Trying to get into reloading, want your input.

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by gobsauce, May 16, 2022.

  1. gobsauce

    gobsauce Member

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    So I'm trying to finally get into reloading. I've been collecting .38 Special brass (~250 so far), but I don't know much about it.

    I know the general idea, deprime, prime, charge, seat.

    I understand that with .38 Special, I have to crimp, unlike say 9mm.

    My purpose for reloading isn't really for anything other than load development out of a single revolver of mine. Mostly to keep myself busy.

    Anyways, onto the good stuff:

    I'm looking at presses. So far, the one I'm intrigued about is the Lyman Brass Smith Ideal. I'm also looking at the Lee Classic Turret Press , but I know nothing about these. (In terms of quality, etc. )

    It's mostly a space issue, but I'm also not looking to reload 1000's of rounds. So, I'm asking about your thoughts and opinions on this. Maybe a few recommendations.

    One thing I'm not sure I understand is how to tell what shell holder I need. I think I can just look at the box, and it'll tell me what it's compatible with, but I don't really know. I suppose school me on this, if you'd like.

    How do I know what dies are compatible with what presses? Or is this something that's been standardized?

    I know that I'll have to get reloading manuals, I'll be searching for some this weekend (Sun Lions' Gun Show in Las Cruces). Anything I should be wary of?

    I know that different powders have different uses, and I can use load data to help me choose what I need to get what I want. I also know I have to be really really careful with the charges, that an accidental double charge might put me 6' under.

    However, I can't seem to find any smokeless locally, but i have a nice stock of Pyrodex. I think this might be okay, since I'm really looking at mostly loading wad cutters, but I'm not so sure.

    What am I missing? What else should I know?
     
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  2. CQB45ACP

    CQB45ACP Member

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  3. Bearded Phil

    Bearded Phil Member

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    Haven't used either of those presses but I can tell you my RCBS Reloader Special 5 (basic single stage press) has worked well for me and has a small footprint on the bench.

    If you get a Lee universal shell holder set you'll have a shell holder for most anything else you may get into loading in the future. They're pretty inexpensive, with the Lee set the #1 shell holder would be used for .38/357

    Almost all dies are 7/8" -14 threads, pretty standard. Most presses have this threading as well.

    Get several and read through all the info about the process a few times, don't just jump to load data after watching a YT video or two.

    If you're thinking of using modern black powder substitutes look for a loading manual dedicated to black powder. Lyman publishes one, you may or may not find a copy at the gun show, here's a link to their website. https://www.lymanproducts.com/brands/lyman/publications/lyman-black-powder-handbook-2nd-edition


    This is always a risk with smokeless but the chances can be mitigated. Personally my method is to charge a case with my powder and then cap it with a bullet and seat it right away. Have your seating die set up where you need before you start charging a whole loading block. If you do this always move in an orderly fashion through your block (say, front to back and then left to right) you'll always know which case is the next in line to get a charge. Make sure you're scale that your using is calibrated correctly and pay attention when you're measuring out your charges and you should be fine.

    I've never used black powder subs but as I understand the measuring technique is different than smokeless powder. If you plan to do this be sure to get a manual dedicated to the black powder subs and get the right equipment it recommends as well.
     
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  4. AzShooter1

    AzShooter1 Member

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    Number 1: Do Not Use Pyrodex.

    Get a reloading manual or two. Bullseye, Unique, 231 are great powders to start with. There are a lot more good powders but these will have lots of data.

    Your dies will come with a crimping die in the box. You do this last and all you need to do is eliminate the bell that you made in station one, sizing the brass.

    Your dies will be almost universal. I like Lee dies. The Lee Turret Press is nice. Lets you almost load as fast as a progressive press like a Dillon 550.
     
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  5. Bearded Phil

    Bearded Phil Member

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    I'll also add if you're looking for a good source of cast coated bullets I can recommend SNS casing. I haven't tried their wadcutters but have used plenty of other .38/357 offerings from them and have had good results.
     
  6. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    Looks like several others have chimed in while I was typing LOL.

    Smokless propellants save you from the need to clean your firearm immediately like you do for using black powder and substitutes. Also you do not have to fill all the space below the bullet like you do using black.
    There is tons of data for 38 SPL with most handgun and shotgun propellants out there. There are also many sources of bullets for this caliber as well. I often have helped new reloaders get started locally and teach reloading classes at the local range. Starting off with 38 SPL is about the easiest caliber to learn on. Have faith as things are starting to show up more often locally here in a hit or miss fashion. Yeah you have to roll crimp revolver bullets to prevent them from moving and tying up the cylinder from turning. Unique, Bullseye, and RedDot/ Promo are the ones I most often think of for this caliber. Promo is only available in 8 LB containers and uses Red Dot data but by weight only if you use this but it has always been less expensive to purchase.
    I think everyone has a different idea about a press and other gear but any good quality "O" type press and carbide dies will serve you well for decades. Then add stuff as you find a need. A good balance beam scale will be good as the electronic ones tend to be fiddly and I personally don't trust a beginning reloader to notice if there is a problem when first starting out.
     
