RCBS "Starter" Kits?


January 7, 2012, 10:27 AM
I'm interested in getting started reloading for .270 Winchester. That's the only caliber for now, and possibly for a long time. Only other possibility in the near future is 9mm or .40 S&W (though only if I could get the average cost per round to be a good bit less than with factory handgun ammo - probably WWB or equivalent). I think 200 rounds per week is plenty for the time being, but half that is more likely. I'd like to shoot more, but just don't have the time right now. My purpose for reloading is to try and shoot roughly the same amount (4-500 rounds per month), but for less money.

So basically, I've been looking at RCBS kits, because I've heard mixed reviews of the Lee kits, and also because I prefer to spend a bit more money to get a higher quality setup. I've always regretted buying "entry-level" things in the past, and have decided I'm done with that.

RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit (http://www.cabelas.com/product/Shooting/Reloading/Presses-Dies|/pc/104792580/c/104761080/sc/104516280/RCBS-Rock-Chucker-Supreme-Master-Reloading-Kit/728426.uts?destination=%2Fcatalog%2Fbrowse%2Fshooting-reloading-presses-dies%2F_%2FN-1100195%2FNs-CATEGORY_SEQ_104516280%3FWTz_l%3DSBC%253BMMcat104792580%253Bcat104761080)

RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Deluxe Reloading Kit (http://www.cabelas.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=740928&destination=%2Fcatalog%2Fproduct.jsp%3FparentCategoryId%3D104792580%26categoryId%3D104761080%26subCategoryId%3D104516280%26productId%3D728426%26type%3Dproduct%26destination%3D%252Fcatalog%252Fbrowse%252Fshooting-reloading-presses-dies%252F_%252FN-1100195%252FNs-CATEGORY_SEQ_104516280%253FWTz_l%253DSBC%25253BMMcat104792580%25253Bcat104761080)

Each of these two kits claim that, "The only additional things you’ll need to purchase to get started are the dies, shell holders and cartridge components." They include the same press (Rock Chucker Supreme), but there's a $500 difference between the two. Is that difference really justified for a new reloader? Is the cheaper kit basically "crap" compared to the more expensive one, or are the upgrades so significant that one might wish he had spent more than twice as much on better equipment?

BTW, I don't expect that I would buy my kit from Cabela's; I just expect prices to be at least somewhat comparable anywhere, and they were easy to find and link from the Cabela's site. (I use Cabela's as more of a research tool than anything else, but don't tell them lol)

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January 7, 2012, 10:59 AM
The master kit is definitely not "crap". You don't need the stuff in the Supreme kit but for loading rifle cartridges, you definitely need and should have more than either kits.

You do need a set of calipers to measure your cases because they will get longer as you shoot them and you'll need to measure and trim them. Do you need a $100+ setup? No, but it's nice. You can get a Lee set up for <$10, but it's more work and tough on your hands.

You certainly don't need the electronic charger or the case prep center, but it makes precise charging easier (but not faster). The balance beam scale is just as accurate and by hand trickling powder will be just as precise.

Additional parts you really ought to have are a set of calipers to measure case length and overall cartridge length, a bullet puller (the $17 RCBS kinetic puller is fine). If you get the Master kit, a stand for the powder measure would be more handy than having to mount it on the press.

(flame suit on)
You could certainly load ammo just as good with a $100 Lee Breechlock Challenger kit, but the parts are arguably "cheaper" in build quality but no less capable of loading quality and accurate ammo. The difference would be similar to saying do I want something that is 105% capable or something that is 200% capable at 3x the cost with the consideration that in my life I will use up about 3% of that margin.
(flame suit off)

If I had $800 for reloading, I would buy the Breechlock Challenger Kit for rifle cartridges and learn how to reload single stage rifle and pistol, then get a Hornady Lock and Load AP press for the pistol cartridges and buy a whole bunch of reloading components with the money I saved. (I actually did do that).

Welcome to the slippery slope (and addictive) world of reloading.

January 7, 2012, 11:09 AM
Are you looking to shoot 4-500 .270 Win rounds per month? That is a pretty signficant number for a hunting caliber. I have a .270 Win and I can't shoot more than 10 to 20 rounds in a single range trip. I've only rechecked zero on my 270 since the recoil is a bit much.

