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Reloading -taking the leap

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by fish2xs, Apr 25, 2003.

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  1. fish2xs

    fish2xs Member

    Feb 27, 2003
    Peoples Republic of Massachusetts
    After several questions & posts & much lurking, it appears that if I want to get more into shooting than I currently am, I'm going to have to consider reloading.

    I have never done this. I don't know anyone who a
    has done this. I don't know the first thing about it.

    My goal is to get away with this for the lowest possible cost and still produce a reasonable product (bullets, mostly fmj - possibly jhp).

    I would like to be able to reload the major popular handgun calibers as well as some rifle (specifically I'm thinking 223 & 308).

    What startup costs am I looking at?
    How much can I expect to save over the long haul?
    What are the common pitfalls of such a venture?
    Can I do all this with one device?

    Please share your collective wisdom!
  2. keyhole

    keyhole Member

    Feb 13, 2003
    Central USA
    Best place to start. Can't beat them for service, and great customer support. Oh, and I might add, always pick up all the brass you can when at the range. I wind up buying something that it might fit.
  3. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

    Jan 3, 2003
    South PA, and a bit West of center!
    Not to disparage Dillon . one bit ... but if you are starting and have a limited budget .. Lee is worth considering.


    Because I started Lee 20 plus years ago . stick with em . except for RCBS lubrisizer (I cast bullets) . and a Hornady powder measure for rifle ..... and Lyman 500 scales also ... for setting up powder measure.

    Otherwise ...... Challenger single station for rifle ... 2 turret presses for handgun rounds and their lightweight single station for decapping etc.

    Their carbide dies serve me well and I really have no complaints ...... if you want ''the most'' ...... for ''the least'' .. then Lee is well worth a look. Do try tho if poss' ..... find someone, somewhere ... who already reloads .... it is invaluable to be walked thru by someone with experience.

    Also get some books .... Powder manufacturers do manuals . also Lyman (#47 still IIRC) ...... and Richard Lee's book also.

    Always remember when you start ... never try for max loads straight off ... rule of thumb is 10% down and work up ..... broadly speaking.

    Good luck.
  4. Bacchus

    Bacchus Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Make sure that you take a look at the "floating" thread at the top of this reloading forum. It's got lots of advice about starting out, especially with regard to cost.

    I would also recommend starting with a single stage. You can always use it for small batches later or sell it on Ebay. Speaking of ebay, check it for used equipment. Lots of people sell their equipment as a group (press, dies, etc.) so you might find a good deal.
  5. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2002
    Southeastern US
    SERIOUSLY considering merging this thread with the floated thread. I'll let Johnny do it if he wants. His corral, I just happen to frequent this forum a lot.

    Funny thing is, there are forums I haven't been to in months!
  6. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Idahohoho, the jolliest state
    I recommend the good folks at http://www.rcbs.com

    I bought a low budget Rock Chucker press about thirty years ago, and am still using it today. You could find more expensive, but unless you're going into high volume production, you won't likely find significantly better at a reasonable price.

    I'm not convinced loading one's own ammuntion saves much money; I am convinced, however, it lets us shoot more for the same money, and shoot more accurately, as well.

    It takes awhile to get the hang of it. Be sure to read the manuals that come with your gadgets and the instructions and safety precautions in your reloading manual.
  7. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Home Of The First Capitol Of The Confederate State
    Greeting's Phil-

    My suggestion for a "start-up" handloading kit would
    be the very fine R.C.B.S. Master Reloading Kit;
    which is available at most gun shops, or quite
    possibily available on-line. Dillon's are nice; but I
    think they would be most suitable for an "advanced
    handloader". I've been handloading ammunition for
    well over 30 year's; and the R.C.B.S. Master Reloading
    Kit is what I still use. You can get into this set-up with
    approximately a $300.00 cash out lay; minus of course
    bullets, powder, primers, dies, shell holder, and brass.
    Assuming that you already have the most expensive
    component (the brass); lets look at how you can crunch
    numbers and save a little bit of money:

    R.C.B.S. Master Reloading Kit $279.95
    R.C.B.S. Pistol Dies 30.00
    R.C.B.S. Shell Holder 5.95
    1000 count primers 14.95
    1-lb. powder 17.50
    500 count cast lead bullets 22.50

    TOTAL = $370.85

    *All prices are approximation's; and may vary by locale.

