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New to Reloading

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Tedster, Oct 30, 2009.

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  1. Tedster

    Tedster Member

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    Howdy folks,

    Have found this great forum and been reading for some time. Would like to understand how to get started in re-loading. Don't have any experience in this, but just want something to get me going. Have been a blackpowder shooter more than anything else for quite a few years, built a muzzleloader from T/C, and have a Navy .36cal, and understand the basic idea, straight wall cases are easier. Need powder, primers, bullets, and brass.

    With the idea in the back of my mind that might want to reload selected a lever action .357 magnum. Of course it shoots .38s too, that I thought would be fun too. Ordered a bunch of "cowboy load" in both .357 and .38, it is starline brass. Interesting to me at least, I also have the .36cal, as I understand it can purchase a "conversion" cylinder that would shoot, uh, .38s? through a .36 barrel?? Is that right?

    This I don't understand, too. I thought the .357 measurement was just that, the measurement or nominal diameter of the bullet, the barrel diameter a bit smaller w/rifling. Since .38s shoot to it occured to me that somebody is lying!

    Well anyway what are the basics that should be looked at. First a reloading manual. Equipment wise, can I just buy something that only loads .38/.357, without a wall of equipment? I got enough hobbies as it is, and too much junk!!! Would also like to load BP "black powder". So, it seems smart to me to tailor everything around those calibers, though I understand shooting BP is different. For one thing, it seems that a drop tube is recommended. Why is that? Thanks again tedster.
     
  2. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Buy a Lee Classic Turret press kit and have at it. Maybe jfh will come along and link to the best deal here in a bit. Lee is the best bang for the buck and a great way to get started without mortgaging the farm.

    Pick up the Lyman #49 as an extra. Well worth every penny.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2009
  3. Jeff H

    Jeff H Member

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    38spec and .357 are the same size. The lead bullets you bought are most likely .358" To be honest, I have no idea how 38spec got its name since it never has been any different than its current size.
     
  4. Tedster

    Tedster Member

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    OK. I see they have a "kit" available too. Now, does that include the die? Or are they standardized across brand names, can install a die from many makers? Would a Redding die (heard they were good) fit in that, or that's where it gets fuzzy. Now figure that I might not want a wall full of equipment, but that doesn't mean I want to get cheap either. Like so many things today they aren't necessarily built as well they might have been just a few years ago. I don't like to waste my money on new stuff when used/vintage is in many cases much superior in construction. OK. Translation: "is this a cheap piece of overseas **** that will break the fourth time I use it?"
     
  5. Sport45

    Sport45 Member

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    It shrank from a heeled bullet design (similar to a .22lr) where the bullet was the same diameter as the case.
     
  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    All the dies are pretty much interchangable. You can have a Lee press with RCBS dies or a Redding press with Hornady dies, or a Lyman press with Lee dies.

    All of the die sets available will load good ammo. Some are more nicely machined, or are designed a bit different etc, but they all work. I have my favorites, as do others. My 9MM set is a Lee sizer, a Redding expander, a Hornady seater, and a C&H crimper. I load with them on a Hornady press.

    Unless you have plenty of money to throw around, the Lee kits are the best way to get started for the least money. They will load great ammo. After you have some experience you can add items of various makes and decide what you like best and spend your money appropriately.

    No need to sink $400 to $600 into getting started just to see if you like it and will stick with it. Used reloading equipment does not sell for a lot.
     
  7. Tedster

    Tedster Member

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    Well it looks like that handloader would be more my speed - only 30 bucks or so! I guess I would need a decapper, too. I saved the brass from the last time at the range, but I didn't decap them. I washed 'em in soap and hot water, will it hurt anything to keep the caps in the brass for a while? What I want to do, is eventually get a Ruger or, S/W .357
    and reload for that too. Lever actions are different in that only round nose or flat point bullets are supposed to be used. Then, BP shooting requires that the brass be annealed, or so I've read.
     
  8. SASS#23149

    SASS#23149 Member

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    the Lee Handloader is very very slow,their turret press will allow for much more output as you learn how to use it and what each die does.Lee also sells dies,and they work just fine.
    I"d go for a seperate die for crimping as it makes adjusting the seating depth,and the crimp,much easier if they are 2 seperate dies.Sometimes called a 'four die set'.
    Loading bp in a metllic case is a whole nother ballgame,best to start with smokeless powder,then ask about the ins and outs of bp loading. Winchester W231 powder will work great for your .38/.357 ammo.
     
  9. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    Its been my understanding that the .38 Spec got its name from back in the black powder days. Round balls cast oversize at .380 for the .36 cal. revolvers, then shaved when loading the cylinder. At least thats what I've always heard.

