The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > Handloading, Reloading, and Bullet Casting

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old March 27, 2010, 04:18 PM   #1
BeerSleeper
Member
 
Join Date: March 26, 2010
Posts: 40
Yet another thread seeking advice for press selection

My apologies in advance for creating a new thread on a dead-horse subject. This will be a substantial investment for me, and I want to do it right the first time. I thought first, of getting the cheapest progressive I could find, and learning on it, once establishing enough experience with it to know exactly what I do/don't want in a press, buying the one I want (kind of a preseason/regular season mentality). However, this plan has an end result of possessing a cheap press I have invested $ in, and may not wish to keep, so I am going to try to figure this out with much study and "homework" before arriving at a purchase choice.


What I want in a reloading press:

1) Reliability. I realize it's a machine. Parts can break, and need replacement. That is not a problem, but breakdowns need to be infrequent, parts need to be available, and affordably priced.

2) 5 station progressive. I will start out with just a press, and the RCBS lockout die. That is investment enough for year 1. Years 2 & 3, or maybe Christmas, can bring the bullet/case feeders. Unless I am mistaken, powder checking via RCBS lockout, and bullet feeding, requires 5 stations.

3) Caliber changes should not be burdensome. I want to load 9mm and .40S&W with one press. There is a decent possibility I will load other calibers as well.

4) Priming. I need to learn more about RCBS priming system. Do you have to buy primers in the strips, or do you buy a regular box of primers and manually put them into the plastic strip system?

5) Press should auto-index

Background info on me, as it relates to shooting sports and reloading ammo:

I'm 30, I grew up on a farm, with rifles and shotguns. I only just recently bought my first pair of pistols. I find I like to shoot them, and I don't like to buy ammo.

Up through high school, I reloaded my dad's hunting ammo on a single-stage Pacific 155. That thing sucked, but I enjoyed the loading, and was able to reach output rates of about 75 shells per hour (which at the time, with a single stage, I thought was serious output). While I have no first hand experience with metallic reloading, I've done enough of it to know I will enjoy it, so I'm in it for more than just the $/round savings (it's only a $/round savings...there's never a total cost savings in reloading). That, and I will sleep better at night, knowing if SHTF, my armory room in the basement is stocked.

Where I'm at in my thought process this far:

I have done much reading at THR and TFL, and observed videos of most models in action on youtube. I am considering progressives from Lee, Hornady, RCBS, and Dillon (have I missed anybody).
I have a friend who is FFL, and can get the FFL price at Graf's, and I'm within driving distance of them, so I can get primers/powder, at good price, without hazmat shipping. That, and many of these guys pool together to make one enormous order prior to hunting season, resulting in additional bulk quantity order discount. Thus, I have great incentive to purchase a model carried at graf's.
I've basically ruled out the Lee models, in favor of models having lifetime warranties, and based on trouble reports in various forum threads.

Since I want to go 5 station, that rules out a Dillon 550, which means the closest model Dillon is the 650. I am likely to pass on Dillon due to the $$, unless further research shows the extra cost to be justified. Brand snobbery alone is not sufficient for me, unless I find reason in my opinion for it to be justified.

This is leaving the Hornady LnL, and the RCBS 2000 Pro with AutoIndexing. I like the way the dies change out on the die plate for the RCBS, and the LnL bushings on the Hornady. I didn't find a video on the Dillon models die-changout, but I'm not done looking, either.

If I had to pick a winner today, it would be the Hornady, but my wife has given me a "honey-do" list which is to be completed prior to purchase authorization. This list is at least three weekends long, so I have at least that much time to study my purchase options.



I suppose also, as a side note, any recommendations on a tumbler, or are they all pretty much the same? I take my stepson to the range once or twice a month, and we bring home any free brass. He sorts them by caliber & headstamp, in exchange for the privilege of going, and being provided guns and ammo. We just may knock out a big chunk of the reloader cost by selling range brass on gunbroker. Last trip to the range brought about 2000 spent brass. If it brings $30/1000ct, that will pay for the tumbler quick, and is "free money" after that. Then, I'll just have to deal with selling all the brass to pay for the reloader leaves me nothing to reload...
BeerSleeper is offline  
Old March 27, 2010, 04:24 PM   #2
IllinoisCoyoteHunter
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 23, 2008
Location: Southern Illinois
Posts: 1,505
Not fully progressive but the Lee Classic Turret press should be considered too. For the money it is hard to beat. One of these presses and a bullet casting setup will get you shooting high quality ammunition very cheaply. Good luck!
__________________
~~IllinoisCoyoteHunter~~

