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Old January 17, 2013, 10:46 PM   #1
FloridaGuy
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Help needed with starting out.

I am thinking about starting to reload because it is costing me a furtune to shoot. Like I said in a previous post I shoot at minimum 300 rounds a week at the range. Since I am shooting a lot of the large caliber handguns it can cost me up to $50.00 a box of 50 rounds.

I am currently looking at reloading the following calibers 9mm, .44magnum/special, .357 magnum/special, .45 acp, .45 colt , S&W .460 magnum and finally .454 casull.

Right now I am leaning towards purchasing the Dillon XL 650 with the automatic powder measure and Powder check and the automatic primer system. Later on I would like to add the automatic case feeder but right now it is not in the budget.

Does this sound like a good place to start. Any suggestions or comments are welcome.
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Old January 17, 2013, 11:08 PM   #2
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I'm a beginner. I have ordered a Lee Classic Turret Press with dies for 8 calibers, etc. I went to an expert's home and loaded some cartridges on a single station press. Good introduction. He's a city police officer and his dad was a count deputy sheriff. They were stern taskmasters and made sure I followed the protocols.

From what I've read on the forums and elsewhere a progressive is NOT recommended to start but it can be done if you are very patient and careful. Easy to screw up on a progressive. THE BIG DEAL IS A DOUBLE CHARGE OF POWDER.

The Dillon 650 is probably the best progressive from what I hear but, of course, everyone thinks the brand they own is the best.

Rule one-- be safe!
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Old January 17, 2013, 11:25 PM   #3
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Your going deep right off the bat. I don't think your going to be unhappy with Dillon gear. They have top notch stuff.

Your looking at close to $2,000 with all of those caliber conversions.

With the amount of rounds you shoot per week you need a progressive press imo.
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Old January 18, 2013, 02:01 AM   #4
Lost Sheep
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Welcome to the forum and thanks for asking our advice.

You and I have almost exactly the same situation. .357 Mag, 44 Mag, 9mm, 45 ACP, 454 Casull/45 Colt, 480 Ruger. But I shoot more like 200-300 a month rather than per week. I make up the difference with 22 rimfire.

I settled on a Lee Classic Turret (when I repopulated my bench - I got tired of "making do" and decided to get the setup I would have bought in 19075 if I knew then what I know now). I added up what I spent (plus the prices of the pieces of gear that I kept like my tumbler and 10-10 scale, etc). Anyone could duplicate my setup for about $650. I lack for NOTHING and made no compromises I did not want to make.

So, if you are on a budget very far under $1,000 you might consider following my footsteps with the Lee Classic Turret.

However, a Dillon 550 or Dillon 650 will probably suit you better. The 550 will keep up with 300 rounds a week. The 650 will keep up with what your shooting will increase to when you start realizing the savings that rolling your own will give you.

In between the Lee Classic Turret (which is the best 4-station autoindexing turret press in the world today) and the Dillons is the Lee Loadmaster or Lee Pro-1000. Cheap enough to get one for each caliber (relieving the caliber swap inconvenience). They do have their adherents. Me? I traded off my Pro-1000s because running them made me crazy trying to monitor multiple simultaneous operations. I was a nervous wreck after a session. With my Classic Turret, I am much more relaxed when finished and my production rate did not suffer one bit. Many other people tolerate progressives better than I.

If you can afford it, get the Dillon 650 with case feeder or a couple of 550s also with case feeders. I didn't compromise with my Lee Classic Turret and neither should you. Go for Dillon if that's what you want. Life is short.

If you can't afford Dillon, consider Lee's Classic Turret and saving up for Dillon. Or Lee Loadmaster and saving up for the Dillon. (Hint: Resale recovery on the Lee Classic Turret is likely to be better than on the Lee Loadmaster)

Do not wait on the case feeder, get it.

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Old January 20, 2013, 12:33 PM   #5
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Florida Guy, i started out on a dillon progressive... the first 50 rounds i made were used single stage, then voila. Take time to READ all information in books like the abc's of reloading & lymans manual. READ it twice. If you invest in shooting that seriously with the firepower you have.....go progressive & don't look back. I spoke locally to "the guru" and he scoffed at me til the cows came home. I then invited him over to see i;m not full of crap. He kindly shook my hand telling me that i HAD in fact done it the right way. He explained my learning curve/ information retention, was very good. Be educated in your choices and answer YOUR own WHY's...not someone elses.... Happy reloading and shooting
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Old January 20, 2013, 10:44 PM   #6
FloridaGuy
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Thanks everyone for the info.

I have decided to purchase 2 presses one to load small pistol primers and one to load large pistol primers that way I don’t need to change out the primer assembly.

