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Thinking about reloading for the first time

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by IcebergDave, Jan 9, 2006.

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  1. IcebergDave

    IcebergDave Member

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    Hey everyone, I'm thinking about getting a press to start doing reloads. I enjoy shooting and it sounds like a nice, technical hobby. I love guns and I love things that require planning and precision.

    Anyway, I had a couple of questions. First, What do you think of the Dillon 550B?

    My second question is probably dumb. Someone once told me that if you reload, there can't be any "air pockets" in the case. i.e. the bullet must be tight with the powder, or else bad things will happen. Is this true?

    Thanks for the input!
     
  2. Sharps Shooter

    Sharps Shooter Member

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    I don't have a clue about the Dillon 550B.
    There are no dumb questions, but whoever told you there can be no air space left in a cartridge case (that the bullet must be up tight against the powder) has a pretty dumb notion when it comes to smokeless powder charged cases. It's true when you're talking about black powder. But when you're talking about smokeless powder, 100% fill just isn't all that common - particularly not with handgun cartridges. :)
     
  3. USSR

    USSR Member

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    The choice of a press is somewhat dependant upon the cartridges and guns you intend to load for. For handgun cartridges and cartridges to be fired milsurp rifles, the Dillon progressive presses are nice. For developing cartridges for an accurate rifle, you would be better served by a single-stage press. You've been given some uninformed advice regarding the "air pockets". While you don't want to have an excessive amount of air space in the cartridges you reload, most loads are not filled to case capacity.

    Don
     
  4. NavajoNPaleFace

    NavajoNPaleFace Member

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    With some reloading applications a full case of smokeless powder may be a recipe for a disaster.

    Although it is true that SOME loads will have the case full, or nearly full, there are many loads where the case is much less full.

    When you have a full case of smokeless you are very close to getting a compressed load and that is another story altogether...can be very dangerous to shoot.

    The best thing to remember in reloading...especially first starting out...read, read and do MORE reading and ask tons of "dumb" (LOL) questions.

    Get yourself at least three good reloading manuals and read them, read them, and read them.

    You will see, in those manuals, invaluable information and accurate and tested load data.

    Just make sure your gun is safe enough to shoot in the first place (I have a Turk Commission Mauser I wouldn't shoot on a day of memory loss).

    AND........safety in reloading is key # 1. Follow load data, get yourself an uninterupted sequence/pattern when reloading to prevent double charges, etc., and keep your reloading equipment and components in top condition.

    Ask all the questions you want.
     
  5. JDGray

    JDGray Member

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    Its good to pick a powder that at least fills half the case, this way a double charge is more than obvious. :)
     
  6. tvick66

    tvick66 Member

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    Hello Ice,
    I am also new to reloading, have not used any of the Dillon presses but I have read quite a bit about them because I will get one of their progressives when I get more comfortable with my skills and find a recipe that I really like. This link was very helpful;
    http://www.brianenos.com/pages/dillon.html#which

    I started slow with a Lee Classic Loader and now a turret press because I wanted to learn the basics and make sure it was something that I would stick with before spending the big bucks. After shooting my first handmade cartridges, I am hooked.

    Good luck on your new endeavor, just hope it doesn't hijack your time like it has mine:)
     
  7. IcebergDave

    IcebergDave Member

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    Thanks everyone, for the info and help.

    Now, can you recommend a few good reloading manuals? Where do I start? :D
     
  8. Sharps Shooter

    Sharps Shooter Member

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    I like both the Speer and Lyman manuals. In my opinion, the "ABCs of Reloading" book, available at most stores selling reloading supplies and at amazon.com is invaluable to the beginning reloader. Heck, after 30 years I still refer to it occationally.
     
  9. MAUSER88

    MAUSER88 Member

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    Sierra is very good too.
     
  10. Smokey Joe

    Smokey Joe Member

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    ABC and Lyman

    IcebergDave--First of all, welcome to The Magnificent Obsession--Reloading! There are no masters here, only students at different levels. Most reloaders are happy to share their hard-earned wisdom; don't hesitate to ask.

