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Old July 5, 2014, 11:59 AM   #1
Join Date: January 2, 2008
Location: N. Central PA
Posts: 116
New to re-loading - no equipment yet

I am thinking about buying a reloading press. My friend suggests RCBS. The cartridges I would reload are the following and most likely in the order I shoot most to least often. I don't expect to be shooting any combination of more than a couple hundred rounds a month.

44 magnum
45 Long Colt
45 ACP
40 S&W
270 Win
32 Win Spl.
25 ACP

I am told I should get carbide dies for my straight walled cartridges. I suppose I would like to know what package would be best to start with. What would I need? I am looking at something like this to get a good start.


I was thinking of going to Gander Mountain or Cabelas and asking for help from the sales people too. Hope this isn't too vast of a area for topic discussion. Thanks!

Last edited by sigsmoker; July 5, 2014 at 12:10 PM.
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Old July 5, 2014, 12:32 PM   #2
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Wow, you're jumpin right in eh? I bought and read (and re read and re read) a few manuals before I made the jump. Also lurked around here in the Reloading forum asking questions and reading the answers to everyone elses. Found out a lot of stuff, like how not to break the ratchet on an LCT (thanks Lost Sheep), and to START LOW AND WORK UP!

Im not sure my Gander associates would know very much if I were to ask them. Maybe a small reloading shop might be better suited for that.

Theres some good stickies here at THR that will put you on the right track also.
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Old July 5, 2014, 12:57 PM   #3
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If you speak with anyone at a retail store make sure they personally hand load and even then you will get some conflicting information, much like you likely will here. As to a press? I happen to like RCBS but any manufacturer will get things done, same for dies and associated equipment.

There are some very good single stage starter press kits out there but I noticed you linked to a progressive flavor. Keep in mind with your link there is a pile of needed accessories you will need. Including but not limited to dies (for each caliber), scale, calipers, and the list goes on. Nice thing about a single stage press starter press is the kits include the basics. The argument here is a starter kit includes things you do not need as well as things you need.

I guess my first question would be why a progressive? Do you want to load large quantity in a hurry? Nothing wrong with that but you are starting with a real nice but expensive press. If the bucks aren't an issue Dillon also makes some nice stuff.

Just My Take....
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Old July 5, 2014, 01:21 PM   #4
Join Date: March 16, 2006
Posts: 3,931
Redding presses are better than RCBS.

Don't get a package. Assemble your own kit. Reloading tool manufacturers all make good stuff and garbage. A package deal will have a mix of both. That's why it's better to pick from the litter. Look at a package, note which tools it contains, and then hunt for "the best tool".
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Old July 5, 2014, 01:34 PM   #5
Join Date: October 19, 2010
Location: East TN
Posts: 5,022
Check the sticky at the start of this sub forum, "Reloading Library of Wisdom". Good information.

"ABC's of Reloading" and Lyman Manual #49 have good information for beginners. The Lyman manual also has load data, and you will need that as well.

The bullet manufacturers have manuals and most have information on reloading. Good stuff too but data is limited to the manufacturer's product. I have editions from each of the companies whose bullets I use on a regular basis.

Internet forums can be good sources of information but read alot to help weed through the wheat from the chaff.

I feel it is best to start with a single stage. Even if you need a progressive down the road, a single stage is good to have around. There are some tasks that just work better on a single stage press. In any case, most of my rifle is loaded on a single stage press. The cost of a single stage is relatively low and dies used on a single stage can be transferred to most progressives at a later time.

The RCBS Rockchucker and Redding Big Boss and Big Boss II are good presses. There are others.

The reloading kits are not a bad place to start but most of them have some gear you may not use and not some gear you may need. Without a mentor, it is tough to determine what's what without buying. If your budget is very restrictive, do more research. If it is a bit flexible, buy and try and replace as necessary. It is not that any piece of equipment is poor quality or bad, it is just that many have some operating idiosyncrasies that fit different individuals differently.

Of course, this is just one opinion. I am sure you will certainly get many more, maybe as many as you have blades of grass in your front yard.

Reloading is a separate hobby for me. I enjoy the time I spend at the reloading bench. Other folks have different priorities for reloading.

Enjoy your new endeavor.
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Old July 5, 2014, 02:18 PM   #6
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A single stage press is all you're going to need for that amount of shooting. Get an RCBS Partner press. Save a lot of $$ and you'll love it. Uniflow powder measure. Beam scale. Lee Autoprime hand priming tool. Decent digital caliper.

For handgun straightwall dies get the RCBS carbide 4 die sets. For the rifles, the RCBS 2 die sets are perfect.
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Old July 5, 2014, 02:42 PM   #7
Join Date: April 21, 2007
Posts: 1,435
Sigsmoker, with 9 cartridges and a progressive press -which can be finicky to set up- you might find that changing over from one caliber to the next is very time consuming.

