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Old June 2, 2000, 10:15 PM   #1
munir
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I have been exploring the cost of re-loading presses. I find some of the pricing pretty confusing. Gun Tests magazine did an evaluation of 3 progressive presses in the March 2000 issue. The Dillon 550B they tested was $1,070 "as tested". That's a lot more than list, and either the Dillon list price didn't inlcude a lot of doodads, or Gun Tests bought a bunch of unnecessary doodads.

So let me ask a question, is a Rock Chucker Master Reloading Kit really "complete", i.e., I but the kit, a set of dies, some brass, bullets and powder, and I would be ready to reload? I don't mean I'd know how, but I'd have a reasonable set of tools with which to get started, or are there other hidden costs, or things I'll want almost immediately?

Thanks,

munir

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Old June 3, 2000, 12:03 AM   #2
Stephen Ewing
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Munir, speaking as a guy who just up and replaced a setup with the RockChucker kit, I ought to be able to answer this one. Between the kit and the dies, technically, you can reload with just those two boxes.

I'd suggest calipers strongly. If you do pistol, a separate powder measure is awfully nice, but not essential. A powder measure stand is nice in any event. A powder trickler has its moments if you're serious about rifle. A swager is important if you have military primer pockets to deal with. A stuck case remover is nice to have around. I certainly prefer a hand priming tool to the press units, but that's personal taste. A powered trimmer has serious appeal. A bullet puller makes a nice eraser. Don't overlook a tumbler, which I view as vital if you shoot bottlenecked cases.

Now, how many things have I forgotten? The calipers and tumbler are the important things, as they're all about safety.

Steve
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Old June 3, 2000, 12:52 AM   #3
Mal H
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I agree fully with Steve's "nice to haves" and his "got to haves" (calipers and tumbler) lists. But, I would move one of his NTH's to the GTH list. I would definitely get a hand priming tool (RCBS makes a very good one). You will not like the priming system on the Rock Chucker press.
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Old June 3, 2000, 07:35 AM   #4
Hal
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Manuals, more is better.
Second scale to keep the first honest.
Set of weights to verify both scales.

The way I see it, safety is the goal. Accuracy and reduced costs are the secondary rewards. The more equipment, the better to reach the goal.

[This message has been edited by RAE (edited June 03, 2000).]
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Old June 3, 2000, 08:49 AM   #5
Bill Hebert
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Reloading equipment is like cars - some people buy Corvettes others like Dodge pickups. I know several reloaders and not one of them bought a "kit" and reloaded happily ever after. I wanted a cheap way into reloading to see if I really liked it or it would be another "thing" I would find I "really" didn't like. I bought a Lee reloading manual with a "free" press - both for $20. Set of dies, calipers, and other "stuff" and I was into reloading for less than $100. I immediately realized what stuff I liked and what stuff I didn't (Want to buy some cheap Lee case lube?) What I've found is that Dillon and RCBS equipment is almost always a "good" buy. Lee is a bargain for dies and other "selective" equipment. Some stuff like calipers can be bought at your local Auto Zone for less than $20. If you can find a local reloader who will let you sit with him/her while reloading - you will gain a heck of a lot of learning and save some "bad" decisions. Good luck - feel free to fire away with any more questions.
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Old June 3, 2000, 10:21 AM   #6
Stephen Ewing
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After very brief reflection, Mal is right about the priming tool. If you were using a weaker press, and not reloading much, maybe it becomes negotiable, but with a heavy-duty single stage press like the RC, you've got too much power and too little feel. Prime on that long enough, and you'll have a front-row seat to an explosion, which brings us to:

Safety goggles. Run, do not walk, and get some. These are arguably the single most important thing to buy if you reload, I just forgot about them because I focused on the bench.

RAE is absolutely right about manuals, but you can probably steal the procedures, warnings, and load data off the internet, if you're judicious. He's possibly a little paranoid about the scales, but paranoid reloaders have more fingers.

I got into it the way Bill did, and I'm darned if I don't agree with him about that way. Want some Lee case lube?

