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Best starter equipment

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by wolfe, Nov 16, 2009.

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  1. wolfe

    wolfe Member

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    I have thought about loading handgun rounds for a while now but don't know anyone that loads to get opinions on best equipment for a newbie.. I reload shotshells now but I know there is a HUGE difference as far as complexity and time.

    What type of press and dies are relieable and easy to start with..
     
  2. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    Welcome aboard!

    All the presses made today are wonderful. All the dies made today are wonderful. I'm not kidding. You'd have to look very hard to find any junk in this hobby anymore. Most of the "iffy" products dropped by the wayside years ago.

    Just like with automobiles, the differences in the price reflects the differences in the available features. And you generally get what you pay for. You may feel lucky not to have to walk to work, that is, you'd be "tickled pink" with a basic model. Basic models turn out great ammo. Or you may feel as if you positively have reached that point in life or career where you absolutely cannot do without heated seats and in-dash GPS. Nothing wrong with that. High end models turn out great ammo.

    So you need to tell us 1) how much total money you want to spend getting started, and 2) how much ammo you want per week. Having that info would narrow things down quite a lot.

    Having said that, allow me to point out that there are a lot of good used presses and starter kits for sale on CraigsList and Ebay. Most experienced reloaders would agree that novices should start slowly on a "single-stage" press, even if your goal was 1000 rounds per week. Be happy with a safe-to-shoot 200 rounds per week, while you hone your skills and study the hobby. Then work up to your higher goal after you understand what's going on. Ie, walk before you run.

    So why used? Because you have a good chance of finding someone who has everything who will sell the entire room full of equipment, powder, primers, library and all. Whereas, if you bought new, you'd have a choice of 4 or 5 good kits, none of which contain ALL the accessories you need to get you started.

    If you decide to buy new, then be sure and save back money for manuals, calipers, and dies.... not to mention powder, primers, and bullets.

    Whatever you end up with, you're going to really love this hobby.


    Hope this helps!
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2009
  3. falldowngoboom

    falldowngoboom Member

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  4. evan price

    evan price Member

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    IMHO, I tell everyone who is starting out to skip the single stage press and go right to the Lee Turret presses. You can use them like a single stage, and when you are comfortable you can set the auto index and start building some speed.

    FIRST THING to buy is a good reloading manual, such as the Lee book. There's a special deal out there that if you buy the Lee book it comes with a small press, free. It's a small press, but it is often quite useful for small chores.

    For a good press, I would say the Lee Classic Cast Turret press would be ideal for a beginner. It is a 4-hole turret so you can use the 4-die set if you so choose. It is strong and large enough for most rifle rounds as well as any handgun.

    Get the Lee Carbide Dies in the caliber you choose, with carbide dies, no need to lube the cases. The Lee dies come with the right size shell holder for the press.

    Also, buy a Turret Plate for each caliber so you can leave them setup and a caliber change will take like ten seconds.

    The Lee Auto Disk Pro powder measure works with the Lee dies and is a great piece of gear. It will automatically dispense the powder as the shell is in the expander die.

    You'll need a powder scale to confirm that you are throwing what you think you are throwing in terms of powder weight.

    You'll need an inexpensive dial caliper (Harbor Freight for less than $10) to measure OAL and bullet/case diameters.

    The Safety Prime set works on the press to install primers.

    Pick up a Bullet Puller hammer so that in case there is a mistake it can be dealt with quickly and safely.

    Start saving things like coffee cans, peanut butter jars, etc. because they are great to store bullets, brass cases, etc in.

    A brass tumbler and a media separator is nice to have, because clean brass reloads better. Also a few 3-5 gallon buckets to keep media and stuff in is nice, too.
     
  5. jfh

    jfh Member

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    Since you are talking about handgun reloading,

    I prefer to follow the advice set out by evan. It seems to me there is a branch in the gear-purchase flowchart of decision making early on. I see that branch as

    If one is planning to do handgun cartridge reloading then
    consider / purchase a Lee Turret Press, else​
    review needs for other / rifle cartridge reloading.​

    There is no doubt all of us agree on the need for novice reloaders to learn the fundamentals one-step-at-a-time; hence the advice to work on one stage to learn the techniques for it. There are nominally seven steps or so to the metallic-cartridge reloading cycle; BUT the single-step workflow so valuable for learning does little to provide the volume of cartridges a handgunner shoots. As a shotgunner, you can appreciate that, I'm sure. As a consequence, many of us use and recommend the Lee Turret presses which can be used as a single-stage press at first, while learning the workflow, but then work as a "semi-progressive" with the auto indexing feature to boost production.

    Lee products have the advantage of being cheap, compared to other brands--but not necessarily poorly made. So, it's an ideal way to start out, IMO.

    Beyond that advice--most of us get tangled up in all other personal, more subjective issues, such as "quality"-"hobby"-"accurate"-"savings"-and-on-and-on. There's nothing wrong with those subjective 'influences' to the decision; they may even be more important than the press type. But, for the cheapest path into handgun reloading that will meet most needs, I'd look at the Lee Turret Press kits and the related items needed.

