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Old June 11, 2019, 04:35 PM   #1
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Considering reloading, again

So Im starting to consider reloading again, gonna start with 45 ACP and 38 SPECIAL.

Ive pretty much decided that I'm going to start with a Lee classic turret BUT should I start with the kit or get the needed accessories separately?

Franklin armory tumbler okay for brass prep?

Thinking of starting with Clays for powder as it works well in both calibers,

Bullet recommendations for both calibers?

Guns are 1911s (SA TRP and LES BAER Stinger), S&W 625JM, S&W 642, S&W 686+, and Ruger Blackhawk.

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old June 11, 2019, 04:57 PM   #2
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Welcome back.

Get the press and then buy the accessories separately.

Haven't anything but positive reviews about that tumbler.

Never used clay's, so can't comment.

I like either Rocky Mountain Reloading (plated/jacketed) or Missouri Bullet Co. (cast/coated) for those calibers.
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Old June 11, 2019, 05:43 PM   #3
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One powder I’d consider would be Bullseye. 2.7gr behind a 148gr HBWC in the .38 would be oh so soft and 5.0gr behind a 230gr plated or FMJ RN works well
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Old June 11, 2019, 06:25 PM   #4
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Run away as fast as possible.

But if you don't I would buy the accessories separate.
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Old June 11, 2019, 07:20 PM   #5
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I'm fond of Berry's plated bullets.

For plated and FMJ rounds I like Hodgdon Titegroup powder - burns clean
For cast rounds, I prefer Hodgdon HP-38 powder - burns cooler, less smoking / leading

I have no experience with H Clays powder - can't speak to it

I enjoy my Lee CT press. Great for lots of pistol rounds. If I haven't already passed it, I'm very close to putting 20,000 rounds through mine.

You make no mention of powder scales. I don't use a thrower and weigh out each powder charge on a small digital Lyman powder scale.

You make no mention of primer choice. I prefer CCI to Winchester. I use CCI 500 small pistol primers. For the 45, you will most often need large pistol primers, but will sometimes come across a .45 in small pistol primer. I like CCI because they are chromed - easier to see if you have a high primer when the primer hull is chromed and different from the brass shell. I also like the look. As for Winchester - I find that their primers seem to leave more tough residue in the primer pocket. I haven't used / tried Federal pistol primers.
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Old June 11, 2019, 09:44 PM   #6
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My Franklin tumbler has worked quite well for the past 5 years and at least 20K rounds. I use lizard liter from Petco, NuFinish polish, and used dryer sheets. I've had good luck with Missouri and Bayou Bullets. Berrys are a little more consistent and a little more accurate, but also more expensive. I haven't used Clays, but have good success with Bullseye, HP-38/W231, TightGroup, and BE-86. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. I'll use CCI or Federal primers. For powder dropping and measuring, I use a RCBS Lil Dandy and FA digital scale, although I bought a beam scale to periodically check my digital and a Uniflow to fine tune loads.
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Old June 12, 2019, 03:55 AM   #7
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Welcome to reloading! Have you considered the Lyman turret Kit. Lyman makes higher end product. Accuracy of setup and ease of reloading will be better.

Try Hodgdon titegroup or aa#5 instead. Clays will have smaller charge weights and be more sensitive to charge accuracy....more of a pain ....for what benefit?

That tumbler is fine. Mine is like the first one they made and still running strong.

Xtreme bullets work well for me.
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Old June 12, 2019, 05:07 AM   #8
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I also use a Lee Turret Press -- the original, not the Classic. I like Lyman products, but the Lyman turret can't match the Lee for ease of use. I have more than once described the Lee as a "semi-progressive." Set it up with a Lee Autodisk powder measure and go to it.

However, if you use the Autodisk you have to recognize that it's dispensing powder by volume, not weight. The unit comes with four disks, each of which has six apertures in it. If one of the apertures gives you the exact weight you want with the powder of your choice, you're good to go. More than likely, the best you can get will be 1/10th over or under what you wanted. In my case (also doing .45 ACP with Berry's plated bullets, I wanted 5.4 grains. The closest I could get was 5.3 grains. They shoot okay, the gun cycles fine, and they're just range ammo so I'm not at all worried about however much velocity I lose with that missing 1/10th of a grain of powder.

If you really REALLY feel that you need to get closer than what the Autodisk can offer, Lee has a micrometer adapter that is infinitely adjustable. I have one, but I don't use it.
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Old June 12, 2019, 11:28 AM   #9
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I never liked "kits" as some items included in a kit were not used and I enjoyed researching each tool before I bought it. All kits come with the one manufacturer's tools and some manufacturer's tools aren't too good, one may make very good presses, just passable other tools, but also may have poor tools included in a kit. I find a tool that is best for my reloading style/methods regardless of manufacturer...

