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Old December 29, 2006, 11:26 AM   #1
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Pro shot shell reloader wants to try pistol reloading

Well, maybe not a pro, but I started reloading when I was in jr high and am now 31. My Father and I shot trap for many years and got into reloading right away with a Mec jr. After a few years we bought a Mec progressive, all you got to do is insert a used shell and wad before each pull and you get a loaded shell on each stroke. For christmas this year my wife bought me a new Beretta PX4 .40cal. I have been wanting to get another pistol for some time, after regretably selling my S&W 1006 10mm back in colledge. I figured with a .40cal it would be a little cheaper to shoot and something the wife could handle too. We made a stop by sporting goods place to pick up some target ammor to go try it out and i found that It was quite higher than I expected. $16 for a box of 50 Winchester 180gfmj the cheapest i could find.

My questions to the community are, after reading the beginners sticky and serching the forums, how much a box can one load target shells for in .40cal?
Im looking at Lee loaders, mainly because of budget and the fact that I dont need to load 500-1000 rounds a month. If I bought somthing like the Lee 4 station turrent press, other than dies and the reload supplies, do I need anything else to complete the package? I have read that .40cal resizing is not an issue, that the cases are usually short anyway? I like all-in-one stations and am capable of tuning it if and when needed. Mostly I just want to know how reloading brass is going to be different then the plastic im use too.....

Last edited by jdtech1998; December 29, 2006 at 11:27 AM. Reason: Grammer
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Old December 29, 2006, 01:59 PM   #2
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it depends

Without doing any research, I'd say you should easily be able to cut that $16.00 price tag in half! IF you have a lot of brass,(it sounds like you don't), then that expense is 0. If not then you have to figure an initial expense to get some once fired brass. Lots of internet supply houses have it, some are cheaper than others. I got 1K from midway, it was mostly speer, good brass. Also buying in bulk for the bullets is important. Copper plated from ranier, berrys, or westcoast,(now X-treme bullets), are the best way to go. Jacketed FMJ, or hollow points will run much more than copper plated. Same goes for primers, 1k will save a few bucks over 100 at a time. You may already have some suitable powder from your shotgun loading.

The lee turret is a good choice, just be SURE to get the new classic model. Also get the optional safety prime. And the pro disc measure, then you should be set, with of course a set of lee carbide dies,(four die set to include the final crimp die).
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Old December 30, 2006, 01:16 AM   #3
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I agree with snuffy. You should be able to load your own for half or maybe less than the cost of factory ammo. Buying in bulk is a very real factor. If you find a good deal in components, stock up.

Given your needs, any single stage or turret press will work just fine. You will also need a powder scale and calipers if you don't already have them. A powder measure is not necessary, but will speed up loading nicely.

As already mentioned, many powders suitable for shotshells also work very well for pistol cartridges.
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Old December 30, 2006, 01:59 AM   #4
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I say, buy a dillon, you start reloading, you are going to load 400 or more a month. with the Mec, remember how much more enjoyable it was to just turn out a pile of rounds? remember how you shot more as you did not mind making more?
Same theory applies here. plus, I think the money saves itself with a reloader. Used single stages are available at 10% of new, used dillons go for nearly new cost.
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Old December 30, 2006, 04:32 AM   #5
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One word of caution.

The .40S&W is a HIGH pressure cartridge, as opposed to your experience with low pressure Trap or Skeet loads.

The small case size of the .40 will not tolerate much variation in the amount of propellant you place into the case.

Whatever press you decide upon, pay particular attention to how your powder charges are being regulated.

Also, .40S&W brass cannot be reloaded as many times as a low pressure round (i.e. 45ACP). Four to five times is about it for many experienced reloaders. Keep a count on your brass.
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Old January 2, 2007, 10:30 AM   #6
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common powder?

Been reading through the reload formulas and it looks like there are a couple of powders that one could use for several kinds of loads. As far as my trapload powder, we used 700x, it has very large flakes and would probably not meter well in a automated dispenser from what i have read nor have I seen any formulas that use it. It looks like Powerpistol is common but has a lot of flash and bang. Tightgroup seems to be a very efficient powder and versitile aswell. Any recomendations? I will be mostly loading 180g fmj target loads and maybe some lighter grain jhp loads for fun. Any defence ammo I will use out of the box. Also are there just small and large primers for pistols? I think .40cal takes smalls right? We used Winchester and CCI primers in trap loads and I cant say I ever noticed a difference. One more thing, I read that you should not use lead bullets with the "poly something" riffleing which my px4 has. Why is this, am I stuck buying jacketed bullets, can i used the copper plated ones? Thx all!
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Old January 3, 2007, 11:41 PM   #7
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Some important extras

A good scale (very, very important). You can get by without one, using the Lee dipper method, but you need to be very aware of the shortcomings.

For accurate loads you must be very consistant about how you use the dipper. And, you must have the charts that tell how many grains of each kind of powder each dipper holds. A dipper that holds 5.0gr of Red Dot will hold a different weight of 700x and still another weight of a different powder.

