|January 8, 2012, 10:53 PM||#1|
Join Date: May 7, 2011
Buying Lee hand press. What else?
I'm about to get a 44mag (s&w 29-6) so I have to start hand loading if I ever want to afford to fire it. I have no space and nothing at all to mount on so I am going with the Lee Precision hand press. (link to amazon page) I have read the sticky about beginning equipment but I was hoping for a personalized response. What will I need to get from empty casing to live rounds? My first concern is 44mag due to prices but I'd like to reload 357, 38, and 40s&w.
Equipment, tools, consumables, everything. I'm hoping for a list of specific items (brand xyz part#abc, not just "one of these") If you know of a kit with the hand press that has most everything included, that would be great too. Thanks in advance.
I bought one Taurus firearm. I'll never make that mistake again.
|January 8, 2012, 11:12 PM||#2|
Join Date: January 24, 2009
Location: Anchorage Alaska
When I bought my first gun, I was in the same situation as you. My first gun, my first loading setup. Bought the same week for the same reason as you.
I bought a bench-mount press and drilled countersunk holes in a 2x6 about 30" long. When I wanted to load, I just mounted the press on the end of the board, wedged the board into the drawer of an end table and went to town.
I would put my scale and other stuff on a coffee table or other end table so any shaking would not affect them.
The hand press is good, but a bench-mounted press is better and a portable bench (think Black & Decker work-mate) or my arrangement is worth considering.
By the way, do not let this fact influence your opinion of my opinion, but I have 4 Taurus guns (a 1970s 22 rimfire revolver, and 1980s PT99, slightly more recent PT92 and a Millennium Pro PT145. They all function perfectly and are accurate to a fault.
|January 8, 2012, 11:55 PM||#3|
Join Date: January 24, 2009
Location: Anchorage Alaska
Assemble your own kit.
As far as a specific shopping list, you are better off to do a little research and make up your own list. After reviewing what equipment is out there, you will have gained some knowledge of how to reload as well as what to reload with.
However, I will give you one list. It is minimal.
You really only need three things (physically) to load.
Three items of hardware/tools/gear all lists have in common.
Dies because fingers are not precise enough to form metallic cartridges
Press because fingers are not strong enough to form metallic cartridges. (Although, one kit does use a mallet to power the loading, we'll skip that for now)
A way to Mete powder because eyeballs are not precise enough to accurately gauge the amount of powder in a case. Some people measure by volume alone, but these handloaders are a rarity. Everyone else, whether the mete the powder out by volume or by weight, do so with the assistance of a scale.
Press (mount it on a board and clamp the board to a table)
You have one of the three TOOLS you need to load. Get a set of Lee dies (compatible with your Auto-Disk powder measure) and preferably Tungsten-Carbide and a decent scale. Preferably balance beam, not electronic. The less expensive electronics are not reliable enough to use without a balance beam backup, and I would not even use an expensive one without such a backup.
Everything else just makes things faster, more precise, more convenient or slightly safer.
Things like a dropcloth to catch lost primers, spilled powder, debris from spent primers, etc. are nice to have.
A funnel to guide your measured powder charges into your cartridge cases is good, but you could make one out of paper if your budget is extremely tight.
A bullet puller is essential, but not until you have a loaded round you need to disassemble. I loaded for 7 years before I had one and another two decades before I ever had use for it.
As you load (slowly and carefully at first) you will figure out what else you need. But you will be loading (and shooting) and not wasting a lot of money on things that other people think you need, whether they are advisors here or marketers who have assembled a kit the THINK you will be satisfied with.
You asked, so I will give you specifics.
Lee Classic Turret
Lee 44 Magnum Deluxe Die Set (comes with one powder dipper and shell holder)
Lee Safety Scale if your budget is tight. One that is easier to use if you have enough money. But in any event is should be a balance beam rather than electronic. I do not trust electronics. I do trust gravity.