~NRA LIFE MEMBER~
~NRA CERTIFIED INSTRUCTOR~
IllinoisCoyoteHunter is offline  
Old March 27, 2010, 04:36 PM   #3
BeerSleeper
Member
 
Join Date: March 26, 2010
Posts: 40
Trying not to skip too many steps at a time. I am talking about going from "10 years ago I used to load single stage shotshells" to progressive metallic reloading. Once I get comfortable with reloading, I'll look at bullet casting. The intriguing aspect of that, is that I have set up a target range on rural farmland. If I were to build a steel bullet catcher to put behind my target...
BeerSleeper is offline  
Old March 27, 2010, 05:01 PM   #4
zippy13
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 23, 2008
Location: SoCal
Posts: 6,404
Years ago, I bought a used Dillon and have no regrets. I was just up at the pistol range running some reloads (with home-cast bullets) and some factory hardballs through my scoped S&W 625 on a rest. At 15 yards, they both produced 6-shot groups that were essentially one ragged hole in the X-ring. At 50-yards, the factory loads grouped more than twice as big as the reloads. Not only did I save a lot with the reloads, they shoot better, too. BeerSleeper, you are going to wish that you'd started reloading sooner.
zippy13 is offline  
Old March 27, 2010, 05:15 PM   #5
Shoney
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 21, 2002
Location: Transplanted from Montana
Posts: 2,311
BeerSleeper:

WELCOME TO TFL!

Let's back up a bit. Before anyone can make an accurate determination of a press for you, we need to know your shooting habits. How much of what, do you shoot, and how often.

Which cartridges do you plan to reload? How many of these do you shoot per month/week?


The only absolute in starting to reload is that you will shoot more, probably a lot more.
__________________
I pledge allegiance to the Flag - - -, and to the Republic for which it stands….Our Forefathers were brilliant for giving us a Republic, not a democracy! Do you know the difference??? and WHY?http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissue...les.asp?id=111
Shoney is offline  
Old March 27, 2010, 05:33 PM   #6
Unclenick
Staff
 
Join Date: March 4, 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 10,221
I usually recommend someone (especially a youngster) learn metallic reloading on a single-stage just because it makes you look at every round at every step of the process until you learn what to look out for? Also because there are fewer mechanical smooth running issues to watch out for. That said, you can put shells through a progressive one-at-a-time until you are comfortable simultaneously loading five.

I think you've kind of narrowed your decision to the Hornady. That should do fine. I think they were still offering some number of free bullets with one last time I looked? The RCBS's have been around but have not become as popular as the others; you don't see them mentioned as often as the others. There's another thread currently by someone whose had trouble with one.

Lee progressives seem to have the most hiccups. RCBS may come next, but I don't have personal experience to suggest that; just post reading. Their customer service reputation is excellent. The Hornady and Dillon presses seem to be the most popular. Dillon's no BS warranty, I can tell you, really is exactly that. I've had new parts, no-questions-asked, on two occasions, and they didn't even want me to return the broken ones. They just immediately sent the new ones. I've not dealt with Hornady customer service on presses. Someone who has one may be able to tell you how they do in that regard?
__________________
Gunsite Orange Hat Family Member
CMP Certified GSM Master Instructor
NRA Certified Rifle Instructor
NRA Benefactor Member
Unclenick is offline  
Old March 27, 2010, 10:27 PM   #7
BeerSleeper
Member
 
Join Date: March 26, 2010
Posts: 40
Quote:
WELCOME TO TFL!

Let's back up a bit. Before anyone can make an accurate determination of a press for you, we need to know your shooting habits. How much of what, do you shoot, and how often.

Which cartridges do you plan to reload? How many of these do you shoot per month/week?
Thanks.
My shooting habits are somewhat still developing. I grew up with rifles and shotguns on the farm, but only two months ago bought my first pistol. I'm currently shooting 9mm, and .40S&W. I bought the 9 two months ago, and the .40 two weeks ago. I haven't shot them enough to have a favorite, but currently, the 9 is more accurate, with probably about 600-700 rounds through it. I've put in the neighborhood of 200 through the .40, so it may not yet even be fully "broken-in" if such a thing is real (or maybe, more aptly put, I'm not "broken in" to it...).

I live outside of town, and I work on a farm, so my shooting habits are mostly just whenever I get in the mood to walk outside and do so. Generally about 3 days a week, at the end of a days work, I pin up 4 targets, and empty 2 mags, shooting four 8-shot groups if it's a 9mm day, or four 7-shot groups if it's the .40. I just got back from the indoor range at bass pro (too rainy to shoot at home today). I put 100 rounds through each gun, and my stepson put about 100 through a borrowed .22. It was a good time, and we came home with a 5 gallon bucket of brass and another reloading manual (lyman last time, hornady this time). My shooting opportunities are pretty much just limited to budget. That, and while possible, I don't see myself getting into rifles anytime soon (except maybe for the Ruger 10/22 I've promised my stepson if he gets straight A's, but I can't load that anyway).