With that being said, the "Deluxe" version of the RCBS kits includes the Trim Mate Case Center (not really needed) and the Charge Master 1500 (definitely a luxury item, IMHO). You'll do just fine with the "Master" version.

With the master version, you'll need the following:
Dies for your caliber (I use the Lee Deluxe (http://www.cabelas.com/product/Lee-Deluxe-Rifle-Three-Die-Set/731848.uts?Ntk=AllProducts&searchPath=%2Fcatalog%2Fsearch.cmd%3Fform_state%3DsearchForm%26N%3D0%26fsch%3Dtrue%26Ntk%3DAllProducts%26Ntt%3Dlee%2B270%2Bdie%26WTz_l%3DHeader%253BSearch-All%2BProducts&Ntt=lee+270+die&WTz_l=Header%3BSearch-All+Products) that includes a neck collet die for neck sizing)
A method to trim your brass (Lee Case trimmers are the cheapest route to go, but RCBS (http://www.cabelas.com/product/RCBS-Trim-Pro174-Manual-Case-Trimmer-Kit/741083.uts?Ntk=AllProducts&searchPath=%2Fcatalog%2Fsearch.cmd%3Fform_state%3DsearchForm%26N%3D0%26fsch%3Dtrue%26Ntk%3DAllProducts%26Ntt%3Drcbs%2Bcase%2Btrimmer%26WTz_l%3DHeader%253BSearch-All%2BProducts&Ntt=rcbs+case+trimmer&WTz_l=Header%3BSearch-All+Products) makes a good lathe trimmer which I use).
Case cleaning (tumbler and media)

Nice to haves:
powder trickler

January 7, 2012, 11:13 AM
A Lee single stage Anniverary kit is $82 from Factory Sales. Add a caliper, dies and components and you are good to go with that one rifle caliber you mentioned. The only item in my kit that I didn't like was their beam scale - for me though it IS super accurate, it is finicky to use. So I bought a $30 digital. The Ohaus 505 is usually around $60 and is rebranded as a Dillon and RCBS and it is a SUPERB beam scale.

Will the RCBS single stage reload any differently than the Lee single stage? No. Will it last longer - not really. Will the ammo made on it be any different than that made on any Lee press? No. Will it cost more? Yes.

All the various brand presses out there are capable of making the same safe, reliable and accurate ammo. I am certainly NOT knocking any other brand, but I am saying that Lee products are good and made to a price point that lets all of us get involved in this hobby.

January 7, 2012, 11:21 AM
i have to agree. i have a lee that i have used about 20 years. (flame suit on also. may leave on. :->) also have one of the lee hand held presses i got in box of stuff from estate sale. use it more than bench press since i load small quantities. works great. had it about 10 years with no issues. back to rcbs, nothing at all wrong with master kit. either way you go will work fine.

January 7, 2012, 11:27 AM
I heartily agree (believe it or not) RCBS makes terrific products - as does Hornady, Dillon etc.etc.etc.

Lee has been making reloaders since what? 1958? In today's law-suit crazy times, if they made 'junk' they would have closed decades ago. They don't. They make affordable (not cheap) reloading gear starting with their $30 whack-a-mole Loader.

Chevy-Ford-Dodge-BMW-Mercedes Benz-Rolls Royce. They ALL make safe cars that can get you to the grocery store and back. They all are made to their market's customer base price point.

I were going to reload pistol as well as rifle? I'd consider a turret....oh and yes Lee makes a great one, their Classic 4-hole.

January 7, 2012, 11:36 AM
I were going to reload pistol as well as rifle? I'd consider a turret....oh and yes Lee makes a great one, their Classic 4-hole.
Meaning this kit (from Kempf's) (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&vmcchk=1&Itemid=41), correct?

Are you looking to shoot 4-500 .270 Win rounds per month? That is a pretty signficant number for a hunting caliber.
I should have been more clear. I meant 4-500 rounds total, between the .270 and handgun caliber (either 9mm or .40). I just threw the number 200 rounds/week out there because I noticed in other threads, many people ask how many rounds the person wants to reload each week, before suggesting a kit.

