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What reloading setup for .38 spl, .357 mag, .30-30 & .45-70?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by AStone, Aug 1, 2007.

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  1. AStone

    AStone Member

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    In terms of reloading, I'm not a newbie yet, just thinking about it.

    Over the last few months, I've pared and streamlined my toolkit.

    Currently, it is composed of five guns devoted to
    SD (city & outback), hunting, and walk-about in outback:

    * Marlin 39A: .22LR (yes, I understand: no reloading)
    * SW 642: .38 spl
    * SW 65: .357 mag/.38 spl
    * Marlin 1894C: .357 mag/.38 spl (now in shipment)
    * Marlin 336: .30-30

    I will likely add a Marlin 1895 in .45-70 within in a year or two.

    I'm semi-nomadic, so my goal - even a necessity - is
    a light, fast, efficient, self-reliant, minimalist SD and hunting kit.

    Thinking down the road a few months,
    I'm starting to research a complete reloading kit
    with which I can break away from factory loads.

    I'm looking to acquire all the tools that
    I need to reload for those calibers on the above list.

    I'm not interested in casting my own bullets,
    at least initially. I will buy them.

    Due to space constraints (which are stringent),
    I'm looking for a single reloading rig that can reload
    all those calibers (except .22) flexibly,
    with options for other calibers.

    Given those criteria, if I handed you $300 (plus commission)
    and said, "Set me up to reload those calibers",
    what would be on your "must get" list?


    I could go higher than $300 if a good reason is present,
    but less is always welcome as long as quality isn't sacrificed.
    I tend to buy quality rather than economy,
    even if not always the top of the list.

    I'm looking for a good quality "starter kit"
    that is suitable (perhaps with additions or upgrades)
    for someone with intermediate to advanced skills as well.
    I'm not interested in the latest fancy dancy technology,
    just good quality basic tools. Basic simplicity is fine with me.

    I spent a couple of hours earlier reading the archives
    about various presses and powders for these calibers.
    I have an initial opinion about
    a couple of potential setups,
    but will withhold questions about them
    so as not to bias suggestions.

    Thanks for your advice.

    Nem
     
  2. jfh

    jfh Member

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    The Lee Classic Cast Turret

    1. It's received very good user reviews (and some brickbats from some people). AFAICT, it's the only press that will fit your cost criteria in a turret version--and I would not recommend a single stage press for someone reloading handgun cartridges.

    2. It's big enough, I think, to even do the .45-70--and it's ungodly durable.

    3. I think you can fit it all together--at least with one caliber to start with--for $350.00, including shipping fees. At least, that was the ballpark cost (including shipping) I put together for one caliber and relevant accessories (including tumbler, caliper, etc.)

    FWIW, I worked up the pricing from the Kempf's site--here's the link to their 'real deal:' http://www.kempfgunshop.com/products/reloading/leeprecision/kits/KempfKit.html

    Here's a link to the Lee information-- http://www.leeprecision.com/cgi/catalog/browse.cgi?1185973228.1951=/html/catalog/turretpress.html#ClassicTurretPress

    and here's a link to an exhaustive review of it: http://www.realguns.com/archives/122.htm

    A caveat: I do not own one--but I do own earlier model Lee gear, and I currently do my reloading (.38 / 357 load development) on a (standard / old) Lee turret package. That original Lee turret, IIRC, will not handle your (future) .45-70 package and, IMO, is not the value in terms of durability and strength that the new "Classic" series is.

    Jim H.
     
  3. WildeKurt

    WildeKurt Member

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    I'd suggest a 4 hole turret press. I was tempted to go inexpensive originally with a single stage press but glad I didn't. I go through a lot of handgun calibre ammunition, so the auto indexing turret press has paid for itself. Much cheaper and simpler than a progressive too.

    My set up is a Lee Classic 4 hole turret, scale, Pro auto disk powder measure, primer feed, set of of dies and etc. for around $200. All I had to do after that is get lead, powder and primers. (Saved all my old brass.)

    Nice thing about turret presses, if you load more than one calibre, you buy seperate turrets and leave the dies installed and ready to go. Makes change over between calibres a snap.
     
  4. mtnbkr

    mtnbkr Member

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    Lee Classic Turret, mounted to a sturdy board that can be clamped to a desk, table, small child, etc.

    I use that same press (attached to my bench) for 38, 357, 44mag, and 6.5x55. I'll be adding 30-30 to that list very soon. I've loaded 32acp on it in the past. When I lived in an apartment, I had the original Lee Turret mounted to a board and C-clamped to my desk.

    If you want to reduce your powder needs, you can load all three calibers with Unique or 2400. Neither powder is ideal for all three, but it can be done.

