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Old July 15, 2000, 10:12 PM   #1
handsome frank
Join Date: June 27, 2000
Location: lapeer michigan usa
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i would like to know what i would need to reload pistol calibers, being .30 carbine, and .40 s&w. possibly .44 mags and .38/.357 too. what do i need to crank out 20 to 30 bullets an hour? and what would the total cost be for everything including the first primers, powder, bullets, and brass? any help is much appreciated, thanks...btw, this is my first time reloading, obviously...
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Old July 16, 2000, 08:03 AM   #2
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Approximate prices . . . from what I see in shops.

Press: $25 up. You can get a Lee "hand press" that is not mounted but sits in your lap for cheap. Single stage press runs maybe $75. You can shop for used presses in pawn shops and the newspapers, gun shows. But you should read up or find someone who can show you what's what. You probably want to start with a single stage. The RCBS RS5 is a single stage that can be coverted to a multi stage. The press is $80. The Conversion is $250.

Dies for each caliber: $35 You want carbide. Saves money and time in not lubricating brass. Tougher, but more expensive.

Powder scale: $50 Lots of variation in this. Digital or mechanical balance beam. You can use "powder scoops" but they're inconsistent and practically worthless.

Powder measure: $60 RCBS Uniflow is a good one. It's possible to measure each load on a scale, but your load rate will slow to 15 per hour. With a measure you can turn out 60 per hour, more accurate, less hassle.

Verneer caliper: $50 Stainless steel. There are plastic calipers, but this is a precision tool. Precision tools are made of hardened stainless. For revolver ammo, it's possible to load without a caliper. Semi-auto calibers require a caliper for specs.

Primer tool: $30 Lots of variation here too. Some presses have a tool built in. Lee makes a plastic tool. RCBS makes a press that is machine steel and solid at about $40.

Brass tumbler: $80 Possible to use chemical cleaners or even just wash the brass in ammonia and detergent. But to clean and polish you need a tumbler.

Odds and ends: $50 - $100 Primer cup brushes, funnels, shell holders for the press/dies, racks for brass (you can use the plastic rack from boxes of commercial ammo), data books, ammo boxes, note books . . .

That's the hardware more or less, now supplies--

Brass: Expensive component. You can use "range pickups." Probably the best source of brass is commercially loaded ammo. Bulk brass is for precision loads and target shooting. 500 cases runs maybe $25 - $50 depending on caliber.

Powder: $12 - $20 per pound. Thousands of pistol loads in a pound of powder. You can probably load several calibers with one kind of powder, but you'll eventually want several kinds so you can experiment.

Primers: $3 a box of 100. Cheaper by the case in most instances.

Bullets: Expensive too. Bulk lead runs $25 per box of 500, more or less. Jacketed runs $20 per hundred depending on caliber/weight. Pays to buy in large lots, like 500 or 1000.

I loaded for a while on a desk top and kept all my gear in a large suitcase. But a shop bench with some shelves makes the whole process a LOT more organized. I have presses mounted on a 2 X 12 which clamps to the shop bench and stows away when not in use. Most of the time it's set up . . .

Setting up can be time consuming.

Initial investment can be expensive, but getting started in one or two calibers will help economize on dies, components. Lead bullet revolver ammo is easiest to begin loading.

Head to the library and check out a few books. Try to find someone in the flesh who can show you the ropes. A dealer can be a good source of help. Most dealers want to get you well set up because they'll reap the profits of selling you supplies later. It's the ol' "sell 'em a gun cheap and make money supplying them with ammo" strategy.

Reloading equipment is precision tools and expensive. But like a gun, it lasts forever if cared for. It's wise to INVEST for the long term rather than buy cheap gear.

Look for components that you can upgrade. A single stage press that converts to a multi-stage is one expample. You can start measuring charges with a scale and a spoon, then buy a powder measure later.

One last word:

Lead bullets are toxic. Powder is explosive. Reloading is safe IF you follow procedures (like not eating and working, washing your hands after handling ammo so you don't poison yourself). You can't smoke and reload. (Duh!) It's not something you do while watching television or babysitting, or partying with a group.

If you like working with tools and producing a precision product, reloading can be interesting and rewarding. If you're reloading to save money, it's a whole lot cheaper and easier to buy surplus and generic ammo.

It's possible to start reloading one caliber at a very slow pace . . . 20 rds an hour. But reloading at that pace can be really tedious. Once you have your equipment invested, it's possible to load several hundred rounds in a session, breaking the process into steps like cleaning and sizing cases. Then priming later. Then charging and seating bullets in a final session.

Now that I have space, the bench is full of "buckets" of components in different calibers and different stages of reloading.
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Old July 16, 2000, 01:58 PM   #3
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Ammonia eats your brass. DO NOT CLEAN WITH IT!!!!
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Old July 16, 2000, 03:51 PM   #4
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Frank, Jack answered you question mcuh better than I could have, but there is one thing I want to pass on to you. As Jack said equipment is expensive but try looking on line at these places and you can save lots of money, and in my experience the equipment is as good as you will get in any other type of transaction. I have been buying on E-bay for over a year now and have always been satisifed.

Carlyle Hebert
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Old July 17, 2000, 04:11 PM   #5
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Try the Lee turret press kit with auto index. I think they go for around $70 for the whole kit. FM reloading is cheaper than Midway. I'll have to find the number.
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Old July 17, 2000, 05:25 PM   #6
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IMO, if you want a single stage, stick with a proven press like the RCBS Rock Crusher, even if you graduate to a progressive, you'll find uses for the single stage. For a progressive, I'd stick to proven models, the Dillon 550 is hard to beat, and the Hornady is another quality progressive press in that price range. I don't recommend the Dillon SDB, since it doesn't use standard dies, and won't do rifle calibers.
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Old July 19, 2000, 01:11 AM   #7
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I know most of the folks here swear by the dillon, but I continue to make high quality loads on my Lee Hand Press (referred to above somewhere). You have almost gotten a reloading manual's worth of info here ... but DON'T FORGET TO BUY A DECENT MANUAL! Sorry ... there are just too many ways to get unsafe if you don't do your homework first. OK ... with that out of the way, I have recently learned that LEE Precision sells factory blemished (mechanically perfect) presses and carbide dies for about 40% off of their list prices and they charge $1.75 for shipping. They also have a discount coupon at the end of their manual for getting a first time reloader set up. It seems like they let you make one order for whatever you want for about 50% to 60% off. I think they send you seconds when they can, but it is a really easy way to get into it for very little cash up front. Admit it guys ... an extra single stage press is always handy ... even when it is a lowly LEE
Good Luck,
Have Fun,
Be Safe
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Old July 19, 2000, 01:31 AM   #8
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Hello Modest Frank.
May I echo the advice of "saands" and enlarge a bit? Get a couple of manuals, and the Gun Digest book on reloading. It will tell you about different presses and types of presses and the prices, more or less. You can get a good idea of what you want that way.

Another thought is to make some friends at the local range and ask them. Shooters are a neighborly bunch and might show you their set ups. Don't be too pushy, shooters can be a bit paranoid, too.

Feel free to contact me directly. What part of the world do you occupy?

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