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Old February 6, 2011, 12:28 PM   #1
dlb435
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How much to start reloading....dirt cheap!

OK, I've seen lots of post from folks wanting to get started reloading. They alway want to know how much it cost to get started.
This is a little project I'm running to see how little I could spend to get started reloading. I've got a couple of rounds that I don't shoot very much and it's not worth the cost of setting up my progressives presses to reload. I've chosen the .357 magnum round as my test subject.
So far, I've got an old used RCBS Jr2 press. This cost $40.49 with shipping included. I cleaned up the press and paid $4.00 for mounting hardware. RCBS is sending me the one broken part on the press for free.
Total so far: $44.49
I'll keep you posted as I get farther along.
My budget is $134.95....the cost of 5 20 round boxes 125 gr. hollow points.
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Old February 6, 2011, 12:39 PM   #2
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http://www.beartoothbullets.com/tech...h_notes.htm/51

This is how I started in '78 or so. I didn't have a lot of the stuff mentioned but with my Lee Loader I made a lot of good accurate (I think?) ammo. All I had was the Lee Loader, a loading block, a glass pudding cup (to hold powder I was dipping), a drill bit ground to 45 degrees for champhering, and if I cleaned primer pockets I used a straight sided screw driver, and a leather mallet. Later I used a Lee Hand Press w/standard dies for reloading my .357 and 38, still a really inexpensive way to get good ammo...
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Old February 6, 2011, 01:15 PM   #3
dlb435
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OK, here's the old press cleaned up and ready to begin.
Just got some 357 dies for $15.54
Now I'm up to $60.03
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Old February 6, 2011, 01:23 PM   #4
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Gettin Closer...

... Ya will love reloadin.
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Old February 6, 2011, 01:56 PM   #5
dlb435
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I've been relaoding for many years now. I think it's a great hobby.
The purpose of this thread is to show new or prospective reloaders that you don't need to spend a fortune to get started reloading. I've just added a new pistol to my collection. It's a Dan Wesson 357 magnum. I plan on shooting it, but not that much. This is going to be a step by step guide to cheap reloading.
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Old February 6, 2011, 04:24 PM   #6
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a quest I have been on for a while

Quote:
Originally Posted by dlb435
OK, I've seen lots of post from folks wanting to get started reloading. They alway want to know how much it cost to get started.
This is a little project I'm running to see how little I could spend to get started reloading....(truncated for brevity)
Yours is a quest I have been on for a while.

I started out with the premise:

All the hardware you need to reload a usable quantity of ammunition is three things:

A press mounted on something,
a set of dies
a way to mete powder

Everything else just improves safety, accuracy, efficiency, convenience and cleanliness.

I chose to ignore the used market, though. I consider it too spotty. For example, I have a little RCBS cast aluminum press in very good condition I got essentially for free. (I had a few dozen pieces of 7mm Mag I had gotten as bycatch from a purchase of some other used brass. I traded those for some miscellaneous garage sale leftovers from a shooter/reloader. Those pieces included a Lee Scale and the RCBS press.)

I also have a Lee press that came in a promotional package bundled with Lee's loading manual. It cost $11 new three years ago. My local store had a couple dozen of these on sale. They went FAST. (I always wondered if the pricing was a mistake-a $35 press and a $25 book for $11?!? But, I don't look a gift horse in the mouth more than once.)

My minimal setup, then is:
$8 (estimate) mount for the press. 30" long 2x6 tied with a belt to an end table and 3 carriage bolts.
$0 to $11 to $85 press (My used RCBS, my Lee press or a cheap but decent new press)
$40-$56 Lee's 3-die carbide set or deluxe 4-die set (Lee includes a shell holder and one powder dipper suitable for the cartridge)
$13 a complete set of Lee Dippers with the weight chart
$0.04 a case lube pad (if loading bottlenecked cartridges) made of a paper towel.

Last week's newspapers to pad the end table from the 2x6 or an old towel
Dropcloth (to catch dropped primers or powder spill) use an old sheet. Quieter than plastic and drapes better
A bowl from which to dip the powder.
Funnel for transferring powder more conveniently
two loading blocks made from scrap lumber and drill.

You will not be loading efficiently. You will not be loading fast. But you will be accurate and safe as long as you recognize the limitations of your powder measuring. Don't push any limits.

After the extreme basics, add-ons.

As funds permit, add better primer handling (instead of using your fingers to put them in the press), propellant handling (a good scale and trickler and/or powder measure/dispenser), micrometer (to check dimensions of your stuff), case trimmer (bottlenecked cases stretch after so many reloadings and you will be retiring cases when they don't fit your chamber any more if you don't have a trimmer), bullet puller (eventually you will load a round you are unsure of and want to disassemble it; if you can't pull the bullet, you have to set the cartridge aside until you do), a case lube pad (instead of your fingers, paper towel or a sponge)

Good luck, all.

