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Getting started, what equipment do I need?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Guvnor, Jun 10, 2020.

  1. TfflHndn

    TfflHndn Member

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    I have also never trimmed .38 or .32 cases, for what it's worth. A tumbler and corncob media works to clean your empties. Start saving your used dryer sheets and throw one in with each batch of dirty brass to pick up some of the dirt and keep the static down. The lee balance scale is okay, but I use an electronic scale and double check with the balance scale. When they both agree I'm good to go. For .38 specials I like Bullseye, Red Dot, Green Dot, WST and HP38 powders. I use the Lee manual more than any other, but it's followed closely by Hornady and Lyman. I personally think the Lee factory crimp die is indispensable for my reloading of .38 and .45, less so for some other calibers. I don't clean primer pockets. You should think about a bullet puller; the impact type is inexpensive and when you need it, you really need it. I also have the GripNPull puller, but it doesn't work with wadcutters and some other bullets when there is very little straight shank extending from the case. Otherwise, it's great. When you get a caliper, make sure it measures to three places after the decimal. I made the mistake of going to Harbor Freight and the one they had only went two places. You need to be able to measure thousandths of an inch if you want good quality and consistent ammo. Good luck and be safe.
     
  2. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Dial or digital calipers....if all you want is the the nearest .002/.003, and that is OK for a lot of things if it is repeatable, then cheap works. If you expect better, at least buy some standards or gauge blocks or pin gauges to check them at various diameters, and then to keep an eye on them.

    I have had Mitutoyo & Brown & Sharp dial calibers and micrometers for decades, and cheap digital calipers for a long time, but after my good cheap caliper died and subsequent cheap ones failed to measure up, I finally bought a pair of Mitutoyo digital calipers. I should have done it a lot sooner.

    .32 Long & .38 Spl
    Light Taper Crimp on a .32 Long WC - Berrys 83 Gr HBWC - Pic 1.JPG
    Light Taper Crimp on a Berry's 148 Gr HBWC In .38 Spl - Pic 1.JPG
     
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  3. Spare Parts

    Spare Parts Member

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    All my reloads go into a case gauge. Before using a case gauge, I had one 5.56 round jam into the chamber and it wouldn't come out. Had to buy a new barrel. Since using the gauge, no FTEs. I hate FTEs.

    For pistol, I use the EGWguns.com 7-hole gauge in .40S&W and 9mm. There's one for .38 Super, didn't see one for .32.
     
  4. Dudedog
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    Dudedog Contributing Member

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    In a revolver you are kind of using the cylinder for a gauge (at least for that gun)
    Ammo does not get "slammed" in like in a auto loader.
    If they slide in to the cylinder they gauge...(for that gun at least)
    If you have to try to force them in something is wrong.

    Not saying case gauges are not nice (I own a couple)to have but I could load for one revolver without one and never miss having one. YMMV
     
  5. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    If you still have the barrel, you should try the grease gun trick to get it out. Easy safe and gets your barrel back.
     
  6. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    There is a nugget here that many overlook. Having a standard for your measuring devices is a very smart choice and adds a level of safety and quality assurance. A set of verified weights for your scale cost a little more but is also a wise investment
     
  7. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    I have two check weights for my scale. It's like the man with a watch who knows what time it is, and the man with two who can never be sure.
     
  8. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    Hodgdon Universal is a very good powder that mimics Alliant Unique, but meters better through a powder measure and is cleaner burning. It and Unique also suitable for quite a few standard velocity handgun cartridges, ranging from .32 S&W to .45 ACP and .45 Colt.

    Bullseye is a very good powder for .32 S&W and .38 Special and 9 mm.

    I would grab a copy of the Lyman reloading manual as well.
     
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  9. mdi

    mdi Member

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    K.I.S.S.! Reloading is not overly complicated, but must be done with care. Don't overthink the process...

