How to start reloading?


March 24, 2013, 08:23 PM
I've been considering using some surplus income to start reloading. However, it seems that there are a lot of options. It seems that a single press would be best for me given that I wouldn't be reloading huge amounts of ammo, and I'd still be learning.

Would I need anything besides a press, dies, powder, brass, primers, etc?

Are there options I could consider that wouldn't be insanely expensive, but wouldn't sacrifice quality?

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March 24, 2013, 08:35 PM
Press, shell holder, dies, powder scale, calipers (Either dial or digital (, brass, powder, primers, bullets. A trimmer ( for rifle brass. A chamfer & deburring ( tool for trimmed cases. A hand primer or a press which has a priming function. A tumbler is nice eventually.

March 24, 2013, 08:35 PM
I'm still pretty new too but I can add a few things.

Powder scale. I have a Lee that was pretty cheap but it measures good.
Powder thrower, mine is RCBS
Reloading manual, any of them, or all them. Read up and learn a few things.

March 24, 2013, 08:36 PM
There's a really good stickie here that was done a few years ago that you should read to get started.

March 24, 2013, 09:49 PM
Bullet puller.:o

March 24, 2013, 09:52 PM
I still don't own a bullet puller. The odd one or two rounds I pull from time to time get done with pliers. I make a mistake from time to time, but I never make them in quantity. I expanded a .45 Colt case with a .45 ACP expander once. It was like...Gee that felt funny...Looked funny too. :o

Lost Sheep
March 25, 2013, 12:10 AM
I've been considering using some surplus income to start reloading. However, it seems that there are a lot of options. It seems that a single press would be best for me given that I wouldn't be reloading huge amounts of ammo, and I'd still be learning.

Would I need anything besides a press, dies, powder, brass, primers, etc?

Are there options I could consider that wouldn't be insanely expensive, but wouldn't sacrifice quality?
Welcome to reloading. Thanks for asking our advice.

Aside from eye protection and manuals, you only need three things (physically) to load good ammo. (Of course, you would be severely limited in some ways, but capable of producing one round at a time, but safely.)

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

A set of calipers would be a good idea, too, just to verify dimensions.

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

But it is more efficient and cost effective to get equipment that fits your needs in the near future.

We could target our advice better if you shared some information about yourself: (What I use has no relevance to you if our needs are not similar.)

What calibers will you be reloading?

What quantities will you be reloading for those calibers?

How much time will you be willing to devote to those quantities

What is your budget?

Will you be putting your gear away after each session or leave it set up permanently?

How much space will you devote permanently to a loading area, if any?

Do you want it to be portable?

What are your shooting goals? Cheap ammo? Ultimate long-range accuracy? Casual plinking, Serious competition - what kind? Cowboy Action Shooting? Strictly hunting?

Lost Sheep

Matt Dillon
March 25, 2013, 12:35 AM
A good set of check weights, calipers, case trays,
and a full compliment of case preparation tools, a tumbler and media, and first and foremost, at least 2-3 good reloading manuals.

March 25, 2013, 02:00 AM
Bullet puller.:o

^^^ THIS!!

i just started reloading, and i probably have a good 20 or 30 "test" rounds, that are either missing powder, seated too deep, or i just dont want to shoot! Not to mention, if i make up a batch that is no good, i dont want to have to throw them out....

March 25, 2013, 02:48 AM
I just assembled a list for starting reloading using a single stage press for a family member several days ago, so you might be in luck.

Priming tool, ream & chamfer, dial caliper, trim set up, loading trays, scale, tumbler and not because your finished loads need to look pretty, but because it is much easier to visually spot defects that could other wise get over looked on tarnished brass, media, I also recommend a bullet puller, powder scoop set, which is necessary for getting the powder to the scale, powder funnel, at least (2) good instructional books, SAAMI data can be easily acquired from powder / bullet manufacturer's on the internet.

I would also consider a chronograph at some point in time. They help to to estimate load characteristics, primarily pressures. It's not an absolute must, but I find one very useful in this respect.

There are countless type of the listed tools above, so choose wisely, and try to think in terms of what will get the job done without having to take a class in mechanical engineering to learn how to use said tool.
Lee makes a very good trimming tool that is as simplistic as it gets, very inexpensive, and is completely idiot proof, I'm living proof of that statement. And as for a priming systems, most reloaders prefer the hand held priming tools, and I've used them. I've also primed on the press mounted priming arm, don't like that because it requires me to prime by feel as do the hand held design. I actually prefer the RCBS priming die that screws into the press. It takes about a minute or two to adjust it for desired seating depth, after that, you just prime with a full stroke of the press. Every primer gets seated to the same depth and almost as quickly as with a hand held tool. And bullet pullers are something to consider. A kinetic puller will get the job done, but the colet type is quicker and less cumbersome to use, but they are a bit more spendy too. I just broke my kinetic puller about a week ago, but that was after many years of use, I feel like I got my $10 - $15 worth of use out of it though.

