Join Date: June 5, 2000
Location: Job hunting on the road...
Why the rockchucker? Since it's a single stage press, it's going to take a pretty fair amount of time to load a few blocks...
At least take another look at the Lee turret press. It'll go faster, and the rounds won't come out any less accurate. It's also quite a bit cheaper. And you'll continue to find uses for it, even after you buy other equipment (and you will... I don't care if you start out with top of the line Dillon and RCBS, you'll buy other stuff eventually). The Rockchucker is a great press, but it frankly is overkill for most of what it is used for. I see more than a few benchrest shooters with RCBS partner presses, etc., and these are folks who actually worry about a few ten thousandth's of an inch in deflection, etc... You can get a Partner for $50, and the Lee O-Frame (challenger?) for $30. They're both more than adequate for .30-30. But you'll be happier with the Turret press for the handgun calibres. Trust us.
The Lyman manual is a good start. I'd also recommend Lee's or Speer's manual. They've both got lots of loads, and it is Very Nice to have two manuals to check against each other.
Get the Lee carbide die sets. They're inexpensive, and they do the job as well as the more expensive ones. Wipe your cases with 0000 steel wool or NevrDull, and you'll be fine. The Lee dies come with shellholders (#5 for the .45, #2 for the .38/357). You don't need a case neck brush - use an old cleaning brush. You don't need a primer tray. The primers are either in the tool (The Lee hand autoprime is very nice. Don't get the press-mounted version. I shoot benchrest, where consistency counts, and if I weren't using a $40 K&M primer (one at a time) tool, I'd be using an autoprime) or in the original container. FWIW, I see a lot of expensive priming tools at benchrest matches - I also see a lot of Lees - Don't see a lot in between.
The Lee powder scale is more than adequate. I own two Lee beam scales, one Dillon/Ohaus beam scale, and one Pact BBK scale, and the Lees are more sensitive. I rarely use the Dillon/Ohaus scale, and generally just use the electronic scale for bullets and brass.
You only need a powder funnel if you're going to buy powder in jugs with little holes in the top. While I'm at it, ask other folks here for lines on surplus powders. You can pick up 5 pound containers of surplus AA2 and AA5 for around $10/pound - That's a lot better than $18/pound... And it works just as well.
A good set of dial calipers is a must. The ones that Midway sells for about $30 or so are good. Don't get plastic ones. They're not consistent. You can pay more than $30, but you don't absolutely "need" to - I see a lot of benchresters with the Midway calipers. If you're going to get heavily into the thing, a good micrometer is a plus - You can get a decent one for about another $30. Sinclair sells a good one. Again, you can spend a lot more...
The Lee case trimming system is okay. You get a thing to hold the case, and a pre-set-to-length trimmer for each cartridge. Darn near impossible to screw up. I like it. However, you're probably not going to need to trim your .38 or .45 cases. That can wait until you're playing with the .30-30.
You likely won't need a deburring tool until you start trimming .30-30 brass. It won't hurt, but it won't help a lot. The RCBS/Wilson design sells for about $15. Lee's el-cheapo gizmo works almost as well.
Lee's pistol powder measure is very nice with the addition of the metering charge bar. You see, if you're loading pistol rounds in a semi-progressive fashion, you're decapping and sizing with the first stroke, belling and charging the case with stroke #2, and seating and crimping on the third stroke. The measure screws into the top of the belling/charge die, and doesn't use a stand. Make sure you get the adjustable charge bar. For the rifle, get the Lee Perfect powder measure - It's been tested next to custom benchrest measures, and if you're consistent in how you operate it, it'll throw consistent charges. There's not really a lot of difference in powder measures...
You can clean primer pockets with anything you can fit in 'em. For scraping out crud, the little Lee thing works okay. So does a (used) wooden match. Or a whittled piece of wood. Hard to get cheaper. FWIW, I don't really like the brush gizmo that I got from RCBS. I generally use a carbide primer pocket uniforming tool I got from Sinclair's, but then I'm a little anal about some things.
Clean your cases with steel wool or NevrDull, until you decided that you absolutely have to have a tumbler. Midway's is about the cheapest, and works well. FWIW, I don't tumble any of my rifle brass except for my .223 blasting stuff...
Get your loading blocks at the range. They'll be in the trash can, and will look like the inserts in the ammo boxes that folks toss away.
Approximate prices follow
The Lee deluxe pistol kit - $80
(includes one trimmer, powder measure, scale, deburr & pocket tools)
Adjustable powder charge bar - $10
.38 Dies - $22
.45 Dies - $22
Dial calipers from Midway - $30
Auto prime - $15
Lee manual - $15
Don't wait to buy the manual later. I own manuals from Lyman, Lee, Sierra, Speer, Hodgdon, Nosler, and at least one or two others...
The Little Dandy measure requires separate measuring chambers. 1) hassle; and 2) cost. Old timers don't necessarily know everything.
You don't need a bullet puller yet. Get a gallon jug or a soda bottle, write "goofs" on the side, and chunk 'em in. When you get enough of 'em to warrant the hassle (you'll know...), get one of the kinetic pullers.
FWIW, I own a Lee turret, a Lee Challenger, and one of the el-cheapo little c-frame presses. I also have an RCBS JR-3 and a Redding Boss. I routinely use a friend's Dillon 550. I'm not "married" to any one brand - I just use what's best for the job at hand.
Oh. Just read further down. Be advised that your new Dillon Square Deal does NOT use standard dies. You've gotta buy 'em from Dillon, and they cost... That press also isn't hugely suited for rifle calibres. HOWEVER, it's a good press for doing handgun calibres. If you like it, keep it. I myself wouldn't turn one down... You may want to look into getting a single-stage press for doing your .30-30 rounds...