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New to Reloading

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by KravBill, Apr 7, 2013.

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  1. KravBill

    KravBill Member

    Apr 7, 2013

    Just purchased Lee Classic Turret Kit and a set of .45ACP dies. I plan on .380 dies in future. Have not used it yet, would like more info on my next steps before I try reloading.

    What powder and primers do you recommend, and will they work with both calibers? Trying to keep inventory minimal
    ALso recommendations on bullets and brass

    Thank You
  2. Wil Terry

    Wil Terry Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Black Hills, South Dakota, USA
    ALL OF THESE QUESTIONS are answered in any of the loading manuals IF you take a moment to read them thoroughly, Sir.
  3. geist262

    geist262 Member

    Sep 3, 2010
    +1. I like the lyman 49th manual as a goto. I would get at least one other manual to cross reference.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  4. KravBill

    KravBill Member

    Apr 7, 2013
    Which is why I posted my question on this forum. What manuals would YOU recommend for a beginner.
    Thank you for you reply
  5. tcanthonyii

    tcanthonyii Member

    Dec 9, 2012
    I started 4 months ago with nothing but the lee turret kit and his book. I've got a few thousand rounds under my belt now and have loaded in 9 different calibers. I cannot recomend the lee book enough. I go it more than any of the others. The lyman book is so so to me. It lists many less powders.

    For powder grab what you can get locally. I've been loading with TightGroup in my pistol loads.
  6. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

    Dec 7, 2008
    Mount Desert Island Maine
    First welcome to the wonderful world of reloading your own ammo.
    At the top of this sub-forum there is "the reloading library of wisdom". This is a great resource for the new reloader. I also urge you to read at least one manuals reloading instructions before asking any specific questions. The answers will make a lot more sense to you if there is a basic understanding of the complete in depth process. Also if there is anyone that is local to you to act as a mentor that would be a huge help. Most reloaders will want to help a newbie start safely. FWIW reloading is not difficult BUT it takes some common sense and attention to detail to stay safe. We all want every new reloader to be successful and safe but you have to put forth some effort on your own to get there. I just don't want you to think that we are not willing to help, we are but there has to be some of the basic process understood first.:)

    The ABC's Of Reloading, Lyman #49, Speer reloading manual, or Mordern Reloading II by Richard Lee are all good places to start. I thought any of the kits HAD a manual included with them. If you did not get a kit there are probably going to be other items that you will need also.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2013
  7. Beentown

    Beentown Member

    Jan 20, 2011
    Your press came with the Lee Modern Loading. It is a great starting off point.

    Winchester 231
    Universal Clays

    They will all cover .380auto and 45ACP quite well.
  8. Jesse Heywood

    Jesse Heywood Member

    Dec 9, 2009
  9. 45lcshooter

    45lcshooter Member

    Oct 6, 2012
    Central of the Commonwealth of PA
    Any manual you buy has a section in the front to show you how to start reloading. Then in the fact it self it will say what primers they used in their test guns. Pretty much safe to say any primer sold in today's market can be put in to a case and the case reloaded. Read your manuals, read archives on here. Then if you have questions, fire away.
  10. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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

    Anyone who can both follow a recipe in the kitchen and change a tire can handload safely. It takes care and a bit of humility. Handloading is not rocket science, but it does involve smoke and flame and things that go very fast, so care is to be taken.

    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 builging 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. 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.

    Advice #3 While Learning, don't get fancy. Progressive, turret or Single Stage? Experimental loads? Pushing performance envelopes? Don't get fancy.

    While you are learning, load mid-range at first so overpressures are not concerns. 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 mulltiple 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. They always keep at least one.

    Advice #4 Find a mentor.

    There is no substitute for someone watching you load a few cartridges and critiquing your technigue 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, 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.

    Place your scale where it is protected from drafts and vibration and is easy to read and operate. Place you 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.

    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 of 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" because they are next to each other on the keypad.

    Good luck.

    Lost Sheep
  11. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

    Aug 16, 2009
    Let me share with you some posts and threads I think you will enjoy. So get a large mug of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, whatever you keep on hand when you read and think and read through these.

    I apologize. Most of these threads are useful for people shopping for their equipment (which you already have), but they contain much good information on loading, including powder selection and more importantly, the general attitude that will keep you happy and safe.

    The "sticky" thread at the top of TheFiringLine's reloading forum is good, entitled, "For the New Reloader: Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST "

    The "sticky" thread at the top of TheHighRoad.com's reloading forum is good, entitled, "For the New Reloader: Thinking about Reloading; Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST"

    "Budget Beginning bench you will never outgrow for the novice handloader". This was informed by my recent (July 2010) repopulation of my loading bench. It is what I would have done 35 years ago if I had known then what I know now.

    Thread entitled "Newby needs help."
    My post 11 is entitled "Here's my reloading setup, which I think you might want to model" November 21, 2010)
    My post 13 is "10 Advices for the novice handloader" November 21, 2010)

    Minimalist minimal


    or if the links do not work, paste these into your browser




    (posts are #11 and #13)


    Lost Sheep
  12. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Nov 20, 2006
    W-231 works great in both calibers and is easy to work with. Great powder for beginners.

