New guy considering if/how to get started reloading


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Bill_Rights
September 24, 2012, 02:59 AM
I bet there are a bunch of old threads about getting started hand loading. I did look a while at the sticky: For the New Reloader: Thinking about Reloading; Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=238214). Seemed a little overwhelming this late at night - I will try again later. Yesterday, when I was still awake, I found this article, and it seemed very good.
Have You Considered Re-Loading Your Ammo?
by Scott Mayer
Posted MARCH 21, 2012 at: http://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/how-to-get-started-reloading-ammunition/
Do you think this article steers me right?
Among other things, this article says there are at least three types of hand presses: single-stage, turret and progressive. It says that there is a distinction if you are using rifle casings that need to be trimmed --> then there is no advantage to progressive over turret. [SIDE QUESTION: Why does rifle brass need to be trimmed? Does it always? And straight-wall pistol brass never needs to be trimmed? Is there a good thread on the ins and outs of trimming?]

I guess I should have started out saying that three categories of cartridges I shoot a lot of and may want to reload are:

a) .45 cal pistol: .45 LC, .45 ACP and .454 Casull
b) .308 Win rifle (I think my rifles equally chamber 7.62x51 mm NATO)
c) 7.62x39 mm Russian (rifle)

Anyway, just a noob pondering. Also, is used equipment a good way to go? The new units look pretty reasonably priced, but I was thinking that there must be dozens of attachments, dies and so forth that'd more than double the cost. Maybe buying a used set-up, I'd get all that stuff ready to go?

Oh, and another thing, even though I have a bunch of once-fired factory casings saved up, when I look at the price of reloading components, I get kinda discouraged. For ex., .308 brass at 25-30 cents a case, similar for name-brand bullets, primers also expensive! Looks like the components alone will total up to $1/round, for .308 Win. Heck, sometimes I can buy decent factory loads for around that much. [yah, yah, I know: the big attraction is I can tailor my hand loads exactly to my purposes - but it sure doesn't seem like a money saver!]

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ArchAngelCD
September 24, 2012, 05:42 AM
I know in the beginning all the information seems overwhelming but if you take your time things will become easier to understand.

As for component costs, especially brass prices, yes, brass can be expensive but you don't buy fresh brass for every reloading. You can use 308 brass many times so instead of adding the full cost of the brass to the first loading you spread it over 10 to 15 loadings which brings that dollar a round number way down. Also, especially with 308 loads, there is plenty of once fired surplus 308 brass on the market for a drastically reduced price. You can buy surplus 308 brass for $20/100 $85/500 or $150/1000.

Without the price of brass added in I can load a box of 20 30-06 rounds using a Sierra Match bullet for under $10. I can load 100 30-06 rounds for the M1 Garand using surplus brass and bullets for only $36, drop that price to $28/100 rounds using surplus powder too.

Rifle brass needs trimming because the bottle neck case stretches when it's sent through a FL Resizing die. Straight walled pistol brass actually shrinks slightly with use so trimming is not usually necessary even if you wanted to trim it.

Give to some time to sink in and you will see it's not all that confusing after all. Read everything you can and then ask us specific questions, everyone here is willing to help...

Walkalong
September 24, 2012, 08:32 AM
I know in the beginning all the information seems overwhelming but if you take your time things will become easier to understand.Exactly. There is so much info at first, much of which is just smoke, it can seem overly complicated, but it isn't. If you can follow instructions, are somewhat mechanically inclined, and are neat and orderly by nature, it's a breeze. Heck, I know reading challenged sloppy by nature people who do it successfully. :)

cfullgraf
September 24, 2012, 08:35 AM
Yesterday, when I was still awake, I found this article, and it seemed very good.
Have You Considered Re-Loading Your Ammo?
by Scott Mayer
Posted MARCH 21, 2012 at: http://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/how-to-get-started-reloading-ammunition/
Do you think this article steers me right?



It looks like the article covers the basics.

You will need to have a loading manual or two anyway. Most, if not all, have instructional sections. So, start your collection now and begin reading them.