January 7, 2012, 12:08 PM
The first thing you need to determine is what features are important to you.

- Single or Turret or Progressive?
- How many stations?
- Ease of use?
- Number of rounds you wish to produce?
- Powder dispensing: there are several ways, which appeals to you more?

Get all those questions answered. If you don't understand the questions, and all of the potential answers, learn them before you make a decision.

Then determine how much you're willing to spend, based on the answers.

BRAND OF PRESS is not listed above. There's a reason: because every brand has pros and cons. Determine your NEEDS first, and see which BRANDS offer the best solution to those needs.

Far too often, a Rockchucker or Classic Turret Kit seems to be thrown out there as the best solution for seemingly any person that wants to start reloading. Whether it's pistol, rifle, hunting, plinking, or competition - those same kits get mentioned with regularity. Those kits DO have value... but so do other options. Look at the wide spectrum of what's available, before being seduced by a box that has "Everything You Need To Get Started Making Professional Quality Ammo!".


January 7, 2012, 01:05 PM
Thanks Thorn. I'll see about getting those questions answered before I continue my search. Frankly, I'm not even sure what the different answers are, much less what the answers are for me (What difference does it make how the powder is dispensed? What's a station?) Hoping the ABCs of Reloading book many recommend here will have the answers, because aside from that I'm not even sure where to start; but I have read the Equipment Basics sticky.

I'm not an idiot, and I have and use common sense, but for some reason, reloading seems really complicated... maybe that's part of why I actually want to do it. For a while now, I've sensed that it can range from really simple to unnecessarily convoluted. Problem is, convoluted is a bad place to start, and the folks who keep it simple probably don't have too many questions to ask (or answer).

January 7, 2012, 01:10 PM
i got the master kit when i was getting started a few years ago. it was great for getting started. i've added a few things since then, but i still regularly use everything from the kit.

i do want to get one of those chargemaster powder dispensers, but i think the case prep center is overrated. you can get a version of all those tools to chuck up in a cordless drill or drill press, which will be more robust and have lots of other uses besides case prep. the RCBS trimmer also wouldn't be my first choice for trimming. i'd go with the wilson trimmer from sinclair for a mini-lathe type and the possum hollow for high volume trimming. for those reasons, i suggest the master kit to others.

January 7, 2012, 01:12 PM
totaly agree thorn. make sure whatever you get will meet your needs and you are happy with it reguardless of brand. one more thing you should get is a load manual.

January 7, 2012, 01:58 PM
Couple of other resources:

Look up reloading videos on youtube, for different brands and types of machines. Not really to determine what's "better" for now, but just to see how the process can work differently on different machines. For example, the Lee Turret vs the Dillon 550 vs the Hornady LNL-AP - there are 3 fairly different approaches to getting the same result. Some are similar (decapping, for example), some are different (priming, powder). Get comfortable with the processes themselves.

Another great site: http://ultimatereloader.com/

Not really aimed at newbies, but the videos are excellent quality and the explanations are clear and concise.

The only "downside" to videos is that it's common that the host isn't going to usually mention many problems a machine may have. This is further complicated by the fact that discussion forums get passionate about their gear; one person will say "machine X is bad in this regard", and an owner of machine X will then claim it isn't a problem at all (even if in reality, it might be.)

Read a lot, watch a lot, do a lot of research. No matter WHAT you need is, there's a machine that will meet it... but above all, make sure that YOU are making the wise choice on what you want... not just taking some advice on what someone else did when they started.


January 7, 2012, 02:50 PM
Bobson, Try to locate someone reloading in your area. Most will gladly let you watch and help you get started.

January 7, 2012, 03:53 PM
Not to derail this thread but the following might be an option for you?

There's not more than two rounds I'd really want to reload... .458 SOCOM and .375 H&H Mag and I'll probably sell the latter. Every other firearm I have uses relatively affordable ammo so I just buy it factory-loaded. Also, I really don't shoot that often and I don't need ultimate accuracy.

My plan? To find someone who lives near me who will allow me to use his setup to load 1000-2000 rounds of .458 SOCOM and "maybe" some .375 H&H Mag. I'll either pay him some rent or buy him supplies. BTW, I searched for places that rent reloading time and couldn't find any.