For the large pistol primer rounds like .45 ACP, .44 Magnum, .45 Colt I am looking at the Dillon XL650. These are the rounds I will be reloading the most.

But for the small pistol primer rounds like 9mm and .38 special and .357 Magnum I am looking at the 550B.

Does this sound like a good plan?

I have purchased the following books:

ABC's of Reloading
Lyman's 49th Reloading Handbook
Hornady's 8th Reloading Handbook
Reloading for Handgunners

Are there any additional book recommendation?

Last edited by FloridaGuy; January 20, 2013 at 10:46 PM. Reason: Spelling
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Old January 21, 2013, 12:07 AM   #7
Lost Sheep
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Since you are mixing it up...

Since you are thinking about mixing presses (650 and 550) I would suggest starting with just one progressive (either one) and thinking about supplementing that press with a Lee Classic Turret press.

Here's my reasoning:

Getting two progressives right off the bat is rather expensive. Normally I don't recommend buying something with the expectation of trading it in in the future, but this case calls for an exception.

Learning on the Classic Turret will be simpler than learning on either progressive. (It is not impossible to learn on a progressive, just simpler working one stage a time.)

If you find the Classic Turret with auto-indexing is adequate for the quantities of your lesser-shot calibers you might not need the expense of two progressives.

If you find the ease of swapping calibers on the Classic Turret is to your liking, you might just want to keep it.

If you find the Classic Turret inadequate, the resale value is unlikely to be less than 75% to 80% of the new price.

Once you have used either of the two Dillons you are contemplating, you will be in a better position to decide if you want a second one of the other model or, perhaps, the second Dillon to be of the same model. Or that switching primer sizes is not that difficult after all.

I realize this suggestion may not fit your needs. But I think it is worth considering. Maybe even just starting with the Classic Turret alone. Like I said in my earlier post, at 300+ rounds per week, the progressive(s) are probably a better fit for you. Starting out with the Classic Turret might be a good learning step and let you pick which second progressive you want at a lower cost threshold.

Congratulations on taking the plunge.

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Old January 21, 2013, 01:19 AM   #8
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I started on a 550 about 5 years ago. I like it. Different tool heads, conversion kits, dies etc will cost you. I have a different tool head for every caliber but switch 1 powder measure for all pistol and one for.all rifle. Still have to adjust but not as much. You could get started with one caliber and build off from there. Watch for used stuff to get cost down. You don't need dillion everything either. I use mostly Lee dies and they work well. Most reloading manual have literature you should read, that said I gained enough info from the Lyman and hornady books I had given to me to read thru that I felt comfortable starting. I also watched a lot of YouTube vids on handloadimg. Good luck, shop for components, buy bulk to save. It's kind of slim pickins on some stuff now but its there
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Old January 21, 2013, 03:55 AM   #9
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You're not going to be saving any real money with that setup, at least not for a couple years. It's like paying $25,000 for a new hybrid car to save $20 per tank on gas. The real savings would come with buying a used economy car that gets 5mpg less but costs 1/8 the hybrid. Make sense?

Get a turret press, ONE set of dies and concentrate on that for a couple months. Remember, you'll need a lot more tools than just the press.

My entire reloading setup cost me about $150, including a neat old Redding beam scale from the 50's that I got on Ebay for $25.
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Old January 21, 2013, 07:09 AM   #10
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I just bought the Lee Loadmaster with 9mm dies. Im new to this also. I am used to setting up multi operation machinery for the last 20 years so I think that will help. After all you are just pulling specs and making each step match the book. I plan to buy other calibers as time goes on and maybe even a mec shotgun press in the future. For the time being I felt it was best to make the smallest investment for the caliber I shoot most often. I went and purchased a Lyman manual locally so I had some reading leading up to the arrival of my press. This really isn't that hard, its just that the repercussions of a mistake can cause serious injury. Good luck and let us know how your setup works out.
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Old January 21, 2013, 08:21 PM   #11
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Since I have a plan on what presses to invest in now I am looking for suggestions on some other equipment. This other equipment via Dillon seems a little expensive especially after paying for the presses. Below is a list of the additional equipment that I am looking at if purchased via Dillon. Any suggestions of an alternate sources for these.