Steve
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Old June 3, 2000, 10:06 PM   #7
M16
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If Gun Test paid $1070 for a Dillon 550 they should have their head examined. My catalog list the 550 for $325.95 set up for one caliber dies not included. I own the 650 and am very pleased with it. I also have several RCBS presses and am pleased with them as well. If you ever want to go progressive go Dillon.
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Old June 4, 2000, 03:33 AM   #8
deguello
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I don't have anything to add, I was just wondering if anybody would like to buy some Lee case lube?
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Old June 4, 2000, 03:46 AM   #9
Hal
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Yeah, I guess a second scale is over the top. I do like the Lee carbide dies though with their little dippers. The dippers allow me to verify that my scale is correct. Maby sayin a second way to verify the scale would have been better.
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Old June 4, 2000, 05:33 AM   #10
Ala Dan
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Yes, the RCBS Master Reloading Kit along with
a good set of tungsten carbide dies, powder,
primers, and bullet's will get you started.
I recently bought this set-up myself; but
added an RCBS vibratory tumbler and a set of
Midway calipers. Didn't have any access to used brass, so I purchased some "processed
brass" in .38 Spl, 9m/m, and .45ACP from
Scharch Manufacturing out in Colorado.
I'm using Mangus cast bullets for all
calibers.

First got started with an RCBS Jr. press
and a set of .41Magnum dies; way back yonder
in the early 70's, for the total sum of
around $160.00. My advice is to invest in
all the manuals that you can afford; especially the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook.
The initial investment will bring many hours
of joy to the user of this equipment. Nothing
better than bragging about your "custom made"
ammunition; whether it be at your favorite hunting lodge or at your local handgun range.

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, Life Member N.R.A.

PS: Use to cast my own bullet's also; but
breathing those lead fumes proved rather
unhealthy, even using the 3/M Particle Disposable Mask!!!
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Old June 4, 2000, 10:57 AM   #11
Bud Helms
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Posted by Munir: <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The Dillon 550B they tested was $1,070 "as tested". That's a lot more than list, and either the Dillon list price didn't inlcude a lot of doodads, or Gun Tests bought a bunch of unnecessary doodads.[/quote] Munir, you gotta go back and READ the article, not just the little summary inset boxes. Gun Tests bought a cadillac set up with every accessory available for FOUR cartridges!
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Old June 4, 2000, 07:14 PM   #12
Art Eatman
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Hey, Munir! How much shooting do you do? Or plan to do? Pistol, rifle, or both?

If you're just gonna shoot maybe 100 rounds a week, and don't shoot competition target, any old good-used "C" or "O" press will do just fine.

If you're gonna seriously go IPSC or IDPA, look for a good deal on a Dillon.

It's all a tradeoff of time vs. money...

Regards, Art
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Old June 4, 2000, 10:11 PM   #13
Big Bunny
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Check-weights and forceps in a special LYMAN kit for checking scales are cheaper($25 ?) than another complete set, which also may be out of true, or may go that way eventually.

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Old June 5, 2000, 09:52 AM   #14
munir
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by sensop:
Posted by Munir:
Quote:
The Dillon 550B they tested was $1,070 "as tested". That's a lot more than list, and either the Dillon list price didn't inlcude a lot of doodads, or Gun Tests bought a bunch of unnecessary doodads.
Munir, you gotta go back and READ the article, not just the little summary inset boxes. Gun Tests bought a cadillac set up with every accessory available for FOUR cartridges!
[/QUOTE]


I read that, but I also noted that the accessories they listed as "optional" came to several hundred dollars, while the price they listed for the press was $320. I don't have the article in front of me, but doing the math quickly inside my head, if you eliminated the stuff they called "optional", it looked like you still had a $600 - $700 investment. Since the list price was $320, and the stuff Gun Tests considered "not optional" was $700 or so, I wonder what $400 or so in accessories they considered necessary.

Thanks,

munir
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Old June 5, 2000, 09:56 AM   #15
munir
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Art Eatman:
Hey, Munir! How much shooting do you do? Or plan to do? Pistol, rifle, or both?

If you're just gonna shoot maybe 100 rounds a week, and don't shoot competition target, any old good-used "C" or "O" press will do just fine.

If you're gonna seriously go IPSC or IDPA, look for a good deal on a Dillon.

It's all a tradeoff of time vs. money...

Regards, Art
[/quote]

Good point. This is all pipe dreams at this point, but I imagine that I would start reloading one caliber (.357 SIG or .40 S&W), largely to be able to shoot more for the same amount of money. My guess is that 200 rounds a week would cover me for a long, long time. Right now, I go shooting about every other week, and my son and I shoot 100 rounds together. That would go up if I was reloading (that's the point :-)), but I'm not sure that time restraints would permit shooting much more.

At least at the pipe dream stage, it sounds like a RCBS Master Reloading Kit would fill the bill pretty nicely.