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Old February 6, 2011, 04:25 PM   #7
dlb435
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Since the point is to get by as cheaply as posible, I got the powder and primers today. Both on sale. This brings to total to $79.72
I've got Titegroup and CCI 500 primers (box of 100)
I'll need to measure the powder charge. That would usually mean a powder scale but they cost money. So I'll use a few free resources and make my own powder dipper.
First, I'll get a 9mm fired case. Clean it but leave the old primer in place.
Next, go to the Lee Precision web site and find the VDM chart.
Now it's just a little math. The charge we want is 7.5 grains of Titegroup.
At 0.0848 cc per grain that's 0.636cc of powder.
The 9mm case is 0.89mm in diamiter and 12.3 mm deep. It is 17mm long so we will need to add 4.7mm to our desired volume.
Run the math and we get a 9mm case that needs to be trimed to 0.58 inch to make a powder dipper. I soldered a wire to the 9mm case and now have a free powder dipper.
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Old February 6, 2011, 04:38 PM   #8
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Great thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by dlb435
I've been relaoding for many years now. I think it's a great hobby.
The purpose of this thread is to show new or prospective reloaders that you don't need to spend a fortune to get started reloading. I've just added a new pistol to my collection. It's a Dan Wesson 357 magnum. I plan on shooting it, but not that much. This is going to be a step by step guide to cheap reloading.
Mikld, excellent, excellent article. It is not word-for-word the article I have written in my head, but you could have been following my outline, concept for concept. You just preceded me by 6 years or more.

dlb435, if I was not explicit in my earlier post, kudos to you for looking out for the budget-minded novice.

Let me share some posts I have made. Or, put another way, allow me to pile on.

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

Thread entitled "Newby needs help."
http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=430391
My post 11 is entitled "Here's my reloading setup, which I think you might want to model" November 21, 2010)
My post 13 is "10 Advices for the novice handloader" November 21, 2010)

The first draft of my "10 Advices..." is on page 2 of this thread, about halfway down.
http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=13543

Minimalist minimal
http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=107332

or if the links do not work, paste these into your browser

rugerforum.net/reloading/29385-budget-beginning-bench-you-will-never-outgrow-novice-handloader.html

thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=430391
(posts are #11 and #13)

rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=13543

Minimalist minimal (the seventh post down)
rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=107332

Good luck. Always wear eye protection, especially when working with primers and don't pinch your fingers in your press. Be safe. Always, all ways.

Lost Sheep
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Old February 6, 2011, 04:46 PM   #9
Lost Sheep
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A Caution - damage or injury

Quote:
Originally Posted by dlb435
Run the math and we get a 9mm case that needs to be trimed to 0.58 inch to make a powder dipper.
The Lee dippers are cheap enough to get a whole set and be certain of the volume.

If you haven't got a scale to verify your volume calculation, I believe you may be committing a false economy at a point where a miscalculation could result in damage or injury.

I apologize for posting a correction to your post, but since others will be reading this thread, I felt a caution would be in order.


Respectfully yours,

Lost Sheep
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Old February 7, 2011, 07:53 AM   #10
dlb435
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Lost Sheep,
Thanks for the great input.
It's very important to have two (or more) view points. I'm comfortable with rebuilding old presses and running the numbers. (I do engineering work by day) You are very patient and willing to wait for the "great deal". Since this project is to help new reloaders to get started, I welcome all those who have been down this path before.
You are right, not everyone has the same skill level or background. Doing what works for you is very important.
Can you post a picture of your reloading gear and about how much you paid for everything?
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Old February 7, 2011, 09:35 AM   #11
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Would spending $20 on a Lee safety scale blow the budget too much?
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Old February 7, 2011, 09:41 AM   #12
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Hmmm, well you already spent more than I did on a hand press kit, which included large and small priming tools. I bought a set of dippers too. 10K rounds later it's all still working fine. I have 5 sets of (4) dies and a tumbler, I doubt if I have $300 yet in all the hardware.

+1 on a scale to verify your loads, I think mine cost $7 and weighs to the nearest tenth of a gram, which is close enough to weigh 20 dipper loads and get an average. A digital caliper's also pretty handy, I found one at Harbor Freight for $10 with a AR coupon that appears to be the exact same thing RCBS charges $60-80 for.
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Old February 7, 2011, 10:45 AM   #13
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I think it's an interesting experiment -- but you have to admit up front that there are some items you are willing to spend more on than other for the sake of convenience, yes? For example, your press is a good buy at $44.49 shipped and mounted to the bench... but that does not beat a new Lee reloader press, the most basic one they make... goes for like $28, I think.

Your press is better, and it was a good buy, but it's not the cheapest you could go. In fact, the original Lee Loader kit (you hit with a mallet!) would have you pretty much on the range with handloads for less than just about anything, ya know?

It's in the spirit of my argument where I've got to say that making a dipper and completely and entirely skipping ANY purchase of any kind of scale -- new, old, cheap or stolen, is not doing a good service to your experiment.

But then again, this is your baby. I'm just going to enjoy the project!
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Old February 7, 2011, 11:07 AM   #14
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You could have bought a LEE Aniversery Kit for like 79.00 press scale powder measure, reloading book and some tools.
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Old February 7, 2011, 11:17 AM   #15
dlb435
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All good comments. I have to admit that I wanted a better press. When this little experiment is over, I'll be using this press for other things. One major motivation of the RCBS press is their great customer service. Lee only offers two years to the original purchaser.
As for the powder scale or dippers; yes, they are cheap enough but I want to see how my cost build up before making that choice.
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Old February 7, 2011, 12:34 PM   #16
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I've been reloading since Christmas.

