New to reloading and .....

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by wiiawiwb, Jul 14, 2015.

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  1. wiiawiwb

    wiiawiwb Member

    Jun 30, 2010
    ..... have a few basic questions about getting started.

    I'm looking to learn to reload 45 Long Colt and maybe 454 Casull for my Ruger SRH Toklat. No rifle rounds. I use the Toklat for fun range shooting and plinking, no hunting. I've poured through prior posts on this forum and have watched scores of YouTube videos related to the process of reloading and equipment.

    Here are a few thoughts at this point:

    1) I'm thinking I will start with a single-stage press and buy each piece of reloading equipment, and supplies, separately rather than a kit.

    2) I would definitely prefer a digital scale and caliper.

    3) I've checked with various local sources (gun clubs, craigslist, want ads) to see if there is used equipment and have come up empty so it will be new equipment for me to select from.

    Should I stay with one company or mix and match? Include the tumbler and case trimmer or nix them for now? Etc...

    I went through various posts and videos and put together a list of RCMS equipment and supplies which total ~$700. Obviously, the sky is the limit and some people probable have ~$5,000+, but will $700 plus the cost of brass, primers, powder, and bullets be able to get me started?

    I'm finding that the "might as wells" can easily push up the price to buy equipment. Now that I've decided to buy reloading equipment, I "might as well" spend an extra $100 on this press, or an extra $100 on this powder dispenser/scale. I don't know what I don't know and thus can't determine where extra money is well spent and where it is wasted.

    Any direction or advice would be appreciated.
  2. kcofohio
    • Contributing Member

    kcofohio Contributing Member

    Dec 16, 2013
    NW Ohio
    Here is a good point to start at. :)


    After you have read a good book or two, ;) , then you'll have a better understanding of what equipment fits you.

    Some are going to have their favorite brand(s), and nothing wrong with that. But you will need to determine for yourself which brand(s) you will use.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2015
  3. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    northern california
    While there is nothing wrong with RCBS equipment, it is neither the "best" single stage press, not the "best value". Since you're starting from a fresh page and aren't "tied" to a certain brand/color, you're well ahead of the curve already.

    I started with a progressive press and soon decided that I needed a single stage to supplement it.
    My research proved to me that the best single stage press was the Forster (formerly Bonanza) Co-Ax

    ...and the best value in a single stage press was the Lee Classic Cast single stage press. I'd personally add the Hornady Bushing System to just make changing dies simpler. What sold me on the Lee CC SS as opposed to the RCBS Rockchucker was the spent primer handling
  4. wvshooter

    wvshooter Member

    May 4, 2009
    Charleston, WV
    I bought a RCBS kit a few years ago and havn't had any problems. Buying a kit from whoever you choose should save you a little money over buying individual items. Starting with a single stage is probably best IMO.

    There is a difference in how well some of the different manufacturers products work. I have a Forster die that works much better than the size die from another company.
  5. readyeddy

    readyeddy Member

    May 8, 2012
    Would probably be less expensive if you went with Lee, but I'm not pushing brands.

    My advice would be to get yourself the press, dies, primer tool, calipers, scale and powder measure/scoopers, and manuals. Maybe also get something to clean the brass. Read the manuals and start loading and shoot.

    You will quickly see the additional things that will help, and those things that you don't really need.

    The reason why I say this is that different people have vastly different approaches to reloading equipment.

    Some people have every reloading tool known to man. Some don't own a caliper, don't clean their brass, or prep primer pockets. It's personal preference.

    So if you don't want to buy unncessary equipment, it's best to start slow.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2015
  6. TheGerman

    TheGerman Member

    Jul 11, 2015
    Some additional comments from my side
    - get a good beam scale, electronic ones tend to be less accurate
    - if you want to get inexpensive (LEE) models, check out the "closeout" section on leeprecision.com - they got single stage and turret presses significantly off the list price
    - read some "howto" manuals, don't try to deviate from the parameters listed in the manuals and "have fun" reloading!
  7. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

    Aug 16, 2009
    Thanks for asking our advice. Welcome to reloading.

    You asked for it, so I will happily provide a flood.
    I tend toward the approach of building your own kit, a little at a time.

    A kit from a major manufacturer will get you started reloading quicker, but will almost always have stuff in it you don't need and lack things you do, so you will wind up trading things off (at a loss, it goes without saying). But you can get into production quicker.