Thanks,

munir




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Old June 5, 2000, 10:41 AM   #16
Steve Smith
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I just got set up with a Dillon 550B and it cost me much less than that. $325 is the list price, and that includes the "caliber conversion kit" (shell plate), plus $45 (I think) for the dies. For the press, that's all I'm using. You don't need the powder alarm if you're doing pistol, anyway, and you don't need a "bullet holder" tray, just use the box of bullets, you don't need the bench wrench, you don't need the roller handle, you don't need the cover, you don't need the "emergency pick-up tube kit," are you getting the piont" What I said I had in my press is all I have. On top of that, I have a set of calipers, a mic, a scale, a bullet puller, a case cleaner, a set of crescent wrenches which I already had, some reloading books, and maybe someting else I can't think of right now. To say you m\have 1K in a 550B is rediculous.
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Old June 5, 2000, 07:50 PM   #17
M16
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Correction.....If you are going to do a lot of reloading you do need the roller handle. This is one dillon "extra" that I would not be without. I used to get a blister from the old style handle.
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Old June 5, 2000, 08:23 PM   #18
Bud Helms
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Gun Tests bought a cadillac set up with every accessory available for FOUR cartridges![/quote]
<UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>550B Press $325<LI>4 Quick Change Kits ($70 ea) $280<LI>4 Caliber Conversion Kits ($33 ea) $132<LI>Dies for .308, .223, .45 Colt and .45 ACP ($50 ea) $200<LI>Low Powder Sensor $34<LI>Primer Flip Tray and extra Primer Pickup Tubes ($13+$12+$12) $37<LI>Machine Maint Kit $23<LI>Roller Handle $26<LI>Strong Mount $34<LI>Bullet Tray $28<LI>Machine Cover $23<LI>Spare parts Kit $12</UL>That comes to $1154, if my arithmetic is right. Some body can whip out a calculator and check me. 'Looks like they either got a discount or my list is on the overkill side, because Gun Tests didn't list this equipment, it's just something I guessed at. It makes sense and it saved them a lot of time changing over between calibers, although it does seem a bit extravagant. If I could afford it I would do the same thing. Heck, I've only got two powder measures and I thought I was doing good! The Quick Change Kit includes toolhead, powder measure, powder die and toolhead stand. The Caliber Conversion Kits don't include dies.

[This message has been edited by sensop (edited June 05, 2000).]
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Old June 5, 2000, 10:36 PM   #19
munir
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********************************************
Originally posted by sensop:
[That comes to $1154, if my arithmetic is right. Some body can whip out a calculator and check me.
*********************************************

Your math looks write to me. It really does add up quickly.

Thanks,

munir


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Old June 6, 2000, 12:16 AM   #20
Art Eatman
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For the level of shooting you speak of, a "C" or "O" press will do just fine. Basically, you can't wear them out, so a good used press found at a gun show or on Ebay or equivalent will be just as good as a new one.

I'd get new carbide dies for any pistol loadings.

I've never had any problem whatsoever with any brand of powder scale, nor any powder measure. I've owned and used both new and well-used.

There are lots of "thingummies and whichits" that are handy. A case-neck chamfering tool, for one, although that's more for rifle than pistol. A set of shell-holders for the loading press. One of these "hand-vise" priming tools--Lee?--is a neat dealie.

There are a lot of neat things if you're into bench-rest competition with rifle, or NRA-style target shooting with a pistol. For "just shooting" or hunting, they're not really necessary.

Some brand of tumbler for cleaning brass is a Good Thing. I don't bother to clean the primer pockets of pistol brass. For my rifle primer pockets, I have an old screwdriver which just fits--grab a handful of brass, and spin the screwdriver by its shank...

You might gather I'm a cheapskate, and a bit on the primitive side. But I have been doing this stuff for fifty years, and it works...

, Art
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Old June 6, 2000, 12:22 AM   #21
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Ok, here comes my 130,000 cents. Why 130,000 cents? Cause that is about how much I spent to get into the business.

First, I bought quite a lot from Dillon. My order total when all said and done was $1200! Here is what I bought and what I think about it.

