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Getting started reloading?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Hellbore, Mar 25, 2005.

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  1. Hellbore

    Hellbore Member

    Nov 24, 2003
    I would like to get into handloading but it seems so overwhelming... So much to learn, so much equipment to buy.

    Any suggestions as to where I should start? I know nothing about handloading right now. Where would I start down that road?

    I would be wanting to handload .44 magnum, 30-06, and if possible, .40 S&W. Those are the calibers I shoot now or plan on shooting. Actually I also shoot 9mm but it's not super important to me handloading because bullets are DAMN cheap for 9mm parabellum.
  2. Larry Ashcraft

    Larry Ashcraft Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Home of Heroes, Pueblo, CO, USA
    First step is to buy a good reloading manual and read the instructions. The Nosler is good, so is the new Hornady. Plan on spending $30-$50 for the manual (the Hornady is two books).
  3. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

    Dec 30, 2002
    Deep in the Ozarks
    I'd start with a Lee Hand Press kit. The kit with everything you need, including dies (and Lee dies come with a powder dipper and charge data.) All you need then is components, brass, bullets, powder and primers.

    I'd order it for the .30-06 and add a set of carbide dies for your .44 Magnum

    The kit will run about $50-75, and when you grow out of it, you can take it to the range and use it in working up loads at the firing line.
  4. Pocomoke

    Pocomoke Member

    Jul 22, 2004

    I'm new as well. I found the The National Reloading Manufacturers Association site http://www.reload-nrma.com/ helpful. They have a virtual reload tour a the bottom of the page. They also offer a video, but delivery time was about 12 weeks.

    I looked through several reloading manuals before settling on the Lyman and Lee manuals for my beginning efforts as they seemed more broader in bullet selections. I've found that all of them are missing something particular but powder and bullet mfrs web sites will give you load data for such.

    Check MidWay USA for the prices of Lee starter kits and others. I'm using the Lee Challenger for my first efforts with .45 Long Colt loads. As with all aspects of this sport you will upgrade along the way. Good Luck.
  5. waktasz

    waktasz Member

    Oct 30, 2003
    SE PA
    It is overwelming, I'm starting out too. Actually I just, 2 days ago, loaded my first 200 rounds.

    The best advice I could possibly give is to find a friend somehow that has a press and have him show you through it. It's not hard but seeing someone do it first, makes it so so easy.

    I'm saving for a Dillon 550 btw for my first press.
  6. gazpacho

    gazpacho Member

    May 28, 2004
    The ABCs of Reloading

    This book is an invaluable place to start. Borders Bookstores usually carry a copy of this.
  7. sfhogman

    sfhogman Member

    May 15, 2004
    San Francisco Ca
    The NRA has an excellent intro book on reloading. When I started, I also found the Speer manual #13 very helpful.

  8. armoredman

    armoredman Member

    Nov 19, 2003
    proud to be in AZ
    Hellbore, PM sent.
  9. petrel800

    petrel800 Member

    Aug 27, 2004
    I started with the Lee Aniversary Kit. Everything you need except dies. Keeps the cost down and makes effective rounds.
  10. RobW

    RobW Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Henderson, NV
    I started with the book "The ABC's of Reloading" and "Metallic Cartridge Reloading". They tell you what you need and what to skip.

    As I shoot multiple calibers, I decided to get a turret press. Being nothing like rich or even wealthy I bought the LEE turret press and several turrets, so I can just change the turret with the dies for another caliber (the LEE dies come in cylindrical blastic boxes that are able to store the turret-mounted dies!

    For a beginner, LEE is pricewise unbeatable, and I didn't have any problem with it since 4 years.

