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New guy contemplating handloading

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by brandon_mcg, Nov 17, 2010.

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  1. MCMXI
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    MCMXI Contributing Member

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    We all have different ideas of what works and what doesn't. You like Lee, I like Redding, the Lee turret holds four dies, the Redding turret holds seven. Something that's a consideration for me might not be a consideration for you. Once you screw in a bunch of Redding dies for the .300 Win Mag into the turret, you end up with a sizable object that needs to be stored somewhere. I ended up buying Lee die boxes since they're large enough to hold Redding's competition dies (set up for correct depth) whereas the Redding boxes aren't.
     
  2. Nushif

    Nushif Member

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    Exactly my point. The OP probably did well in hearing both.
     
  3. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    During load development, I will load fifteen rounds at a time. It takes me no time at all to switch between each die. A flick of the wrist. Now consider that you would be doing a die change three times for every fifteen rounds. Multiply that several times for development of each load, for each gun. Now multiply that for a lifetime of handloading. Yes, it is a small difference but this is a sport of increments. It saves a little bit of time, just like a progressive saves time over a turret. Every little bit counts and it all adds up in the end. Especially for someone like me who does not particularly enjoy reloading. I simply do it to shoot more.

    Storage is a non-issue.

    Turret head cost $35-$40 for RCBS, is a non-issue.

    As I forgot to mention earlier, most of the detractors of turret presses, have never even tried one.
     
  4. 45Fan

    45Fan Member

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    Turret presses look fancy and all, but I have kept my cabinet full just fine with a single stage press. Reloading for me is about relaxing a bit, and giving me something to do when the weather is nasty outside, and the hunting seasons are over.
     
  5. jfdavis58

    jfdavis58 Member

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    I think you should examine your own work-flow preferences, your production needs, any anticipated expansion, contraction or change that has or might occur soon and then find a machine to match. If you can wrap your mind around the various steps necessary to re-manufacturer ammunition, then what press type really doesn't matter.

    For some tasks I like a fast progressive, for others a single stage is appropriate and a turret set-up for a complete set of steps is just convenience. I've got one turret plate set for six steps used in high-power rifle and another top set for two different pistol calibers. Heck I even have both a single stage and a hand press for use a the range.

    What really matters is your own mind-set and the task to be completed; how much effort and time you want to expend and what set of variables are important to you. If I need a few hundred pistol rounds I use a Dillon 550--same if I need a few hundred 223 or 308. On the other hand when I need some well-matched hunting rounds (or special competition loads) I use the single stage and a whole bench of hand tools. I know of folks using just a single stage for everything as well as those using a progressive for everything.

    I don't make recommendations any more.
     
  6. floydster

    floydster Member

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    First off I have been reloading for 56 years.
    I have a Lee single stage Classic Cast and a Lee Classic four hole turret press.
    I also have a new Hornady LNL progressive.
    I use the LNL for resizing and depriming, and I prep all my cases, either priming on the turret or with my Lee Auto prime, I do no priming on the LNL, it's just too much of a pain.
    I will then use one of the three presses to do my powder drop and bullet seating, however I do batch loading as rc does, and with the turret ( I use it as a single stage), I find this the most enjoyable and safest, even tho I have a powder check alarm on my LNL.
    I mostly use the Lee single stage for rifle load development, it's a great press, as is the turret.
    Anyway, this is the way I do it, and by searching in your own mind just what you want to achieve you will find out what will work the best for you, good luck and happy reloading.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2010
  7. MCMXI
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    MCMXI Contributing Member

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    But the time saved using a progressive rather than a turret or single stage for pistol ammunition is HUGE. The time saved using a turret rather than a single stage press is "incremental" as you say. In this "sport of increments", I'd rather have those incremental improvements show up in my match score as compared to saving a couple of minutes during an evening of reloading.


    Are there "detractors" in this thread? Not really. What is in this thread is some information that should help the OP make an informed choice. As for never having used a turret press ... so what. I think I can imagine the joy of advancing the turret one station and then grinning from ear to ear because I just saved myself 29 seconds.
     
  8. MCMXI
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    MCMXI Contributing Member

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    Excellent post right there and worth repeating and possibly one of the best posts I've ever read on this forum. Thanks for getting this thread back on track. That last sentence would make a good signature.
     