Lyman #49 is considered a good one with both instructions and load data and a good place to start. The other manuals are excellent as well but frequently the equipment shown is heavy towards what the company makes who wrote the book. (Speer has RCBS equipment, Hornady has Hornady equipment, etc).

"ABCs of Reloading" is a good "how-to". Many folks borrow it from the library to save money. I have one on my shelf for future reference but admit it does not get opened very often these days.

Basic reloading is not difficult, equipment choices can be daunting. Any of the current manufacturers make good equipment and will serve you well. Opinions from reloaders will be numerous and varied.

Hope this helps.

Shmackey
September 24, 2012, 09:13 AM
There's still a speed advantage with a progressive press and rifle reloading. That being said, I load rifle in one of two ways: progressive for bulk batches of (still excellent) semiauto ammo or single-stage for painstakingly crafted precison rounds.

As awesome as it is to see fresh .45 Auto rounds piling up from a reloading session, it's even more awesome to see the same thing happening with hundreds of rounds of .223 per hour.

06
September 24, 2012, 09:44 AM
Do not let initial costs deter you. There are many deals to be had on reloading equipment. Lots of people only load sparingly or buy then quit or some pass on and the family sells their gear. The biggest "plus" I see in reloading is that you can get around future problems with ammo procurement. Get your supplies up(with adequate reserves) as fast as economically possible. That way you are not caught with your pants down when supplies dry up. Remember three years ago when the ammo supply in most places was scarce to non existent. Something else you may want to consider is casting your own "boolits"---for the same reasons. Again, build your reserves/supplies. In the future your ability to make your own ammo may be the only way you will have any.

oneounceload
September 24, 2012, 11:01 AM
Oh, and another thing, even though I have a bunch of once-fired factory casings saved up, when I look at the price of reloading components, I get kinda discouraged. For ex., .308 brass at 25-30 cents a case, similar for name-brand bullets, primers also expensive! Looks like the components alone will total up to $1/round, for .308 Win. Heck, sometimes I can buy decent factory loads for around that much. [yah, yah, I know: the big attraction is I can tailor my hand loads exactly to my purposes - but it sure doesn't seem like a money saver!]

Besides reusing the brass, once you start to buy components in bulk, the unit costs drop dramatically

Kyle M.
September 24, 2012, 11:14 AM
I can reload for my .375 H&H for 67.5 cents a round, thats 13.50 a box. Cheap factory ammo is $60 a box or $3 a round. The primo stuff is $120 a box or $6 a round. There is definately a savings in reloading.

FiveInADime
September 24, 2012, 11:44 AM
As someone always says in these threads, reloading to save money is a false economy for most people. Before I started reloading I simply couldnt afford to shoot my centerfire rifles more than a few times a year. Now, I spend a lot more money but I get to shoot a lot of bullets per dollar compared to when I had to buy factory ammo.

cfullgraf
September 25, 2012, 07:56 PM
Now, I spend a lot more money but I get to shoot a lot of bullets per dollar compared to when I had to buy factory ammo.

The cost per reloaded round is always less than factory ammunition. What you choose to do with the savings is your choice.

Reloading allows me to shoot more for the same cost, I enjoy reloading, I have ammunition to shoot to get me through through the shortages, and reloading dies are always the next purchase after buying a firearm in a cartridge I do not current load for, even if i do not expect to shoot the gun much.

Hondo 60
September 25, 2012, 10:54 PM
45 Colt & 454 Casull are VERY expensive.
So you can save 75% or more by reloading.

Did that get your interest?

The first step is getting your hands on a reloading manual or 3.
RELOADING MANUALS ARE YOUR BESTEST FRIENDS

Before a sunk a dime into reloading I went to the local library & checked out a reloading manual.
(reloading is very easy once you get the hang of it)

Bill_Rights
September 26, 2012, 12:07 AM
Thanks for the good advice and urge of patience. I will take that advice and read up more.

Yeh, someone answered my question about buying used equipment. I guess the problem there is getting a set-up for the chamberings I want to load. Also, it is not immediately clear where to look for used equipment. (I will check the Trading Post.) Used equipment doesn't scare me, tho'. At least two of my rifles were bought used through GunBroker.Com, and I couldn't be happier.

