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Old October 7, 2006, 02:48 PM   #1
gfen
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Getting started in reloading...

Well, this is the second time I've given serious thought to trying this out. Last time I was very prepared to make the plunge, but rapidly priced myself out of it by continually going bigger and bigger with a series of little jumps.

This time, though, that won't happen coz I've already made the purchase.

Now, I'm only interested in loading .38 spl right now. With that in mind...

I have a brand new, never openedLee Anniversery Kit ($30, includes press, autoprime, autoprime shell holders, chamfer tool, primer pocket cleaner, case lube, cutter and lockstud, powder scale, measure, and funnel), which evidently has everything I need, except dies and a manual.

I have a cheap manual I bought a year or so ago in one of those bargin book shops. I picked it up for the informative section at the start where it describes the process and equipment. I do not remember the publisher, so I presume it would be wise to opt for a new manual, as well?

So, does that mean I purchase Lee 4 Die set along with powder, primers, and bullets and I'm good to go? Well, and safety glasses. For $10 less, you can opt for a 3 die set that omits the crimping die.

Do I need to buy any other fancy bits and pieces? The kit description says it doesn't include a case length gauge or shellholder with regards to the cutter and lock stud... so do I need these items? I don't want to make this an expensive affair, but at the same time I'd like to buy what I need to make this happen. As I said, right now I'm only concerned with .38spl, I won't be branching out into .357magnum for some time, I figure.

Finally, I've got an assortment of used once brass, mostly Remington and Magtech. I assume there's no issue with these, if they pass a visiual inspection looking for cracks, etc? I've also got an assortment of previously reloadaded cartridges in both brass and nickle from buying the occasional box of UltraMax reloads. Is this going to be safe, or should I just trash 'em? Or is it only the nickle cartridges that aren't safe?

Anything else I need? Suggestions for things I should or shouldn't do?
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Old October 7, 2006, 05:11 PM   #2
skeeter1
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I reload .38Spls, and since it's a striaght-sided case, I doubt you'd need a case trimmer. I don't use one.

You will need a case holder. Mine came with the Lee die set.

I've never used the 4-die set, only the three, and for .38 they work just fine.
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Old October 7, 2006, 05:16 PM   #3
rwilson452
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more stuff

.

I have a brand new, never openedLee Anniversery Kit ($30, includes press, autoprime, autoprime shell holders, chamfer tool, primer pocket cleaner, case lube, cutter and lockstud, powder scale, measure, and funnel), which evidently has everything I need, except dies and a manual.

I have a cheap manual I bought a year or so ago in one of those bargin book shops. I picked it up for the informative section at the start where it describes the process and equipment. I do not remember the publisher, so I presume it would be wise to opt for a new manual, as well?

Yep a new manual is in order more than one would be good.
for 38 special there will be no real need to trim the cases. they just don't grow.

So, does that mean I purchase Lee 4 Die set along with powder, primers, and bullets and I'm good to go? Well, and safety glasses. For $10 less, you can opt for a 3 die set that omits the crimping die.

The Lee 4 die set comes with a shell holder and they are carbide dies so you will not need to lube the cases. I would suggest a set of calipers to measure cartridge overall length. (C.O.A.L. or O.A.L) they ccan be had for around 25 beans.

Do I need to buy any other fancy bits and pieces? The kit description says it doesn't include a case length gauge or shellholder with regards to the cutter and lock stud... so do I need these items? I don't want to make this an expensive affair, but at the same time I'd like to buy what I need to make this happen. As I said, right now I'm only concerned with .38spl, I won't be branching out into .357magnum for some time, I figure.

Finally, I've got an assortment of used once brass, mostly Remington and Magtech. I assume there's no issue with these, if they pass a visiual inspection looking for cracks, etc? I've also got an assortment of previously reloadaded cartridges in both brass and nickle from buying the occasional box of UltraMax reloads. Is this going to be safe, or should I just trash 'em? Or is it only the nickle cartridges that aren't safe?