    In addition to the Cabela's source, consider Graf & Sons or the Kempf Gun Shop--or MidSouth, or Midway, or ....there are numerous online sellers; google is your friend.

    Jim H.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2009
  6. twice barrel

    twice barrel Member

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    Wolfe,

    All of the above posts are right on. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say that for anyone starting out; the Lee Classic Turret press accompanied with the Lee Safety Prime and Lee Pro Auto-Disc & riser, and the Lee 4-die set in the caliber you wish to load......is THE BEST DEAL.

    Just purchased these myself because that is what I truly believe. The degree of function, quality, and price these provide is not matched by anyone else just now.

    To be clear, these are not the highest quality I've seen, used, or owned but the difference isn't much and the utility is tops.

    A good magnetic dampened beam scale is a long-term investment in my opinion. I prefer one with a metal base and wish I had my old RCBS 5-10 but the little Hornady I picked up used is pretty good. I haven't seen the Lee scale myself so I cannot say how it stacks up. I do know that more expensive does not always equal better.

    Of the loading manuals I've used I liked the Hornady best. You don't need a bunch of them but you do need to truly read the one(s) you get and soak it all in. With your shotshell loading experience it will be a breeze.

    Regards,

    TB
     
  7. wolfe

    wolfe Member

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    Saw This on Midway

    I'll check craiglist in my area.

    Good info.. Sounds like Lee might be the way for me to go.

    To answer a few questions. I don't have a real target to the number I want to load a week. Just interested in the activity and might shoot a little more if I didn't have to fork out the $$ for a box of 50...

    I have several hands guns but don't shoot them much. Most likely start off loading 9mm

    .380 Walther PPK
    9mm Glock and Beretta 92FS
    .357 Magnum Colt Python
    .44 Magnum Colt Anaconda
    S & W .500
    S & W .38 special
    .45 ACP Colt 1911
    .45 LC Ruger Vaquero
    and a S&W Model 41 that I realize I can't reload.. :)
     
  8. jfh

    jfh Member

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    What you linked to, wolfe, is the single-stage press kit that is much more suitable for rifle reloading, rather than handgun.

    Probably the most buyer-friendly seller of the Lee Classic Turret press is Kempf's. Here is a link to their page with that press set up in "kits."

    If costs are a big issue, then look for the used gear or consider the older Lee 'standard' turret kit. I don't follow craigslist, but I understand that many lists are monitored by antigun zealots to prevent even reloading gear from being listed. e-bay, of course, has some listings, but look out for paying more than you need to in their auction as well as the shipping costs for e-bay sales. Here is the link to THR's reloading sales forum.

    Lest we get ahead of your questions, I will mention that of the handguns you own, the easiest cartridge to load for is the .45ACP for your 1911. In Revolvers, it would arguably be the 38 Special. The .45ACP is a low-pressure round, with a large case to handle. That alone makes it a bit easier to deal with than a 9mmP case.

    Other questions, observations, just fire away--

    Jim H.
     
  9. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

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    "... opinions on best equipment for a newbie.. "

    Fact is, all current equipment is very good, for both newbie or experienced and "normal" needs. The devoted enthusiest will need something that punches out a lot in a short time.

    So, as suggested above, perlhaps the better question is what volume do you anticipate? Less than maybe 200 rounds a month? Single stage press. Maybe 200-500 rounds a month, get a Lee Classic Turret. More than 500 rounds a month, go for one of the progressives.

    Or, get the single stage and learn to do it right before moving on to whatever higher volume press you may choose. The single stage press will still be useful for special tasks so it would not be a waste. Perhaps the best single stage of the conventional types today is the Lee Classic Cast, it is strong enough to do any rifle loading or case reforming you may ever need do. And the price is RIGHT!
     
  10. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    A consideration that may mean much to some and little to others is that LEE is not only an excellent product at a fair price, but its also made right here in the U.S.A.
     
  11. gearheadpyro

    gearheadpyro Member

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    +1 to all above.
    The best starting press for moderate volume handgun shooters is the lee turrets, classic preferred. Pick that up, some lee dies, a lee powder measure etc...
    The lee safety scale will work, it is accurate. However, it is difficult to read and a pain to zero. You would do well to either start out with or plan to replace soon with a better scale.
     
  12. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    +1

    The Lee Turret Press is a much better way to go for a cost conscious handgun reloader. It will speed production of ammo, still handle rifle should you need, and the accessories and dies can move with you should you decide to get another press, in say, 5 years.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2009
  13. RVenick

    RVenick Member

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    I may get blasted for this but, I started with the Lee Pro 1000. At first I only did one round thru each stage but within a day or two I was loading progressively. The Pro 1000 has its quirks but once you understand them you can turn out a lot of good ammo I average about 175-200 rounds pre hour. About 2 weeks ago I bought the Lee Breech lock kit that wolfe linked to above as I wanted to start loading 35 Remington for my 336C. I am quite please with that kit also.
     