FWIW; I reloaded for 12 years before I got a tumbler. I just wiped each case with a solvent dampened rag as I inspected it, first step in reloading. Nope, no ruined dies and no scratched chambers. Just some info to let you know a tumbler along with deciding on media and a "formula" isn't really necessary just 99% cosmetic, and an ego feeder... Kinda like chrome/mag wheels on your car. No better than painted steel wheels, they just look better...
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Last edited by mikld; June 12, 2019 at 11:35 AM.
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Old June 12, 2019, 12:05 PM   #10
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Decide what you "need", and price the parts individually. I think you'll find the kits cheaper. When I bought my Lee Anniversary kit about 25 years ago ($75) it was cheaper to buy the kit, even if later I quit using the lube pad. I went for years without buying any additional things (other than dies and shellholders), then picked them up on sales or Craigslist. I still use the press, powder measure, trimmer, primer. I replaced the scale because I found a used RCBS one for $5.

I still haven't used any kind of tumbler, though a couple years ago I got a Sonic cleaner.
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Old June 12, 2019, 08:24 PM   #11
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Welcome back to the hobby. I too took a long hiatus before coming back. Having previous experience I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted and needed and found just about all of it used on ebay for substantial savings.

Right now I am loading for 380, 9mm and 45acp. I have found that these three powders serve me very well: Fast, AA#2, Medium, HP-38/W231, Medium slow, Ramshot Silhouette.
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Old June 12, 2019, 10:43 PM   #12
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If you are open to suggestions, think about the Thumlers (sp) tumbler.
It is a wet media type.
I use a drop or two of liquid dish soap, a bit of Lemishine and stainless steel media.
The brass comes out shiny as if it were new..often better than new, including the primer pockets.
Some will say that is overkill cleaning the brass to that degree.
I say that the cleaner the brass the easier it is to see any case imperfections allowing you to weed through any brass not suitable for reload.
Just my opinion.
Regarding the other equipment, I would make sure that your money goes to which devices you prefer rather than settling for a pre-assembled kit.
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Old June 13, 2019, 01:12 PM   #13
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Kempf gun shop puts together kits with the LCT that include the press, your choice of die sets, a primer feed, and a powder drop. They keep the price around $200, with slight variation depending on which powder drop you choose. No scale - you can add one suitable to your use, and the Lee scale is not always highly regarded. But the kit is priced well and doesn't include a lot of gimcrack as an excuse to run the price up. The Kempf folk are pleasant to deal with, too.
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Old June 13, 2019, 01:52 PM   #14
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Clays is a friendly powder - big green flakes make it harder to double-charge as compared to Titegroup. But Clays is going to give you lackluster performance across the cartridges you're reloading. So my recommendation is to use something much, much slower even though you'll use more of it. After all, you're not going to knock out 1000 rounds in a sitting using an LCT (I use one too).

Since supplies are good, there's no reason not to buy two powders. I like Ramshot Silhouette, AA#5, for 45acp cause I like the option of making them zippy. Just something to consider. And even slower for real 357Mag performance.

I buy my bullets from Missouri Bullet Company. Good products, good prices. I definitely recommend you go with coated.

I'm sure the Franklin vibratory tumbler is good. Corn cobb media. Pre-treat with a cap or two full of NuFinish car wax (add and run for 20 minutes before adding brass). Hopefully it comes with a good media separator. Couple tablespoons of denatured alcohol in the corn cobb will cause the dust to cling to the sides of the bowl and make your brass more shiny.

You need a scale. I would use an electronic one (~$35 - see MTM with AAA batteries on Amazon) and get a check weight set for peace of mind.

Have fun!
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Last edited by totaldla; June 13, 2019 at 05:04 PM.
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Old June 14, 2019, 12:39 PM   #15
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"...plated or FMJ RN..." Different critters that require a different load. Plated bullets are not jacketed and they use cast bullet data. Max load for a jacketed bullet is 5.7. 4.5 of Bullseye works well for a cast 230 target load.
" the accessories separately..." Depends on what you think an accessory is, but it's never cheaper to buy anything separately. Stuff like all the daft gauges and the like are not necessary. What comes with the assorted Beginner's kit is though.
"...Bullet recommendations..." To do what?
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Old June 14, 2019, 01:37 PM   #16
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Clays is economical but not suitable for maximum loads. The pressure gets too high before you get maximum velocity. A new compromise on the market is IMR Target. It will let you get a maximum 230 grain FMJ load in 45 ACP from it as well as let you make light loads with it. Not too different from Bullseye except it claims to be cleaner burning and to have more consistent bulk density than its competition, resulting in more consistent metering. I haven't had occasion to try it yet, but intend to. I just thought, since you are coming back in, why not go to a more modern powder technology.
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Old June 16, 2019, 02:07 PM   #17
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I am not a fan of Lee equipment, but their turret seems to make lots of folks pretty happy. Going with the kit will give you best start up for your dollar, then you can add as you see fit with dies etc. Hodgdon Universal is a good all around powder for a lot of pistol calibers, including .38 and .45; worthy of a look when you are making up your mind. I have used Berry’s plated bullets and Missouri cast; I like em both. Glad to hear you are getting back into it!
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Old June 18, 2019, 05:05 AM   #18
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I have Franklin dry tumbler... dont like it... does not agitate the brass as it should.
I order plated in 45 and 9mm from Everglades ammo. You will most likely not push a 230 gr. 45 or a 9mm hard enough to warrent getting fmj projectiles.
Power pistol I use for both 9mm and 45acp. Or another good alternative for 9mm is green dot.
Lee classic turret is a pretty good press and they have a new one out but the name of it evades me at the moment.
You can get the kit in the caliber you want and then buy other calibers as needed.
And yes do deal with Kempfs. Great people that I know personally. They wont try to sell you a bunch of garbage you dont need.
But do get electronic scale.. a good loading book or two. I like Dillon tumblers.. but that a personal choice.
Welcome back to reloading
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Last edited by Old 454; June 18, 2019 at 05:11 AM.
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Old June 18, 2019, 06:00 AM   #19
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I have Franklin dry tumbler... dont like it... does not agitate the brass as it should.
I have found that using walnut media sparingly does a better job than using a whole lot. The action of the brass casings seems to be more vigorous with very little (about a cup and one-half) media to cushion the actions. The brass allowed to rub against one another seems to speed up cleaning also.