    On the other hand, if you do the studying up required to assemble your own kit, the knowledge gained from that study will serve you VERY well throughout the rest of your loading career.
    I started out with a single stage. Then went to progressive for a while, but was not temperamentally suited to monitoring multiple simultaneous operations. So, I went to a turret press. I recommend it, as there is virtually no downside to a turret over a single stage if you are not going for long-distance critical MOA (minute of angle) shooting.

    Turrets are not that more expensive and die changes and caliber swaps are much more convenient. Also, quantity output can be doubled or tripled over a single stage.

    Turret presses can be operated as if they were single stage (batch mode) or in continuous mode (almost as a progressive). Operator's choice.

    I will not fault your decision to go electric rather than mechanical, but merely point out that gravity is more constant than voltage (battery OR commercially supplied AC) as my prejudice toward the "old school" tools.

    Buy high-quality electronic scale, as they are better shielded against stray emanations from magnetic fields and flourescent lights, etc.
    Finding used gear is a great way to stay within a budget. But, depending on luck, can be iffy, as you have seen.
    At current prices, anyone could replicate my loading setup for $800. I lack for NOTHING to load for 9mm, .357 Mag, 38 Special, 44 Mag, 44 Special, 45 ACP, 45 Colt, 454 Casull, 480 Ruger, 41 Mag.

    check out the kit from Kempf's Gun Shop on line. They have a kit consistning of a Lee Classic Turret, Primer dispenser and Dies (which most kits do not include)and do not force you to take dealer's choice of manual or scale (allowing you to choose your own). Pretty much the only kit I recommend.
    With the interchangeability of parts pretty much universal, the only reason I can see for sticking with one company is to keep the color scheme of decorating your loading room on track. Pick the tools for their function, not the manufacturers' nameplates. Pardon my snarkiness. I couldn't resist.

    I loaded for decades without a tumbler. I simply wiped my brass clean of any grit with terry cloth, paper towels or anything in between. My ammunition looks prettier now, but shoots just the same.
    The judgement to be able to discern where a little boost in price is worth the extra dollars is hard to come by. I will quote this aphorism. "Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement."

    Another truism is, "The wise man learns from his mistakes. The TRULY wise man learns from the mistakes of others."

    Congratulations on asking what you can learn from others here on this forum.

    Lost Sheep
  8. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

    Aug 16, 2009
    10 Advices for the novice loader

    10 Advices for the novice loader

    I have thought of a few things I think are useful for handloaders to know or to consider which seem to be almost universally mentioned, so I put together this list of 10 advices.

    Much is a matter of personal taste and circumstance, though. So, all advice carries this caveat, "your mileage may vary".

    So you can better evaluate my words, here is the focus of my experience. I load for handguns (44 Mag, 45 ACP, 45 Colt, 454 Casull, 9mm, 357 Mag, 480 Ruger) a couple hundred per sitting and go through 100 to 500 centerfire rounds per month. I don't cast....yet.

    When I bought my first gun (.357 Magnum Dan Wesson revolver), I bought, at the same time, a reloading setup because I knew I could not afford to shoot if I did not reload my own ammo. My setup was simple. A set of dies, a press, a 2" x 6" plank, some carriage bolts and wing nuts, a scale, two loading blocks. I just mounted the press on the plank wedged into the drawer of an end table. I did not use a loading bench at all.

    It cost me about 1/4 of factory ammo per round and paid for itself pretty quickly.

    I still believe in a minimalist approach and and try to keep my inventory of tools low. I do not keep my loading gear set up when not in use, either, but pack them away in small toolboxes until the next loading session.

    Now, here are my Ten Advices.

    Advice #1 Use Reliable Reference Sources Wisely - Books, Videos, Web Sites, etc.

    Study up in loading manuals until you understand the process well, before spending a lot of (or any) money on equipment.

    Read as many manuals as you can, for the discussion of the how-to steps found in their early chapters. The reason you want more than one or two manuals is that you want to read differing authors/editors writing styles and find ones that "speak" to you. What one manual covers thinly, another will cover well so give better coverage of the subject; one author or editor may cover parts of the subject more thoroughly than the others. The public library should have manuals you can read, then decide which ones you want to buy. Dated, perhaps but the basics are pretty unchanging.

    I found "The ABC's of Reloading" to be a very good reference. Containing no loading data but full of knowledge and understanding of the process. I am told the older editions are better than the newer ones, so the library is looking even better.

