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Old June 20, 2016, 09:51 PM   #1
md7
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Learning to reload

THR,

I've read the stickies up top, learned about the different types of reloaders, and have settled upon a single stage press. I think it'll be great to learn on (and grow into) and should sufficiently process the amount of rounds I'd likely reload per month. (200/month at the highest) Primarily will reload 5.56/223 and maybe some 9mm.

I think learning to reload would be a good thing to know, fun, and a great hobby.
Plan to buy some good books on the subject before I get into it.

I feel good about the rcbs rock chucker. I'm also interested in the Hornady lock n load because of the bushing system it uses.

Could this be a case of which color paint I like best or is one a better design than the other?

I'm interested to hear your thoughts on this. Please feel free to add other brands that you feel are worth a look. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience!
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Old June 20, 2016, 10:56 PM   #2
RandyP
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Lee also makes a very sturdy single stage press with breech-lock bushings. Have one on my bench next to the LCT. No negative issues and both have a very nice and clean primer disposal method.

All SS presses work pretty much the same way. And for the calibers you mention any color press will do just fine IMHO.
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Old June 20, 2016, 11:02 PM   #3
bbqreloader
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I have the rock chucker and love it. I reload 9mm, 40sw and 45acp. However I reload with a buddy of mine and we burn thru ammo, so henceforth I will move up to the Hornady LNL, IF i can get a better deal than what it is now. Was 344 during memorial day, now 449.
Back to your post. Hats off for you wanting to start single stage, best way that I learned, so I only made one mistake per stage of reloading and catch it quickly, sometimes.
I use the Hornady Bushing system on my rock chucker, just have to remove the insert ring that comes with the press, not that hard. Dont forget to buy the female bushing though.
All my dies are set up to twist in an out real quick and once they are set, rarely ever have to tinker with them.
IMHO if you are only looking reload 200 rounds a month, then a single stage will work just fine for you, IF you find yourself going through copious amount of ammo, then the Hornady LNL would be a better option after you get your routine down.
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Old June 20, 2016, 11:11 PM   #4
ArchAngelCD
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I have and use a RCBS Rockchucker and I'm happy with it. I have also used a Lee Classic Cast single stage press and it's also very good. I like the way the spent primers are handled on the Lee press.

As for the bushings, I'm not a fan because you have an added cost for every die you own. Once you adjust the die and lock down the lock ring you really gain nothing with bushings other than 3 or 4 seconds time and of course the additional cost.

Good luck and welcome to this addiction, don't say you weren't warned lol...
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Old June 20, 2016, 11:18 PM   #5
hdwhit
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Any cast iron single stage press from any of the predominate reloading equipment manufacturers (i.e. RCBS, Hornady, Lyman, Lee, etc.) will last a lifetime with minimal care.

The bushing system for die change is handy, but it only takes me about 12 seconds to spin a die in/out of my single stage press, so it wouldn't be a decision-maker for me.
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Old June 20, 2016, 11:35 PM   #6
Lost Sheep
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Thanks for asking our advice. Welcome to reloading

Quote:
Originally Posted by md7 View Post
THR,

I've read the stickies up top, learned about the different types of reloaders, and have settled upon a single stage press. I think it'll be great to learn on (and grow into) and should sufficiently process the amount of rounds I'd likely reload per month. (200/month at the highest) Primarily will reload 5.56/223 and maybe some 9mm.

I think learning to reload would be a good thing to know, fun, and a great hobby.
Plan to buy some good books on the subject before I get into it.

I feel good about the rcbs rock chucker. I'm also interested in the Hornady lock n load because of the bushing system it uses.

Could this be a case of which color paint I like best or is one a better design than the other?

I'm interested to hear your thoughts on this. Please feel free to add other brands that you feel are worth a look. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience!
I would be remiss if I did not mention that turret presses work exactly as single stage presses do and have the added benefit of leaving your dies mounted on a permanent basis. I won't belabor the point if you don't want to hear more.