Here's what I have for reloading:

ABC's of Reloading, 8th edition ($18)
Lyman Reloading Handbook, 49th edition ($30)
Frankford Arsenal Micro Reloading Digital Scale ($25)
Lee Pro 1000 Progessive Reloader set up for .45 ACP ($170)
Impact Bullet Puller ($15)
Calipers ($25)

total: $283

I've reloaded 1000 rounds so far. I save at least $.28 per cartridge, using purchased bullets (I have now started casting my own). Which means I have paid for my equipment in just 1000 cartridges.

I also cast my own bullets.
I have:
Lee .45 mold ($20)
Lee 9mm mold ( $20)
Lee 4-20 production pot ($65)

total: $105

Buying Oregon Trail laser cast bullets, they were $.14 a bullet. Casting my own from wheel weights, they are about $.01 each, a savings of $.13 a bullet. I have cast about 1000 bullets so far, so I have easily paid for my equipment.

Now I also own a very nice $800 wet-capable tumbler, but I bought it years ago for another purpose. But you can get vibratory case cleaning setups under $100 easily.
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Old February 7, 2011, 12:36 PM   #17
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I would rather check the powder capacity of my dipper with a scale than check my math. Theoritically, you are probably correct, but in real life how much does your dipper dip?
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Old February 7, 2011, 02:35 PM   #18
dlb435
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I ran the numbers and made the dipper but did check it with a scale. I was looking for 7.5 grains and got 7.3 grains. The point was to show that you could do this.
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Old February 7, 2011, 02:58 PM   #19
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It's not a dipper verus a scale! It's a dipper verus a powder measure. You need the scale. Each load of powder has a different density s you have to check the dippers against a scale every time you buy a new can of powder.
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Old February 7, 2011, 07:37 PM   #20
dlb435
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Ok, guys, let's hear it:
Does doing basic reloading require a scale?
I'm going to give a no to this. Folks have been reloading for years without scales. Nice to have, but you can get by without it.
Do I have a scale? Yes, two of them.
Remember, we're dealing with a 357 magnum here.
If we were trying to load 32 ACP a scale would be a must.
I'll go with the majority rule on this. If most of you say yes to a scale, I'll put it in the project cost.
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Old February 7, 2011, 08:14 PM   #21
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As long as you have a way of accurately and consistently measuring a charge, I don't think it matters how you do it.

My charges are dropped by volume though the auto disk on my Lee Pro 1000. But I'm glad I used a scale because the charge disk that was supposed to drop 4.0 only dropped 3.8 grains of Bullseye. I had to step up to the next size up to get it to drop 4.0. Without the scale I would not have known that the volumetric measure was off.

Steve
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Old February 7, 2011, 09:21 PM   #22
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$121.76 for the gear for .357 from Factory Sales in Hartford, WI.

Lee 50th Kit $81.98
Lee Manual $12.48
Lee .357 3 die set $27.30

This can be done without the manual, or with a cheaper kit, or just the Lee Loader in .357 for $22 and a hammer.


With Lee dippers or home made dippers checked on someone elses scale you don't have to have one yourself. Since the Lee set is less than $8 why not start with one before making your own customs.
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Old February 7, 2011, 09:38 PM   #23
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Here is a screaming deal on an electronic scale on sale at Midway USA:http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct...dium=homepage#

I used an RCBS balance beam scale for years. The electronic scales are the wa to go. I have one of the Frankford Arsenal scales I bought locally and I paid almost two times Midway's current sale price and found it well worth the price.

Count me in the "scale is a necessity" camp.

If I were starting over, on a shoestring, I would look at one of the Lee press bundles. I have a new friend that wants to start shooting CAS; he does not reload (yet). For a new shooter who plans to shoot a bit, I would recommend a Lee Classic Turret (not the turret in the kit), Lee Dies, Lee Safety Prime, Lee Auto Disk, and an on-sale-at-Midway digital scale. It is not as cheap as your budget would allow but a good investment given the time saved with the self-indexing turret press over a progressive.

I am still loading on my Rock Chucker single stage and it takes a while to churn out a couple hundred rounds. My free time is much more limited than it was when I started reloading while in college.
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Old February 7, 2011, 10:40 PM   #24
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I like the way you think, OP. I was out of pocket about $100 when I reloaded my first rounds. There''s a shop here in town that sells used reloading equipment. I bought everything used. Some at a garage sale. Gradually upgraded over the years.
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Old February 7, 2011, 11:18 PM   #25
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IMO, get a scale. You can get a screaming deal on the electronic version, or wait for a good, used Lyman or RCBS.
If I had a second one, I'd sell it to you right.

Sooner:
Scale
Tumbler
Lee Auto Prime
Chamfer & Deburring Tool.
Corn Cob & Ground Walnut Shells for Tumber from the Lizard Dept. at Petsmart.


Later:
Universal Decap Die.
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