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Old August 31, 2010, 05:06 PM   #1
Skunk Ape
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Reloading for accuracy

Hello All,

I am about to take the plunge and start reloading for my 30-06. My primary goal is to improve the accuracy I'm getting with my model 700 ADL. It is shooting really well now (actually close to MOA ) right out of the box using Hornady factory loads. I have a couple of questions for the "seasoned" handloaders among y'all:

First, can I achieve the level of quality of a bench press using a hand press? I'm considering getting the Lee hand press reloading kit. I live in a small apartment and don't have lots of extra cash right now. I'd like to get the smallest, least expensive setup for building some accurate loads. I know hand presses take longer to use, but I'm about accuracy here, not mass production.

Second, other than the press and powder scale, what tools are needed to build accurate loads (case trimmers, tumblers, etc?).


Many thanks for helping a new handloader get started,
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Old August 31, 2010, 06:37 PM   #2
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Quote:
First, can I achieve the level of quality of a bench press using a hand press? I'm considering getting the Lee hand press reloading kit. I live in a small apartment and don't have lots of extra cash right now. I'd like to get the smallest, least expensive setup for building some accurate loads. I know hand presses take longer to use, but I'm about accuracy here, not mass production.
When I bought my first press, I bought a Lee Anniversary kit. I paid around $100. I did have to get a digital scale because the one that came with my kit was tough for me to read.

Quote:
Second, other than the press and powder scale, what tools are needed to build accurate loads (case trimmers, tumblers, etc?).
You will need a set of dies(preferably with a neck sizer die), set of calipers, loading blocks, primer tool, chamfer/debur tool, case trimmer(Lee makes a cheap one), case lube, primer pocket tool. But the most important thing you need to buy first is a reloading manual. Read it and comprehend it.

Try this as well:

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=230171
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Old August 31, 2010, 08:19 PM   #3
Loader9
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You'll learn to hate that Lee hand press with 3006 cases. There's just not enough leverage there and the tool isn't going to last long. If you have gunshows in the area, I've picked up some real deals on great presses over the years. Never pay what they ask and learn to haggle- it's yer money and they want it so beat 'em up on the price. Used RCBS dies are warranted forever so don't back up from buying used RCBS equipment.
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Old August 31, 2010, 08:41 PM   #4
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@ sser-- Thanks for the thread. That's exactly what i was hunting.

@ Loader-- That's good to know. Ive heard that hand presses can wear out. I had not even thought of finding a gun show, but that may be just the ticket.
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Old August 31, 2010, 08:48 PM   #5
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+1 on the loading manual, a careful reading will answer questions you'll never think to ask. Get a good one, then get another. New is best but recent prior editions bought used make good sense too. Read and load carefully, this is serious stuff!
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Old August 31, 2010, 08:57 PM   #6
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Get a press with a full circle frame. Cheap as it may be, I make some accurate ammo using a Lee press and Lee dies. Good value for the money, and a great place for a beginner to pinch some pennies.
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Old August 31, 2010, 11:52 PM   #7
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All that has been stated, I would count as basic need for reloading. Read and get another book and read some more!

After that..... Remember Accuracy and consistancy are different!
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Old September 1, 2010, 12:21 AM   #8
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+1 on the manual and +1 on the single stage press. I don't care who's single stage press but skip the hand loader. Take a look at something like this.
Cheap and much better than a hand loader. Slap a piece of board on it and a couple of C clamps and you're in business. You'll have all the leverage you'll need to do a nice bottle neck round all day long.
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Old September 1, 2010, 12:57 PM   #9
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One thing you will want to play close attention to is brass prep...

some consider it overkill...


I consider it the best way to squeeze the last ounce of accuracy out of a round…


It’s all in the manual
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Old September 1, 2010, 01:25 PM   #10
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Check out the classified section of sites such as this,you can find some good stuff at an affordable price.Armslist always has reloading supplies (its like craigslist except it deals with mainly firearms and such.)
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Old September 1, 2010, 07:42 PM   #11
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Appreciate it everybody. I'm looking at the Lee anniversary Kit: $90 at Cabela's, and comes with O-frame press, powder measure, cutter/lock stud, and primer pocket cleaner. Seems like a good starter deal, and I can add on/build it up later. I'm probably going to buy a used Hornady manual. I'm ready to get goin...
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Old September 1, 2010, 07:56 PM   #12
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Anniversary kit looks good, was looking at it in the latest flyer. Go for it!
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Old September 1, 2010, 08:20 PM   #13
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After you get setup with a proper press, scale, and dies, get some cases, your favorite 150s, CCI200 primers, and 4064 powder. In my old 700, anything from 48-52gr shot 7/8" or less.
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Old September 3, 2010, 04:50 PM   #14
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Pull the trigger, so to speak, on that Anniversary kit. IMO, you can't beat it for a starter set. The only other things you have to buy with that rig is the dies, loading block(s) and calipers. There's lots of 'nice to have' stuff, but that will get you started. It used to come with the Lee Modern Reloading manual which is a good place to start. If it doesn't, that manual is pretty inexpensive.

