To Start Reloading


December 12, 2012, 11:22 AM
Ok. So here's a very broad question. First some details, I shoot primarily 3 centerfire calibers - 9mm, 38/357, 45Colt. I don't have a ton of time or money to invest at this point (three little kids at home) but I'm wanting to get a taste for reloading. After doing a little research online I almost gave up the idea entirely due to the overwhelm of options and opinions. I want something basic to get me started. Not looking (at this point) of going into full scale "production". So from those of you who know, where do I start? Basic equipment? etc? Hoping for some simple and consise answers/opinions. Thanks.

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December 12, 2012, 11:34 AM
There is a sticky thread right above your post that will answer many of your questions.


Hondo 60
December 12, 2012, 12:16 PM
The very first place to start is with the "stickies" as rcmodel said.
(you'll find that rc is very knowledgeable & respected around these parts.)

the 2nd place is to get or borrow a reloading manual or 3.

My favorite is Lyman's 49th Reloading Handbook (that's the most recent edition)
This book has a GREAT "how-to" section & the widest array of reloading data.

Many of us have anywhere from 3 - 10 manuals.
Because of variables like bullet shape, different testing equiptment etc, the manuals will disagree on the powder charge.

I usually err on the side of caution because we are dealing with small explosions.

Another heads-up is that the powder manufacturers all have data on their site FOC (free of charge).
The bullet manufacturers on the other hand all publish manuals that you have to pay for.
(but they of course only provide data for their brand of bullet)

Welcome to the addiction ... OH! I mean hobby - ya, that's it hobby :scrutiny:

A lower cost, excellent press IMHO is the Lee CLASSIC Turret press.
They have 2, don't get the so-called deluxe.
It's not deluxe - it's made of cheaper components & sprays used primers all over or at least mine did.

December 12, 2012, 12:28 PM
I'd start with a lee turret press and the 45lc. It is a versatile press, easy to learn and hard to make mistakes with. makes 1 complete round at a time so you don't have partially finished rounds on loading blocks waiting to be knocked over or walk away from and come back going "where was I now..."

45lc will give you the biggest bang for your buck in terms of savings and is easy to load for. It is very low pressure so your odds of screwing up and blowing up the gun are low. stay away from 9mm for a while. the savings is not really there and if you try loading lead for real cost savings, it can be tricky. 9 is the only caliber I just can't seem to make work right.

Figure $250 for the press, dies, some powder, primers and bullets. If you decide it's not for you you can sell it all for 80% of what you paid for it without much effort. If you like it, you can add more calibers for about $40 a caliber. It should take you an hour to get all set up the first time and to figure out what you are doing. You should be able to load about 100rds an hour after that. YMMV.

If space is an issue you can bolt the press to a 2x8 chunk, then c-clamp that to a coffee table or something, do your loading after the kids are down, then unbolt it and put it up in a closet till the next time.

December 12, 2012, 12:33 PM
Try a Lee Loader in 45 colt, under $30 and can get you started well under $150 with all needed components and scale if you shop around a bit.

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

December 12, 2012, 06:05 PM
The first thing I recommend to any one thinking about reloading is to go to their local library and see what they have on reloading and guns. Then get the following books (inter-library loan system) Lee MODERN RELOADING 2nd ed (ignore all the lies about Lee stuff being the best), Lyman #49 (current) or #48 (I like it a bit better for info), DBI METALLIC CARTRIDGE RELOADING 3rd ed (out of print and most libraries seem to have it stolen as it told what was good and what was trash).

I do not recommend low quality equipment. A decent press will last 30-40-50 years and that means no pot metal, no 2 year warranty the company does not intend to stand behind anyway.

Got to go. Will post more later,

Kevin Rohrer
December 12, 2012, 06:41 PM
Start by reading Lyman #49. It will answer your questions.

December 12, 2012, 07:49 PM
Read the sticky ....that's good info...

In terms of equipment, I like Dillon...

