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Old December 11, 2007, 08:11 PM   #1
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help for a new reloader

Ok i will make this sort & sweet:

I am considering reloading with the rise in ammo... I normally shoot at least twice a month. and i own the following calibers,

Hand gun: 9mm luger, .380acp, .40 S&W, .357 mag, 357 sig, 45acp, 454 casull,

I am more interested in reloading handgun cal, I rarely shoot my rifles anymore with the exception of my AR-15...

I am looking at a dillon 550b, to start....I have done some searching and reading, but my question is where to buy the best bullet heads for the price. I have saved all my spent brass, and that will last me a whilem but it looks as some bullet heads are outrageous, or am i looking in the wrong place...I know i will save more $$$ on .454, than 9mm. but is it woth the moey down?
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Old December 11, 2007, 09:36 PM   #2
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My advise for any new reloader...
Start out with some very basic and simple tools and go "single stage".
Once you get good at this, you can really put out quite a few rounds in a short period of time, perhaps enough for your needs.

This way you can actually LEARN about what you are doing. You will become very familiar with each operational step and will be able to troubleshoot problems better and better as time goes along.

These skills are VITAL when using a machine like a dillon or similar.. If you just jump into this with one of these machines your experience will very likely be very frustrating.

After you have learned and mastered reloading, then by all means jump into a progressive if you want to..

I started out this way and I'm glad I did..

Just a thought..
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Old December 11, 2007, 09:44 PM   #3
Tim R
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I like Rdubs way of thinking here. Good solid advice. Plus there is always a place for a single stage press on any bench.

As for the questions on finding bullets. I like and use for most of my business.
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Old December 11, 2007, 09:56 PM   #4
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Just like what RDub says ...

By "bullet heads" do you mean bullets? If so, then you first need to decide what you want to use them for. There are some good quality economical plated bullets out there from places like Berry's, Ranier, Western, and others. They work really well for shooting targets with most pistol calibers ... not sure if they are OK for Glocks (if that matters to you) or not, though, as they are soft like cast, but don't foul the barrel with lead ... so they are kind of in between cast (a no-no for Glocks as I understand) and jacketed.

If you really think that you are headed for a Dillon, then I'd start out with a single stage Lee press ... it will let you learn and you won't have to spend a fortune to get set up. The more complicated Lee progressives have a reputation of being problematic, but their single stage presses are simple, strong, and well designed.

I always suggest starting out simple before going into volume manufacturing!

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Old December 12, 2007, 04:35 AM   #5
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Amen on what Saands said. I have a 14 yr old lee classic single stage with the handle held on with electrical tape as it wore out the aluminum clamp. It is bolted down next to a 1 yr old Dillon 650. I use the single stage about 25-30 % of the time as there are many calibers I just can't do on the Dillon. The most important feature I think in a bench would be stability. if its rocking and rolling, it will piss you off!
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Old December 12, 2007, 07:42 AM   #6
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I started loading earlier this year, I did not start off with a single stage, and am about to graduate to a Dillon 550 TODAY when the gun shop opens. I did start very slowly with a Lee Pro 1000 and read Lee's reloading manual, it's my favorite reloading book period.

Regardless of what type of press you get you need at least one book on HOW to reload and one book with current load data, usually the How To books will have enough recipes to get you started.

A fully loaded round of ammo is a cartridge, a bullet is the thing you're calling a "bullet head"'ll get the terminology right after you read about five pages of any manual. If you're just shooting paper or steel cast bullets are way cheaper than the FMJ stuff you're seeing...Glock barrels don't like cast (supposedly, I have no experience with that) but I've fired thousands of cast bullets through other weapons. is a site I was introduced to through a TFL member, is one that came highly recommended to me by an IDPA shooter.

Just remember that by buying in lots of 500 or 1000 just calculate the cost of each bullet, add a few cents for primers and powder, and your total cost per cartridge should be cheaper than factory. If not you need to find somewhere else to buy the bullets.

