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Old May 6, 2006, 01:38 PM   #1
Join Date: April 28, 2006
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Reloading equipment

I plan to begin hand reloading for .45 Colt. I have never reloaded before and have ZERO experience. I need recommendations for good, precise equipment I will need to do this. I don't need bells, whistles, digital googaws, or automatic anythings unless it really does increase precision and durability. Heck I still buy cars with roll up windows and wing glasses. I do buy low tech, high quality things and keep them forever.

I could pour through a lot of information but I know that there are many expericnced and successful reloaders here who can provide good, solid, practical advice from that experience. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

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Old May 6, 2006, 02:21 PM   #2
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here is a list

as with anything sometimes price dictates choices.
i haven't been reloading for pistol (45 acp) very long but i am satisfied with my coices so far. heres is a list for you:

first lee and i believe dillon both offer kits, i bought the lee anniverary kit which has a basic single stage press,powder measure,scales,case trimmer,case chamfer tool,primer pocket cleaner, primer loader tool,shell holders. some say that some of these items are not required, but i would rather have them and not need them than the other way around.
additionally you will need a set of calipers or a micrometer...they are around $20.00. you should make sure that you get a reloading manual...its a must.
also you will need a die set...i got the lee 4 die set which is carbide and it has a nice crimping die with it also get a powder trickler (a heavy one that wont tip..a redding is a good one...they are cheap and a nice time and effort saver. this is it as far as equipment i think. i am sure that i have forgotten something ....and i am sure that others will follow to fill in what i have missed.

next this equipment would be for casting bullets if you are so inclined:
bullet mold....i have 2 ...a 230fr round nose and a 160gr round nose.

melting furnace...get one that has a bottom spout.

if you are going to reuse your brass ( i believe this is a great savings) get a tumbler.

comsumables include powder, primers, bullet lube, lead, flux, if you cast, bullets if you dont.

brass if you are not re-using yours.

brass cleaning media...some buy it from reloading houses...i get mine at the pet store....lizard bedding and corn cob both are a good deal at the pet stores.

here are a couple of nice to have but not absolutely neccessary;
a media seperator for getting your cleaned brass seperated from the media.
lead hardness tester......shoulnt need it if you dont cast your own.

i have tried to break this down so you could make some clear choices, i hope this helps and try as i may i am sure i have left something out.

if you decide not to cast your own.....the list gets shorter...but i believe that casting your own is what provides the greatest savings.

lastly, as i said i have a humble single stage press. the wife and i shoot a couple or three hundred rounds almost every weekend and it works fine for me. when i reload i get enough brass ready to hold me for four or five hundred rounds cleaned resized and decapped(removing the spent primer).
if something comes up i stop and pick up later.
lee and i am sure others offer kits like mine and ones with turret presses.
people who use different brand names are generally very passionate about their views on quality, my stuff is considered by many to be low end.....but like i say it works well for me. go to the manufacturers' wbsites abd see what they have to offer....make some coices and then shop around at places like midway graph and sons, and boses' guns and compare
if you have any questions feel free to contact me......information from me is free.....because its mostly subjective.
good luck and stay safe
I'ld rather die standing than live kneeling
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Old May 6, 2006, 10:33 PM   #3
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RCBS master reloading kit. Everything you need is included except dies, calipers and tumbler. Very strong and precise and will last several lifetimes. Customer service is top-notch.
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Old May 7, 2006, 12:13 AM   #4
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+1 for money and get a very easy way to load good ammo..The most important thing with reloading is read,read,read,,,the reloading manuals..stay safe and follow directions to a T.always use starting loads and work up..Lee has a simple and easy way to get into loading and that makes it less work and more can spend alot of $$$ or spend a little.It makes no differance in the quality of ammo.You are the most important tool in reloading..good luck
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Old May 7, 2006, 01:01 AM   #5
Smokey Joe
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Do Your Homework!!

Growl Tiger--
I could pour through a lot of information but I know that there are many expericnced and successful reloaders here who can provide good, solid, practical advice from that experience.
I hate to sound negative, but maybe you are not the kind of person to be doing cartridge reloading. We are, after all, dealing with fiendishly hot gasses, here, and deadly high pressures. Do you really want to trust your own personal firearms, not to mention your face and fingers, to strangers on the Internet?? For example, there are a few posters on these fora who routinely post overpressure loads. If you won't refer to a load manual yourself, how would you know the difference?