Last weekend, I was going to go watch my first USPSA match, but the event was canceled due to snow. The local rod/gun club has a match every third Saturday. I haven't seen one in person yet, but if it's like the videos I've seen online, I think I could get into it, and that will certainly up the round count. If I get into that, I'm sure to meet someone who reloads, and would be willing to show me there setup, and maybe even let me load some on it. I'm starting to see the purpose in starting on a single stage, but I still see it as "training wheels" for a progressive.

Unclenick- My dad has a Hornady progressive 12 gauge loader, and he has had to order service parts. I suppose I should ask him what Hornady's customer service was like, as it stands to reason they would support metallic reloaders the same as shotshell.
I do like your idea of loading single cartridges on a progressive. Seems more like the learning curve of a single stage, without investing in redundant equipment.
I read the first few posts in that thread about the guy and his "POS" RCBS press. I thought it was alot of huff,puff,and blow for having not even called the tech support line, and was more inclined to believe there was fault with the operator, than the press, although he did seem to have a heck of a time with the rcbs priming system.
BeerSleeper is offline  
Old March 28, 2010, 12:11 PM   #8
BigJakeJ1s
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 8, 2005
Location: Arlington TX
Posts: 650
I'm just looking at what you've told us, and you appear to shoot around a 100 rounds a week, or 400-500 rounds a month (total for two cartridges).

Depending on your time available for reloading, that kind of volume is on the lower end of where a progressive press is needed or wanted. You might want to think about starting your metallic reloading on a single stage press, which could easily support your volume needs, and let you learn the mistakes that everyone makes at an easier pace before you start cranking out mistakes at high volume on a progressive. The Lee Classic Cast single stage is an great press at an excellent price.

An often recommended half-step between single stage and progressive presses is the Lee Classic Turret press. Cabela's and Kempf both sell reloading kits built around this press that will get you started.

Lee progressive presses, on the other hand, do not have a good reputation for reliability and ease of use.

The LNL AP does have a reputation for quality and ease of use, as does Dillon. I have dealt with Hornady customer service for other products, and they have always been courteous, professional, and very helpful. I find that most companies (especially reloading equipment manufacturers) have good customer service when approached with a bit of humility and kindness from the customer. If you call them, ranting that their product is a total POS, you are much more likely to evoke a response you will not be happy with, whether it's RCBS, Dillon, or anyone else.

You also need to think about what kind of reloading you want to do. Are you likely to tinker with loads a lot, having different loads for plinking, accuracy, and power, with different bullets, powders, etc., or are you likely to find one load and crank it out in volume? You mentioned you may not get into rifle reloading, and most pistol reloaders find one load they like and use it all the time. Changing loads, let alone experimenting with different loads, is not a strength of progressive presses, but some are better than others at it. All are great at cranking out mind-numbing quantities of the same load over and over.

Andy
BigJakeJ1s is offline  
Old March 28, 2010, 01:32 PM   #9
BeerSleeper
Member
 
Join Date: March 26, 2010
Posts: 40
I am likely to find one load and mass produce it. If I found a recipe that duplicates the WWB target ammo I've been buying at Walmart, I'd be happy with that. At present, the only change I'd be interested in making would be to try and find a cleaner burning powder. I don't know what powder is used in the WWB loads, but it is diiiiiirty.

I realize my volume is a little on the low end, presently, but I expect that may change if I join the local rod/gun club, especially if I decide to start shooting USPSA. The other thing is, if I continue to shoot at this lower volume, once I find the loading I like, and stick with it, I can just get the press out 2-3 times a year, and crank out 1,000-2,000 rounds, and then I'm done for a good long while.