Loading by volume for pistols and rifles can be done safely, but it is a pain, AND in order to do it safely, you still need a scale to be sure the listed weight of a particular powder is what it actually delivers. Usually they won't be off much, a couple of tenths of a grain maybe, but depending on the exact specifics of the round (and the gun) a couple of tenths of a grain could be the difference between a safe load and one that isn't.

A good powder measure will be desirable eventually. Initially the expense seems unnecessary, but once you get into it, you will understand what I mean.

A loading block is a necessity.
A loading manual (more than one is better) is also a necessity.
A set of calipers is very useful. A case length gauge can substitute, but is not as versatile.

There is a lot more that I could list, but instead I will say, get a reloading manual, and "The ABCs of Reloading". Between them they will familiarize you with the steps and the equipment. And most of the do's and don'ts.

reloading for a pistol, you will quickly tire of the work involved to make single rounds with a Lee Loader. A press, either single stage or turret is a better investment. I would recommend against starting out with a progressive reloader. It can be done, but the learning curve can be steep. Ruined components and bad ammo happen to all of us in the beginning, and the progressive makes mistakes easier to make because it is more complicated.

After you get the hang of it, they will work fine, but until then, they can give trouble. I have been reloading for pistols and rifles for over 35 years, so I have a little experience, currently loading for 20+ calibers. I did load shotshells years ago, but stopped because I just didn't shoot shotguns very often.

Alot of the steps built into shotgun reloader are performed as seperate steps for metallic cases. Get a couple of books and read up on it, before you start spending money on equipment. A little knowledge can save a lot of cash.

Most reloading companies offer "starter kits". This looks like a lot of money up front, but the kits have everything you need, and some of what you will want later. I built my reloading setups before the kits were on the market, so I can't rate them, but for equipment, I prefer RCBS or Lyman over Lee, even though Lee is a little bit cheaper. I just like the features of some brands over others, and don't mind paying a couple of bucks more to get what I want. The cheaper stuff will still turn out good ammo, if you do your part right, so get what seems best for your situation.

You made a good start asking here, but don't get all your info from the internet. Sometimes we make ...ah,....errors. Ya, that's it.

Seriously, you are on the right track, do your research, THEN spend your money.

And, on the subject of spending money, consider this, a lot of what you will need and want can often be found used. Often in servicable condition, and sometimes for pennies on the dollar. Check gunshops, gunshows, and your local want ads. Lots of times I see guys selling their reloading sets (and components) in the "nickel ads", because they quit for one reason or another. You might just fine everything you need in one place, and maybe for cheap.
Good luck, and enjoy. Reloading is the other part of a shooting hobby. Some people don't like it, but I enjoy making the ammo almost as much as shooting it!

Let us know what you decide, aand how things turn out. There are lots of folks here to explain the confusing stuff, and some to confuse the easy stuff! Be safe, have fun. Write if you get work. (or get stuck).
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old January 4, 2007, 10:04 PM   #8
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just my .02... for starting a Lee 4 hole progressive is great, thats what I started on, it's inexpenxive, not cheap, and cranks out some quality ammo and it IS auto indexing... nice machine.
Titegroup in .40 is great... loads are great for me in 155, 165 and 180... but watch as Titegroup is a small charge and easy to light charge or squib.
i just started using power pistol and like it alot.
AA#5 is also a great performer in .40 Pick up brass from the LE shooters at the range.
When I go, I always look at what people are loading from,... ie., Blazer Win white box, etc, and then try to grab up the good stuff after they leave,,,
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Last edited by shooter chef; January 4, 2007 at 10:06 PM. Reason: Definitely agree with all amp said... PLUS...
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Old January 7, 2007, 04:12 PM   #9
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The Lee 4 hole Turret is an excellent press. Be sure to get the cast iron one.

Here's my procedure for loading pistol rounds.

I count out and visually inspect 250 spent cases.
Throw those cases into the tumbler and clean/polish 'em.
Take those cases to the reloading station and deprime/resize 'em.
Take 'em back to my study and using a Lee Auto Prime, prime and inspect again.
Back out to the building and carefully weigh the powder from the dipper.
Bell the case mouth and hand dip the powder for all 250 primed cases.
Seat 250 bullets. Measure OAL every 10 rounds
Crimp 250 cartridges using the Lee FCD. If for an auto, measure OD every 10 rounds.

Yeah I use my press as a single stage press, but thats just decades of habit. Using the above procedure I've never had a misprimed case, never exploded a primer, never loaded a squib round and never double charged a case. I've been careful and lucky.
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Old January 7, 2007, 04:20 PM   #10
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I've been reloading for the 40S&W with Red Dot powder (a shotgun powder) and have used 700 X and 800X occasionaly. Also use Ranier copper plated bullets. Go to the powder Mfg's website (Alliant or IMR) and get reloading info there. John
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