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Old November 21, 2002, 04:26 PM   #1
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Good kit for handgun cartridges?

I would like to get into handloading certain handgun cartridges:

.357 magnum
.38 special

.32 ACP

Is the RCBS Pro 2000 a good kit to get? Is the Speer Reloding Manual #17 all the book I need? How about the Rock Chucker Master Loading Kit? I have no experience in loading.

I am interested in loading my own for these reasons:

*consistent loads for target shooting

*ability to make softer than standard loads

*saving money (not as high on the list)

I'm not looking to load rifle ammo, nor am I interested in defensive ammo.

I'm sorry if this topic has been covered here before, but I didn't find any of this info in my searches. Thank you . . .
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Old November 21, 2002, 05:44 PM   #2
JM at Work
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Spiros, welcome to the Reloading forum!

There is tons and tons of material on getting started; hours and even days of reading... you may have to get creative in your searches, but it is worth it.

I reload .44 spl and .38 spl on my Rock Chucker and it does a great job; it is slow as anything, and I value my handgun reloads highly because of that... whereas the .45 acp ammo I load on my Dillon Square Deal B I'm a lot less shy about using up, since I can churn out more very easily.

I tend to shoot far less of my revolver ammo anyway, so the slow speed of the 'Chucker isn't a problem for me.

The Rock Chucker's advantage is its flexibility; just buy a new set of dies and get going on a new caliber; there are even brands of dies that will allow you to load two calibers with the same die, like my Hornady .38/.357 (and I think my Lee .44 spl will make .44 magnum fodder, too)

The SDB is much faster, but (I've heard) a bit more difficult to transition between calibers, and more expensive. I'll probably get other SDBs in the future, to reload other handgun ammo, and dedicate each machine to a particular load. If you got for the higher-end Dillon progressives you can switch calibers a lot more easily.

Hope this is some help; I'm very new to reloading myself, having gotten my first press for Christmas two years ago. I now have the Dillon, the Rock Chucker, and a MEC shotshell reloader.


PS: I have the Lyman's manual, and it has extensive instructions on reloading well and safely.
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Old November 21, 2002, 05:50 PM   #3
Johnny Guest
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Some small input, Thirties - - -

Sorry, I have no direct experience with the RCBS Proi 2000. RCBS produced quality goods, though. Hornady, too. Once you get one of these tuned up and running, I imagine you'd be well satisfied.

My personal satisfaction with the Dillion 550B is just about unbounded, and this certainly colors my opinion. I loaded quite a bit on a Lee progressive about 12 years back and was badly disappointed. It may have improved.

With the D 550B, you can turn out a lot of handgun loads for very modest effort. You say you don't care to load rifle cartridges now, but you may change your mind later. Again, I don't know the Pro 2000, and such may be possible with that, too.

If you wanted to stick with only one, or possibly two, handgun rounds, I'd suggest the Dillon Square Deal B, for economy's sake. For several, though, the 550B is very easy to change calibers, and you can use standard 7/8X14 dies--Either something you already own, or they can often be found used for low prices.

the Speer Reloding Manual #17 is a very good one, but you should always second source--Check loads before using them. Even the finest manuals have mistakes. Any fair-sized sporting goods store that sells loading gear and components has giveaway manuals published by the various manufactures, if only for their own products. And, you can find used manuals at a lot of gun shows.

Actually, it is very good, if you can afford it, to have BOTH a single stage press and a good progressive.

Welcome to the wonderful world of rolling your own! Come back to H&R forum often.

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Old November 21, 2002, 06:16 PM   #4
Jim Watson
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No experience? So get the book first and read it while you pick your equipment. The Speer book is ok and might get you by, but more is better when it comes to reference books. Lyman No 47 or the Lyman Pistol and Revolver Handbook are good and the Lee Manual has good information once you get past the constant advertising for his products. has product and general reloading information. Don't buy there, Midway, Midsouth, Grafs, etc. have better prices. Most makers have videos on the use of their products. Midway has them for RCBS and Sierra, maybe others. Search on 'videos' at

My progressive loaders are Dillons (except for an old C-H and the MEC shotshell loader) but I figure the RCBS 2000 is comparable and will load good ammo for you. I think it comes set up for the CCI API strip feed primers. You will either have to use CCI primers in the strip packaging, buy the strip filling device, or buy the primer tube feed conversion for the press.

I have loaded many rounds in several calibers on a Rock Chucker and it will be hard to beat for a single stage press.

Whether you get the progressive or the single stage depends on how much ammo you plan to load and how much time you care to put in. Hundreds an hour or a few hundred a day.

The kits include things like case trimmers and case lube supplies that you do not much need for handgun calibers. I once trimmed a batch of mixed .357s so they would crimp uniformly, but that was the only time I have ever used my trimmer for any but rifle ammo. You can avoid that need by getting a good supply of brass of the same brand and production lot. Buy carbide dies and you do not need case lube.

Most reloaders these days use case tumblers to clean brass, but I went for years and years without one.

Consistent loads depends largely on the care you put into them. Any name brand equipment will load good ammo if you run it well.

You can certainly make softer than standard loads for .357 and .38 - hard to beat .38 wadcutters for accurate and comfortable shooting. Loading down an autoloader caliber depends a lot on the gun. You can reduce some by a little, some by a fair amount, but not many by a lot - except .45 ACP which you do not list. I could cut 9mm P by 12% for my guns; some people can do more, maybe with some tuning on the gun. I see no reason and little ability to reduce .380 or 9mm Mak and certainly not .32, they do not have a lot of reserve anyway.

