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More questions from a noob, where to start

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by mosttoyswins, Nov 23, 2006.

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  1. mosttoyswins

    mosttoyswins Member

    Nov 6, 2005
    San Antonio, TX
    Hey gang,

    I know this has been posted 10000 times and I tried to do a search, but there were so many results I did not know where to start.

    I will make this easy.

    What is the best complete reloading set for a beginner who wants to reload. I would also want the set to be able to expand to cover most calibers so I do not have to buy new equipment in the future.

    Please list manufacturer and type, and the best place to buy it.

    I am hoping someone makes a set that has EVERYTHING that I need to get started and take the guesswork out of what to buy.

    ALSO: Would anyone suggest reloading 9mm to "practice". I know you can typically buy 9mm cheaper than you can reload it but I am just starting to shoot IDPA and I like the fact I can customize ammo to my liking.

    Money is really not an object as I always try to buy the best up front so it lasts me for many years.

    Thanks for your input!
  2. Novus Collectus

    Novus Collectus Member

    Nov 19, 2005
    Good starter: Lee

    Place to buy it: Midway would be a good place to start. They have many of the dies you will need to start.

    The good thing about Lee is that once you get in the habit of it, you will know what to look for when you buy the expensive set.

  3. JA

    JA Member

    Sep 17, 2003
    Cost savings in reloading really depends on where and in what quanity you buy primers,powder,and bullets.
    Buying at gun shows to save shipping costs and buying by the case you can really save some money reloading. Primers by the carton of 5000,powder in 8lb jugs,and bullets by the 1000-4000 bullets per case.
    You can save about 20% per 50rd box of 9mm ammo by loading FMJ bullets. 30% by buying copper plated bullets and 50% buying lead bullets.
    You can save 50%-75% per box on 38 Special and 357 magnum over factory ammo depending on which type bullet you load.
    Now onto equipment. All the reloading tool companies make single stage presses that will last a lifetime. But with you starting to shoot IDPA you will need at least 200 rounds per match. Which using a single stage press will take a couple hours to load enough ammo for a match. If you really get into it like most of the guys at my gun club that shoot IDPA they shoot several practice man on man matches after the formal matches. So they end up shooting 300-400 rounds per match. All of these guys load on progressive presses so they only need to spend a hour or so loading up enough ammo for a match versus 3-4 hours using a single stage press. You may be thinking now that why not just get a progressive press to start with. It sounds good but having to spend the $30-$50 depending on which brand press you buy for the parts to change from loading one cartridge to another. Plus the time to change over seems wasted when you want to load up 5-10 rounds to test a new bullet or powder. This is where starting out with a single stage press comes in as you can use it for making up some test rounds even if you have upgraded to a progressive press to cut down on the time spent loading enough ammo for a match. Besides starting out on a single stage press will really cut down on the learning curve and amount of mistakes you make when you upgrade to a progressive press.
    The most cost effective set up is this
    Add a set of Lee 9mm dies and you will have all the tools needed to load 9mm cartridges.
    So for around $115 delivered you are ready to go. Loading other pistol cartridges only requires a set of Lee carbide dies for that cartridge.
  4. DaveInFloweryBranchGA

    DaveInFloweryBranchGA Member

    Dec 7, 2005
    NE Georgia
    Some stuff to think about purchasing new equipment

    Thinking about Reloading and Reloading Equipment Basics

    Before you get any of the reloading equipment on the equipment list below, you’ll want to do some reading. You won’t need all of them, but here’s are some good manuals to
    start with:

    The ABC's of Reloading (I strongly advise starting with this one.)
    Metallic Cartridge Reloading (I strongly advise buying this one second.)
    Speer Manual
    Modern Reloading by Richard Lee
    Lyman Metallic Reloading Handbook
    Hornady 5th Edition Reloading Handbook (2 volume set)

    1. A reloading press-for what you're doing, you’ll need to know what type of cartridge and in what quantities before a press can be advised, think on how much you think you'll shoot. This is the most important set of decision making you have regarding selection of equipment – how much, what type and in what quantities.

    Generally speaking, a single stage press may be better for more accurate cartridges in rifle and providing solid control of the reloading process for a new reloader. The only drawback is the volume of produced rounds versus the effort required can be low. The RCBS Rock Chucker, the Lee Classic Cast Press, Redding Boss and Forester Coax are all excellent choices. (However, the new Lee Classic Turret Press, capable of 200 rounds or better per hour, is beefy and may very well be a good choice for rifle as well.