Having your precious Old Betsy go "Ka-Boom" really ruins your day.

Also, to the question you posed, you will get a number of conflicting answers, mostly from knowledegeable reloaders. You need to have some way of sorting out what these people tell you.

Sorry to come across so negatively, but you really ought to read up for yourself before starting this kind of an activity. And yes, that means "poring through a lot of information." There's no other way to do it safely.

There is an excellent introduction to the whole subject titled The ABC's of Reloading which is a how-to and why-and-why-not-to kind of book. It discusses the different pieces of equipment and their uses in depth. It is put out by Krause Publishing or get it locally. You will also need a loading manual--more than one is better--Lyman's 48th edition is very good.

As a published book, you have assurance that you're not being misdirected. But, you do have to read the darn things. There is this benefit: You get your questions answered in bunches, instead of having to post them on the I'net one at a time and hope for answers, so it's not completely inefficient.

Or, you could just buy your .45Colt ammo factory-made. That's safe, and takes no study time at all. Borrowing from Archimedes, "There is no royal road to reloading."
God Bless America

--Smokey Joe
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Old May 7, 2006, 01:43 AM   #6
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Buy a book. Buy another book. And another. Read them all.

ABCs of reloading is a great start. Also get two or three loading manuals. You will see the differences in loads from different manuals. These guys do a lot of testing, and their loads are safe, IN THE GUNS TESTED. They all say that, because it is true. Every gun is an individual. there are so many variables involved in ammo you load, that some "published" loads may be too hot for YOUR gun. The books will all tell you to start low and work up CAREFULLY.

Don't blindly accept loads you get from someone on the internet. Don't assume loads in manuals from 30 years ago will be safe. Learn about pressure signs. The reloading manuals will give you a fair background to begin with. The actual reloading is not difficult. The devil is in the details.

Basic equipment Press, dies, shellholder, scale, manual(s). You can load ammo with just these items, but it becomes pretty tedious in short order.

All the major reloading manufacturers offer "kits" (beginner, and advanced) that contain all the basics, and the nice to haves. And each company has its own colors! Red, Blue, Green, Orange, and maybe some others.

I personally favor RCBS and LYMAN equipment. This is not the absolute cheapest, it is what I like.

Best advice I can give you is read some, and then ask some more questions. I started reloading about 35 years ago, and boy did I make some mistakes! I was also lucky. I have learned quite a bit, and I still find things to learn. It is part science, part art, and (for me) all fun. If I can help you avoid some of the mistakes I made, so much the better. You can make your own mistakes, and with luck, they will all be little ones. It is not something to be scared of, but it is something to be treated with respect.
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Old May 7, 2006, 06:22 AM   #7
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Broken record

I hate to sound like a broken record but since you were looking for advice from more experienced guys, here it is.
Buy a book and then buy another book and study the info in both of them. If you really want to be get good at reloading that is how you do it. All the fancy bells and whistles really aren't necessary, but the knowledge in those books is absolutely critical.
And by the way, after you do read the books, you'll pretty well know what equipment to buy and it is likely you can buy it used for a much better price.
And never takes loads off the web that you cannot verify in one loading manual or another. 99.999999% of us are not going to ever give you a dangerous load, but who says we are the greatest typists in the world. They proof read loading manuals, but no one is proofing my writings.
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Old May 7, 2006, 11:07 AM   #8
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Here is the reloading community at its finest.SAFETY 1ST
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Old May 7, 2006, 11:28 AM   #9
Art Eatman
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After doing some reading...

I like the RCBS Rockchucker press. Try your luck on EBay.

Lots of my stuff came good-used from guys at gunshows who were upgrading their stuff and selling off the excess or the inherited stuff. If the sizing die isn't scratched inside, it's fine. I've had no trouble from scales, presses, dies, etc., from that source.

For a straight-walled pistol cartridge case, there's a lot of stuff that's either for later on or not needed.

A silicone lube pad or a spray-on silicone makes sizing easier.

But keep reading.

Oh: Get a small spiral notebook and keep records. Load data and so on. And label your cartridge boxes so you know what you did...