For handgun ammo ...the Dillon SDB is a very good press ( and it'll meet all your needs - at a good price). The only downside to it uses a proprietary die, unique to just that one press. It will not allow for the installation of a case feeder...and there is no option for a "powder check die"...but its still a good press that will meet your needs long term.

I don't subscribe to the idea that you need to start with a single stage or a turret press... I think you can learn on a progressive ...and attention to detail is important ...but you'll be fine.

Now to compare the SDB press - to what many of us consider a better long term press ...look at the Dillon 650 ( it uses standard industry dies, it allows for a case feeder to be installed, and it has space in the toolhead for a powder check die )...all pretty big deals in my opinion.

SDB base price $ 380 ....650 base price $ 567 ...but by saving about $9 a box on 9mm ....and close to $12 a box on .357 mag...and at least $18 a box on .45 Colt....your payback is quick on either press. None of us save money by reloading ...we just shoot 3 times more...but that's ok too...

SDB will give you about 400 rds an hour / 650 will give you at least 800 rds an hour (more with a case feeder, maybe 1,000 an hour )...but speed isn't the issue /its accuracy and consistency ....but with family demands, if you can meet your ammo needs in an hour ...its a whole lot better than 4 or 5 hours...

650 is my press of choice...and for what its worth, I'd buy it again...(I've had it for several yrs).

Most all of the big name presses are good equipment...they just do things differently, and they each have their own quirks...even the Dillon 650...but I'll still take it over the Hornaday LNL which is a press that is equivalent to the quality of the 650.

good luck in your decison ..and welcome to our side of the gun hobby reloading....

December 12, 2012, 08:05 PM
You need to read a manual also the ABC'S OF RELOADING wouldn't hurt either.

December 12, 2012, 08:45 PM
I would start off with a Lee Classic Turret Press if I had room for a reloading bench. If not enough space, a Lee Hand Press.

Dies would be Lee 3 Die Carbide. No need for the Lee Factory Crimp Die for handgun cartridges unless you plan on shooting over sized cast bullets.

A balance scale, dial caliper, priming tool, powder measure (funnel if you use the hand press), couple reloading trays and maybe a bullet puller.

Comes out to about $275 for the turret setup and about $200 for the hand press set up.

Tumbler is optional. Some guys wash their cases in soap and water and let dry before loading.

Loading is simple. Resize, flare, prime, charge, seat and crimp. Just follow the directions that come with your dies. You can watch youtube videos if you get stuck.

Reloading manuals are good, but you can find load data from powder manufacturers on the internet. Stay away from max loads until you know what you're doing, use common sense (e.g. if you can see daylight when looking into the brass, throw it away), and it's all good.

December 12, 2012, 08:54 PM
One more vote here to start with the Lee turret press. Since you only listed handgun calibers, don't get anything less. A single stage or hand press won't be worth your time, especially for the 9mm. You'll shoot an hour's worth of work in ten minutes.

December 12, 2012, 09:02 PM
► The first place to start is by reading. Check the stickies, check your library.

► The second place is to start picking up every piece of brass you see. The brass is the first physical piece you need, and it's also where 2/3 of your savings come from. That also means start paying slightly more for ammo with brass worth reloading, like Winchester.

► Reloading with kids is "special time" with daddy. If you plan it correctly, it can become an integral part of your 1-on-1 with each child. If your wife fears it might take time away, I assure you it's quite the opposite.

December 12, 2012, 09:33 PM
take a look at some of the "KITS" out there, I started with a LEE kit back in the mid 90's still have all of it, and everything still works great after 1000's of rounds midwayusa has one of there kits on sale right now for$79.99 and it comes with a book. I think thats about what I paid for mine over 17 years ago, good luck, and have fun ,

December 13, 2012, 01:16 AM
Simple and basic. Well I started out several years ago loading .45 arguably the most popular round to reload. My first set up was
1. Lee hand press cost about 27-40$ depending on where you order it
2. Lee carbide die set about 30$
3. Lee hand prime 14-24$
4. Lee safety scale and a digital too
5. Case cleaning equipment can get pricey look at or check this sites for sale/trade thread. Powder, primers, bullets.
I recently purchased the Lee challenger kit for 149.00 and it includes most everything someone just starting out would need. You can't really go wrong with the above list. Just not great for volume production. Very portable though.