    I should note you can easily reload smaller calibers like .223 on most progressives, but for ultimate accuracy, the competitors seem to go with a single stage for their long distance round building.). If you go with the Rock Chucker or Lee Classic Cast press, I'd suggest also getting a Hornady Lock N Load bushing conversion kit for the Rock chucker or Lee Classic Cast press with another 10 additional bushings. The Lee is the least expensive of the bunch, is the latest single stage out and has compared favorably with the Rock Chucker and like the Rock Chucker, will accept the Hornady Lock N Load Conversion Bushing kit.

    With the Lock N Load bushings, you adjust your dies once, tighten down the lock ring and next time you want to change dies, you just insert, twist and snap/lock in and you're done changing dies in about 2 seconds. I used these on my Lee Classic Cast press and I have found them to be wonderful. BTW, you can use a single stage press to do specialized tasks and to reload quantities of less than 100 rounds at a time, such as hunting rifle ammunition, so it’s useful even if you do have a progressive.

    For reloading pistol, you’d want to consider a turret or progressive press. If you are new, a turret would likely be the better choice (Unless you desire to reload large quantities in excess of 200 rounds an hour or a 1000 rounds a month.), to have a bit more control and to get an understanding of what’s happening, though a progressive is “do-able,” you run a larger risk of making a mistake that could harm you or damage your pistol/rifle. Good brands of turrets are Lee Classic Turret Press (4 station, automatic advance), RCBS (88901, cast iron) and Redding (T7, cast iron). For the lowest price, the Lee will do an excellent job, providing 200-300 rounds per hour (About what the average Dillon 550 owner gets, if they’re honest.) and will get you started at a reasonable price, then if you decide to stay with it, you may want to go progressive.

    If you find you reload a large quantity of rounds and want to go full blown progressive, excellent brands are Hornady Lock N Load (5 station fully automated; I have one and love it.), Dillon 550 (4 station semi-automated turret) or 650 (5 station fully automated), (I don’t recommend Dillon’s SBD because it’s dies won’t fit anything else, nor will any other dies fit it, so you’re stuck with Dillon dies and it doesn’t reload rifle.) and the RCBS 2000 (An excellent cast iron semi automated press with an excellent primer feed).

    Good economy brands are the Lee Pro 1000 and Loadmaster. The Lee’s are less expensive and can take some tweaking and adjusting, but it can be done and it’s way less expensive to purchase, a serious consideration if your money is tight. You should be aware that if you buy the Lee’s, you’d need to adjust them properly to get good operation. Here’s a good how to website for Lee equipment and Lee Precision’s own website has excellent “how to” mpegs on it as well:



    2. Reloading dies for the caliber of your choice. I have Hornady, Lee, Lyman and RCBS dies, but I wouldn't hesitate to buy and use Dillon, who also load excellent ammo and were specifically designed for progressive reloading. Rumor has it that Redding is the Cadillac of dies, but their prices reflect it. I would only explore the Redding and other higher priced dies if your plan were to reload for competitive purposes.

    For pistol, you'll want to buy carbide or TiN coated dies, so that you do not have to lubricate your brass to prevent it sticking in the die. For a single stage press (Or Lee Turret press), you'll need a shell holder that matches the caliber you're loading. For a progressive, you’ll need a shell plate.

    3. A Powder measure/dispenser (Many kits include these.) I like the Hornady, RCBS and Redding brands for these. I have both the Hornady and Redding brands. Of these, the Hornady and RCBS have an automated version I’ve found to be more consistent because of the automated feature. Mine came with my Hornady Lock and Load Auto Progressive Press.

    For more automated powder dispensing, the Lee Auto Disk, the Hornady Lock N Load (Starting the middle of the month for Hornady) and the Dillon measures offer case activated powder dispensing and expanding capabilities, which are very desirable if you wish to load pistol.

    4. A powder scale, no matter single stage, turret or progressive, you'll need one of these. I like the RCBS 505 and 1010, the Hornady and the Dillon scales. I have a Redding, but wish I had gotten another brand because the fine adjustment is hard to see and can be bumped out of adjustment accidentally. My plan is to replace the Redding with an RCBS 1010 when I can, because of the positive fine adjustment on the RCBS 1010. Others like the electronic measures, but I haven’t found the cost justifies the expensive for no more than I use my scale. (I use mine as a check for my powder measures, not to weigh out powder charges.)

