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Reloading Tips for Beginner

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Cableman, Jan 2, 2003.

  1. Cableman

    Cableman New Member

    Dec 30, 2002
    I got a Rock Chucker reloading kit for Christmas so I can start reloading my own bullets now. Do you have any tips for a beginner reloader? Should I upgrade the kit with a progressive system? If you were starting out reloading, what would be some of the things you must have to do the job right? What is a good all around pistol powder for 9mm, 45ACP, 45 Colt, 454 Casull....I am just getting started, so any tips you can help with would be appreciated.
  2. Preacherman

    Preacherman Elder

    Dec 20, 2002
    Louisiana, USA
    Moved to Handloading and Reloading Forum.
  3. Smokey Joe

    Smokey Joe Senior Member

    Jan 2, 2003
    Welcome to the club!

    Glad you got a single stage pressÑIMHO that's where to start. You can always upgrade later. Next thing to get is a reloading manual, or 2, or 3. Read the safety stuff. Then read all the discussions of how-to. Then read the safety stuff again.

    If you're the type who cannot follow a recipie, who always must push the envelope, who needs to change everything they do, while they're doing it, or who learns just a little and feels that they know it all, do yourself a favor: SELL THE PRESS BEFORE YOU HURT YOURSELF!!!

    Now read the safety stuff again. There's a reason they put that in there. We use materials that generate TONS of pressure, almost instantaneously. It's not an atomic bomb, but you won't notice the difference the first time you blow up a gun action in your own face.

    Did I scare you? If so, good. When dealing with this kind of material, it pays to be just a little paranoid about safety. Check everything, every time you set up. Re-read the settings you are supposed to be using, then re-check the equipment. Periodically re-check the settings during your work; you might have bumped something.

    And the maximum loads are really maximum, they aren't where you start. They were set up by PhD types with very expensive laboratory test gun equipment. Why risk your own gun and your own sweet neck trying to prove you know better?

    You will never know it all; in reloading you will always be a student. There is always more to learn.

    If you're still with me, let me say that reloading will get you more performance from your weapon than factory ammo can do, and give you a ton of personal enjoyment and satisfaction into the bargain. It's not rocket science; almost anyone can do it, even me, and most can learn to do it very well. But it is not for the person who can not or will not play it safe and follow the directions.

    That caveat done, welcome to the club. Please get a reloading manual and study up on proper methods. (A good one to start with is Lyman's 47th ed. Reloading Handbook, available at most places reloading supplies are sold, or online. The major powder and bullet makers all put out materials covering use of their products, often for free.) By the bye, don't plan on saving lots of $$$ reloading. Your individual rounds may be less expensive, but you will almost certainly shoot more of themÑWhich is not a bad thing, as more shooting = more practice = more accuracy. And there is an almost irresistible tendency to add more equipment. . .
  4. dakotasin

    dakotasin Senior Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    you didn't say what was in the kit...

    but assuming it is the same kit i got when i first started, there's a couple things you'll want...

    first, a progressive press isn't an upgrade. it is a different press alltogether. i have a very strong preference for single stage presses and actually bought mine on purpose...

    now, what you need... a powder trickler is nice to have. you will need calipers as well. a hand-priming tool is nice, but not mandatory like the other two. you will also eventually want a tumbler of some sort...

    that should be it...you will find many neat things that you can't live without on your own...
  5. PDshooter

    PDshooter New Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Illinois (PRI)
    Cableman! this is all I've used for the last 15yrs
    I love my single stage.One min,I load 45s,then 30-06,or .223 or what ever I'm in the mood for:eek:

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  6. Sisco

    Sisco Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Smokey Joe said everything I would. Read, read then read some more. Slow & easy, the loading bench is no place to be in a hurry.
    Set up somewhere with no distractions; kids, wife, TV. Double check everything. Have fun.
  7. Hkmp5sd

    Hkmp5sd Mentor

    Dec 24, 2002
    Winter Haven, FL
    One important tip is to pay attention while you are loading. I have made some serious mistakes as a result of daydreaming or some other distraction while loading. Luckily some were related to ammo for a Ruger, so there was not a kaboom involved.

    As a result of these moronic acts, I have purchased a good digital scale so I can rapidly run through the newly loaded ammo to ensure no too light or too heavy powder loads.

    And as C.R.Sam teaches, if you load in an area of your home that is carpeted, check for dropped primers before vacuuming the carpet. Apparently, some vacuum cleaners also go kaboom when injesting primers.
  8. braindead0

    braindead0 Participating Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Canton, Ohio
    dakotasin: Progressive is an upgrade for the RockChucker (essentially). The Piggyback III is awesome (heard some bad stuff about the Piggy I and II, but the III is great). Makes loading 100rds in 15minutes pretty easy.