What about my question of trimming rifle brass? Just guessing, does this have to do with, when you draw a brass-sizing die over the necked-down casing of a rifle casing, somehow this "extrudes" (or compresses?) the length of the case to be longer than spec? Why doesn't something similar happen when you run a die down straight-wall brass? <-- Regarding this last question, I got part of a good answer on a contemporary thread, http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=678655.

[By the way, I tried to respond sooner, but the THR site was inaccessible to me all day yesterday+]

GLOOB
September 26, 2012, 12:40 AM
Bottle necked cases stretch to the length and diameter of the chamber when fired. They expand in all directions. The brass thins a little and gains surface area. When you resize it, some of the "extra brass" is pushed out the top of the die, lengthening the neck.

Straight wall cases expand only outward but actually shrink in length at the same time, since there's no shoulder in the case for pressure to build and stretch the case lengthwise. So the brass essentially retains its original thickness and surface area. Then when you resize the case, it goes back to the original length.

Also, the bottle neck allows you to expand the case mouth and size at the same time. The expander ball goes inside the case just before the case is sized. Then on the way out, it expands the interior of the case mouth to the proper dimension.This is a time saving advantage compared to straight walled cases, which need to be expanded after the sizing in a separate step. But in the rifle case, you're pulling the expander out, stretching the case a little. With a pistol case, the mouth is expanded by the ball/ring being pushed into the case.

Lost Sheep
September 26, 2012, 12:44 AM
Straight-walled (handgun) cases do not tend to lengthen with use. Probably because the sizing die first pushes down on and then pulls up on the case during the loading process. During the firing process, the shortness and simplicity of the case just does not stretch the case. Indeed, with semi-autos sometimes the cases actually shorten.

Bottlenecked cases are compressed once as they enter the sizing die and pulled as they exit the sizing die, but the neck is pulled again as the sizing button (mandrel) pulls out of the neck. During the firing process, the cartridge starts out with the shoulder of the cartridge up against the front part of the chamber and the rear of the cartridge not quite against the breechface (if it were, closing the chamber would be very tight). When the powder ignites, the neck and shoulder of the cartridge are pressed tight to the chamber walls, but the rear of the cartridge is stretched back to be pressed tight against the breech face. Therefore the body of the case is stretched every time the case is fired. Eventually, the walls of the case near the rear get stretched thinner and thinner and before case-head separation occurs, the brass is retired.

I am not a rifle shooter, so don't deal with these processes very much. If anything I have said is wrong, please, anyone, feel free to educate me.

Lost Sheep

Lost Sheep
September 26, 2012, 12:50 AM
Why reload?

Let me count the ways:

Economy: Depending on what cartridges you are reloading (and whether or not you want to count your time and the up-front equipment costs) you can save anywhere from just a little to 80% or more of your ammo costs. (9mm is very close to no savings. 500 S&W, my friend's ammo costs are $0.75 per round, factory loaded ammo is $3.00 each for comparable ammo. More exotic calibers (especially rifle calibers) can save even more. Some rounds are not even available on a regular basis at any price.

Quality: Ammo you craft yourself can be tuned to your firearms particular characteristics. Handloaders for rifles quite often find some individual guns have quite striking differences in group size when shooting tuned ammunition.

Knowledge: As you study reloading, you will, perforce, also study internal ballistics. The study of internal ballistics leads into the study of how your firearm works.

Customization: Ammo you load yourself can be tuned to your particular needs. My friend with the 500 S&W loads full power loads and "powder puff" loads that clock 350 grain slugs a little under 800 feet per second. I know that's more than a G.I. 45 ACP's power and momentum, but they shoot like 22 rimfire in that big, heavy gun. Great for fun, familiarization, training and letting the curious bystander go for a "test drive" with a super-light load, a medium load, a heavy load and, if they are still game one of the big boomers. This tends to avoid the "rear sight in the forehead" mark.

Satisfaction: Punching small bunches of small, medium or large holes in paper or bringing down a game or food animal with ammunition you crafted yourself has a good deal of satisfaction. Same reason I prefer to make my own biscuits instead of store-bought.

