Reloading, how much to get into it? What Press??


February 2, 2003, 02:24 PM
Well I want to start reloading. I am starting to shoot a lot of 45ACP and it isnt cheap. Even through the net it cost a lot of money. Is reloading much cheaper? I also like the idea of trying my own loads. Whats a good press to get? I have no idea what to buy. Also how much would it cost to reload 500 or 1000 rounds of 230Gr FMJ 45acp? Just a ballpark idea? Thanks for any help.

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Steve Smith
February 2, 2003, 03:37 PM
I would REALLY REALLY REALLY suggest you visit and do a search for "spreadsheet" in the handloading forum. There's a guy that built an all-inclusive spreadsheet that will tell you costs and how long it will take to amortize your investment. The spreadsheet is easy to use, and even includes little things you normally wouldn't think of. Now, you'll need to know prices of presses and everything else before you use the program, but I promise you it'll help you make a good decision.

That said, I would say that you shoud never expect to save money reloading. You will be able to shoot a ton more for your dollar, but you won't save a dime. Start up costs are of course the big issue. How much do you shoot in a month? When I started I was shooting about 400 rounds of .45 a month and it was worth it to buy a Lee Pro 1000. Unfortunately, that press sucks like you cannot imagine, so I wound up selling it and bought a Dillon because I didn't want to struggle again. A dillon is a little overkill for one caliber at 400 rounds per month, but at the same time, it took me almost no time at all to crank those out. Since then I've added many other calibers to the setup and it really pays for itself in spades.

So, first question, how much do you shoot a month?
Second question, how much can you spend for the setup?

February 2, 2003, 05:22 PM
What Steve says is sound info.

My info is that you really might like the mechanics of loading as much as shooting. I am a cheap son of a gun so it costs me around 28.00 for1000 rnds of 200 gr swc. Thats casting your own projectiles. 68.00 if I buy lswc to shoot. If you buy good equipment (DILLON) if you dont think its your bag I would say you can get 90% of your investment back on resale. Someone is always looking for DILLONS. And I get great satisfaction and better ammo homebrewing it. Boon

February 2, 2003, 05:33 PM
Buy used (RCBS, Lyman, Redding, Hornady) or buy a kit like the RCBS Partner kit.

February 2, 2003, 09:12 PM
If you are serious about getting into reloading and don't want to spend a ton of money, get a quality single stage press like the Rockchucker, by RCBS. It is often put on sale for a little over $250, that includes all you need to reload one caliber minus dies, powder and primers. Get several reloading manuals and always start your powder charge well below the suggested max. load.

The reason I dont recommend starting into reloading on a progressive press is that with a single stage operation you are more likely to spot a mistake like a double charged case or a high primers since you will be constantly handling the case at every stage of its manufacture. And no matter who tells you that if you can oversee the loading process just as well on a progressive press, it just ain't so. The tendency with progressives is to get into a rythym and keep cranking. and it costs a bunch more.

If you decide that reloading is for you,then get a good progressive like a Dillon. The machines are super well made and the guarantee is forever, no questions asked. You can still use your single stage press for small batches of ammo and building new loads for test purposes where you don t want to readjust your progressive.

One thing every potential reloader should know is that you will never save any money by reloading because what you save in ammo costs you will just spend on more equipment to reload other calibers or cast your own bullets or on components like powder and primers so you can shoot more, etc.

I did a quick inventory of the equipment I have acquired over the years and the cost as best I remember it. Some of the prices will seem low, but they were accurate at the time.

Rockchucker press, Around $75
RCBS 10-10 scale, $79
RCBS Powder measure, $50
RCBS case trimmer, $60
Thumblers model B case tumbler, $100 (only type avail. at time)
RCBS or Lyman dies for 380, 9mm, 38/357, 40S&W, 45acp,44 mag, 30-30win., 308, 223, and 3006 at avg cost,$30 per set.
Shell holders for each caliber, avg cost $2.50 per.
Loading blocks used to hold cases during loading,$4 each
Calipers to check length and dia. of cartridges, $20
Inertial bullet puller $10 (because you will err)
Lee bottom pour lead pot, $35 (I cheaped out)
RCBS, Lyman, Pacific moulds in all listed pistol cal. $50 ( this averages 2 and 4 cavity mould costs)(not with handles)X6
Mould handles$20 per. avg. X4
Lyman luber/sizer, $85 (sizes and lubes cast bullets)
Luber/sizer heater $39 (heats hard lubes
Lubri/sizer dies $9 per X6
Top punches for all listed dies $5 per X6
Lee Auto prime $15 (with single stage,only way to prime IMO)
Dillon 650 $349
Dillon dies for all pistol calibers $45 per.X7
Caliber conversion kits for all pistol cals. $45 per X7
Toolheads for all pistol cals. $9 X7

Add it all up and throw in a couple hundred for misc. and it is mo wonder you won't save any money, but you sure will have fun.

February 2, 2003, 09:44 PM
Remember you get what you pay for! I suffered with cheap junk for years. Over ten years ago I bought a Dillon 650 and I'm still impressed with it.

mr. e
February 2, 2003, 10:22 PM
I'm a hand loader because I like to experiment and measure performance with the different guns and loads.

Although the reason I started out included saving money, I don't believe that you can save that much money after you factor in the costs of the press, dies, and other paraphernalia that reloading requires.

Once you figure in your time, you're way behind on the cost curve.