Load up a good supply of ammo in one caliber before changing over, especially with a progressive. Conversion will eat up more time than loading a couple of hundred rounds.

You will not exactly save money. After the several thousand rounds it takes to recoup the price of the equipment, you will tend to shoot more for the same expense.

Depending on how you value your time, it may or may not pay you to reload common calibers like 9mm P or 9mm Mak; bulk imported ball or Blazer is pretty cheap. I would not load .380 except that I got such a deal on dies and components. Load .32 ACP? Never; I can afford to feed my Keltec and Colt .32s the little they get shot.
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Old November 21, 2002, 07:32 PM   #5
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Jorah, Johnnie, and Jim, thanks so much for your replies. I'll get the Lyman Pistol and Revolver Handbook and go from there.

I don't own a .45, and don't plan on one. My first loading "need" will be the revolver .38/.357. Of the other calibers, I shoot .32 and 9x18 mostly. 9x17 and 9x19 rarely.

When you mentioned wadcutters for the .38 special, I remembered a guy in town who shoots those, and I think he reloads them. Will have to pay him a visit.

I'll let you know my progress as it happens.

Thanks again. What a wonderful "place" this is!

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Old November 21, 2002, 08:58 PM   #6
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Hi Thirties,

I have just got into reloading and just this weekend fired my first 100 reloads - .45 ACC 200gr Lead Round Nose and they worked perfectly!

The thing is, I have actually been ramping up slowly for about a year - last christmas, my dad got me a Dillon Vibratory case cleaner. These are not totally needed, but even using very clean looking brass, my fingers get pretty dirty after handling a few hundred.

Because we are moving in less than a year, I did not want to build a bench in the garage - so I use the portable reloading bench ($45 at It works pretty well, and while stable enough, I keep my foot on the base just to be sure

Since you are interested in saving money, I would really recomend you look at the Lee Turret Press.

These are very inexpensive ($60ish) and what is nice is that you can buy a turret ($7) for each set of dies (buy carbide $20 per caliber) - this allows you to swap the caliber you are reloading by just removing the turret and putting another one in. This is especially nice because for each die, you have to dial in just the right depth or setting and by keeping the dies in the turret, you can keep the dies in the configuration that works for you.

I would also recomend getting the Lee Factory Crimp Die for each caliber - do the bullet seating and crimping in a seperate stage.

This is what I do and it works pretty well:

1. clean brass in vibe cleaner
2. Use Lee Hand Press and universal decapping die to decap the brass (this press collects the primers and so it is neat enough to do in the kitchen
3. Put my resizing due in the turret and resize all my brass (or a bunch of it) in one big resizing festival.
4. Use the RCBS hand prime tool to prime a bunch of brass. At this point, I usually put the primed brass into cartridge boxes for storage.

This is what I consider pre-prep - then when I want to load:

5. Turret hole #1: flare and srop powder (Lee disk powder thingy)
6. Rotate turret (takes like 1 second)
7. place bullet on brass
8. seat bullet with seating die
9. rotate turret
10. crimp using factory crimp die.

I can do about 4-5 rounds per minute like this (with prepped and primed brass)

I am already setup for .45 ACP and I just ordered another Lee powder disk dispenser ($18) to mount on my .38 special turret (since I use different powder for .38 and .45

Also - I am the kind of person would would rather have dedicated stuff for each caliber if it means I can keep each caliber setup and ready to go at a moments notice. Some people probably would not mind putting the dies in and taking them out and resetting them, but this would drive me crazy after the second time.

One more thing - I had a real aversion to using lead bullets at first - though they were going to foul up my gun and poison me - these dangers are easily avoided and lead bullets are very inexpensive to use (in guns that can use them ie: not Glocks, etc)

Good luck!
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Old November 21, 2002, 10:03 PM   #7
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Hi Thirties...
Gently go and enjoy.
I recommend at least two handloading manuals. One of which should be The Lyman. Read them all from cover to cover, and then do it again. Then pick brains and research wherever you can.

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Old November 22, 2002, 02:38 AM   #8
Join Date: October 29, 2002
Location: Stillwater, Oklahoma
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I agree with Sam. Take your time. Read a couple of loading manuals. I've used several different ones over the years, but am partial to the Speer. They are all packed with excellent information on "how to" and neccessary equipment. I personally recommend starting with a single stage press such as the RCBS Rock Chucker or the Lyman Crusher II. Get your basic tools and practice. Take your time and build a cartridge from the ground up and get the feel of the equipment. Learn to work consistently and safely. I feel reloading is fun, relaxing, and can give you a sense of satisfaction from "rolling your own" accurate and reliable rounds. Welcome to the world of handloading!
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Old November 22, 2002, 06:02 AM   #9
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"...I had a real aversion to using lead bullets at first - thought they were going to foul up my gun and poison me - these dangers are easily avoided and lead bullets are very inexpensive to use..."

Pendragon, in a .357 revolver shooting .38 special, what is the best way to avoid leading?

Thanks for your and all the other replies. I ordered the Lyman pistol/revolver book, and I've been scouring the different manufacturers' web sites for more info.
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Old November 23, 2002, 09:47 AM   #10
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"I reload .44 spl and .38 spl on my Rock Chucker and it does a great job; it is slow as anything, and I value my handgun reloads highly because of that... whereas the .45 acp ammo I load on my Dillon Square Deal B I'm a lot less shy about using up, since I can churn out more very easily."

Jorah, can you give me an idea of how many .38spc you can make in an hour on the Rock Chucker vs. how many .45s on the SQB?
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