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Old November 30, 2008, 09:44 PM   #1
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The Basics

If one desires to start hand loading pistol ammo but has no experience or equipment, where and how is the best way to start and learn? Maybe some .38 sp & .45 ACP ammo. Possibly some rifle ammo down the road. Any suggestions? Thanks.
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Old November 30, 2008, 10:33 PM   #2
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W E L C O M E!!!!!!!

Read the "sticky" at the top of the reloading page.
For the New Reloader: Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST

Get several loading manuals, read them, and come back here with questions.
I pledge allegiance to the Flag - - -, and to the Republic for which it stands….Our Forefathers were brilliant for giving us a Republic, not a democracy! Do you know the difference??? and WHY?
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Old November 30, 2008, 10:58 PM   #3
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Your first step is buying the best reference book or what I call Reloading for Dummies or The ABC's of Reloading from Krause Publications. Read it cover to cover, and then read it again while taking notes! Look for a mentor at your local club, range, or purveyor of supplies! Another more technical book, is Handloading for Competition by Glen Zediker.

There are several great reloading manuals of the real kind not the freebee ones! Freebee manuals are good for cross referencing data, at times. For meaty manuals a person can not go wrong with the Lyman49th, Hornady, and Sierra. One must always look up loads when you compare/cross-reference data. Especially in larger calibers as some data might be using different brass from yours. Case in point before the Hodgdon website upgrade they Hodgdon used WW brass to work up loads with, whereas Sierra used Fed cases in their 308 Winchester loading information. Now, Hodgdon does not list what brass the loads were worked up in.

Press - Single Stage or Turret presses are the best way to learn before advancing to any kind of progressive press. You will always have need for a single stage press. Redding and RCBS are good sources of all kinds of presses. RCBS Rockchucker Supreme for a single stage and Redding T7 for a turret press are basically the gold standard for the two different types.

Dies - I like Redding Dies, and I would get the carbide expander ball upgrade for bottle neck rifle cases. Dillon makes carbide rifle sizer dies, but you still need to use case lube and make sure you lube the inside of the case neck, too. I would just stick with regular dies for rifle cartridges. Dillon makes die sets specifically for their press so to speak, meaning that it does not come with a case mouth belling die; Redding makes a set of dies for progressive presses, too. I like Forster competition seaters, and they can be had as an individual item. Dies are pretty much threaded universally, except for Lyman 310 dies, and Dillon dies for the Square Deal B. Accuracy nuts will use hand dies, and they require an arbor press be used.

Shell holders (if the die set doesn't have them like Lee) or the appropriate shell plate for the progressive press. Remember that many shell holders work for more then one cartridge. I would do some home work, especially if you get a Dillon. Some cartridge conversions might only require you to get powder funnel for the new cartridge.

A tumbler will be a good investment, as clean cases will not harm you dies. There are vibratory and rotary tumblers out there. I like corn cob media treated with some Iosso case polish. You can get walnut in bulk at Petco or Pet Smart. Bulk corn cob grit is a great way to reduce the cost of commercially supplied media, because you pay through the nose for the treated media from other vendors.

MTM makes great loading block tray that handles most cartridges.

Case Lube is great for both conventional dies, and to treat your brass used in a progressive press even with carbide dies. That extra lubricity makes the cycling of the press a tad slicker! Dillon spray lube works well for shake and bake application. I like Imperial Die Wax for rifle cartridges when FL sizing.

Case Neck Brush to clean bottleneck rifle cases, copper bore brushes work well for this.

Dial Calipers either mechanical or electronic

Case Trimmer (Lee works, but Possum Hollow is better, Wilson makes the best hand powered Lathe trimmer, and Giraud is the best powered Trimmer)

Deburring/Chamfering Tool – like the Wilson one chucked into the Sinclair Deburring Tool Holder. I like the K&M VLD chamfering tool.

Primer Pocket Cleaner, reamer like the Hornady, and uniformer just remember that small primers are same size, where as large pistol and rifle are different sized in terms of height not width.

Primer pocket swager is an optional tool, RCBS makes one that mounts on single stage presses. Some will use the Hornady Reamer. Some will use the Dillon Super Swage.

Flash hole deburring tool is good tool to have

Primer Flip Tray is needed for loading pick up tubes for some primer systems like the Dillon.

Priming Tool (I like the RCBS (now even better with universal shell holder, but Sinclair makes the best)

Powder Scale - remember that is always better to have a mechanical scale as a back up to any electronic scale.

Powder Funnel kit with drop tubes especially if you intend to use powders like Varget.

Powder Trickler (used to tweak powder charges)

Powder Measure (nice for faster powder charges it does require a bit of learning curve to get consistent powder charges sort of rhythm thing) standard with progressive presses, but the RCBS Uniflow is nice! Redding makes a better one, and Harrell is the gold standard!

Hammer Type Bullet Puller (for taking down the boo boo's), and you will always need one of these. The Collet type work great for most rifle rounds, to keep from making a mess. The Hornady Cam Lock is nice tool.

Ammo boxes and labels, you can make your own labels with Avery Labels. I sometimes pick up the boxes from range trash, as the ones with plastic trays serve as a good loading block.

A notebook for recording your results! Saves covering the same ground twice!

A chronograph is great when working up loads, but is more a luxury in the beginning.
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Old December 2, 2008, 02:18 PM   #4
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You Tube has lots of videos.

Also Lee Precision website.
When all is said and done, there is a lot more said than done.
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Old December 2, 2008, 03:02 PM   #5
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Search is your friend, I was in your shoes a month ago. I found alot of valuable info here and glocktalk.
I bought a Lee Classic turret kit from Kempf
Best of luck.
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Old December 2, 2008, 04:51 PM   #6
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If you have a friend who is into reloading get him to teach you. There is no substitute for hands on training. I'm new to the reloading world. Fortunately I have a friend who has been rolling his own for almost thirty years. Once I purchased my equipment, he came over, showed me how to set my dies, and I was on my way. He is a phone call away if I have questions, and comes by to talk ballistics at least once a week. Not to mention the many conversations we have on the subject over the phone. If this option isnt available I think rn22723 gave some good advice.
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