I do think the turret press would be closer to what I'm familiar with. The single stage shotshell reloader I "cut my teeth" on had 5 stations mounted to it. 1)deprime/resize 2)prime 3)powder/wad/shot 4)precrimp 5)final crimp. I'm used to running one shell through all stages, then the next shell. When one uses the turret, is that generally how it's done, or do you still do each step on X cartridges, and then move to the next step?
BeerSleeper is offline  
Old March 28, 2010, 01:34 PM   #10
BeerSleeper
Member
 
Join Date: March 26, 2010
Posts: 40
also, is it bad form to keep calling them "shells" when I should be saying something like "cartridges"? I loaded shells so long, I can't help but say "shells", but it just doesn't seem correct.
BeerSleeper is offline  
Old March 28, 2010, 01:47 PM   #11
Edward429451
Junior member
 
Join Date: November 12, 2000
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Posts: 9,494
Only if the Grammar police are watching. Many hang out on this board. For some strange unknown reason using incorrect terminology increases their heartrate & respiration and they get all red faced...even if you were the one using said terminology. I never quite got that one.
Edward429451 is offline  
Old March 28, 2010, 02:13 PM   #12
Jim243
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 5, 2009
Location: Just off Route 66
Posts: 4,444
BeerSleeper

You are correct they are Metalic Cartrages but I am not part of the grammer police I just call them rounds.

To be perfectly honest, if all you want to do is take your equipment out 2 or 3 times a year, you should look into pruchasing your ammo in bulk and not get into reloading. With the cost of the equipment and accessories it would be cheaper that way. A progressive press will cost you, Lee Loadmaster $239.00, Hornady LNL AP $450.00, Dillion 650 $750 to $850 and that's just for the press not counting the accessories which can run you another $500 to $800 dollars depending on the make and mfg.

I started out loading 45 ACP 6 years ago and quickly branched into 13 different calibers. Real savings comes in when loading for rifle not pistol. You will save some money but it will take a while for you to recover your cost for the equipment.

Progressive presses are fussy to setup each time and while they make loads of ammo in a shorter time frame, you do not want to spend the one or two days setting them up each time. The other issue is that the Press is just ONE part of the process of reloading, there are a lot more peices of equipment you will need.

If you want to get into reloading as a hobby then make yourself some room and keep your equipment setup all the time, otherwise buy bulk.

Jim


Last edited by Jim243; March 28, 2010 at 02:19 PM.
Jim243 is offline  
Old March 28, 2010, 03:10 PM   #13
BeerSleeper
Member
 
Join Date: March 26, 2010
Posts: 40
Jim,
I didn't mean for it to sound like I intend to dismantle the press between uses. That's not my intent. I have enough space for it on the work bench, but, when not actively reloading, it will have to share bench space with other projects.
I haven't found any good prices on bulk ammo. I actually haven't found much that beats walmart, except for reloads, and the only reloads I'm interested in shooting are my own. I just don't trust any old tom/dick/harry that much.
I am looking forward to doing this, I'm not looking at it as a chore I have to do to get to shoot. However, my preferred method of doing things is to start it, work at it until done, and then be done, when possible. I would rather load a 4 hour stretch, once a month, than an hour a week, or better yet, if scheduling allows, 8 hours every two months instead of 4 hours every month. It's just how I like to do things. I like to get a lot done at once. I like to buy groceries once a month by going to sams, too (if only milk and bread lasted a month). Whenever possible, do bigger, and do it less often.

I've already got enough brass I could load a year's worth of ammo if I put my mind to it. I'd sure rather spend my cold dark winter nights loading so in summertime I'm free to do other things (like shooting!)
BeerSleeper is offline  
Old March 28, 2010, 04:41 PM   #14
BigJakeJ1s
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 8, 2005
Location: Arlington TX
Posts: 650
A turret press can be used either in batch mode (size a hundred, then expand a hundred, etc.) or turret mode (size, expand, dump powder, seat and crimp one round before starting the next one). The LCT with the auto-indexed tool head, is more suited to the latter, but it will still do the former.

BTW, that's an LCT on the right on Jim243's bench.

Andy
BigJakeJ1s is offline  
Old March 28, 2010, 05:49 PM   #15
Tacoma
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 27, 2004
Location: SE New England
Posts: 613
My 2 cents. With reloading, your going to save 15 cents per round (MAYBE IF your careful and not picky about plated bullets)over the cost of Winchester white box from wall-mart. Out of that 15 cents you need to pay for start up components and equipment before you break even. i.e. the price of your equipment determines when you start paying yourself back.

If your current rate of shooting is in the area of 100-150 rounds a week, and you don't expect it to double, I'd vote semi progressive like the Lee Turret/Classic turret. A single stage, while giving you control and safety is going to be painfully slow for that amount of shooting. A full progressive is going to give you less control/safety and cost at least 200% more to get into a decent machine. The Turret will cost you $150-$250 with everything needed to get started. It will give you the benifit of max control/saferty and be less problematic than most full progressives. Another plus is that it's cheaper, faster and easier to change calibers on a turret vs full progressive. It will also allow you to spit out a weeks worth of ammo in less than 1 hr.
Tacoma is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:21 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.10366 seconds with 9 queries