If the above option doesn't pan out then I'll look for fair-priced used gear and will "probably" re-sell it once I load the few rounds I want. Like I said... I don't shoot much.

January 7, 2012, 04:23 PM
Not to derail this thread but the following might be an option for you?
Not sure exactly what the option is. :D

You proposing I search for a place to rent reloading equipment? Or find someone who wants to share the gear? Or buy a used set? lol

January 7, 2012, 04:39 PM
Sorry for my lack of clarity, Bobson. :)

I'm suggesting you might consider renting rather than buying... if you can can find a place that rents re-loading time in their shop or if you can find an individual who will rent or trade for time on his gear.

January 7, 2012, 04:55 PM
Gotcha lol. I tend to be really busy when I'm home, so I expect that reloading is something I would do in 30 minute increments or so. Get to it, get up to help with my daughter, get back to it for a bit, get up and help the wife with something, etc, etc.

Seems like it would work a lot better for me if I had the kit readily available to take advantage of when I have 20 mins or so to spare lol. Can't really set aside a full hour or two on a regular basis. Not in the immediate or near future anyway.

Lost Sheep
January 7, 2012, 05:00 PM
It is axiomatic that every kit will have stuff that you don't need and will lack stuff that you do need. If you can figure out which kit has just the stuff you need, you maybe can be money ahead. This requires a lot of study of the kits' parts lists and study of what your needs will be.

If you decide to assemble your own kit, there will be none of the waste of stock kits (and if you buy from a single local source, sole proprietership maybe) you may be able to bargain a "kit" price on a group purchase.

Figuring out what you want in your self-designed kit requires a lot of study of equipment that is available and what your needs will be.

My personal suggestion is to buy the best you can afford only as you need the pieces. You of course start out with a manual, press, dies and a way to mete powder. This requires some study (but not as much as the other two approaches) and knowledge of what your needs will be.

You need a press because fingers are not strong enough to work metal.

You need dies because fingers are not precise enough to form metal.

You need a powder scale or some reliable measure because eyeballs are not accurate enough to mete powder.

You need a manual because there is information there you need so you don't blow yourself up.

With those three pieces of gear and the knowledge, you can load components into ammunition, albeit slowly. As your taste gets more refined with experience, you can add other stuff that will make things faster, more convenient or lets you do miscellaneous stuff like disassemble cartridges when you need.

These other things are, (just a short list)

Lube pad (used for bottlenecked cartridges, not usually for straight-walled, but can be substituted for with spray lube, fingers, paper towel or sponge)

Powder measure (Automatically or semi-automatically dumps a volumetrically measured dollop of powder. So you don't have to measure each cartridge's charge individually.)

Primer dispenser (Places primers into the press' priming cup so you don't have to use your fingers-a bad idea if you have been lubricating brass with those fingers.)

Calipers (most of the time your components and finished cartridges will be the right dimensions, but some day you will want to 1) confirm that or 2) find that something is NOT the right size.

Bullet puller (I loaded for several years before I had one and several more years before I needed to disassemble a loaded cartridge, but I got it cheap.)

Brass Tumbler (I loaded for over 3 decades before I had one. My brass is prettier now that I do, but shoots just the same.)

All this to say

Go slow, buy carefully, pay attention and learn thoroughly as you go.

My first USEFUL advice:

Single Stage presses teach you well, but 50-60 rounds per hour is normal and 100 rounds per hour is probably not achievable by normal human beings.

Turret presses can operate exactly as Single Stage presses do (for learning on and for loading small batches), but have the option of processing in continuous mode instead of being limited to batch mode, thus can exceed 100 rounds per hour, up to 200 or more for auto-indexing presses (of which only Lee Precision is the only maker),

Progressive presses operate naturally in continuous mode and can churn out 150 to 600 or more rounds per hour. The drawbacks are that they are best suited to large quantities, more difficult to learn on (too many things to watch simultaneously) and (by reputation) more expensive (Dillon) or more finicky (Lee) or a mixture of both (all the others).

Good Luck,

Lost Sheep

January 7, 2012, 05:44 PM
Good info; thanks for the time you took to write it, Sheep. :)

For now I need to locate a local copy of The ABCs of Reloading. Probably gonna do that tonight or tomorrow.


