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Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by BigBL87, Apr 24, 2022.

  1. BigBL87

    BigBL87 Member

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    Hey everybody, apologize for the very newbie question/thread. I'm looking to get started reloading. Part is for a small cost savings (I know that isn't as significant as it once was), part because Illinois is working on making it more difficult to buy ammo, and part just to be more self sufficient.

    Ultimately I'd like to be able to reload for all of my calibers (except 22lr of course) but will probably start out with just one or two. What I own in order of my priority in starting to load them: 223, 357/38, 9mm, 243, 45 ACP, 308, 380.

    This is a long term plan, so probably will piece everything together over some time. I know components can be hard to find at a reasonable price at the moment, so I'm not in a huge rush.

    Looking for any input for anything I'm missing or things that should be replaced with something else. Cost is a consideration, just had a 2nd kid not too long ago!

    So, here's my shopping list. Frankford Arsenal is on there quite a bit because I can get a significant discount on their stuff via ExpertVoice as "law enforcement."

    Bench/stand - I'll probably get a standard work bench or the Frankford Arsenal Reloading Stand. I'm kind of leaning towards the stand to save space. I've also tossed around the idea of a small rolling tool cabinet and putting a wood top on it.

    Dies (of course) - Going to probably start with 223 and go from there. I'll also toss in the shell holders here assuming the press I use needs them.

    Press- Looking at a Lee Precision Classic Turret or Frankford Arsenal M-Press. Leaning towards the Lee since it'll probably be more convenient for loading pistol ammo. If I get the Lee, I'll also add the primer dispenser. If not, I'll add a hand priming tool.

    Powder dispenser - I have the Lee Auto Drum on my list, but have also looked at Lyman. If I don't get the Lee press, I'll add a stand for it too. If not, I'll add a thru powder die for calibers that will need it.

    Case lube - Hornady One Shot

    Loading handbook - Lyman 50th Edition

    Scale - Frankford Arsenal Reloading Scale, I'll also add a pan/funnel if needed.

    Calipers - Frankford Arsenal digital. I have a set of Harbor Freight ones but want something I have more faith in.

    Case cleaner - Frankford Arsenal Rotary Tumbler (I'll probably get the Lite because it's cheaper and I probably don't need the capacity of the larger one).

    Case trim/prep - Frankford Arsenal Case Trim/Prep System. I was going to go with hand tool versions for this, but with my discount it's not much of a savings over the powered system.

    Bullet puller - Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ Impact bullet puller
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2022
  2. Hartkopf

    Hartkopf Member

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    I would buy reloading manuals first. Powder and primers before everything else. I know prices are supposed to be going down but I wouldn’t wait. There are people looking for their favorite 223 powder for two years. If you find it, use your budget on it while it’s there. Dies and presses seem to always be in stock.
     
  3. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    I didn't see a loading block on your list. You'll need one, or maybe a couple, and it's a minor purchase. :)
     
  4. BigBL87

    BigBL87 Member

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    Thanks! That's exactly why I ask, hadn't occurred to me. :)
     
  5. Bazoo

    Bazoo Member

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    You can get started with a manual, lee hand press, ram prime, a set of dies, lee trimmer with lock stud, chamfer deburr tool, powder funnel, scale, lee perfect powder measure, calipers.

    As long as the HF calipers work, then use them is my thought. I used a cheap China caliper a long spell. I use an RCBS China caliper now.

    The lee manual is good for learning to reload but not for data. It’s data sucks. The Lyman is much better if you’re looking for data. The Lyman is not bad on the info to learn either. So, going with the Lyman is never a bad choice.

    The lee hand press allows you to get started without a bench. It allows you to set up anywhere, like on the porch. I use both a lee hand press and a bench mounted press.

    Starting with 38 special is the normal recommendation. Reason being, it’s easiest to reload. It is more forgiving of minor variations. IE, seating depth isn’t as critical as it is with 9mm. 9mm is a high pressure cartridge. A little too much powder or a little too short seating depth and you’re way over pressure. But with 38, because a low end target 38 is so far from the top end, and because there is lots of airspace in the case, it’s more forgiving to a minor variation. With 9mm you’re aiming for a narrow pressure/power range to make the gun function. With 38, the power of the ammo makes no difference to a revolver or levergun functioning, so there is a wider usable window or power.
     
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  6. Hooda Thunkit

    Hooda Thunkit Member

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    I view the Lee Classic turret press as an excellent choice for reloaders.

    Not only beginners - because it can function as a single stage - but also for more advanced reloaders. I got one a few years ago, after reloading for 30+ years, and really wish I had purchased one earlier.

    Dies: you can spend as much as you want. For handgun I use Lee. They are less expensive, and work very well.