You should definitely look into the change over issues when narrowing down your choice.
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Old July 5, 2014, 03:26 PM   #8
Join Date: January 2, 2008
Location: N. Central PA
Posts: 116
Wow ... Thanks for the responses! I will read a lot for sure and I am already convinced that I don't need the set up I was looking at. I am going to look at the following instead.

RCBS Rockchucker
Redding Big Boss and Big Boss II
RCBS Partner press

I am assuming I would need die sets for all these calibers ( maybe the 45 LC and 45-70 are the same? ) and I could just start out with the 44 mag and 45 LC die sets first.

I suppose I need die sets, a scale, a tumbler to clean brass and the base plates for casings and of course a manual or I could probably use the internet for load specifics. I would for sure use THIS forum for that.
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Old July 5, 2014, 03:28 PM   #9
Join Date: April 27, 2008
Location: NE Illinois, just outside Gulag.
Posts: 241
I started off with a Lyman turret press close to 40 years ago. I moved up to a Dillion 650 when I joined USPSA and consumed vast quantities of 9MM. Also shoot thousands of rounds of 12 gauge a year and run them through a Dillon 900. I have always mixed and matched equipment as I went along. Never bought a "kit" so to speak. I still use the old turret press to load 460,480 and 500 ammo. Get and read a reloading book or 2 before your purchase.
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Old July 5, 2014, 03:36 PM   #10
Join Date: December 31, 2007
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You've named some good presses, but don't discount Lee. Perhaps it's blasphemy to mention that name here, but any good press, including Lee will suit your reloading needs for many years to come. If you have a good single stage press and choose to go progressive, the single stage still has many, many uses in your reloading room (I have a couple single stage pressed along with my turret press and use them for priming, bullet sizing, and some cartridge sizing/depriming). Higher price does not equate higher quality, most of the time...
My anchor holds fast...
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Old July 5, 2014, 03:45 PM   #11
Lost Sheep
Join Date: August 16, 2009
Location: Alaska
Posts: 2,144
Thanks for asking for our opinions and our testimony.

You're welcome, Potatohead and thanks for the mention (Post #2)

Twofifty is right (post #7) about considering the changeover. You plan to shoot a variety of calibers and switching a progressive press between cThanks for asking for our opinions and our testimony. Welcome to reloading and to the forum.alibers does take a bit of time. If you only load a hundred, it is hardly worth the setup time.

I started with RCBS Rockchucker, but every press maker who makes a single stage press makes a good one. For those who make more than one, at least one is good (for two examples: Lee's Classic Cast Single stage is superior to Lee's Challenger and RCBS Rockchucker is superior to their Partner model.)

For your lager cartidges, the RCBS Rockchucker has enough leverage and for the smaller cartridges, too much leverage is no impediment. However, Lee's Classic Cast handles spent primers much better (drops them down the ceter of the hollow ram into a tube with retty much 100% success where RCBS bounces them into a receptacle with less than 100% success. But RCBS has a lifetime warranty where Lee is only two years (though they are generous with exceptions, I am told).

Lost Sheep
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Old July 5, 2014, 04:04 PM   #12
Lost Sheep
Join Date: August 16, 2009
Location: Alaska
Posts: 2,144
Why not consider a turret?

Operational differences between single stage and turret presses.

Short answer:

A single stage can only do batch operation, turret can do continuous operation or batch almost equally well.

Thus, there is this factor, which some loaders find important and others do not:

Batch operation is slower than continuous operation because with batch processing you insert and remove the cartridge case for every step. With continuous processing you only insert and remove the cartridge case once per completed cartridge case. Saving multiple insert-remove cycles, a Turret can be 2 to 4 times as fast as a single stage.

edit: Batch operation provides the opportunity for batch inspections (e.g. viewing 50 powder charges all at once, permitting easy detection of any powder level anomalies - THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT and requires extra care to compensate if loading in continuous mode)

So, there are pros and cons to each operation mode and devotees of each have legitimate reasons.

Long answer:

A turret is a single stage with multiple die stations. That is the only operational difference. But that difference allows a turret to do either continuous operation or batch where a single stage is practical only for batch processing.

Single stages tend to be (but are not necessarily) stronger and stiffer. This is mostly because single stages' frames are usually of one casting where turrets are of at least two parts assembled, and they move, which pretty much requires some clearance. In practice, the difference is vanishingly small. But we still argue over it.

Like a single stage, a turret press does only one thing (operation, like size/deprime, belling case mouth, seat/crimp) at a time, but switching between those is nearly instantaneous. This makes continuous processing practical. (In contrast to progressive presses do multiple different steps simultaneously.)

