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To Start Reloading

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by marb4, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. marb4

    marb4 Well-Known Member

    Ok. So here's a very broad question. First some details, I shoot primarily 3 centerfire calibers - 9mm, 38/357, 45Colt. I don't have a ton of time or money to invest at this point (three little kids at home) but I'm wanting to get a taste for reloading. After doing a little research online I almost gave up the idea entirely due to the overwhelm of options and opinions. I want something basic to get me started. Not looking (at this point) of going into full scale "production". So from those of you who know, where do I start? Basic equipment? etc? Hoping for some simple and consise answers/opinions. Thanks.
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

  3. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member

    The very first place to start is with the "stickies" as rcmodel said.
    (you'll find that rc is very knowledgeable & respected around these parts.)

    the 2nd place is to get or borrow a reloading manual or 3.

    My favorite is Lyman's 49th Reloading Handbook (that's the most recent edition)
    This book has a GREAT "how-to" section & the widest array of reloading data.

    Many of us have anywhere from 3 - 10 manuals.
    Because of variables like bullet shape, different testing equiptment etc, the manuals will disagree on the powder charge.

    I usually err on the side of caution because we are dealing with small explosions.

    Another heads-up is that the powder manufacturers all have data on their site FOC (free of charge).
    The bullet manufacturers on the other hand all publish manuals that you have to pay for.
    (but they of course only provide data for their brand of bullet)

    Welcome to the addiction ... OH! I mean hobby - ya, that's it hobby :scrutiny:

    A lower cost, excellent press IMHO is the Lee CLASSIC Turret press.
    They have 2, don't get the so-called deluxe.
    It's not deluxe - it's made of cheaper components & sprays used primers all over or at least mine did.
  4. greyling22

    greyling22 Well-Known Member

    I'd start with a lee turret press and the 45lc. It is a versatile press, easy to learn and hard to make mistakes with. makes 1 complete round at a time so you don't have partially finished rounds on loading blocks waiting to be knocked over or walk away from and come back going "where was I now..."

    45lc will give you the biggest bang for your buck in terms of savings and is easy to load for. It is very low pressure so your odds of screwing up and blowing up the gun are low. stay away from 9mm for a while. the savings is not really there and if you try loading lead for real cost savings, it can be tricky. 9 is the only caliber I just can't seem to make work right.

    Figure $250 for the press, dies, some powder, primers and bullets. If you decide it's not for you you can sell it all for 80% of what you paid for it without much effort. If you like it, you can add more calibers for about $40 a caliber. It should take you an hour to get all set up the first time and to figure out what you are doing. You should be able to load about 100rds an hour after that. YMMV.

    If space is an issue you can bolt the press to a 2x8 chunk, then c-clamp that to a coffee table or something, do your loading after the kids are down, then unbolt it and put it up in a closet till the next time.
  5. joustin

    joustin Well-Known Member

    Try a Lee Loader in 45 colt, under $30 and can get you started well under $150 with all needed components and scale if you shop around a bit.

    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2
  6. Legion489

    Legion489 member

    The first thing I recommend to any one thinking about reloading is to go to their local library and see what they have on reloading and guns. Then get the following books (inter-library loan system) Lee MODERN RELOADING 2nd ed (ignore all the lies about Lee stuff being the best), Lyman #49 (current) or #48 (I like it a bit better for info), DBI METALLIC CARTRIDGE RELOADING 3rd ed (out of print and most libraries seem to have it stolen as it told what was good and what was trash).

    I do not recommend low quality equipment. A decent press will last 30-40-50 years and that means no pot metal, no 2 year warranty the company does not intend to stand behind anyway.

    Got to go. Will post more later,
  7. Kevin Rohrer

    Kevin Rohrer Well-Known Member

    Start by reading Lyman #49. It will answer your questions.
  8. BigJimP

    BigJimP Well-Known Member

    Read the sticky ....that's good info...

    In terms of equipment, I like Dillon...

    For handgun ammo ...the Dillon SDB is a very good press ( and it'll meet all your needs - at a good price). The only downside to it ...it uses a proprietary die, unique to just that one press. It will not allow for the installation of a case feeder...and there is no option for a "powder check die"...but its still a good press that will meet your needs long term.

    I don't subscribe to the idea that you need to start with a single stage or a turret press... I think you can learn on a progressive ...and attention to detail is important ...but you'll be fine.

    Now to compare the SDB press - to what many of us consider a better long term press ...look at the Dillon 650 ( it uses standard industry dies, it allows for a case feeder to be installed, and it has space in the toolhead for a powder check die )...all pretty big deals in my opinion.

    SDB base price $ 380 ....650 base price $ 567 ...but by saving about $9 a box on 9mm ....and close to $12 a box on .357 mag...and at least $18 a box on .45 Colt....your payback is quick on either press. None of us save money by reloading ...we just shoot 3 times more...but that's ok too...

    SDB will give you about 400 rds an hour / 650 will give you at least 800 rds an hour (more with a case feeder, maybe 1,000 an hour )...but speed isn't the issue /its accuracy and consistency ....but with family demands, if you can meet your ammo needs in an hour ...its a whole lot better than 4 or 5 hours...

    650 is my press of choice...and for what its worth, I'd buy it again...(I've had it for several yrs).

    Most all of the big name presses are good equipment...they just do things differently, and they each have their own quirks...even the Dillon 650...but I'll still take it over the Hornaday LNL which is a press that is equivalent to the quality of the 650.

    good luck in your decison ..and welcome to our side of the gun hobby ..in reloading....
  9. horsemen61

    horsemen61 Well-Known Member

    You need to read a manual also the ABC'S OF RELOADING wouldn't hurt either.
  10. readyeddy

    readyeddy Well-Known Member

    I would start off with a Lee Classic Turret Press if I had room for a reloading bench. If not enough space, a Lee Hand Press.