Lost Sheep
December 13, 2012, 01:38 AM
Hoping for some simple and consise answers/opinions. Thanks.
There aren't any that are correct. Sorry.

Most of the answers depend on your needs. There is no "one size fits all".

What kind of quantities are you shooting now and hope to shoot? Will you set up permanently or break down your loading setup after each session? What's your budget? Questions like that.

The more you tell us of your needs, the more we can target out answers and advice to you.

The book "The ABC's of Reloading" is a good place to start, as well as the "sticky" thread at the top of this forum that RCModel posted the link to.

Lost Sheep

December 13, 2012, 02:56 AM
another for a lee turret press! add a manual, safety prime system, die set, powder measure extension and a few other things im forgetting and you are good to go. if you get the classic cast delux kit from midway and a set of dies, you are only in it for $250 plus primers, powder and bullets. If you shoot more than a couple boxes of ammo a month, its worth it to reload. my lee turret press paid for itself within 6 hours of getting it.

December 13, 2012, 10:50 AM
I am new to reloading too so I really have no business offering any advice. But, based on the OP's clear need to find something as economical as possible and not needing something to produce a lot of ammo quickly it seems that the Lee Breech Lock single stage press would be really good beginners press. Yeah it takes a while longer to load bullets but once a good process is established they go pretty quickly...especially for a guy who is tight on cash and doesn't need to load hundreds of rounds per week. Its also pretty clear that he is not a competition rifle shooter so he doesn't need all the specialized stuff.

right now Cabelas has their starter kit on sale for $114.00. It seems to me that the only thing that is missing for loading pistol ammo is the dies, powder, primers and bullets....and no press comes with that stuff.


It is essentially what I am using myself and my father used this to load 6 or 8 different pistol rounds and 4 or 5 rifle rounds with this same press for 20+ years.

December 13, 2012, 02:58 PM
I wouldn't suggest a SS for anybody loading handgun. I would suggest The Pro1000 myself. The Turret seems highly praised but I've never used it.

Lost Sheep
December 13, 2012, 08:53 PM
I am new to reloading too so I really have no business offering any advice.

...(edited for brevity)...

It seems to me that the only thing that is missing for loading pistol ammo is the dies, powder, primers and bullets....and no press comes with that stuff.

Wrong on two counts. Sometimes a beginner is in a perfect position to give advice to another beginner. Being recently familiar with the questions and wonder that a novice has puts you in that position.

For $210, Kempf's gun shop sells the Lee Classic Turret, Dies, Primer dispenser (for use on-press), Powder measure. Everything you need to load for pistol calibers except a scale and a manual.

Your advice is as valuable as anyone's. Don't be shy. We aren't.

Lost Sheep

Hondo 60
December 13, 2012, 10:02 PM
kingmt - sorry, but I would NEVER recommend a Pro1000.
I had one & was so dang frustrated with it, I boxed it back up & sold it after about 4 months of honestly trying to get it to run.

In my opinion that's the worst press ever made.
I'm not trying to start a flame war, just stating my opinion.

My current press is a Dillon 550, but I wouldn't recommend that to a new reloader either.
It runs like a dream, but there's way too much goin' on all at the same time.
New reloaders need to see what's happening at each step.
Then once they get the hang of it, then they can step up if they want.

December 14, 2012, 12:29 AM
Everyone is just going to advise you that w/e they use is the best. If you want to get in and dabble without spending a lot, then go with w/e press floats your boat.

I would forgo the tumbler until you decide you like it. Forget the bullet puller, too. It's cheaper to throw away a few rounds here and there than to buy a bullet puller, if you decide you're not going to continue.

Forgo the case trimmer. You don't need it for straight wall pistol calibers.

Just get a press, a basic 3 die set for your most high volume caliber, a scale, and make your own dippers from a set of empty cases. A set of calipers could even be ditched if you want. Just set the bullet too long and inch it down until it fits the chamber/cylinder. Or compare it to a factory bullet.