    There are instructional videos now that did not exist in the '70s when I started, but some are better than others. Filter all casual information through a "B.S." filter.

    Only after you know the processing steps of loading can you look at the contents of of a dealer's shelves, a mail-order catalog or a reloading kit and know what equipment you want to buy. If you are considering a loading kit, you will be in a better position to know what parts you don't need and what parts the kits lack. If building your own kit from scratch, you will be better able to find the parts that will serve your into the future without having to do trade-ins.

    Advice #2 All equipment is good. But is it good FOR YOU?

    Almost every manufacturer of loading equipment makes good stuff; if they didn't, they would lose reputation fast and disappear from the marketplace. Generally you get what you pay for and better equipment costs more. Cast aluminum is lighter and less expensive but not so abrasion resistant as cast iron. Cast iron lasts practically forever. Aluminum generally takes more cleaning and lubrication to last forever. Just think about what you buy. Ask around. Testimonials are nice. But if you think Ford/Chevy owners have brand loyalty, you have not met handloaders. Testimonials with reasoning behind them are better. RCBS equipment is almost all green, Dillon-blue, Lee-red. Almost no manufacturers cross color lines and many handloaders simply identify themselves as "Blue" or whatever. Make your own choices.

    About brand loyalties, an example: Lee Precision makes good equipment, but is generally considered the "economy" equipment maker (though some of their stuff is considered preferable to more expensive makes, as Lee has been an innovator both in price leadership which has introduced many to loading who might not otherwise have been able to start the hobby and in introduction of innovative features like their auto-advancing turret presses). But there are detractors who focus on Lee's cheapest offerings to paint even their extremely strong gear as inferior. My advice: Ignore the snobs.

    On Kits: Almost every manufacturer makes a kit that contains everything you need to do reloading (except dies and the consumables). A kit is decent way to get started. Eventually most people wind up replacing most of the components of the kit as their personal taste develops (negating the savings you thought the kit gave you), but you will have gotten started, at least.

    On building your own kit: The thought processes you give to assembling your own kit increases your knowledge about reloading. You may get started a couple weeks later than if you started with a kit, but you will be far ahead in knowledge.

    RCBS and Dillon seem, by most reports, the best warranty service. But that is reflected in the original purchase prices. Lee has a one year warranty at half the purchase price. You pays your money and you makes your choice. If you buy the higher-end Lee stuff, use the heck out of it the first year (to week out any true manufacturing defects), and give the gear good maintennce, it will last as long as as well as RCBS.

    Advice #3 While Learning, you may think about options. Progressive, turret or Single Stage? Experimental loads? Pushing performance envelopes? Don't get fancy.

    While you are learning, stay below maximum power levels (and do not go below book minimums, either). Propellants are designed to run best within a fairly narrow performance envelope. Start in the lower portion of and stay in the mid-range of that envelope. While you are at it, check several different sources for recipes. Different ballistics labs use different guns, primers and conditions and get different results. Look at the range of values in the recipes and stay in the mid-range. Just concentrate on getting the mechanical steps of loading right and being VERY VERY consistent (charge weight, crimp strength, bullet seating depth, primer seating force, all that). Use a voluminous, "fluffy", powder that is, one that is easy to see that you have charged the case and which will overflow your cartridge case if you mistakenly put two powder charges in it.

    While learning, only perform one operation at a time. Whether you do the one operation 50 (or 20) times on a batch of cases before moving on to the next operation - "Batch Processing" or take one case through all the sequence of operations between empty case to finished cartridge - "Continuous Processing", sometimes known as "Sequential Processing", learn by performing only one operation at a time and concentrating on THAT OPERATION. On a single stage press or a turret press, this is the native way of operation. On a progressive press, the native operation is to perform multiple operations simultaneously. Don't do it. While you can learn on a progressive press, in my opinion too many things happen at the same time, thus are hard to keep track of (unless you load singly at first). Mistakes DO happen and you want to watch for them ONE AT A TIME. Until handloading becomes second nature to you.

    Note: A turret press is essentially a single stage press with a moveable head which can mount several dies at the same time. What makes it like a single stage rather than a progressive is that you are still using only one die at a time, not three or four dies simultaneously at each stroke.

    On the Turret vs Single stage the decision is simpler. You can do everything on a Turret EXACTLY the same way as you do on a single stage (just leave the turret stationary). That is, a Turret IS a single stage if you don't rotate the head.