Large - Case/Media Separator $72.95
Vibratory Case Cleaner - $187.95
Digital Caliper - $39.95
Digital Scale - $139.95
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Old January 22, 2013, 12:04 PM   #12
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I had great luck with Frankfort Aesenal tumbler, media separator,bucket to sift into, and polish for like $70. Look around for scales, and calipers, you'll find them much cheaper... The only thing i have dillon is the press and dies. Everything else is NON-dillon. I'm the poster-child for cheap.
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Old January 23, 2013, 01:31 PM   #13
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Yep you can def replace those
Large - Case/Media Separator $72.95
Vibratory Case Cleaner - $187.95
Digital Caliper - $39.95
Digital Scale - $139.95

For one, you can buy any case media seperator and they work fairly well, I got mine at cabelas for like 30 bucks. A berry's tumbler is pretty hard to beat, it works and works well. Sold under vaious names, I have the cabelas one which is made by Berrys and is the same thing just green for 50 bucks. Digital Calipers I got a few I paid like 10 dollars for and they are accurate and work just fine. Digital scale for 140? I dont know why you would need one right away, I dont trust them. Even the guy at Dillion when I went in the store to buy one said they only warranty them for 1 year and after that its a crap shoot on if they'll make it to 2 years. I got a Dillion beam scale that is awesome I got used for 30 dollars. Any quality beam scale should be sufficient, the dillion, lyman, rcbs etc. I'd stay away from the Lee Safety scale,it works and is accurate but I cant stand the one I started off with. very dificult to use and adjust.
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Old January 23, 2013, 08:10 PM   #14
FloridaGuy
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Well today I went to my local Dillon dealer to see about picking up the XL650 so I could set it up this weekend. They are completly out of them and are not sure when they will be getting any in. They said they have had them on order now for over a month. So since I am only going to be loading handgun ammo they suggested that I get a Square Deal 'B' instead. They have them for just over $400.00 per machine. That includes the following:
  1. The press
  2. One Caliber Conversion and 1 set of Dies
  3. Automatic Powder Measure
  4. Automatic Primer System
  5. SDB Strong Mount
  6. Low Powder Sensor
  7. Aluminum Bullet Tray

Is the SDB a good machine to start out with our should I wait for the XL650? The up side of getting the SDB is I can afford to purchase 2 presses and all the die sets for all the calibers that I shoot for less than the XL650 with only one die set.
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Old January 23, 2013, 08:54 PM   #15
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It might well be. There are only two disadvantages to the Square Deal B press I can think of:

1) The dies will not fit any other press than the SDB

2) The press will not do long cartridges (rifle cartridges)

On the other hand, if you can afford to put together everything you need, you are not likely to want to upgrade to another press (thus obviating the die transfer difficulty) and you will have no other handicaps.

I am not comfortable with progressives because monitoring simultaneous operations drove me crazy. But that is not a problem with progressives, that is a problem with me.

It sounds like you are good to go. Congratulations.

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Old January 23, 2013, 09:08 PM   #16
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My case media separator is a $1 colander from the dollar store.
I prefer a good balance beam scale over digital, they last forever
You have a good.ibrary started and the Dillons are good machines
To save some initial cost, you can look for used ones on eBay or Craig's list
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Old January 24, 2013, 10:26 PM   #17
FloridaGuy
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Tonight I went and picked up one of the Dillon SDB in .45 Colt from my local dealer. I also picked up the following a conversion kit for the .44 Special/Magnum round, a Frankfort Aesenal tumbler, a box of Walnut Media, a pound of powder, 100 CCI Large pistol primers and 100 200gr bullets and a primer tray along with a beam scale.

Now tomorrow I need to go and find some kind of workspace to mount the press to. That way I can start reloading some .45 Colt this weekend.

But I am thinking about going back to my local reloading shop and purchase a second SDB to keep setup for small pistol primers.
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Old January 25, 2013, 10:01 PM   #18
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I think I am ready to start loading this weekend. Below is a list of what I have purchased please let me know if I am missing anything that I will need to start.

Equipment I have now:
  1. 2 Dillon SDB Progressive presses
  2. Lyman Pro 500 Scale
  3. Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ Case Tumbler
  4. Walnut Media
  5. Primer-Flipper

Die Set:
  1. .45 Colt
  2. .38 Special/ .357 Magnum
  3. .44 Magnum/ .44 Special
  4. .45 ACP
  5. 9MM
  6. .40 S&W

Ammo Components:
  1. .45 Cal Lead Cast 200 Gr RNFP
  2. .38 Cal Plated 125 Gr FP
  3. 1lb. Hodgdon Clays Powder (Recommended by reloading store)
  4. 500 Small Pistol Primers
  5. 500 Large Pistol Primers
  6. Enough brass for about 2000 rounds of each caliber listed above.

