Newbie with reloading questions...


January 29, 2012, 04:00 PM
So I've been thinking alot about getting into reloading partly cuz it might prove a lil cheaper in the long run but mostly cuz I'd just like to learn how and I was pointed to this forum...

Anyway as I am completely new to this and know no one who loads their own ammo I really have no idea where to start. So for those who know...

1) What do I need to get started as far as equipment and such?

2) How expensive is the initial setup?

3) How difficult is the learning process and what is the best way to go about it?

4) Any advice you can offer?


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January 29, 2012, 04:34 PM
Read this link ... it has lots of answers to many of your questions....

January 29, 2012, 04:39 PM
Oh damn... I didn't even see that sticky. Thanks!

Lost Sheep
January 29, 2012, 04:42 PM
Welcome to reloading and thanks for asking our advice.

It would be helpful if we knew what your chosen cartridges are and your shooting habits and goals. (Rifle, handgun, revolver/semi-auto, hunting, casual plinking, ultimate accuracy - like 1,000 yard benchrest shooting - etc.)

1) What do I need to get started as far as equipment and such?

Aside from eye protection and manuals, you only need three things (physically) to load good ammo.

Press because fingers are not strong enough to form metal
Dies because fingers are not accurate enough to form metal to SAAMI specs
Scale (or calibrated dippers) because eyeballs are not accurate enough to measure out gunpowder

Everything else can be done without, substituted for or improvised until you can afford to buy good quality gear.

Even the cheapest press will be multiple times faster, quieter and more convenient than the Lee mallet-powered kit (as good as it is, it compromises your ability to produce large quantities).

2) How expensive is the initial setup?
Anywhere from $70 to $200 will set you up minimally, in fine style, but basic. Above that, the sky's the limit with increasing ability to do high production.

My setup cost $600 to load 7 calibers and I lack for NOTHING that I wish I had. (Except those things which do not exist yet.)

3) How difficult is the learning process and what is the best way to go about it?
Reloading isn't rocket science, however, it does involve smoke and flame and things that go very fast. Care and caution are absolutely necessary. With those, just about anyone can reload. If you want to really get into the science of it all, a study of chemistry and physics and you can make a career of it.
4) Any advice you can offer?OK, here goes.

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 I put together this list.

So much is a matter of personal taste and circumstance, though. So, all advice carries this caveat, "your mileage may vary".

For comparison purposes, I load for handguns (44 Mag, 45 ACP, 45 Colt, 454 Casull, 9mm, 357 Mag, 480 Ruger) a couple hundred per sitting and go through 100 to 400 centerfire rounds per month. I could easily do a lot more with my press setup, but I am frugal with components, especially with the larger bullets, which are expensive. I don't cast....yet.

So much is a matter of personal taste. All advice carries this caveat, "your mileage may vary".

I put together an arbitrary list that I think is illuminating. I call them my Ten Advices for the Novice Handloader.

When I bought my first gun (.357 Magnum Dan Wesson revolver), I bought, at the same time, 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. I did not use a loading bench at all. I just mounted the press (RCBS Jr, then, not long after, an RCBS Rockchucker which wsa overkill, but I had a chance to trade up and took it) on a 2 x 6 plank long enough to wedge into the drawer of an end table.

Now, here are my Ten Advices.

Advice #1 I found "The ABC's of Reloading" to be a very good reference. Short on data, yes, but I found it full of knowledge and understanding of the process. Check out offereings in your local library. Dated, perhaps, but you can taste-test their writing style. 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.

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 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.

Only after you know the steps can you look at the contents of a reloading kit and know what parts you will use and what parts the kits lack.

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.

Load mid-range or slightly light 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)

You will probably spill powder or drop a primer eventually, so consider what you have for floor covering when you pick your reloading room. (Note: my worktable is portable, a folding workbench with two presses mounted on a board that I simply clamp into place. One press has a large primer feed, the other a small primer feed.)

Advice #2 Almost every manufacturer of loading equipment makes good stuff; if they didn't, they would lose reputation fast and disappear from the marketplace. Better equipment costs more generally. Cast aluminum is lighter and less expensive. Cast iron lasts practically forever. Lee makes good equipment, but is generally considered the "economy" equipment maker, though some of their stuff is considered preferable to more expensive makes. Just think about what you buy.

Almost every manufacturer makes a kit that contains everything you need to do reloading (except dies and the consumables). A decent way to get started without too much prior experience. Eventually most reloaders wind up replacing most of the components of the kit as their personal taste develops, but you will have gotten started, at least..

Advice #3 Learn on a single stage press or a turret press. Do not learn on a progressive press. Too many things happening at the same time are hard to keep track of.

Advice #4 Tungsten Carbide dies for your straight-walled cartridge cases. They do not require lubrication which will save you time. Carbide expander button for your bottlenecked cases. Keeps lube out of the inside of the cases.

Advice #5 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. There is nothing like a tutor, or better yet, a mentor. A longer mentoring period might have changed my reloading style, but I learned a lot in those first 6 rounds, as he explained each step. Then I educated myself after that.

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 #6 Wear eye protection, especially when seating primers

Advice #7 Don't pinch your fingers in your press.

Advice #8 Read previous threads on reloading, here are a couple I recommend.
The second one is a thread started by a new recruit to reloading which the moderators thought highly enough of to make it "sticky" so it stays on the top of the list of threads.

Advice #9 When you buy the very best, it hurts only once, in the wallet. When you buy cheap (too cheap) 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.

Advice #10 Verify for yourself everything you learn. 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.