  9. RidgwayCO

    RidgwayCO Member

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    This question gets asked about every two weeks, and every time we jump all over ourselves trying to be persuasive. Here's my attempt:

    When I started loading, I tried to go cheap with a Lee 35th Anniversary setup. Everything I got in that kit is now gone. I was able to reload accurate and safe ammo with it, but it felt flimsy and didn't inspire confidence, IMHO.

    Then I bought an RCBS Rockchucker IV press. Very sturdy and smooth, but I never liked the way it handled spent primers. After years of reloading on the single-stage RCBS, carefully using loading blocks to check powder throws from my Redding powder measure, I became intrigued with the idea of a Lee Classic Cast Turret (LCCT) press and bought one.

    For me, there are a couple advantages to the LCCT over the single-stage press. First the reloading dies stay set up in their individual turrets, and I use the Lee 3-die round storage boxes to store the turrets. When I'm changing to a different cartridge, I can easily exchange the turrets and shellholders in less than a minute. Not a ton of time saved, but noticeable.

    [​IMG]

    Another benefit is that using the auto advance feature lets me eliminate three "insert case/remove case" steps for each round. Another significant time saver.

    The final item that I really like about the LCCT is that I can easily check each and every case for a proper powder throw before seating a bullet. I use a an LED flashlight mounted next to the LCCT to accomplish this:

    [​IMG]

    But rcmodel is right, you MUST have a process for checking powder drops in EACH case, no exceptions. And case blocks are the best way to do this with a single-stage press.

    Since I like to prime my cases with an RCBS hand priming tool, I've had to adjust my process to prime my cases first, then they go on their merry way through the LCCT: 1) resize case (with no primer decapping pin installed), 2) flare case and drop powder, 3) seat bullet, 4) crimp case.

    With this process I can easily reload 200 rounds an hour, and have been able to resist the urge to go totally progressive. The only rifle round I reload for on the LCCT is the .223 (with a double-disk kit), but I think you could reload for .308 as well.

    The .30-06 requires more powder than I can throw with the double-disk kit, so it gets done on my Lee Classic Cast single-stage. Yes, a single-stage press always comes in handy, and I've replaced the Rockchucker with the Lee.

    So there's my way of reloading. Will it work for you? I have no idea. There's nothing wrong with starting with a single-stage press and learning from your mistakes (which we all make). But if you think you might like to go a little quicker some day, then you could always purchase the LCCT, take out the auto-advance rod (less than a minute to remove or install), and use it as a single-stage. Then when you feel like you're ready for a little more production speed, install the rod and you're there.
     
  10. qajaq59

    qajaq59 Member

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    Here is one piece of advice I would venture to give to a new guy about presses.
    Find out where the primers are going to go!!!!
    I have a newer press that lives under the bench because it just drops primers all over the place. :banghead: It annoyed me so much that I dug out my old one, that lets them fall thru a shft into the waste basket, and have used it ever since. It's real old and super ugly, but at least it doesn't annoy me. :D
     
  11. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    Another option to be aware of is the Lee Breechlock single stage. (This press has a very small footprint, and I love the Lee priming arms.) You set your dies in special collars, and they pop in/out in a few seconds while keeping their adjustment. And the dies with collars attached still fit perfectly in the Lee die boxes.

    The collars are kinda pricey, though. My set came with 4 of them. I leave just the seating die of my main calibers in 3 of them and leave the last collar in the press, making it a normal screw-in press for all the other dies.

    If you check on the web, some sites have customer reviews. The Midway reviews helped me to narrow down my choice between the Breechlock and the 4 hole Lee Turret Press. There are very few reviews less than 5 stars on either of those presses. (And both are very inexpensive!)

    In the end, I went with the advice that a good single stage press is always going to be useful, even if you upgrade later.

    ^^ and the spent primers drop into a length of flexible tubing! You can leave the cap on, and it will hold several hundred SPP for easy disposal. Or you can take the cap off and direct them into a garbage bin.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2010
  12. firstater

    firstater Member

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    Same here. Starting with the powder measure that leaked all over with fine powders. The press has served me well and the hand priming tool is great. I would have stayed away from the kit if knew better.

    I do like the quick change bushings. Hornady also has a quick change die conversion bushing kit that you can add to other presses such as lee classic cast or rcbs rock chucker.
     
  13. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    As is the relative cost, no free lunches. In a perfect world, I'd have a bank of Dillon 650's but we all have to work with what we have to work with.