    And with that you will have everything you need to get
    started. As more weapons are added to your inventory;
    more equipment will become necessary. At first, savings
    will be hard to realize; cuz you need time to get over
    the purchase of the bulk of the euipment. But, the very
    satisfaction of seeing your "custom made" ammunition
    strike the target is far more rewarding than simply trying
    to save a few buck's.:uhoh: Soon, you will learn how to
    "tailor ammunition" to your particular firearm; as some
    of these shoot'in irons are very finicky about their diet!:)

    Hope this helps~

    Best Wishes,
    Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member
  8. Arub

    Arub Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Southeast Alabama
    I have a RCBS RockChucker and a Lee 4 hole turret press. The RCBS is a solid as a rock. Doubt if anyone could ever tear one up. Downsde is that it is a single stage. Your must change out and adjust dies not only for each caliper, but also for each operation.

    That said, my Lee 4 hole turret gets the bulk of the work. I set up each plate once for each caliber and never have to reset the dies again (always check AOL on each batch and within each batch - no surprises yet). When I want to change calipers, I just swap out the plate. I use the Lee as a multiple single stage, have not engaged the the advance mechanism to make it a progressive of sorts. I weigh each charge, and it is easier for me to run one stage at a time. I have never had a problem with the Lee, the RockChucker is there if I need it, but is somewhat neglected.
  9. craigz

    craigz Member

    Dec 29, 2002
    One of the big questions to ask about reloading is "How much is your time worth to you?" A single stage press will cost you much less than a progressive, but it will also take you much longer to load the same amount of ammo. If you're at the range two to three times a week, you could end up spending a lot of time reloading, which may or may not be what you want. Like you, I had no one to help me learn about reloading (except online sources) and my first press was a Dillon 550 progressive. I had no problems getting it set up and I was cranking out 200-300 rounds an hour of .45 ACP in short order. I use the Dillon for all my handgun reloading, and I can't imagine how long it would take me with a single stage. However, for precision rifle ammo, I handload.

    The best advice I could give you is to spend the money for quality equipment at the outset, rather than buying junk you have to replace later. Get yourself a good scale and a good set of calipers; you'll use them for all sorts of things. Also, buy your components in bulk; you'll save a lot.
  10. happy old sailor

    happy old sailor Member

    Dec 29, 2002
    dies, scales, calipers, components, etc., are a given. so i will limit my comment to presses.

    my idea is get a quality single stage press first. learn to reload one at a time. this is slow yet educational. get several reloading manuals and read them all. the Lee book is very good for a beginner, but, you need other info not contained in this one volume.

    after you learn the ropes, get a Lee turret press. this will load pistol ammo at a reasonable rate and allow you to check stuff again and again.

    then, use the Rock Chucker, or something like it, for loading rifle cartridges. dies that fit your single stage will fit the turret job as well. all the other stuff you needed anyway, so no losss there.

    now, you are a reloader and funds permit you to move on up to a Dillon if you wish. a 650 will really chomp them out for you.

    keep the Rock Chucker forever and pass the Lee turret on to a buddy you teach to reload. please do that.

    you won't save any money, however, you will shoot one heck of a lot more for the same money. and, a stint at the reloading bench is uncommon good for your mental health. my .02
  11. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 24, 2002
    Fort Collins, CO, USA.
    A Rock Chucker set up is cheap and will teach you the basics. It'll be good for both handguns and rifle. I've loaded many, many, many 8x57JS, .308, and .44MAG rounds on my Rock Chucker. But it's slow.

    If you want to do pistol ammunition in volume (400-500 rounds/hr), then buy a Dillon Square Deal B, for around $290 delivered, setup, and ready to go.

    If you want to do a higher volume than that, in addition to rifle calibers, I suggest the Dillon 650 w/ casefeeder. This is an expensive option at $500 - $650 with all the do-dads, but it will allow you to do somewhere in the range of 600-800 rounds/hr. My friends who shoot thousands of rounds per week each have one of these.

  12. cobb

    cobb Member

    Dec 29, 2002
    S. MN.
    You will get alot of advise, but the best is to get a single stage press. I do the majority of my loading on a Dillon progressive, but I still use my RCBS single stage for my lower count rounds like my 300 Win mag. I would find it hard to believe that a person that loads alot of rounds a year still doesn't find a time that he just has to have a single stage press for one reason or another. So, to start out, investing in a good single stage press will never be a waste, you will still find a need for it 30 years later.
  13. yzguy

    yzguy Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    I think I'm missing something here....