  14. Kraylon

    Kraylon Member

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    I have a lee challanger single stage press listed on eBay right now that I used for less then a year.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/used-Lee-Challa...aultDomain_0?hash=item3ca781d15a#ht_500wt_948

    I also have 12 lee breech locks for this press listed on eBay

    http://cgi.ebay.com/12-Lee-Breech-L...aultDomain_0?hash=item3ca781f2b5#ht_500wt_948

    I will gladly give you or any one on here that wins the auction of uses buy it now free shipping. Just shoot me a pm or an email letting me know what your high road user name is after the auction ends and I'll take care of the shipping.
     
  15. atblis

    atblis Member

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    You might consider going with a progressive from the get go. But if you're just wanting to get a taste, the Lee kit will do that.
     
  16. Joemyxplyx

    Joemyxplyx Member

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    +1 for the Lee Classic Turret

    I started with the 4 hole Classic Turret and I'm glad I did. I learned to reload on the turret. I now have a single stage press and a full fledged progressive (LnL) press.

    The primary reason for starting with the turret is immediate gratification. Four pulls of the handle results in a loaded round. I can load completed rounds on the turret until I load what I need or until I get tired of reloading for the evening.

    With the single stage, you have to load a batch - say 50 - for each stage of the process. It goes like this: size and prime 50, powder charge 50, seat bullets in 50. If you get tired after powder charging 35 or so, you still have to complete the process or leave a block of cases partially done - a constant source of mischief and danger. Single stage presses have their places but I don't think it is for loading 2-300 pistol rounds for shooting tomorrow. Single stage loading for a pistol is a task for the obsessively compulsive. :)

    Progressive loaders are for people who have gotten good with the turret don't want to do 4 strokes for a completed round anymore. Progressives are 1 stroke = 1 round.

    Since the Classic Turret is about the same price as most other single stage presses, I think the turret decision is a no-brainer.
     
  17. Shoney

    Shoney Member

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  18. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I started on a single stage, went to a Lee Turret, then a full blown progressive.

    The Lee Classic Cast Turret press kits are by far the best bang for the buck getting started.
     
  19. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    Another happy Lee classic turret press owner. I have been loading on mine for over three years. I load 9mm, 38 spcl, 45 auto and 223. It's a good beginner press. Very easy to set up and use.
     
  20. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    I use 2 single stage presses side by side, one the small Lee reloader "C" press the other the Lee Classic "0" Cast press. With that said I highly recommend the Lee Turret press, have 2 of them and used to use them. Went back to using single stage just because its how I like to do it, and I enjoy doing reloading this way. Been doing it this way for the last 8/10 years.

    Either way is a good way to start out.
     
  21. brisendines

    brisendines Member

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    I got the Square Deal B from Dillon- pricey, but it sure is nice! I about pooped myself when I tried to load with a single stage rock chucker.
     
  22. warnerwh

    warnerwh Member

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    I also use 2 single stage presses. You can really speed things up if you use the Lee Safety Prime and Auto powder disk. For the Safety Prime you must use a Lee Press with holes already tapped.

    I'll suggest the single stage start also. You want to have some practice so you know well what is going on. If money is an object the Lee Challenger is a decent press and will do all you need.

    I'd never owned Lee stuff (except dies) I but am very pleased with both the Classic Cast and a used Challenger that cost 25 bucks. I enjoy reloading this way better than years ago when I had a Dillon 650 but I got married.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2009
  23. lgbloader

    lgbloader Member

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    While I agree that single stage presses have their place, here is some food for thought:

    If I don't have the required amount of time or my mind set is that I have "other things on my mind", I stay the hell away from assembling finished ammo. It's that simple. I can do other things such as brass work, priming brass with the hand primer, etc. but to actually assemble finished cartridges (powder charge and seat bullets) I have to be right upstairs and have enough time.

    I agree,

    LGB
     
  24. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Agreed. If you don't have the time or the focus to engage in it from start to finish, don't start until you do.
     
  25. Joemyxplyx

    Joemyxplyx Member

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    What I meant to say was it's easier to stop reloading at any time using a turret than using a batch process.

    I usually set aside more than enough time to load my goal quantity, usually 400 rounds. However, in the last few weeks I find my shoulder or hand starts hurting part way through the process. My joints are protesting Ohio winters more and more each year. With a turret or progressive, I can stop loading pretty quickly. With a single stage batch process, I would have to finish the batch before I could quit. I think leaving a block of cases where only some of them are charged is just inviting trouble.

    With a press that takes a case from start to finish for each round, pausing or quitting for whatever reason is a lot simpler process than with a single stage press. And on the other hand, if I feel good - maybe in a flow state with a good rhythm going - I will load another 2-400 rounds. I find it easier to start and stop with a turret or progressive. A batch loading process makes me feel controlled by the process rather than the other way around.

    OTOH, a single stage is just right for decapping and resizing rile brass. Although I'm hoping the RCBS X-Dies will let me load rifle brass on the LnL AP.
     
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