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Old March 31, 2011, 11:37 AM   #1
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Reloading equipment and Kits

Hello Everyone,
I am new to this forum but have found it to be very helpful. I am wanting to get into reloading and trying to find out what would be the best for a new beginner. Not looking for the high price fancy machine but just a dependable kit that will last. I have looked at lee and Hornaday, as well as several others and just would like opinions. Also, if with these kits would need something special please let me know. Any advice would be greatly apreciated.

I shoot my 40xdm allot as well i love to hunt with my 700-30-06.
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Old March 31, 2011, 11:44 AM   #2
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I'm still loading on my RCBS Rockchucker after 20 years. I'll be looking to get a Dillon 650 in the near future but mainly for pistol loading. I just prefer loading rifle on the single stage press because I like a specific consistancy.
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Old March 31, 2011, 12:05 PM   #3
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I began with a Lee 50th Anniversay Breech Lock Challenger kit.

It was a good starting point, and that press is still on my bench, but right now I use exactly ONE item that came in that kit- the funnel. I've just outgrown the rest of it; the single stage press has given way to a Lee Classic Turret, the Perfect Powder Measure immediately gave way to an Auto Disk, and recently to a Lyman 1200DPS3 electronic measure and scale, and the balance beam scale has been replaced by an RCBS 1010 for ease of use and accuracy.

If I get into loading for rifle, I expect that single stage press will be put back to use, but not at the moment (I load pistol on that bench... shotshell is another game entirely).
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Old March 31, 2011, 12:47 PM   #4
George H
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I'm still loading on my RCBS Rockchucker after 20 years. I'll be looking to get a Dillon 650 in the near future but mainly for pistol loading. I just prefer loading rifle on the single stage press because I like a specific consistancy.
Me too, only I have only been loading about 15 years.
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Old March 31, 2011, 01:04 PM   #5
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Starter Kit

Lee Anniversary will do the job, not cost prohibitive. Learn what youre doing first and later on upgrade while keeping the single stage for whatever else.
I also have Fire Extinguishers, hope I never need those either.
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Old March 31, 2011, 03:54 PM   #6
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I have the Breech Lock Challenger press kit, I love it.
I have only been loading for a short while but find the powder measure throws power pistol powder verry accuratly and the scale that everyone hates proves out VERY accurate. I am use to verniers anyways so reading it is no problem for me. I am still weighing each load but I find it relaxing so I do not mind. I find the kit to be quite complete for my use. .40 S&W. I will load some 30-06 as well but have not done any as of yet.
Good luck and welcome, the guys here are always eager to share their welth of knowledge.

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Old March 31, 2011, 04:21 PM   #7
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30 years on RCBS; 20 years on MEC (shotshells); have had Dillon and Lee - both gone

As to what you NEED - press, MANUALS, dies, SCALE, powder measure, components.

Also somewhat essential - tumbler, inertia bullet puller, calipers, go-no go gauge

Then there is all the other "stuff".....if you have hobby like woodworking or cars, you know what I mean
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Old March 31, 2011, 04:35 PM   #8
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Go with a RCBS Rock Chucker, one of the best presses around.
Had mine for over 40 years no problems, I have a A2 press chances are I'm the second owner, gotta be at least 55 years old strong as ever.
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Old March 31, 2011, 04:42 PM   #9
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If you have not already done so, you will find it usefull to read this "Sticky" at to of the reloading page.

Sticky: For the New Reloader: Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST

I started loading in 1960 on a single stage Pacific press (Pacific is the forerunner of Hornady) and still occasionally use it. In the early 90's I got a progressive and in the mid 90;s added another progressive.

Of you decide on RCBS, you can often find good presses at Gun Shows. They don't wear out to easily, but examine the press carefully before buying.

If I were to start new today, it would be with the Lee Classic Turret and I would get it in the kit. Visit this site fore info, good deals and reputable people:

Good Shooting!
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Old March 31, 2011, 04:44 PM   #10
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Over a year, and 25k plus rounds loaded, and fired my Lee Beach Lock Challenger kit works for me. I did upgrade the scale to a digital for speed, and ease of use. I still use the Lee scale to verify that the digital is calibrated properly. I traded a bunch of brass for my kit.

I keep thinking about upgrading to a turret, though that usualy last till it is time to buy more supplies for some strange reason.