Smug satisfaction: When the ammo shelves are bare during a market or political scare, loaders are demonstrably less affected by the shortages. A couple of pounds of powder, a thousand primers and bullets (or few pounds of lead) and a hundred cartridge cases wouldn't fill a small book carton, but lets the loader know he can shoot while price-gougers take advantage of non-loaders.

Self-satisfaction: The repetitive, calm, attentive concentration of the reloading activities is often found to be so much fun as to bring to the shooter's mind the question, "Do I reload so I can shoot shoot or do I shoot so I can reload?". Some find loading to be as satisfying a hobby as shooting or fly-tying or many other hobbies.

The more fanatical among us combine a couple of the features I have mentioned and, instead of shooting for bullseye accuracy at the range, reload in a search for the "magic load" that achieves perfection in a given rifle. Then, they move on to the next target, which is another rifle and another tuned load. But you do have to be at least a little fanatical to even get it. It is the hunt they seek, for they enjoy the quest more than the goal.

I am sure there are many other reasons, but these are the main ones I can think of.

Thanks for asking our advice

Lost Sheep
September 26, 2012, 12:56 AM
I skimmed through the article you asked about. It looks like an excellent introduction. More details and specificity can be found in some other books, like "The ABC's of Reloading" and the early chapters of almost all reloading manuals. Very much worth your study.

You must be an experienced shooter, yes? You ask good questions.

Anyone who can follow a recipe in the kitchen or change a tire can handload safely. It just takes care and a bit of humility. Handloading is not rocket science, but it does involve smoke and flame and things that go very fast, so care is to be taken.

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".

So you can better evaluate my words, here is the focus of my experience. 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 don't cast....yet.

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 my press on a 2 x 6 plank long enough to wedge into the drawer of an end table.

I still believe in a minimalist approach and and try to keep my inventory of tools low. I do not keep my loading gear set up when not in use, either, but pack them away in small toolboxes until the next loading session.

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. I am told the older editions are better than the newer ones, so the library is looking even better.

Read as many manuals as you can, for the discussion of the how-to steps found in their early chapters. 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. What one manual covers thinly, another will cover well so give better coverage of the subject; one author or editor may cover parts of the subject more thoroughly than the others.

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 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 mail-order catalog or a reloading kit 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. Better equipment costs more generally. Cast aluminum is lighter and less expensive but not so abrasion resistant as cast iron. Cast iron lasts practically forever. Aluminum generally takes more cleaning and lubrication to last 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. Ask around. Testimonials are nice. But if you think Ford/Chevy owners have brand loyalty, you have not met handloaders. Testimonials with reasoning behind them are better. RCBS equipment is almost all green, Dillon, blue, Lee red. Almost no manufacturers cross color lines and many handloaders simply identify themselves as "Blue" or whatever. Make your own choices.

On Kits: Almost every manufacturer makes a kit that contains everything you need to do reloading (except dies and the consumables). A kit is decent way to get started. Eventually most people wind up replacing most of the components of the kit as their personal taste develops, but you will have gotten started, at least.

On Kits: Almost every manufacturer (and most major retailer) assembles a kit that contains everything you need to do reloading (except dies and the consumables). A kit is a decent way to get started without too much prior experience. Eventually most reloaders wind up replacing many of the components of the kit as their personal taste develops (negating the savings you thought the kit gave you), but you will have gotten started, at least.

On building your own kit: The thought processes you give to assembling your own kit increases your knowledge about reloading. You may get started a couple weeks later than if you started with a kit, but you will be far ahead in knowledge.

Advice #3 While Learning, don't get fancy Progressive or Single Stage? Experimental loads? Pushing performance envelopes?

While you are learning, load mid-range at first so overpressures are not concerns. Just concentrate on getting the mechanical steps of loading right and being VERY VERY consistent (charge weight, crimp strength, bullet 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.

Learn on a single stage press or a turret press, or if on a progressive, only once cartridge at a time. While you can learn on a progressive press, in my opinion too many things happen at the same time, thus are hard to keep track of (unless you load singly at first). Mistakes DO happen and you want to watch for them ONE AT A TIME. Until handloading becomes second nature to you.