That press and equipment is more than capable of producing sub-MOA rounds. I started with one and never saw any reason to replace it. I own a Dillon progressive now but still use the old Lee for precision rifle rounds.
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Old September 3, 2010, 05:29 PM   #15
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I bought a Lee Aniversary Kit in 1985 or so and still use it. I have a couple of other presses, including a Dillon 550, but much of my work is still with the Lee. I use a mix of RCBS, Redding and Lee dies. I can't tell much difference other than the Lee's are a bit cheaper.
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Old September 3, 2010, 09:34 PM   #16
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Skunk, first understand that the press used is basically irrelivant for the quality of ammo being made, any of them are quite good and the only limiting factor is the skill of the user. It does take awhile to learn to develop and produce accurate ammo, most of what you will shoot at first will be banging ammo. After you learn the fundamentals of reloading you can start striving for more accuracy. Lee's Handpress is sufficent, the Reloader press is very good, the Challanger press is better, the Classic Cast is much better.

Stick with Lee stuff for everything but the little beam scale. Take a look at Dillon's beam scale for a very good one at least cost I know of.

Lee's gear works quite well even though the cost is low. What you are 'giving up' in their light alum alloy presses is the massively over-built strength of larger, more expensive presses, not accuracy.
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Old September 3, 2010, 11:58 PM   #17
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The horrors of just getting into reloading

You can reload to save money. You are going to have to learn some Journeyman to Master level reloading techniques to get better accuracy.
1) Press doesn't matter, and the hand press can work just fine (just a real PITA)
2) You will want a single-stage press. Lee Challenger kit is perfect to get started. You could also get a turret press with auto-indexing, but you want accuracy and not speed so you will want to work each stage carefully and perform the same action on each case.
3) You will want to buy the Lee Deluxe 3-Die Set 30-06 Springfield. This has a full-length sizing die and a neck-sizing die
The most important thing for getting increased accuracy is having cases that have been fire-formed in you chamber so they have minimum head-space. This is done with neck-sizing only. After a few firings, however, you may need to full-length size to allow the case to easily chamber.
4) You will have to watch case length after resizing, so you will need a trimmer. You might want to start with the
Lee Case Length Gage and Shellholder 30-06 Springfield (the cutter comes with the Lee kit).
5) At some point, you will want to inside ream the neck of your cases and you will want to outside neck turn your cases. With each firing, the neck can get thicker while the case grows in length. Outside neck turning evens the case neck thickness around the case so the bullet is centered in the chamber. Case reaming can be required if the junction where the neck turns into the shoulder gets thick. If you seat a bullet into this area, pressures can jump dramatically as the chamber and case lock the bullet in.
My recommendation is get the Lee kit and a good 6" caliper and watch case growth and neck thickness so you know if you are having a problem and you can invest in equipment as you need it.
If you get the lee kit, read the directions for the Perfect powder measure carefully and follow what they say. The measure works well, if you do exactly as Lee says.
Either that, or buy the Lee Improved Powder Measure Kit and a hornady or RCBS powder trickler and weigh each charge. Be sure to mount your balance at eye level.
You can easily just wipe the outside of the cases with a clean cloth and use a $2.00 Lee Primer Pocket Cleaner to scrape out the primer pockets if you want. That is all you need to do. You can get more carried away later.
I haven't seen any improvement in accuracy by deburring the flash hole or making the primer pockets more identical. This sort of stuff MAY help when you get a real benchrest rifle and are trying to shrink your 0.247" group.
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Old September 4, 2010, 07:50 AM   #18
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"The most important thing for getting increased accuracy is having cases that have been fire-formed in you chamber so they have minimum head-space."

Well, that's not quite correct as stated. The most critical thing in an accurate handload is finding a bullet that will shoot well. Next is proper selection of powder and charge, then finding the optimum OAL/seating depth. Everything after that is a tweek for minor gains.

Truth is, in the search of accuracy there are no absolute steps that if you do this or do that you will have better results but it sometimes seems that way to mid-level reloaders. There are many things involved in obtaining accuracy and neck sizing, per se, is perhaps one of the least predictable. But, when it does help, the Lee Collet is perhaps the best available for neck die for factory rifles.

Methods such as inside neck reaming does nothing for accuracy, it just thins the necks. Outside neck turning in loose chambered factory rifles rarely does much good. Other oft mentioned ideas as trimming all cases to identical length, seating on the lands and measuring seating off the ogive, having high "neck tension" (actually an accuracy killer), precision weighing of powder charges or bullets or cases, or buying some magic brand of bullets or powder or primers or cases, or using specific brands of tools are common accuracy myths.

The value of such things as flash hole deburring or primer pocket uniforming depends on how bad the flash holes and pockets were. If they were good, or even close to good, it certainly won't make much difference. But if they aren't so good the improvement can easily be seen on target. Even then it's only a tweek and won't reduce 1 MOA groups to .25!

