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Old August 14, 2014, 02:54 AM   #1
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Not a clue where to start

I want a lot of handguns in all different calibers. I will have to start reloading at some point to keep from eating cat food. I will have many questions, no doubt, when I do get going, but just a couple questions to get me started.

First, I'll probably start with .32 acp and 9mm, as those are what I shoot the most volume of. I like hotter loads of each. What are the best books and manuals I can get?

Doe anyone buy brass or does it make more sense in every case to just reload what you buy as factory ammo?

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Old August 14, 2014, 03:50 AM   #2
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For a quality load manual, the Lyman 49th is nice and the current Hornady is decent also. (I think it's the 6th Edition?) I have heard other says good things about "The ABC's of Reloading" and Modern Reloading by Richard Lee, but I haven't worked with those.

I would say that it wouldn't be "optimum" to spend the dough on any of the manuals from very rifle-centric bullet makers, such as the Berger, Nosler or Sierra manuals. While these are great reference books, they offer far less for the average handgun guy.

For brass, almost any option that sees you getting a hold of fired, used brass is going to much more cost effective than deciding to buy & shoot factory ammo specifically to gather brass. Obviously, if you have already been collecting all of your factory brass, that's the best way... but running out and buying ammo to build your reloading brass supply is a very expensive method of doing it.

I would also say that in most (not all) cases, especially where handgun calibers are concerned, it's not of (much) advantage to order up factory *NEW* shiny, "never been loaded by anyone before" brass, either. Certainly, it's great stuff, but it's extremely expensive compared to used brass and it simply doesn't offer a lot for that much extra cost.

9mm is quite simply the most plentiful brass on the planet. Find someone selling used brass and buy like a thousand pieces of it and depending on where you shoot, you'll see your supply multiply simply from all the brass left scattered on ranges.

.32 Auto on the other hand, you won't see much of this scattered about, but your best bet is still going to be to find someone selling used brass and buy a small pile of it.
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Old August 14, 2014, 04:42 AM   #3
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I recommend going to the classifieds here or cast bullets and find some 9mm for 50$ per thousand. Buy a couple k and you will be good for a very very long time if your somewhat diligent about picking it up. I have a couple 5 gallon buckets full that I paid less than 100$ for and I don't think ill ever use it all. Your biggest problem will be powders, so start looking now, rather than waiting til you ready to reload and using powders that aren't opttimum for your application. Bullets are cheap and plentiful, I recommend extreme bullets for quality and cost, they make em for the .32 as well
Good luck on powder hunting, and other than supply, 9mm has to be the easiest round to reload second to .38spl
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Old August 14, 2014, 08:16 AM   #4
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Old August 14, 2014, 08:45 AM   #5
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I do have the Lyman reloading book and use it. In the event you choose Lee reloading tools, you will want "Modern Reloading" by Richard Lee. I find more reloading recipes in this book for most of my reloading needs.

I would recommend steering away from the .32 ACP as an initial reloading round. The 9mm is a good first round to start reloading with along with the .45 ACP. I have been reloading for years and still have difficulty with the .32 ACP. I do reload it but it is a small round and the brass thin and easy to rip or bend. If you do not get the bullet head just right when pressing it into the brass, it is easy to rip the brass. It can cause a lot of frustration. This is not to say it is not doable, but just not a good round to learn on.

Good luck, you will enjoy learning and reloading. Read a lot and ask a lot of questions. After reading and listening then decide on your equipment. I would recommend a turret press over a single stage to start learning on. Don't let someone tell you the single stage is the only way. The turret operates the same way but gives you more capability in the long term.
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Old August 14, 2014, 12:15 PM   #6
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Yeah, the 9mm is definitely going to come first. Hopefully the savings on 9mm will keep me shooting .32 until I'm up to speed enough to load the .32s.

I did watch Hickok45's reloading videos and decided I would probably start with a less expensive turret type. Don't need anything that pumps out hundreds of rounds an hour, as I have lots of time, but the piecemeal single stage might drive me a little nuts after a short time.

A post above suggested looking for powders first an foremost. Any particular type that would be kind of universal for full size 9mm?
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Old August 14, 2014, 12:23 PM   #7
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Get the Lyman book ...its good general info ...

Look at the variety of recipes in there for 9mm / you first need to pick your bullet weight ...and you'll find lots of powders...( depends on what you can get locally )- my personal favorite is Hodgdon TiteGroup - but it requires precision ( with the min and max only 0.4 grain apart ) you'll find some others with more variation.
single stage presses or turrets are fine...but they are slow / and for high volume handgun ammo it gets frustrating quickly...