If I were shelling out my hard earned money I would go with the Lee Turret Kit with the autodisc measure for a bit more speed when loading. Though I seem to do fine with the single stage batch loading.
No matter how many times you do it and nothing happens it only takes something going wrong one time to kill you.
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Old March 31, 2011, 05:27 PM   #11
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Like others advised - read the sticky at the top of this forum section'll help a lot...

Most every mfg out there these days is making good equipment ...most of us have evolved our systems / setups over the years there isn't a right or wrong answer to your question. When you're looking at equipment / make sure it'll handle the calibers you want to reload ...and look at the time that it takes, with that press, to get a box of 50 rds. Evaluate the press options based on cost and time ...and decide what suits your needs today.

I used an RCBS rockchucker for many years ...but it always sucked the life out of me because it took so long to get a box of handgun ammo .../ so I evolved into the progressive machines like the Hornady LNL or the Dillon 650 ...both very good machines / high quality ammo / and quick ( both will do 800 - 1,000 rds an hour without breaking a sweat ).

Whether you spend $100 or $ 600 on a press today ....guaranteed, it will be the least expensive part, of this side of the shooting hobby ....make the decision based on what you can afford / and how much time you have for reloading. My kids are all grown / I'm close to retirement ...but I don't want to spend 5 hours cranking out 250 rounds anymore ...
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Old March 31, 2011, 06:18 PM   #12
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Don't sweat longivity. Any press, dies, etc. will last longer than you will. You may eventually want to get other stuff for whatever reason but it won't be because you've worn anything out.

IMHO, 'kits' sorta suck. NONE of them are complete, there are always several items you would still need to buy seperately. AND, no maker has a lock on the best tools or best value across the board. SO - I strongly suggest you put your own kit together, one piece at a time.

You can't do better than the all steel Lee Classic Cast press. Ditto their Pace Setter dies, which include a shell holder and crimp die for each cartridge.

Lee's "Perfect" powder measure isn't perfect but it's quite good and will do fine until you decide what you may want to replace it with..which may be never. You can use an infant's steel spoon for a powder 'trickler.'

Lee's reloading manual is excellant, very good beginner instructions and clear illustrations plus a LOT of loading data. Lee's case trimmer tools are very good and very inexpensive too. Lee's little debur-chamfer tool is too small for much easy use but it works as well as any other for the modest numbers of cases most of us ever need it for.

Get a beam type powder scale, a Dillon D-terminator or RCBS 505 (same thing, different look/price). (NOT the Lee "Safety" scale, and not a digital either.)

Anyone's plastic loading blocks and powder funnel will do nicely.

Use a finger-tip applied soft wax case lube such as Imperial Die Wax or Hornady's "Unique" rather than a pad or spray lube.

A 6" stainless steel dial caliper is very nice for general measuing tasks. We do NOT need a professonal mechanist grade caliper, one of the 'cheep-o' Chinese types is fine. They can be bought for lowest price from Harbor Freight Tools (about $12-15 on sale, which they often are) or the same thing from MidwayUSA for just a little more.

That list will get you started very nicely and with basic but excellant tools that will make ammo as well as stuff costing several times more. And, no, unlike others, I'm not trying to get you to buy what I use, my needs are much different from yours. But, IF I were to buy what my grandson needs to get a basic kit, that's what it would all be!

Note -- No one NEEDS a tumbler to start. In fact, while tumblers are nice, they are NOT needed at all!
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Old March 31, 2011, 09:18 PM   #13
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PLZ stay away from the lee 4 hole turret. spend the extra 15 bucks and get the classic press (also 4 hole). i had the aluminum one first, nothing but problems for months. just when i was about to give up on lee i gave them one last try with the classic. couldn't be happier. the first one wouldn't line up properly front to back and after much drilling still isn't perfect although better. now it sits in storage as i crank out ammo with my classic. plus the design of the classic is just better. the only complaint is i have to remove shell holder with take in or out the primer tool with the reg 4 i didn't have to. very small complaint. as for kits...most are designed for pistol. if you want a nice easy setup they can be great. me however bought the kit and immediately put nearly everything in storage. hand select every item individually, and while it is more effort, you will be much more happy with your end result.
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Old April 1, 2011, 01:46 AM   #14
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I say get the lee kit to learn on. As others have said it will hold up a long time It's fine and will last a long time. I don't see the need to spend $300 on a single stage press when the lee will do just fine for most applications.

