Looking to Start Reloading

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Cokeman, Jul 9, 2020.

  1. Cokeman

    Cokeman Member

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    I’m thinking about getting into reloading and am in the research stage, so I have lots of questions. I’m trying to decide which press to start with. Is it better to get a kit or buy the parts separate? I’m sure separate would be more expensive. Which kits are good for someone starting out? I would be doing .38 special/.357 mag , 9mm, and .223. Is it better to buy used or new?
     
  2. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    Kits can be more money, it really depends on what you need. What's your budget really for 38/357 9mm and 223 the small Lee press would be all you need. How much are you looking to load and are there any other cartridges you may load for.

    the kits are nice to get just about everything you need to reload, and there maybe things you won't use of don't like and could need other things to.

    I'd go with Lee if on a budget and rcbs if you have a little more money.

    there were some good videos on YouTube from rcbs on basic reloading you can watch and get an idea what you need.
     
  3. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    Check out Lee Auto Breech Lock Pro also called Pro 4000.

    While the press is available now, the complete press kit is scheduled to be released on 7/31/20 and vendors are listing for $210 - https://leeprecision.com/auto-breech-lock-pro-pro-4000-kit/

    Titan Reloading - https://www.titanreloading.com/index.php?route=product/search&search=pro 4000 kit

    FSReloading (Showing 9/7/20 delivery date) - https://fsreloading.com/progressive-presses/lee-pro-4000/

    To me hands down, it's a great press to start off reloading pistol and short rifle cartridges and is my primary press I use for THR test rounds for various threads due to ease/speed of caliber change:
    • 4 station progressive press to allow separate seat and crimp operations (Kit comes with 3 die set)
    • Easy small to large primer change (Just swap out S/L primer arm stored on press)
    • Lowest cost/easiest caliber change using breech lock bushings
    • No adjustment shell plate index with guide rod through shell plate holes (To re-index shell plate timing, simply back up shell plate to align hole with guide rod)
    • Ergo handle for left/right hand operation
    • Clean through ram spent primer collection into a water/plastic bottle
    • Safety Prime that will reliably feed down to last primer
    • Auto Drum powder measure
    • Universal case feeder for all pistol/rifle cases. Buy the optional $10 collator to quickly fill case feeder tubes - https://fsreloading.com/lee-precision-case-collator.html?search=case+collator
    Demonstration of ABLP/Pro 4000 with Safety Prime, Auto Drum and Case feeder



    I would recommend the following equipment:
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2020
  4. Cokeman

    Cokeman Member

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    Other calibers that I have brass saved are 30-30, .380, and .40 S&W.
     
  5. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    I would still recommend Pro 4000 for high volume pistol reloading and "O" ring type single stage press for rifle reloading.

    Lee Breech Lock Classic Cast $124 - https://fsreloading.com/lee-precision-breech-lock-classic-cast-press.html?search=breech+lock+press

    Lee Breech Lock Challenger $67 - https://fsreloading.com/lee-precision-breechlock-challenger-press.html?search=breech+lock+press

    And these Breech Lock bushing with lock rings $13 for set of 2 - https://www.amazon.com/LEE-PRECISION-LP90063-Lock-Ring-Eliminator/dp/B008M5PNLQ

    And if you don't want to wait for the Pro 4000 kit release, you can assemble your own kit for about the same price:
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2020
  6. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Member

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    1. I went with an RCBS kit around 1985 and still use the press from that kit. I also have a Redding T7 turret press and a Lee Classic Cast press. The turret press is handy because you can leave it set up with a couple of sets of dies. I got the Lee Classic Cast press because the RCBS press wasn't adequate for a big cartridge I load for. For what you wish to load for, I'd recommend an RCBS kit.

    2. If you can get what you want used at a price you like, by all means go for it.

    Some that load for BUNCHES of 9mm, etc. will recommend a progressive press. I've never had one of those and I've also never had a squib or blown a gun up. I've loaded thousands of rounds on the aforementioned presses and have never felt the need for a progressive press.
     
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  7. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    OP is planning to reload .38/.357, 9mm and .223
    If OP ends up reloading .380, 40S&W and 30-30 also (Mostly semi-auto calibers), OP will need a progressive with multiple caliber changes and could add a single stage press to load rifle cartridges.