Don['t overlook the Lee Classic Cast single stage press. I have a RockChucker I bought in the seventies and it works great, but if I were to replace it, it would be with the Lee Classic Cast. It handles spent primers better (they drop down the center of the ram instead of along side, as the RockChucker does) leaving less debris to gum up the works and fewer primers bouncing onto the floor.

Lost Sheep

p.s., see my post of "10 Advices for the novice reloader" in my next post.
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Old June 20, 2016, 11:38 PM   #7
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10 Advices for the novice loader

10 Advices for the novice loader

I put together an arbitrary list that I think is illuminating. I call it my Ten Advices.

I have thought of a few things I think are useful for handloaders to know or to consider which seem to be almost universally mentioned, so I put together this list of 10 advices.


Much is a matter of personal taste and circumstance, though. So, all advice carries this caveat, "your mileage may vary".


When I bought my first gun (.357 Magnum Dan Wesson revolver), I bought, at the same time, a reloading setup because I knew I could not afford to shoot if I did not reload my own ammo. It cost me about 1/4 of factory ammo per round and paid for itself pretty quickly.

My setup was simple. A set of dies, a press, a 2" x 6" plank, some carriage bolts and wing nuts, a scale, two loading blocks.

I just mounted the press on the plank wedged into the drawer of an end table.

I did not use a loading bench at all.

Good leverage on the press meant the table did not lift or rock. I still use the same plank, but now it is mounted in a Black & Decker folding workbench. A loading bench "bolted to the center of the earth" would be more stable, but I do not feel deprived without it.


So you can better evaluate my words, here is a summary of my experience. I load for handguns (44 Mag, 45 ACP, 45 Colt, 454 Casull, 9mm, 357 Mag, 480 Ruger) a couple hundred per sitting and go through 100 to 500 centerfire rounds per month. I don't cast....yet.


I still believe in a minimalist approach and and try to keep my inventory of tools low. I do not keep my loading gear set up when not in use, either, but pack it away in small toolboxes until the next loading session.


Now, here are my Ten Advices.


Advice #1 Use Reliable Reference Sources Wisely - Books, Videos, Web Sites, etc.


Study up in loading manuals until you understand the process well, before spending a lot of (or any) money on equipment.


Read as many manuals as you can, for the discussion of the how-to steps found in their early chapters. The reason you want more than one or two manuals is that you want to read differing authors/editors writing styles and find ones that "speak" to you. What one manual covers thinly, another will cover well so give better coverage of the subject; one author or editor may cover parts of the subject more thoroughly than the others. The public library should have manuals you can read, then decide which ones you want to buy. Dated, perhaps but the basics are pretty unchanging, unlike loaed data..

As far as load data in older manuals, the powder manufacturers and bullet manufacturers may have better information and their web sites are probably more up to date. But pay attention to what the ammunition was test-fired from. (regular firearm vs a sealed-breech pressure test barrel, for example)

The reason you want more than one or two is that you want to read differing authors/editors writing styles and find ones that "speak" to you. You also get better coverage of the subject; one author or editor may cover parts of the subject more thoroughly than the others.




I found "The ABC's of Reloading" to be a very good reference. Containing no loading data but full of knowledge and understanding of the process. I am told the older editions are better than the newer ones, so the library is looking even better than new and you can taste-test the writing style.

Richard Lee's book "Modern Reloading" has a lot of food for thought, and does discuss the reasoning behind his opinions (unlike many manuals, and postings). Whether right or wrong, the issues merit thought, which that book initiates. It is not a simple book, though and you will find it provocative reading for many years.

There are instructional videos now that did not exist in the '70s when I started, but some are better than others. Filter all casual information through a "B.S." filter.


Only after you know the processing steps of loading can you look at the contents of of a dealer's shelves, a mail-order catalog or a reloading kit and know what equipment you want to buy. If you are considering a loading kit, you will be in a better position to know what parts you don't need and what parts the kits lack. If building your own kit from scratch, you will be better able to find the parts that will serve your into the future without having to do trade-ins.

The public library should have manuals you can read, then decide which ones you want to buy.

There are instructional videos now that did not exist in the '70s when I started.


Advice #2 All equipment is good. But is it good FOR YOU?