Kempf's Gun Shop assembles a rather nice kit for $200 which has some extras you will eventually want. Primer dispenser and Powder measure. It lacks only a scale and the only superfluous ites are the plastic MTM ammo boxes.
|January 9, 2012, 12:51 AM||#4|
Join Date: April 21, 2010
I have a Lee hand press, Lee Loaders (hammer style) and many bench mounted presses. Bench mounted presses are much handier and can be portable with the many ideas people have come up with and shared online. You asked about the hand press.
I would check out Factory Sales in Hartford, WI. They are across the road from the Lee Factory. Its a private business that sells all the Lee products cheap via mailorder.
Breech Lock Hand Press Kit 90180
38/357 4 die set 90964
.40 S&W 4 die set 90965
.44spl/.44mag 3 die set 90516
Lee Modern Reloading 2nd ed. Manual 90277
Powder Measure Kit (scoops/dippers) 90100
Lee Safety Scale 90681
Winchester 231 powder can load all these calibres, although it may not be the best performer for .44mag. It will get you started though.
You don't have to use magnum primers just because the round is named magnum, regular or magnum primers will work
Small Pistol Primers for the .38/.357/.40 / Winchester or CCI for example
Large Pistol Primers for .44mag WIN/CCI
Reuse your own empty cases to start
.429" jacketed or plated bullets / .430" in cast lead for your .44
.357 for 38/357 in jacketed .358" in cast / 158gr lead SWC is popular
.400 for the .40 / .401" for lead
You shouldnt need a case trimmer for these straight walled pistol cases, they wont likely grow in length.
A digital calipre to measure cartridge over all length
You might also try the Lyman 49th ed Manual
And find a used RCBS/Ohaus 5-0-5 model scale that is nicer than the Lee
|January 9, 2012, 12:58 AM||#5|
Join Date: December 26, 2004
Location: Louisville KY
I have a hand press.
You'll want as a minimum...
Analog calipers (no batteries, work instantly)
3 die set
Bullets of your liking
Shell holder (ammo box trays work fine)
Flashlight for inspecting charged cases
You'll want the hand press kit as it comes with the ram prime. Skip the hand prime doodad, junk IMO.
BTW I found an old Redding beam scale on Ebay for $25. It works fine, no need to spend $100 on a new one.
Get the reloading manual first though so you'll know the steps involved and correct powder.
Also, don't make the mistake of reloading a bunch before testing, especially when you switch powders.
Last edited by chris in va; January 9, 2012 at 01:06 AM.
|January 9, 2012, 01:25 AM||#6|
Join Date: December 23, 2005
You will need one of these first. Really, this first everything else second.
|January 9, 2012, 02:24 AM||#7|
Join Date: January 24, 2009
Location: Anchorage Alaska
10 Advices for the novice handloader
Here are 10 advices I composed for the new handloader.
My perspective is that of a handgun reloader, but I tried my best to make this universal, at least for metallic cartridges for handguns and rifles. Shotgunners, sorry, very little applies beyond the broadest generatlities.
When I first started (with a single stage press) I could produce about 50 per hour. I recommend doing things one process at a time. Multiple operations at a time are too complex for me to keep track of. My due care kept me moving too slowly. I used progressives for a while, but but finally have settle on a Lee Classic Turret as my preferred machine. Others may choose differently, but this one suits my style and temperament. I have thought of a few things I think are useful for handloaders to know or to consider which seem to be almost universal. So much is a matter of personal taste and circumstance, though. So, all advice carries this caveat, "your mileage may vary".
Bonus advice: Advice zero, if you will, "Why load?"
At the same time as I bought my first gun (.357 Magnum Dan Wesson revolver), I bought a reloading setup because I knew I could not afford to shoot if I did not reload my own ammo. It cost me about 1/4 of factory ammo per round and paid for itself pretty quickly. However, most shooters will not realize any savings at all. Instead of shooting for 1/4 the ammo cost, you will shoot four times as much for the same cost.