March 25, 2013, 05:08 AM
Give this sticky a read. Lots of good info in there.

I'm a new reloader and I'll pass on the things in hindsight I wish I had done.
Lee makes excellent stuff, no problems with any of their stuff yet (except their scale is somewhat painful to use, but reliable!).
If you go with Lee and end up with the Lee manual, read it before you start. I know it seems intimidating, but the majority is load data so it's not so bad :)

A bullet puller is a great idea, but I would suggest a collet puller over a kinetic puller. Kinetic pullers (that I've used anyway) are cheaply made and are just generally uncomfortable to use (who wants to swing a hammer with a round in it until it rips the bullet out?).

Bench is super important, buy or build a nice sturdy bench.

Everyone told me to go single stage except for a select few. I wish I had listened to those who told me to get a turret press and remove the index, making it a single stage.
Now I want a turret press and it's going to be another $100+ to get the one I want. I still have the single stage to set up a decapping station, but I could have bought the cheap C press for that.

If you have any questions, the forums are very helpful, or if you just want a 'newbie' perspective, shoot me a PM and I'll answer any questions I can.

Reloading is great, I love it, but you sure did pick a terrible time to break into the hobby lol. Supplies are few and far between for many because of panic buying.

March 25, 2013, 11:09 AM
at least 2-3 good reloading manuals.Like a man with two watches who never knows what time it is, the new reloader with more than one good manual will have too much to take in. We get questions all the time about the differences in charge weights from book to book.

Pick one good manual and stick with it to start. KISS works best for the beginner. Stick to the basics. :)

March 25, 2013, 11:27 AM
I bought two different manuals right off the bat, and both of them are useful

March 25, 2013, 11:29 AM
Bullet puller very useful also, unless you don't want an easy way to correct any possible mistakes.

March 25, 2013, 11:31 AM
I started out back in the 70's with an RCBS junior press, a redding scale, a set of RCBS dies for my .300 win mag, a case length and OAL length gauge, a case lube pad, and a couple manuals. Thats really all you 'have' to have.

Round 2 will be a powder trickler (manual) and probably a manual case trimmer. I think I have my old forster around here somewhere still. I made a set of powder dippers by cutting the neck and shoulder off of the appropriate case to approximately the fill level of powder, soldering a .223 case on the side of the brass, and slipping a dowel over the .223 case. I still use them when i'm too lazy to set up a powder throw. They dip close enough to use my manual trickler to bring the charge weight up to snuf.

You can go nuts beyond that. Case prep stations, digital scales, electronic powder measures, progressive presses, tumblers and cleaners, concentricity measuring tools, chronographs, etc. It all depends on your budget and interests.

March 25, 2013, 06:29 PM
Here's what I started out with. Wouldn't change that either in hindsight. Really taught me the different steps involved and makes me appreciate the gear upgrades I've since acquired.

March 25, 2013, 10:24 PM
I think the best way to start is to find someone to talk to about reloading. A mentor will help you immensely. If you can find a reload manual to read, that is a good start. Dont overlook some of the videos available. Youtube does have some good tutorials but some of it is suspect. If you can find a video made by a bullet or powder manufacturer you will be money ahead of the game. The mentor may really paycoff if you can get some hands-on with a few rounds. Some peo

March 25, 2013, 10:33 PM
Don't expect that saving money will be your main goal. You will find this hobby to be very addictive, and end up spending far more than you save. However you will shoot much more, and drink less beer!

Hondo 60
March 25, 2013, 11:06 PM
What are you guys doing?????

The BEST way to start is with a reloading manual or three!

A very, very good one, is Lyman 49th Reloading Handbook.
It has a GREAT "how-to" section that'll answer a LOT of questions.
It also has the widest array of reloading data.

A Lee single stage press will do great, and they're dirt cheap.
His reloading manual is pretty good too.
Just ignore the hyperbole. He'll tell you that ALL of his equipment is the finest in the world.
Some is very good.