Almost every manufacturer of loading equipment makes good stuff; if they didn't, they would lose reputation fast and disappear from the marketplace. Generally you get what you pay for and better equipment costs more. Cast aluminum is lighter and less expensive but not so abrasion resistant as cast iron. Cast iron lasts practically forever. Aluminum generally takes more cleaning and lubrication to last forever. Just think about what you buy. Ask around. Testimonials are nice. But if you think Ford/Chevy owners have brand loyalty, you have not met handloaders. Testimonials with reasoning behind them are better. RCBS equipment is almost all green, Dillon-blue, Lee-red. Almost no manufacturers cross color lines and many handloaders simply identify themselves as "Blue" or whatever. Make your own choices.


About brand loyalties, an example: Lee Precision makes good equipment, but is generally considered the "economy" equipment maker (though some of their stuff is considered preferable even to more expensive makes, as Lee has been an innovator both in price leadership which has introduced many to loading who might not otherwise have been able to start the hobby and in introduction of innovative features like their auto-advancing turret presses). But there are detractors who focus on Lee's cheapest offerings to paint even their extremely strong gear as inferior. My advice: Ignore the snobs.


On Kits: Almost every manufacturer makes a kit that contains everything you need to do reloading (except dies and the consumables). A kit is decent way to get started. Eventually most people wind up replacing most of the components of the kit as their personal taste develops (negating the savings you thought the kit gave you), but you will have gotten started, at least.


On building your own kit: The thought processes you give to assembling your own kit increases your knowledge about reloading. You may get started a couple weeks later than if you started with a kit, but you will be far ahead in knowledge.

RCBS and Dillon seem, by most reports, the best warranty service. But that is reflected in the original purchase prices. Lee has a one year warranty at half the purchase price. You pays your money and you makes your choice. If you buy the higher-end Lee stuff, use the heck out of it the first year (to week out any true manufacturing defects), and give the gear good maintennce, it will last as long as as well as RCBS.

Cast iron lasts practically forever. Lee makes good equipment, but is generally considered the "economy" equipment maker, though some of their stuff is considered preferable to more expensive makes. Just think about what you buy.

Almost every manufacturer makes a kit that contains everything you need to do reloading (except dies and the consumables). A decent way to get started without too much prior experience. Eventually most reloaders wind up replacing most of the components of the kit as their personal taste develops, but you will have gotten started, at least..



Advice #3 While Learning, don't get fancy.

You may think about options such as progressive, turret or Single Stage? Experimental loads? Pushing performance envelopes?


Most people advise to learn on a single stage press or a turret press used as a single stage and not to learn on a progressive press. While progressives can be used to perform one operation at a time, the machinery is more complex and divides you attention. Progressive presses used as they are intended perform multiple funcions simultaneously and (in the opinion of many) have too many things happening at the same time to keep track of while you are learning. What you choose is up to you,


While you are learning, stay below maximum power levels (and do not go below book minimums, either). Propellants are designed to run best within a fairly narrow performance envelope. Start in the lower portion of it and stay in the mid-range of that envelope. While you are at it, check several different sources for recipes. Different ballistics labs use different guns, primers and conditions and get different results. Look at the range of values in the recipes and stay in the mid-range. Just concentrate on getting the mechanical steps of loading right and being VERY VERY consistent (charge weight, crimp strength, bullet seating depth, primer seating force, all that). Use a voluminous, "fluffy", powder that is, one that is easy to see that you have charged the case and which will overflow your cartridge case if you mistakenly put two powder charges in it.


While learning, only perform one operation at a time. Whether you do the one operation 50 (or 20) times on a batch of cases before moving on to the next operation - "Batch Processing" or take one case through all the sequence of operations between empty case to finished cartridge - "Continuous Processing", sometimes known as "Sequential Processing", learn by performing only one operation at a time and concentrating on THAT OPERATION. On a single stage press or a turret press, this is the native way of operation. On a progressive press, the native operation is to perform multiple operations simultaneously. Don't do it. While you can learn on a progressive press, in my opinion too many things happen at the same time, thus are hard to keep track of (unless you load singly at first). Mistakes DO happen and you want to watch for them ONE AT A TIME. Until handloading becomes second nature to you.