If you are going to prime on the press, the Lee SS Breechlock and Classic Cast presses have one of the best manual priming systems. Note, some of the most basic SS presses don't come with a priming system at all. You need to buy a separate kit to prime on them, and then you will end up priming on the upstroke. Which means you can't size or flare at the same time. That really sucks.

Take your cases. If they're dirty, swish in a bucket of water with some dish soap. Rinse and let dry overnight, or put in the oven at 250F for an hour.

For most of the pistol loads you are looking at, buy 1k of primers and bullets and a pound of powder. That'll work out about right, unless you're going to load high velocity slow powders in the 45LC.

A lot of people are recommending the Turret Press. That's fine if you have the space. The press itself is bigger. And then you need to use a powder dispenser, which you need to keep an eye on to make sure you're not throwing light/heavy charges. And then you need more space around the press cuz you'll need to have empty cases, primers, bullets, and a bin for the finished ammo all close at hand. That takes more bench space than a single stage press, where you do one operation at a time.

Lost Sheep
December 14, 2012, 12:35 AM
Kingmtn, Hondo 60 (posts 18 & 20)

I have owned and used both, a pair of the Lee Pro-1000s (which I admit, I bought used, so might not have had the benefit of properly cleaned and adjusted presses) and now own and use a Lee Classic Turret.

I found the primer feed chute of the Pro-1000s irritating because if I didn't have at least 3 or 4 primers in the chute, the last few don't feed reliably.

Ejected spent primers don't fall into the cavity where they are supposed to go much of the time.

The main reason I did not like my Pro-1000s is that trying to monitor multiple simultaneous operations was unnerving to me. The Turret allows me to load continuous (like the progressive), but one step at a time, which I found to be relaxing and just as fast (measured as continuous production, not cyclical).

Lost Sheep

December 14, 2012, 01:13 AM
I just recently started reloading and wanted to start using a bare bones, minimum, no cash beginning. I bought a classic lee loader in .38 special. I am going to upgrade fairly soon but still see value in this system. I plan on buying a few more just to have on hand for different calibers.

Some refer to it as a wack a mole loader. I only get out around 50 rounds every 30 minutes after brass is deprimed but it only costs around 25 bux and gets the job done!

If need be it will fit in my pocket. If your someone who likes to dabble but you don't know if you'll stick with it, the lee classic loader is your best bet. Just know that you will probably be looking to upgrade fairly soon:)

Lost Sheep
December 14, 2012, 01:22 AM
Keep in mind that the Lee Classic Loader, until you add a scale, is limited in the power levels you can safely put together. Lee only supplies one dipper, which limits your ability to vary the recipe. Plus, not verifying that your dipping technique is delivering the weight specified in your loading manual (which is also not included in the "kit").

Once you add a scale and a manual or two, the loading setup doesn't fit in a pocket any more.

But it is a neat tool, nonetheless.

Lost Sheep

p.s. I will post some thoughts comparing the Lee Classic Loader to the least expensive Lee Reloader press.

Lost Sheep
December 14, 2012, 01:30 AM
If you load in any kind of quantity, you will be limited by the mallet-powered Lee loader. It makes good ammo, just not very fast, very conveniently or very quietly (every whack of the mallet will make everyone else in the house jump, unless you live near a railroad or an airport). Don't get me wrong. They work GREAT. I have one for every caliber I load. I just don't use them in preference to my press.

Consider the cost of entry: 3 loaders, a mallet and a block of wood on which to work (don't want to dent the dining room table, now) will set you back about $100 or so.

Three sets of dies, priming tool and a press capable of handling all the calibers you listed will set you back around $160.

The lists of peripherals you will want to supplement either of the above two basic setups are identical for comparison purposes. (e.g. a scale, chamfer tool, calipers and stuff) I left out of the list a press-mounted powder measure and other tools, because hey are truly optional and I want to compare directly the press to the Lee Loader, we have to set those aside for the moment and consider you will be scooping powder with the dippers.