    Do as you wish "you will anyway, of course" but I would suggest you do as walkalong sayes and get a bench mounted press. I've watched guys reload at the range with the Hand press and it just seems awkward to me.

    Listen to walkalong he is one the guru's here, I only wish I knew what he forgot.
     
  10. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    Frankly I think one could reload faster with the Lee Original Loader Kit AKA Whack-O-Matic that with the hand loader.
     
  11. psyop

    psyop Member

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    For Sure....

    Lee Handloader....forgetaboutit

    I hand prime and run the 3 hole...not the 4 hole
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2009
  12. Tedster

    Tedster Member

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    Yeah, a kit sounds the way to go, mostly. Can see this could get more complicated than I want, because a rifle is going to want different bullet weights and charges than a pistol. Is it possible to standardize my rounds with commonality of specific powder, primers, and brass, at least?
     
  13. jfh

    jfh Member

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    thank you for the setup, Walkalong--

    a slower start this morning; insomnia.

    Here's some overview information for you to consider, Tedster.

    1. Since you are planning on starting to reload with a handgun caliber--i.e., 38 Special / 357--get a turret press, period. The benefits of the Lee Classic Turret, specifically, because its auto-indexing feature will enable you to get the production you need for your firearms' usage, and the easy conversion to single-stage operation will enable you to learn safely. If cost is a major issue, then drop back to the Lee 'standard' turret 4-die kit.

    2. Here is a link to a thread discussing a basic / complete reloading setup built around the Lee products. Pay attention to the comments and revisions in post 12. After reviewing this thread, a) ask questions about what confuses you and b) assemble your own list, post it, and we'll critique it.

    3. Good online outlets from which to buy reloading gear, and specifically the Lee products include a) Kempf's gun shop, Graf's, Midsouth, and others. Kempf's probably makes the most sense for buying the most items at one shop and saving on freight. Here is a link to Kempf's page for the Classic Turret 'kits'--

    When these posts were worked up about twenty months ago, I used to figure you could get completely set up for perhaps $300.00. Prices are up--and you can control those costs by 'staging' the purchases.

    4. Two good manuals to start with are a) The ABCs of Reloading and (for handgun calibers) b) Lyman Pistol and Revolver No. 4(?, the latest, at any rate). Get one or both now and start reading.

    With a quick review of the succeeding posts here, Tedster, my advice would be to not even think of the Handloader. What SASS#23149 says is true--it will be ungodly slow, and it is not representative of what reloading will be with a bench-mounted press and typical reloading setup.

    There is nothing wrong with other brand gear, and in fact there is some benefit to it, as long as one is not primarily concerned with cost. I'm not going to debate the merits / demerits of any brand; I will simply say that Lee brand gear is good quality gear that offers the best price-performance ratio available.

    Other, more specific questions or confusion about powder, components, needed hardware, brand of die, etc., can be set aside for the moment, I think--

    OK, look over this information and get back to us.

    added on edit: As psyop says--bottleneck rifle reloading is a whole 'nother story; don't think about it. The same is true for BP--set thoughts of it aside for now.

    Jim H.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2009
  14. psyop

    psyop Member

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    Bottleneck Rifle is a whole nuther story.

    Start off with your straightwall 357/38 and learn the ropes.
     
  15. Tedster

    Tedster Member

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    Ok, thanks everyone, got some homework to do. Need to order some stuff from Brownells anyway, they should have the manuals I need. Btw, have always been a bit leery of reloading, had a roomate in college who reloaded in our dorm room. Great guy and all, had lots of nice guns to shoot at the range, and a ton of back issues of AR. But one day I came back from class and he was white as a sheet. I asked what happened and he just pointed at the ceiling, it had a patch of powder burn right above the loader on his desk. I didn't ask what happened, but never forgot that.
     
  16. snuffy

    snuffy Member

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  17. Gatofeo

    Gatofeo Member

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    Definitely a turret press, if you're going to reload pistol ammo.
    You'll shoot far more pistol ammo. It isn't unusual to shoot 200 rounds at the range (four boxes).
    It would not be nearly so common to shoot 200 rifle cartridges. Rifle shooting is done at a slower pace.
    So, a turret press will speed production.
    I cut my reloading teeth on a Lee Loader, the pound-o-matic variety, back in 1970. Reloaded for a .32 Winchester Special rifle, then later a .45 Colt revolver. I soon learned that loading a box of 50 pistol rounds took far too long, and bought an RCBS Jr. press.
    Now I have a Dillon 550 progressive press for pistol and blam-o-matic rifle rounds (.30 Carbine, .223 Remington).
    Some folks denigrate Lee but I've always found their products to be made well enough for the intended task, and at a good price.
    Lee has served me well for nearly 40 years.
    You'll be well served with a Lee turret press, for both pistol and rifle rounds. Search the net for a good price on one.
    Lee Loaders, the kind you pound out with a mallet, are good for those who shoot, at most, 40 to 50 rounds a year. The Lee Loader is still a good unit, and can produce some fine ammunition, but it's slower than an old man ... er ... dancing. :D
     
  18. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    This hobby is not for everyone. You have to have an innate respect for guns in general, some basic measurement skills, and common sense. Your background in BP will give you a tremendous head start as far as "the mechanics".

