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Old May 31, 2012, 07:58 PM   #1
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I want to reload my own! Where do I start? & What is worth it?

I finally have a nice place to setup a workshop where I can begin to reload my own ammunition. This has been something I've wanted to do for years, but is just now becoming a reality.

I have done a little poking around on the internet looking at various reloading presses/kits/etc, but really I am not sure where to start.

First off, I'm starting from scratch. I want to setup a workbench where I can clean and work on my guns, as well as have a reloading station.

I'm considering this bench as I've heard good things about it for what it costs
60" bench w/4 drawers

The bench will probably only be big enough to suffice for one or the other, so I'll likely be setting up a reloading station separate from the work bench. get to the point...

I mostly shoot, 7.62x39, 5.56, .45ACP, 9mm, and .380
If it wouldn't cost a lot more, I'd like to reload my 30-06, .270, and .308 (but don't have to because I rarely shoot it)

At this point, I have a couple thousand rounds of reloadable 5.56, 9mm, and .380 brass that I'd like to reuse once I shoot all the factory ammo.

I would like to know what people who reload think about what ammunition is 'worth' reloading vs re-buying, and what kind of setup I would benefit from in terms of reloading a vast array of ammunition as I've listed.

I know there are various types of equipment available that can make the process much easier or more difficult than the other. I am willing to spend a little money upfront on a decent setup if it'll take the 'cave-man' process out of it, but I don't necessarily need state of the art equipment either. I want to have equipment that makes the process somewhat enjoyable, and not just a total pain.

I would greatly appreciate input from people who have and currently reload their own, and have experience with a variety of reloading equipment to help me make my decision.

Thanks in advance!
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Old May 31, 2012, 08:41 PM   #2
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Great questions, start here:

hope this helps.
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Old May 31, 2012, 08:48 PM   #3
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Lots of good info here.

If I had to do all over again, the first thing I would have bought, would have been the Lyman manual.

I think it gives very good explanations of what to do, and more importantly, why you are doing them.

After you understand the concepts, it is just a matter of different tooling that all do the same job in different ways.

I had to start from scratch with no mentor myself and came into reloading very intimidated. After reading the Lyman, a bunch of lightbulbs will come on, and you'll be ready to buy some stuff.

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Old May 31, 2012, 09:14 PM   #4
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You will want one bench for reloading, and another for cleaning. One way I did it was to buy "Gorilla Racks" from Costco or Sam's. each unit when set side by side makes a bench 8 feet long and 19" deep (or wide).

Using 3/4 plywood cut in half glued and screwed gives you a great bench. You could also use stick kitchen counter top with plywood glued and screwed under if necessary. Making two of these - one for reloading and one for cleaning gives you LOTS of room. You WILL want it as "stuff" expands to fill the space available - similar to a safe.....

Build more storage and shelves than you think you'll need as you will fill them quickly
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Old May 31, 2012, 09:26 PM   #5
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One reason


Why reload? Let me count the ways

let me count the ways:

Economy: Depending on what cartridges you are reloading (and whether or not you want to count your time and the up-front equipment costs) you can save anywhere from just a little to 80% or more of your ammo costs. (9mm is very close to no savings. 500 S&W, my friend's ammo costs are $0.75 per round, factory loaded ammo is $3.00 each for comparable ammo. More exotic calibers (especially rifle calibers) can save even more. Some rounds are not even available on a regular basis at any price.

Quality: Ammo you craft yourself can be tuned to your firearms particular characteristics. Handloaders for rifles quite often find some individual guns have quite striking differences in group size when shooting tuned ammunition.

Customization: Ammo you load yourself can be tuned to your particular needs. My fried with the 500 S&W loads full power loads and "powder puff" loads that clock 350 grain slugs a little under 800 feet per second. I know that's more than a G.I. 45 ACP's power and momentum, but they shoot like 22 rimfire in that big, heavy gun. Great for fun, familiarization, training and letting the curious bystander go for a "test drive" with a super-light load, a medium load, a heavy load and, if they are still game one of the big boomers. This tends to avoid the "rear sight in the forehead" mark.

Satisfaction: Punching small bunches of small, medium or large holes in paper or humanely bringing down a game or food animal with ammunition you crafted yourself gives a good deal of satisfaction.