    Yes, well, we ain't all shooting for score. But those "incremental improvements" ain't improving your score, they're wasted screwing and unscrewing dies. I'd rather save some time, time that could be spent shooting or doing something else. Because as I said, I don't particularly enjoy handloading. IMHO, the time a turret press saves me far outweighs any potential disadvantages, real or perceived. All decisions the individual must make for himself.


    These discussions are all the same. We turret users 'know' the perks of our setups. Those with a bias against them will stand here and tell us that we're dreaming them up, all the while they've never even turned out a single round on one. Hopefully anyone reading this will lend a little more credibility to statements made by folks who have loaded tens of thousands of rounds on a turret, over those who are obviously prejudiced against them but have zero experience.
     
  14. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    I am not trying to be argumentative, but i would like to know what all this time is taken with screwing dies in and out and how a turret would substantially improve my reloading process.

    When I resize rifle cases, i install the appropriate resizing die and resize all the cases that need resizing. Then I continue prepping the cases--trimming, cleaning, polishing and so forth. I would rather get the resizing lube off the case before charging it with powder.

    When I load the cases, which is at another time separate from the resizing and prep step, I install the seating die and reload the cases. I prefer to hand prime and like to check each case for powder.

    I have screwed in and out two dies one time each. Straight walled rounds adds a third (see more below), well, actually a fourth since I crimp in a separate step. Maybe a minute or two spent. Dies have locking lock rings on them so no adjustment is needed when installing the die.

    As I see it, for this process to work on a turret press like the Lee, i would need two turrets, one for resizing and one for reloading or I would have to disable the indexing feature. On a turret press like the Redding, Lyman or RCBS, they can be used like a single stage press and just manually index the turret to process the batch of cases in the next step.

    The problem with that process is I reload over 20 different cartridges. So, i would spend a fortune on turrets for each cartridge or two or I would have to screw dies in and out. Let's see, am I not screwing dies in and out with the single stage?

    If I loaded one or two cartridges, i can see setting up a turret or progressive press for one cartridge would be a plus. But, that does not fit my reloading process, budget or available space.

    More on straight walled cartridges. For straight walled cartridges, primarily handgun, I recently bought a Hornady L-N-L progressive. I have gone "progresive" for handgun cartridges so that the secondary steps of expanding the case mouths and crimping are accomplished essentially at the same time without handling the case again. I chose the Hornady in part because I can install only the dies that I need for the task at hand. The Dillon, RCBS, or Lee would require extra die plates or screwing dies in and out. I still prime by hand.

    In converting to the Hornady, to reduce the change over time and eliminate adjusting, I spent a small forturne buying bushings, powder measure dies, and a few new reloading dies as my old Lee dies were too short. But not as much as buying extra turrets.

    I am definitely not saying my process is the only way to reload ammunition.

    So, am I missing something? Thanks
     
  15. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    Screwing dies in/out is NOT where you save time with a turret press. You save time by having to put the shell in only once or twice, versus 3-4 times. And by not having to transfer shells back and forth to a loading block. And you save more time if you use an automatic powder dropper. Think about it. This turns expanding and filling the case into a single step, then it takes the filled shell straight to the seating step. It basically completely removes the filling step, which is the longest, most involved part of the process (for straight walled pistol, anyway). Just imagine if you could automatically charge your case while expanding the mouth on your single stage press, then dump the cases into a bin and the powder would stay in there until your seating step. That's what you get with a turret press.

    If you like to size/prime separately, you can disable the auto indexing for that part. Then you can use the auto indexing for the rest. All you have to do is advance the turret manually 1 or 2 spaces between each round, depending if you are crimping in a separate stage or not. You'd do this anyway, on a 4 hole turret, if you're crimping/seating with 1 die. This is no worse than having to manually index every step on the other brands of turret.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2010
  16. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Thanks for the response. That's about what I figured and why I purchased a progressive. A loaded round with every pull of the lever instead of 3 or 4--or actually two with the convoluted way I prefer to reload.

    The progressive has more flexibility for my process.
     
  17. 788Ham

    788Ham Member

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    I bought a RCBS JR press years ago, Gawd, must have been 35 anyway. Its a single stage, just as rc and others have stated, yes it takes a little longer, but what's your hurry, you're just learning right? As others have stated too, this slower process gives you time to check and make sure everything has been done first, then second, then.... you get the hint. Just enjoy the process, the building blocks if you will, you might find the single stage is all you've needed, if not, they'll be making progressives when your s/s is all worn out. Enjoy and welcome!:cool:
     
  18. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    The RCBS turret heads hold six dies, so that's enough stations for two different pistol cartridges or as many as three rifle cartridges.