    5. A set of calipers to measure your cartridges with. I have a Frankford Arsenal set that's done well for me. I have recently replaced it with a 6” digital set I bought at Harbor Freight Tools (It’s done a great job since I’ve had it and I really like the digital feature.). Other folks spend a lot more money, but these have been more than accurate enough for everything I've loaded, including high-power rifle cartridges for competitive purposes.

    6. A reloading manual- I have and like my Speer, but Hornady, Lee and a couple other folks make excellent ones. I haven't heard much about Lyman's reloading manual, but their lead bullet manual is pretty good. A good loading book on the basics like the ABC's of Reloading and Metallic Cartridge Reloading can help you understand the process a lot better. Read them a couple times it will get you to a good understanding. Read the directions that come with your press, dies etc.

    7. Some snap lid plastic storage containers with bins to store all the little pieces and parts from the equipment. It might not be a bad idea to look at plastic fishing tackle boxes, as they have lots of storage compartments.

    8. Some Akro plastic bins to hold your brass, bullets and loaded cartridges while you're in the process of reloading. If you're loading single stage, you might need some cartridge blocks to regain the brass in various stages of production. Buy the cheapest bins out there, such as Harbor Freight; they're all plastic so you gain nothing by paying more. For reloading on a single stage, you’ll need loading blocks for the period where your cases are charged with powder and are waiting for bullets.

    9. A couple of adjustable wrenches, one six inch and one eight inch. There may be other hand tools, but if you have a toolbox, you may already have them. Or you can identify the correct size wrenches you need for a better fit when adjusting things.

    10. A kinetic bullet puller and a collet bullet puller to correct your mistakes. Why both? The kinetic puller to cover oddball calibers you decide to buy and load and the collet puller to cover the calibers you load the most. I had the kinetic made by Frankford Arsenal in the past, but because of price changes, I now recommend the RCBS one, because of their excellent warranty (They’ll exchange it if it breaks, no matter how long you’ve owned it.). BTW, the collets for the Frankford Arsenal fit the RCBS. I like the Hornady and RCBS collet pullers, because of their operation speed and they don’t spill the powder everywhere.

    11. A brass trimmer. I have an RCBS Trim Pro automated version and have recently added the head that chamfers. Makes it real nice if you’re processing large quantities of brass that need trimming and chamfering. I used to compete in high-power rifle, reload lots of rifle cartridges that need to be trimmed to length occasionally. For smaller quantities of brass, a hand trimmer would be sufficient and much more fun to use. You will need to check your brass is not over the maximum allowed length. After trimming, you will need a de-burring tool cleans up the inside and outside necks so the case-mouth isn't sharp and bullets insert smoothly without damage. RCBS offers the Trim Mate to automatic this, as well as the chamfering heads for their Trim Pro. Most automatic pistol cartridges do not need to be trimmed. If you[‘re doing a serious volume of competitive shooting, you may want to take a look at the Giraud and Gracey trimmers.

    12. Cartridge gauge. These are nicely convenient to check to see if your reloaded cartridges are within SAAMI specification. They are especially useful when reloading pistol cartridges I’ve found.

    13. Case lube - I use Hornady One Shot on my rifle cartridges, but I find it and their cleaner lube handy for lubricating moving parts on my progressive that I don't have grease and oil getting into. For rifle cartridges you can lube with a pad and case lube (such as the one included in the RCBS kit) or use something like Hornady one-shot or try out Imperial Sizing Die Wax, which I hear is another excellent product. My recommendation is the One Shot or the Imperial wax over the messy lube pads.

    14. Brass - I recommend you research and buy a better brand of brass, particularly what the majority of folks shooting your caliber are loading, it'll generally be (but not always) the best compromise of quality and price. Occasionally something new comes along that whips the "standard" pretty badly. Though sometimes, it’s about the same price to buy preloaded cartridges, shoot them and reload the brass. You come out about the same cost wise, but get to shoot it more. Range pick up can be nice at times as well. If you’re not sure about a brand of brass, ask on the reloading forums. Thoroughly inspect any brass you decide to reload in order to identify problems with that brass.

    15. Powder - Again, start with the "Ole standby" for your cartridge (if one exists) and then move out to other brands as you gain reloading experience. Post on the net and folks will provide you with what the “Ole standby” is for any particular caliber.

    16. Bullets - FMJ is great, but lead is cheaper. I'd advise buying them in bulk, 500 to a thousand at a time. You'll want to learn how to reload before you even think about making your own lead bullets. Depending on the caliber you're shooting, this will certainly result in significant savings. This is for range practice. For hunting, go with the best bullets you can afford for the type of animal you’re hunting. Once you’ve learned how to reload, you can also cast and “roll your own” bullets as well.