Note: A turret press is essentially a single stage press with a moveable head which can mount 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.

On the Turret vs Single stage the decision is simpler. You can do everything on a Turret EXACTLY the same way as you do on a single stage (just leave the turret stationary). That is, a Turret IS a single stage if you don't rotate the head.

Learning on a progressive can be done successfully, but it is easier to learn to walk in shoes than on roller skates.

Also, a good, strong, single stage press is in the stable of almost every reloader I know, no matter how many progressives they have. They always keep at least one.

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 the coffeetable and 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 Black & Decker 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 practically infallible. Use cloth, not plastic. Less static, quieter and has less tendency to let dropped primers roll away.

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.

Read previous threads on reloading, here are a couple I read.
http://forums.accuratereloading.com/eve
http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=13543
http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewforum.php?f=11&sid=1efda7af229b625361fbd5ae1f754eec
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 #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. "The delicious flavor of low price fades fast. The wretched aftertaste of poor quality lingers long.

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. Carbide expander button for your bottlenecked cases. Keeps lube out of the inside of the cases.

Advice #9 Safety Always Safety All Ways.

Wear eye protection, especially when seating 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). Any distractions that might induce you to forget charging a case (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 (present of future - lead is a hazard, too. Wash after loading and don't eat at your bench). Enough said?

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. 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 the are next to each other on the keypad.

Good luck.

Lost Sheep

savanahsdad
September 26, 2012, 01:47 AM
you can buy some starter kits for less than what some pepole want for there old stuff , shop around,,, I started with a Lee kit 15 years ago and I was only loading 270 , 44mag and 308 for years , you can go nuts with stuff, I spent more on my Lyman dps 1200 scale than I did for my first kit , , so you don't need to spend a ton of cash to get going , but you can later :D

good luck , and there a ton of good info above

savanahsdad
September 26, 2012, 01:52 AM
lostsheep...


Lee had a scale in RCBS GREEN , just saw one on E-bay so I guess Most wont cross lines

Lost Sheep
September 26, 2012, 03:18 AM
lostsheep...


Lee had a scale in RCBS GREEN , just saw one on E-bay so I guess Most wont cross lines
Yeah, I have a Lee Safety Scale in green, but it is not the same shade of green as RCBS green.

Send me a link to the Ebay sale, please. I am curious.

Lost Sheep

savanahsdad
September 26, 2012, 03:50 AM
can't find it , but I did a web serch for "Lee scale RCBS green" and one sold on there on Arp 21 2012, for $22.72 , when I say "just saw" it could meen weeks, but I know I saw one not to long ago, I bid on one last year but didn't get , I was thinking they were rare but I've seen 4 or 5 in the last year and the box says "RCBS GREEN" most of my stuff is red but bid on one just because I'm a reload junkie , I have a Herders (brown) a redding (brown) Lyman (orange) lee (red) a Pacific (red) and I wanted a green one lol...

Bill_Rights
September 28, 2012, 03:05 AM
Hey Lost Sheep: Thanks a ton for relating your thoughts and experience generously and at length (and depth!). It was lengthy, but I read every word. Obviously, you care. I have noticed the dedication handloaders have, but now I understand more.

Yeh, I go back to single-digit age with shooting. I have even reloaded, but only shotgun shells, with my dad. We used to have fun shooting thrown clay pigeons, so we reloaded just to afford hundreds of shots each in an afternoon; but we got confident enough to using our reloads for actual bird hunting, too. I am more into rifles and pistols now, and there is a lot more "mystery" (to me) in their ammunition.

As directed by the forum, I bought my first hand loading manual just today, the Lyman 49th ed. Handbook. So many people have mentioned the ABCs book, I oughta locate one of those, too.

THE BRAG (I usually don't do this): I just ordered a Lyman Turbo Sonic 6000 Ultrasonic Case Cleaner for a good price. $253 at Optics Planet, then an additional coupon discount of 5% from previous purchases. With two quarts of different ultrasonic cleaning solutions and the Lyman manual, and free shipping, everything was under $300. (MidwayUSA and Cabelas have the TS6000 machine for $270, only a few bucks more, if you prefer).

