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Old January 22, 2005, 11:53 PM   #1
NickolasPopoff
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were do you start reloading?

I am looking at getting started reloading, and i am just curious where it is one can learn the basics about reloading.

I know there are several options as far as equiptment, but i am just afraid i am going to buy all this crap then blow my hand off...

any thoughts would be much appreciated... oh yes i am looking at starting off with pistol ammo as i have heard that it is generally easier, something to do with case sizing no being as difficult, but i would like to be able to load anything eventually

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Old January 23, 2005, 12:08 AM   #2
frag
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Let me start by saying there are many different opinions on reloading presses, but I think most everyone will agree that you need to read as much info as you can. All the major manufacturers of reloading equipment and supplies have books..Lee, RCBS, Dillon.... You could start with Midway and order a couple of books and go from there. (midwayusa.com)

That being said, I started reloading a few years ago with a Lee turret press and I'm very happy with it. Not nearly as fast as a progressive press, but not as expensive either! It's fairly straightforward and I've had good results loading 45ACP, 9mm and 30 carbine. I haven't loaded any rifle yet, but I have the dies and am gearing up.
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Old January 23, 2005, 02:01 AM   #3
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I started reloading with an RCBS setup and still have it in my garage.

Basically, frag is right -- buy any of the "basic" books for reloaders from RCBS, Lee or Dillon and read it over a couple of times. Then decide on how much you think you'll want to reload (100 rounds a week or 500?) and if your environment will let you set up a workbench for it.

For starting out, it's hard to beat a single-stage press system that forces you to work one stage at a time (i.e. resizing, priming, belling, seating stages). This way you learn how to carefully prepare your loads, check each step (the QC process) and create good loads.

Besides getting a press, some of the other things you'll want are;
  1. A sturdy bench with at least 20-24" on either side of the press. Unless you like standing a lot, I suggest building the bench such that you can sit down and work. It'll be easier on your feet, knees & back!
  2. A well lit workarea - lighting that doesn't glare into your eyes, illuminates your work and the floor well.
  3. Fire resistant storage for powder - This could be an old ammo can but be sure it's not tightly sealed so in the event of a fire the pressure can escape while limiting the flame damage.
  4. Two or more good reloading manuals - RCBS & SPEER for instance - so that you can see & compare a larger selection of powders, charges & bullet weights. I've always liked RCBS reloading manuals.
  5. A powder scale. Don't scrimp on this one. Buy a good one with magnetic dampening
  6. A good powder measure - don't scrimp here either
  7. A good micrometer to measure case lengths, bullet diameters, primer pockets and a host of other things you never thought you'd need to know.
  8. A primer flip tray - allows you to align all your primers face up/down as needed to load in the priming station. Always store primers in their containers/boxes/trays. Never store primers in loose-bulk such as a jar or bin to prevent explosive detonation.
  9. A cartridge case block - Such as MTM's Case-block 50. This holds cases in rows spaced out so you can add powder, add bullets, etc.
  10. Case lube pad & lube - if you reload longer revolver cartridges this will help keep cases from sticking in the dies.
  11. Benchtop cover or anti-static mat. This covers the bench workarea so parts, primers, spilled powder, etc can be seen. Anti-static will also help guard against sparks when dealing with powder.
  12. Organizer bins - simple hardware organizer drawers to retain boxes of primers, various bullets, different shell-holders and other small bits.
  13. Notebook or binder Keep a binder or notebook of all your reloading that you've done. This will help you review your loads for accuracy and quality.
You can also buy a case-tumbler to clean your fired cases, although some companies make a brass cleaner solution for this purpose too.

I can think of other ways to spend your money too.

Find someone locally who has been reloading for years and see if they'll show you the basics.

If you keep a notebook or journal, don't forget to take it to the range with your reloads. Thus you can make notes on each load, such as "accurate", "lots of unburned powder", "shoots low", etc. This will help you from repeating any mistakes or creating loads that aren't good for you.

I hope this helps.
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Old January 23, 2005, 08:57 AM   #4
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Good advice above. I would add the two following tips:

1) Search the archives here.
2) Find a good video on reloading. A great example is here. You would be surprised how much less intimidating it all is when you watch someone do it. It also helps to be able to rewind and watch them do it again.... and again..... and again....

Be warned, this can be addictive. Yesterday I remembered that when I experienced the rush that can come by shriking the group sizes on my AR from 4-5 inches with factory ammo to 1-2 inches with my handloads.....
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Old January 23, 2005, 09:05 AM   #5
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I started learning on these dang websites! Got another hobby out of it, thanks guys!

That said, I picked up The ABC's of Reloading and read it a couple times. Next, I picked up the Lee Anniversary kit and dies for 8mm Mauser, and 7.5x55 Swiss. Now I reload for 5 pistol calibers and 5 rifle calibers (more on the way).