Last edited by dahermit; June 19, 2019 at 01:16 PM.
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Old June 19, 2019, 07:30 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by dahermit View Post
I have found that using walnut media sparingly does a better job than using a whole lot. The action of the brass casings seems to be more vigorous with very little (about a cup and one-half) media to cushion the actions. The brass allowed to rub against one another seems to speed up cleaning also.
Agree !
the most common mistake is Too Much media and/or Too Much brass for the capacity of the vibrating type unit . When running the cases should circulate down, under around and back up . If they don't you have too much of something .
Pay attention to the directions , sometimes the max quantities are on target...sometimes they are over stating how much the unit will actually effectively clean.
I always put fewer cases than they say and never put more media than stated to use .
There is a learning curve and treated walnut shell polishing media from Midway is the best stuff to bedding and car polish additives isn't the most cost effective in the long run .

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Old June 19, 2019, 09:36 PM   #21
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Buy them separately, the kits come with a lot of stuff you won't need.
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Old June 22, 2019, 09:21 PM   #22
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I use the Lee Classic Cast "system" for loading 38 Special and 40 S&W.

I use the Classic Cast press without the auto indexing rod and easily achieve about 150 rounds per hour when the rhythm is going well.

The Lee Dies have lock rings that fit nicely with the turrets on the Classic Cast.

The Lee die set comes with a Powder Through Expander die that works nicely with the Lee funnel or the Lee Auto Drum powder measure. If I use the funnel I use Lee Dipper Cups. You will need a riser die if you get the Auto Drum. They're inexpensive and work well.

I recommend a Taper Crimp Die over the Factory Crimp Die. I think they make a cleaner crimp and put less stress on the brass and they are very easy to set up.

There are better scales than Lee's. I have an old RCBS Dial-O-Matic that I will never part with. The 10-10 is a nice scale.

FWIW - I use the Lee Pro 20 bottom pour lead pot and Lee 6-cavity bullet molds to cast my own bullets. I size the bullets with the Lee Sizer and lube with Lee Liquid Alox.

I'm very happy with the Lee "system" for both the 38 and the 40.
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Old June 25, 2019, 04:50 PM   #23
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Thanks everyone for the replies!

I have shopped extensively this week, and compared kit vs individual items. It's real close in price either way, even adding things to the kits such as electronic scale.

I'll probably end up doing the Lee classic kit, and adding an electronic scale and brass prep equipment (Franklin armory tumbler etc).

Once I have a station set up, I will order the brass prep stuff, then I'll order the kit and go from there.

I'll definitely be referencing this thread when I start to decide on which load to start with.

Thanks again everyone!
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Old August 26, 2019, 08:26 PM   #24
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Went ahead and ordered the lee classic turret press kit from Brownells because they had a coupon code for anything over $125. Ended up with the kit for $185 delivered. Not too bad. Still have to order brass prep stuff, dies, powder, bullets and get the black & decker workmate set up.

Thanks for the help everyone!
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Old August 28, 2019, 02:17 AM   #25
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This is a hobby???
I thought it was a test to see if i started drinking again...

Welcome back all the same!

I got the Lee 4 hole turret kit. I have since upgraded all my accessories.

For my 4 inch 1911 i'm using Missouri 185gr #2 LSWC for plinking and sometimes carry.
Usually for carry i'm using 185gr Sierra Sports Master JHP & Sierra Tournament Master.
And i do what your not supposed to do and have both interspersed in one mag.

For 38SPCL i'm using 125gr Sierra Sports Master JHP.
And for plinking & some carry 125gr Missouri #2 TBFN.
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