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Old July 7, 2011, 10:23 AM   #1
Fargazer
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Taking the Reloading Plunge

I finally have a workbench set up for gun tasks, and my cousin in law is sending me a RCBS Rock Chucker kit he used for a short while, and then packed up. I suspect it's the Rock Chucker Supreme Master Kit, though I suppose it's possible it could be a "kit" made up by a store or such. I should see it by Saturday to determine what equipment is with it and what holes I need to fill.

I've got a 6' bench set up (Craftsman butcher block, bought in pieces on the cheap via their Outlet), but it's so nice to have the full space available when working on rifles that I will either build a second dedicated press bench near it, or else mount my presses in a removable fashion. The wall area will have a couple panels bolted on to mount parts bins.

The plan is to use the Rock Chucker for .308, and to make some small batches of 9mm. If I find I like it, then I revisit the eternal "which progressive press" debate. I've already reviewed opinions on both; I suspect it will come down to which reloading presses fellow gun club members use, so I can draw upon the local resources.
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Old July 7, 2011, 10:43 AM   #2
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Congrats. You'll have a lot of fun with your reloading. If you have all RCBS gear, then you may have the RCBS Trim Pro case trimmer. That's the one that I have, and it's pretty fast and easy but I still hate trimming cases. But, things have gotten better. I finally bought one of those 3 way cutterheads for the trimmer, which trims the case and bevels the inside and the outside of the case mouth all at the same time. I love it. Cannot BELIEVE I waited so long to buy one. Get one of those.
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Old July 7, 2011, 09:52 PM   #3
Lost Sheep
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Get manuals

Knowledge is what you need first. The ABC's of reloading (which has good descriptions of the process, but no load recipes) and a few good manuals (Lyman's is a good one). The early chapters of almost all manuals contain good information, too.

You mentioned the RockChucker, which is a single stage press, of course. You mentioned progressive presses. Don't neglect to consider turret presses.

Good luck. Thanks for asking our advice.

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Old July 7, 2011, 10:42 PM   #4
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I've been researching and reading since around November of last year (starting with the ABC's), and I've attended a reloading presentation put out by my rifle club. I've got the Speer and Lyman reloading guides, and have also studied those.

I was originally going with the Lee Classic Turret Press, but since my cousin in law had an unused Rock Chucker set for very cheap (and that's the set that was used in the club presentation), I went that route.

I haven't decided which progressive color I would go with, but I'll put off a final decision until I use the Rock Chucker a bit; I hate to use up brain cells until it's absolutely necessary, and there's no use making that decision until I confirm I want to reload at all.
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Old July 9, 2011, 12:46 AM   #5
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It can be very gratifying producing your own ammo.
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Old July 9, 2011, 02:36 AM   #6
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Quote:
It can be very gratifying producing your own ammo.
Amen to that! In the 12 or 13 yrs I've been doing it, the ONLY gripe I've come up with (aside from component shortages) has been the guy, usually a co-worker, who says, "Oh, you reload your own? Gosh, I'll just bring you a coffee can full of brass and have you reload for me!" Uh, NO! The least they could do is politely ASK- that way I could politely say "no".
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Old July 9, 2011, 08:13 AM   #7
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There are many, many, MANY suggestions we can & do give to folks brand new to handloading. It already sounds like you are going in to this with some learning... through a class, other handloaders at your club and with a manual or two, so good job on that.

So the first suggestion I will make is to document EVERY SINGLE LOAD you attempt. I use an MS-Excel spreadsheet. Don't make anything without keeping it in a searchable log. This will save you a lot of time and help you build more effective loads and will also help you avoid making the same mistakes more than once.