If you really get into it abd want more speed then go for the Lee classic turret or one of the high end progressives.

You could just start with the classic turret press with the indexing rod removed and use it as a single stage press until you have each step mastered well.
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Old April 1, 2011, 02:05 AM   #15
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Welcome to the forum and welcome to reloading. Thanks for asking our advice.



How you populate your loading bench, and with what pieces of gear is largely a matter of personal style. There are several different ways to approach your question.

1) Buy a ready-made kit

2) Assemble a kit of your own, choosing as complete a kit as you can get, of premium gear you will never outgrow

3) Assemble a kit piece-by-piece with the components you expect you will never outgrow, but only the minimum pieces absolutely necessary and expanding as you find need for each additional piece, slowly, and as money and knowledge allows

4) Assemble a kit of your own choosing as complete as you can get with affordable gear that you will use until you outgrow it and hope that, by that time, you will have figured out what you want to use and will never outgrow

5) Assemble a kit of your own choosing with the minimum usable, least expensive components and upgrade as your tastes reveal themselves and as money allows. Spend money for upgrades as your taste spurs you.

Each approach has its proponents. Each approach has its virtues and its drawbacks.

The necessary pre-requisite elements to successfully using each approach are:

Start-up Money
Money over time
Money over the time of ownership (or at least 10 years)
and then
What level of convenience of use you may expect to begin with

Here is a grid of what elements (and their importance) which are required for each approach

1 Store-bought "complete" kit. Swap out components as needed:
Startup Money-95 Knowledge-50 Time-25 Money over time-100 Convenience-90

2 Self-Assemble complete Kit:
Startup Money-100 Knowledge-100 Time-100 Money over time-60 Convenience-95

3 Slowly self-assemble premium components kit & add-on as you go
Startup Money-50 Knowledge-50 Time-75 Money over time-40 Convenience-50

4 Self-made bargain components complete kit-upgrade as you go
Money-70 Knowlrdege-95 Time-90 Money over time-75 Convenience-40

5 Slowly self-assemble bargain component starter kit, upgrade and add-on as you go
Startup Money-35 Knowledge-40 Time-60 Money over time-50 Convenience-30

(I made the above grid off-the-cuff. I may refine/edit it in later posts. Use it as the rough draft it is.)

The five approaches I outlined should provide you some food for thought. What type of hobbyist are you? Are you analytical and thoughtful or do you jump right in and improvise as you go? Got more time than money, or more money than time?

My first advice: Read "The ABC's of Reloading", an excellent tome on the general processes of reloading.

See my next post for some web sites to peruse.

Lost Sheep
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Old April 1, 2011, 02:10 AM   #16
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Some web sites you might find informative

Preparation is everything. Before you plunk down $100 to $500 or more for a reloading bench...

Welcome to the forum and welcome to reloading. Thanks for asking our advice.

Having said that, let me share with you some posts and threads I think you will enjoy. So get a large mug of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, whatever you keep on hand when you read and think and read through these.

The "sticky" thread at the top of TheFiringLine's reloading forum is good, entitled, "For the New Reloader: Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST "

The "sticky" thread at the top of's reloading forum is good, entitled, "For the New Reloader: Thinking about Reloading; Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST"

"Budget Beginning bench you will never outgrow for the novice handloader". This was informed by my recent (July 2010) repopulation of my loading bench. It is what I would have done 35 years ago if I had known then what I know now.

Thread entitled "Newby needs help."
My post 11 is entitled "Here's my reloading setup, which I think you might want to model" November 21, 2010)
My post 13 is "10 Advices for the novice handloader" November 21, 2010)

The first draft of my "10 Advices..." is on page 2 of this thread, about halfway down.

Minimalist minimal

or if the links do not work, paste these into your browser
(posts are #11 and #13)

Minimalist minimal (the seventh post down)

Good luck. Always wear eye protection, especially when working with primers and don't pinch your fingers in your press. Be safe. Always, all ways.

Lost Sheep
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Old April 1, 2011, 03:11 AM   #17
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I will chime in a little later with any of my thoughts that may have been missed, but I am certain that you are already getting a lot of first class information.

I just came on to say Welcome to The Firing Line!! You have come to the best place to gain as much infromation, knowlege, and wisdom as you will ever get on the Net.