    As GLOOB stated, switching dies is not the only place you save time. Maybe I should start writing down every little situation where the turret saves time over a single stage, just for the benefit of the naysayers. Or I could just go on about my business and spend more time shooting......less time arguing with folks I'll never convince anyway.
     
  19. MCMXI
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    MCMXI Contributing Member

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    So far you've convinced me that I can save about 3 minutes during a 3 hour reloading session using a turret press. I'd be interested in hearing how I'd save any more time given that this is how I assemble my match loads ... all 51 or 88 of them depending on the match. ** used where I need to install or remove a die.

    **Neck size (Redding Competition neck sizing die)
    **Lube and bump the shoulder back (Redding body die)
    Clean outside and primer pocket
    Trim (RCBS automatic case trimmer)
    Prime (RCBS automatic bench priming tool)
    Powder (RCBS ChargeMaster 1500)
    **Seat (Redding Competition seater die)

    I'll be putting together 150 .45 ACP rounds for my IPSC match on Sunday using my trusty old progressive press so that should give you about 45 minutes or so.
     
  20. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Like I said. :rolleyes:

     
  21. brandon_mcg

    brandon_mcg Member

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    Thanks everyone for the replies. I have read and considered all replies. I have since picked up a copy of Lyman's 49th edition handbook and have read through the first 3 sections which covers all of the details of the reloading process. I think that i am going to go with the lee challenger kit listed here:
    http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=423081
    Along with a set of RCBS carbide dies for my .45 auto, a set of digital calipers, lee case length gage for the .45, some loading blocks, and then do a good bit of research on the type of powder and bullets t purchase.

    Anything else you guys can point out besides a couple more manuals?
     
  22. roadappletx

    roadappletx Member

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    There's lots of good advice on these pages. Get all of the information you can get your hands on. Buy reloading manuals from Hornady, Speer, Sierra, Lyman, Lee, and any others you can find. Read them. Figure out what you want to load, and start slow. If you start with a single stage, or turret, you can move up to a progressive after you figured out what you are doing, and feel comfortable with your work, you can still use the single stage, or turret, for developement, or any one to 10 off batches. Once your confidence is up, you will be helping other folks new to hand-loading. You will also love the experience of making your own high-quality ammo. I like to load as much as I like to shoot! I am glad to share what I have learned with others. This is the best hobby I've ever had! I hope you enjoy it as much. Jim
     
  23. brandon_mcg

    brandon_mcg Member

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    Just watched some youtube vids on reloading. is a powder trickler a must have item or a nice to have item. As I understand, the purpose of the trickler is to add 1 granule at a time in order to get the correct charge. Is this correct?
     
  24. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Brandon_mcg

    Yes, a powder trickler is for making it easy to make sure every charge weighs the same. For the most part it is not necessary, particularly for hand gun loads. Some folks weigh every charge to minimize variation and attempt to eek out the best consistency and accuracy with their loads.

    Your powder measure should provide adequate consistency with your powder charges for most instances. Note, that technique with the powder measure is important to minimize variation. Throw charges the same way every time. Weigh charges frequently when you get started until you build some confidence in you ability to throw consistent charges. Then you can extend this interval. I generally check my measure every 50 or so charges thrown.

    Generally, hand gun cartridges do not require trimming, but when you start loading 308 Win or any rifle cartridge, you will need to trim. The Lee case length gauge is part of their trimming system and requires the Lee cutter and case stud as well. You did not mention getting the latter unless it is included in the Lee kit. Also, for trimming you will need a chamfer/deburring tool. Again, if not included in the kit, it will be needed to purchased separately.

    Trimming 45ACP is a good exercise to learn trimming and having the equipment on hand can be useful but you will find the cases won't change much. But, if you have the cutter and case stud on hand, when you get into 308 Win, you will only need to buy the case length gauge at that time. The cutter is universal.

    Sounds like you have a good start on a new hobby. Have fun.
     
  25. brandon_mcg

    brandon_mcg Member

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    Thanks for the reply Chuck. The lee cutter and case stud come with the kit as well as the chamfer/deburring tool. Another option I am considering is the convenience of owning a tumbler for cleaning my brass. I plan on cleaning maybe 100-150 rounds at a time and am wondering if it would be worth the price to purchase the tumbler or to clean the brass by hand. Newbies are the devil :evil:
     
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