I recommend getting the LEE kit, just in case you don't like reloading, you're out less and if you do dig reloading you can use the dies, powder measure, scale, etc with other presses if you decide you want to get into it more and get "better?" gear.
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Old January 23, 2005, 09:57 AM   #6
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Don't forget the safety glasses - first thing on at the bench, last thing off. Do not reload without eye protection.

Here's a helpful link: http://www.reload-nrma.com/

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Old January 23, 2005, 10:08 AM   #7
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Nick, a very good book to start with (and will continue to be usefull) is the loading manual published by Speer.

It is called The Speer Manual #13. (with the animal skull on the cover)

A loading manual, as you may know by now, is a reference book with loading data organized by caliber. There are usually two sections: handgun and rifle. This is where you look up loading data (powder weight) and predicted results (bullet velocity & cartridge pressure). Let's say you turn to the .38 special pages. They start with a little text on the history, general characteristics, and diagram of the .38 special cartridge, with dimentions, and info on the gun, brass, and primers used in their tests. Then they give suggested maximum and minimun load data (gunpowder weight in grains) listed by bullet type (shape), material (lead or copper jacketed), and weight, for several different appropriate powders. You probably know this already — sorry if it's a repeat.

Some loading manuals also have much instructional material with illustrations and general step-by-step narrative on how to load ammo.

This is the area where the Speer #13 really shines. Their intro material is well written, well illustrated, and well designed. In other words, they had talented people prepare this.

Not all gun and reloading reading material is as well-prepared or well-presented. Much is often written and organized by gun geeks — well informed people who just cannot communicate well.

I'm going to catch some flack for this, but the Lee Loading Manual is a perfect example of poorly written and poorly presented work. They know what they are doing, but they cannot write well! I'm not criticizing their knowledge, opinions, or quality of equipment. But bad writing and graphic design is what I'm talking about. In books, that matters.

There certainly are other good ones, but this Speer #13 rises to the top.

Later, of course, you will be using the book for load data. You must have several different loading manuals on hand. They are sort of like bird books. You cannot get enough info from just one.

Speer Manual #13 is available from gun supply companies. Don't buy older editions while you are starting out.

As for blowing yourself up, get informed and work methodically. Buy quality equipment and supplies. You will soon understand that you can keep well within the margins of safety. This is a very interesting and fun extension of shooting guns. You can really get hooked on loading.

Loading ammo is like cooking — if you love eating good food, cooking will enhance the experience in ways otherwise impossible. This is very true of loading your own ammo — especially oddball cartridges.
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Old January 23, 2005, 11:00 AM   #8
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Last week on the program Shooting USA, on The Outdoor Channel, they had a basic reloading demonstration. It omited a few steps I thought but covered what you needed and how to use it. Go to the Shooting USA web site and they list what programs will be on and the content. I just checked, It's on the week on Feb 4.
I also saw lots of reloading information on the web site. www.shootingusa.com
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Old January 23, 2005, 01:54 PM   #9
Robert M Boren Sr
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Buy a reloading book, any of them will do, I would suggest either sierra or speer. And read them from cover to cover. Speer has a tendancey to be partial to RCBS and CCI because they're all intertwined. That's why it's good to get two books to compare notes etc. Once you get started, I gaurantee that the books won't go to waste. Good luck.
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Old January 23, 2005, 03:01 PM   #10
Bud Helms
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"I am looking at getting started reloading, and i am just curious where it is one can learn the basics about reloading."

Members Thirties and Robert M Boren Sr have given the best answers in my opinion. However, donkee's got a point too.

My favorite manuals for starting out and occasionally renewing familiarity with principles are the Hornady and Lyman reloading books. They are all good references, though.
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Old January 23, 2005, 04:04 PM   #11
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Great advice so far! Reloading is not rocket science but you will be your own QC! If you do not have time for small and minor details and like adult beverages, this might not be for you. If you are looking to have the baddest pistol on the block, this might not be for you. Get the manual, I too like Speer, thats how I learned. Another thought might be to read the book then find a reloading mentor. I would find someone who likes putting as many bullets as he can through the same hole in the target. When it comes to equipment you get what you pay for.
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Old January 26, 2005, 04:00 PM   #12
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Where to learn

Agree with the consensus that you need to study up before you start buying stuff. My reccommendation is The ABC's of Reloading, published by Krause, NOT the Lee book of the same name. Get it @ your local gun shop, a gun show, Midwest or any mailorder supplier, or the publisher, www.Krause.com

Best loading manual IMHO is the Lyman's 48th edition. The component makers all tend to tout their own stuff. Lyman doesn't make components, so they are relatively unbiased. More manuals are better than fewer; you can compare reccommendations, and no manual ever written can cover ALL the possible combinations of powder, bullet, case, & primer.