Smug satisfaction: When the ammo shelves are bare during a market or political scare, loaders are demonstrably less affected by the shortages. A couple of pounds of powder, a thousand primers and bullets (or few pounds of lead) and a hundred cartridge cases wouldn't fill a small book carton, but lets the loader know he can shoot while price-gougers take advantage of non-loaders.

Self-satisfaction: The repetitive, calm, attentive concentration of the reloading activities is often found to be so much fun as to bring to the shooter's mind the question, "Do I reload so I can shoot shoot or do I shoot so I can reload?". Some find loading to be as satisfying a hobby as shooting or fly-tying or many other hobbies.

The more fanatical among us combine a couple of the features I have mentioned and, instead of shooting for bullseye accuracy at the range, reload in a search for the "magic load" that achieves perfection in a given rifle. Then, they move on to the next target, another rifle and another tuned load. But you do have to be at least a little fanatical to even get it. It is the hunt they seek.

I am sure there are many other reasons, but these are the main ones I can think of.

Lost Sheep

Last edited by Lost Sheep; May 31, 2012 at 11:28 PM.
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Old May 31, 2012, 11:00 PM   #6
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Nice one Sheep - yeh, what he said!
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Old May 31, 2012, 11:25 PM   #7
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Thanks, Larryflew.

Addicted2Shooting, I am home right now and have access to my notes. So, here is the benefit of them.

First of all, thanks for posting your chamberings. It would be even more helpful it you told us your main goals in shooting. Supreme accuracy at long range? Single stage, cast iron highest quality stuff you can get. Think Forster, Redding, RCBS, Hornady. High quantity(500+ rounds per session), fun plinking, eventually a progressive press, but not necessarily for your first purchase. In the middle ground are the Turret presses.

Tell us your story.

In the meantime, here is some reading that might interest you.

You need knowledge. About the process, about the load recipes that are safe and about the tools. A mentor would be nice.

Tools: at a bare minimum, You need 3 tools, without which it is physically impossible to load (but unwise until you also have some good judgement). You know where good judgement comes from? Good judgement comes from bad experiences. You know where bad experience comes from? Bad judgement. The wise man learns from his experience. The TRULY wise man learns from the experiences of others. So, read manuals and threads and talk to experienced loaders wherever you can.

The three tools:

A press, because fingers are not strong enough to form metal.

Dies for 9mm because fingers are not accurate enough to form metal to fit.

You need a way to mete powder (most likely a scale, but some use calibrated dippers).

Other tools can wait until you discover the need for them. Except for certain things without which it is possible to load, but foolish. Eye protection. Calipers. Notebook. Dropcloth. Stuff like that.

Calipers, because not all components you buy are exactly the right size and when you load, you are changing some sizes and need to measure seating depth, cartridge overall length, etc.

Bullet puller because eventually you will assemble a cartridge you don't want to shoot for some reason.

Other tools as you find the need.

Manuals and instruction books. Lots of manuals. And web sites. Reliable ones, like the bullet manufacturers and powder manufacturers, not someone who doesn't have "skin in the game".

The early chapters of manuals are devoted to "how to load" information and the rest are load recipes. The bullet and powder manufacturers have lots of good advice and load recipes specific for their products. The excellent tome "ABC's of Reloading" has no load recipes, but excellent descriptions of the loading process, written by a selection of different authors.

Casual sources (like forums) are good sources of education and information, but you have to verify everything you find from casual sources.

Remember, only believe half of what you see and one quarter of what you hear. That goes double for what you get from the internet. Even this post. Maybe especially this post.

Do your own independent, confirming research when ANYONE gives you new facts on the web.

Also remember, even the idiotic stuff might have a kernel of truth buried in there somewhere. But it may take judgement to distinguish the wheat from the chaff.

I have compiled a few web sites that seem to have some good information (some of which came from me).

Go get a large mug of whatever you sip when you read and think and visit these sites.

For the New Reloader: Thinking about Reloading; Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST

I am looking at getting into reloading for the first time

Just bought my first press. Needs some info tho.

Considering reloading

Budget Beginning Bench you will never outgrow, for the novice handloader.

Thoughts on The Lee Classic Turret Press

Interested in reloading

Newby needs help.

I hope you enjoy the reading. Thanks for asking our advice.