Now.... yah, I know, an ultrasonic case cleaner is about the last thing I should buy for reloading. But I bought it as much for general gunsmith and shop/hobby cleaning. I have worked in an industry where we always have U/S cleaners around, and became spoiled - know about a 1,000 uses for them. But just so happens I am away from an actual industry shop on this multi-year gig I am doing. So I got one for my home shop. That's another quirk of mine: If I ever got to love a professional tool by long use, I want it really, really badly for my home shop use, if I can afford it. That is kinda another version of Lost Sheep's (and many others') idea to buy high quality tools evn if the initial price is high.

FROGO207
September 28, 2012, 07:55 AM
A thought for you also. I find that metallic reloading (40+ years) is more fun and easier than reloading shotgun ammo which I have recently revisited. Figuring out the hulls and wads is much harder than working up a safe load with a rifle or hand gun IMHO.

Bill_Rights
September 29, 2012, 03:11 AM
Frogo,
Interesting to hear you say that. My dad did all the selecting of shotshell wads and loads when I was young (and since then I haven't loaded any more). I remember we had two basic loads that fitted in 2-3/4" shells, one lighter (like 7/8 Oz. for 20 Ga) and one heavier (like 1 Oz. for 20 Ga) and correspondingly shorter wad (molded plastic, even back in the 1970s) for the load with more shot and powder. Didn't seem too complicated, but we didn't get very "radical". I do remember hating recrimping the plastic shell-ends. You wanted to follow the old folds, and if you didn't it looked like crud. It looked like crud anyway! I always envied the factory crimp closures with their melted button in the middle. And our recrimped end was always discolored from smoke residue. Not professional looking. So, yeh, I can see how making your own all-metal cartridges would be more asthetically satisfying. :)

Bill_Rights
September 29, 2012, 03:23 AM
Lost Sheep,

This was a great explanation of how the bottle-necked rifle cartridge works:Bottlenecked cases are compressed once as they enter the sizing die and pulled as they exit the sizing die, but the neck is pulled again as the sizing button (mandrel) pulls out of the neck. [So the neck is too long and you have to trim it.] During the firing process, the cartridge starts out with the shoulder of the cartridge up against the front part of the chamber and the rear of the cartridge not quite against the breechface (if it were, closing the chamber would be very tight). When the powder ignites, the neck and shoulder of the cartridge are pressed tight to the chamber walls, but the rear of the cartridge is stretched back to be pressed tight against the breech face. Therefore the body of the case is stretched every time the case is fired. Eventually, the walls of the case near the rear get stretched thinner and thinner and before case-head separation occurs, the brass is retired.

So does the sizing die recompress the length of the main body of the case every time you ram it down to the cartridge base? Somehow, you gotta keep that shoulder-to-base length from keeping on stretching longer...

And I am guessing this thingy I read about called a "headspace guage" has to do with how far short the cartridge length from shoulder-to-base is than the length of the chamber from shoulder-to-breech (or boltface)?

Anyway, as soon as I get some of the books I will read about it and find out, I guess....

Lost Sheep
September 29, 2012, 04:59 AM
Lost Sheep,

This was a great explanation of how the bottle-necked rifle cartridge works:

So does the sizing die recompress the length of the main body of the case every time you ram it down to the cartridge base? Somehow, you gotta keep that shoulder-to-base length from keeping on stretching longer...

And I am guessing this thingy I read about called a "headspace guage" has to do with how far short the cartridge length from shoulder-to-base is than the length of the chamber from shoulder-to-breech (or boltface)?

Anyway, as soon as I get some of the books I will read about it and find out, I guess....
You have identified one of the two main reasons rifle brass has such a short life compared to straight-walled handgun brass.

The body of the case, indeed, does NOT "recompress the length of the main body of the case every time you ram it down to the cartridge base". Once stretched during firing, the length of the case body (from base to shoulder) is put back to the proper length by bumping the shoulder back. This does not recompress the case walls unfortunately and the case walls get thinner. If you don't detect that thinning, eventually it separates. Usually just a fraction of an inch from the cartridge base where the web terminates.