So, you can choose a press for $160 and load quietly and smoothly. Or you can choose the Lee loaders for $100 and do a lot of banging on a workbench.

Other differences: I understand that occasionally a primer will go off. I have never done that or met anyone who has, but I believe it does happen, probably one out of a thousand or ten, but you probably want to wear ear protection when it does. (Wear eye protection with either system ALWAYS.)

All in all, an extra $60 is not much in the grand scheme of things to gain the quiet and the versatility of the press over the Lee Loader.

On the other hand. The Press will actually (ill-kept secret here) cost you a WHOLE LOT MORE! See, you will have this endless supply of ammunition begging to be shot. You will go to the range more often and stay longer. You will even buy more guns to shoot all this ammo you produce so cheaply. The Lee Loader is not immune to this phenomenon, but its lack of speed does provide a limited immunity to this disease.

Good Luck,

Lost Sheep

December 14, 2012, 01:34 AM
If you get good at it, the Lee loader is not all that different in speed compared to loading on a SS press. Check out youtube. Then time yourself on a SS press. Most people don't load any much faster, on average, than the fastest Lee loaders!

But I agree with the noise factor. All that whacking and keeping track of so many things would get tiresome pretty fast.

December 14, 2012, 01:42 AM
Limited on time and limited on money:

A single stage to feed any significant amount of shooting in your calibers requires a lot of time to load.

A compromise is a turret press that can be operated as a single stage to learn each reloading process. It can also produce pistol ammo faster than a single stage press.

To save money, the LEE cast iron turret press gives a good reliable press for the money.

USED with all the additional and somewhat expensive reloading "stuff" thrown in as a package is a great way to save money. These don't show up every day, but keep checking the local ads.

As said already. Read and ask questions first. The best way would be to have an experienced reloader help you decide what to get and maybe where.

December 14, 2012, 08:51 AM
Lost forgot buying a new gun just to be able to reload something else than you have been...I'm looking at a .243 and .30-30 as we speak. :D

December 14, 2012, 09:03 AM
I've never used a Dillon so I can't compare. I have a RCBS Jr., Pro1000, Lee hand press, Classic Cast BL, & Load Master.

The Jr. works fine but takes extra effort. The hand press works also but is slower because you have to keep handling the press & all the flex drives me crazy. I have a friend that has been using one for years tho.

I use a SS for rifle because it seems easier & faster to me.

I don't like the SS for handgun because it takes 3 pulls to make a finished round where The Pro1000 kicks one out every time you pump the handle. I did make a few modulations. I replaced the ejector with a paper clip bent in a half moon shape. I also changed the spring on the chain but that shouldn't affect the way it works. The Pro1000 can be used as a manual turret by drilling a hole in the turret for the rod to pass through. I did this when I loaded 30-06 on it. The only problems I have had other then the ejector self induced. I had some problems learning to use it because I thought I already knew how to load but a progressive & SS are not the same thing. You should run on round at a time until try learn how to is it tho.

The Load Master is a good press also I just line the simpleness of the Pro1000 better.

No Flame from here. I just like these presses & don't have tyre problems others have but them again my while life has been using tools. I normally don't have the problems with tools others have because I take the time to learn them.

As was said earlier to few & also to many primers in the hopper cause problems. I keep no more then 120 in it & no less then the shoot full. If I want to run it dry the last 10 need the help of a paper clip to push them into place.

December 14, 2012, 12:09 PM
I just got into reloading too, and went with the Lee classic turret press. It seemed like the best value and compromise of speed/simplicity. I love being able to use the auto index and make a box of ammo pretty quick, but it is also nice to convert it to single-stage and do one stage at a time. You can either remove the indexing rod, or simply don't bring the press all the way down. So it is flexible in that regard. For instance I may deprime all at once, clean, primer pockets in front of the TV, inspect, then they are all ready to go. I have loved reloading .45 so much I already bought dies to reload .9mm, .223 and .308 next. I think the turret will come in handy for the 9mm and .223 since I blast through ammo so fast, but the .308 I could see myself weighing each charge and doing it essentially single stage.

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