    Powder measure: again, the Lee Perfect Powder Measure (PPM) is a very good lower price measure. I've used one for decades. It is suitable for handgun and rifle.

    If you buy the Lee Turret press, strongly consider the Lee AutoDrum instead of the PPM. It mounts on the turret, and is infinitely adjustable. It can do handgun and rifle.
     
  7. Bazoo

    Bazoo Member

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    What you might consider is seeking a mentor. Putting out feelers here will get you in touch with someone close to you that can show you not only how, but help you get acquainted with some various equipment.

    Reloading seems overwhelming to begin with. But it’s as simple as changing a water pump on your car, if you know how.
     
  8. BigBL87

    BigBL87 Member

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    It definitely seemed that way when I started looking into it. Honestly, that's part of why I hadn't really gotten serious about it until recently. Just seemed overwhelming.

    As I've really taken a dive into learning about it though, it makes alot more sense and isn't quite as scary. For the record, I can't change the water pump on my car, at least I've never tried to I guess, haha. I have changed a spindle on my mower though! :thumbup:
     
  9. lightman

    lightman Member

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    First of all, Congratulations on the new Family member and Thank You for your service in Law Enforcement.

    Most of us have a certain amount of "brand loyalty" but your material list looks ok. The truth of the matter is that all of the loading equipment brands will work. In this game you can spend as much or as little as you want. At the beginning of the pandemic everything was scarce including equipment. Equipment has made a come-back and the prices are only a little higher for the most part. Components are starting to come back but at much higher prices. Read your Lyman book and start watching for components. The 223 is easy to load for and is a good starting point.
     
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  10. BigBL87

    BigBL87 Member

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    Thank you and thank you! I'm a probation officer so I'm technically an officer of the court rather than a peace officer, but alot of companies consider us law enforcement when it comes to discount programs. That was why I had law enforcement in quotes. :)
     
  11. Bazoo

    Bazoo Member

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    Changing a water pump is pretty straight forward. If you can change a mower spindle, you can likely handle a water pump or reloading.

    Reloading in its simplest form is very easy and straight forward.
     
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  12. ParallelCode

    ParallelCode Member

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    I might also add a means of drying cases after they are removed from the tumbler. A dedicated food dehydrator of the right design works well in this capacity. To be clear, the sun and time can perform this function, but it's nice to have.

    A fun way to begin the potentially extended process of tool acquisition might be to start with a hand-deprimer (Harvey works great) and a tumbler. This would let you get started building up your supply of clean, sorted brass while you acquire other tools and components.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2022
  13. South Prairie Jim

    South Prairie Jim Member

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    I believe in - quality over quantity, hand tools trump power tools, single stage press, measuring tools for brass and bullet seating, accurate scales, new brass vs range brass and when it comes to annealing or tumbling, I let the target tell me what’s needed.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2022
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  14. kalielkslayer

    kalielkslayer Member

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    Your list is pretty comprehensive although I would put the Lyman manual at the very top.

    The mentor suggestion is a good one. I’ve offered to show others the entire process at least 5 times in the last year, mostly people that couldn’t find ammo for their specific caliber. I only had 1 take me up on it.

    I’ve wanted to cast my own bullets ever since I started loading pistol. I met a guy 3 weeks ago that has been casting and coating his bullets for years. He offered to show me his process, I accepted.

    If you go to the local range, there will be a couple of guys that reload exclusively for their guns, and would most likely show you their process if you show an interest.

    Good luck, welcome aboard and there are some very knowledgeable people on THR that will help you out.
     
    bullseye308 likes this.
  15. Otto

    Otto Member

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    Keep in mind that the vast majority of noobs abandon reloading after the first year.
    With that said, I'd recommend equipment that maintains it's value (Dillon, Redding etc.) That way you can recoup your investment if you should lose interest in the hobby.
     
  16. Saluki91

    Saluki91 Member

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    Free advice being worth what you paid...
    Based on your list, I'd suggest looking at the following:

    Case Lube - You can make your own very easily with lanolin and alcohol. There are many versions of the same basic recipe on the interwebs. This one is as good as any.

    Case Cleaner - Consider Southern Shine media in your wet tumbler. It does a fine job, and works faster than pins. I'm "a bit" OCD about clean primer pockets. This media cleans them like new.

    Case Trim - I use the same FA machine you mentioned for trimming .223 range fodder. It is a great piece of kit. However, if you decide to dabble in loading "precision" rounds, you will eventually want to go with something that offers more consistency.

    Bullet Puller - I have that FA kinetic puller... It only took one session to get me looking for something else. This is what I have found to be very effective and user friendly.