Before any big purchases I highly recommend getting the ABCs of Reloading or Modern Reloading by Richard Lee.
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Old December 12, 2007, 11:38 AM   #7
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MidSouth Shooters Supply
Graf & Son
Berry Bullets (fully plated bullets)
Make sure to get the coorect diameter bullets for your calibers, some are close to each other but not interchangeable. lead is usually .001 larger in diameter than jacketed.
Have a nice day!
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Old December 12, 2007, 02:36 PM   #8
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You have to learn - and read a lot - and talk to some of your buddies and get their input. But in my view, there is no reason to start on a single stage press vs a progressive press.

Good habits are good habits - learning your press before you run lots of volume - knowing how to convert calibers - making sure you have quality ammo within specs - powder drops that are very consistent need to learn all that.

But whether you choose a 550 - isn't the issue, in my view. I like the Dillon equipment - the SDB is for pistol calibers only, the 550 does a lot of rifle calibers but it does not automatically index, the 650 does a lot of calibers - it automatically indexes and it has a powder check station which is a big plus in my view. The extra $100 for the powder check option is a deal breaker for me - making the 650 the best buy in my view long term. The dillon SDB - I don't think will do the .357 sig or the .454 cassul - but I know the 550 and the 650 will handle the calibers you listed.
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Old December 12, 2007, 04:55 PM   #9
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boomer135 Welcome To Tfl!!!!!!!!!

Read this first:

I own a Hornady LNL Progressive and a Dillon 550, I cannot, repeat, cannot see why anyone would choose the 550 over the LNL. The LNL is simply far superior to the 550.

I have the 550 dedicated to one cartridge, but because of the versatility of the bushing system on the LNL, where you can changeover from one cartridge to another so quickly and easily, I load everything else on the LNL. And this appears to be what you need as well.

Also, the cost of the LNL is a lot less than the 550, not only in initial cost, but greaty less to buy all the quick changeover systems you will need.

If you have "budget constraints", the Lee Classic Turret would be an excellent choice.
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Old December 13, 2007, 07:18 AM   #10
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Lee Classic Turret

Would be my suggestion, less than 150 bucks for the whole Kit from
If you don't want to run with the index rod in (turning each die stage), then lift the rod out and you are doing each die single stage in batches.
Takes a second then to manually turn the turret to the next die. Have extra turetts and dies all set up for each caliber, and it is a snap to switch.
The good thing with the classic, if you change your mind you can drop the index rod in, and your running with the turret turning with each crank of the handle.
I would at least consider it, many on this forum use it and love it!
Happy Reloading!

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Old December 13, 2007, 11:53 AM   #11
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I have given more thought to the question of "single-stage vs progressive" for a first tool. I have a friend that has flown fighters in the Navy and 747's commercially. He say, and I believe him, that anyone that can fly a Cessna can -- in 99% of all cases of weather, terrain, mechanical condition, -- fly a 747 or an F18. It's the one percent that gets you! There can't be any argument that more is happening simultaneously on a progressive than on a single stage press -- It's a higher performance tool. My recommendation is still to do one operation at a time, and in batches, like the reloading manuals recommend ... checking the output from one operation for uniformity of results (e.g. using a flashlight to check the level of powder in the cases lined up in a reloading tray) before going onto the next operation. It's amazing how perceptive you will become about the force required to resize, the sound of the primer popping out, the force to reprime, the look of the level of the powder, etc. This perception will be a lot harder (if not impossible) to develop if you are doing all the steps with a single pull of the handle. Furthermore, on a progressive, one of the things that you give up for speed is the ability to look at the uniformity of the results of an individual operation.

Just my thoughts ... and worth almost every penny you paid for them

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Old December 13, 2007, 12:21 PM   #12
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wow thanks for all the help... I would like to go with a dillon 650 but i am going to do more research and reading, I am headed to the bookstore now to get the reloading manual mentioned before...
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Old December 13, 2007, 08:49 PM   #13
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Yes, start with a single stage. The Lee Anniversary kit comes to mind. It even comes with a decent reloading handbook. It's not like the single stage press will be wasted once you "graduate" to a progressive. You'll find yourself constantly using it for the odd caliber you don't load in volume, a special crimp die, universal decapping die, primer pocket swager, etc, etc, etc.

Looking back, the only thing I don't still use from my anniversary kit is the powder scale. It's a good enough scale, but I prefer the speed of my PACT BBK.
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