    There is an inofficial LEE site at


    Good advice about LEE stuff.
  11. Rico567

    Rico567 Member

    Feb 10, 2004
    As "Larry Ashcraft" and others have recommended, buy a commerical reloading manual- I'm partial to the Speer #13, but I think any of the others mentioned here will do the job. Then, when you think you understand the instructional part of the manual, think about what you want to reload, and how much. I think, based upon my own experience, you won't go far wrong starting off with the Lee equipment. Whatever you do, though, don't get caught up in some of the arguments that go on in these forums over which type of reloading equipment is superior. They will ALL do the job; judging which is best for your purposes is likely to come only after you have some experience.
  12. shoot870p

    shoot870p Member

    Nov 27, 2004
    not a professional but with that said, I do use Lee equipment due to the lower cost. I do not reload much so single stage press is fine for me.
  13. Mannlicher

    Mannlicher Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    North Central Florida and Miami Florida
    I started a long time back, with a Rockchucker Press from RCBS. That is still my only press. I have loading equipment by several vendors though. Most of my dies are RCBS.
    I use a variety of loading manuals, but I like the Speer ones best. As was mentioned, the Gunpowder folks, bullet folks, and other suppliers of reloading gear provide manuals also. There are many online.
    Good luck. Remember to err on the side of safety.
  14. SemperFi83

    SemperFi83 Member

    Jan 9, 2003
    Columbus, Ohio
    I started at the library with every book I could find. Then talked to the older guys at the range who had a lot of experience.
  15. Roadkill

    Roadkill Member

    Jun 23, 2003
    Beware of compulsive reloading disorder.

  16. Carlos

    Carlos Member

    Jan 10, 2003
    Portland, Oregon
    I'd go with the Lee Anniversary Kit and some dies. Their second generation book is excellent, and you'll get into the hobby safely and efficiently.

    Then, go to the handloading forum of this board.

    It's addicting.

  17. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Idahohoho, the jolliest state
  18. P0832177

    P0832177 member

    Jun 8, 2003
    Knowledge is power! You have to invest in yourself first!

    Read the ABC's of Reloading.

    • Read the ABC's of Reloading or AKA Reloading For Dummies is worth repeating
    • Buy a couple of good reloading Manuals - My Choice Lyman and Sierra
    • Find a knowledgeable reloader for hands on help
    • See if your vendor of choice has time to help you
    • Check out your local Adult Education Program for possible reloading courses
    • When buying reloading equipment buy the best you can! Lee is entry level and does not provide good customer service unlike Dillon Redding RCBS Lyman so the old saying with respect to buying equipment Buy Once and Cry Once
    • http://www.reload-nrma.com/

    From Midway USA Reloading Equipment Shopping List
    Recommended Products for the Beginning Reloader
    (Rifle & Pistol)

    Reloading Manual: Accurate Arms, A-Square, Barnes, Hodgdon, Hornady, Lapua, Lee, Lyman, Nosler, Sierra, SPG, Speer and Vihtavouri.
    Press: Single Stage, Turret or Progressive
    Shell holders (if the die set doesn't have them)
    MidwayUSA 1292 Tumbler: Media, Polish, Sifter, Bucket and Clear Lid
    MidwayUSA Loading Block (caliber specific)
    MidwayUSA Case Lube (you won't need if using carbide dies)
    Case Neck Brush
    Dial Calipers: Stainless Steel or Electronic
    Case Trimmer
    MidwayUSA Deburring Tool
    Primer Pocket Cleaner
    Primer Tray
    Priming Tool (if the press doesn't come with a primer attachment)
    Powder Scale
    Powder Funnel
    Powder Trickler
    Powder Measure (nice for faster powder charges)
    MidwayUSA Bullet Puller
    MidwayUSA CB/Plastic Ammo boxes and labels
    Components: MidwayUSA sells everything you need to reload, except powder and primers. You can buy powder and primers at your local gun shop.
  19. only1asterisk

    only1asterisk member

    Jun 13, 2003
    Start by reading everything you can get your hands on. In addition to the above books, the Sierra manual has good info for getting started.

    Press: Single Stage
    Shell holders
    Case Lube
    Scale (The best you can afford)
    Dial Calipers (The best you can afford)
    Deburring Tool
    Priming Tool (even if the press has a priming attachment)
    Powder Funnel
    Powder Trickler
    Powder Measure (nice for faster powder charges)
    Case Trimmer

  20. neoncowboy

    neoncowboy Member

    Jul 11, 2004
    land of cotton
    I'm brand new too! It works!

