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Quality Reloading Setup For Under $500?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by cogun4hire, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. cogun4hire

    cogun4hire Member

    Hey guys,

    This is my first post, although I have been cruising the forum/been a member for quite some time now. (I suppose this is my first post because that nifty search button is so darn handy!).

    My question is one looking for more opinion, but also some knowledge I suppose. I am looking at getting into reloading (hooray!) finally and am looking for the best setup I can get for the money (around 500). I would like to do it right the first time, so hear are some criteria to help narrow down what's best for ME....

    -I have ample space and a quality workbench area
    -I will be loading almost primarily only handgun cartridges to begin with. These will include .45 acp, .38 special, and 10mm.
    -I am looking at only needing about a total of 100-200 rounds a week as it will be mostly a hobby/cost saving practice (single-stage press enough)
    -I am not necessarily looking at casting in my first year or so, unless I REALLY SHOULD...?

    Bottom line is I would like to know EVERYTHING I will need to get started (including cleaning solvents, primers etc.) and what brands/products you recommend. I appreciate your time! If there are links to threads that cover something you may have already discussed covering a similar topic, feel free to post!
  2. Kevin Rohrer

    Kevin Rohrer Well-Known Member

    Your first step is to get Lyman #49 manual and read the Basics section. It will tell you everything you need to buy and how to use it. Everyone is going to recommend you make that purchase part of your expenditure.
  3. Otto

    Otto Well-Known Member

    I own three progressive presses: RCBS Pro, Hornady LNL and Dillon 550.
    My recommendation would be to get the Dillon.
  4. chris in va

    chris in va Well-Known Member

    150 rounds a week? Heck I make 500 a week with my hand press. No need to spend $500 for that little amount.

    A Lee Classic Cast turret would be more than enough for your needs.
  5. J_McLeod

    J_McLeod Well-Known Member

    +1 on the Lyman #49 manual.

    For a press, one of these options would fit your needs, in no order.

    1. Lee Classic turret: This press is probably what you want. It will allow you to make 100-200 rounds per hour, can be used as a single stage, is inexpensive, reliable and takes only seconds to change calibers. If I could only have one press, this would be it. Kempf's gun shop has a kit that includes almost everything you need. You could buy a kit with it for 100-150, and have plenty left over to spend on accessories and components.

    2. Hornady LNL AP: Even though you only need 100-200 per week, why do it an an hour when you can do it in 15 minutes? Getting everything you need will cost more than 500, probably 600-700. Caliber changes will take 5-10 minutes and you can produce 300-500 rounds per hour cyclic. I have this one as well, and really enjoy working with it.

    3. Lee Pro1000 or Loadmaster: Will cost you 200-500 for what you need, depending on what you get. Some people love them and others can't get them to work right and get rid of them. Not for people that expect stuff to work right out of the box. It's also a progressive, so if it does run right, it'll make you lots of ammo in a little time. 300-500 rounds per hour. Caliber changes will take 10-20 minutes and require disassembly of the press.

    4. Dillon presses have a great reputation, but I don't know enough about them to comment on them.

    None of the kits that I know of come with calipers, so you'll need to buy some. Also a bullet puller for your mistakes. Case lube isn't needed, but makes that cases go smoother. Eventually you'll want a vibratory tumbler to clean your brass. If you decide to buy brass, check the Trading Post, you can find good deals there.

    Since you want three calibers, if you get a progressive you'll need a shellplate for each, and if you get the turret you'll need a turret for each caliber or set of dies. The 45 and 10mm use large primers and the 38 uses small. This won't be an issue with the turret, but it will be with the progressives.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
  6. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    For the amount and type of ammo you want to load I highly recommend a Lee Classic Turret Press. (Classic, not Deluxe) I can safely load between 180 to 200 rounds an hour using that press. Extra turrets cost ~$10 each so you can quickly and easily change over calibers which saves a lot of time.

    For $199 you can buy a Lee Classic Press Kit fron Kempf's Gun shop online. At the bottom of the page make sure you add the upgrade to the Pro Auto-Disk for only $12. It's a far superior tool to the standard Auto-Disk.

    Add a tumbler, calipers, reloading manual and components and you're all set...
  7. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Well-Known Member

    +1 on the Lyman 49th Edition.

    Another thing I will add is you DON'T have to buy new equipment! My RCBS press is around 40 years old and will easily outlast me. Used scales, dies, powder measures, etc. work every bit as good as new. Spend $200 or so on good QUALITY used equipment then use the remaining $300 for components.

    Regarding casting, the only two things that determine whether or not you should do it are 1) How much are you going to be shooting and 2) How much money do you have to spend?

    If you can find a source for wheelweights, then your bullets are essentially free, less equipment costs of course. I cast and can load a box of fifty 38 Specials or 9mm's for about $3.00 or so, a little more for .45's.

  8. RandyP

    RandyP Well-Known Member

    Another VERY satisfied Lee CLASSIC 4-hole turret owner here.

    Harbor Freight Digital calipers work very well for my needs as does a $30 MTM digital scale.
  9. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Just to add to what I said above, with buying that Lee Classic Turret Press Kit you can probably buy everything you need and possible have some of that $500 leftover.
  10. gahunter12

    gahunter12 Well-Known Member

    You can't go wrong with the LEE Classic Cast Turret. That being said, I just purchased my first press and equipment. I have been reading manuals and this fourm among others. I started flip flopin between the Lee and Dillon RL550b about 2 months ago. After crunching hard #'s I decided to go with the Dillon. My reasoning was: 1) The "NO BS" Warranty that Dillon includes on all there presses, scales, etc. 2) I knew that I would be moving up to a progressive soon. 3) The RL550b can be used as a single, turret, or manual index progressive. 4) when you buy the RL550b you get the powder measure and primming feature with it. That it self will save you from buying a nice measure like the Lyman or RCBS ($70-80) and hand primmer (RCBS $40-50). After much thought I went Dillon and have no regrets.
  11. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Sure a Dillon 550 is nice but the Dillon press will blow the $500 budget right out of the water.
  12. GT1

    GT1 Well-Known Member

    Not only that, the OP wants to make 150 rounds a week. I'm sure the blue press is nice, but that is a huge waste unless one is in to competitive shooting or some similar massive ammo need...