You're from BATFE? Come right in! I use all your fine products!
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Old May 7, 2006, 01:34 PM   #10
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I'll tell you what I like, but like the others said, read a lot on your own before going on.

I use a hand press for reloading. It is simple, portable, and reliable. I do most of my reloading from my easy chair, and the rest on the kitchen table. It all packs away in one of those big rubbermaid totes when I'm done.

That said, I'm not easily distracted, so reloading in the family room or at the kitchen table is not a problem for me. If you are easily distracted, I would suggest you set up an area in a quiet corner of the house where you will not be disturbed. Losing track of what you're doing is dangerous when reloading. Double or missed powder charges can KILL you.

I started out with the Lee hand press, and it serves me well, making 45 colt ammo to feed my CAS habit. I still use it for depriming (it has a hollow ram that captures all the spent primers/debris) before I tumble clean the brass. I evenutally purchased a Huntington Compac Hand press, which is just as portable (moreso actually), but better built. It runs about $90 IIRC though, so it is more $$ than the Lee hand press.

If I needed/wanted a bench mounted, single stage press, there are three that I think of as being best in class: Lee classic cast press, Forster CoAx, and Redding Ultramag. The Lee classic cast is probably the best heavy duty O-frame press for the money anywhere, with a combination of featurs not found on any other single press. The CoAx is an incredibly strong, very easy to use press with a unique design to conteract most causes of inaccuracy in reloading presses. But if you like to dump powder from a measure while expanding on the press, or use most collet-style bullet pullers, it does not work for that. Also, the over-the top handle does not clear some of the longer micrometer seating dies (some Hornady w/microjust stems). The Redding ultramag is, IMHO, the best compromize between the two designs. It is a C-style frame press, but the linkage attachment avoids stress and flexure common in other C style presses. It can do anything an O-frame press can do.

I have used Lee, RCBS, and Hornady dies. Of those, I generally like the Hornady dies best, especially the seat/crimp dies. They have sliding alignment sleeves to guide the bullet straight into the case, and they all accept the optional microjust micrometer adjustment screw. And when you load a lot of lead bullets, your seater die gets dirty from the bullet lube. The Hornady seater disassembles while still on the press for cleaning without affecting the crimp or seating adjustment. Lee Factory crimp dies with collets are great for bottleneck pistol and rifle rounds, but I don't find them necessary at all for straight wall pistol rounds, unless you reload on a progressive press and/or don't trim your brass to uniform length. I seat and crimp 45 colt in one operation, and the hornady seater/crimper works great for me.

I like the Lee case trimmer/gauges. Inexpensive but very effective. Foolproof and simple to use.

I use the Lee autoprime hand-held priming tool. It works really well, but I'm going to try the new RCBS hand priming tool for a couple of reasons. It has a universal shell holder that works with virtually any cartridge, and does not need special purpose shellholders like the Lee. It also has a square primer tray that makes it easy to feed primers, right side up, into the tray from standard primer packaging (square trays).

I like digital calipers (vs analog dial) for a couple of reasons. One is that they convert between mm and inch with a push of a button, which comes in handy when some cartridges are metric based, and others are inch based. They also re-zero anywhere along their length at the push of a button. That comes in handy for comparing lots of lengths + or - relative to a benchmark. I've used a digital Frankford Arsenal one from Midway for years and it has been flawless. Just keep a spare battery around... (they last a LONG time, but they never go out at a convenient time!)

When you make a mistake, and you will, you'll need to disassemble cartridge(s). I like the Hornady Cam Lock collet style puller. It is quicker to use than other, screw-type collet pullers, and leaves the powder in the case when your done, where you can easily dump it on the scale to check it if needed. Some folks say it does not work for lead bullets for them, but it works great on 200 gr LRNFP 45 caliber bullets for me.

These are just my opinions, so don't give them any more weight than those of anyone else...