Note: A turret press is essentially a single stage press with a moveable head which can mount several dies at the same time. What makes it like a single stage rather than a progressive is that you are still using only one die at a time, not three or four dies simultaneously at each stroke.


On the Turret vs Single stage the decision is simpler. You can do everything on a Turret EXACTLY the same way as you do on a single stage (just leave the turret stationary). That is, a Turret IS a single stage if you don't rotate the head.


Learning on a progressive can be done successfully, but it is easier to learn to walk in shoes than on roller skates.


Also, a good, strong, single stage press is in the stable of almost every reloader I know, no matter how many progressives they have. Most keep at least one.


Advice #4 Find a mentor.


There is no substitute for someone watching you load a few cartridges and critiquing your technique BEFORE you develop bad habits or make a dangerous mistake. (A mistake that might not have consequences right away, but maybe only after you have escaped trouble a hundred times until one day you get bit, for instance having case lube on your fingers when you handle primers; 99 times, no problem because primers are coated with a sealant, but the hundredth primer may not be perfectly sealed and now winds up "dead")


I started loading with the guy who sold me my press watching over my shoulder as I loaded my first 6 rounds to make sure I did not blow myself up, load a powderless cartridge or set off a primer in the press. I could have learned more, faster with a longer mentoring period, but I learned a lot in those first 6 rounds, as he explained each step. I educated myself after that. But now, on the internet, I have learned a WHOLE LOT MORE. But in-person is still the best.


After you have been mentored, mentor someone else. Not necessarily in loading or the shooting sports, but in SOMETHING in which you are enthusiastic and qualified. Just give back to the community.


Advice #5 Design your loading space for safety, efficiency, ease, cleanliness

Design your loading algorithm and your bench as if you were the architect of a factory floor (as, indeed, you are building your own ammo factory). You are your own quality control department as well as production supervisor. Your loading bench/room is tantamount to a factory floor. There is a whole profession devoted to industrial engineering, the art and science of production design. Your loading system (layout, process steps, quality control, safety measures, etc) deserves no less attention than that.

I cannot emphasis strongly enough that you MUST design your loading process (algorithm) and lay out your loading bench carefully. Think of your loading area the way a production designer thinks of his factory floor, because that's what it is. With a factory's QC (Quality Control), safety procedures, producton rate, whole set of design parameters, all of it. Treat your loading bench as if you were Henry Ford designing his first assembly line, or Beam, Inc (a distillery is the epitomy of batch processing, isn't it?). You can get the optimum of all your goals, safety, quality, accuracy, efficiency no less than if you were head of production at Hornady or Remington.

For example, consider the word "workflow". Place your components' supplies convenient to the hand that will place them into the operation and the receptacle(s) for interim or finished products, too. You can make a significant increase in safety and in speed, too, with well thought out design of your production layout, "A" to "Z", from the lighting to the dropcloth to the fire suppression scheme.

One factor often neglected is where the scale is located. Place your scale where it is protected from drafts and vibration and is easy to read and operate, eye level, in good light, etc.


Advice #6 Keep Current on loading technology


Always use a CURRENT loading manual. Ballistic testing has produced some new knowledge over the years and powder chemistry has changed over the years, too. They make some powders differently than they used to and even some powder names may have changed. However, if you are using 10 year old powder, you may want to check a 10 year old manual for the recipe. Then double check with a modern manual and then triple check with the powder maker.


Read previous threads on reloading and watch videos available on the web. But be cautious. There is both good information and bad information found in casual sources, so see my advice #10.

Read previous threads on reloading, here are a couple I recommend.
http://forums.accuratereloading.com/eve
http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=13543
http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/view...fbd5ae1f754eec
The second one is a thread started by a new recruit to reloading which the moderators thought highly enough of to make it "sticky" so it stays on the top of the list of threads.




Advice #7 You never regret buying the best (but once)


When you buy the very best, it hurts only once, in the wallet. When you buy too cheaply it hurts every time you use the gear. The trick is to buy good enough (on the scale between high quality and low price) to keep you happy without having overpaid for features you don't need. "The delicious flavor of low price fades fast. The wretched aftertaste of poor quality lingers long."