    +1 for the Lee Classic Turret. The whole shebang will run $250 leaving plenty left over for primers, powder and bullets. I'm starting with fmj bullets myself over cast, much more forgiving though a little more cash, no sizing, no lubing etc.

    Get the books for the intros and how to(I have the Lyman#49, Lee modern, and Speer#14, all good), the load data is okay in them, also plenty of load data on the powder manufacturer sites to cross reference with.
  13. res7s

    res7s Well-Known Member

    I'd get Lyman 49. I'd buy the Lee Classic Cast pistol kit, digital calipers, case gauges, Lee deluxe carbide dies, extra turrets, and an Ohaus scale, take the money I saved and buy components. If you plan on loading rifle ammo later on, get a used powder measure, The RCBS Uniflow, Hornady LNL, and Lyman are good. There are better ones, but that runs into money. https://kempfgunshop.com//index.php...facturer_id=0&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=41
  14. Wildbillz

    Wildbillz Well-Known Member

    If it were me? I would look at one of the RCBS packages. I got the one with the RockChucker press back in 1978 and I still use all the equipment I got with it to this day. Loaded lots of rounds off that press.

    But thats just me
  15. gahunter12

    gahunter12 Well-Known Member

    I agree. Just tossing that out there. I will only be shooting 100-200 rnds each of 9mm and 40 s&w between my wife and I. I spent $638 on my press, powder measure (included), strong mount (not needed), dies, scales, extra primer tubes, and DVD. All in all I spent less than $800 for everything to reload 40 starting out. Thank goodness I have had my reloading manuals for 8 months now. I consider myself to be on a tight budget, but decided to save for an extra month to get the Dillon. Now that I have my press, Im spending my extra money on the bench. I understand that may not be a option. That's why I said you can't go wrong with a LEE classic Turret. I have nothing against Lee turret presses.
  16. Mike 27

    Mike 27 Well-Known Member

    Lee makes good presses. Their accesories are a bit on the cheap side, but I use alot of Lee stuff. I have a classic kit and the powder measure and scale work well. The trimmers are fast and only run about 5 bucks for each caliber. I recommend the turret to get started, and later if you stick with it get a progressive. My hornady lnl is in the mail after 3 years of the hobby. But I am glad I started on a single stage, much easier to learn on.
  17. GLOOB

    GLOOB Well-Known Member

    As far as I know, you don't need any solvents for reloading. I don't use any. :)

    Your 3 starting calibers are perfectly suited to saving big money! I dunno if you did the research, or maybe you're just really lucky. You can easily come out ahead already with $500.00 initial investment on a SS press, accessories, plus components.

    You'll need small pistol primers for 38 special and large pistol primers for 10mm and 45ACP.

    What's best for you? Well, just to take a guess, if you have a lot of space you can dedicate I would skip the SS press and get at least a turret press if not a progressive. Alternatively, you could get a cheap SS press to see if reloading is for you, at all. Even a $20.00 C frame will make plenty of good pistol ammo. (But the $55.00 Lee Breechlock Challenger's priming system is the cat's meow of SS presses, IMHO).

    You will want a caliper to determine OAL, a scale for weighing powder, and some way to throw powder. Either a powder thrower, or you can just make your own scoops for a SS. (If you get the Lee Classic Turret, you'll also need an additional riser for the powder thrower.) You will generally need to buy the bolts/nuts to secure the press. Most don't come with those, since the right size will depend on the thickness of your bench. You'll obviously need dies and a shellholder for each caliber. If you buy Lee dies, they come with a shellholder. That's about it. A tumbler is nice, but not necessary. If you get a tumbler, you'll also need a media separator or a big colander. Hmm. You may also need a powder-through expander die if you go turret or progressive. Lee sets come with that, also.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2012
  18. jhamilt

    jhamilt Member

    I just bought the Hornady LnL single stage kit from midway, a caliper, bullet puller, 3 dies, 500 38 bullets, and seems like one or 2 other things all for 480. It would be a little more expensive now as I bought the kit on sale, but with a little finagling it shouldnt be hard to stay at 500. So far I'm loving everything about that kit except for the junk scale it comes with. RCBS beam scale is in my near future.
  19. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Well-Known Member

    +1 Hornady LNL single stage kit.

    IMHO, an aspiring reloader should not start with a progressive press (too many simultaneous operations to get right and too great a risk of overlooking a malfunction that will cause a double charge, squib, etc.). Further, there is a negligible convenience advantage to a turret over a bushing mount like the LNL. Even the "junk" scale in the kit in sufficient to get anyone loading safely.

    I nearly bought a LNL-AP, but I'm glad I didn't try to take that big a bite without some real experience. I may get one soon, but that's because now I have a hands-on understanding of the challenges it will pose.

    An added advantage to buying Hornady (I think it's still going) is their bullet rebate. My LNL kit garnered me 500 complimentary bullets.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2012
  20. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Well-Known Member

    Very, very true. Like GLOOB said, get an inexpensive, used single stage or turret press to use until you get a feel for reloading THEN get a progressive.


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