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Old June 7, 2012, 06:23 PM   #1
idek
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how expensive is it to get into handloading 38sp/357 ammo?

I've never seriously considered reloading before, because I didn't feel I did enough shooting the bother with it. However, I'm finding I'm going through ammo faster these days, so I'm wondering what it would take to get into reloading 38sp/357 ammo. Also I don't have a ton of space for equipment, so smaller would be good.
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Old June 7, 2012, 06:30 PM   #2
Don H
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Here's a stickey from the Handloading/Reloading forum with a bunch of good information for those cosidering getting into reloading: http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=230171
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Old June 7, 2012, 06:35 PM   #3
Deaf Smith
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In all about $200 dollars if you include maybe 1000 slugs, primers, powder, AND cases.

Go to http://www.titanreloading.com/

1. Lee Turret press (3 hole press is fine) $65 bucks
http://www.titanreloading.com/presse...e-turret-press

2. 38/.357 magnum carbide dies $30 bucks
http://www.titanreloading.com/lee-ca...bide-3-die-set

3. Powder charger LEE AUTO DISK POWDER MEASURE. $25 bucks
http://www.titanreloading.com/powder...powder-measure

4. Weight scale LEE SAFETY POWDER SCALE $24 bucks (but out of stock now.)
http://www.titanreloading.com/lee-sa...&category_id=0


Or get the whole shebang, and more,LEE VALUE TURRET PRESS KIT, for $104 (but it's out of stock!) Still would have to add the dies though!
http://www.titanreloading.com/kits/l...rret-press-kit


I have the Lee 3 hole version (over 30 years!!) and it still works fine.

It reloads my .380 acp, 9mm, .357 magnum, 10mm, .45 ACP, .44 Magnum, and M1 Carbine!!

I still have a Dillon SDB for .38 special but the Lee could do all that do AND my Lyman turret press do the .223 and .308. That simplifies my life!

Deaf
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Old June 7, 2012, 07:57 PM   #4
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FWIW if you choose Lee equipment, I highly recommend that you spend a few extra bucks and buy an Auto Disk Riser for each set of dies you purchase. Without the riser, the Auto Disk unit sits very low and can interfere with the dies, making it harder to adjust the dies properly.

Also, if you foresee loading more than one cartridge, you may want to spring for the Auto Disk Pro or the upgrade kit. The swivel adapter makes it much easier to move the powder measure without readjusting the expanding die every single time.
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Old June 7, 2012, 08:41 PM   #5
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Even more simple get the Lee Dippers and the Auto prime and hand prime and charge off the press. Get the Lee Classic Turret and some dies. You will need a scale to check what the dippers are throwing. There is always more to get but the kit from Kempfs is hard to beat
https://kempfgunshop.com//index.php?...mart&Itemid=41
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Old June 7, 2012, 09:27 PM   #6
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I also endorse the Lee Turret Press, but I'd spend the couple of extra bucks to get the 4-hole version. It has auto-indexing, which makes the whole process much faster. I also agree that it's better/easier to prime off the press. Basically, you prep your brass in batches, prime it it batches, and when you actually reload you're working with clean pre-primed brass. It's not as fast as a full progressive setup, but it's very simple and the productivity is plenty for anyone but those who shoot thousands of rounds a week.

I've added an inexpensive single stage press with a universal decapper die for removing the old primers, so the Turret press is used only for the actual reloading.
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Old June 7, 2012, 10:39 PM   #7
Brian Pfleuger
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Definately get the Classic, 4-hole turret not the cast, 3 or 4 hole.

Spent primer handling is better on the classic and it's just an generally better unit. Worth the money.
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Old June 8, 2012, 03:56 AM   #8
idek
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thanks for the replies. Here's another question I should have asked right away. Once you have all the equipment, about how much is it costing you per cartridge (based on a 38sp/357)?
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Old June 8, 2012, 07:34 AM   #9
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Just another idea for you to consider is to find/make friends locally that reload because every so often throughout the year here a person can find a complete reloading setup thats slightly used in .38sp/.357mag.

As alot of older folks age and downsize they are selling what they dont use. Alot of the presses (depending on design) were made better in the past (my opinion).
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Old June 8, 2012, 07:38 AM   #10
lee n. field
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Quote:
I've never seriously considered reloading before, because I didn't feel I did enough shooting the bother with it. However, I'm finding I'm going through ammo faster these days, so I'm wondering what it would take to get into reloading 38sp/357 ammo. Also I don't have a ton of space for equipment, so smaller would be good.
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Done right, about $200 for basic equipment. Single stage press, die set, powder measure, cheap scale, etc.

Quote:
about how much is it costing you per cartridge (based on a 38sp/357)?
Powder is ~$20/pound. 1 pound is 7000 grains. My typical charge of Alliant Bullseye in .38 is 3.7 grains.

Primers are (last time I bought) ~$32/1000, CCI small pistol primers.

Bullets are whatever they cost now. It varies, depending on what you get.