    Learning on a progressive can be done successfully, but it is easier to learn to walk in shoes than on roller skates.

    Also, a good, strong, single stage press is in the stable of almost every reloader I know, no matter how many progressives they have. Most keep at least one.

    Advice #4 Find a mentor.

    There is no substitute for someone watching you load a few cartridges and critiquing your technique BEFORE you develop bad habits or make a dangerous mistake. (A mistake that might not have consequences right away, but maybe only after you have escaped trouble a hundred times until one day you get bit, for instance having case lube on your fingers when you handle primers; 99 times, no problem because primers are coated with a sealant, but the hundredth primer may not be perfectly sealed and now winds up "dead")

    I started loading with the guy who sold me my press watching over my shoulder as I loaded my first 6 rounds to make sure I did not blow myself up, load a powderless cartridge or set off a primer in the press. I could have learned more, faster with a longer mentoring period, but I learned a lot in those first 6 rounds, as he explained each step. I educated myself after that. But now, on the internet, I have learned a WHOLE LOT MORE. But in-person is still the best.

    After you have been mentored, mentor someone else. Not necessarily in loading or the shooting sports, but in SOMETHING in which you are enthusiastic and qualified. Just give back to the community.

    Advice #5 Design your loading space for safety, efficiency, easse, cleanliness

    Your loading bench/room is tantamount to a factory floor. There is a whole profession devoted to industrial engineering, the art and science of production design. Your loading system (layout, process steps, quality control, safety measures, etc) deserves no less attention than that.

    For example, consider the word "workflow". Place your components' supplies convenient to the hand that will place them into the operation and the receptacle(s) for interim or finished products, too. You can make a significant increase in safety and in speed, too, with well thought out design of your production layout, "A" to "Z", from the lighting to the dropcloth to the fire suppression scheme.

    One factor often neglected is where the scale is located. Place your scale where it is protected from drafts and vibration and is easy to read and operate, eye level, in good light, etc.

    Advice #6 Keep Current on loading technology

    Always use a CURRENT loading manual. Ballistic testing has produced some new knowledge over the years and powder chemistry has changed over the years, too. They make some powders differently than they used to and even some powder names may have changed. However, if you are using 10 year old powder, you may want to check a 10 year old manual for the recipe. Then double check with a modern manual and then triple check with the powder maker.

    Read previous threads on reloading and watch videos available on the web. But be cautious. There is both good information and bad information found in casual sources, so see my advice #10.

    Advice #7 You never regret buying the best (but once)

    When you buy the very best, it hurts only once, in the wallet. When you buy too cheaply it hurts every time you use the gear. The trick is to buy good enough (on the scale between high quality and low price) to keep you happy without overpaying for features you don't need. "The delicious flavor of low price fades fast. The wretched aftertaste of poor quality lingers long."

    Advice #8 Tungsten Carbide dies (or Titanium Nitride) rather than tool steel.

    T-C dies instead of regular tool steel (which require lubrication for sizing your brass) for your straight-walled cartridge cases. T-C dies do not require lubrication, which will save you time. Carbide expander button for your bottlenecked cases. Keeps lube out of the inside of the cases.

    Advice #9 Safety Always Safety All Ways.

    Wear eye protection, especially when seating primers. Gloves are good, too, especially if using the Lee "Hammer" Tools. Children (unless they are good helpers, not just playing around) are at risk and are a risk. Pets, too unless they have been vetted (no, not that kind of vetting). Any distractions that might induce you to forget charging a case (no charge or a double charge, equally disturbing). Imagine everything that CAN go wrong. Then imagine everything that you CAN'T imagine. I could go on, but it's your eyes, your fingers, your house, your children (present or future - lead is a hazard, too. Wash after loading and don't eat at your bench). Enough said?

    Advice #10 Take all with a grain of salt.

    Verify for yourself everything you learn. Believe only half of what you see and one quarter of what you hear. That goes double for everything you find on the internet (with the possible exception of the actual web sites of the bullet and powder manufacturers). This advice applies to my message as much as anything else and especially to personal load recipes. Hare-brained reloaders might have dangerous habits and even an honest typographical error could be deadly. I heard about a powder manufacturer's web site that dropped a decimal point once. It was fixed REAL FAST, but mistakes happen. I work in accounting and can easily hit "7" instead of "4" or a "3" instead of a decimal point because they are next to each other on the keypad.