Lost Sheep
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Old June 1, 2012, 12:46 AM   #8
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Sheeps got the reloading part covered very well so Ill comment on the bench idea. You could probably build a simple sturdy bench youself easily and for well under $100. My latest bench is very solid and does not move. I bought a 1" 4'x8' sheet of ply wood, 7 2x4s, a pound of 3" deck screws and glue. What you see in the pic is under $50. Ive since added on to it. This bench is 72"L x 24"W x 36"T. Simple. Wanna make your own ammo? Make your own bench. It doesnt need to be pretty. Double up the 2x4s for each leg then screw and glue. I did this in the front but not in the back in this pic. Ive since doubled up the back legs. It makes a difference.

You Can Do It!

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Old June 1, 2012, 01:24 AM   #9
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Don't start! It is very bullet powders...haha
Go for it but be careful and take your time.
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Old June 1, 2012, 07:46 AM   #10
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As far as benches, here's a link to show what other's here have done.

I'm doing a new bench and I'm always looking for ideas. I think that thread should be stickied and on-going. A lot of good stuff there.
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Old June 1, 2012, 10:38 AM   #11
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I appreciate all the feedback!

You all have provided a ton of information to help me get started and get some ideas flowing. It will undoubtedly occupy my time at work on this rainy Friday

*Also, you had asked what kind of loads I would be doing...
For the most part, all the calibers that I have listed, I typically use for plinking/run and guns....obviously the larger rifle calibers I would use for more long range precision shooting.

Hope that helps paint a little better picture of my goals.

Thanks again!
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Old June 1, 2012, 10:22 PM   #12
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I'm considering this bench as I've heard good things about it for what it costs 60" bench w/4 drawers []
I have that same bench and it will not be adequate for a reloading bench. It just isn't strong enough. You would be much better off to build your own. Plain works just as well as fancy. I build the NRMA bench over 25 years ago and have never regretted it for a minute. But you do want strong as the press puts a lot of torque on the bench. Something solid either by its own design or anchored into a solid wall.
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Old June 2, 2012, 07:56 AM   #13
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Lost Sheep said it better than I could +1000 man. Especially "chasing that magical combination"
Thanks for coming!
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Old June 2, 2012, 10:29 AM   #14
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More than one person has said they wanted to start, so I sent them home with dies, a press, primers, brass, bullets, powder, a scale, a book, etc.

They never seem to do much.

Some were just born to shoot factory ammo.
The word 'forum" does not mean "not criticizing books."
"Ad hominem fallacy" is not the same as point by point criticism of books. If you bought the book, and believe it all, it may FEEL like an ad hominem attack, but you might strive to accept other points of view may exist.
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Old June 2, 2012, 04:56 PM   #15
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One bench can do it all.
If there's only room for one, like at our house,
When used for reloading, the press, et all, are mounted on wood and c-clamped to the bench when needed.
For cleaning, cardboard serves as a suitable temporary surface, disposed of after.
Shelving above and storage below keeps everything handy.
Works just fine in a small space.
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Old June 2, 2012, 10:00 PM   #16
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I have my presses mounted with 3" x 1/2 inch bolts and T-nuts so they are easily removed and remounted on my bench. I have invested in some nice cleaning mats too. I throw them in the washer when they get too dirty.
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Old June 2, 2012, 10:57 PM   #17
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For benches, I'm afraid I purchased, rather than make my own; however, I did hunt about for some deals:
  • My cleaning bench I got cheap from Sears Outlet - I found a workbench base ($90, most expensive piece), 6' butcher block tabletop ($20), and pegboard / light backing ($20) at three different nearby Sears stores.
    • If you go this route, make SURE you print out the information from the Sears Outlet site before going there in person - often the clerks have no idea what you are talking about, and have to pull the item from some dark corner.
    • Since that picture, I took out the small drawer set to make more bench and pegboard space.
  • My reloading bench is a Rosseau from Woodcraft. It's a very solid metal frame, has adjustable feet, and designed to allow you to cut up a standard 4' x 8' plywood sheet for the top and shelf.
Two other things I did you may find handy to do were:
  • I mounted some metal panels on the concrete wall to hold Akro Bins. Very handy to keep lots of little items sorted and available. Northern Tool and others have similar bin systems.
  • I made sure I had Very Good Lighting - a quick trip to Home Depot for a 4 bulb ceiling mount shop light did the trick for me. The photos I linked to were before I installed the shop light; it made a tremendous difference.
Hope that gives you some ideas...
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Old June 3, 2012, 03:26 PM   #18
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As you can see, lots of different suggestions. Lots of different ways.
Over about 45 years I have had just about everything you could use for a loading bench. Even had a string of shotshell and metalic presses along a wall mounted on a 1 x 12. My one previous to this was a 3' x 8' folding conference table with a particle board top covered with some type of vinyl.
All did the job, some better than others. My current setup in very limited space is an old oak drafting table with a drafting pad on top. It works very well.
Three things I would suggest, if possible:

1. Attach a 1x2" cleat to the wall so that it is over the back of your bench top. Just cut it to the length of your bench, lay it on top, push it to the back, and insert some screws. This takes a lot of wiggle out of the table.

