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I am looking at getting into reloading for the first time

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by jrdolall, May 12, 2012.

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  1. jrdolall

    jrdolall Member

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    and I know there will be a million opinions about what is best. I have never reloaded any ammo so I will be starting from scratch and want to reload a few different rounds. I have read some posts on here and will definitely pick up a couple of books before I buy any equipment.
    What type of equipment will I need to get started? I would like to reload 9mm and 30-06 for sure since that is what I shoot the most, besides .22. Probably .38 and 357 down the road.

    I will probably lean towards a more inexpensive item to get started rather than buying top of the line stuff. I can afford virtually anything but it is just my nature to start off slow and then move to better equipment later. I call it frugal and my wife calls it cheap. I do it with guns, fishing rods, tractors, and lawn mowers but NEVER with toilet paper.
     
  2. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

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    Lots of equipment options, but first decide what cartridge on which to cut your reloading teeth. It is commonly recommended to start with a straight-walled, low pressure revolver cartridge such as .38SPL.

    The .38SPL is pretty straightforward and reasonably forgiving of the kinds of errors (except gross errors in powder charge like double-charges and no-charges) new reloaders tend to make.
     
  3. Tex4426

    Tex4426 Member

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    For fast loading in high quantities a dillon progressive reloader....for precision loading a single stage ...with digital scale to measure powder
     
  4. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    1. Read the books. Check you local library.

    2. Read the "stickies" at the top of this forum.

    3. You probably want to start on something very basic like a single stage. I'd suggest a used one because a) presses don't wear out, b) you'll save money, c) you'll meet someone who can help you locally, and d) you're likely to get a lot more accessories thrown in. Check local gun stores, ranges and clubs for bulletin board posts. The local CraigsList is also a good place.

    4) Start picking up all the brass you see. You can't reload without brass. Recycling brass is where all the savings come from.

    That will get you going.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2012
  5. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Lee is the best bang for the buck, RCBS is hard to beat, but no one makes junk. I have dies etc from just about every maker.

    Buy the minimum you need to get started, and go from there..
     
  6. Josh45

    Josh45 Member

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    I have to suggest a Single Stage or a Turret.
    The single stage is great for rifle and I use it for my 30-06 cases while my father uses his for .308 and 30-30 rounds. The Turret while it can load rifle rounds, We use them for pistol instead.

    Now the one thing that is great about the Turret is that if you remove the indexing rod, It becomes just like a single stage and all you have to do is move the turret plate by hand to your next desired die. We updated from the 3-hole to the 4-hole because we use the Lee FCD sometimes. Most of the equipment we have is Lee and some RCBS.

    I like both company's and have no problems with either of them. I have yet to try out Hornady or Dillion stuff so I cannot offer an opinion there. The only thing I do have from RCBS is the trickler and some dies and they all do their intended job just fine.

    Since your gonna reload for some rifle, Your also going to need a case trimming tool and the chamfer/deburring tool. If you do not prime in the press, Your going to need a hand primer. I much prefer the hand primer because you can feel the whole process from start to finish much better. Another thing, The scale. Get a good one. If it's electronic or beam, Make sure its a good one. I prefer beam scale and have been happy with the RCBS 5-0-5.
     
  7. JamieC

    JamieC Member

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    I just got started, got a Lee turret for Christmas. Can't speak about rifle ammo, but I'm loading for 9mm and .38 special. I had been saving brass for a bit, after loading my first 1,000 rounds, (500 each), just about paid for the press set up. I'm now looking into a chronograph, need to get a second turret, speeds changes up which isn't a real issue anyway. Get a good reloading book or two, read, check out youtube videos using whatever reloading set you eventually get. All my reloads have gone 'bang' AND all my guns still work!
     
  8. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    Start here
    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=649184
    It is a "sticky" thread at the top of this forum

    In the middle is the turret press.

    Single stage for up to 50-75 rounds per hour. Press alone around $50-$100

    Turret press for 50 to 250 rounds per hour. Press alone $80-$200

    Progressive for 150 to 1,000 rounds per hour. $200 to $1,500, but it is hard to find a press alone. The accessories like case feeder, bullet feeder and powder measure help a lot with the speed and without the accessories, what's the point?

    All the above are off-the-cuff estimates, but reflect the differences between the presses to be expected from any single owner. Your mileage may vary.