    +1 on The ABC's of Reloading! And excellent how-to and more importantly why-and-why-not-to sort of book. The publisher is now to the 7th edition, so they must be doing something right. That or the 6th edition are a great thing to add to any reloader's library. (No experience with previous editions here.) Krause Publications puts this out--order from them if can't find it elsewhere: www.krause.com

    Lyman is very good on loading manuals; you will need at least one of these in addition to the ABC's. A loading manual is a recipie book--The publisher paid some white-coated PhD engineers to decide how much of which powder, primer, case, etc, does safely go with which bullet/shot charge. It is a good idea to follow their reccommendations.

    Lyman puts out a general rifle/pistol load book, a shotshell book, and one for cast bullets only.

    There are many other good manuals. I like Lyman as a starting point because Lyman does not make components, so their books are not biased toward any one brand. Most reloaders use more than one manual, and compare the reccommendations when they are working up a new load.

    Again, welcome to reloading. Enjoy your journey! :)
     
  11. azredhawk44

    azredhawk44 Member

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    I think the best manual to start with is Lee's "Modern Reloading, 2nd Edition". I don't care for Lee's actual hardware, but the book is great.

    Read the first half, and save the back half for reference when loading.

    But read the first half all the way. It has info on reloading processes, casting bullets (if you want to), best practices, common dangers, ballistic calculation info and all sorts of good stuff.

    After that get whatever you want as a second reference.

    FYI, powder recipes change over time. Winchester 296 is not the same as it was 40 years ago. Loads change. But with the advent of the internet you can now go to a powder maker's site and verify loads online for most loads.

    Good luck and be safe. Don't trust loads posted on any old message board!

    FYI: I have about 8 different loading manuals. One of them is even dedicated to only one cartridge! (.44magnum)
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2006
  12. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Member

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    I have a couple of Hornady manual (one old and one new), a couple of Speer manuals, the Lee Manual, a Lyman manual and a Barnes manual. I was pondering the purchase of a Nosler manual today that looked pretty good but decided to wait until loading data is published for the 460 S&W which I plan to get. I like several manuals to compare when I work up loads; it's hard to have too many.
     
  13. JSM

    JSM Member

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    I am also a newbie. I started with the 550B. It is a little overwelming, but I got through it and love it. That said if I had to do it all over again I would have started with a single stage then upgraded to the 550B after I had a basic understanding of the fundamentals. I would have kept the single stage, and changed to the progressive if money were no option. As mentioned above, the ABC's of Reloading is an excellent starting point and I also found the Lyman to be the next best since it has a good compilation of loads. I have since bought the Hornady manuals, and downloaded all of the maunfacutuers manuals on loads that I use. I obviosouly don't have the experience of most of these guys, and am speaking from a newbies point of view, so take my advice with a grain of salt. I learn every time I load a lot. Keep copious notes on each reload so that you learn from your successes and failures. Also invest in a bullet puller. You'll make mistakes (at least I did) and that will allow you to reuse the brass. Good luck and have fun.

    Scott
     
  14. donkee

    donkee Member

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    If you get a bullet puller (you should) get the RCBS collet puller, they rock!

    ABCs of reloading is a great beginner book.

    LEE makes some good stuff (Classic Cast press, dies, Auto Disk powder measure, etc) so don't write them off.

    Take your time, ask a bunch of questions, and have fun!
     
  15. bakert

    bakert Member

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    Iceberg, reccomend you first buy at least one or maybe a couple of manuals. Speer No.13 and Richard Lee's Modern reloading are good. Don't just read, study them to get a good idea of what you'll be doing. Advise from experienced reloaders good too but be careful with that because there be nuts and complete fools out there too. It's a good safe and money saving hobby with a little care. Jump into it.
     
