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Old January 24, 2013, 06:11 PM   #1
GhostRider58
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Another Newbee with the Same ole Questions

Hello to all,
I live in central New York State...need I say more. I have always wanted to get into reloading, and it seem prudent to do so now. I have started to research all the different presses and it is fairly overwhelming. I'm sure it has been asked a hundred times, by newbees, but what is a good quality press for a beginner. I want to reload handgun rounds (.357 and .44 mags.) and rifle rounds (.30-06 and 30-30).
If there is a good thread on the subject, could you point me to it? That would be easier than having to type it up all over again. (Yes, I did read the sticky at the top of the page that says 'must read'.)
I want a good press that will load the above rounds quickly and accurately. I don't shoot competitively, I just want good hunting and casual target rounds. Single stage or progressive? I don't know.
Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
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Old January 24, 2013, 07:17 PM   #2
dickttx
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Lots of good presses that will reload those rounds.
Look at the Lee Classic Turret. Very nice operating with the Lee Pro Auto Disk and the Lee Safety Prime. An excellent system at a nice price.
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Old January 24, 2013, 07:26 PM   #3
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Or just go ahead and get an RCBS Rockchucker and be confident that it will serve well for all your reloading needs for the next 35 years. Mine is still going strong after 35 years. There are other options available, but IMO, the RCBS Rock Chucker is the best, not the cheapest.
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Old January 24, 2013, 07:38 PM   #4
m&p45acp10+1
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A Lee Classic Turret press is a great one, and you can add the upgrades to make things go faster. Such as the Pro Auto disc powder measure, the riser for the powder measure, and the Safeyt Prime system. I calculated it up on Midwayusa.com and the total was just a tad over $200.

There is other stuff you would have to add as well. The press will serve you for a lifetime. If you want a single stage the Lee Breach Lock Challenger will serve you for a lifetime, at 1/4 the cost of the RCBS. If you want stouter the tne Classic Cast will fill that at still well under what the others will at a way lower price. Great presses for any money, though they cost less than the competition.

Best thing is to start with a book on reloading to better undertand what you will be doing, and why. Then make the decision of what you will get as far as equipement. Read here, and watch some youtube videos as well. It will help you to get some basic knowlede of reloading.
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Old January 24, 2013, 08:57 PM   #5
William T. Watts
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Rockchucker, 35 years sounds about right, it still isn't wore out! William
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Old January 25, 2013, 11:00 AM   #6
GhostRider58
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Thank you everyone for the great advice. Does anyone have experience (good or bad) with the Hornady 'Lock and Load' Classic. Quickly interchangeable dies seems like a great idea. Especially with multiple rounds. Does this work as it should or are there problems?

Thanks again for your help.

P.S. I just ordered the ABC's of Reloading as advised in the sticky above.
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Old January 25, 2013, 02:53 PM   #7
Ifishsum
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The Lee Classic Cast has a similar quick-change system - Mine is an older one without that feature but I can tell you the Classic Cast is a beast of a press. I absolutely love it.
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Old January 26, 2013, 03:11 AM   #8
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10 Advices for the novice handloader.

Thanks for asking our advice.

Anyone who can follow a recipe in the kitchen or change a tire can handload safely. It just takes care and a bit of humility. Handloading is not rocket science, but it does involve smoke and flame and things that go very fast, so care is to be taken.

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 I put together this list of 10 advices.

So much is a matter of personal taste and circumstance, though. So, all advice carries this caveat, "your mileage may vary".

So you can better evaluate my words, here is the focus of my experience. I load for handguns (44 Mag, 45 ACP, 45 Colt, 454 Casull, 9mm, 357 Mag, 480 Ruger) a couple hundred per sitting and go through 100 to 400 centerfire rounds per month. I don't cast....yet.

When I bought my first gun (.357 Magnum Dan Wesson revolver), I bought, at the same time, 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. I did not use a loading bench at all. I just mounted my press on a 2 x 6 plank long enough to wedge into the drawer of an end table.

I still believe in a minimalist approach and and try to keep my inventory of tools low. I do not keep my loading gear set up when not in use, either, but pack them away in small toolboxes until the next loading session.

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. I am told the older editions are better than the newer ones, so the library is looking even better.

Read as many manuals as you can, for the discussion of the how-to steps found in their early chapters. 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. What one manual covers thinly, another will cover well so give better coverage of the subject; one author or editor may cover parts of the subject more thoroughly than the others.

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 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 mail-order catalog or a reloading kit 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. Better equipment costs more generally. Cast aluminum is lighter and less expensive but not so abrasion resistant as cast iron. Cast iron lasts practically forever. Aluminum generally takes more cleaning and lubrication to last forever. Lee makes good equipment, but is generally considered the "economy" equipment maker, though some of their stuff is considered preferable to more expensive makes. Just think about what you buy. Ask around. Testimonials are nice. But if you think Ford/Chevy owners have brand loyalty, you have not met handloaders. Testimonials with reasoning behind them are better. RCBS equipment is almost all green, Dillon, blue, Lee red. Almost no manufacturers cross color lines and many handloaders simply identify themselves as "Blue" or whatever. Make your own choices.

