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Any advice for an aspiring handloader?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Mike, Dec 25, 2002.

  1. Mike

    Mike Active Member

    How DOES one get started in this craft? Starter kits? Progressive press? Aaaaagh, I'm confused!
  2. Steven Mace

    Steven Mace Well-Known Member

    Mike it would help to know which calibers you intend to reload to give you a complete answer.

    But to start, I would encourage getting a copy of The ABC's of Reloading - 6th Edition, by C. Rodney James. Also look for a copy of the Lyman Reloading Handbook - 47th Edition. These two books have basic reloading instructions that can helps anyone get start.

    You will also want to your shooting buddies and ask them questions on what their experiences are in the reloading world. They can probably tell you what does & doesn't work for them as far as equipment & components. They shouls also be able to enlighten you are far as the basic steps used for a proper reloadfing process.

    Also, I would strongly recommend buying at least 2 different reloading manuals that covers the calibers you intends to reload. This will hopefully give you some perspective on how different bullet & powder manufacturers present their information and you'll be able to compare recommend loads for your applications. Hope this helps!

    Steve Mace
  3. Hkmp5sd

    Hkmp5sd Well-Known Member

    You can also get a small Lee handloader for the caliber(s) you are starting with. These are simple little loaders where you do each step manually, pop the old primer out, seat the new primer, add powder and seat the bullet.

    After you are a little more into it, you can get one of the more expensive progressive loaders that makes most of the task automatic.
  4. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    I also recommend the Lyman Reloading Handbook. Gives lots of helpful background and loads from jacketed to lead bullets of all weights. Very helpful. Reading this book should answer most if not all of your questions.

    Some other manuals only list the makers particular bullets. Not particularly helpful, imho. You can also get free mini reloading manuals at your local gun store from Hodgdon, Winchester, Accurate, and other component manufacturers.
  5. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Moderator Emeritus

    Good advice above. To add, try to evaluate how much ammo you'd like to shoot every month. Reloading will most likely not save you a dime, but you will shoot a lot more...a whole lot more, for the same money. What will the ammo be used for? And finally, how mechanically inclined are you? Some folks swear up and down that everyone should start with a single stage. I'd guess that most of those folks are not mechanically inclined, so they are speaking from their own experiences. I started on a progressive and never looked back. I use a turret for unique operations, but 99% of all my loading is done on a Dillon...including all my match ammo. I have proven to myself that the ammo is capable if High Master level accuracy at 600 yards, so I don't worry about the supposed "higher accuracy" of a single stage.
  6. Gary H

    Gary H Well-Known Member

    I started by using the search function on TFL. Can't do better than that.
  7. Sleeping Dog

    Sleeping Dog Well-Known Member

    I started with a RCBS master reload kit, plus a caliper to measure cases and overall cartridge length. And Lee Deluxe Rifle dies. And a tumbler for cleaning brass. And a SOLID workbench.

  8. antsi

    antsi Well-Known Member

    The most helpful thing to me, getting started, was to hook up with an experienced reloader and see if they'll let you sit in on a session. Ideally, when setting up for a different caliber.

    That way you really get a handle on the process. It makes it a lot easier to decide what kind of gear to get - what is truly necessary, what is time-saving, and also what you don't think you really need.
  9. Edward429451

    Edward429451 member

    My advice is to evaluate how much you may reload and what the chances are that you may want to expand the operation at a later date. If you think you'll expand over time (easy to do without even trying) then I suggest staying away from the little stuff like hand presses and the smaller budget presses, go with something substantial like A RCBS Rockchucker press which you'll never outgrow.
  10. H&K Fan

    H&K Fan Active Member

    Spare decapping pins, a good set of calipers, formally configure some sort of reloading log so you have an idea of when you are low on powder or primers. Be on a first name basis with your primer/powder seller. In the long run a chronograph is a good idea but not essential to making quality reloads. Good lighting in your work area is a good thing as is 3 or more reloading manuals. It is amazing how far apart even major reloading manuals can be in terms of minimum and maximum amount of powder for a given load. If you reload rifle ammo use some sort of spray lube instead of strictly relying on the old roll the case in a case lube pad routine. You will like your reloads so much more when there are no embarassing little dents on the necks courtesy of using too much case lube. Watching a veteran do all this stuff is also a good idea as several of my ideas above were learned the hard way. Take notes and read them about what works for your set up and what does not. Carbide dies for pistol reloading, you will really save time when you aren't lubing the cases before resizing them.
  11. Gewehr98

    Gewehr98 Well-Known Member

    Keep good records.