    For dies, I'm perfectly happy with Lee dies. I use their carbide dies for handgun cartridges and their collet dies for 6.5x55. Because I'm shooting the 30-30 in a Contender and there are issues with cartridge length and growth in Contenders, I'm going with a full length resizing die set for that caliber. I'll save a few bucks by going with their RGB set since I can use the same shellholder for 30-30 that I use for 6.5x55. Since both rifle calibers are two die setups, I can get both in one turret. I'm sure you could do something similar with your 30-30 and 45-70 setup. You can load both handgun cartridges with the same dies, just adjust the bullet seating and crimp die. Get the 38special dies though, the 357mag specific dies don't work well for 38, but the 38s work for the longer 357.

    Chris
     
  5. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    I would suggest an RCBS Rockchucker kit. RCBS backs their products with a lifetime guarantee, no questions asked. The equipment is first rate and will do what you've outlined just fine.

    By the way, do you want to sell the Marlin 39A? Been looking for one for awhile.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
     
  6. Hawk

    Hawk Member

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    I'll join Fred in being another voice of dissent.

    Hornady Lock-n-load Classic or Classic kit.

    It slides under the 300.00 target at MidSouth and presumably elsewhere. Around 120.00 for the press alone should you wish to assemble your own paraphernalia. The kit contents seem pretty nice.

    The LnL gadget allows for quick changing of dies without losing adjustments. Whether it nets out to more or less time than swapping a 4 hole turret I wouldn't know - probably evens out.

    There's a promotion good for a half-pantload of some pretty nice bullets with the purchase of the press or press kit. This pretty much makes the press "free" with a bit of creative accounting. Check out the promotion - most of what you're loading is represented. The list is on a pdf on this page:
    http://www.hornady.com/get_loaded.php
     
  7. armoredman

    armoredman Member

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    Would this work for you? Everything fits in, on, or under an old TV stand. I load 5 calibers on this RCBS single stage.
    Inexpensive, and works very well.


    [​IMG]
     
  8. AStone

    AStone Member

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    Thanks very much for your responses, folks. This is very helpful. I'm taking notes.

    Please continue.

    I won't worry so much about specific powders, bullets and primers at this point. That'll come later for me. What I'm going to focus on up front is the basic gear for set up: press, dies, turret, scale, etc.

    I'm encouraged by reading your suggestions. All the names that you've mentioned so far - Lee, RCBS, and Hornady - are the ones that I'd picked out during my reading of the Archives last night as top contenders for me.

    I'll confess that the Lee stands out for me pretty strongly initially. Even though I've never reloaded, I've heard about Lee Reloaders since I was a kid. (Though I'm sure the others are great products, too, name recognition carries a strong bias.)

    Sounds like I can indeed get one press with multiple dies that will work for all the calibers I mentioned ... though there seems to be some question about the .45-70? I really want to be sure I can do everything from .38 spl to .45-70 with what ever I get, so I'm going to need to research that a bit more.

    On this page, Lee lists .45-70 under a special category at the bottom of the page: "STEEL 3 DIE SET W/ POWDER THROUGH EXPANDING DIE; Factory Crimp Die is not included". I honestly don't know what that means yet - I confess I don't even fully understand what a "die" does yet - but I'll figure it out.

    I can see that I need to read a basic primer (short manual of the basics) on reloading so that I have a better understanding of the basics and can communicate more effectively about gear and make a better decision. RCBS has a nice one. I'll probably start there.

    I'm pretty sure I have something bookmarked that was recommended by a THR reloader when I started down this road a year or so ago. At the time, I wasn't convinced that I wanted to reload, but now that I've settled on a few calibers, and - importantly - learned that one can reload 100 - 200 per hour (after learning the techniques and practicing), well I'm pretty convinced I should. (I thought it would take MUCH longer to reload that many rnds.)

    OK, thanks again for your help. Please feel free to add more ideas. ;)

    Nem

    PS: Fred, no, sorry, the 39A isn't for sale. It's part of a project that I'm working on now, discussed elsewhere on THR.
     
  9. AStone

    AStone Member

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    Armoredman,

    That's a very compact setup.
    Nice to know I can use so little space.

    Thanks for that visual.
     
  10. Rod B

    Rod B Member

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    The Lee Classic Turret press would work well for both the pistol & rifle rounds.

    However I would remove the index rod & use as a single stage when reloading for rifle.

    Get the Lee Pro Auto disc powder measure for the pistol calibers.

    I would suggest the RCBS Uniflo powder measure for the rifle rounds.
     
  11. Canuck-IL

    Canuck-IL Member

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  12. AStone

    AStone Member

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    Bryan, if that ad was six months from now,
    around early January when money flows better here,
    I'd likely jump on it.

    Right now, with a new baby (named 1894C) on the way,
    I can't swing it.

    Nice to know about packages like that though.
    I'll read up so I know what everything is and does.

    Rod: I'll put those items on my list for study. Thnx.
     
  13. Hawk

    Hawk Member

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    The Lee classic turret has legions of happy owners.