    Good luck.

    Lost Sheep
  9. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

    Aug 16, 2009
    Some light reading

    I have compiled a few web sites that seem to have some good information (only some of which came from me).

    Go get a large mug of whatever you sip when you read and think and visit these sites.

    Sticky-contains much general information.

    Sticky-contains much general information.

    New guy considering if/how to get started reloading

    On the fence

    "Newby needs help." (A typical new reloader thread). My posts are 11 and 13

    "Just bought my first press. Needs some info tho." (A typical new reloader thread)

    "I am looking at getting into reloading for the first time" (A typical new reloader thread)

    "Considering reloading" (A typical new reloader thread)

    "Interested in reloading" (A typical new reloader thread)

    "Is the lee classic loader a good starter loader?" A thread from someone considering the Mallet-driven Lee Classic Loader.

    "Lee Classic Loader Kit" My post, Minimalist minimal is the seventh post down.

    "45 Colt question-Lee loader" Another Lee Classic Loader thread

    "Best starter kit?"

    "To kit or not to kit?" That is the question. My thread. Hard to read apparently

    Informed by my 2010 repopulation of my loading bench (If I knew in '75 what I know now)

    Thoughts on The Lee Classic Turret Press

    Choosing a press-medium quantities

    Use what type of scale? (poll)

    Good luck

    Lost Sheep
  10. gspn

    gspn Member

    Jun 10, 2006
    I started with a Lee Classic 4-hole turret. It's an auto indexing press, high quality, low cost, and faster than a single stage. When I began I was loading 45 ACP and 7 mm Rem Mag. Over time I expanded to loading roughly 15 pistol calibers and several more rifle calibers.

    I've used the press for over 6 years with no problems. It very reliably cranks out very good ammo. Caliber changes are very fast and very cheap.

    I have both a digital caliper and a digital scale. I agonized over many variables but ultimately decided to start at the low cost end and bought a Franklin digital caliper...I think it cost $15. It's worked great the whole time I've owned it. If it is in some way inferior, it has yet to show it in my shooting.

    The Lee press is less than $120. Extra turrets can usually be found for $8 to $10. Lee pistol dies generally run around $30 or so. You'd have to add up the rest of the costs but for your budget you could easily be up and running on all new equipment very quickly.

    After several years of using the Lee I decided I needed a higher output for some calibers so I picked up a progressive press...but the Lee still loads all but 3 of my calibers. It's a very good machine.

    That's been my experience.
  11. LoneGoose

    LoneGoose Member

    Jul 14, 2015
    Clarksville, Tennessee
    Press with priming lever

    readyeddy makes mention of a priming tool. My single-stage press has a priming lever built into it. Once a store clerk tried to sell me a primer tool; when I told him about my press, he said, "What?".
  12. ku4hx

    ku4hx Member

    Nov 8, 2009
    Buy Lyman's 49th edition reloading manual and read every word of it prior to the load data itself. There's more to it than just stuffing powder and bullet into a case. Increased knowledge is always a good thing, especially when lack of it can be devastating.
  13. dnfd737

    dnfd737 Member

    May 2, 2015
    Do yourself a huge favor on the press get a lee 4 hole turret press, its like a single stage where you don't need to fumble with the dies everytime you change your operation for the same caliber.
  14. njl

    njl Member

    May 3, 2006
    The trouble with digital calipers is, some night you'll want to do some loading and find that the battery has died and that your spare is dead or you used it and didn't replace it. If you're like me, at that point, you'll buy a dial caliper as a backup, find that it's really not any more difficult to use, and pretty much stop using the digital.

    A good beam scale, while slower to use, is far more reliable than an inexpensive digital scale. If you insist on digital, avoid the Lyman XP 1000. I have one. It's not to be trusted.
  15. BullRunBear

    BullRunBear Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    Northern Virginia
    Wow! Not much I can add to Lost Sheep's post except some personal experience.

    I started with a Lee Turret press bought as a 'second'. The only thing was cosmetic not mechanical. Over thirty years later it still works fine. I just wipe the ram down with a good lube now and then. It has loaded everything from 32 long to 45-70 and several bottle neck rifle calibers. I use it basically as a single stage these days. I also have the Lee Classic Turret. Most of my gear is Lee only because it does what I need and is a great value. It loads ammo better than I can shoot. Again, just my experience not a recommendation.