Advice #8 Tungsten Carbide dies (or Titanium Nitride) rather than tool steel.

T-C dies instead of regular tool steel (which require lubrication for sizing your brass) for your straight-walled cartridge cases. T-C dies do not require lubrication, which will save you time. Carbide expander button for your bottlenecked cases. Keeps lube out of the inside of the cases.


Advice #9 Safety Always ... Safety All Ways.


Wear eye protection, especially when seating primers. Gloves are good, too, especially if using the Lee "Hammer" Tools. Children (unless they are good helpers, not just playing around) are at risk and are a risk. Pets, too unless they have been vetted (no, not that kind of vetting). Any distractions that might induce you to forget charging a case (no charge or a double charge, equally disturbing). Imagine everything that CAN go wrong. Then imagine everything that you CAN'T imagine. I could go on, but it's your eyes, your fingers, your house, your children (present or future - lead is a hazard, too. Wash after loading and don't eat at your bench). Enough said?


Advice #10 Take all with a grain of salt.

Verify for yourself everything you learn. Believe only half of what you see and one quarter of what you hear. That goes double for everything you find on the internet (with the possible exception of the actual web sites of the bullet and powder manufacturers). This advice applies to my message as much as anything else and especially to personal load recipes. Hare-brained reloaders might have dangerous habits and even an honest typographical error could be deadly.

I heard about a powder manufacturer's web site that dropped a decimal point once. It was fixed REAL FAST, but mistakes happen. I work in accounting and can easily hit "7" instead of "4" or a "3" instead of a decimal point because they are next to each other on the keypad.


Good luck.


Lost Sheep
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Old June 20, 2016, 11:41 PM   #8
md7
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Thanks for the input everybody. And for the warning, Archangel lol.

Hdwhit, your post is kind of what I was thinking. I think the bushings are neat, but not as big a factor as maybe I thought they might be. Per your and Archangel's experiences, I'm only looking at a few seconds of time savings.

Thanks for the kind words, bbq. I appreciate you sharing info.
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Old June 20, 2016, 11:43 PM   #9
md7
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Many thanks, Lost Sheep. I'll read through that carefully.
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Old June 20, 2016, 11:55 PM   #10
rcmodel
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+1
All the L&L type die change systems are just an ingenious solution to a non-existet problem.

Once you adjust the dies the first time, and lock the lock rings to them?

You shouldn't have to change them again the next 50 years!!

And as already stated, it takes 15-30 seconds tops, to screw one die out and screw another one in.

If you load in large batches, like 100 or 200 rounds of rifle cartridges at a time?

You size, and change the sizing die to the seater die, once.

So you just saved 15-30 seconds changing dies while loading 100 or 200 rounds.

Plus, you don't have to buy another set of L&L bushings for every set of dies you buy.

IMO: It's snake oil to get you to spend more money buying stuff you don't need!!

rc
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Old June 21, 2016, 08:03 AM   #11
thomas15
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md7,

Handloading is a great hobby and if you decide to get started I'm certain you will become proficient and capable. You are asking a good question and receiving a ton of information in return. Nothing here is incorrect.

Imagine a co-worker who knows nothing about firearms comes to you knowing that you have firearms and ask for your opinion on which first gun to purchase. You would ask a few questions, make a few suggestions and most likely offer to take this individual to the range to try out several of your guns. Deep down you would know that the information you give that individual is ever so slightly biased towards your particular experience and/or degree of involvement in the shooting sports. For example, a hunter would steer a prospective gun owner in a different direction from a competitive target shooter. Nothing wrong with this but the perspective is different.

But the main point that I'm trying to make here is that you would offer to help in any way possible, even to the point of possibly directing your co-worker to some one else that has firearms interests more in line with your co-workers interests to fill in some of the gaps that you might not be able to fill. This is the way gun people are, we are as a group very helpful to those expressing an interest in joining the ranks.