I'd suggest you look at the Dillon SDB press as one does use a proprietary die...but its a very simple progressive press with auto indexing...and its limited to handgun calibers only / but its a solid option. There are also some of them around used - if you get lucky, consider one of those. The bigger Dillon presses like the 550 or 650 are very good machines as well.../ Hornaday has some good options as well ( Hornaday LNL and Dillon 650 are roughly equivalent in terms of quality and how they operate).
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Old August 14, 2014, 08:14 PM   #8
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A previous post recommended to steer away from 32 ACP as a starting cartridge. I agree. I'm not crazy about 9mm for beginners either, but it's the better choice of the two. They are both small; and being small, they lend themselves to error. Whatever you choose to do, take your time and be meticulous.

When you're just getting started, focus on your technique, with mild rounds. Loading "hotter" will come with time and experience - take the time to enjoy the ride that is handloading.

My first load manual reference book is - and always has been - Speer. The current issue is #14. When I go to start a load work-up, Speer #14 is the first place I look. I have lots of other reference books (including ones others have stated) and I think they're all good. Can't have too many. There is reliable info on line as well - and sometimes I refer there too.

Always keep your factory ammo brass for reloading. I also buy in some circumstances. These days, there isn't a lot of range brass, so I don't count on it. If I pick some up on happenstance, fine; but I don't count on it. (Back in the old days, if one needed brass, one would just go to the range and scoop up piles of it to take home.)
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Old August 14, 2014, 09:52 PM   #9
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Thank you all! this gives me a nice bit to mull over before actually starting up. Appreciate it!
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Old August 14, 2014, 11:38 PM   #10
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Nice to start with a straight wall 38 or up to 44 spcl.

9mm is a bit trickier and not a lot of latitude.

With a bit of patience I see a lot of 9mm left. Far most likely to be left at the range (40 seems to be the next and then not often 45acp or the straight walls.

You loose some 9mm, so if you have a starter set (factory or bought packages) and then pick up as time goes by you can wind up with way too much.

Gunbroker search may get you some once fired.
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Old August 15, 2014, 03:19 AM   #11
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I consider the Lyman manual a must own. After that? I'd get whatever manual you plan to reload with(if you plan to use hornady or a sierra manual, pick up theirs, ect). Honestly, all the major names make a decent manual and it's good to have several, so you can cross check information.

Also, pick up the ABCs of Reloading. Read that thing 5 or 6 times. It's worth it.
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Old August 16, 2014, 12:21 AM   #12
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I think the 9mm is a fine round to start with, it was my first round and I never had an issue with, even with learning on the fly without a manual. if you start simple with a single stage press, I wouldn't be intimidated by any of the rounds, but I still fell 9mm is the second easiest to 38spl and is a great beginner round. I don't have a 32, so revert to the previous advice because maybe it is a terrible PITA, but I doubt its that bad.

btw...not trying to be argumentative, I just remember my first times with the 9mm were way easier than I expected them to be.
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Old August 17, 2014, 02:57 AM   #13
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Thanks for asking our advice. Here are my 10 Advices for the Novice Loader.

10 Advices for the novice loader

I have thought of a few things I think are useful for handloaders to know or to consider which seem to be almost universally mentioned, so I put together this list of 10 advices.

Much is a matter of personal taste and circumstance, though. So, all advice carries this caveat, "your mileage may vary".

So you can better evaluate my words, here is the focus of my experience. I load for handguns (44 Mag, 45 ACP, 45 Colt, 454 Casull, 9mm, 357 Mag, 480 Ruger) a couple hundred per sitting and go through 100 to 500 centerfire rounds per month. I don't cast....yet.

When I bought my first gun (.357 Magnum Dan Wesson revolver), I bought, at the same time, a reloading setup because I knew I could not afford to shoot if I did not reload my own ammo. My setup was simple. A set of dies, a press, a 2" x 6" plank, some carriage bolts and wing nuts, a scale, two loading blocks. I just mounted the press on the plank wedged into the drawer of an end table. I did not use a loading bench at all.

It cost me about 1/4 of factory ammo per round and paid for itself pretty quickly.

I still believe in a minimalist approach and and try to keep my inventory of tools low. I do not keep my loading gear set up when not in use, either, but pack them away in small toolboxes until the next loading session.

Now, here are my Ten Advices.

Advice #1 Use Reliable Reference Sources Wisely - Books, Videos, Web Sites, etc.

Study up in loading manuals until you understand the process well, before spending a lot of (or any) money on equipment.

