 Lee Scoops/Dippers. Cheaper than any powder dispenser/measure and repeatability/cosistency is excellent.
$3 Powder funnel. Lee's funnel fits right in the their "powder through" die.
$161 plus shipping At this point, you are minimally equipped to load well. Not too convenient, but not handicapped to the point of terminal frustration, either.
$22 Lee Safety Prime. You can use your fingers, but this is so much better. Fits on the Lee Press.
$21 Scale, any brand. Lee's, at $21 is cheapest. You can do without, with the full set of Lee Dippers, but better to weigh. For peace of mind if nothing else.
$204 plus shipping At this level of investment, you are decently equipped
$33 Lee Auto-Disk powder dispenser/measure. It mounts atop Lee's "Powder through" die. With this, you may not need the funnel or dippers.
$50 Loading Bench. A folding workbench works fine for me. You can get a kit or build your own, too.
$287 plus shipping Now you are well-equipped as most reloaders, except for convenience accessories or tools you will use only occasionally.

Other stuff:
$20 Bullet puller I never used one for my first 20 years of loading.
$30 Calipers I had none for 30 years. Now that I do, I find uses.
$50 Tumbler Never had one. Got one now. My brass is prettier. Shoots the same.
$10 Loading blocks ($5, if you use, use two). For batch loading. Buy, or make with a plank and a drill.
$25 Powder Trickler - handy if you weigh each powder charge.

$34 misc accessories & tools, (e.g. chamfer tool)
$60 Difference to get a more user-friendly scale than the Lee
$46 Turret and Deluxe Dies for the second chambering
$46 Turret and Dies for your third chambering

$608 plus shipping for all new stuff, misc accessories and tools and I would not be in the least inconvenienced in my loading endeavors.

If you buy locally and shop carefully, you should be able to get by withing your budget.

There are many accessories that add convenience of functionality, but are so highly optional they do not belong on this "essentials" list, or belong down near the end. Besides, if I included them all, the list would be endless.

I chose a turret instead of a progressive because I am more comfortable with performing and monitoring one operation at a time and changing calibers is dead simple. I chose a turret instead of a single stage because it facilitates processing in a "pass-through" mode (much like a progressive) rather than the batch mode of the single stage. But I still do have the option of operating as a single stage in batch mode if I choose.

You could build this list using any mix of brands. I chose Lee's brand because the Auto-indexing is not available on any other press and the Auto-Disk powder measure is the most convenient I have seen, in combination with the Lee "Powder through the Die" design. The Auto-Disk is not convenient to adjust powder quantity, but it is light and compact.

Lost Sheep

P.S.
Thanks to Sue Kempf at Kempf's Gun Shop, and Mark and the guys at Factory Direct Sales and the technicians in Customer Support at Lee Precision.

kingmt
January 7, 2012, 10:42 AM
I think the Lee measure is very easy to adjust. Turn hopper to shut off powder flow. Run case through a few times to empty powder from the disk. With the ram up pull up on the hopper & the disk comes out the front. Turn or change the disk as needed & pop it back in. Turn hopper back on & your ready to go. I throw the first 3 drops back in the hopper before I check weigh of the charge. If your useing a charge bar just turn the dial.

steelerdude99
January 7, 2012, 11:14 AM
Two things...

1) If you get a Lee, get the "4 Hole Classic Turret Press" and NOT the "4 Hole Turret Press with Auto Index". The non-classic is less expensive, but is cheaply made with a die cast base. Some folks have reported that they broke the base. The classic is good and heavy and has the auto-index as well.

2) The LEE docs are only marginal IF you are not already a re-loader. YouTube videos can help too.

chuck

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