Anything else I need? Suggestions for things I should or shouldn't do?

Getting the Lee 4 die set and the calipers and you should be good to go except for consumables. like powder bullets and primers. For a manual I would suggest the Lee's Modern Reloading It has a good section on how to with just the stuff your using. I suggest the 4 die set over the 3 die set because your going to find that factory crimp die will save you a lot of grief. Well worth the extra 10 bucks. Nickle cases are safe but a PITA to load and don't last as long. not to mention hard on the dies. One thing I forgot GET A TUMBLER to clean your brass. Not an absolute necessity but again well worth the bucks

If I'm not mistaken The kit you bought has the book in it. Open it and find out before buying that manual

Last edited by rwilson452; October 7, 2006 at 05:19 PM. Reason: more stuff
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Old October 9, 2006, 07:51 PM   #4
gfen
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Heh, it _was_ unopened. Soon as I got the box in the house, I tore it open to see what bits and pieces were in there, and there was no manual in the box. The only one is the older, 2 or 3 year out of date job I have from a no-name publisher.

So, thus far we're suggesting at least one more reloading manual, the three or four die set (four die suggested), a case holder (this is the plastic tray that holds the rounds in progress, yes? one was NOT included in my kit) and the consumables for the neccessaries?

Then, with suggested additions of a length caliper and a tumbler?

I'm confused, if I don't need a case trimmer coz the .38spl doesn't "grow," what's the purpose of the Overall Length Caliper, then?

I understand what the tumbler does, but I don't understand its neccessity. Is there something disadvantageous about a non-cleaned case? If its just a matter of "extra accuracy" or something along those lines, I'll probably skip it. If its more along the lines of "less chances of things exploding in your hand," then you've got my attention.
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Old October 9, 2006, 09:15 PM   #5
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I'm just starting myself, and with the same Lee Anniversary kit. Mine came with a very comprehensive Data Manual. I bought a ABC's of Reloading and a Handloaders Digest. I also plan on getting a kinetic bullet puller for all my mistakes. Dies are next for me. I'll be getting a.4 ACP and probably a .38 Special
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Old October 9, 2006, 10:34 PM   #6
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Lee safely got me started,so I recommend the 2nd edition reloading book as well as the lyman books..read,read,,read!!!Its the most important thing to read and not load until you can figure it out in your head 1st.Take what you've learned from the books and get to understand your equipment 1st and what you will be doing with it..
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Old October 9, 2006, 11:25 PM   #7
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Heh, it _was_ unopened. Soon as I got the box in the house, I tore it open to see what bits and pieces were in there, and there was no manual in the box. The only one is the older, 2 or 3 year out of date job I have from a no-name publisher.

So, thus far we're suggesting at least one more reloading manual, the three or four die set (four die suggested), a case holder (this is the plastic tray that holds the rounds in progress, yes? one was NOT included in my kit) and the consumables for the neccessaries?

Well I made a mistake you do need a loading block. that is the thing with the holes in it that holds the rounds in progress.

Then, with suggested additions of a length caliper and a tumbler?

I'm confused, if I don't need a case trimmer coz the .38spl doesn't "grow," what's the purpose of the Overall Length Caliper, then?

You use the caliper to check the overall length of the cartridge ( the whole loaded cartridge that includes the bullet). this length needs to be within spec.

I understand what the tumbler does, but I don't understand its neccessity. Is there something disadvantageous about a non-cleaned case? If its just a matter of "extra accuracy" or something along those lines, I'll probably skip it. If its more along the lines of "less chances of things exploding in your hand," then you've got my attention.