It is no different for those who wish to become handloaders. This thread proves it, you ask a question and Bam! the information flows in at a steady pace. Problem is we can only do so much as we are sitting at a keyboard, not at your workplace.

Everyone here on the interwebs, nice as we are, come to this discussion with a certain mind set based on our experience and mode of operation. You ask a question with what would seem to have a simple answer and walk away with half a chapter of study material. So, nice as we are, my experience has taught me that most handloaders are willing and able to help the newb and so I'm saying try to find someone local who does this activity and will give you a demo of the process and maybe let you try your hand at pulling the lever. I'm saying try to find a local mentor.

I've introduced several to the fun of this endeavor and I'm sure I'm not the only one. If you belong to a club or know someone who handloads or might know someone that handloads seek them out. Ask at your LGS if there is someone well known who handloads and see if you can meet with them. A mentor will save you much and give you a good place to ask rookie questions, show you what works and what doesn't. Even on top of that, I was in Cabelas last week and a gentlemen was giving an excellent demo of handloading on a single stage press. Ask around, you have nothing to loose.

Another suggestion, while it is not a good idea to take everything you see on the interwebs as gospel there are tons of videos on youtube and/or the websites of our favorite press manufactures showing the process. Just watch a bunch and you will get an understanding of what can be done at the bench. I caution you to go slow with respect to purchasing tooling before you get an idea of just exactly what your goals are and budget. I say this all the time with mixed responses, but to get started in handloading, budget $500.00 to start. You may spend less and you can spend a lot more, but $500.00 is a good starting point. Most of us have way more than that invested. One thing that we can all agree on is that your cost per round will drop but your overall shooting budget will get crushed once you start making your own ammo. So your not going to save any money, on the contrary.

When you do get ready to buy remember one simple fact of life, you get what you pay for. Quality costs money. You will quickly notice that there are some press "kits" that cost less than some stand alone presses. There are handloaders that buy press kits for lets say $150.00 and successfully make their own ammo. However, as quality costs money and we all know this, something has to give with a $150.00 kit.

If you want to make high quality ammo and lots of it and enjoy the process, you need quality tools, not just the press but your powder measure, powder scale, dies and accessories, brass cleaning machine, measuring tools, bullet pullers, loading blocks, a priming tool, your actual bench, on and on. This is why I say the cost of beginning handloading is $500.00 because it's not just a press that you need.
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Old June 21, 2016, 09:26 AM   #12
Mauser69
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You can use the Hornady bushings in a Rock Chucker press.
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Old June 21, 2016, 10:44 AM   #13
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I started with a Hornady Classic single-stage kit and have no regrets. Shop around for the best deal and save yourself some dough. It’s fun to explore the reload shops anyway. You learn a lot.

Start with powder a lot of people use. Master it. I did get a chronograph to see how loads work with my barrels. I didn’t know barrels had their own harmonics so a load that works for you might not work well for someone else. Hodgdon Titegroup, for instance, meters consistently and my .45 ACP loves it.

Keep records of every load and every batch. I used a home-built spreadsheet but a notebook works fine. I add chrono times and group size for every batch.
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Old June 21, 2016, 11:09 AM   #14
md7
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Wow. Lots of excellent insight. Thank you, Thomas, and all others that have taken the time to post.

Fortunately, I've located a mentor that's been reloading for several years with a Redding turret press. He's agreed to show me the ropes, and I'm grateful.

Grateful to you all as well.

At this point I think it best to:

-research
-read
-watch and learn under an experienced person
-purchase quality kit
-go slow, and focus on the fundamentals of reloading until it clicks

Unless I've missed something those are the most appropriate action items for me to follow, and in that order.

Look forward to learning what I don't know!

Thanks again.
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Old June 21, 2016, 12:16 PM   #15
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I'm happy to hear you found someone to show you the ropes. You will pick it up much quicker seeing the process than hearing about the process. I have a feeling you are going to be just fine... Just keep doing what you're doing.
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Old June 21, 2016, 12:56 PM   #16
joem1945
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RCBS presses that have a black bushing on the top can be converted to L&L with a adapter. it makes die changes very fast. IMHO best thing since sliced bread for the reloader.
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