You do the math.
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Old June 8, 2012, 07:57 AM   #11
Don P
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Quote:
Once you have all the equipment, about how much is it costing you per cartridge (based on a 38sp/357)?
First if you have been saving your brass, good its already paid for in the form of factory ammo.
I scrounge brass whenever at the range. Chances are that brass on the ground at the range is once fired brass.
Bullets -hard cast lead-.07 each
Primers- Tula-.015 each
Powder-Titegroup-.01 per round
so 8-10 cents per round.
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Old June 8, 2012, 08:05 AM   #12
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idek
thanks for the replies. Here's another question I should have asked right away. Once you have all the equipment, about how much is it costing you per cartridge (based on a 38sp/357)?
It will depend on how "into" it you get. Casting your own bullets is a lot less expensive than buying, but not everyone warms up to the idea of playing with molton lead. I don't. I buy bullets from Berrys Manufacturing.

The last time I bought primers, they cost me $40 for 1000, so that's 4 cents per round.

I get brass by buying and shooting commercial ammo, so I consider the brass to be free.

Depending on the exact bullet chosen, Berrys' current price for .38/.357 bullets runs between $90 and $106 per 1000. Call it $100 and it's 10 cents per round.

So you're at 14 cents plus the cost of powder, which is probably a couple of pennies per round. Maybe figure 18 cents per round to be conservative?
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Old June 8, 2012, 08:13 AM   #13
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I got started reloading 38's with a simple Lee Loader and a 2x4 block. About $9.95 back in the day. I think they're about $40.00 these days. It's slow, but can be done.

These days I use a Lee hand press, and a set of dies. For powder I use the dipper that comes with the dies and just buy the recomended powder. (I've got scales and powder measure, but seldom use them) I paid less than $100.00 for the press and dies. A few little hand tools like a chamfer tool, primer pocket cleaner, priming tool, and case length trimmer cost less than another $50.00. I got an inexpensive case tumbler to polish brass, for $35.00.

Primers are about $30.00 for a thousand. Factory cast lead bullets around $50.00 for 500. Powder $20-30.00 a can. You can load thousands 38's with a pound of powder.
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Old June 8, 2012, 10:14 AM   #14
lee n. field
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Quote:
Casting your own bullets is a lot less expensive than buying, but not everyone warms up to the idea of playing with molton lead. I don't. I buy bullets from Berrys Manufacturing.
Yup, and free lead in the form of old wheel weights has disappeared.

Quote:
I got started reloading 38's with a simple Lee Loader and a 2x4 block. About $9.95 back in the day. I think they're about $40.00 these days. It's slow, but can be done.
The Lee Loader is a inflexible, rock bottom solution. Far better, if you can spend a little more, to get the Lee Hand Press kit.
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Old June 8, 2012, 12:44 PM   #15
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Lee Hand Press kit and a set of lee carbide dies..... you're good to go.
Low budget, requires only a shoe box for space, and if for some reason it isn't high production enough for you, you can always dump it on *bay for at least 80% of what you paid new.
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Old June 8, 2012, 04:41 PM   #16
idek
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thanks again for continued replies. Here's another novice question. I see Lee makes 3-piece die sets and 4-piece. The set with 4 includes a carbide factory crimp die. As an ignorant beginner, I have no idea what that is. Is that 4th piece something I would probably want?
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Old June 8, 2012, 05:18 PM   #17
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If you shoot more than 500 a month here is what I would recommend.

Lee 4 hole classic turret press and dies.

Prime off the press with the Lee Ergo primer.

Frankford Arsenal DS-750 scale

forget the "on press" powder thrower too...hard to see what you have in the case with 38/357 because of so little powder in a big case. I use the dippers and weigh each load.

quick-n-ez tumbler

CCI 500 Primers .035
cases free
bullets .10 +/-
powder .05 +/-

Use the powder through die to flare
the bullet seating die to do just that
FCD to remove the flare and add a light crimp.
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Old June 8, 2012, 05:19 PM   #18
CADILLAC HOOSIER
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I bought a Lee Classic Turret Press this year, 4 hole and really like it. Would echo several good comments made above. Using plated bullets from Berry in bulk, I'm figuring about 7.50 a box for 38 specials and maybe a dollar more for 357. Just range shooting rounds. Have fun.
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Old June 8, 2012, 05:58 PM   #19
lee n. field
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Quote:
thanks again for continued replies. Here's another novice question. I see Lee makes 3-piece die sets and 4-piece. The set with 4 includes a carbide factory crimp die. As an ignorant beginner, I have no idea what that is. Is that 4th piece something I would probably want?
It can be helpful.
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Old June 8, 2012, 06:21 PM   #20
m&p45acp10+1
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My per cartridge cost is about $50 per 1,000. I cast my own lead. The casting set up cost me less than the price of 500 cast lead bullets.

$25 or less for the mold
$5 for a bottle of Lee Liquid Alox
$5 Lee Lead Laddle (or what ever it is called)
$2 cast iron skillet at a flea market, with the corn bread pan for an ingot mold
$20, and a 12 pack of iced down beer at a tire shop netted a full 5 gal bucket of wheel weights. Showed up at 10 minutes till closing time on a hot Friday afternoon.