  16. caz223

    caz223 Member

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    Love my 550, makes single stage equipment look like you're working with stone knives and bear skins.
    I found best accuracy and safety when the case is around 3/4 full of slightly slower burning powder than everyone else uses.
    I don't like uber fast burning powders like clays, bullseye and titegroup.
    It's just too easy to make a mistake, and the ammo you make with those powders is harder on your gun than a steady diet of slower burning powders.
    Drop a charge of titegroup in a .45 colt case and you'll see what I mean.
    You could charge that case at least 4 times and it still wouldn't be all the way full.
    As a minimum, you should have at least one manual specifically geared for the noob reloader, like ABCs of reloading. Very good book.
    Also at least 3 load books. Hornady, hodgdon, speer, etc.
    Also, there are online resources for loads, but are generally less specific and are used for double checks and starting loads for figuring out new loads.
    http://recipes.alliantpowder.com/
    http://www.hodgdon.com/data/index.php
    http://stevespages.com/page8c.htm
    Also, don't leave out loadmaps and specific caliber loadbooks if you're going to start with only one or two calibers. (It's much cheaper.)
    Do a search for Loadbooks USA.
    They're basically pages torn out of all the good recipe books, photocopied, and bound in a spiral notebook. Usually available for $7.00 per caliber.
    A great way to save money, but be warned, it isn't easy to use, and don't expect it to make any kind of sense unless you know what to look for.
    I have prolly 6 manuals, 4 loadMAPs, and at least a dozen caliber specific loadbooks. I still wind up cross checking loads on the internet.....
     
  17. TooTaxed

    TooTaxed Member

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    Progressive tools? Search further in the old threads and you can find a lot of posts on this.

    I was planning to buy a Dillon last year (there are a lot of used Dillons in the EBAY auctions), and did a lot of research. Friends were kind enough to let me give their Dillon 550Bs, Hornady L&L, and Lee Loadmaster tools a workout.

    Bottom line: I dropped the idea of the 550B:what: . That's been at the top of the heap for a generation, but is sadly in need of modernization. It's by far the most expensive, VERY expensive to change calibers, the obsolete slide powder measure is so difficult to change charges that my buddy bought three of them (at about $60 ea!) so he wouldn't have to bother with it, and is the tool requiring the most effort to take a case out if something goes wrong.

    The Hornady L&L is the clear winner:D ...less expensive base cost (check Midway), less expensive to change calibers, modern drum powder measure.

    The Lee 5-hole Loadmaster is the least costly both to buy and change calibers, and has some innovative design features...decapped primers are stored in a reservoir for later dumping, very easy to remove any individual case. My buddy really loves his, but I'm not comfortable with the many nylon parts, even if replacements are ridiculously cheap if you should need them!:eek:
     
  18. bfox

    bfox Member

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    Hi Tootaxed

    A question for you .
    I saw in an old post of yours that you had a Lee Loadmaster that you
    bought and forgot about for ten years .
    What happened didn't it work out for you ?

    Bill
     
  19. TooTaxed

    TooTaxed Member

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    Hello, bfox!

    Remembering that Loadmaster that I already had in long storage ended my quest for a progressive...temporarily, at least. It turned out to be badly out of adjustment. Ordered a manual from LEE.

    I've never gotten that Loadmaster working. First found that the large primer feeder assy was damaged...ordered and installed a replacement. (Bought a small priming assy and small case slider as well.)

    Opened up the shell plate area and found it rather gunky...completely cleaned it. Found the spent primer reservoir was half full...dumped and cleaned that.

    Found the cases were being damaged feeding into the sizing die...the turret was badly out of adjustment. Adjusted that...and adjusted the sliding powder measure to function automatically when a case was in the powder position. Adjusted the bullet seating and crimping dies to work...FINALLY! Ready to go!

    The tool worked for about 50 rnds of 9-mm, then started jamming. Found that the nylon indexing slider that rides on the body cams was damaged. Ordered a couple at about $3 from Lee. Haven't gotten the replacement to work yet...keeps loosening on the rod, so I probably need to turn it on another full turn...having trouple getting just the right angle to ride properly on the cams without damage. (Wish Lee sold an assembled indexer head and rod...but have received no response to my request.)

    Frankly, I'm becoming burned out on the thing...:banghead: that Hornady L&L is looking a lot more attractive! Meanwhile, I've kept my single-stage RCBS Jr press busy... :scrutiny:
     
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