Don' keep shooting them until you think they are dead, Keep shooting them until they think they are dead.- Clint Smith
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Old April 1, 2011, 09:34 AM   #18
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For durability anything but Lee.
The other major brands will last a lifetime.
When I had my gunshop I sold many Lyman starter kits. Lyman has served me well. Not a knock at other brands (except Lee) but that is what I used, liked and sold with a lot of customer satisfaction. My personal press is an ancient Lyman turret. It would be impossible to count how many rounds have been loaded with it and it shows no signs of age except some paint wear.
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Old April 1, 2011, 01:35 PM   #19
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I wanted to say thanks to everyone who have posted on my question. I have allot of information to read through before i make my decision. Thanks again to everyone.
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Old April 1, 2011, 02:41 PM   #20
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I'm pretty much with Rifleman1776, I'm suprised to see so much support for Lee equipment. Everything that I have ever had from Lee has been junk or pretty close to junk. Maybe I'm missing something though.
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Old April 1, 2011, 02:46 PM   #21
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Lee Precision Classic Turret, highest rated turret press regardless of price on Midway USA. This is a good place to start
You will never regret getting the Classic Turret and I use mine in single stage mode with the auto-index removed.
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Old April 1, 2011, 05:25 PM   #22
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Everything that I have ever had from Lee has been junk or pretty close to junk. Maybe I'm missing something though.
In my experience, Lee items can be either great and a terrific value, middling but value priced, and junk. IMO, their Classic Turret and Breech Lock Challenger presses and their dies are great equipment at very good prices. Other items like their powder measures I've found to be middling- not bad, not great. Usually decent enough to use, but if I were buying from scratch I'd get something else. Other things can be just junk- their shotshell loader doesn't seem to be any good compared to a MEC, their safety scale seems decent at first but is not worth the time once you try something better (like the RCBS 1010, which I know is way more expensive).
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Old April 1, 2011, 10:12 PM   #23
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Some Junk. Some the best in the world, bar none.

Technosavant is right on about the Lee equipment. Saltydog235 and Rifleman1776 are just mistaken.

I will grant that some Lee gear is not worth having, even for free. I have a friend who snapped his Lee Loader Press right off at the base. (Of course, he wasn't using it at the time. He fell against it.) Lee offered to replace it, even though I described the incident accurately. But still, it was an aluminum press with inadequate leverage for anything substantial.

Now, I believe their Classic Turret (not the Deluxe turret) is better than any other Turret ever made.....with the provision that you don't need more than four die stations and can put up with how closely the dies are spaced. For speed and ease of use it is second only to true progressive presses. The quality of construction is as good as RCBS, Hornady, Lyman. The leverage is quite good, but not the best in the world.

The Lee Classic Cast and Breechlock presses are excellent and plenty strong. The Redding, and others may be better finished and smoother working, but they are more expensive. The Lee Iron presses give up nothing in longevity to the other brands, though.

Please note that the Lee presses with the stamped lever linkages and the ill-advised aluminum parts are less than adequate. I suspect Saltydog and Rifleman had their experiences with those. The Lee Auto-Prime will not stand neglect (needs periodic lubrication and cleaning). Some of Lee's gear has limitations, too, like the Safety Scale. It is as accurate as my RCBS and Redding scales, but darn hard to use. Still, at a quarter the price, is worth is. The bearing surfaces will not last like a jewelled pivot will either, but I would hardly call the scale junk. Just a bargain until you can get a better one, say in 10 years or so. It also does not have the capacity to weigh bullets. It is just for powder (I think its capacity is 50 or 60 grains, max).

In summary, you usually get what you pay for. Some Lee gear may be junk (to you, to Saltydog or to Rifleman because it does not suit your needs).

But some really great values are available from Lee Precision's factory, too. And that includes the somewhat limited (specialized) Lee Classic Turret. It is well made and if you want a 4-station autoindexing turret, there simply is no other. It is the only one at any price.

Lost Sheep
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Old April 2, 2011, 01:37 AM   #24
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Buying the kit (Any Kit) is a good way to start, just remember that you are going to have to buy additional parts and pieces of equipment after you get set up. Lee, Hornady, RCBS, Redding (Not in any order) are all good brands and well supported. (Customer Support) If you get something you don't like I'm sure you will be able to sell it and replace it with something you do like. Just get started.
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Old April 2, 2011, 01:42 AM   #25
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Welcome, I see you already have a lot of good help.

Stay Safe and have fun.
Si vis pacem, para bellum
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