It's advice that isn't given enough around here -- keep track of everything you do. It'll serve you well.
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Old July 9, 2011, 08:29 AM   #8
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Quote:
the guy, usually a co-worker, who says, "Oh, you reload your own? Gosh, I'll just bring you a coffee can full of brass and have you reload for me!" Uh, NO! The least they could do is politely ASK- that way I could politely say "no".
Ditto to that, I have had people actually expect me to cast for them, and load my own components, even during the recent primer shortage. The same people that find it so hard to bring me their spent brass. I have little problem telling them I do not reload for anyone but myself.
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Old July 9, 2011, 04:04 PM   #9
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I don't load for anybody other than myself (not even family), and it's because of possible insurance and liability issues. And like someone else suggested, do keep good records. I still use an old fashioned Steno Pad that stays with my gun cleaning gear so I can make notes at the range. Call me a dinosaur, but I prefer that to the spreadsheet method because it's just easier to make notes and then make more notes on top of those notes.
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Old July 9, 2011, 04:40 PM   #10
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Ditto. I reload for my brother-in-law, but nobody else. When people ask, it's all about liability. Too easy to make a mistake that damages someone, their gun or takes their life. I just beg off by saying I can't afford to insure my loads.

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Old July 9, 2011, 05:11 PM   #11
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WRONG! The appropriate response (for me, at least)

Quote:
Originally Posted by 10-96
"Oh, you reload your own? Gosh, I'll just bring you a coffee can full of brass and have you reload for me!" Uh, NO! The least they could do is politely ASK- that way I could politely say "no".
Here is the response I most often choose
Quote:
Here's a list (primers, powder, brass and bullets). Bring them over to my house along with two Porterhouse cuts and a six-pack. I will show you everything you need to know and you can load them.

We will discuss the process and I will show you how I load some of mine (about 2 hours) then you can load a box of your own while I watch and the steaks are on a slow fire. We can enjoy the meat and the beers afterwards.
If I get tired of the beef, I will steer him/her towards his/her own press.

There are many ways to share.

If I don't feel like being a host, my reloading setup is completely portable. 3 toolboxes and a folding workbench takes two trips to the car and sets up in five minutes. But my student's shopping list will include the steaks, but I will bring the beer, which will be warm, knowing it will take until after the loading is done to be cool enough to drink properly.

Planning. As essential to loading as it is to teaching.

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Old July 9, 2011, 10:05 PM   #12
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Welcome to the asylum, Fargazer. You're off to a great start.
I like your approach, Lost Sheep. "Give a man a fish..."
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Old July 9, 2011, 11:13 PM   #13
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I don't have a problem letting someone load with my gear, assuming that they do it to my specifications and safety standards. I've shown the oldest grandson how to do it, and he made the ammo for his 308. And, I've even suggested that supervised loading option to a few folks that wanted me to load for them, but nobody has wanted to do it themselves. From the various discussions, I think most folks just would prefer to get something for nothing. I hate to say that, but I think it's true.
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Old July 10, 2011, 12:56 AM   #14
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From the various discussions, I think most folks just would prefer to get something for nothing. I hate to say that, but I think it's true.
Come on brothers and sisters- can I get another AMEN???
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Old July 10, 2011, 01:38 AM   #15
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i also started with a free single stage press that my dad gave me. Now 8 months later i have 2 progressives and a turret! be careful its addictive.
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Old July 10, 2011, 08:34 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 10-96
Come on brothers and sisters- can I get another AMEN???
True. Just 'cause it costs less, though, doesn't mean its free. I hate buying primers and bullets.

My brother-in-law bring all of his brass to me, buys the bullets and I usually just throw in the primers and powder 'cause I end up shooting up half the ammo myself anyway!

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Old July 10, 2011, 08:35 AM   #17
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Fargazer,
Congrats on the reloading equipment,handloading/reloading is a very addictive hobby.As others have said educate yourself with some good reloading manuals on the basics of reloading,reloading manuals are invaluable resources on starting and max loads I have a manual from each bullet manufacturer and then some.
Single stage press is a great way to start out.I own a couple progressive presses(Dillions) and couple of single stage presses,most of my rifle cartridges are loaded on the single stage presses. Good luck!