    Dies would be Lee 3 Die Carbide. No need for the Lee Factory Crimp Die for handgun cartridges unless you plan on shooting over sized cast bullets.

    A balance scale, dial caliper, priming tool, powder measure (funnel if you use the hand press), couple reloading trays and maybe a bullet puller.

    Comes out to about $275 for the turret setup and about $200 for the hand press set up.

    Tumbler is optional. Some guys wash their cases in soap and water and let dry before loading.

    Loading is simple. Resize, flare, prime, charge, seat and crimp. Just follow the directions that come with your dies. You can watch youtube videos if you get stuck.

    Reloading manuals are good, but you can find load data from powder manufacturers on the internet. Stay away from max loads until you know what you're doing, use common sense (e.g. if you can see daylight when looking into the brass, throw it away), and it's all good.
  11. J_McLeod

    J_McLeod Well-Known Member

    One more vote here to start with the Lee turret press. Since you only listed handgun calibers, don't get anything less. A single stage or hand press won't be worth your time, especially for the 9mm. You'll shoot an hour's worth of work in ten minutes.
  12. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Well-Known Member

    ► The first place to start is by reading. Check the stickies, check your library.

    ► The second place is to start picking up every piece of brass you see. The brass is the first physical piece you need, and it's also where 2/3 of your savings come from. That also means start paying slightly more for ammo with brass worth reloading, like Winchester.

    ► Reloading with kids is "special time" with daddy. If you plan it correctly, it can become an integral part of your 1-on-1 with each child. If your wife fears it might take time away, I assure you it's quite the opposite.
  13. savanahsdad

    savanahsdad Well-Known Member

    take a look at some of the "KITS" out there, I started with a LEE kit back in the mid 90's still have all of it, and everything still works great after 1000's of rounds midwayusa has one of there kits on sale right now for$79.99 and it comes with a book. I think thats about what I paid for mine over 17 years ago, good luck, and have fun ,
  14. Coldfinger

    Coldfinger Well-Known Member

    Simple and basic. Well I started out several years ago loading .45 arguably the most popular round to reload. My first set up was
    1. Lee hand press cost about 27-40$ depending on where you order it
    2. Lee carbide die set about 30$
    3. Lee hand prime 14-24$
    4. Lee safety scale and a digital too
    5. Case cleaning equipment can get pricey look at gunbroker.com or check this sites for sale/trade thread. Powder, primers, bullets.
    I recently purchased the Lee challenger kit for 149.00 and it includes most everything someone just starting out would need. You can't really go wrong with the above list. Just not great for volume production. Very portable though.
  15. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Well-Known Member

    Thanks for asking our advice.

    There aren't any that are correct. Sorry.

    Most of the answers depend on your needs. There is no "one size fits all".

    What kind of quantities are you shooting now and hope to shoot? Will you set up permanently or break down your loading setup after each session? What's your budget? Questions like that.

    The more you tell us of your needs, the more we can target out answers and advice to you.

    The book "The ABC's of Reloading" is a good place to start, as well as the "sticky" thread at the top of this forum that RCModel posted the link to.

    Lost Sheep
  16. Reefinmike

    Reefinmike Well-Known Member

    another for a lee turret press! add a manual, safety prime system, die set, powder measure extension and a few other things im forgetting and you are good to go. if you get the classic cast delux kit from midway and a set of dies, you are only in it for $250 plus primers, powder and bullets. If you shoot more than a couple boxes of ammo a month, its worth it to reload. my lee turret press paid for itself within 6 hours of getting it.
  17. goathollow

    goathollow Well-Known Member

    I am new to reloading too so I really have no business offering any advice. But, based on the OP's clear need to find something as economical as possible and not needing something to produce a lot of ammo quickly it seems that the Lee Breech Lock single stage press would be really good beginners press. Yeah it takes a while longer to load bullets but once a good process is established they go pretty quickly...especially for a guy who is tight on cash and doesn't need to load hundreds of rounds per week. Its also pretty clear that he is not a competition rifle shooter so he doesn't need all the specialized stuff.

    right now Cabelas has their starter kit on sale for $114.00. It seems to me that the only thing that is missing for loading pistol ammo is the dies, powder, primers and bullets....and no press comes with that stuff.


    It is essentially what I am using myself and my father used this to load 6 or 8 different pistol rounds and 4 or 5 rifle rounds with this same press for 20+ years.
  18. kingmt

    kingmt Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't suggest a SS for anybody loading handgun. I would suggest The Pro1000 myself. The Turret seems highly praised but I've never used it.
  19. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Well-Known Member

    Wrong on two counts. Sometimes a beginner is in a perfect position to give advice to another beginner. Being recently familiar with the questions and wonder that a novice has puts you in that position.

    For $210, Kempf's gun shop sells the Lee Classic Turret, Dies, Primer dispenser (for use on-press), Powder measure. Everything you need to load for pistol calibers except a scale and a manual.

    Your advice is as valuable as anyone's. Don't be shy. We aren't.

    Lost Sheep
  20. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member

    kingmt - sorry, but I would NEVER recommend a Pro1000.
    I had one & was so dang frustrated with it, I boxed it back up & sold it after about 4 months of honestly trying to get it to run.

    In my opinion that's the worst press ever made.
    I'm not trying to start a flame war, just stating my opinion.

    My current press is a Dillon 550, but I wouldn't recommend that to a new reloader either.
    It runs like a dream, but there's way too much goin' on all at the same time.
    New reloaders need to see what's happening at each step.
    Then once they get the hang of it, then they can step up if they want.

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