On Kits: Almost every manufacturer makes a kit that contains everything you need to do reloading (except dies and the consumables). A kit is decent way to get started. Eventually most people wind up replacing most of the components of the kit as their personal taste develops, but you will have gotten started, at least.

On Kits: Almost every manufacturer (and most major retailer) assembles a kit that contains everything you need to do reloading (except dies and the consumables). A kit is a decent way to get started without too much prior experience. Eventually most reloaders wind up replacing many of the components of the kit as their personal taste develops (negating the savings you thought the kit gave you), but you will have gotten started, at least.

On building your own kit: The thought processes you give to assembling your own kit increases your knowledge about reloading. You may get started a couple weeks later than if you started with a kit, but you will be far ahead in knowledge.

Advice #3 While Learning, don't get fancy Progressive or Single Stage? Experimental loads? Pushing performance envelopes?

While you are learning, load mid-range at first so overpressures are not concerns. Just concentrate on getting the mechanical steps of loading right and being VERY VERY consistent (charge weight, crimp strength, bullet 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.

Learn on a single stage press or a turret press, or if on a progressive, only once cartridge at a time. While you can learn on a progressive press, in my opinion too many things happen at the same time, thus are hard to keep track of (unless you load singly at first). Mistakes DO happen and you want to watch for them ONE AT A TIME. Until handloading becomes second nature to you.

Note: A turret press is essentially a single stage press with a moveable head which can mount 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.

On the Turret vs Single stage the decision is simpler. You can do everything on a Turret EXACTLY the same way as you do on a single stage (just leave the turret stationary). That is, a Turret IS a single stage if you don't rotate the head.

Learning on a progressive can be done successfully, but it is easier to learn to walk in shoes than on roller skates.

Also, a good, strong, single stage press is in the stable of almost every reloader I know, no matter how many progressives they have. They always keep at least one.

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 the coffeetable and 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 Black & Decker 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 practically infallible. Use cloth, not plastic. Less static, quieter and has less tendency to let dropped primers roll away.

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.

Read previous threads on reloading, here are a couple I read.
http://forums.accuratereloading.com/eve
http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=13543
http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/view...fbd5ae1f754eec
The second one is a thread started by a new recruit to reloading which the moderators thought highly enough of to make it "sticky" so it stays on the top of the list of threads.

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. "The delicious flavor of low price fades fast. The wretched aftertaste of poor quality lingers long.

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. Carbide expander button for your bottlenecked cases. Keeps lube out of the inside of the cases.

Advice #9 Safety Always Safety All Ways.

Wear eye protection, especially when seating 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). Any distractions that might induce you to forget charging a case (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 (present of future - lead is a hazard, too. Wash after loading and don't eat at your bench). Enough said?

Advice #10 Verify for yourself everything you learn. 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 the are next to each other on the keypad.

Good luck.

Lost Sheep
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Old January 26, 2013, 03:14 AM   #9
Lost Sheep
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You asked for some reading?

I have compiled a few web sites that seem to have some good information (some of which came from me).

Go get a large mug of whatever you sip when you read and think and visit these sites.

For the New Reloader: Thinking about Reloading; Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=238214

I am looking at getting into reloading for the first time
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=658971

Just bought my first press. Needs some info tho.
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=659358

Considering reloading
http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=488115

Budget Beginning Bench you will never outgrow, for the novice handloader.
http://rugerforum.net/reloading/2938...andloader.html

Thoughts on The Lee Classic Turret Press
http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=135951

Interested in reloading
http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=13543

Newby needs help.
http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=430391

I hope you enjoy the reading. Thanks for asking our advice.

Lost Sheep
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Old January 26, 2013, 07:06 PM   #10
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Somebody else may have said this bit: A new reloader should steer clear of the progressive setups. There are tons of things you'll need to learn and focus on just using a single stage. Complicating your process by trying to accomplish more than one step at a time is a very bad idea IMO. I've been rolling my own for over 20 years (the 1st 5 or so under the watchful eye of Dad) and still haven't found the need to go progressive. I don't shoot high volume like the frequent race gun guys do, but I shoot more than most people I know and don't mind trading the extra time for confidence in the safety of my loads.

Last edited by wyobohunter; January 26, 2013 at 11:11 PM.
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Old January 26, 2013, 07:58 PM   #11
m&p45acp10+1
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Any of the Lee Breech Lock presses have the quick change bushings. You can change them quickly. Lee also makes a bushing for them that replaces the lock ring. Once you set it up tighten an allen screw to secure the die. Then to change them out press the black button, turn it a quarter turn, and lift out.
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Old January 27, 2013, 05:07 PM   #12
GhostRider58
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Thank you all for the honest replies. I will agree. that a progressive press may have too much going on for a newbee. An extra special thanks to 'Lost Sheep" for the very comprehensive and informative post!

I have narrowed my choices to either the RCBS Rock Chucker, the RCBS Turret Press or the Hornady L-n-L Classic Press.

With the turret on the RCBS Turret Press, has anyone had any problems with the unit? It doesn't look as strong as the 'O' style presses.
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