What kind of quantities will you reload?
It is possible to get loading for under $50 with the Lee Loader (uses a mallet to power the process) Mallet not included in the "kit". But it is slow, a bit noisy (with all that pounding) and scary for anyone watching you. But the setup if about $30-$35 and the size of a paperback book. Add a wooden, rawhide hard rubber, brass or plastic mallet and a piece of wood to absorb the impact (so you don't dent your coffeetable) and you are set.
Get a $25 Lee Safety Scale (about $25) and you are MUCH more flexible in your choice of powders and you are started. The Lee Safety Scale is as accurate as any you will find under $250, but devilishly hard to use if you are not familiar with how to use a vernier. Put the scale at eye level, have good, bright light and READ THE DIRECTIONS. I had one that came to me without directions and I really did not like it. After I got a set of directions, I liked it much better.
Most people who started with the so-called "Whack-a-bullet" Lee Loader move on to a press. The plans outlined by the people who posted already are excellent.
I believe in trying to buy the best press you can get (even if you have to compromise on some of the peripherals for a little while). You can add peripherals as you find the need for them. So, the following suggestions may not fit your need, I will share them with you. I will not be offended if you go another way. I consider buying "cheap" and trading up later is a waste of money (though I recognize that sometimes you have to).
Single stage presses (either hand press or bench mounted) will do an admirable job. By the way, even though you have limited space, I recommend a bench-mounted press over the hand press if you will be loading at home. Why? The hand press requires both hands and does not have the leverage of a bench-mounted press. Having a hand free is nice for picking up components with one hand while operating the press with the other. Having superior leverage is not so important with a smaller cartridge like the .380, but if you get a 9mm (tapered case requires a bit more force), .38 or.357 and larger, you will appreciate better leverage.
The bench-mounted press can be operated without a bench. I mounted my press on a 2x6 and wedged the board into the drawer of an end table. (The press tilted back at a convenient angle to operate it, too. Sometimes I would just strap the board to the top of the table-padded, of course.) Nowadays, I still use the same board. But now it is clamped into a folding workbench.
My press, 7 sets of dies and all my peripheral equipment except my brass cleaner fits in three toolboxes the largest of which is 24"x11"x10" outside dimensions. Powder, bullets and brass don't take up much more room.
If you wind up shooting more than 100 rounds per session (and reloading same), I recommend considering a Lee Classic Turret. The Lee Deluxe Turret is no slouch, either, especially if your budget is REALLY tight. But the Classic Turret has a number of advantages. Superior spent primer handling, stronger, larger opening (for sticking those 380 bullets on the cases).
Single stage production rate is about 50-75 rounds per hour, at best. Auto-advancing Turret press can triple that. The Lee Loader (Whack-a-Bullet) does about 25 per hour, but if you are REALLY fast, you can top that. I haven't used mine in decades.
My philosophy is to buy a good press, dies and scale. Add automatic powder dispenser and primer dispenser later if you have to cut corners.
However, if you can budget $300, the Kempf's Gun Shop Lee Classic Turret kit will have you loading in grand style with no compromise (The $220 kit has press, dies, primer dispenser, powder measure and 6 ammo boxes to which you will want to add a manual or two and a scale.) After 35 years of loading, that is what I chose to use.
Thanks for asking our advice.
Be safe, always, all ways.
Last edited by Lost Sheep; March 27, 2012 at 02:02 AM.