    After all that, you still have to pay attention to what you're doing. Reloading ain't as dumbed-down as using the microwave. Some people start with that mind-set, some people learn it through experiment!
     
  19. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    I don't know but I've ran into some Micro-Waves I couldn't even turn on. Almost as bed as setting up a DVD recorder or VCR.
     
  20. Tedster

    Tedster Member

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    OK. I spent some time, and Midway has a turret kit for $110.00, and a 4 set carbide die for $37.00

    The part number for the kit is 622290; the 4 set carbide dies part number 309802; the kit is short a couple items I'm unclear on, but how are these two items for a start?
     
  21. husker

    husker Member

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    LEE 50th Anniversary kit for under $90.00 at Cabeles comes with
    breech lock O frame press
    safty prime & priming tool
    perfect powder measure with stand
    powder funnel,case trimmer,chamfer tool
    priming pocket cleaner.1 tube of case sizing lube
    safety powder scale
    breech lock quick change bushings
     
  22. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    Ted, what you're looking at at Midway is a turrent setup not a bad price, not bad pricing. The Lee 50th Anniversary kit is a single stage kit, little less expensive, little more complete. Personnally I like the single stage but thats just me, others like the turrent. I like to reload in batches, 50 cases at a time and double checking for charges with a light, but then again thats just the way I like to do it.

    Actually you can't go wrong with either one.
     
  23. Tedster

    Tedster Member

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    Hm, I glanced over at midway for powders. Looking pretty slim for what I want. W231, 4756, 5744, etc.

    All out.

    And then they have a hazmat fee of 20 bucks, plus another 10 bucks on top of that. Crikey. I might try to buy local for the powder and primer if possible to avoid this. Will call around.
     
  24. snuffy

    snuffy Member

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    That's the OLD ALUMINUM turrET, the one you want is the one I linked to on post #17. That's the newER version of the turrET the classic turret, not (turreNt). (just yankin yer chain JC).

    The classic is twice as good as the older deluxe model. If you enjoy picking spent primers off the floor, bench and your lap, then get the old deluxe kit.

    Just get the classic turret and then order the rest of the stuff that comes with the kit individually.
     
  25. jfh

    jfh Member

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    I'm going to jump back in again and re-emphasize the need to start with a turret press if you are reloading a (straightwall) handgun round, and if you are in fact interesting in cowboy / action shooting as your first post suggests, Tedster. The use of a Single Stage press (as jcwit uses) does result in a workflow using batch processing. There's nothing wrong with that--and you may find you end up wanting to use your (Lee) turret press that way forever. But, any sort of handgun / 'action' shooting usually leads to a noticable increase in shooting--and a resulting frustration at being limited in the speed of reloading if one has 'only' a single-stage press.

    If cost is a real issue for you, then consider getting the Lee older / standard turret in the 4-die configuration. That move will save you some money--$30-40.00, IIRC. Truth be known, I don't own a Classic Turret yet; I updated my older Turret two-and-a-half years ago. I've loaded some 25-30K of rounds on it since the updating, and it's going fine. (The Classic Turret has some very real benefits over the older design, however, so Lee Turret afficiandos do recommend the Classic cast unless money is a high-test issue.)

    Continuing in the same theme, the next fall-back in costs would be to that 50th Anniversary Kit husker noted--that's a good 'entry level' package; I use the earlier-version Challenger Press myself for off-line crimping or priming.

    About powder, primers, etc.--all mail order will have a Hazmat charge of over 20.00 now. You won't get away from it, except for maybe huge volume orders--so do try to buy your powder and primers locally. For your purposes--reloading 38/357--I'd suggest 231 for lighter loads and probably AA#7 or #9 for your heavier loads. You will need SPs or SPMs for your primers, and if you can find them at reasonable prices (probably low-thirties per 1000), buy a least a few hundred to tide you over.

    That Lee kit from Midway you referenced is the one done around the 'old' turret, not the newer Classic Turret. IOW, that's the fall-back position. The 4-die price seems high; I checked similar pricing at Graf's, and that same kit is about the same price, including shipping. The die set is similarly the same price, including shipping. (I've oversimiplified the total price a hair, but it's very close). FWIW, I do buy from Midway, too, but for Lee products, they are probably not the cheapest. You should check Midsouth and Kempf's as well.

    Jim H.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2009
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