Safe & slow is the way to go--those formulae in the manuals are made up by PhD's in lab coats who DO know better than you what is a safe maximum. And making your beloved Old Betsy go Kaboom! is a rotten way of proving them right.

Enjoy the journey!
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Old January 26, 2005, 04:57 PM   #13
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I'm gonna throw in a minority opinion here. You don't have to know it all (or much of anything) to get started. Buy a Lee Loader in the caliber you want to start with. $20 new, $10 used. Open it and look at the load sheet. Buy a can of the powder it suggests for the bullet you want to use, a box of bullets, and a box of primers. Get a plastic or rubber mallet. Go home. Follow the instructions. Load.

That's all there is to getting started.

Time you have loaded a few hundred rounds on the Lee Loader, you will understand all the basic steps of reloading. Then will be plenty of time for all the other stuff people have been telling you to do. You'll want better and faster equipment, but the cost of the Lee Loader was cheap tuition. Somewhere down the road, you can give or sell it to someone else getting started.
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Old January 27, 2005, 02:39 AM   #14
Tim R
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Leftover and I are not going to agree about getting the Lee loader. While it works there are MUCH better ways of going about it. A good over view can be found at www.centerfirecentral.com
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Old January 27, 2005, 11:57 AM   #15
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Tim,

Better ways of loading ammunition, sure. I said so in my first post.

Better ways to learn to load, no.
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Old January 27, 2005, 12:34 PM   #16
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Good Ol' Lee Loader

Leftover & Tim--I too started on the Lee Loader. I learned a bit from it, but it is SO basic that there is not much more once you get started. Yet I though I was perfectly happy and satisfied, and it was filling all of what I thought my needs were, until I stumbled onto such a deal on an RCBS Rcokchucker that even my wife agreed I should snap it up.

Then it was "off to the races." If I had it to do over again I'd have started right off with the RCBS. With the Lee you can't go wrong if you follow the directions, but you also are very limited in your choices--they made most of those for you when they included one certain size powder dipper in the kit.

I think if I were teaching a class in reloading I'd start with the Lees, one set for each student, but after having them make up and shoot 20 rds, I'd then proceed to a regular single-stage reloading press and the associated equipment. I cannot reccommend spending $$ on a Lee Loader kit for your personal use, unless saving a little $$, and making up, say, 20 rd/yr. is ALL you will ever do in the area of reloading. For that level of reloader, the Lee is just what the Dr. ordered. But so many of us outgrow it, you might just as well save the $$ and start at the next level up.

FWIW I still keep my Lee kit--you just never know.
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Old January 27, 2005, 12:59 PM   #17
Edward429451
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Quote:
but i am just afraid i am going to buy all this crap then blow my hand off...
Just be sensible and don't try to hotrod any cartridge. If you need more power, go to a different cartridge with heavier bullets. Stay below the max published loads and work up slow. You'll never blow up a gun this way. People blow up guns with factory ammo everyday.
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Old January 27, 2005, 03:23 PM   #18
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Smokey, you are singing my song.

Fellow is thinking about starting and scared of making a serious mistake. I gave him the safest, simplest, starting point and warned him that it would not satisfy him long. No different from suggesting he spend $20 on a book or video, except that he can get some or all of his money back later.

Lot easier to do that than to sink $200-$300 in stuff you have never tried and don't know how to use.
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Old January 29, 2005, 01:56 AM   #19
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Start Reloading

The only thing I haven't seen mentioned is to find someone else who is an accomplished reloader.

Talk to the people at the range, at the gun shop, where ever our kind congregate. My experience is that you're mentioning getting started will result in several offers of assistance.

It sure helps to have read a couple of manuals (Speer, Hornady, Nosler - maybe at the library) before going over to his (or, nowadays maybe, her) house so you have a little background information. Then watch, listen, and learn.

You are much better able to decide how much money to spend on what type of equipment after seeing some of it in operation.

Have fun, and welcome to our world!
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Old January 29, 2005, 02:16 AM   #20
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buy some bullet proof gloves
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Old January 29, 2005, 01:07 PM   #21
Robert M Boren Sr
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I agree with C1PNR, it helps beeing showed the ropes. I had my dad whom started me out at around 8 or 9 years old.
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Old February 20, 2005, 02:25 AM   #22
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Another vote here for the ABC's of Reloading...the hardest part is the terminology, and it'll give you a good dose of it. It's available at any Border's. Have fun...that's what it's really all about.
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Old February 20, 2005, 10:00 AM   #23
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C1PNR has a good idea. The web site I mentioned on up the thread (NRMA) has a link to a list of all the certified NRA reloading instructors. Save finding anyone else, you will not go wrong contacting one of these people - I know because I are one. Video and books are good, but there's nothing to beat 'hands-on' with a good teacher. Also, the book 'NRA Guide to Reloading ' is a good 'how-to' reference (not a load data manual). sundog
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