    This thread has some links I posted (posts 11 and 12) that might be of interest.
    http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=488115

    Lost Sheep
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2012
  9. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    I don't know how many 9mm or 38 you go through but more then likely enough to suggest a progressive. I love my Pro1000 & Load Master. Both will take care of you with handgun but the Load Master can do 30-06 also. I rather do rifle on a SS. I don't have the same love for my Lee Classic Cast BL but it does do its job. I prefer Lee dies. The Lee Pro Auto Disk is the best measure I have used. I like digital scales. I'm as cheap as they come but enjoy good tools. I suggest buying everything you know you might use all at one time to save on shipping. Check out FS Reloading.
     
  10. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

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    Difference between frugal and cheap. Since you mentioned lawnmowers...I finally grew tired of paying a $100.00 or so for a mower that lasted a couple, maybe three seasons and bought a Honda. Cost me over $600.00, but it's still going after 18 years.

    The cheapest is seldom the least expensive.
     
  11. Tex4426

    Tex4426 Member

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    I have a lee turret 9mm press when its not being finicky and a pain in the ass u. An get some. Bullets loaded....it was 140 bucks i think...but spend more time fixin than loading...my next press will be a dillon...i forgot which one...costs about 350 and dies for it are about 150 new..expensive but assuming u buy the dies you can reload for just about anything
     
  12. Waldog

    Waldog Member

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    I strongly recommend learning to reload on a single stage press. Move to a progressive press IF you shoot a lot of pistol, AFTER you have learned the basics on a single stage press. Buying cheap: Everyone wants to buy what's cheapest, myself included. With reloading equipment, if you buy quality, you will have it forever and you only buy it once. With cheap reloading equipment, you eventually replace it and then you have bought it twice.

    Never ceases to amaze me that someone would not hesitate to spend $500 to $1500 on a quality firearm and then want to spend $29.95 for reloading equipment. It just seems like false economy to me. Buy quality, you won't be sorry.
     
  13. T Bran

    T Bran Member

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    I suggest a single stage and Lee is a good place to start. For 100 bucks you can have the the basics. An O type press a scale,powder measure,hand primer and a few other little necessities. A couple good manuals will be really helpful. I also recomend a second scale and a set of check weights. You will need a set of calipers digital or dial your choice but I like my digital for ease of use with these old eyes.
    For your bottle necked rifle brass a case trimmer is a must.
    Get your manuals first and do some reading to avoid buying things you wont really need.
    Wear your safety glasses at all times and dont be shy ask questions it will save you a lot of greif.
    T
     
  14. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    Along that vein, I have a few observations:

    Press: IMO, a Lee Breechlock is a great starting press if this is your ideology. Yeah, it's aluminum. So what? If it doesn't last for 1 million rounds, you'll upgrade. If you don't like loading on a SS for 9mm, then you'll upgrade. It's a great press because it has great features. Wonderful priming system, spent primer collection system, and breechlock system (which is completely superfluous if you don't want to use it).

    Chamfer tool: Gotta say that the super cheap Lee chamfer tool is bar none the best for doing outside chamfer on my rifle brass. The expensive ones don't hold a candle.

    Lee PPM: lots of flack on this dispenser, but it works extremely well once broken in or lapped. The removable hopper is great; it definitely speeds up powder changes.

    Trimming: there are a lot of more expensive options, but the Lee trim tool is what I've fallen back on after trying a more expensive method. Zip Trim holder with drill attachment makes it a pretty fast system that's extremely cheap, esp to add new calibers.

    Primer pocket reaming: Not sure if crimped pockets are a big concern with 30-06. But if you do need to do it, a chamfer tool or countersink works very well. Better than a reaming tool, IMO, and in a drill it's at least as fast if not faster than using a press mounted swager and/or a Super Swage.

    Tumbling: Not totally necessary, at all. I tumble to a high polish, sometimes. And sometimes I just wash my brass off in soap and water and dry it in the oven.

    Re drying in the oven: A lot of people suggest 150-200F. BS. Gotta get it above the boiling point of water unless you want to wait a long, long time. Get the oven to 250F, and your cases are dry in half an hour.