Scratch that... already done. Local Sportsman's has a copy of the 8th Edition (http://www.sportsmanswarehouse.com/sportsmans/ABCS-of-Reloading-8th-Edition/productDetail/Reloading-Books/prod9999003158/cat100494) for $25. Might grab the Speer Reloading Manual #14 (http://www.sportsmanswarehouse.com/sportsmans/Speer-Reloading-Manual-no14/productDetail/Reloading-Books-and-Manuals/prod9999005154/cat100165) too.

January 7, 2012, 11:37 PM
Bobson, I am in the same boat as you. I only usually get a quick 30-60 minute break every once in a while. You can do a lot with a single sage press setup in 30 minutes if you plan your outings to the man cave. You can deprime/size then tumble clean a bunch of brass, you can measure/trim a batch, you can hand prime hundreds, and you can charge/seat a bunch of cases each in a 30 minute block of time.

Once you get something like a LnL AP/Dillon 550/Lee Classic Turret, you can load 50-100 pistol rounds in that same 30 minute stretch. I usually get 100 done in a half-hour "get-away" and no one knows I'm even out of the living room :)

January 8, 2012, 12:45 AM
if you want to spend some money and get good quality items. From what I can tell, most all the items included are not cheap pos.

buy this

or this

then buy this

Arkansas Paul
January 8, 2012, 02:10 AM
I have a .270 Win and I can't shoot more than 10 to 20 rounds in a single range trip. I've only rechecked zero on my 270 since the recoil is a bit much.

That's the beauty of handloading. You can load heavy recoiling loads down so they don't recoil as much. Look at Hogdon's website under reduced recoil loads. I've loaded some for .308 and .30-06. They're tackdriving accurate and the recoil is noticeably reduced.

I started out with a RCBS Rockchucker Supreme Master kit and it is the cat's meow. I love it. Our equipment got stolen and I haven't gotten another Rockchucker yet, but we definately will.

January 8, 2012, 02:25 AM
If you'll look at the Redding presses in the above links, you will notice thew linkages are simply bolted to the press body. More that likely you won't have trouble doing heavy jobs, but this was pointed out on a swaging site.
Compare them to to the ones in these pictures and you will see the unsupported linkage bolts.

I'd take a serious look at the Lee Classic Turret press. http://www.realguns.com/archives/122.htm

dagger dog
January 8, 2012, 09:52 AM
Don't let the negative talk,or price, influence taking a look at the Lee line.

Their Classic Cast line of presses are one heck of a deal and they are in the same quality with the other manufactuers products.

The major draw back would be the "kit", you would have to shop for that.

The BIG price diference between the 2 RCBS kits that you linked to is the price of the electronic scale dispenser, if its a must have go fo it. There are still plenty of reloaders using the Ohaus designed 505 scale.

I have and use a Rockchucker kit , Lee Aniversary Challenger kit and have a Lee Classic Cast Turret press.

Lee Factory Sales, not to be confused with Lee Precision, usually has the lowest pricing on Lee Products.

January 8, 2012, 10:59 AM
I started out years ago reloading for two handguns with a Rock Chucker kit. Other than dies and components only things I have added are a vibratory case cleaner, calipers, a case trimmer and a bullet puller. I now load for 5 handgun and two rifle calibers. Between me and my two sons we shoot about 500 rounds a month of centerfire ammo with 95% of it being handgun caliber in either handguns or carbines. I still do it all on the single stage RC. I do everything in batches, not when I need it, but when I have time. Rainy days, Cold winter days, Sundays with no football, that hour or two after supper when the wife insists on watchin' girly shows. I usually prep the brass to the point it's primed and belled in short stints, but charge and seat when I have more time and will not be distracted. I have yet to run out of loaded ammo for the range, but am always lookin' for more brass to prep. When I started, it was the norm that you started out on a single stage to learn proper technique and to fully understand the reloading process. I have considered several times about getting a progressive for just the handgun ammo, but even then, I'd still keep the RC for rifle loads and doing small batches such as when working up new loads.

January 8, 2012, 02:18 PM
I would recommend a turret press.

Lyman, RCBS and Lee all make good ones.

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