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Old May 7, 2006, 01:53 PM   #11
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the best way to learn to reload is as i did it... i have a very patient best friend who had been reloading for years he taught me hands on how to reload.... i never would have caught on to all the small things that most experienced reloaders do automaticly (sp) for presses i have two on my bench an i use them both for reloading as i reload .38 -.357 magnums.. i got a lee speed die with two die bodies... this makes it possible to do two steps at a time.... and don't be fooled by the cheap price of the lee stuff.. it makes just as good of ammo as any of em............. one of the most useful tools i have is the lee autoprime..... it's lot easier and faster than press mounted primeing tools..........
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Old May 12, 2006, 02:39 PM   #12
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+1 on reading all you can on the subject. When I started reloading, I was told to buy the most current version of lyman's reloading book and start there. Also, the folks at Dillon are always there to help you with your questions on the reloader itself.
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Old May 12, 2006, 03:02 PM   #13
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After reading whatever you can get your hands on about reloading, develop a system. There's a million stories out there about a double charged case, bullet loaded was heavier than thought, wrong powder used, etc. If you do these things and live, think yourself damn lucky.

Start out in small batches, maybe 20-50 rounds at a time. I personally like to physicaly move the cases from my left (block with empty cases), to my right after charging. I even labeled my blocks "N/C" (not charged) and "CHARGED!" A third of the fun for me is thinking up and implememting QC procedures (I know, I'm weird).

Also, DO NOT GET DISTRACTED WHILE LOADING. My wife and daughter know when I'm de-priming, chamfering, polishing, sizing, and priming, it's cool to ask me questions about stuff. When I'm charging and seating I want a "sterile-cockpit", if it doesn't pertain to what I'm doing right at that second, it can wait till I'm done.

If you stick to published load data, and use some common sense it can become a very zen-like expierience ("be the bullet").
Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. - Isaiah 1:17
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Old May 12, 2006, 03:30 PM   #14
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+1 to donaldo about distractions except my version is a little different. when I reload Im the most nervous when prepping and sizing cases because that is what will bite you.A case to long or not sized and also not trimmed properly is very dangerous.I usually always use powders that fill the case safely with the right recommended charge or worked up charge so my double chrages are practically eliminated.BE AWARE your experience is nothing when it comes to reloading compared to your respect for the potential shraptnel grenade you just created..Its so easy to get comfortable once you feel you know what your doing and that is when you could make a big mistake that could cost you your life..Im not trying to scare you into not reloading ,Im just saying being humble is very smart+safe with reloading..question every decision you make and STUDY THE BOOKS!(heard that a million times havnt you
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Old May 12, 2006, 03:43 PM   #15
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Read books, read books and read more books. Do some research on the internet, but never use a load without verifying it with a manual. Most reloaders wouldn't intentionaly steer you wrong, but typos do happen and I myself in my own logs have inverted number like loading 7.8 grains and then logging 8.7 grains. The next time I loaded I put 8.7 which was within specs but it could have been ugly had I intended 3.8 and wrote 8.3. Lesson learned always check and recheck and take your time. It's supposed to be enjoyable.

Like you I tend to buy quality and keep it for years. I've been using the same equpment for twenty plus years and just bought a new tumbler this week.

Here is my setup:
RCBS Rockchucker press
RCBS Uni-flow powder measure
RCBS 5-0-5 scale
RCBS and Lee carbide dies (various calibers)
RCBS Hand priming tool
Franklin Arsonal Tumbler
Franklin Arsonal media separator
Franklin Arsonal kinetic bullet puller
analog dial caliper

It's a basic setup but has served me well.
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Old May 12, 2006, 03:44 PM   #16
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That's all good advice so far.

To clarify about getting reloading data from the errornet...

Don't take the loads quoted by people as any sort of an absolute, and by all means, double check the data with a manual and reduce and work it up and all that, that goes without saying.

But you dang sure can get good info from the internet. The thing to look for is consensus across the board about the issue. Even if the posts are not proof read par se, My experiance has been that if someone posts something dangerous or stupid, they get called on it. You really have to have your ducks in a row when posting something or (usually many) people will jump right on you and set it straight. If its good info, people will agree or at least not dis agree.

There's a heck of a lot of good experiance on the internet that should not be discounted. Just use your head though. When a guy says 'I've had good luck with XXXX powder at XX.X grains', don't go load that weight, just take the powder recommendation and work it up yourself. Like that.

Manuals have had typos too. Not often but it happens. Nothing I've said discounts in any way the fact that you should gat a load manual or three though.
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