Gary H
February 2, 2003, 10:40 PM
I started to reload about two years ago.

Today, I load Pistol: 9mm, 38 Special, .40, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, .458 Ruger.

Load Rifle: .223, 7mm-08, 7.62x39, .308, 7mm Mauser, 20ga. and 12 ga.

I started progressive for pistol, shotgun and single stage for rifle. Assuming that you are fully awake, I don't see why you need to start out loading pistol on a single stage press. You will simply make mistakes faster and learn faster on the progressive press.

There are MANY fine progressive presses. The Dillon is the one most folks suggest that you buy. This isn't because it is the best, but rather that is what they own. I think that "best" isn't a useful concept, but there may be one that is best for you. I give you an example: I knew up front that I wanted to load many different calibers on my progressive. The Dillon was substantially more expensive when caliber changes were considered. I purchase an RCBS Pro 2000. I also liked the primer feed on the 2000. Is the 2000 press the best progressive? No, but it was the one that made the most sense for me. I still feel that way. I purchased a RCBS Rockchucker for single stage. Is it the best? No, I would probably buy a Co-Ax should I do this again. You don't want to know what I purchased for shotgun. There are now many good choices. Mine would not be one of them.

I never thought that I would save money by reloading. Perhaps, by the time that I die, I will have saved $1.95. What I like about reloading is loading what I want. So, after thousands put into reloading equipment, where do I stand on the idea of reloading? I enjoy it and am happy that I went this route.

One last thing.. The .45 ACP is a fine caliber to reload. The case is large and strong for the load. The 9mm is a small case and the .40 has strength issues (probably over-blown). The .45 Colt is a fine bit of brass and easy to load. The Ruger is just plain big. So, loading for 45 ACP is a great place to start.

Smokey Joe
February 3, 2003, 03:27 AM
Hey, first off, welcome to the club!!:) You'll find a world of fun in reloading.

Before you buy any equipment, though, you should do some homework. Get and read The ABC's of Reloading ; it is the most comprehensive introduction recently published. Published by Krause I believe. Then get at least 2 different loading manuals and study them. The Lyman manual is good, but, heck, so are all the others. Talk to reloaders at your local gun shop and rangeÑMost will be delighted to give their opinions and help.

Read the cautions; they are there for good reason. We are dealing with powerful chemicals, here, and pressures that can ruin equipment and maim or kill, if they get out of control. If you are one of those folks who cannot or will not follow directions, who must always be doing it "my way," who thinks they know more than the experts, who must always be pushing the envelope, who thinks that if a little is good, a lot more must be better, than do yourself and society a favor, and DO NOT FOOL WITH RELOADING.

If you are a mostly reasonable and prudent adult, you will experience no difficulty, and reloading will be a safe and enjoyable pursuit.

That having been said, again, welcome to the club. Almost all of what has already been said, I agree with, except that you should definitely start with a single-stage press. It's so much easier and less annoying to correct 3 finished rounds after discovering a problem, than to cheerfully run off 500 wrong ones, and only then discover an error, as you can with a Dillon or the like. And I understand that setting up a multiple stage press can be a real PITA, especially for a small run.

Enjoy the learning processÑit's part of the fun. And you're never done. There is always more to learn. You're always a student of reloading, never a master.

February 3, 2003, 05:53 AM
I got a Co-Ax; it's good.

I got some others, too, but I broke all my LEE's right off.

My Lyman Crusher II (I love that name) is pretty good, too.

Steve Smith
February 3, 2003, 09:49 AM
BTW, something that hasn't been emphasized is this. Reloading is a journey of its own, that runs parallel to shooting. You may find that reloading is just as much fun (if not more!) than the actual shooting. The pride of never firing a factory round in your rifle or handgun, from purchase to retirement. The pride of seeing the performance of what you made with your own hands. If you're in competition, your work in the reloading room was just as much a part of a win as your actual on-range performance. this is not just a way to "shoot cheap." Indeed, it is a passion.

February 3, 2003, 03:31 PM
Can't help you with .45 costs, bit I reload .357 Sig for about $5 a box and 9mm for about $4.

Regarding press selection, that depends upon how much you shoot and how many hours a month you wish to devote to your reloading hobby.

Assume 1k rounds, and 5 hours a month :

1000/5 = minimum 200 desired reloading rate of press.

Also, do you plan on reloading more that .45, make sure your press will handle it. If you decide to get a progressive, go with auto-indexing. Also think QUALITY in press selection. RCBS,Hornady,Dillon all make good presses that will serve you well.

And as my wife always tries to reminds me, it is the accessories that make the outfit. Quality dies, scales and other tools, as well as a couple of good loading guides/data books...

February 3, 2003, 08:29 PM
I use a Dillon 650 originally outfitted for .45 ACP

--Commerical Price $14.83 / 50 rounds
--Reload cost $3.47 / 50 rounds 230 gr LRN
--$11.36 savings / 50 rounds
--Lead, primers, and powder purchased at local gun shows.

I then purchased a .38 spl caliber conversion kit including extra powder measure.

--Caliber conversion $100.00
--Commercial price $10.69 / 50 rounds
--Reload cost $2.58 / 50 rounds
--$8.11 savings / 50 rounds

I keep extensive records of my costs.

We I got into pistol shooting I did it to get GOOD. I could not achieve my goals at store front pricing.

At my monthly rate of shooting, my capital costs paid out in 7 months.

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