    If OP shoots a lot, there's going to be a lot of press handle pulling to keep up with the demand.

    ABLP/Pro 4000 with case feeder/collator can provide high volume production of pistol and .223 rounds. (I still prefer to reload rifle cartridges on single stage)
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2020
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  8. bersaguy

    bersaguy Member

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    I've had good luck with the Lee turret press. When I first started, I ran it single stage to keep from getting ahead of myself, 7 years on, I'm still using it and can crank out rounds fast enough to keep me happy. Have die sets pre set up in the swappable turrets, so caliber changes are dead simple and quick. I use a dedicated single stage press for decapping and a hand primer for priming off press. Works well for me, that said, I load for 38, 9mm, 45, 380 and 30 carbine...have not done any rifle calibers on it yet.
     
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  9. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    I have had great enjoyment and self reliance from my simple single stage Lee equipment.
    A single stage is a great match for my revolvers and single shot rifles and leverguns.
    If you're a habitual mag dumper, you're gonna want a progressive.
     
  10. drband

    drband Member

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    I also use the LCT and am still pleased with the quality and speed of the press. That said, I would now look into the Lee Auto Breech Lock Pro 4000 for a first press. It's not much more money to set up and it is capable of much faster production. (I shoot once a week or so (pre-COVID) and I can just keep up with the LCT. The ABLP would require significantly less time at the reloading bench.)
     
  11. frankmako

    frankmako Member

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    first i would find someone to show you how to reload. this way you can see what works and what does not work. there are tricks of the trade in reloading that you can learn from someone that will say you time and money. at this time it is hard to find any primers and it looking like powder is getting hard to find too. so if you are wanting to spend your money i would first buy primers, powder, brass, and bullets. i don't see any shortage of reloading equipment coming, just a shortage of primers and powder.
     
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  12. ih772

    ih772 Member

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    Since you are new to reloading I would stay away from a progressive press, there's too many things that need adjusting at the same time to make frustration free ammo. Start out with a single stag press.
    To me Lee products look like they are cheaply made, sort of like the cheap tools at harbor freight. I've used some of their products and they eventually wear out or break. Spend a little more money and buy tools that won't wear out in a relatively short period of time. I started out with one of the RCBS press kits and it has held up very well.
     
  13. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    I will second the recommendation for supplies. If your motivation is making ammunition because you cant find any, you may find it just as difficult in the current environment to get the components you want. Small pistol primers are going to be sold on street corners by shady individuals shortly, as hard as they are to get lately. ;)
     
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  14. Texas10mm

    Texas10mm member

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    Ridiculous.

    You can run a progressive one round at a time if you choose.

    1. How much do you shoot of each cartridge? This is the deciding factor in what equipment you should purchase.

    2. What's your budget? You're going to save a lot more money loading 357 and 30-30 than anything else. In good times it's hard to save money on 9mm, this leads into #3.

    3. This is actually a bad time to get into reloading. Components are in short supply.

    I've owned three Hornady LnL Progressive presses and currently own two Dillon 650 presses. If you gave me a brand new Hornady right now I'd just sell it. I like to load ammo, not fiddle with the equipment. I have a feeling that those who think a progressive press is too complicated for a beginner have never used a Dillon. Lee products are known to be a bit fiddly and Hornady definitely is in my experience.

    You can find used Lee and Hornady progressive presses (in normal times) for sale for around 50% or less of new. Finding a used Dillon for 80% of new is like finding a Unicorn.

    Yep, I'm a Dillon fanboi. They just work.
     
  15. Hooda Thunkit

    Hooda Thunkit Member

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    I cannot recommend a progressive press as a first press for a newbie.

    Reloading is a game of details. A few thousandths of an inch can get one in trouble. The first reloads are stressful enough without trying to keep track of 5 things going on at once, which is what's happening with a progressive.

    I would recommend a single stage, or a turret press.

    The turret can be used as a single stage, and I believe a new reloader needs to keep track of one step at a time.
     
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  16. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    There are advocates for both sides of the single stage vs progressive. They both are good process and produce quality ammunition. Things to look at...
    1. How much do you have to spend....
    2. Do you stick to new hobbies or loose intrest fast....
    3. What volume of shooting do you really do and is it mostly in one caliber....
    4. Do you have a good place to reload??? This hobby takes space sometimes a lot.
    5. Do you have a good place to store components. Primers and powder love AC.
     