Eventually, however, handloading can be more than a means to an end (money savings or increased accuracy). It became a satisfying satisfying pastime in itself.
The pride of punching tiny groups in paper or harvesting game with anmmunition you created yourself is great. The independence to create your own designer bullets (velocity you choose, bullet shape you select, recoil you adjust to your purpose – teaching someone to shoot a 44 magnum is much easier if you can start them off with soft-shooting loads, for example). Independence - priceless.
Now, here are my Ten Advices.
Advice #1 Use Reliable Reference Sources Wisely –
Books, Videos, Web Sites, etc. Study up in loading manuals until you understand the process well, before spending a lot of money on equipment. I found "The ABC's of Reloading" to be a very good reference. Short on loading data but full of knowledge and understanding of the process. Check out offerings in your local library. Dated, perhaps but the basics are pretty unchanging. Read as many manuals as you can, for the discussion of the how-to steps. What one manual covers thinly, another will cover well.
As far as load data in older manuals, the powder manufacturers and bullet manufacturers may have better information and their web sites are probably more up to date. But pay attention to what the ammunition was test-fired from. (regular firearm vs a sealed-breech pressure test barrel, for example) The reason you want more than one or two manuals is that you want to read differing authors/editors writing styles and find ones that "speak" to you. You also get better coverage of the subject; one author or editor may cover parts of the subject more thoroughly than the others. The public library should have manuals you can read, then decide which ones you want to buy. There are instructional videos now that did not exist in the '70s when I started. Richard Lee's book "Modern Reloading" has a lot of food for thought, and does discuss the reasoning behind his opinions (unlike many manuals, and postings). Whether right or wrong, the issues merit thought, which that book initiates. It is not a simple book, though and you will find it provocative reading for many years. Only after you know the steps can you look at the contents of of a dealer's shelves, a reloading kit or a mail-order catalog and know what equipment you want to buy. If you are considering a loading kit, you will be in a better position to know what parts you don't need and what parts the kits lack.
Advice #2 All equipment is good. But is it good FOR YOU?
Almost every manufacturer of loading equipment makes good stuff; if they didn't, they would lose reputation fast and disappear from the marketplace. Cast aluminum is lighter and less expensive but not so durable (e.g. abrasion resistant) as cast iron. Cast iron lasts practically forever. Just think about what you buy. Ask around. Testimonials are nice. But if you thing Ford/Chevrolet owners have brand loyalty, you have not met handloaders. Testimonials with reasoning behind them are better. Better equipment costs more generally, and better customer service also translates to higher prices, usually. But there are exceptions. Lee Precision is generally considered the "economy" equipment maker, but some of their stuff is considered preferable to more expensive makes. (e.g. their hand primer)
Be aware that many handloaders don't use brand names, prefering themanufacturer's chosen color, instead. RCBS equipment is almost all green; Dillon, blue; Lee, red. Almost no manufacturers cross color line, so many handloaders simply identify themselves as "Blue" or whatever. But this is not 100%. I have a Lee Powder Scale that is green. On Kits: Almost every manufacturer (and retailer) makes a kit that contains everything you need to do reloading (except consumables). A kit is decent way to get started (with less puzzling over unknowable questions). Eventually most people wind up replacing most of the components of the kit as theirpersonal taste develops, but you will have gotten started, at least. Assembling your own kit takes more effort, but yields a good bit of knowledge as well as the equipment.
Advice #3 While Learning, don't get fancy.
Progressive or Single Stage? Experimental loads? While you are learning, load mid-range at first so overpressures are not concerns. Just concentrate on getting the loading steps right and being VERY VERY consistent (charge weight, crimp strength, seating depth, primer seating force, all that). Use a "fluffy" powder, that is, one that will overflow your cartridge case if you mistakenly put two powder charges in it, and is easy to verify that you have not missed charging a case with powder.