March 26, 2013, 01:55 AM
I just started myself. I originally was going to get the Lee Hand Press, but after reading and reading I settled on a Lee Turret Press. I'm so glade I did. I think progressive is to much starting out and a single stage is fine but slow. A press last forever so spending a bit more now isn't a bad idea. What drew me to the turret was that it can be operated like a single stage and when your ready you install the supplied indexing rod and suddenly your cranking out rounds lickety fast. Also because presses are built so well you can save a lot by buying used.

I think I spent around three hundred getting started. Only item I regret was the Lee scale. Should have sucked it up and bought a RCBS scale instead. The Lee works but painfully slow to zero and read. I ended up adding a digital scale. Everything else by Lee I love.

Hondo 60
March 26, 2013, 01:08 PM
I've been reloading for several years now (well over 40,000 rounds).
And I totally agree with your posting.

A "classic" turret press is an outstanding press to begin with, for the reasons you mentioned.
I also agree about the Lee scale.
It's as accurate as any other scale, just very slow to zero, & tiny controls make it "fiddlesome".
To combat that, I bought a digital.
Just a few months ago I bought a Lyman/Ohaus beam scale - WOW!!!!
Ohaus beam scales are a world of difference vs the Lee scale.

The only thing I'd add is a reloading manual or three.
Trying to reload without a manual is like driving a car w/o ever having learned how.
While not illegal, like driving w/o a license, it's dangerous & certainly not a smart way to do it.

Sorry for the long post, but I hope this helps some new person.

March 26, 2013, 05:08 PM
You'll wind up getting a piece at a time, until you wind up with a set of tools that fit your particular needs. I started with a simple Lee Reloader, back when I had only one centerfire calibre to load for, and reloaded the same 20 brass cartridges over and over again. Umpteen years later, the three final pieces I've bought are a bullet puller, a progressive loading press, and a chronograph.

March 26, 2013, 06:30 PM
'the three final pieces I've bought'

Yea, right!


March 26, 2013, 07:03 PM
As Hondo 60 says, "what Vin said."

However, I will quibble about disparaging the Lee scale. Yes, it can be finicky, etc., but the trick to using it successfully is to 1) leave the 'friction pin' in (on) all the time, and pick up the beam to adjust it. Hold the beam in both hands, and use either thumb to adjust the desired weight. Set it back in its base (and double-check for free measurement) and verify the ball bearing counterweight is in the correct trough. I have other scales (RCBS / Lyman) and an electronic one, but for space reasons my primary weighing scale is the Lee.

Like the others, I primarily use a Lee Turret--I can readily load about 180 rph when I am organized, although I probably am more comfortable at 125-150 rph.

Before you order, post your list of items here, and we will be happy to critique it.

Jim H.

March 26, 2013, 07:12 PM
Manual: first item. I would consider where you will get your bullets and buy a manual from the bullet manufacturer of the bullets you are likely to start with. If you will use cast bullets you can't beat the Lyman 49th. Lots of Hornady bullets available locally here so a Hornady manual has been a good choice for me. No, I don't think you need 2 or more starting out, but you definitely need one for the "HOW TO" info. . You can get plenty of data online from powder and bullet manufacturers so you can have a couple sources of data to compare.

You can go for a kit that has most everything needed except components, or shop for individual items. Some things are available on eBay if you care to look there.

Bare minimum you will need: Manual, press, shell holder, scale, priming system, dies, powder funnel. (Most presses have a priming arm with them. If not, a hand priming system is good.)

It didn't take me long to want a powder measure. Lyman 55 was my choice and its a good one.

I loaded for many years with no calipers, however they are sure nice to have.

Tell us a bit about your shooting habit and how much of what you shoot. It would help us make recommendations.

March 31, 2013, 04:37 PM
reloaded the same 20 brass cartridges over and over again.

How many times can you reload a cartridge before it gets worn out?

I want to start reloading because I can't afford much ammo, and I'd like to make my money go farther, allow me to shoot some more, and save a little. I only plan on reloading 50 or so rounds at a time first, not a large amount, likely nothing over 100.

Some rounds I might reload would be things like 7.62x39, 30-06, and .38 special.

March 31, 2013, 04:54 PM
.38 Spl brass can last for dozens of reloads. Sooner or later it will split. Just scrap them when they do.

Bottle necked rifle rounds like those listed are a whole nother ball game. With them it will depend on how much you are working the brass, and mostly in how far you are moving the shoulder back each time. Pressure will also make a difference. Load them at max all the time and it wears out faster. Load a little under max, don't push the shoulders back more than .003, and it can last a dozen loadings, sometimes more, sometimes less.

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