    I'm thinking an info overload. Your list can do without the case trimmer and lock stud (for over 35 years I have not trimmed handgun cases) chamfer tool, primer pocket cleaner, and the size lube, but perhaps you could add a couple more breech lock bushings. For reloading the 38 Special, use revolver bullets and seat to the crimp groove or cannalure and disregard manual OAL, and for now you won't need dial calipers. The Lee Safety Scale is a very accurate and repeatable scale, just some folks can't/won't learn how to read a vernier poise and it may be a bit slower than heavily dampened scales. My first scale was a Lee and after 35+ years I still have one and use it occasionally.

    But before you go any farther I suggest a copy of The ABCs of Reloading. Read it, study it. It has all the "How To" info to get started, along with a lot of "Why". Equipment is explained for both rifle and handgun reloading, and a bit on shot shell reloading. Components are explained (powder, primers, bullets and brass) and even some info on casting.

    One thing I share with all new reloaders is my Rule #1; I pay very little attention (none) to any load data I see on any forum or pet loads website, or hear from any range rat, gun counter clerk, well intended friend, or gun shop guru. About 98% of the data I use comes from published reloading manuals and a few from powder manufacturer/distributor's websites. I read opinions on what powders some use, but the charge data comes from my manuals and I keep a log of every load for future referral. For a first manual I'd suggest a Lyman 50th, followed by a manual from the manufacture of the bullets you choose (I have several current manuals that I use ; Lyman 50th, Hornady 10th. Speer 12th (?), Nosler, Alliant , Hodgdon and a Lee (the Lee manual has an interesting/entertaining front part but the load data is sketchy and lacking. It is the last one I use).

    Go slow. Double check everything. Most important, have fun...
     
  10. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    I learned to use a vernier caliper in a training course many years ago. Then, I went out and bought a Starrett dial caliper because the vernier was a PITA. I never regretted it.

    A good Lyman or RCBS beam scale will give you the equivalent of a dial caliper, as well as agate bearings and magnetic dampening, and it won't break the bank.

    DO buy the Lyman Reloading manual.
     
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  11. mdi

    mdi Member

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    I learned to read a vernier scale 56 years ago in High School. Yep, you need good eyes and it takes practice and there are more accurate tools available today. In reference to the Lee scale the vernier type scale on the poise, it is often cited as why Lee scales are junk, but it is, 99% of the time, just because some can't learn to read the scale. (all you have to do is line up lines!). I have 5 scales (I can't pass up a deal) from a Redding #1 oil dampened scale to my to a Lee Safety Scale to my daily used RCBS 5-10. All work quite well, all are accurate, but all are not especially easy to use.
     
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  12. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    I am a manual kind of guy almost always. A digital scale is the only way to go imo. Now they are more expensive and I will spend more now on this piece of gear. I see a lot of buy once cry once, this is where I believe it matters.
     
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  13. sbwaters
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    sbwaters Contributing Member

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    A spiral bound notebook to record each new load and record the results of bench-testing each one. You'll need to go back to find the best ones because, well, you get old and forget.
     
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  14. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    I think that the reason why only Lee bothers to produce a quirky little scale like this is cost.
    Frankly, while these Challenger kits are cheap, they are just the first step to experience the hobby. An entry level experiment.
    Most people will quickly upgrade to a better scale, a better powder measure, and a better press, and some will abandon the hobby entirely.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
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  15. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    So why bother with an inferior tool just to save a few bucks?
     
  16. kmw1954

    kmw1954 Member

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    another useless opinion here. For the last 25 years of my working life I have used scales from beam grain scales to floor mounted freight scales and from my experience if I was weighing critical weights like gun powder or expensive fine metals I would not be doing it with an electronic scale unless that was a verified and certified scale, which are normally out of the price range of the average reloader.

    We had a FTC certified scale company come in and check/calibrate our scales once every month.
     