2. Attach your shelving to the wall, not the bench. Then you can set your scale on the lower shelf and it will not be affected by the action of your press on your bench top.

3. Find a Luxo Lamp or replica. The round tube can be adjusted to where ever you need light. And the magnifying glass in the center is very useful. It is not how much light you have, but where it is located.

Photo attached is my current limited set-up with the Luxo Lamp and the independent shelving.

Good luck.
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Old June 3, 2012, 04:13 PM   #19
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Another consideration for your workshop is a Lee Press Stand. I have seen several good setups where the standalone press bench is set next to a workbench. Couple of advantages- the Lee stand has good ergonomics. Its a great height and you find just the right seating position for you. The other big advantage is this leaves your bench completely free for other tasks. Also, if needed the press stand fits perfectly in the corner.

Figured I would throw it out there as one more option to consider. I love mine. (I dont use the tabletop extensions shown in the pic, just the bins)
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Old June 3, 2012, 10:30 PM   #20
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So you want to start reloading some of the first questions you ask was what was cost-effective to reload I can tell you from your list it is my opinion that the 7.62 x 39 to load large quantities of this particular caliper is not cost-effective when you come by 1100 rounds for $239 and my opinion is just no reason to wish that I would say he would stumble onto brass boxer primed 76 2 x 39 casings that you would acquire for little to no money that would change the story entirely and 9 mm I will give you some idea I am not a huge reload reload somewhere around 10,000 9mm a year with a total cost of seven cents per cartridge, 45 ACP is another very cost-effective round somewhere around 9 cents may be 10 your 3006 308 and 270 load the 381 be very questionable

The next question you asked was equipment if you have never voted before and are just getting started you need to select a single stage press there are several on the market for her to come with kits that I can think of that Lee anniversary kit and the RCBS KIT
everything you need to get started loading except primers powders and bullets once you have used that kits and begin to understand the functionality of it and how it functions how everything works and you would want to consider going onto a progressive or her press I would strongly and not recommend aggressive before single stage chances are that you'll never move all of your reloading to a progressive press I would tell you I would attempt to select a power that works in almost all of your carpenters I would use cases that would accept primer so that you don't end up with large rifle or pistol magnum pistol magnum rifle and so on so that you can use one or two primers across the board index component will be bullets I would tell you that I would start with a full metal jacket work up a load and enhanced things begin to progress switch over to the lower end FMJ stitches are cast: or jacketed bullet
buying your components in bulk will offer you a much higher discount has combined 1 pound CAN bullets between one and 500 at a time the last thing I would say is do not buy a bunch of supplies into your sure you want to stick with this it is not for everybody to things I would tell you if you are a married young man or have his longtime girlfriend you're never so going to impress service when you go up to the local gun shop can store and show by $1000 worth of reloading supplies should pretty much think you're out of your mind
just my two cents hope I helped
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Old June 8, 2012, 01:38 AM   #21
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Folgers cans and sharpies, best part of my set-up. I am also new to reloading and spent a while before starting to research everything three times over.

Didn’t work out as well since I didn’t actually pay attention and I ended up with a few boo-boos. Each one sits just above my press to remind me every time I sit down not to rush the process.

Good luck and as others have attested to, it’s addictive.
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Old June 8, 2012, 05:39 PM   #22
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It isn't a race about how fast you can do it.

One bad round can mess up a $1,000 gun pretty easy...and then reloading isn't cost effective at all.
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Old June 9, 2012, 09:13 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by marklyftogt View Post
It isn't a race about how fast you can do it.

One bad round can mess up a $1,000 gun pretty easy...and then reloading isn't cost effective at all.
I have been very careful and meticulous since i have started reloading but i had a squib round the other day that put the fear back into me. If i can make the mistake of under-charging a round, then i can just as easily make the mistake of over-charging. I am a low-volume rifle reloader, so i do things very slowly and i weigh every charge and i still made that mistake.

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