    Any large pistol primer for .45 ACP (Unless you have some of the newer small primer pocket cases), and any small pistol primer for .380. Basicall whatever you can find these days.

    HP-38 is the same powder as W-231. Other powders will work of course. If you can't find W-231/HP-38, let us know what you can find and we can comment on its use in those calibers.

    Welcome to THR
  13. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

    Jun 18, 2011
    Welcome Aboard!
  14. KravBill

    KravBill Member

    Apr 7, 2013

    Thank you for all you advice and experience. I posted on this forum because I knew I would get the info I needed.

    The kit I ordered came with a manual, just didn't get the kit yet,(ordered today, been looking for months but info on this site pointed me toward Midsouth and I was lucky to snag one!)

    I didn't just want to jump into reloading and will take whatever advice and recommendations members on this forum suggest, books, video and mentors. I have been researching this for months and now is the time where I will be able to start.

    Lost Sheep
    I want to thank you for the comprehensive list of what I need to get started in reloading, I appreciate the time you have taken to give such a detailed answer and will use this as a blueprint to move forward......Thanks again.

    I look forward to this new "interest" and will continue to lean on THR members for advice.

    Thanks Again,


    CPLofMARINES Member

    Mar 31, 2006
    Shelby Twp., Mi
    KravBill, welcome aboard. BTW Lost Sheep, you da man.
    Still reading myself though, no hurry, just self edamacating!:)

    Semper Fi
  16. greyling22

    greyling22 Member

    Aug 6, 2007
    East Texas
    welcome! Lots of good advice here. Pay particular attention to the guys with lots of posts under their belts. If anybody seems a little curt, it's because while we like to help out, there are probably 3 guys a day who join and ask the same questions you just did, or some variation of it. It gets a little old. Use the search function.

    youtube and lee's website have a lot of good info for setting up your press. Better articulated than the paper directions in the box.

    The manual you will receive is a little preachy about how great lee's stuff it, and there is a lot of stuff that will not make sense at first (pressure, lead hardness, etc) but will eventually make more sense as you get more knowledge and experience. {kind of like the Bible :) } That said, it's a good book and my favorite source for load data. ABC's is a good starting book, but I read it after I had been loading for years and it didn't really bring anything new to the table for me so I don't have a particularly favorable impression.

    Powders: There is not a "best" powder for .45acp etc. Many powders will work across a broad range of calibers. The difference is in how fast they burn. shotgun and pistol powders burn fast, rifle powders burn slow. Your best bet in this crazy, high-demand-no-supply market is to go to the store with your load book and see what powders they have in stock. Then open your manual to the 380 page, find your bullet weight and see what powders they list. Try to find one or more listed powder that is in stock. Then flip over to the 45 section, find your bullet weight, then see if any of the powders that work for 380 and are in stock are listed. If so, you have a winner. In lee's book, the better loads (typically) are at the top of the list, however, they should all work fine.

    Primers: you will need small pistol primers for 380, and large pistol primers for 45acp. They are all pretty much the same for your purposes. (there are some 45acp cases that take a small pistol primer, but they are the exception to the rule) While I don't really recommend it, I'll toss it out there since supplies are tight: you can use a magnum primer as a substitute for a regular primer if you can't find any regulars, provided you are not loading at or near the maximum loads In fact, just stay at the starting loads forever. No reason to go to max for target shooting.

    Brass: it's all the same. basically. Range pickup is the cheapest way to get it. Steel and aluminum cases aren't really reloadable, The shiny chrome looking stuff is nickel plated brass and it's fine to reload, though it probably won't reload as many times before cracking.

    Don't be afraid to throw away any of your first reloads if you don't think they're right. Your guns and your fingers aren't worth the few cents a bad load cost you to make. Also, when you are first making bullets, only make 20 or so, then try them out. Nothing is worse than having make 500 rounds and finding out they are inaccurate, don't have gunpowder in them, were loaded too light to cycle the gun, were loaded too long to chamber, etc.
  17. Harrod

    Harrod Member

    Sep 10, 2011
    Welcome to THR!

    LostSheep is the best, I've read his advice on here a few times and I'm currently reading through my ABC's of reloading and Lyman 49th. Lots of good info there. I have plenty of time to read as I save up for components and dies. It's tough catching the bug then waiting for the funds to feed it.:banghead:

    Patience is a virtue though they say :D
  18. Searcher4851

    Searcher4851 Member

    Dec 20, 2010
    Welcome to the addiction.
    There are many knowledgeable people on here, more than happy to help. There are also many opinions. Opinions may not agree, but that doesn't make either one wrong. Just different experiences.
    As far as manuals, in my OPINION, Lee's and Lyman's are my most used, simply because I reload a lot of cast, and they list more loads for cast bullets.
    Good luck to you, and again, welcome aboard.
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