If you melt down the weights do it outside, or else your house will smell like burned tires for a week or more. I learned the hard way.

I traded for a Lyman Big Dipper melting pot. If I were buying I would buy the Lee for around $60 +/- a few dollars depending on which supplier you buy it from.

For a single stage at the lowest cost for a tight budget.
$30 or less A manual (Lyman Pistol and Revolver 3rd Edition is a great one, has a section on casting lead as well. It cost me about $15 at Cabellas a couple of years ago.)
$59 Lee Breach Lock Challenger single stage
$20 Lee Perfect powder measure
$25 or less Dial Caliper that measures to the nearest .001 of an inch
$25 or so for a digital scale that measure to +/- 0.1 grains (Or $50 or so for a beam scale by RCBS/Ohaus)
$20 Lee Auto Prime XR
$15 Set of shell holders for the Auto Prime XR
There are more options that I can list for a bench. Though it can be done on the cheap.

Prices are round about guestimates on the high end on most things.

I use the Lee single stage press. I batch load.

Start with a 3 pound coffee can of fired brass on one side, and empty 2 gal wash pail on the floor by my foot. I size/ deprime. Drop the sized, decapped case into the bucket. Repeat till all are done. Pour the brass back into the coffee can. Change to flaring die. Flare, drop into bucket. If case mouth splits, or cracks I have a scrap bucket for it. When done I grab my hand primer, and then Prime them. I put a lid on the primed brass.

When ready to load I set up my scale, and adjust my powder measure. When I get to where I can get less than 1 grain of deviation from 10 throws I start charging cases, and then put them into loading trays. When they are charged I set up my seating die. I then start seating bullets. After that I insert the FCD then crimp. I put the loaded finished round into a jar. When going to the range I put the jar in my range bag.

When I have every thing set up, and brass prepped. All I have to do is charge, seat, crimp. I can do 200 rounds in an hour at very slow pace.
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Last edited by m&p45acp10+1; June 8, 2012 at 06:36 PM.
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Old June 8, 2012, 11:47 PM   #21
Lost Sheep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idek
thanks again for continued replies. Here's another novice question. I see Lee makes 3-piece die sets and 4-piece. The set with 4 includes a carbide factory crimp die. As an ignorant beginner, I have no idea what that is. Is that 4th piece something I would probably want?
Short answer; yes.

If you use a 3-station turret or a single stage press, maybe not. But if you get a 4-station turret (like the Lee Classic Turret) you might as well.

If you get the 4-die set, you can use just the 3 dies if you want.

The main advantage I find with the 4-die set is that the dies are easier to adjust. Separating the bullet seating step from the crimping step makes the operation simpler.

Do a search on "FCD", "Lee FCD" and "Factory Crimp Die" and you will find a number of threads hotly debating the relative merits of the Lee Factory Crimp Die.

By the way, other die makers have comparable crimp dies. But Lee has a carbide ring in theirs that does a sizing of the cartridge (to ensure the cartridge still meets SAAMI diameter specifications after inserting the bullet and applying the crimp. Some find that useful, some, not so much and some find it hurts the cartridge. It all depends on your particular components.

My advice? If you think you might like a turret press (which I think you should consider getting) and will do continuous processing (as opposed to batch processing), get the 4-die set. As a set, it isn't that much more expensive and you can choose to use the 4th die or not use it with no penalty.

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Old June 9, 2012, 06:51 PM   #22
UncleLoodis
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With .357 Mag ammo costing what it does these days, I can't see how a guy COULDN'T save money in the long run.

U.L.
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Old June 9, 2012, 07:26 PM   #23
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How about a Lee Anniversary Kit? They are on sale for $109 at Cabela's (so you can probably find them a *little* cheaper elsewhere.) That and a set of dies and you should be good to go for less than $150.

You'll probably want to upgrade someday, but a spare single-stage press always comes in handy and you won't have that much money tied up in it.

I thought Lee had another kit based on their Reloader singles stage press, where you got the press and a reloading manual and a few doodads for not much more than the cost of the press separately. I havent seen that one in a while.
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Old June 9, 2012, 08:37 PM   #24
idek
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I've got another novice question. I've been reading up a bit and looking at reloading recipes. Can bullets of identical weight be safely interchanged at all? For example, if a load calls for 158 grain lead semi-wad cutter bullets, could a person use 158 grain lead flat point bullets instead?
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Old June 9, 2012, 11:58 PM   #25
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Cast bullets have different load data than jacketed bullets.

In some short high-pressure cartridges -- 9mm, 40S&W, etc -- the bullet shape makes a difference. (it really has more to do with the seating depth) In revolver cartridges, it really doesn't matter much until you get to the very top end with .357 Magnum maximum loads. The exception is wadcutter bullets, because they are seated deep in the case.

The example you gave, 158 grain lead SWC vs 158 grain lead RNFP, yes they are pretty much the same
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