RL 550B (very necessary!) $319.95
Free .308 Conversion Kit $0.00
(also works with .30-06)
.30 Carbine Conversion Kit $30.79
Maint. Kit & Spare Parts Kit $22.50
(No need for maintenance kit)
Aluminium Roller (very nice!) $30.79
Strong Mount $32.95
(I mounted my 550B on a desk and this was a pretty crucial component to keep the press high enough. Plus it is nicer than having it hangin over the side)
Akrobin [6] $12.00
(you should have at least three)
Bullet Tray $27.49
(I highly recommend. It makes reloading more effecient)
3 Powder Dies [2] $26.38
3 Toolheads [2] $61.58
(crucial for quick conversion)
Bench Wrench (very handy) $5.49
Machine Cover $21.95
(not necessary, but nice for looks and for machine life)
Super Swage 600 $76.95
(very good for military crimped primer pockets)
1200B Case Trimmer $153.95
(I cannot tell you how great an investment this thing is. If you do not have one, please go buy one for your Dillon press right away. There is not faster way to trim brass that I am aware of!)
.308 Size/Trim Die $27.49
.30-06 Size/Trim Die $27.49
.308 Winchester 3 Die Set $49.95
.30-06 Springfield 3 Die Set $49.95
10 Rapid Polish/ 10 Case Lube $119.95
(this amount will easily last me for a good 20 years)
.308 Rifle Case Gage $15.95
(essential for precision bolt guns)


Grand Total from Dillon ---- $1,113.55

The best part was they threw in a Dillon Logo Cap for free. Boy do I love that cap!



I eventually ordered a few more things from Dillon.

Primer Flip Tray $11.95
(A must have)
Powder Die AT 500 $7.69
(for those of you who do not wish to always use the Dillon Powder Measure, get the AT 500 Die and powder funnel. You can load in stages progressively, but measure and drop in your charges individually. A very nice feature and it still works fine with the RL 550B)
Powder Funnel AT 500 $1.69

Grand Total #2 $1,134.88

Of course I am still missing a few things, but I felt it would be a good idea to go through Midway USA on some of the other necessary items.

Model 1292 Ultimate Tumbler Pack $84.99
(This was a Model 1292 brass tumbler, a 3.5 gal bucket, and the rotary sifter, 10 pounds of corn cob media, and some polish)
Reloaders Rifle Labels $5.49
.30 M1 Carbine Carbide 3 die set $32.99
Impact bullet puller $10.99
(please get a bullet puller, you will make mistakes whether you like it or not.)
Dial Calipers $23.99

Grand Total Number 3! $1,293.33


I eventually bought some more die's, some load books and other little stuff, but that is essentially what I needed and now I am a full fledged reloader. My dad already had a RCBS scale so I didn't have to fork out the $50 or so for that.

I know I spent a good amount of money, but trust me, go with the best when it comes to reloading. Go with the Dillon. You might not be able to afford all of the extra goodies like an powered case trimmer, primer swager, and some of that other stuff, but it sure is worth it.

And one final note. Sensop was talking about buying 4 Quick Change Kits at $70.00 each. If you have the money, then waste away, but I find it very easy to simply change my powder measure from toolhead to toolhead. Plus those things take up space.

So there you have it. I went pretty high end on all of this and I just paid it all off after about 9 months. But oh was it worth it! You can tell by the smile on my face!

[This message has been edited by El Rojo (edited June 06, 2000).]
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Old June 6, 2000, 10:38 AM   #22
Steve Smith
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OK, M16, I get a little "handle burn" going on too, (a testament of the amazing speed that can be reached with the Dillon ) and I'm considering the roller handle, but I can wait. You don't HAVE to have it.
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Old June 6, 2000, 03:40 PM   #23
El Jefe
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Can't add much to what has been said other than I have an XL-650 and I am Extremely impressed! I can reload several hundred round in an hour and back shooting in no time at all, the only limitation to that machine to date has been me! Bought just what I needed to start and kept adding from there over time. It has performed flawlessly and I have never been so pleased with a product in my life!

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...“ They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” --Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.

Whereas, to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them; nor does it follow from this, that all promiscuously must go into actual service on every occasion. The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle; and when we see many men disposed to practice upon it, whenever they can prevail, no wonder true republicans are for carefully guarding against it.
---Richard Henry Lee, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788

Take care and God Bless, El Jefe

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Old June 6, 2000, 04:45 PM   #24
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Don't forget - If you're not shooting a LOT, and you're looking for the ultimate accuracy in a bolt action rifle, get a set of Wilson hand dies, and a Sinclair arbor press. The Lee scale is good for weighing powder (I own two, along with a Dillon and a Pact). Calipers, micrometers, and several manuals are a must.

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Old June 8, 2000, 01:13 PM   #25
sundog
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If you're not gonna shoot more than a couple hunert rounds every other week, Art is right, a used C or O press. An alternative is a Lee turret press. These are just fine for most pistol loads. Add a deluxe powder dispenser, micro charge bar, and a powder through die for your straight wall case, and you're ready to go. Easy money to get started. Of course, manual, scale, eye protectors, etc. The turret press is fast enough to load what you want in fast order. sundog
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