Some definitions are in order at this point: Press types: Single Stage, Turret and Progressive. Single stage press mounts one die at a time and performs one operation at a time. A turret press mounts multiple dies in separate stations, but still only performs one operation at a time on only one cartrdige at a time. A progressive press mounts several time dies in separate stations and performes multiple operations simultaneously. The single stage is best suited to batch processing. Take a batch of cases (ususally 20 or 50 or 100) and do step #1 to each case in the batch, then swap dies and do step #2 to each case, swap dies and so forth. A progressive is best suited to continuous processing. Take a batch of cases and feed them into the press. Each stroke of the operating handle performs all the steps (#1, #2, #3, etc) simultaneously on a number of cases, producing one round per stroke of the handle. A turret press can operate in batch mode as if it were a single stage, or continuous mode (by leaving one case in the press and performing all the steps, in continuous sequence on that one case, before moving on to the next case in the batch). That makes it LIKE a progressive because you take each cartridge from empty cast to finished round before moving on to the next cartridge (continuous processing). But it still only does one step at a time and takes multple strokes of the handle to produce each finished cartridge. In other words, a turret press is essentially a single stage press with a moveable head mounting several dies at the same time. What makes it like a single stage rather than a progressive is that you are still using only one die at a time, not three or four dies simultaneously at each stroke.
Whether you are learning on a single stage press, a turret press or a progressive press, perform only one step at a time during the learning process. It is too easy to miss something important when many things happen at the same time and are thus are hard to keep track of. Mistakes DO happen and you want to watch for them ONE AT A TIME until handloading becomes second nature to you. You can learn on a progressive, but it is easier to make mistakes during the learning process. Most reloaders recommend against starting to learn to load with a progressive. Many recommend a single stage. Also, a good, strong, single stage press is in the stable of every reloader I know, no matter how many progressives they have. They always keep at least one single-stage.
Advice #4 Find a mentor.
There is no substitute for someone watching you load a few cartridges and critiquing your technigue BEFORE you develop bad habits or make a dangerous mistake. (A mistake that might not have consequences right away, but maybe only after you have escaped trouble a hundred times until one day you get bit, for instance having case lube on your fingers when you handle primers 99 times, no problem because primers are coated with a sealant, but the hundredth primer may not be perfectly sealed and now winds up "dead")
I started loading with the guy who sold me my press watching over my shoulder as I loaded my first 6 rounds to make sure I did not blow myself up, load a powderless cartridge or set off a primer in the press. I could have learned more, faster with a longer mentoring period, but I learned a lot in those first 6 rounds, as he explained each step. I educated myself after that. But now, on the internet, I have learned a WHOLE LOT MORE. But in-person is still the best.
After you have been mentored, mentor someone else. Not necessarily in loading or the shooting sports, but in SOMETHING in which you are enthusiastic and qualified. Just give back to the community.
Advice #5 Design your loading space for safety, efficiency, cleanliness
When I started reloading, I did not use a loading bench at all. I just mounted the press on a 2" x 6" plank long enough to wedge into the drawer of an end table My loading gear all fit in a footlocker and spread out on a coffeetable, end table and/or the lid of the footlocker. Good leverage meant the table did not lift or rock. I still use the same plank, but now it is mounted in a portable folding workbench. A loading bench "bolted to the center of the earth" (as some describe their setups) would be more stable, but I do not feel deprived without it. You will probably spill powder or drop a primer eventually, so consider what you have for a floor covering when you pick your reloading room/workspace. I would not try to vacuum up spilt gunpowder unless using a Rainbow vacuum which uses water as the filter medium. A dropcloth is a good idea. Cloth, not plastic.
Advice #6 Keep Current on loading technology
Always use a CURRENT loading manual. Powder chemistry has changed over the years. They make some powders differently than they used to and even some powder names may have changed. However, if you are using 10 year old powder, you may want to check a 10 year old manual for the recipe. Then double check with a modern manual and then triple check with the powder maker. Exception: "The ABC's of Reloading", an excellent tome on the general processes of reloading is timeless. Any edition in the past 40 years is good. Check your local library where you could read several for free.