    If you are loading .223 and .308, dealing with crimped primer pockets will be part of your process. You may be able to cut the crimp out with your FA Case Prep center. There is a lot of discussion in the reloading community about cutting material from the primer pocket vs. swaging... make of it what you will. I have the Dillon Super Swage and this mount.

    One more piece of kit you didn't mention, but should certainly consider is a chronograph. You can save a few bucks on a Caldwell, but I like the Bluetooth feature on my machine.

    Components:
    Powder is becoming much easier to find. Prices are far from "normal" (pre-pandemic/social unrest, etc.), but we may never see those prices again. My LGS has been pretty reliable with a decent selection for several weeks now. Shop around locally before you take the hit on shipping and HazMat fees.

    Primers are a different story... if you are fortunate enough to find them locally, BUY! If not, hold your nose and buy from an internet source. You can find primers on-line with increasing regularity, but be prepared to start at a dime per primer... if you are lucky.

    Bullets for plinking and range fun are still pretty reasonable. Bullets for "precision" loads and hunting are still pretty pricey. There are several fine folks who offer forum members discounts, including RMR. I think Acme does as well... others may chime in with more up-to-date info on this front. Regardless, they make a great product, and have the best boxes! Brazos and Hoosier are two more very good choices.

    Like you, I'm in the Peoples Republic of Illinois, and I know how difficult our benevolent leaders make it on us. Even with goofy primer prices, I can load 9mm plinkers for around $.17 per round. .223 range fodder costs me a little less than twice that. .45ACP costs me around $.22 per round. Loading for "precision" or hunting will increase your cost per round substantially, but it is still cheaper - and a lot more fun - than buying.

    Be safe and have fun!
     
  17. Bazoo

    Bazoo Member

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    That’s another thing, used equipment. I think everything I have was used except for 1 lee perfect powder measure. Put a listing in the classifieds here, or at castboolits website, for WTB, and see what sort of deals can be had. Also a good way to find primers. Instead of looking at primer prices from a few years ago, buy them when you find them. Paying .10 each isn’t a sin. It’s still far far cheaper than buying factory ammo on things other than the cheapest 9mm.

    And don’t let folks tell you you won’t save money. Only if you continually buy new gear will you not save. I buy gear here and there, but collecting loading gear is a hobby into itself. The cost per box for my 38 specials is $3-$5, depending on cost of components. I’m in the $3 range because I have a source for lead and cast my own bullets.

    Casting is a hobby unto itself. It’s best to buy cast bullets to start and learn to reload as a separate activity. I did both together and, while I got it, there was times it was a struggle. I learned without a mentor.
     
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  18. frogfurr

    frogfurr Member

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    You will need a primer flip tray.
     
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  19. Bazoo

    Bazoo Member

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    You need a flip tray for loading primer tubes, but if one is loading with a ram prime, a tray is not technically needed. Dumping the primers on a paper towel allows you to pick them up.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2022
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  20. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    It looks like you’ve got a good plan and have done some good research. The suggestion to get loading blocks is a great one. If you do a search online you will find combo deals from Hornady. One of the best is a deal with two cans of OneShot and a multi-caliber loading block. It’s a good deal. Also, I really highly recommend the Frankford hand primer. It’s a good tool and works for any caliber. I’m not familiar with the M-press but the discussion I’ve seen on it is about 50-50 positive-negative. Given the discount situation, it may be your best starting setup. For the .223, I suggest you read up on “The Plunk Test,” and how it helps find the correct seating depth for your loads. For the AR I suggest you consider getting both a case gauge and a loaded cartridge gauge. They serve different purposes and while neither is essential, both are good to have.

    Oh, and the Lymans is in the 51st edition. Get both plus the Hornady and Sierra apps.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2022
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  21. ballman6711

    ballman6711 Member

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    You may want to consider a kit. A bit cheaper than a shopping list, but you will probably end up upgrading several things later. But it will get you started now and cost less initially. It will however probably cost you more in the long run because you will upgrade bits and pieces here and there, but the cost will be spread out over time. Spend $1000 today or spend $1200~$1400 over five years.

    It's not easy being an enabler, lol!

    And a big welcome to the addiction... I, erm, mean hobby, yeah, that's it, hobby. ;)

    chris
     
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  22. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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  23. kmw1954

    kmw1954 Member

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    I use so many of these it's frightening.(oops forgot I am on the wrong computer with no pictures) Almost every 50 pack of factory bullets comes with a plastic tray. The 9mm trays work fabulous as reloading trays and also work well for 223.
     
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  24. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    Now you've got me curious. I'd really like to see the picture(s).:D
     
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  25. kmw1954

    kmw1954 Member

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