Lost Sheep
January 29, 2012, 04:47 PM
So I've been thinking alot about getting into reloading partly cuz it might prove a lil cheaper in the long run but mostly cuz I'd just like to learn how and I was pointed to this forum...

Anyway as I am completely new to this and know no one who loads their own ammo I really have no idea where to start. So for those who know...

1) What do I need to get started as far as equipment and such?

2) How expensive is the initial setup?

3) How difficult is the learning process and what is the best way to go about it?

4) Any advice you can offer?

Welcome to the forum.

My first advice: Read "The ABC's of Reloading", an excellent tome on the general processes of reloading. Some people have found it a little intimidating, but just remember, handloading is not rocket science. It does involve loud noises and things that go very fast, but it is safer than driving and a lot simpler than baking a souffle or changing a tire. Just follow the directions assiduously.

On the economics: The price of 8 boxes of store-bought ammunition will purchase a basic reloading kit AND enough components (powder, primers and brass) to make 8 boxes of your own handloads. (You will be re-using the brass).

On the satisfaction: There is nothing so satisfying as rolling your own ammo to the power levels you want and the accuracy you deserve. It is just as satisfying as when I rebuilt and tuned my SU carburetors or baked my first Thanksgiving turkey. And the quiet mental state provided by the repetitive action of loading seems to generate the relaxed alertness characteristic of Zen meditation. I find it very calming.

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 and read through these.

The "sticky" thread at the top of TheFiringLine's reloading forum is good, entitled, "For the New Reloader: Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST "

The "sticky" thread at the top of's reloading forum is good, entitled, "For the New Reloader: Thinking about Reloading; Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST"

The first draft of my "10 Advices..." is on page 2 of this thread, about halfway down.

"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.

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.

Minimalist minimal (the seventh post down)

Thread entitled "Newby needs help."
My post 11 is entitled "Here's my reloading setup, which I think you might want to model" November 21, 2010)
My post 13 is "10 Advices for the novice handloader" November 21, 2010)

Good luck and thanks for asking our advice.

Lost Sheep

Kevin Rohrer
January 29, 2012, 04:57 PM
Get Lyman manual #49 and read its early chapters on reloading. They will tell you what you need and how to use it.

January 29, 2012, 04:59 PM
You can also watch others assemble ammo on youtube. Search reloading there and watch. Beware some of them really don't know what they are doing. This is why the above members gave you the reading assignment first. IMHO it is good if you at least know how to reload if you own a firearm even if you choose not to do it for now.

January 29, 2012, 08:38 PM
You can get into reloading for around $300 to $ 350. Be aware that you won't save any money but you will shoot a lot more.;)

January 29, 2012, 08:43 PM
You can also watch others assemble ammo on youtube.Just don't watch the ones with a 10 year old kid dipping 30-06 cases in a mixing bowl full of powder to charge them.

I've noticed a very high incidence / percentage of Morons on YouTube where it comes to all things gun related.


January 29, 2012, 08:59 PM
I got into reloading for around $500.00 for most everything I needed. That may sound like a lot upfront but you do get what you pay for. I also defied the odds and the misguided advise by some and started on a progressive press. Once I worked out a few bugs, as in all equipment, things went fine. I loaded over 10,000 rounds the first year with great success.

The biggest piece of advise anyone can give you is read the instructions and go slow. Speed is not necessarily your best friend when you are learning. Once things are working smoothly you can increase the speed and enjoy the full benefits of a progressive.

Buy in bulk when ever possible and the savings will be better. Keep track of what you are doing and don't try to rely on memory.

Enjoy the reloading experience.

February 3, 2012, 10:04 PM
Thanks everyone for the advice, links, and patience with a noob...

I guess I'll start by tracking down that ABC's book I've been advised of. When I start it'll mostly be to reload 7.62x39 and 9x19 and to a lesser extent .308. I've been told and understand that I won't be saving much with the 7.62x39 or 9x19 but with those calibers I'm more looking at this as a learning experience and hopefully down the line after I've gained some knowledge and experience I'd like to get tighter more consistent groups.

But thanks again and in a few months as I (hopefully) get closer to actually buying my first set up I'll probably hit everyone up again for opinions and advice on what specific brands to go with!

February 3, 2012, 10:14 PM
I think you'll actually pay more reloading 7.62x39, but you can reload 9mm for 75% (using high end components) to 50% or less of factory cost.

February 3, 2012, 10:41 PM
1) What do I need to get started as far as equipment and such?

Quite a few things really. The linked thread will help with that. Top of my head, A press, Dies, Brass, Bullets, Primers, Powders, Reloading Manual, A way to prime the cases, A Scale and a powder funnel. Oh and don't forget the reloading block and trickler. It comes in handy as well as a caliper to help measure out the OAL of your rounds.

2) How expensive is the initial setup?

That depends on what brands you choose and who you buy from. Could cost you $150 up to $500. Maybe more. Maybe less. Just depends on how you buy things. A good ball park figure would be about $200-250, Again depending on what you buy and from where.

3) How difficult is the learning process and what is the best way to go about it?

Its really easy actually. The best way is to listen to those on here. They are very well experienced on reloading for many years. I and mostly everyone would suggest you take your time and understand everything you need to know before you do anything. Slow and steady and you will be turning out rounds before you know it. No need to rush. Rushing will cause you problems you don't want or need.

4) Any advice you can offer?

Stick to the manual. Ask questions. No matter how stupid or noobish they sound to you. The only stupid question is the one not asked. Do not become distracted when reloading. Read the manual and ask what ever you have to. Your safety is your first priority.

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