Batch processing, you are familiar with. You can do your batches in 50 as I do or 20 or 100 or 1,000. But the operations are the same. (For pistol) Size/deprime and prime 50 rounds, then switch dies and bell and charge 50 rounds. Inspect the charges in a batch and switch dies. Seat and crimp 50 rounds. Batch is done. Move on to the next batch.

Continuous processing: Put the empty case in the press and do all the operations (size/deprime, bell/charge, seat/crimp) and remove the finished cartridge only when all the steps are done. This saves a lot of handling the cases (at least three insertion-removal cycles) and amounts to a lot of time saved.

If the press indexes the dies automatically, this saves a LOT of time. If you index the die stations manually, it is a little slower, but still much faster than batch processing.

Turret presses can do either batch processing (as a single stage) or continuous processing with equal facility.

Because many loaders of bottleneck (rifle) cartridges do manual operations or inspections in the middle of the loading process, they often choose to break up even the continuous process into smaller groupings of operations, making loading a hybrid of batch and continuous. Other loaders of such cartridges use the continuous process, but temporarily interrupt the process to pull each case from the press before continuing.

I suggest you view the many (almost too many) videos showing the operation of various presses.

Whatever method(s) is(are) you choose, if the production algorithm is well designed for the cartridge and your temperament it will work and is, by design, perfect for you and your production needs. So, you could use the press one way for pistol and another way for rifle. You don't have to do pure batch or continuous processing either. You can devise your own hybrid method, a combination of the two.

Lost Sheep

Last edited by Lost Sheep; July 5, 2014 at 06:55 PM.
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Old July 5, 2014, 04:05 PM   #13
Join Date: August 29, 2012
Location: Lassen County, California
Posts: 1,171
I like RCBS stuff, but I have almost all brands. Yes, carbide pistol dies are easier as they do not require lube to size, however they are so smooth with lube. No, 45 LC and 45/70 dies are not interchangeable. Do some research, read the stickies at the top of the thread. They have a lot of information. Everyone has an opinion, the equipment that you buy should reflect your needs, not mine or anyone else's. If you look in the for sale threads here, there are lots of used dies from time to time. Dies last a lifetime, usually. Lastly, if you buy a kit, you can load quality ammo that night, it will include everything that you need. But, you will want to get a tumbler to clean brass, and a trimmer for rifle brass. Other incidental items as you learn the ropes. Start out with full length dies, not neck dies.
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Old July 5, 2014, 04:15 PM   #14
Lost Sheep
Join Date: August 16, 2009
Location: Alaska
Posts: 2,144
Load formulas from the Web? CAUTION

Originally Posted by sigsmoker View Post
...of course a manual or I could probably use the internet for load specifics. I would for sure use THIS forum for that.
Manual, yes. Web? Not so much. Only if fully vetted.

It is WAY too easy to put a typo in a post and some handloaders actually do push the limits of the performance envelope (if not the limits of sanity). I would take a load formula from the web but would only use it after comparing it to similar loads taken from published loading manuals or formulas taken from web sites of reputable loading component manufacturers. Most of the powder manufacturers and bullet manufacturers publish loads on their web sites.

Be safe, always, all ways.

Lost Sheep
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Old July 5, 2014, 04:18 PM   #15
Join Date: September 17, 2007
Location: Eastern KS
Posts: 48,072
Reloading .25 ACP ain't much fun either.

You might want to rethink that.

(Unless you have tiny teeny hands?
To handle the tiny teeny cases & bullets. And the tiny teeny powder charges.)

That's the only caliber gun I have I don't reload for.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
Or all your primers in a glass jar!
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Old July 5, 2014, 04:21 PM   #16
Lost Sheep
Join Date: August 16, 2009
Location: Alaska
Posts: 2,144
I have compiled a few web sites that seem to have some good information (only some of which came from me).

Go get a large mug of whatever you sip when you read and think and visit these sites.

Sticky-contains much general information.
For the New Reloader: Thinking about Reloading; Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST - THR

Sticky-contains much general information.
For the New Reloader: Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST - The Firing Line Forums

"Newby needs help." (A typical new reloader thread). My posts are 11 and 13
Newby needs help. - The Firing Line Forums

"Just bought my first press. Needs some info tho." (A typical new reloader thread)
Just bought my first press. Needs some info tho. - THR

"I am looking at getting into reloading for the first time" (A typical new reloader thread)
I am looking at getting into reloading for the first time - THR

"Considering reloading" (A typical new reloader thread)
Considering reloading - The Firing Line Forums

"Interested in reloading" (A typical new reloader thread)
RugerForum.com ? View topic - Interested in reloading

"Best starter kit?"