    17. Safety glasses, wear them while you're reloading, just like you do when you're shooting. There is nothing like making a mistake; then blowing up a primer and losing an eye to ruin one’s day.

    18. You will need to clean the brass. Bose's Guns, (http://www.bosesguns.com/) has a Frankford Arsenal combination that does well, it's the one I have. Another more expensive alternative would be the Dillon combination (Dillonprecision.com). Other manufacturers make other good ones as well. The ones mentioned are the ones I’m familiar with.

    Finally, build yourself a nice, stable reloading bench. Some make their bench huge, with lots of surface area. I suggest to you that rather than do this; you make the bench just big enough to set up a reloading operation with AKRO plastic bins (bought cheaply from an industrial supply outfit in large quantity). You will need a single "universal" reloading tray to hold the cartridges while they are primed and charged, waiting for bullets.

    Having owned both large and small bench setups, I've found setting up two or even three smaller benches and making shelving units to store the accessories and reloading components works better for me.

    I've had to move a time or two and the huge benches were a real problem. With a bench narrower than the width of your doors, if you have to move, you don't have to disassemble it (Much more convenient not to have to disassemble when you're busy as hell trying to get ready to move.) Also, make it short enough you can move it around corners within your house.

    Some links:
  5. mosttoyswins

    mosttoyswins Member

    Nov 6, 2005
    San Antonio, TX
    Jeeze Dave, I really appreciate all the info!!!!

    I guess that is the end of this thread! :D

  6. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

    Jul 5, 2006
    West Virginia
    It depends how much ammo you need and how much time you have to reload. The club I belong to has a lot of matches throughout the year. I will shoot 4 IDPA matches, 2 Glock style matches, 1 Glock match (gssf), 2 Bullseye matches and practice time fun time at the range. That is a minimum there could be a few more in there. I bought a Lee Classic Turret Press and it will keep up with all of the ammo I need. I can load 200 rounds per hour. I can spend a couple of hours a few days a week and make 1000 to 1200 rounds in that week. I have plenty of time to reload and I enjoy it so much that once I sit down in front of the press I will be there for awhile. Here is an example of what I bought. If you are only going to load pistol you will also want to add a tumbler and a caliper.

    Lee Auto Disk Powder Measure Riser.
    Lee Adjustable Charge Bar Auto Disk.
    Lee Pro Auto Disk Powder Measure.
    Lee Safety Prime Small and Large Primer Feeder.
    Lee Classic Four Hole Turret Press.
    Lee Deluxe Handgun Four Die Set 9mm Luger.
    Lee Safety Magnetic Scale. ( will upgrade as needed )
    Total was $207 including shipping
  7. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

    Jul 5, 2006
    West Virginia
    I forgot to reply to your 9mm question. 9mm is all I load right now. I can load100 rounds for around $7. That is almost half price of WWB. Your reloads will be more accurate and you have some controll over the amount of recoil. I buy my powder and primers local to save on hasmat fees. I use Berry's and Ranier plated bullets. I save my brass and also pick up brass at the range. Hope this helps.
  8. DWARREN123

    DWARREN123 Member

    May 1, 2006
    Between TN & KY
    Start with 2 good reloading manuals. I started with a Lee Anniversary Kit, got dies, powder, primers, a tumbler w/media and bullets. Price will depends on what rounds and how many different types you want to reload (ie pistol and rifle or shotgun).
    It has become a fun hobby for me!
    I hope you get the information you want. Be safe.
  9. robctwo

    robctwo Member

    Jul 9, 2003
    Albany, Oregon
    Maybe Dave's reply should be a sticky or in the FAQ. Good job.

    I started out on my friend's Lee Loadmaster loading 9mm for 1/2 price of WWB.

    I bought the Hornady LnL and load everything from .380 to 300WSM. It is a better piece of machinery than the Lee. Have no opinion on any other presses because I have not operated or been around them. I just went over 33,000 rounds on the LnL. The bushing system for changing calibers is great. The powder measure is great. The primer feed is great. New LnL have the powder drop through the expander die so you can use a powder check in the extra station. I look in my cases before I seat the bullet.

    I went progressive out of the shoot because that's what I learned on, and my goal was to make a lot of pistol ammo in a short time.

    I can make one round at a time if I want to, so the press can act like a single stage for working up a load or for learning how to load. It can then load 5 at a time.
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