    I've used both digital and mechanical calipers and scales. I now use only the mechanical which has held up better. I don't like being dependent on batteries for reloading. My scale is an old RCBS 505.

    Never be in a hurry or distracted when reloading, especially when dispensing powder and seating bullets. That said, I often batch process brass and have set ups to let me deprime used cases and prime sized cases (strictly mechanical processes) in my easy chair while listening to music or a ball game. I use a Lee hand press with a universal decapping die for the first and a hand priming tool for the second. I really prefer the hand priming tool since I can feel the primer being seated properly. This process also lets me handle each case several times which makes catching problem brass (splits, bad case mouth, etc.) more likely. When I'm charging the case and seating the bullet I want no distractions.

    I happen to enjoy reloading as part of the shooting hobby. It's not a chore. So I take my time. If I had to crank out several thousand rounds a week like some competitive pistol shooters it would be different.

    Reloading for straight walled revolver cartridges is probably the easiest way to get started.

    Good luck with reloading. It really is a hobby within the hobby.

  16. TimSr

    TimSr Member

    Jan 13, 2015
    Wayne co. Ohio
    I'm going to give you some simple and specific advice. By an RCBS kit at about $300. Unlike Lee, it is COMPLETE and has everything you need to get started except for dies and components. Avoid the Partner Press kits, as this press will soon become inadequate if you add rifle rounds to your mix. Rock Chuker press handles about anything well. Buy a set of Casull/45LC CARBIDE dies from any of the major makers, and a shell holder if its not included with dies. You are ready to go! As you get more involved you may want to add more pieces of equipment to improve your process but it's a waste of money when you are getting started and don't really know what you need. You'll probably never use a case trimmer on the two rounds you mentioned. You'll probably end up getting a case tumbler, but no immediate need.

    Get the kit and start looking up loads in the book before buying components.

    One word of caution - With full power .454 Casull loads, ONLY use a bullet that is rated for that kind of velocity. Most 45LC bullets are fine up to Ruger only/44mag type loads. Make sure you use Casull rated bullets for Casull power loads.
  17. JonB

    JonB Member

    Dec 18, 2006
    Cheapest Option

    All good advice above.

    Cheapest Basics you need to learn and not sink a ton of cash into:

    1. Decent scale. I used a small pocket digital scale for a long time and it worked. I don't push loads so even if it wasn't super precise it did the job. Now I have a GemPro 250.
    2. Press - if you are doing small quantities and not in a hurry, a Lee Hand press will do the job and they are only $35.
    2. Dies - Lee are cheapest and work just as good as any other. Get carbide for straight wall pistol cases, no need to lube.
    3. Caliper - I use Frankford Arsenal digital. I take the battery out each time after use and have been using the same battery for years.
    4. Books - get a couple. I don't like Lyman as it seems heavy on cast loads which I don't do. Not as many load options as others. Internet is your friend for current load data.
    5. Tumbler- looks like you are doing revolver rounds so you probably don't need a tumbler right away since they probably won't be hitting the dirt like semi-auto rounds
    6. Hand prime tool - not critical as you can prime on the press, but I think hand prime is faster and easier. If you don't go with the hand prime, make sure you get whatever on-press priming option.
    7. Case trimmer - Lee again is the cheapest and it works.
    8. Misc - chamfer tool, primer pocket cleaner, powder trickler, Reloading block or two
    9. Components - powder, primers, bullets, cases

    When I started, I spent maybe $175 for the above. Hand press is slower, but perfect for starting as you don't have to a) spend a lot, b) watch too many moving parts and steps at once (ie a progressive), c) packs away into a small-ish box when not using (no dedicated bench space needed).

    A few bucks more gets you a bench mounted single stage press. Lee Classic cast is a strong, well made press at around $100. But since you aren't loading bottleneck rifle (yet?) then you can easily get by with one of the aluminum cast presses from Lee or RCBS in the $75 range. If you think you may add rifle, then I would get a cast iron press. Although the hand press works for those too - just takes a bit more oomph to resize cases. I load 223 with hand press no problem.

    It really comes down to what you want to spend. I went the cheapest route possible to start and added things here and there.

    My set up today is exactly as above with the addition of a RCBS Summit press (bought a few weeks ago after about 7 years on just a hand press) and a Lee Perfect Powder measure which really speeds up the charging step.

    The 'Might As Wells' really do add up quickly. So figure out your budget and you can put together the pieces you need from ~$175 on up to $1000's.