[QUOTE]I finally bought one of those 3 way cutterheads for the trimmer, which trims the case and bevels the inside and the outside of the case mouth all at the same time. I love it. Cannot BELIEVE I waited so long to buy one. Get one of those./QUOTE]

@ 603Country Thanks for the info on the 3 way cutterhead for the RCBS Pro Trimmer,I didn't realize RCBS had a 3 way cutterhead available.I am still laboring away with my RCBS Trim Mate chaffering my case mouths,guess I need to get in the 21st century and put one on order jkg LOL
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Old July 10, 2011, 08:41 AM   #18
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Have fun but be safe.
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Old July 10, 2011, 09:05 AM   #19
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I really LIKE your workbench! I believe I'll set something similar up for my firearms work and tinker area.

I second the suggestion to get another bench for the reloading area. In my experience, you will want some dedicated space for all the goodies you'll acquire over time. Believe me--I started out with an RCBS Partner Press kit, secured to a small table. I've been reloading now for a bit over 25 years; my assortment of reloading tools and supplies has also grown.

If you have the space, make the bench big enough for your press, with storage space for a working stock of primers, powder and bullets. I would recommend building up a simple platform that can be leveled for the use of your powder scale. Storage space for dies, shellholders and shell plates is a must as well. You would also be ahead of the game to have a central storage or pegboard for the tools you need to adjust the dies and the press, as well as your QC stuff--calipers, gauges, etc.

Finally, make it BIGGER than you think you'll need. As time goes by, you'll load for more calibers, and you'll need every inch. Good luck!
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Old July 10, 2011, 12:50 PM   #20
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Welcome to the world of reloading. Starting off with a single stage press is by far the best way to go. Once you have become familiar with the process, then you can go with the progressive if you wish. You will find that unless you do a lot of shooting the progressive wont be necessary.

I use two progressives for pistol only. One is for small primer and the other for large primer. For rifle, I still use a single stage press. I keep my presses along with my lubricator/sizer mounted on plates that slide into the reloading bench so that I dont have presses mounted all over it.

After you get used to the reloading process, you may end up getting into casting (kiss your wallet goodbye again).


ENJOY!!!!!!
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Old July 10, 2011, 01:10 PM   #21
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OOPS!
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Old July 10, 2011, 01:13 PM   #22
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Welcome!. Reloading is the most satisfying aspect of my shooting hobby that sometimes I don't know if I reload to shoot or shoot to reload. I would think a 6' bench may not be long enough for rifle work (my 7' bench gets pretty crowded when I have my Swedish Mauser on a rest cleaning it). Six feet will be good for reloading if you use a 'bench plate" so the press can be removed. But then again, every bench I've owned (even the 16' benches at work) eventually get covered

RCBS single stage is a great way to start reloading, and you prolly will be using it for the rest of your reloading career. If the out put isn't enough then look at other style presses (turret, H-style, progressive), but batch loading and with practice I was able to stuff 100 per hour when I was using a lot of ammo...

Go slow, Be safe and enjoy!
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Old August 3, 2011, 03:16 PM   #23
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Well, I just received the last of my stuff, a mix of Red and Green. So far:
I mounted a 1.5" thick 2' by 4' piece of Oak plywood on a heavy duty workbench frame to form a dedicated press table. I've also put up some more shelving on the wall above the presses, and more parts bins on the side wall. I'll post final pictures this weekend.

Tonight and tomorrow I'm going to re-watch a couple DVDs (RCBS Precisioneered Handloading and Redding Advanced Handloading), then explore the RCBS.Load software and do a couple dry runs of the process outlined in my manuals. Once I do that, and explore the software a bit, I'll begin some test loads and see how it goes.

The plan is to initially work on a reasonable .308 target load with the N140 and the CCI Match grade primers, then vary from there with the other powders and primers. Once I have a .308 load I'm happy with, I'll sequentially work up loads for 9mm, .380, .38, and .357 calibers. By the time I make it through all that I hopefully will be able to tell whether or not I enjoy hand loading, and whether or not it will be worth my while to take the plunge into a progressive.

Wish me luck
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Old August 3, 2011, 03:51 PM   #24
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you will find out varget is a prettyb good powder in 308 I also hear its good in 223 also.
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Old August 3, 2011, 07:13 PM   #25
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Good luck, but more importantly, have fun!

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