Read as many manuals as you can, for the discussion of the how-to steps found in their early chapters. The reason you want more than one or two manuals is that you want to read differing authors/editors writing styles and find ones that "speak" to you. What one manual covers thinly, another will cover well so give better coverage of the subject; one author or editor may cover parts of the subject more thoroughly than the others. The public library should have manuals you can read, then decide which ones you want to buy. Dated, perhaps but the basics are pretty unchanging.

I found "The ABC's of Reloading" to be a very good reference. Containing no loading data but full of knowledge and understanding of the process. I am told the older editions are better than the newer ones, so the library is looking even better.

There are instructional videos now that did not exist in the '70s when I started, but some are better than others. Filter all casual information through a "B.S." filter.

Only after you know the processing steps of loading can you look at the contents of of a dealer's shelves, a mail-order catalog or a reloading kit and know what equipment you want to buy. If you are considering a loading kit, you will be in a better position to know what parts you don't need and what parts the kits lack. If building your own kit from scratch, you will be better able to find the parts that will serve your into the future without having to do trade-ins.

Advice #2 All equipment is good. But is it good FOR YOU?

Almost every manufacturer of loading equipment makes good stuff; if they didn't, they would lose reputation fast and disappear from the marketplace. Generally you get what you pay for and better equipment costs more. Cast aluminum is lighter and less expensive but not so abrasion resistant as cast iron. Cast iron lasts practically forever. Aluminum generally takes more cleaning and lubrication to last forever. Just think about what you buy. Ask around. Testimonials are nice. But if you think Ford/Chevy owners have brand loyalty, you have not met handloaders. Testimonials with reasoning behind them are better. RCBS equipment is almost all green, Dillon-blue, Lee-red. Almost no manufacturers cross color lines and many handloaders simply identify themselves as "Blue" or whatever. Make your own choices.

About brand loyalties, an example: Lee Precision makes good equipment, but is generally considered the "economy" equipment maker (though some of their stuff is considered preferable to more expensive makes, as Lee has been an innovator both in price leadership which has introduced many to loading who might not otherwise have been able to start the hobby and in introduction of innovative features like their auto-advancing turret presses). But there are detractors who focus on Lee's cheapest offerings to paint even their extremely strong gear as inferior. My advice: Ignore the snobs.

On Kits: Almost every manufacturer makes a kit that contains everything you need to do reloading (except dies and the consumables). A kit is decent way to get started. Eventually most people wind up replacing most of the components of the kit as their personal taste develops (negating the savings you thought the kit gave you), but you will have gotten started, at least.

On building your own kit: The thought processes you give to assembling your own kit increases your knowledge about reloading. You may get started a couple weeks later than if you started with a kit, but you will be far ahead in knowledge.

Advice #3 While Learning, don't get fancy. Progressive, turret or Single Stage? Experimental loads? Pushing performance envelopes? Don't get fancy.

While you are learning, load mid-range at first so overpressures are not concerns. Just concentrate on getting the mechanical steps of loading right and being VERY VERY consistent (charge weight, crimp strength, bullet seating depth, primer seating force, all that). Use a voluminous, "fluffy", powder that is, one that is easy to see that you have charged the case and which will overflow your cartridge case if you mistakenly put two powder charges in it.

While learning, only perform one operation at a time. Whether you do the one operation 50 (or 20) times on a batch of cases before moving on to the next operation - "Batch Processing" or take one case through all the sequence of operations between empty case to finished cartridge - "Continuous Processing", sometimes known as "Sequential Processing", learn by performing only one operation at a time and concentrating on THAT OPERATION. On a single stage press or a turret press, this is the native way of operation. On a progressive press, the native operation is to perform multiple operations simultaneously. Don't do it. While you can learn on a progressive press, in my opinion too many things happen at the same time, thus are hard to keep track of (unless you load singly at first). Mistakes DO happen and you want to watch for them ONE AT A TIME. Until handloading becomes second nature to you.

Note: A turret press is essentially a single stage press with a moveable head which can mount several dies at the same time. What makes it like a single stage rather than a progressive is that you are still using only one die at a time, not three or four dies simultaneously at each stroke.

On the Turret vs Single stage the decision is simpler. You can do everything on a Turret EXACTLY the same way as you do on a single stage (just leave the turret stationary). That is, a Turret IS a single stage if you don't rotate the head.

Learning on a progressive can be done successfully, but it is easier to learn to walk in shoes than on roller skates.

Also, a good, strong, single stage press is in the stable of almost every reloader I know, no matter how many progressives they have. They always keep at least one.

Advice #4 Find a mentor.

