Press Advice


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joatman66
February 3, 2013, 03:08 PM
I'm considering jumping in and reloading for myself. As much as I'd like to get a progressive, I just don't have the opportunity to fire enough rounds to really justify the production capability. I've been looking at either a Rock Chucker or a RCBS Turret.

I'm leaning towards the turret. Any reason to choose the Rock Chucker over it? I like the idea of not having to hangs dies.

Since I am just shy of clueless, any and all help is welcome.

I have ABC's of Reloading and Reloading for Handgunners to read through, but nothing beats picking the brain of those with experience.

Thanks!

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rikman
February 3, 2013, 03:19 PM
Turret without a doubt. Poor man's progressive ;-) And perfect for rifle if you decide to load those later.

RandyP
February 3, 2013, 03:22 PM
I own use and very much like the Lee CLASSIC 4-hole turret. Auto-advancing feature is very good but simple to disconnect, turret/caliber changes are super fast and highly affordable, like all Lee gear.

At my very relaxed pace 175 rounds per hour is easy.

NeuseRvrRat
February 3, 2013, 03:30 PM
I like the idea of not having to hangs dies.

die changes take a whole 15 seconds

dagger dog
February 3, 2013, 03:36 PM
A turret press is a great way to get into reloading,doubt you could go wrong with RCBS either. A turret set up with an extra head is very qiuck to change calibers and with extra die spaces you can add features like crimp dies and neck dies without wasting time.

Welcome to the forum !

Lost Sheep
February 3, 2013, 03:41 PM
A turret press operates just like a single stage, so is capable of not much more production output than a single stage in batch processing mode and can do continuous/sequential processing by manually indexing the turret, which I find inconvenient.

A regular (manually indexing) turret operating as a single stage in batch processing mode is capable of not much more production output than a single stage. If you operate in continuous/sequential mode, it requires you use your off hand to index the turret, but will enable twice the production rate.

An auto-indexing turret enables you to choose between batch processing and continuous/sequential processing at will with equal ease. Auto-indexing (vs manually indexing) in continuous/sequential mode will enable triple the production rate of batch processing.

(Note: Lee Precision makes the only two auto-advancing/autoindexing turret presses in current production. The Lee Classic Turret and its predecessor, the lesser Lee Deluxe Turret.)

For $250 you can get a nice first-class setup that will let you load 125-175 rounds per hour. Press, dies, scale, calipers, manual, primer dispenser/feeder and a powder dispenser (powder measure).

I do like my Rock Chucker, but my Lee Classic Turret sees the everyday use.

Lost Sheep

p.s. NeuseRvrRat is right. Die swaps do not take that much time, especially if you have decent lock rings. A breech-lock equipped press (Hornady, Lee I'm not sure if RCBS makes one) is even quicker. Forster makes a press with which die swaps are even easier.

James2
February 3, 2013, 03:50 PM
If you get the turret, you have to still change dies, unless you also buy a turret for each caliber. As stated above, it is actually quite easy to turn out a die and put in another. No biggie. On a single stage you do things in a batch, like size 100, change dies and expand 100, then change dies and seat bullets 100.

The advantage of the turret is you only put the casing in the shell holder once and it comes out loaded.

So the real benefit in time saved with the turret is in the putting shells in and taking shells out of the shell holder. Of course that is offset a little by the time it takes to rotate the turret for each operation. (Not a factor if it is auto indexing.)

It used to be you could save by shopping for used gear on Ebay, At present the price of used gear is sky high. Might be availability is scarce right now? Kinda like the "NO Components Syndrome" that is upon us.

Hope you can get something.

Mike 27
February 3, 2013, 04:25 PM
No matter what brand you choose, I think going single or a turret is the way to go. If you stay with the hobby the progressive will be something to get into later after you have some experience under your belt. I have a Hornady LNL now but use my single stage all the time for various task's. You will not waste money on the single/turret as it will be useful for years to come, and there are just certain things that will always be easier to do on it.

Lost Sheep
February 3, 2013, 04:35 PM
No matter what brand you choose, I think going single or a turret is the way to go. If you stay with the hobby the progressive will be something to get into later after you have some experience under your belt. I have a Hornady LNL now but use my single stage all the time for various task's. You will not waste money on the single/turret as it will be useful for years to come, and there are just certain things that will always be easier to do on it.
Mike27's advice is right on.

Almost every long-time loader I know has a single stage somewhere for one-off jobs or tasks for which a progressive or turret is not suited. So, if you think you get a progressive before too long, a really good single stage to start with is an investment you will not regret.

Two truisms in one sentence: A high-quality single stage retains its value and usefulness quite well and is easier to learn on than a progressive.

Lost Sheep

joatman66
February 3, 2013, 04:38 PM
I thought settling on a press would be the hardest part... Seeing I wasn't smart enough in the past to invest and start stocking up on components, looks like its going to take a small miracle to round up everything to get started.

Lost Sheep
February 3, 2013, 04:44 PM
I thought settling on a press would be the hardest part... Seeing I wasn't smart enough in the past to invest and start stocking up on components, looks like its going to take a small miracle to round up everything to get started.
Don't be discouraged.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

(Kempf's gun shop does not do backorders and will be up front with you on availability. Sue Kempf will treat you right and Kempf's Kit built around Lee's Classic Turret is the best kit I have seen, once you add a decent scale and a couple of manuals.

If you can find components but no tools, get a manual, a decent scale and Lee's Classic Loader.

If you can't find anything, get "The ABC's of Reloading" and study up. Also, manuals (new or old) because the early chapters all have descriptions of how to load and that has not changed much in the past 90 years. Reading the voices of different authors exposes you to different points of view. Always a good thing.

Lost Sheep

Lost Sheep
February 3, 2013, 04:53 PM
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 of 10 advices.

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 (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

Your loading bench/room is tantamount to a factory floor. There is a whole profession devoted to industrial engineering, the art and science of production design. Your loading system (layout, process steps, quality control, safety measures, etc) deserves no less attention than that.

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

joatman66
February 3, 2013, 10:38 PM
Thanks so much for the help/advice. Believe me, I appreciate it.

Aaron

tcanthonyii
February 4, 2013, 12:45 AM
I just got into reloading. My press was given to me as a Birthday/Christmas gift at the beginning of December. It is the Lee Classic Turret Press and specifically they kit they sell. You will not go wrong with it. Easy to setup. Easy to learn on. It will have almost everything you need to start out. AS you go and learn more you can switch some things out like maybe a nicer scale or a different case trimmer etc. Lee stuff is so simplistic it's perfect for a beginner. I can run about 200-250 rounds an hour on my Turret. I held that pace today for 9mm and 45 and I wasn't really moving all that fast. I just have my hand motions down so I know when to place a primer, when to place a bullet and when to pull the completed round and place a new shell. One of my friends stopped by today and had never seen anyone reload before. His comment was, man you've done too many of those. You have down to a science!"

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