Neck sizing may help extend case life but even that's not a certainty. Most case stretch occurs because of excessive FL sizing, jamming the cases as far into the size die as they can possibly go. Even so, few necks will last long enough for bullet pinch to occur in factory chambers. FL sized properly, cases will die from neck splits (or head seperations) long before bullet pinching occurs.

Skunk, I've typed all this for you. Understand that knowledge and skill (or pure luck!) are the keys to finding an accurate load and that doesn't come fast. What works in one rifle, or one type of rifle such as Bench Rest vs. factory sporters, rarely crosses over so there are no universal methods or "pet loads" that can be assured of any kind of result on target. Try everything because ONLY experimentation and testing can confirm anything for any given rifle.

Last edited by wncchester; September 4, 2010 at 09:12 AM.
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Old September 4, 2010, 11:10 PM   #19
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Reloading doesn't have to take up a lot of room.

I built this portable bench that has my press and powder throw mounted to it. The entire thing fits on half a kitchen table. The rest of my reloading gear (not components, just the gear) can fit in a milk crate.

It's stable enough that it sits in my reloading room full time but I can move it anywhere in the house depending on my mood, company, the wife, kids, etc.

For my single-stage press dollar, the Lee Classic Cast is one hell of a bullet proof press.

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Old September 5, 2010, 09:34 AM   #20
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All it takes is a lot of time to carefully trim each casing to exactly the same length, clean the primer pockets out, carefully measure and weigh the powder charges to exactly the same amount and then make sure that the OAL is the same for each round. When I started doing this my accuracy improved a bunch.
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Old September 5, 2010, 09:19 PM   #21
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Dear Wncchester

You commented:["The most important thing for getting increased accuracy is having cases that have been fire-formed in you chamber so they have minimum head-space."
Well, that's not quite correct as stated. The most critical thing in an accurate handload is finding a bullet that will shoot well. Next is proper selection of powder and charge, then finding the optimum OAL/seating depth. Everything after that is a tweek for minor gains.]

I am sorry, but your comments apply to all reloading. My comments were specific to the handloader that wants to go beyond the basics in developing an accurate load. All advanced loading for accuracy is a tweak, but ask any benchrest shooter or long-range varmint hunter about how important it is any way.
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Old September 5, 2010, 10:20 PM   #22
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"My comments were specific to the handloader that wants to go beyond the basics in developing an accurate load."

And your comment suggesting that only "fire formed" cases produce best accuracy is an error, it's not a certain "advanced" handloading method. It's sometimes true but it's also sometimes true - quite often really - that FL sized cases will produce the best accuracy in sporters. As you gain more experience you will come to understand that no set of 1-2-3 steps can be certain to produce any given accuracy result.

As a technical fact, headspace refers only the chamber, not the ammo. We should strive to make our ammo fit the headspace correctly but a tight fit is often detremental to accuracy in factory rifles. Fact is, FL sizing commonly works quite well in sporters, if it's done correctly but then nothing works well if it's done incorrectly. Best fit can only found through expermentation, not reading simplistic "beyond the basics" tips on the web.

BR loading techniques are rarely very useful for obtaining best accuracy in loose chambered factory sporting/hunting rifles, ask any BR shooter.
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Old September 6, 2010, 02:02 PM   #23
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Well, I'm thankful for the responses I've gotten from everyone--about reloading techniques as well as reloading hardware. I was a little hesitant to approach both topics in one thread for fear that I would basically be asking "how do I reload." But now that we've branched into the realm of reloading techniques, I'm certainly all ears. I just ordered the Hornady reloading manual and a book called "Precision Shooting Reloading Guide" which explains the fundamentals (and then some) of building consistent and accurate rifle ammunition.

Also, I went on a dove shoot this weekend (Opening day in North Alabama was Saturday ) and had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman who reloads, in his words, "almost every round out there." He's got well over 200 sets of dies and a bigtime RCBS operation in his garage. As if I needed any more persuasion to start reloading for my one measly 30-06!
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Old September 6, 2010, 06:42 PM   #24
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".. now that we've branched into the realm of reloading techniques,...I just ordered the Hornady reloading manual and a book called "Precision Shooting Reloading Guide" which explains the fundamentals (and then some) of building consistent and accurate rifle ammunition. "

Yeah, you ask a focused question on the web and eager "experts" can't resist passing along extra info!

Your choice of books is excellant. Read both, cover to cover I hope, but the first and last chapters in the Reloading Guide will give you the best steps possible once you move passed the fundamentals. Dan Hacket's "Working Up Accurate Loads" wisdom touches on the error of making assumptions on what should work best without testing everything.
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Old September 7, 2010, 06:22 PM   #25
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Just pulled the trigger on the Lee Anniversary Kit. Appreciate all the advice. After S&H from Cabelas I got it for $102. Not a bad deal I don't think.
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