There is no substitute for someone watching you load a few cartridges and critiquing your technique BEFORE you develop bad habits or make a dangerous mistake. (A mistake that might not have consequences right away, but maybe only after you have escaped trouble a hundred times until one day you get bit, for instance having case lube on your fingers when you handle primers; 99 times, no problem because primers are coated with a sealant, but the hundredth primer may not be perfectly sealed and now winds up "dead")

I started loading with the guy who sold me my press watching over my shoulder as I loaded my first 6 rounds to make sure I did not blow myself up, load a powderless cartridge or set off a primer in the press. I could have learned more, faster with a longer mentoring period, but I learned a lot in those first 6 rounds, as he explained each step. I educated myself after that. But now, on the internet, I have learned a WHOLE LOT MORE. But in-person is still the best.

After you have been mentored, mentor someone else. Not necessarily in loading or the shooting sports, but in SOMETHING in which you are enthusiastic and qualified. Just give back to the community.

Advice #5 Design your loading space for safety, efficiency, cleanliness

Your loading bench/room is tantamount to a factory floor. There is a whole profession devoted to industrial engineering, the art and science of production design. Your loading system (layout, process steps, quality control, safety measures, etc) deserves no less attention than that.

Place your scale where it is protected from drafts and vibration and is easy to read and operate. Place you components' supplies convenient to the hand that will place them into the operation and the receptacle(s) for interim or finished products, too. You can make a significant increase in safety and in speed, too, with well thought out design of your production layout, "A" to "Z", from the lighting to the dropcloth to the fire suppression scheme.

Advice #6 Keep Current on loading technology

Always use a CURRENT loading manual. Ballistic testing has produced some new knowledge over the years and powder chemistry has changed over the years, too. They make some powders differently than they used to and even some powder names may have changed. However, if you are using 10 year old powder, you may want to check a 10 year old manual for the recipe. Then double check with a modern manual and then triple check with the powder maker.

Read previous threads on reloading and watch videos available on the web. But be cautious. There is both good information and bad information found in casual sources, so see my advice #10.

Advice #7 You never regret buying the best (but once)

When you buy the very best, it hurts only once, in the wallet. When you buy too cheaply it hurts every time you use the gear. The trick is to buy good enough (on the scale between high quality and low price) to keep you happy without overpaying for features you don't need. "The delicious flavor of low price fades fast. The wretched aftertaste of poor quality lingers long."

Advice #8 Tungsten Carbide dies (or Titanium Nitride) rather than tool steel.

T-C dies instead of regular tool steel (which require lubrication for sizing your brass) for your straight-walled cartridge cases. T-C dies do not require lubrication, which will save you time. Carbide expander button for your bottlenecked cases. Keeps lube out of the inside of the cases.

Advice #9 Safety Always Safety All Ways.

Wear eye protection, especially when seating primers. Gloves are good, too, especially if using the Lee "Hammer" Tools. Children (unless they are good helpers, not just playing around) are at risk and are a risk. Pets, too unless they have been vetted (no, not that kind of vetting). Any distractions that might induce you to forget charging a case (no charge or a double charge, equally disturbing). Imagine everything that CAN go wrong. Then imagine everything that you CAN'T imagine. I could go on, but it's your eyes, your fingers, your house, your children (present of future - lead is a hazard, too. Wash after loading and don't eat at your bench). Enough said?

Advice #10 Take all with a grain of salt.

Verify for yourself everything you learn. Believe only half of what you see and one quarter of what you hear. That goes double for everything you find on the internet (with the possible exception of the actual web sites of the bullet and powder manufacturers). This advice applies to my message as much as anything else and especially to personal load recipes. Hare-brained reloaders might have dangerous habits and even an honest typographical error could be deadly. I heard about a powder manufacturer's web site that dropped a decimal point once. It was fixed REAL FAST, but mistakes happen. I work in accounting and can easily hit "7" instead of "4" because they are next to each other on the keypad.

Good luck.

Lost Sheep
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Old August 17, 2014, 08:29 AM   #14
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Lost sheep and brother badger have just about said it all. I would advise a pistol shooter to go with the Lee classic cast turret press from the start, if within budget, as you can disable auto indexing and turn it into a single stage but will want the convenience of not having to change dies in + out, and when you gain confidence you can use its full capabilities. Get it in a kit with primer arm and pro auto disk if you can.
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Old August 17, 2014, 09:21 AM   #15
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Simple question: how much 9mm/32 do you want to load?

100 per sitting vs 1000 per sitting?
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Old August 18, 2014, 10:15 PM   #16
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when I started reloading my brass I tried saving up my factory brass and it was taking for ever so I went online and bought 1000 9mm brass cases. I had a pretty good flow of brass for a good year before I had to get more brass.i just bought some 223 brass and some 9mm brass at and got it in two days with free shipping the brass cases where in great shape give it try. hope this helps and have a great day
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