The headspace gauge tells you when you need to bump the shoulder back. The "paper clip" test can tell you when the case wall is thinning and case head separation is imminent. Read here for a better treatment of the subject (about 2/3 of the way down):

http://www.exteriorballistics.com/reloadbasics/caseinspect.cfm

and here:

http://riflemansjournal.blogspot.com/2010/05/reloading-case-head-separations.html

The other cause of brass "wearing out" is hardening of the case mouths and necks. They get brittle and crack. This can be cured by annealing, though. case wall thinning cannot be cured.

Lost Sheep

ares338
September 30, 2012, 01:40 AM
I was pondering the myriad choices in reloading equipment the other night and made a decision. I am going to start with a Lee Classic Loader in .45 ACP. I am going to start slow and learn every step slowly and completely before I buy a more automated system. I am going to reload for 3 reasons...1. I love everything firearms related 2. It will be a great hobby giving me a chance to have some alone time 3. Make shooting a little more cost effective. I know I really won't save any money but I think I can make a more accurate bullet because I have all the time in the world.

Darto
September 30, 2012, 02:18 AM
A simple very cheap Lee "case length gauge and shell holder" + a simple Lee "cutter and lock stud" will allow trimming the brass to factory specifications, in other words make the brass as long as a new factory box of cartridges brass would be.

The cutter and lock stud work for all calibers (almost).
The length gauge and shell holder you buy for each caliber, such as one for 30-06, another one for 30-30, another one for .38 special, etc. You just screw the gauge into the cutter.

links to an example (32-20 caliber).
and a general cutter and stud.
http://www.midwayusa.com/product/228186/lee-case-length-gage-and-shellholder-32-20-wcf?cm_cat=Cart&cm_pla=ProductDesc

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/476992/lee-case-trimmer-cutter-and-lock-stud

Lost Sheep
September 30, 2012, 03:05 AM
I was pondering the myriad choices in reloading equipment the other night and made a decision. I am going to start with a Lee Classic Loader in .45 ACP. I am going to start slow and learn every step slowly and completely before I buy a more automated system. I am going to reload for 3 reasons...1. I love everything firearms related 2. It will be a great hobby giving me a chance to have some alone time 3. Make shooting a little more cost effective. I know I really won't save any money but I think I can make a more accurate bullet because I have all the time in the world.
Starting slow and learning every step is the smart thing.

While I don't want to second guess your decision about the Lee Loader but I will anyway because I think a press will serve you better. Though either will let you learn the steps, the press lets you see very closely how it is loaded and with conditions even more controlled than with the Lee Loader.

The mallet driven tool requires you have a sturdy work surface and be away from other people who will be annoyed by the hammering. The hand press can be operated quietly seated in front of a card table. (Though, the scale I recommend needs to be on a more stable surface.)

The Lee Loader is perfectly adequate and probably as fast as the Hand Press. And is an investment commensurate with 20-40 rounds . For about $25 more, you can have a much quieter tool that is not unnerving to onlookers waiting for the explosion (said explosion is virtually impossible, but EVERYONE thinks about it - probably from watching old cartoons).

Check out these videos
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-LA2G_Sy4I Lee Loader
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6IoNCtFHwUhttp: Lee Hand Press the Lube is convenient, as is the funnel, but neither is necessary.

The continuum of convenience and speed goes up from there

If your shooting goes up past 50 rounds at a session, you might find yourself thinking a press actually mounted on a tabletop would be convenient. It is. And faster than either the Lee Loader or Hand Press. But the price starts to climb past $100. Maybe up to $200. But that is barely 7-10 boxes of ammunition.

Lee makes a $30 single stage press that is an EXTREMELY basic setup, but the Challenger or Classic Cast single stage will last your lifetime.

If you want more speed, a Turret press and some accessories will get you up to 100-200 rounds per hour rather than the 30-50 available with the simpler tools. But the bench-mounted single stage press or the turret is no more complex in operation than the hand press. You are looking at $250 for the setup.

If you still want MORE speed, a progressive press can give you 100 to 1,000 rounds per hour. But they are more complex and will cost you some serious money. $200 to $1,000

Food for thought.

Lost Sheep

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