Read several forums on reloading; here some I read.
TheFiringLine.com :: Handloading, Reloading, and Bullet Casting
forums.accuratereloading.com/eve :: THE ACCURATE RELOADING.COM FORUMS
RugerForum.com :: View Forum - Factory Ammunition and Reloading
RugerForum.net :: (there are some VERY EXPERT guys on this one,
including the illustrious Iowegan.)
Let me share with you some posts and threads I think you will enjoy. So get a large mug of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, whatever you keep on hand when you read and think. Then read through these. Don't read just my posts. These threads in their entirety will be useful to you. Like manuals, which have many different authors and different writing styles and emphasis different aspects of loading, the different authors of the posts in these threads will give a wide variety of viewpoints with different styles. Some writers may "speak" to you better than others.
The "sticky" thread at the top of TheFiringLine's reloading forum is good, entitled, "For the New Reloader: Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST "
The "sticky" thread at the top of TheHighRoad.com's reloading forum is good, entitled, "For the New Reloader: Thinking about Reloading;
Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST"
The first draft of my "10 Advices..." is on page 2 of this thread, about halfway down.
My thread, "Budget Beginning bench you will never outgrow for the novice handloader" was informed by my recent (July 2010) repopulation of my loading bench. It is what I would have done 35 years ago if I had known then what I know now.
I have a thread "To Kit or Not to Kit?" that describes different philosophies of buying or assembling a kit one piece at a time.
Minimalist minimal (the seventh post down)
Thread entitled "Newby needs help."
My post 11 is entitled "Here's my reloading setup, which I think you might want to model" November 21, 2010)
thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=448410 scale choice
Advice #7 You never regret buying the best (but once) When you buy the very best, it hurts only once, in the wallet. When you buy too cheaply it hurts every time you use the gear. The trick is to buy good enough (on the scale between high quality and low price) to keep you happy without overpaying.
Put one way: "The bitter taste of cheap equipment lingers long after the sweetness of bargain pricing wears off." Another way, "The sweetness of quality gear lasts much longer than the pain of the price paid."
Advice #8 Tungsten Carbide dies (or Titanium Nitride) T-C dies instead of regular tool steel (which require lubrication for sizing your brass) for your straight-walled cartridge cases. T-C dies do not require lubrication, which will save you time. For your rifles' bottlenecked cases, a carbide expander button avoids the need for lube on the inside of the cases.
Advice #9 Safety Always Safety All Ways.Wear eye protection, especially when working with primers. Gloves are good, too, especially if using the Lee "Hammer" Tools. Children (unless they are good helpers, not just playing around) are at risk and are a risk. Pets, too unless they have been vetted (no, not that kind of vetting). Avoid anything that might distract you (e.g. cause a no charge or a double charge, equally disturbing). Imagine everything that CAN go wrong. Then imagine everything that you CAN'T imagine.
I could go on, but it's your eyes, your fingers, your house, your children. Enough said?
Advice #10 Remember, verify for yourself everything you learn from casual sources. Believe only half of what you see and one quarter of what you hear. That goes double for everything you find on the internet (with the possible exception of the actual web sites of the bullet and powder manufacturers). This advice applies to my message as much as anything else and especially to personal load recipes. Hare-brained reloaders might have dangerous habits and even an honest typographical error could be deadly. I heard about a powder manufacturer's web site that dropped a decimal point once. It was fixed REAL FAST, but mistakes happen. I work in accounting and frequently hit "7" instead of "4" because they are next to each other on the keypad.
|January 9, 2012, 04:31 PM||#8|
Join Date: May 7, 2011
Thanks for all the great info everyone. Can't wait to get started!
I bought one Taurus firearm. I'll never make that mistake again.