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  17. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    I have to agree. It will depend on how much you plan on shooting and reloading to determine what type of press to get. I know people look down on Lee products but they are good for the money. One will also not spend a bunch of money with Lee just to find out reloading is not for them.

    I am another that started out with a single stage to learn on and have since moved to a turret press. I don't shoot enough to justify buying a progressive press at this time. Now if I was shooting a bunch each range session multiple times a week, I would definitely get a progressive press.

    Everyone has gave good advice so far as to what additional equipment to get to go along with a new press. Yes a decent set of calipers are important. You don't want any rounds that are too long or too short. I always recommend to start with reloading straight wall cartridges for beginners. Straight wall cartridges are easier to learn to reload versus bottle neck cartridges.

    As always, get and read reloading manuals first and don't be afraid to ask questions.
     
  18. fotheringill

    fotheringill Member

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    A kit is the way to go. RCBS is fine. Even though you may wind up replacing a lot of items in the kit in a year or two, you will be using your press for a long time. There is no need to purchase the best this and the best that at this juncture. You may not even enjoy hand loading at all.After doing it for a while, you can slowly purchase certain items that you THEN decide you want to upgrade. Go slowly and safely and absolutely read at least one manual, ignoring the load data and the folksy BS throughout about Uncle Clem's gopher hunt experiences and learn the ABC's of what to do before touching any equipment or components.

    Good luck.
     
  19. Alex Clayton

    Alex Clayton Member

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    Well it's going to be hard now as there is a panic going on of course.
    I learned long before Al invented the net so used a book. Now days it's light years better. I ordered a Lee "kit" Turret press. Came with everything to load one caliber including his book. Read through, went to the store and bought stuff. Rolled 50 or so headed out and they WORKED! Happy camper I was.
    So I would say the same thing for anyone new. Simple Lee press. Cheap, work, great to learn on. If you start with strait wall pistol calibers its dirt simple. Later if you want to go better fine. You can easily sell anything you have after you decide to upgrade.
     
  20. SQLGeek

    SQLGeek Member

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    A local, experienced reloader to show you the ropes is ideal. I haven't found one I know here so I read a lot of forums and watched a lot of YouTube videos to get a lay of the land. I think I researched for a couple of years off an on before taking the plunge. I've been very slowly working through it and this forum has been a big help as a sounding board for things that have come up. But I have Googled dozens if not hundreds of different questions I've come up with.

    To pick a press, I watched videos and read forum reviews to get an idea of how I wanted to go. I opted for a Lyman turret kit and have been happy with it (minus the priming system). The components of the kit were enough to get started but I knew there were certain things I'd want to upgrade or change immediately. One of those was a balance beam scale. Another has been a separate priming system.

    This is the kit I chose:

    https://www.midwayusa.com/product/101962221?pid=544156


    Speaking for myself and what I want to load, I know I'm going to end up getting a progressive sooner rather than later. I'm glad I didn't start with a single stage, a manually indexed turret was the right choice for me. You'll have to decide what is right for you.

    One of the most valuable components of the kit has been the Lyman 50th Edition Manual. I have read it extensively. I also bought the Hornady manual and reference online data from Alliant, Hodgon and Speer. If nothing else you get is made by Lyman, I recommend at least buying their manual.
     
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  21. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    I totally agree.

    Over the decades, I have helped many new reloaders get started on reloading, even on a progressive, and they did fine. And do you even own a progressive press? If you disable the auto index feature on a progressive, you can use as a dedicated single stage press or like member Texas10mm posted, run one round at a time to use it like a turret press.

    When I helped new reloaders get started on a progressive, I go over the reloading basics and have the users run one round at a time until they were comfortable running the press in progressive mode. If the user reloaded rifle cartridges, I recommend they use an "O" type single stage press and "Pay It Forward" used single stage/progressive presses I accumulate on an ongoing basis (which is one of many PIF projects wife and I support for our retirement).

    Just like Glocks which have evolved and improved over the years, so have Dillon (like the new 750) and Lee products like the new Auto Breech Lock Pro/Pro 4000 and updated Pro 1000 which now have steel flat base with through ram spent primer disposal all with ergo roller handles using improved leverage linkages. I have 14 presses to include C-H/Dillon/Lee/RCBS and while enjoy using Dillon 550/650, would gladly recommend the ABLP/Pro 4000 to any new reloader starting out and currently use ABLP/Pro 4000/Pro 1000 to load test rounds for various THR threads/myth busting threads.