    Lots of great advice from the folks here and many seasoned reloaders that are always willing to steer you in the right direction.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
  18. wiiawiwb

    wiiawiwb Member

    Jun 30, 2010
    Wow...great information!. Thanks to each and every one of of you for sharing.

    A follow up question related to the press and scale. If I were to invest $170 to upgrade equipment from the gitgo would it be best to put it into the press or scale/dispensing equipment? For example:

    A RCBS RockChucker Supreme is $136. For another $170 I could get a Forster Co Ax.

    A GemPro 250 digital scale is $166. For another $170 I could get an RCBS Chargemaster 1500.

    Where is that $170 best spent, the press or the scale/dispenser?
  19. JonB

    JonB Member

    Dec 18, 2006
    I would put it in the scale. You'll get time savings out of it vs no time savings using any flavor of single stage press. Plus you won't have to buy another powder measure such as the Lee PPM, RCBS Uniflow, etc. The chargemaster is basically a scale and dispenser in one.

    The Rockchucker vs the Co-Ax, well you really don't gain much as both are single stage. If you like the idea of how the Co-Ax works, check out the Summit.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
  20. johnjohn

    johnjohn Member

    Oct 26, 2009
    While I don't post a lot, and am far from an expert, I will say a few years ago I went "hi-tech" and bought a digital scale. Long story short, I now have a $90 paperweight. It went back to the factory once and after getting it back, it weighed maybe 2 charges and went "nuts" again. Just my own experience, YMMV. I won't give out the brand name.
  21. cwall64

    cwall64 Member

    Mar 25, 2015
    Iola, TX
    I have had good luck with my Chargemaster Duo. But, I still use a 30+ year old Ohaus 10-0-5 beam scale. And always verify one against the other throughout a loading session. With the right powder and a Uniflow or other powder drop a beam scale is (to me) easier to check the powder drops every so many rounds. One of the issues I have read others having with electronic scales is "noise" in the area (cell phones, certain types of light plug into the same wall socket, etc) - I have mine isolated with a line conditioner from high end audio equipment, but I am still very cautious with what other electronics are around... airflow in the room also seems to effect the digital scales more so than beam scales.
  22. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    northern california
    I must say I don't think I've ever heard that before.

    From research and having used a friend's Co-Ax, I've come to appreciate it's superior flexibility, speed and inherent accuracy.
    1. It doesn't require changing conventional shell holders to load different calibers.
    2. The jaws that hold the case in place are self aligning
    3. Dies are changed without having to screw them in and adjusting them...it is faster than the Hornady Bushing System. It gives you the speed of a turret press in a single stage.
    4. The die is self aligning as the ram is lowered to optimize concentrically of the cartridge
    5. The primer seating is more precise due to it's design
    6. The handling of spent primers is much more efficient than the Rockchucker, which leaves your press cleaning.
    7. Case handling is faster/easier/smoother due to it's open front design

    While I'm a fan of the RCBS Summit, it really isn't much of a comparison to the Co-Ax
  23. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    northern california
    You really need to evaluate your usage.

    From that stated in you OP, loading the .45LC, I think the money would be better spent on the press. It will be faster to use and easier to understand as changing and adjusting dies during changes is simplified. The Co-Ax's open design also allows faster handling of cases when batch processing

    The nice thing is that you'll never have to wonder if there is a better Single stage you should have bought...Buy Once, Cry Once

    The GemPro-250 is an excellent choice and will fill your need for an accurate scale for handloading handgun cartridges
  24. Sunray

    Sunray Member

    May 17, 2003
    London, Ont.
    "...rather than a kit..." That'll cost you a lot more in the long run. However, a single stage will serve you well. Been using one for 40 years and don't see a need to change. Speed comes with technique. Mostly using both hands.
    2) Absolutely. Digital kit is much easier to read.
    3) If you find any used kit, buy RCBS only. Their warrantee covers used kit. Don't think ANY other brand does that.
    Handgun cases like the .45 Colt rarely require trimming, so if you stay with handgun only, you won't need a trimmer. Mind you, reloading tends to expand one's outlook, so rifle will be along sooner or later. Meanwhile you don't need it.
    $700 is plenty.
  25. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

    Aug 30, 2011
    Get 2-3 manuals first. Read all the front matter - the stuff that explains internal ballistics and reloading theory and practice - before you even think of unboxing the equipment.
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