Last edited by FloridaGuy; January 25, 2013 at 11:37 PM.
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Old January 26, 2013, 03:05 PM   #19
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Florida... the only thing i see missing is a COUPLE of reloading manuals When i started, i used information from the powder co. & bullet mfgr. Even they varied slightly w/ powder charges. Just be sure to measure powder a couple of times & check OAL, should be good to go. Also, any squib (oops loads), set off into its OWN area. Then get a bullet puller and do them later. KEEP all rejected loads using the same powder together!!! You DON't want any mixed with another at all... Otherwise, have fun and take it slow, it's worth keeping you around both for your tax contribution and to have another reloading junkie here Ken
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Old January 26, 2013, 06:18 PM   #20
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You didn't learn to drive in a Porshe did you ? You should know what a properly crafted handload looks like , at each stage of the process . The best way to do that , is on a single stage press . It's better to make mistakes one at a time , than a hundred !
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Old January 26, 2013, 07:06 PM   #21
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Quote:
Does this sound like a good place to start.
Not if you've never handloaded before. There's just too much going on all at once for someone who's never done it before, to be keeping track of. You need to get up to speed on the process.

Quote:
Any suggestions or comments are welcome.
Honestly, look into the Lee Classic Turret. I got one last month, and like it quite a lot.

Here's why I recommend it: you can remove the index rod, and operate it essentially as a single stage press, which is how a beginner ought to be working.

Once you've got everything adjusted, everything works, and you're familiar with the process, you can reinstall the index rod. Operating as an automatically advancing turret press, you'll be reloading faster than you might expect, but with complete control of the process.

$200 (more or less, I'll check pricing) plus a die set will get you into the basic setup. After that, buy more turrets and die sets.

---edit to add---

Lee Classic Turret Press Kit, $235.

Get that, get a manual (or two or three), get a die set, get your consumables.

Quote:
I have purchased the following books:

ABC's of Reloading
Lyman's 49th Reloading Handbook
Hornady's 8th Reloading Handbook
Reloading for Handgunners

Are there any additional book recommendation?
I like Lyman's manual. I started with Lyman's 47th. They also put out a manual specific to handgun cartridges.

Other thoughts: don't bother with a case trimmer. Handgun cases don't stretch appreciably.

You will want a caliper. You will need to be paying attention to seating depth, OAL and crimp. It doesn't need to be digital. A dial caliper is fine. Lyman's has served me well for 15 years.
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Last edited by lee n. field; January 26, 2013 at 07:18 PM.
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Old January 26, 2013, 08:05 PM   #22
BigD_in_FL
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Besides manuals, a kinetic bullet puller is a necessary item when getting started
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Old January 26, 2013, 10:13 PM   #23
FloridaGuy
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Today I picked up the following items.

1500 Large Pistol Primers
1000 Small Pistol Primers
RCBS Stainless Steel Dial Caliper
Hornady One Shot Case Lube
Hornady 45 Cal 230 Gr FMJ-RN Qty: 100
Remington 357/38 Caliber 130MC Qty: 200

I plan on adding 1000 of each of the primers each week until I get a good quantity built up.

Last edited by FloridaGuy; January 26, 2013 at 10:20 PM.
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Old January 27, 2013, 12:58 AM   #24
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good luck and take it slow . i agree start with a turret press to get the hang of it. case lube? do you have carbide dies or steel. if you have carbide you can elininate the lube . one less step
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Old January 27, 2013, 12:56 PM   #25
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Welcome to the asylum and the forum. Looks like you're off to a running start with some great equipment. The SDB came out after the very early 550 that is bolted to my bench and I've always felt they were a good machine for a good value. As has been pointed out they don't offer much flexibility but you seem to know what you want, that's a good thing. It would be nice if you had an experienced reloader looking over your shoulder but If you'll read the instructions, read the instructional sections of your manuals and proceed with caution you should be fine. Dillon has excellent customer support.
Buy or build a nice, big sturdy workbench, I have a feeling you're going to need it. Leave room for a single stage or turret press for when you decide to load rifle rounds.
Now for some bad news: "reloading to save money" is an inside joke. Yes, it's possible but few of us have actually pulled it off. I recently loaded 2K rounds of 45ACP for about $2 a box but I cast my own bullets and I've been chasing the same brass and using the same 550 for many years. My 550 paid for itself when I was shooting 15-20K rounds a year shooting competitions so I may actually be saving a little these days but I spend it on more reloading and casting equipment.
The good news is you'll be able to load ammo better than you can buy to suit your needs. You'll also get to shoot more and you'll never again have to buy ammo on the way to the range. You'll also have a hobby many of us enjoy and you'll have the satisfaction of firing ammo you made. I still get a kick out of that.
If you haven't already spend some time reading the stickies and threads that interest you. Unlike the guy @ the gun shop we don't have anything to sell.
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