Informed by my 2010 repopulation of my loading bench (If I knew in '75 what I know now)
Thoughts on The Lee Classic Turret Press

RugerForum.com ? View topic - Thoughts on The Lee Classic Turret Press

Use what type of scale? (poll)
Use what type of scale? - The Firing Line Forums

Good luck

Lost Sheep
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Old July 5, 2014, 04:25 PM   #17
Lost Sheep
Join Date: August 16, 2009
Location: Alaska
Posts: 2,144
To Kit of not to Kit? That is the question:

In one thought,

A kit will get you started quicker.

Assembling your own kit with choices you thought out carefully will teach you more.

Second thought:

A kit may be cheaper at first, but most kits have things you don't need and also have things you will want to upgrade later, creating waste and costing extra.

Thanks to W. Shakespeare

Lost Sheep
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Old July 5, 2014, 05:57 PM   #18
Join Date: August 29, 2012
Location: Lassen County, California
Posts: 1,171
Listen to what Lost Sheep and RC are saying. Don't use loads off a forum, only use published data. Yes, it can be confusing, come on back when you start to decipher load data. Pass on the 25 ACP, it will drive you crazy, maybe me and RC just have fat fingers, but it is a pain to load.
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Old July 5, 2014, 06:15 PM   #19
Join Date: January 12, 2012
Location: Utah
Posts: 883
Holy Cow! Lost Sheep is riding a brain wave today! You'd better listen to him, OP!

P.S. I wish I had gotten my turret sooner.
Question consensus.

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When judges steal themselves.”
Measure f. Measure, ii. 2.
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Old July 5, 2014, 06:19 PM   #20
Join Date: October 19, 2010
Location: East TN
Posts: 5,022
Originally Posted by witchhunter View Post
Pass on the 25 ACP, it will drive you crazy, maybe me and RC just have fat fingers, but it is a pain to load.
Well, yes 25 ACP is a challenge to reload but it is not that difficult. You have to work slower and with more care and the small powder charges can be a challenge to obtain.

25 ACP is definitely not a cartridge to start reloading on. Best to get some experience under your belt and leave 25 ACP for the future, if ever.
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Old July 5, 2014, 07:02 PM   #21
Join Date: September 21, 2010
Posts: 418
You're on the right site. I started loading five years ago and have gotten a lot of great advice here. This subforum is my main reason for visiting this site even though I enjoy them all.
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Old July 5, 2014, 08:00 PM   #22
Join Date: June 3, 2013
Posts: 292
Definitely get carbide dies for the straight walls and do start with them. Super easy to load for. A press, good digital scale, something to throw powder charges, calipers, a case tumbler, hand priming tool, dies and a ton of reading is all you need. I started on a progressive press (Hornady lnl) and it drove me nuts. At this point the priming assy has been removed and I so things in stages. IL first resize and decap, then tumble, then prime, then charge and seat the bullet. Less complication that way.

I do suggest the LNL system or some kind of bushing system for the dies as having to unscrew them every time seems like it would be a pain.
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Old July 6, 2014, 12:28 AM   #23
Join Date: January 2, 2008
Location: N. Central PA
Posts: 116
Holy Cow! You guys ... that's quite enough for now. phew ...
I can tell this will be a great forum section but I have learned a little already. Let this stuff settle in a bit.
I am going to read those Lost Sheep posts and those 25 ACP bullets were on the bottom of my list anyways.
I will pass on those for how often I shoot that cartridge. Before I drop down any money I will post an informed and hopefully intelligent comment on what I'd like to try using. I will most likely get into 44 mag and 45 long colt in the plan and add on from there.
Thanks but don't get too far ahead of me here. I am getting a bit overwhelmed already.
I obviously have some homework to do. I'll be back.
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Old July 6, 2014, 01:06 AM   #24
Join Date: February 12, 2011
Posts: 184
In my opinion, The Lee Classic Cast Turret press set up ( cast iron version) is the way to go these days. It is very popular press for good reason!
It works equally well as a single stage press or turret press.
I see no reason to start off with a single stage as some people suggest when this set up is the best of both worlds.

Get extra turrets ( about $10 ea.) for each die set, this way you can set them up once and your done. Lee's press mounted primer & powder disc set up complete the turret loading package.
Dies, Yes, spend a little extra and spring for Carbide dies.

I know several people who have started with this set up and love it.

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Old July 6, 2014, 01:23 AM   #25
Join Date: February 23, 2003
Location: NE Ohio
Posts: 576
Though I've not yet started loading I went through a similar situation with wanting to load .38/.357, 45LC/.454, .480 Ruger/.475 Linebaugh, 9mm and .223. The decision I made was to go with Lee's Classic Cast turret press with extra turrets for each die set. Though I have all the pieces I've not yet been able to commit the space and get set up to use my new gear.

The classic cast is long enough to load any of the cartridges on your list and it can can be used as a auto indexing turret press or easily converted to use as a single stage with the advantage of being able to set all dies up once and leave them set up on their own turret.

Do a bit of research on the classic cast turret, I think you'll be impressed.
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