    Otherwise you'll find yourself scrambling to remember the load you worked up a while ago that shot so well. ;)
  12. redneck2

    redneck2 Well-Known Member

    You can still do searches at TFL...

    this was covered in detail many times and there's lots of answers in a hurry

    As with Steve, I started with a Dillon. I'm too poor to afford cheap stuff. If you're doing pistol, I'd go straight to progressive (Dillon or Hornady). For most everthing you'll need, Hornady will be about $350 and Dillon about $500. Single stage RCBS, Lyman for rifle only. May want to check e-bay for used stuff, though a lot of times it is about the same price as new.

    I bet if you'd ask, an Alumni here (of TFL) would be happy to help you out.
  13. ArmaLube

    ArmaLube Active Member

    Reloading With Your Computer

    Hi Mike,

    Don't overlook the power of your computer. It is the most powerful information gathering tool you own. First, if you don't have this program, go to www.copernic.com and download Copernic Agent. It is a great search tool that uses multiple search engines to find things for you.

    Once you have this program, you can search on terms such as handloading, ammunition reloading, etc. It often helps if you throw in the word 'tutorial'. You will discover tons of information on the subject.

    You should specifically look for a. reloading instructions, b. reloading supplies, c. reloading catalogs, and d. reloading equipment. Several great catalog companies represent key sources for buying materials and equipment at the most attractive prices.

    For example, on of my favorite sources for buying once-fired brass is www.cheyennebrass.com. Similarlarly, there are sweet sources for reloading tools, dies, bullet moulds, powder measures, scales, dial calipers, etc.

    Personally, I like turret presses such as Redding's T-7 model. I don't think a progressive press is the best choice for a beginning reloader, although this may be a direction to take in the future.

    So, you need to: a. visit the reloading web sites, b. get the important catalogs that are available., and c. read up on the subject.

    Must-have catalogs are these:

    1. www.wideners.com
    2. www.natchezss.com
    3. www.sinclairintl.com
    4. www.cabelas.com

    See too:


    You get the idea. Search and you will find.

    Wishing you all the best.

  14. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    My single best piece of advice: never believe anyone who tries to tell you you'll save even a single shiny Truman dime!

    I'm sure people do save money, but I've found loading my own ammunition a.) just encourages me to shoot more, and b.) encourages me to find more reloading gadgetry, plus spares, plus things I might need down the road, plus more gadgets on sale, plus...

    After several years—and a divorce—it occurred to me to regard loading ammunition as another hobby in and of itself, and let it go at that. It's not a hobby if it can't bankrupt you.
  15. Mike

    Mike Active Member

    Thank-you to all who chimed in! Great advice all around.
  16. oklahomaman

    oklahomaman New Member

    Buy Nothing

    but what you actually have to have to put together ammunition, just the bare necessities.

    When you actually 'need' something new, then buy it, save you from coming up with drawers full of junk that is rarely if ever needed.

  17. PALongbow

    PALongbow Well-Known Member

    I just got back into reloading after years away from it. I purchased the RCBS Master reloading kit and also purchased some extra's and I'm now reloading again and having fun doing so.

  18. Dan Shapiro

    Dan Shapiro Well-Known Member

    antsi has it right.

    Ask around at your local club or gun shop. There’s bound to be a reloader that would love to show you the ropes. Books are great, but at least for me, nothing beats hands on experience. You might even end up with some free ammo if you bring some brass.

    1) Records, records, records. Keep good records on all ammo lots. I find using a “sharpie†marker around the primer survives shooting and the colors allow me to shoot multiple lots w/o picking up the previous lot.
    2) Don’t scrounge range brass. You never know what’s been done to it. And when in doubt about the condition of your own brass, chuck it.
    3) Buy a bullet puller (hammer). It’ll be your best friend in the beginning.
    4) Being anal is a good thing
  19. Shoot&fish

    Shoot&fish Member

    There is no doubt that reading a good reloading manual is a good thing, but talking with people that actually reload is also a good thing. You will get all kinds of advice, both good and bad. Read the manual first, get tips from your friends, sort out the good tips and bad tips according to your reading.

    Go ahead and buy a good press. If you are really serious about your shooting, go ahead and buy a progressive to start with. I won't get into the choice of press brands. You will get plenty of advice on that. Run the press slow and make a lot of length and weight checks to make yourself pay attention to detail. As you get acustom to your press and the routine, you can spread out your checks, and pick up some speed.
  20. JPM70535

    JPM70535 Well-Known Member

    There is no substitute for a good reloading manual, and for learning the basics I don't think you can do better than a quality single stage press lik the RCBS rockcrusher. The master reloading kit contains just about all you'll need to get started. Depending on how much you shoot you may at some future time upgrade to a progressive for pistol calibers, but you will still have the Rockcrusher for rifle. Take your time, eyeball every round at every stage of the loading process, follow the manual and you'll have embarked on a lifetime hobby.

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