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  7. bersaguy

    bersaguy Member

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    Definitely recommend getting a couple manuals, and reading through the front sections that come before the load data. I started with the Lee manual and have since collected many more. I also started with the Lee value turret press as a "starter" setup...and 10yrs on is still my primary press. Lee equipment has its own particular limitations, but represents the best value in reloading equipment. It took many years and thousands of rounds reloaded before my skill level started to bump up to the limits of Lee equipment.
    The shell holder will come with your die set, for Lee its the #1 shell holder. The thread on the dies is generally standard, I've used Lyman dies in my Lee equipment.
    Generally speaking, you will need the press, a scale, some way to clean your brass,(vibratory tumbler with crushed walnut media is what I've used for years) a set of calipers, and a powder measure..that will get you started.
    For components, brass, which you've started to collect, powder (specific type will be dictated by the load data you're using...and by availability). A note on powder, use smokeless, save the pyrodex for your muzzleloaders. Small pistol primers for 38spl, that will be your choke point for components in the current market. And bullets, all sorts of options for 38 special to be had.
    Shoot, I type slow....there were no other responses when I started. But all the above too;)
     
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  8. gobsauce

    gobsauce Member

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    So I've read twice that I shouldn't use Pryodex. Why not?
     
  9. gobsauce

    gobsauce Member

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    I was looking for this, but as a sticky. Still, I suppose the feedback on the two presses I'm looking at would be appreciated.
     
  10. Bearded Phil

    Bearded Phil Member

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    This is probably the #1 reason.

    Cleaning is a pain. With smokeless it will be considerably easier and less frequent depending on how often you shoot.
     
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  11. gobsauce

    gobsauce Member

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    If that's the only reason, then that's fine. Where I shoot, the smallest gust of wind brings sandstorms, so I end up having to really clean everything every time I go shoot.
     
  12. CQB45ACP

    CQB45ACP Member

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    I get it and I didn’t intend to be snippy—the Lee press has been much discussed previously too. That’s what I started with. It’s fine, but not my choice anymore.
     
  13. gobsauce

    gobsauce Member

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    Hey no, no issue. For some reason, I just assumed that this kind of thread would have already been a sticky. The Black Powder section has a sticky on getting started, I figured this section would too.
     
  14. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    There is a sticky here its The Reloading Libray of wisdom. LOTS of reading there.:thumbup:
     
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  15. gobsauce

    gobsauce Member

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    Damn you got me there. What can I say, I'm an unthawed caveman at times.
     
  16. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    Start with a book: The ABC’s of Reloading. Among other things, it will explain the differences between smokeless powders and black powder in cartridge firearms. It’s not just how often, or even how, you clean, it’s about what happens each shot. BP uses different bullets, different lube, different grades and grinds of powder.. it’s different. Maybe that might be exactly what you want but probably not.
    Read the references cited, especially look for the beginners book, think about what it is you really want to get out of reloading.
     
  17. Scrapiron45

    Scrapiron45 Member

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    If I recall pyrodex doesn't react well to standard petroleum-based cleaners like those used for smokeless, you might check on that.
    Pyrodex doesn't have the versatility to adjust for loads that smokeless does. Well, it does but it's not as simple as smokeless is.
    Thirty eight special load info for pyrodex is not commonly found in most manuals. There are probably some cowboy action shooters that shoot 38 blackpower.
    If I was starting out I'd probably use something like Unique that would work in alot of cartridges.
    For someone getting started I'd keep everything simple at first.
     
  18. CQB45ACP

    CQB45ACP Member

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    Indeed…here’s my copy purchased decades ago in Annandale at a place known as “The Reloading Bench.” It was so long ago the only forum was in Rome. Today it’s a Vietnamese Pho Hut.
    8140BD14-C4B9-42B1-82DF-C7FC14276A63.jpeg
     
  19. ballman6711

    ballman6711 Member

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    My father got most (maybe all) of his reloading stuff from the Reloading Bench many years ago. Things have certainly changed in NOVA.

    To the OP, keep notes on your loads. Notebook, tablet, computer, etc... You'll be glad you did.

    chris
     
  20. Targa

    Targa Member

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    The Lee Classic Turret is outstanding. As for dies it will accept, I know that Redding and Hornady dies work great in mine…..as well as Lee dies obviously.
     
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  21. Hugger-4641

    Hugger-4641 Member

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    I have RCBS Jr2 and the Lee Classic 4 hole turret. I use them both, but mainly use the RCBS for bottleneck rifle.
    I highly recommend the Classic 4 hole for pistol rounds, especially for straight wall cases like 38sp that need a crimp.
    As for shell holders, some like RCBS print the cartridges they work with on the package, Lee and Hornady aren't so kind. So I printed out this chart and keep posted on wall over my bench.
    You'll have to go to website to get the entire chart, I couldn't get it in pic.
    Screenshot_20220516-091854_Drive.jpg
     
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  22. BudrowBob

    BudrowBob Member

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    I can't help you with either of those presses except to say I have heard a lot of good things about the Turret press.

    I drank the red koolaid and bought a Hornady Classic kit.
     
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  23. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    20220516_112746.jpg The Lee set of universal shellholders has all the cross refrence numbers that all their shellholders match to by caliber. The above list by Hugger 4641 is a good one as well.
     
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  24. Mark_Mark
    • Contributing Member

    Mark_Mark Contributing Member

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    Like the 8 Brass! allows for lots of dies! great if your not making 1,000’s but good for hundreds.
     
  25. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

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    I load 38 Special level velocities in 357 Magnum cases since they’re all I could find. It’s pretty straight forward and a little more forgiving than the 9mm I started loading first. There’s no cycling the action to worry about and feeding odd shaped bullets isn’t a problem. I don’t want to make blanket statements but 38 Special appears to be easier to find an accurate load than other calibers. That might just be over 100 years of collective target loading though.
     
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