    Why when I have Dillon 550/650?

    Unlike other brand progressive presses, ABLP/Pro 4000/1000 presses use floating shell plate design with ram mounted offset under station #1 so when resizing force is applied, shell plate simply lowers and contacts the top of the shell plate carrier for more consistent OAL. Even with my "humble" Pro 1000, I can get .001" OAL variance using pre-resized brass due to this feature - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/myth-busting-pre-resized-brass-affect-on-oal-variance-progressive-press.833604/page-2#post-10779806

    Post illustrating Pro 4000/1000's "floating shell plate" design with offset ram mount - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/myth-busting-pre-resized-brass-affect-on-oal-variance-progressive-press.833604/page-2#post-10779966

    In contrast, most other brand progressive presses mount the ram in the center of shell plate which can add shell plate tilt/deflection when resizing force is applied at station #1 and separately resizing the brass will reduce the OAL variance.

    As to the durability of ABLP/Pro 4000, round count loaded is over 10,000 and other than routine lubrication of metal-to-metal contact surfaces with oil, press has remained tight and operates without the typical "progressive tinkering" reloaders are familiar with any brand of progressive press. My die adjustments stay put with breech lock bushings and Safety Prime chugs along placing primers in the small/large primer arms down to last primer in the chute. I love the no-adjustment shell plate index feature as carrier can't reach bottom without guide rod going through the holes on shell plate - Brilliant design and kudos to John Lee and Lee Precision engineers. And like the Classic Turret, no more pesky spent primers as all the spent primers are dropped through the ram into a plastic bottle for clean disposal.

    I had some reservations/doubts when ABLP/Pro 4000 was initially released but having used it for some time now and shared my experience with other press users, we marvel at the ingenuity of the press operation and ease/speed of caliber changes.

    So aside from Dillon 550, I would consider the ABLP/Pro 4000 to be "THE" press for anyone considering a progressive press, hands down, if there isn't enough funding to buy a 550.
     
  22. SQLGeek

    SQLGeek Member

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    @LiveLife, which powder measure are you using with the Pro 4000?
     
  23. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    Pro Auto Disk with $1 micrometer mod - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/working-diy-micro-auto-disk.741988/

    And C-H 502 micrometer with single DIY baffle (Standard threading will screw into breech lock bushing for manual charging of powder) - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/c-h-502-micrometer-powder-measure-10-drops.834894/

    Pro Auto Disk meters most small granule ball/flake powders with less than/around .1 gr variance and C-H 502 is used for powders that won't meter well with PAD (Mostly for accuracy testing).

    For bulk reloading of general purpose range blasting ammo, PAD is used because of fixed volumetric disk hole, no worry of powder charges ever drifting (Once powder drops are verified consistent, I keep the hopper filled and even after 1000-2000 rounds, keeps on dropping consistent charges). With proper lubrication of PAD wiper surface with graphite powder/No 2 pencil lead powder, I can even meter Sport Pistol with less than/around .05 gr variance (And not many powder measures can do that, regardless of brand/cost) - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/new-alliant-sport-pistol.816514/page-5#post-10598431

    ".30 disk hole of Pro Auto Disk dropped 10 charges of Sport Pistol from 2.90 gr to 2.94 gr weighed on Gemini-20 digital scale with most of charges being 2.92 gr to 2.94 gr. This is VERY consistent powder charge variance!"​

    And C-H 502 is pretty consistent, especially with large flake powders - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/improving-pistol-cartridge-accuracy.864279/#post-11406902
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2020
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  24. murf

    murf Member

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    i would also suggest one of the "bullet manufacturer" manuals (e.g. speer, hornady, sierra). i think two reloading manuals as a minimum so you can always have a second opinion when questions arise is best.

    luck,

    murf
     
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  25. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    There are links to free older reloading manuals floating around. The front mater which teaches the process is different in almost every one. Read as many as you can for free. My lyman 45th talks a lot about the new at the time cup measuring process and how they determine loads for the manual. This I have not seen in any other reloading manuals that I have read. I continue to hunt down and read as many as possible.
     
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