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  17. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    I only own one set of Lee dies. A .357 magnum carbide set.
    They work fine, but have some soft aluminum parts and rubber "O" rings rather than hardened all-steel parts and proper locking rings with screws.
    A lot of people like them for the cost factor, but my RCBS and Lyman dies are a whole lot better.
     
  18. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    That was to prevent cheating. Anyone can check and calibrate their own scale with a check weight. The only reason it takes the FTC to do it is so the seller doesn't use a heavy weight or the buyer a light one.
     
  19. mdi

    mdi Member

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    It's not an inferior tool, just an inferior user. I'm not defending Lee Safety Scales, but am explaining that it isn't the junk some say it is. (and I don't buy my reloading tools because they are cheap). I once weighed apiece of paper towel smaller than a postage stamp on my Lee scale. While I don't remember what it weighed, the scale did give me a weight. I don't believe any scale normally used for reloading is laboratory accurate, and there is no need to be. But, consistency is a must. The two Lee scales I used, one in 1971-1976 and the one I own now, are as repeatable, weight for weight as any reloading scale on the market...

    The biggest "problem" with Lee products is the user. Ignorance, laziness and "tool snobbery" are the most common reason for complaints. I have used hand and power tools, precision measuring tools and equipment most of my working life (60 years) and I have next to zero problems with Lee tools. Because I know how to use tools as they are designed? Because I know how to read directions? Or because I am naturally mechanically inclined? Dunno, but I have had no more problems using Lee equipment than my RCBS, Hornady, Lyman or Redding tools...

    I'm done with this thread...
     
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  20. Skgreen

    Skgreen Member

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    Not much to add other than:
    It's certainly not rocket science. Take your time - have fun - be safe. If ya get flustered, walk away / come back later. (Goes w/o saying this place is FULL of folks who are willing to help!!)
    Calipers - I prefer dial to digital, (Have both) IMHO, there's no reason to invest more than $25 - $30 in this stage of your game.
    LRN should be (and will be) easy enough, but until you get your wheels under ya, you may consider starting with some value-orientated plated projectiles. (Xtreme, Speer TMJ, etc)

    Hope you like your new hobby! (I'm to the point where I think I enjoy reloading more than shooting!)
     
  21. kmw1954

    kmw1954 Member

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    NO, it's to prevent getting sued.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
  22. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    They may be accurate enough but they are annoying to use.
    Why bother with an el-cheapo kit scale that most people dislike when you can buy an RCBS or Lyman scale that is the standard, and that most reloaders do like? It isn't like they cost that much.

    I use quite a few Lee tools like their new hand primer (I chose it over the others), their case trimming hand tools, Lee Loaders (5), and a set of .357 dies. All very good products.
    I also heartily recommend their cast iron press and some of their powder measures.
    Most people aren't stupid, ignorant, lazy, or snobs, and they certainly can read directions.
    And I don't think that you will win hearts and minds by defaming them while proclaiming your technical superiority.
    Most people just realize that there are better options easily available than this scale and move on.


    Since we are playing the age and experience cards, I should point out that I am in my mid 60s and worked as a repair technician all of my working life, using all kinds of tools as well. I have more than a few technical skills.
     
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  23. kmw1954

    kmw1954 Member

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    Annoying does not equate to unusable. I find many thinks annoying yet they are still quite usable. I find sleeping in a tent annoying and at times unbearable yet I still own three different ones and still use them.

    As a matter of fact I find the constant disparaging comments regarding Lee products every time the name gets mentioned quite annoying. Funny thing is that the Lee stuff is still selling enough to make them one of the larger manufacturers and sellers of reloading tool. So someone is buying the stuff and I don't believe it's all first time buyers!
     
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  24. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    I would rather sleep indoors, given the choice.
    I would also rather use my Lyman scale any day of the week.
     
  25. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    As I stated in my previous posts, I own and use some of there products quite happily.
    But, just because I like many of their products doesn't mean that I like all of their products.
    Sales often simply reflects cost, and cheaper wins out.
     
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