    Lube: Spray lube is da bomb. I use Frankford Arsenal spray lube. I pump 2 sprays in a plastic bag, and put 100 223 cases in there and roll 'em around. Dump 'em in a bin, and let em dry for a minute. For additional cases, add one more fresher spray to the same bag, then dump in more cases. FLRing these 223 cases takes less effort than doing my straight wall pistol, and it's fairly cleanly. On small batches, sometimes I don't even bother wiping that little bit of lube off, afterwards.

    Loading blocks. LOL. For 223, I use empty 9mm ammo trays. For 30-06, you can use empty 45 cal ammo trays. I bought a loading block for 223, and it's just a horrible waste of space and money. It's in the trash. 9mm loading block? 9mm is too short for a loading block. Just put em on any small, flat tray with a lip around the edge. Done.

    Dippers: If you want dippers, bend a piece of piano wire in the middle so it holds a 380, 38/357, or 9mm case at the rim. Then slip the free ends of the wire into a piece of brass tubing for a handle. Cut old cases to make an array of dippers to custom sizes.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2012
  15. blarby

    blarby Member

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    Just a musing....

    Why is it, within the first ten posts of every " I want to start reloading" thread, someone suggests a dillon progressive?

    I want to take their 15 year old sons out and teach them how to drive in a 4 speed 300z with twin turbos and a racing suspension without antilock brakes....and then send them repair bill, I really do.

    Anyways, on to the question.

    A straight wall cartridge is a great place to start. Lee truly is a great bang for your buck- my one caveat being I've tried two sets of pistol dies from lee. I returned one outright, and swapped in RCBS components for the other. The Lee anniversary reloading set has pretty much everything you will reasonably need to start except a tumbler.

    You will find things that you want and things that will make things fastier or easier in short order. What everyone wants and likes is different, but those can be added on later. What you really need is in that kit, and its very economical.
     
  16. splattergun

    splattergun Member

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    I'm in the 'frugal' camp. I started loading on Lee Classic and a Loadall II with the idea it was a small investment if I ended up not wanting to continue. For my relatively low need for quantity they are doing just fine. No complaints.

    I bought a MTD mower in '98 for $125. It has always run great until last summer when my nephew borrowed it and hit a tree root with the blade, bending the shaft. Although it still starts on the 1st or 2nd pull and runs, it wobbles like a sailor on shore leave. I still use it for mowing weeds. The replacement part was $125 and had to be special ordered, so I just bought a new MTD. The price had gone up to $220, though.

    But I never buy cheap TP. :D
     
  17. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    I personally feel the best thing for a beginner is a starter kit. If you won't load tens or even hundreds of thousands of rounds over the years, an inexpensive kit like the Lee anniversary set for about $110 is fine. If you want the stuff to last a lifetime and then some, I'd suggest RCBS. I bought a Rockchucker supreme set when I was twenty, and I still use it exclusively. I have no idea how many times that press has cycled up and down, probably close to half a million by now, and it still functions like the day I bought it.

    Progressive can be really handy, but are also far more trouble-prone. The set-up times are also a lot longer than a single stage. If everything is running right, you can crank out some serious quantities. However, you may be down for a good 15 or 20 minutes if something goes awry.

    I have never bought a progressive because I seldom load thousands of rounds of one cartridge in a sitting. Usually something like 200 of one, 50 of another, 50 of another yet (I did just load 1,100 7.62 NATO in a sitting, but most of the really time consuming steps do not involve the press). I also like the personal attention each round gets on a single stage. The other consideration is especially true of rifle cartridges; There are several steps that a progressive won't do in case prep, and is actually going to be slower than a single stage except for priming, charging cases and seating bullets. They still have to be removed from the press after depriming for lube to be cleaned off, length to be checked/trimmed, primer pockets to be cleaned (and reamed if military brass) before you can continue.

    If you plan to shoot competetively, once your progressive is set up for that load, you can hammer out thousands of rounds in an evening. This is where the progressive shines. However, for someone who loads many different cartridges and has a bit of spare time to kill, I believe the single stage is far superior. I have never had a squib, yet I don't know a single person running a progressive who can claim that.

    just my $0.02. YMMV
     
  18. zoom6zoom

    zoom6zoom Member

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    For your pistol calibers, spend the extra few bucks and get the carbide dies. It eliminates having to mess with (and later remove) case lube.
     