    I just turned out my first 25 rds or so of .45ACP, since that's all I shoot, it's all I'm set up to reload.

    I haven't shot any of it yet. The rds I was confident in went in my ammo box, the ones that were too short, not primed, not definitely charged, etc, went in a baggie for recycling.

    I bought a Lee Pro 1000 with .45ACP dies. I also bought a bunch of stuff from Midway and from shooters at my IPSC club. Buying stuff is fun, but I can caution you to go ahead and read some reloading manuals before buying stuff. Otherwise, it's real easy to spend money on stuff you don't need.

    Once I had my press, tools (calipers, scales, case gage, etc) and components, I built a sturdy workbench and mounted the press. One more thing I learned from doing: it's important that the press work area be CLEAN, well lit and somewhere you won't be bothered all the time.

    To get all the dies adjusted was really just fairly simple trial and error. I sat with my Lee Reloading Manual at the press and followed the directions, adjusting each die according to the directions. It was pretty easy. The only step that was challenging was bullet seating/crimping. With my dies, seating and crimping is one operation. Getting the crimp just right took me maybe 6-9 rds.

    I'm pretty new at this, but I would like to tip my hat to the engineering genious of the Lee engineers. The hardware and the manual for it are both simply fantastic! It was affordable, but it's really well made and very well designed. I'm very impressed with the Lee equipment.
  21. HKGuns

    HKGuns Member

    Aug 29, 2004
    Bora Bora
    Its not hard....it just takes some time to learn what you are doing. You need to read some manuals and read some these forum posts.

    I started with shotgun and its a bit easier, but totally different. Shotshell reloading taught me the dangers and taught me to be careful. I just finished up my first few hundered rounds of 9mm and .45. They turned out great, I can't wait to get to the range to try them out.

    .45 and 9mm actually worked out really well for me, as I can use the same (700X) powder I use for trap and skeet 12ga loads. I have a 12 pound keg of the stuff that will last a long time using 3 grains for 9mm and 4 grains for .45. As a comparison, one of my favorite skeet loads uses 17.5 grains of 700X.

    Anyway, don't be afraid of it.....look at it as something you can learn and view it as a challenge. I used the same approach for handloading, guitars and photography.

    I'm a decent guitar player.....a decent photographer.........and a decent shot. I'll never win any awards for any of them, but I have fun and am competent.
  22. Matthew748

    Matthew748 Member

    Mar 26, 2005
    I am a new member here but have been reloading for a while. Although a reloading mentor is a great thing to have, do not neglect reading and understanding all of the documentation that is provided by the manufacturer.

    When I first got started, my father helped me adjust my dies for the first time. The only problem was he adjusted them so they would only resize the neck portion of the case. Since I was loading for a gas operated auto loader (an M1A), this was not the best idea. Carefully reading the instructions that came with the dies saved the day.

    For loading data I really like the guides put out by Lyman. For finding deals on equipment and components, I like gun shows. It can take a lot of searching, but you can find some real treasures at gun shows. Just last weekend I bought a brand new, boxed Redding Ultramag press for $ 95.00 from a guy that was liquidating his inventory of reloading equipment.
  23. jamz

    jamz Member

    Nov 28, 2003
    Seacoast NH
    I started reloading a month or so ago, thanks to the good people here. In fact, I celebrated my first 1000 primers gone through, and my first box of 1000 bullets! :D

    All good advice here. Figure out what you want to do, what you can afford, and go from there.

    I'd also maybe advise focusing on one caliber 'till you are comfortable with the process and then going to others.

    I dove right in, figuring that I would be reloading for the rest of my shooting life, so getting expensive equipment would amortize out eventually, so I got a dillon RL550.

    I'd read the books, buy the correct bullet, primer and powder, (from the books), and load up 10-20 cases, triple checking your primer seating, powder measurements, case length, and shooting 'em up.


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