Loading clean cases is better on the equipment than dirty ones. should you have a case with dirt inside it can cause an overpressure situation. sometimes referred to as a "KA-BOOM". Granted not much of a chance. generally speaking clean is better than dirty for a lot of minor reasons. If your cases are shiny it makes them easier to find on the floor/ground so you loose fewer. Is it an absolutly positively a necessary item? no. Again you will be glad you did. I have been doing this for a long time and I alway run my cases thru the tumbler. including my .38 SPL and .45 ACP cases which I load on a progressive press. I will not begin to go into the extra care and attention I give to my rifle loading. most of which has to do with accuracy.


I will give you one more tidbit of information. After you drop powder in the case get the lighting set so you can see the level of the powder in all the cases. they should all be the same by eyeball. if any are not the same dump the powder out of the errant case and do it over. a case that is light in powder can cause the bullet to be stuck inthe barrel. this is a very not good thing. having a double charge of powder in the case can cause the pistol to go KA-BOOM in your face. When first starting out reloading you will have a tendancy to make mistakes double check every step.

Someone suggested a bullet puller. it's nice to recover from your mistakes but I would suggest you save them and when you have enough mistakes get a bullet puller to pull the bullets. I have two.

Last edited by rwilson452; October 9, 2006 at 11:39 PM. Reason: more stuff
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Old October 10, 2006, 01:36 PM   #8
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Most important...

Gfen--06 and Bucky have it right--the most important piece of equipment you ever have as a reloader is KNOWLEDGE. I'll add a +1 here for The ABC's of Reloading. It is the standard textbook on the subject; should be the first purchase for new reloaders, and among the next purchases for experienced reloaders.

Get it @ yr local sptg gds sto, gun sho, the I'net, or order from the publisher, Krause Publishing, www.krause.com They must be doing something right, as the book is now in its 7th edition.

Wish it had been available when I began reloading, as it would have saved me from more than a few oopses.
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Old October 11, 2006, 12:15 AM   #9
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My shpeal:
I got an RCBS Rockchucker kit and an RCBS Video, because I was overwhelmed with how to get started reloading.

If I were to advise someone on how to do it that was a friend, I would show him how, and then loan him enough stuff to do it at his home.

Telling someone how to do it on the internet, I would start out with the tasks that have to be done, and list the cheap tools to get, so the the guy can maintain a mental map of the goals:

38 Special [same die set and shell holder as 357 mag] is very easy and cheap to load, most people have one, and the guns have mountains of safety margin. They are a good place to start.