  19. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    Very true. But you left out the turret press which bridges the speed gap between the single stage and the progressive.

    Single stage loads only in batch mode. 50-75 rounds per hour max for most folks.

    Progressives are designed to (and load most naturally) in continuous mode and can do 150 to 1500 rounds per hour, depending on the model and the accessories.

    Turret presses can do batch mode or continuous mode equally well, but continuous mode processing (where each individual case stays in the press until it is complete, reducing the time spent handling the brass) can easily triple the output of batch mode single stages.

    The Lee Turrets shine in this area because they are the only turret presses that automatically index the die stations.

    Lost Sheep
     
  20. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    I have to call out a few things. I don't own or see the point of a turret press but as much as they are raved about I have to think you don't know how to use it.

    To set up my progressive I drop in my turret & screw in a shellplate. No way you have less time in setting up a SS. I use my progressive even if I'm loading 10. 1 round for one pull sure beats 4 pulls per round.

    You can run one at a time all the way through until you get the hang of it. I have 6 presses. They all make good ammo.

    I have a CH4D swage that I suggest sence about everything is crimped now. I can swage 1000 an hour. Even more when a kid helps.
     
  21. T Bran

    T Bran Member

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    I will add one more thing that is a touch off topic but not far.
    After reading thru the data and instructions in your manual it is time to order supplies. Now is the time to get specific bullets, primers and powder way to often I see that someone has bought what they had in stock and now wants a load to work with a less than ideal combination of components. Stick to the formula in the manual.
    As for powders pick one that fills the case more than 50% and 90% is even better. It is not possible to double charge a case with out powder spilling every where if you make a mistake.
    If buying powder locally take a copy of the page with you. If buying online realise that the hazmat fees will hurt on small orders so stock up on primers till you find the powders that you will use the most then buy in bulk.
    Have fun.
    T
     
  22. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    As long as you're doing the same load. Otherwise, you still have to adjust seating die and crimp die, just as a SS. However, I've found getting everything dialed in is a bit more time consuming.

    Honestly, my biggest grip with turret or progressive is that you can't feel it as well. What's stopping you? A Berdan primer? A really swollen case? An insufficiently flared casemouth? It's easier to detect on a SS and avoid ruining a case, damaging a bullet or breaking off a decapping pin. Not a big deal if you're loading range pick-up .40 brass and plated bullets, but I sure don't wanna mangle one of my 8mm Mag or .375 RUM cases. They're expensive, and my OCD kicks in and makes me batty if I come up a case or two short of round numbers like 20, 50, 100, 500 etc.

    I'm a very persnickety handloader. I always use nitrile gloves to avoid fingerprints on brass, I mix and match seating dies from various sets so as not to smash the tip of a SJHP or put a ring on the ogive of a RN bullet, and so on. But that's just me. Most people don't care so much about perfect numbers and aesthetically flawless ammunition. A little A-type here:p
     
  23. 4895

    4895 Member

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  24. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    Theres a huge difference between different models of progressive press when it comes to caliber changes. Some are easy (at least when ur not changing primers) and some are so involved that people just buy multiple presses. There a lot of benefits and limitations between different presses. No one has it all.

    The point of starting with a SS is that you are up and running without making a big investmnet and learning the process so u know which press is the right one for u when u upgrade. I dont think theres anything wrong with learning on a progressive. If your friend has one. But buying one to start is sorta like choosing a solution before you even understand the problem.

    When u upgrade from a ss u can still use the rest of your equipment. All ur out is the 50-100 bucks on the press. And most people keep a SS around even when they go to a progressive. Some will even use a progressive for just one cartridge, and load the rest of their stuff on a SS press.

    For a Turret, you'll at least have some turret plates and shellplates that you will no longer use. And possibly a Safety Prime, shell feeder, collator, and large and small priming systems, as well. With a SS, all you need are the dies, which will work on any other system (plus a shellholder for each caliber if you buy non LEE dies). I know lots of people are happy with their Turret and never upgrade. I know some people have "downgraded" from a progressive to a turret. But I imaginge it's harder to part with a turret to go to a Progressive after you've dumped a bit of money into turret press accessories.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2012
  25. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

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    Not sure which press you have in mind, but I can't recall the last time I adjusted dies on a progressive, SS or turret press. But I don't use Dillon or Lee lockrings.
     
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