    I see many people recommending the single stage press, but I'm not sure why... couldn't you use the progressive one as a single stage?

    what exactly is the difference?
  14. John Galt

    John Galt Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Types of presses:

    Progressive - Fastest. Dillon are frequently thought of as the best and heck of a good company. Their 550B is the one they sell the most of and the 650 is better. The resale on the Dillon will be great. If you shoot a lot of pistol or a lot of 223, you should definitely get one.

    Turret - A manual version of a progressive. Cheaper. With both, all the dies, priming, powder all mounted at once.

    Single Stage - C, O, H shaped press that holds one die. You use a hand primer, a separate powder dump. You use loading blocks and do one step on all the brass, then do the next step on all the brass, etc. You have the opportunity to be more careful and have more "feel" for what you are doing than on a progressive. This would be great for the big game cartridges where you aren't reloading 5000 rounds a year.
    The RCBS RockChucker is the most popular for it's strength. They are easy to resell. $100 new.
    For cheap, there is the LEE Anniversary Kit. Check eBay. That would be for the reloader who isn't likely to get serious.

    Arbor Press - For the most "feel" and precision. They aren't strong enough for full length dies. Used by benchrest competitors who also own a Rock Chucker. They can be used at the range to neck size and seat a new bullet.
  15. Sunray

    Sunray Member

    May 17, 2003
    London, Ont.
    Reloading isn't about saving money. You won't. You will, however, have a load that gives you the best accuracy for your firearm. Pistol or rifle, there's no factory or surplus ammo that's loaded just for your rifle or pistol. By handloading you can do that. You also get the added advantage of not having to seek out the best price for good ammo. It's at your bench.
    Speed with a single stage press can be had with technique. It won't beat a Dillon but you can get fairly fast with good technique. Have a bin of cleaned brass on one side, use both hands to move the cases, pick up the case with one hand, put into the shell holder, pull the handle and take it out with the other and toss it into a bin on the other side while you're reaching for the next case. It's easier to do than describe. Do one operation, other than throwing powder, to all your cases and switch the bins. For powder, you need a good accurate thrower to get fast. A scale is absolutely necessary for load developement and to check the thrower.
    Hand loading requires total concentration, but it's really good therapy.
  16. Giant

    Giant Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    PRK, Bay Area
    Go for it! I think one can save a little on reloading, for certain one can really enjoy making accurate ammo, which improves your shooting enjoyment at the range.

    Before spending money on equipment, read Richard Lee's Book, "Modern Reloading." Get the new second edition, the book will tell you nearly everthing you need to know to get started in reloading. Lee's book in the second edition is even better than the first edition, all of the first edition is there, with 150 or so pages of new material. 719 pages total and over 26,000 loads. A very good read and I would highly recommed it to any shooter, whether they are a new reloader or an experienced reloader.

    Safty, safety, safety!!!! Double check your loads at every stage of assembly. Pay attention and you'll do just fine. Guessing about amounts of powder, crimps, bullet weight and many other aspects of the sport can get one hurt or killed, worse it can injure a bystander. Be careful! and have fun!

  17. goon

    goon Member

    Jan 20, 2003
    There was a guy who was selling off a bunch of his reloading equipment in the for sale section. I was gonna get into the action, but fixing my truck and reserving my M-28 were bigger considerations.
    He may still have some of his stuff left.
  18. Longbow

    Longbow Member

    Dec 29, 2002
    City by the big lake
    Reloading is kinda expensive to start, but it pays off over time. I suggest you get a Dillon 550. You can load singly or progeressively (depends on your confidence level). Both are doable on this machine. I will advice against starting with a single stage press if you have plans on upgrading to a progressive later on. Single stage press requires threading and unthreading of dies, specs are never the same from batch to batch. This makes each batch of reload's performance unreproducible. And its so SLOW!
    Its really easy to follow the instructions on the 550, just read it thoroughly and stay focused. Don't do short cuts, get all the neccessary equipments i.e. scale(very important!), micrometer, case cleaner/tumbler (I like Lyman), case guage...
    Reloading is both fun and economical. I don't know why some people don't think its economical:confused: I know I can load 1k of 9mm for $55. Yes, it does allow you to shoot more, but for lesser expense than buying factory.
    Order most of your component by bulk i.e. powder, primers, bullet and most of all shop around! I usually get get good deals at gunshows on bullets and powders (know your prices, though).
    Good luck!
    BTW, whatever you do don't get the red brand that starts w/ L :D Their dies are fine, but that's about it!
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