1) Get the old primer out of the case, called depriming or decapping.
2) Make the case small enough in inside diameter to grip a bullet and small enough on the outside to fit in the chamber. This is called resizing.
Both steps 1) & 2) are usually accomplished in one step as the resizing die has a decapping pin. This will require:
a) Shell holder ~$3 Lee #1 shell holder or ~$5 RCBS #6 shell holder.
The same size shell holder can be used later for 357 mag, 256 Win mag, etc.
b) A resizing die. This die will probably be bought in a kit with one, two, or three other dies. In straight wall cartridges, carbide resizing dies are available at an extra cost. It is always worth the extra to get carbide. Adjust the die [how far to screw it into the press] per the instructions that come with the die set.
Lee 3 die set for 38 special; $21 steel, $23 carbide
RCBS 3 die set for 38 special: $36
c) A press. Lee Reloader press $20 is a real cheapee, but will always find a use. RCBS Rockchucker $90 is a workhorse of the highest quality.
3) Clean the case. This step can be done with a couple twists of the wrist with steel wool, or expensive vibrators. Later when you get more tools, you will clean the primer pocket, but it is not needed.
4) Re prime the case.
a) One can buy a priming tool and do it in 2 seconds or fumble with the primer built into RCBS presses and do it 10 seconds.
Lee Auto prime II $13, RCBS priming tool $26
The two tools I mentioned use the same shell holder as used above in resizing. Beware that Lee also sells another priming system ["Lee auto prime" not "Lee auto primer II"] that uses special shell holders. I would avoid that system to start.
b) One must also buy, beg, borrow, or steal new primers.
To buy them mail order, one would have to pay a Hazardous Materials charge [Haz Mat]. Small purchases would be too expensive. Usually 100 primers can be purchased for $1 or $2 at the local gun store. Primers come in combinations of being; magnum or standard, pistol or rifle, and large or small. For 38 special, small pistol primers are what is needed, and will work with standard or magnum, but most published loads with be with standard primers.
5) Fill the case with powder. This is called charging the case. For this one will need powder and a way to measure powder. With black powder, one just fills the case, but with smokeless powder too much powder will fit. Start out using smokeless powder and measuring it. The amount to use depends on the bullet that will be used. The amount is published in load books, or better still on powder manufacturer's web sites for free.
a) Buy powder. There is the Haz Mat problem again, so off to the neighborhood gunstore. Any "pistol powder" will do. Expect to pay ~$20 for a pound in a gunstore. I like Bullseye or Unique powder made by Alliant, but AA#2 or AA#5 work just as well made by Accurate Arms, or Winchester 231, or Hodgdon HS-6, or Vihtavuori 3N37, or IMR SR7625, or dozens of others.
b) Measure the powder. This can be done with cheap plastic measuring cups with handles from Lee, but I would start out weighing the powder. The weighing scales: Lee Perfect powder measure $20, RCBS Uniflow Powder measure $60 [this tool is really nice]
6) Install the bullet. This is called seating the bullet.
a) Buy bullets. For 38 special, .357" diameter or .358" bullets are normally used. You can buy lead bullets or lead bullets covered with copper called jacketed bullets. I would start out with jacketed bullets. These will cost you 5 to 15 cents each and usually bought in 100's.
b) The seating die should have come in the reloading die kit. Put it in the press and put the primed and charged case in the shell holder. Set the bullet on top of the case and raise the ram [push down on the press lever]
c) Measure the over all length of the cartridge [OAL]. This can be done with a ruler, but is best done with dial calipers. Expect to pay $20 for some Chinese calipers or $100 for American.
7) Crimp the case into the bullet. This means the case must pinch the bullet so hard that recoil will not yank the bullet out when other chambers of the revolver are fired [or so the bullet will not get shoved deeper into the case from recoil in magazine or tube fed cartridge]. The type of crimp depends on the type of cartridge. The rimmed 38 special case should be roll crimped. The rimless 9mm cartridge should be taper crimped. The crimping step can be done in one step with the bullet seating, but I would start out doing it in two separate steps. The two steps look the same [cartridge goes into seating die], but can be different in how the seating die is adjusted. Again, adjust the die [how far to screw it into the press] per the instructions that come with the die set and with the seating die, there is also the adjustment of the seating stem [knurled knob on top of the die].
8) Take notes when you shoot your handloads. Write on the targets. Things like "125 gr. bullets shot way low, but 158 gr. bullets were right on." will come in handy next time you sit down to reload or buy bullets.

>From the above it looks like it will cost $110 to get started.
That is 1/3 of what it cost ME to get started.

There are more steps to loading a bottle shaped rifle cartridge, and even more to get them to be very accurate, but after one masters the 38 special, it will make more sense.
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Old October 11, 2006, 12:46 AM   #10
ITEOTWAWKI
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So for someone wanting only to reload .45 and .223 (sofar), would this be a great start?

http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpag...eitemid=646599

Or should I get something a little more simple? Also, there's a gunshow this weekend. Should I look for stuff there or get everything off midway?
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Old October 11, 2006, 01:05 AM   #11
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This is a great starting site, and it won't cost you a dime:

http://www.reloadammo.com/
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Old October 11, 2006, 01:09 AM   #12
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ITEOTWAWKI >> That's basically the same kit I started with, did just fine for years with a couple minor additions from the start. Along with the dies and case holders, get a good caliper (obviously necessary) and a hand primer (not necessary at all, but much faster and easier than using the press). That will get you rolling nicely.
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Last edited by Rangefinder; October 11, 2006 at 01:23 PM.
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Old October 11, 2006, 02:13 AM   #13
ITEOTWAWKI
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And what would the advantage be in getting this as well? Or should I hold off until I get comfortable with the rest first?
http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpag...eitemid=499103
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Old October 11, 2006, 01:22 PM   #14
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Start with the basic concepts and process. Once you're comfortable with that part, THEN step up into progressives and such. Complicating things too much before you have the basics well understood is asking for something to go wrong--and in terms of reloading, something going wrong can cause a really bad day---and then some.
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Old October 11, 2006, 01:34 PM   #15
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I wouldn't load pistol ammo with only a single stage press. It simply takes too long, especially with a 4 die set. You can have the same attention to detail with a nice turret press. Lee's Classic Turret is a great press and would be the starting point I would recommend for pistol ammo.

A fully loaded turret (estimated cost around $200.00):
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Old October 11, 2006, 02:10 PM   #16
gfen
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I'm afraid I don't really have anyone around in the circle of friends who reloads, my brother's ex father in law does, and I watched him a time or two to help ease my mind into it.

My problem with looking into this previously is that it was always easy to start out eyeballing a single stage kit and then rapidly escalating into the $400 progressive kits by only doing a little jump at a time. I mean, if I'm spending $100, what's $125? And then $175? And up the line.

I fell into a deal from a guy my brother knows who was selling the single stage Lee, and I've always been told that you'll always have a need for a SS, as you've also stated, and there was no way I was passing this up for $30, mainly because it makes upselling to myself far more difficult. The kit includes the Autoprime 2 and the neccessary shell holders, so I should be good on that front.

Thanks for breaking down each step, between this sort of help, some quality reading, and some familarizing with the equipment, I should be good.
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Old October 11, 2006, 04:00 PM   #17
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presses

The next thing you know someone will tell him he needs a Dillon 1050 with all the trimmings. Yeah, right.
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Old October 12, 2006, 01:28 PM   #18
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I have only loaded with a cheap Lee challenger press over the years,doing every operation seperate.I prefer this for the ammunition I load for my ar15(It doesn't mean its any better or worse).I think if you wan't VOLUME then go with a turret or progressive.If you wan't simplicity(I Do)and more control of each stage go with a single stage press.I refuse to believe spending alot of money on a press will get you any better accuracy or quality ammunition.Maybe with certain dies will benefit from a super sturdy press or something,(I don't know)but The person that argues that would have to produce ammunition and shooting technic that will outshoot mine(not to say im all that or anything but people have a way of saying you can't get good ammo without spending all kinds of money(I spent more money on it so it must be better!) on high priced gear,,,BS!!)..reloading requires more time in checking your results and testing anything that might make a difference(better/or worse)and to learn from those results by keeping an open mind.NOT by spending alot of money and expecting great things because you did..Ive gone through this when I built engines as a hobby(When I could afford it)You can spend all kinds of money on parts for it but its only going to produce more power if you can get it to produce more air/fuel to the combustion chamber at the right time.Parts won't do it alone until you have tuned everything to work together.It doesn't matter how much money you spend,Until you have tuned them to work together, you will have a useless pile of expensive poor performing parts in an expensive poor performing engine .I believe its the same with reloading,, And everything in life for that matter.JME

There is one thing that I really like about turret presses,,Setting your dies once would be nice.But I would wan't to check to make sure they stayed exactly the same and consistent.If they did not,,I would not use them for what I do.
Some day I might get a turret press to try If I use handgun ammo.But for what I do ,I have the exact right tool for the job IMO and it has lasted for many years performing like a champion and not breaking the bank.Thanks to lee products I have had many great years of fun reloading and shooting.
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Old October 13, 2006, 03:52 PM   #19
Nephilim-777
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Quote:
The next thing you know someone will tell him he needs a Dillon 1050 with all the trimmings.
Actually that would be two Dillon 1050’s. You need one for small primers and the other for large.
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