    However, there seems on the one hand to be a relative constant flow of "help with my Lee Turret" threads; on the other hand, there is no shortage of those that have no problems and moreover contribute to such threads with solutions that seem to generally resolve whatever issues are encountered. This may or may not include phone calls to Lee and the replacement of various, generally no-charge, small parts.

    I don't have one so will defer to those that have had personal experience but it seems that the thing occupies a certain shadow realm where it's "neither fish nor fowl". It's more complicated than a single stage but way slower than a progressive. In some ways it might be said to combine the disadvantages of both.

    Do a forum search on "ratchet" for examples.

    Personally, I tend to gravitate to a single plus a progressive but I get the impression I'm in the minority. Since you seem to research matters rather thouroughly, I'm curious how your decision will play out. A stated memory of the Lee name will only tend to add interest.

    FWIW, I don't own the Hornady single either - it's an exercise in my being objective in a "if I had it to do over again" sort of way. Also, the dynamics would shift dramtically in the absence of the "bullet promotion".
    :)
     
  14. AStone

    AStone Member

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    Oh, I can tell: this is going to be a fun thread.

    I think I'm going to learn a lot ...

    :)
     
  15. joe4702

    joe4702 Member

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    I'd also suggest a turret press. I have a Lyman 6-hole turret but if I was buying now, I'd probably get the Lee. I just like their stuff and their philosophy.

    I started with a single stage press, but it was a bit tedious. A single stage will work fine if you really need to keep costs down.

    I clean, size and prime in batch fashion. After that, I can load close to 200 rounds/hr on the Lyman. Currently, I load pistol only - 9, 38/357, 40, 44, 45.

    Other items:

    rock tumbler for case cleaning - small capacity, but very quiet (I live in a condo). I'd like a vibratory cleaner, but I keep hearing they are noisy and move around, so I'm hesitant to get one.

    Lee dies. They work fine for me and are inexpensive. I use the 4-die sets.

    Lee hand priming tool (I can do 300-400/hr easy). I didn't like priming on the press. I feel I can go faster doing it with the Lee tool.

    Lyman 55 powder measure in one of the turret stations to drop powder. Consistent and holds its settings. I mainly plink, so not concerned with ultimate accuracy.

    Scale - I have a cheap RCBS digital, but actually trust my Lee beam scale more.

    It's quite a fun hobby.
     
  16. Hawk

    Hawk Member

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    No doubt, but observing from the sidelines in frowned upon. Research and let us know what conclusions have been drawn.
    :D
     
  17. AStone

    AStone Member

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    Oh, I promise, Hawk: I'm not a "sidelines" kind of guy. ;)
     
  18. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Another vote for the Lee Classic Turret Press, especially for loading pistol calibers. Without rushing and keeping quality control very high I can load ~200 38/357 rounds in an hour. Remember, we are talking about the "Classic" Turret Press, not the Turret Press. The Classic has a Cast Iron base and a very thick ram which is almost twice as thick as the "normal" Turret Press.

    Mind you, there are better presses available on the market but for the money, the Lee Classic Turret Press is a very good value. The Press will cost you $80, a set of Lee Deluxe Carbide Dies for 38/357 cost $31, the Safety Primer kit is $20 and the Pro Auto-Disk Powder Measure is $30. $161 is way under your stated budget. Each additional pistol caliber will cost you $31 for the dies and $12 for an additional 4 hole Turret. Rifle dies will cost you a little more but not much more.

    Good luck and have fun!!
     
  19. 1911user

    1911user Member

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    what volume of the different calibers will you need per month?
     
  20. HuskerTanker

    HuskerTanker Member

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    I'm a reloading newbie, but am happy with a Rockchucker with the Hornady LNL bushing adapter - changing dies takes 5 seconds.

    I mounted the press to a pair of oak boards (each 3/4" thick, 8" deep, 18" wide) and then C clamp the boards to a B&D workmate bench. Easy to tear it down for storage. Downside is output is in to 50 to 70 rounds an hour (.357 mag and .45 ACP) range.
     
  21. AStone

    AStone Member

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    That's a good, relevant question for my decision,
    and one I hadn't really explicitly thought about.

    I'm pretty confident no more than 200 each for .38/.357 on average.
    Half that or less for the .30-30 and .45-70.
     
  22. jcord

    jcord Member

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    I load all the calibers you listed and more using a RCBS Rock Chucker.
    I do not load fast. I take my time and enjoy it.

    I believe it is best to learn on a single stage press, then move on to a turret later if you need the volume.
     
  23. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I agree, that's why I took out the auto-index rod when I first started reloading. When I understood the steps I used the auto-index. Even though the turret press has an auto-index it's not a real progressive press because you do each step separately and see the results.
     
  24. AStone

    AStone Member

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    Ah, now I'm finding this interesting.

    Slow but sure; pay attention to details.

    You've got my attention ...
     
  25. Hawk

    Hawk Member

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    A minor adjustment by the voice of dissent:

     
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