    That's good advice for a beginner. I'd also advise that if you are going to approach those maximums, get a chronograph.

    You'll also want to check several loading books, none of the calibers you've listed are a problem AFAIK, but most manuals show loads for .357 that are way below the SAAMI maximum pressure. IE: wimpy ;-)

    Also, make sure when reloading .45LC that you watch the section of your manual(s). With this caliber, and some others there are loads specific for types/brands of guns.. T/C Contenders and the like. I know loads for a TC or a Ruger Super Blackhawk would blow up my dads old Peacemaker.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2003
  9. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw New Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    Buzzards Breath Wisconsin
    With the rockchucker kit, you should have received a Speer reloading manual, and another one I like is the Hornady.

    Read and Reread are good places to start.

    Good work habits are a must. An example is;

    You have cases in your loading block that are resized, primed and have powder in them, ready to seat a bullet.
    *Take a pen light and physically (look) check each case for powder in each. Do they all look the same? Has a double charge gotten into one or two? Has one seem to have less powder? Things like this are good work habits.

    * Turn case primer side up after priming to make sure you don't add powder to a primerless case.

    These are just some examples of good work habits.

    Things you will need are a Tumbler Kit. Cabelas has one that I like for around $55. This same tumbler is sold under many brand names.

    Primer pocket uniformers are also nice, both large and small size. They clean out the primer pocket better than a brush.

    A TIP If you can find a ball type powder that will work for your reloading needs for each caliber/cartridge you reload, the powder measure on the Rockchucker Kit will work great. I use all ball types for my reloading.
    AA#2 for 9mm.
    BLC-2 or W748 or the milsurp equivalent for .223, .308 and 30-30.
    H414 for 30-06-.243-.284.
    H-870(milsurpWC-872) for 7mmRem.Mag and 7mmSTW

    Lastly this is not a super technical or dangerous hobby as some may lead you to believe, just one that requires concentration and again, good work habits. Save Money? Nah, I just shoot 5 times more than I useta.:D
  10. WESHOOT2

    WESHOOT2 Active Member

    Dec 29, 2002

    Safety glasses, always.
    LEE chamfer tool.
    Size all handgun cases always.
    RCBS hand-priming tool, at $25, priceless.
    RBCS shell-holders.
    Hodgdon Universal Clays works (well) in all those calibers you've listed.
    When undo force is needed SLOW DOWN and RECHECK.
    "When in doubt throw it out"; one case, bullet, primer, and charge aren't all that expensive; know what I mean?

    Skip the 'progressive' stuff until you've grown comfy makin' ammo (then buy a XL650).

    And please, use this resource if you have ANY doubts, because one CAN bend or blow up their gun(s).
  11. braindead0

    braindead0 Participating Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Canton, Ohio
    And don't forget, much of what you read are opinions.... For example you don't need a tumbler as there are many ways to clean brass (or not clean, some don't bother). I'm sure you can figure out which areas are flexible....

    Start slow, get your habit engrained. I'll second the hand primer tool being 'priceless'. For single stage work I find I prefer decapping and sizing a few hundred rounds of brass. Then sit down and relax, inspect each case for cracks and prime it.
  12. Clark

    Clark Senior Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    Where I5 meets the rain forest
    I got a Rockchucker kit when I started out.
    I read the "Speer 12" that came with it and erroneously assumed the loads were based on science or comparative tests or something that made sense.

    They are all safe cook book loads, but they all vary in pressure capriciously, and are not good for divining any principals or comparing powders.

    Now I have 50 load books, and I would not think of taking any data from a newer Speer load book seriously.
    The Sierra load books are better.
  13. RobW

    RobW Active Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Henderson, NV
    One of the best books for beginners is "ABC's of Reloading" by Gary James. Onte time it was available at www.hamiltonbooks.com for a whopping $ 4.95!!!
  14. JPM70535

    JPM70535 Active Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Sunny Florids
    A single stage press is definitely the way to start out IMHO. Progressives are fine for producing large quantities of pistol ammo, but there is no substitute for learning the basics of reloading, and no better way than having to go step by step on a single stage. Progressives have their limitations with respect to loading rifle calibers especially if you are trying for match quality rounds. Most powder throwers dont throw rifle powders with great accuracy. Single stage lets you use a powder trickler to get an exact load. A hand held priming tool gives a much better feel for seating depth than a progressive. And best of all, single stage loading lets you check and recheck each round at every stage of production, a must since mistakes can be potentially disastrous

    Start single stage and work up

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