Written by DaveInGA
4. A powder scale
, no matter single stage, turret or progressive, you'll need one of these. I like the RCBS 505 and 1010, the Hornady and the Dillon scales. I have a Redding, but wish I had gotten another brand because the fine adjustment is hard to see and can be bumped out of adjustment accidentally. My plan is to replace the Redding with an RCBS 1010 when I can, because of the positive fine adjustment on the RCBS 1010. Others like the electronic measures, but I haven’t found as mainly a progressive reloader the cost justifies the expensive for no more than I use my scale. (I use mine as a check for my powder measures, not to weigh out powder charges.)
5. A set of calipers
to measure your cartridges with. I have a Frankford Arsenal set that's done well for me. I have recently replaced it with a 6” digital set I bought at Harbor Freight Tools (It’s done a great job since I’ve had it and I really like the digital feature.). Other folks spend a lot more money, but these have been more than accurate enough for everything I've loaded, including high-power rifle cartridges for competitive purposes.
6. A reloading manual
- I have and like Speer, but Hornady, Lee and a couple other folks make excellent ones. I haven't heard much about Lyman's reloading manual, but their lead bullet manual is pretty good. A good loading book on the basics like the ABC's of Reloading and Metallic Cartridge Reloading can help you understand the process a lot better. Read them a couple times it will get you to a good understanding. Read the directions that come with your press, dies etc.
7. Some snap lid plastic storage containers
with bins to store all the little pieces and parts from the equipment. It might not be a bad idea to look at plastic fishing tackle boxes, as they have lots of storage compartments.
8. Some Akro plastic bins
to hold your brass, bullets and loaded cartridges while you're in the process of reloading. If you're loading single stage, you might need some cartridge blocks to regain the brass in various stages of production. Buy the cheapest bins out there, such as Harbor Freight; they're all plastic so you gain nothing by paying more. For reloading on a single stage, you’ll need loading blocks for the period where your cases are charged with powder and are waiting for bullets.
9. A couple of adjustable wrenches
, one six inch and one eight inch. There may be other hand tools, but if you have a toolbox, you may already have them. Or you can identify the correct size wrenches you need for a better fit when adjusting things.
10. Bullet pullers
, both kinetic and collet types, to correct your mistakes. Why both? The kinetic puller to cover oddball calibers you decide to buy and load and the collet puller to cover the calibers you load the most. I had the kinetic made by Frankford Arsenal in the past, but because of price changes, I now recommend the RCBS one, because of their excellent warranty (They’ll exchange it if it breaks, no matter how long you’ve owned it.). BTW, the collets for the Frankford Arsenal fit the RCBS. I like the Hornady and RCBS collet pullers, because of their operation speed and they don’t spill the powder everywhere.
11. A brass trimmer
. I have an RCBS Trim Pro automated version and have recently added the head that chamfers. Makes it real nice if you’re processing large quantities of brass that need trimming and chamfering. I used to compete in high-power rifle, reload lots of rifle cartridges that need to be trimmed to length occasionally. For smaller quantities of brass, a hand trimmer would be sufficient and much more fun to use. You will need to check your brass is not over the maximum allowed length. After trimming, you will need a de-burring tool cleans up the inside and outside necks so the case-mouth isn't sharp and bullets insert smoothly without damage. RCBS offers the Trim Mate to automate this, as well as the chamfering heads for their Trim Pro. Most automatic pistol cartridges do not need to be trimmed. If you[‘re doing a serious volume of competitive shooting, you may want to take a look at the Giraud and Gracey trimmers.
12. Cartridge gauge
. These are nicely convenient to check to see if your reloaded cartridges are within SAAMI specification. They are especially useful when reloading pistol cartridges I’ve found.
13. Case lube
- I use Hornady One Shot on my rifle cartridges, but I find it and their cleaner lube handy for lubricating moving parts on my progressive that I don't have grease and oil getting into. For rifle cartridges you can lube with a pad and case lube (such as the one included in the RCBS kit) or use something like Hornady one-shot or try out Imperial Sizing Die Wax, which I hear is another excellent product. My recommendation is the One Shot or the Imperial wax over the messy lube pads.
- I recommend you research and buy a better brand of brass, particularly what the majority of folks shooting your caliber are loading, it'll generally be (but not always) the best compromise of quality and price. Occasionally something new comes along that whips the "standard" pretty badly. Though sometimes, it’s about the same price to buy preloaded cartridges, shoot them and reload the brass. You come out about the same cost wise, but get to shoot it more. Range pick up can be nice at times as well. If you’re not sure about a brand of brass, ask on the reloading forums. Thoroughly inspect any brass you decide to reload in order to identify problems with that brass.
- Again, start with the "Ole standby" for your cartridge (if one exists) and then move out to other brands as you gain reloading experience. Post on the net and folks will provide you with what the “Ole standby” is for any particular caliber.
- FMJ is great, but lead is cheaper. I'd advise buying them in bulk, 500 to a thousand at a time. You'll want to learn how to reload before you even think about making your own lead bullets. Depending on the caliber you're shooting, this will certainly result in significant savings. This is for range practice. For hunting, go with the best bullets you can afford for the type of animal you’re hunting. Once you’ve learned how to reload, you can also cast and “roll your own” bullets as well.
17. Safety glasses
, wear them while you're reloading, just like you do when you're shooting. There is nothing like making a mistake; then blowing up a primer and losing an eye to ruin one’s day.
18. You will need to clean the brass
. Bose's Guns, (http://www.bosesguns.com/
) has a Frankford Arsenal combination that does well, it's the one I have. Another more expensive alternative would be the Dillon combination (Dillonprecision.com). Other manufacturers make other good ones as well. The ones mentioned are the ones I’m familiar with.
Finally, build yourself a nice, stable reloading bench
. Some make their bench huge, with lots of surface area. I suggest to you that rather than do this; you make the bench just big enough to set up a reloading operation with AKRO plastic bins (bought cheaply from an industrial supply outfit in large quantity). You will need a single "universal" reloading tray to hold the cartridges while they are primed and charged, waiting for bullets.
Having owned both large and small bench setups, I've found setting up two or even three smaller benches and making shelving units to store the accessories and reloading components works better for me.
I've had to move a time or two and the huge benches were a real problem. With a bench narrower than the width of your doors, if you have to move, you don't have to disassemble it (Much more convenient not to have to disassemble when you're busy as hell trying to get ready to move.) Also, make it short enough you can move it around corners within your house.
Dave In Statham, GA