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Old December 18, 2000, 07:26 AM   #1
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Join Date: October 22, 2000
Location: Northeast OH
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Yesterday I decided to take the plunge and buy my reloading equipment. I keep talking about doing it, but that wasn't getting me anywhere. Here's what I ordered:

1000 Remington 45 ACP Bulk Pistol Bullets, 230 gr FMJ RN
500 Remington 45 ACP Pistol Brass
1 Lee Pro-1000 Shell Plate Carrier, No. 11 44 Special, 44 Magnum, 45 Colt
1 Lee Pro 1000,45 ACP
1 Lee Safety Powder Scale
1 Hornady M-3 Case tumblers, 110 volt
1 Lee Modern Reloading (book)
1 Lee Carbide 3-Die Pistol Die Set, 44 Mag
1 Hornady One Shot Tumbler Media

I figure I can buy powder (1 lb Alliant Bulleye) and primers locally and save on the outrageous shipping costs.

I know I can buy brass and bullets cheaper at local gun shows but I wanted to start off with new components to eliminate (or at least minimize) one of the variables until I get some experience under my belt.

Is there anything I've missed and need to get?

BTW, what's the easiest way to check the charge weight on a progressive?

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Old December 18, 2000, 10:44 AM   #2
Join Date: November 17, 2000
Location: Wisconsin
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You'll need a set of calipers if you don't already have, to check for overall cartridge length (OAL).

Safety glasses, if you don't already own. (I always wear just in case).

For checking charge weights, I just pull a case after the powder measure dispenses the charge, and carefully place (gently dump) the powder into the scale pan - need to tap the case to get any stuck kernels out of the flash holes.

You need to cycle the machine several times so things settle, otherwise you'll see variation in charge weights. Also, your press manufacturer (Lee) may recommend that the entire reloading sequence be performed to assure consistent powder charging.
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Old December 18, 2000, 10:49 AM   #3
Bud Helms
Join Date: December 31, 1999
Location: Middle Georgia
Posts: 13,155

" ...what's the easiest way to check the charge weight on a progressive?"

On my Dillon 550, I just stick a clean, unprimed (unsized), case in that station position and pull the handle, weigh it, adjust accordingly, repeat as necessary.

"Is there anything I've missed and need to get?"

You probably don't have near as many reloading books as you should. Cross-checking those loads will become a habit. The differences between the manuals is "interesting".

- sensop
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Old December 18, 2000, 11:04 AM   #4
Mike Irwin
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 39,097
No offense, but DITCH that Piece of Plastic S*** Lee "Safety" Scale. Send it back, use it for target practice, run it over with your truck, but don't rely on it as a safety valve.

The ones I have seen and used have:

Been VERY VERY easy to bump out of the selected weight. That's not a good thing when you're trying to work up a new load.

Been very spotty in their accuracy. Also not a good thing.

Been very sensitive to dust & dirt contamination.

That said, it's pretty obvious that I don't really care for the Lee Scale.

If, however, you're stuck with it for awhile, then order a set of calibrated scale weights, and use them to check your "safety" scale on a REGULAR basis.

Also, clean the scale and recalibrate it with the weights before EVERY loading session. When it's not in use, keep it covered to prevent dust contamination.

Finally, hit a gunshow and get an RCBS 505 beam scale. I've got either a 505 or a 510 (can never remember).

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Old December 18, 2000, 11:05 AM   #5
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Join Date: November 4, 2000
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The thing I missed when I started was a powder funnel. Cheap and very handy. Lets you put the powder back into the case after checking it without spilling or slowly tapping.
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Old December 18, 2000, 06:53 PM   #6
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I agree with Mike Irwin.

Get rid of that Lee scale and buy a real scale like Dillon or something similar. I too have one of those Lee scale (which I never used) and few weeks ago I checked/calibrated all my scales and Lee scale was off by 0.3 grains when checking against 10 grain check weight and 0.2 grains when ckecking against 5 grain check weight. Lee was consistantly reading too low! If I was depending on that Lee scale I would have been loading 5.8 or 5.9 grains instead of 5.6 grains!

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Old December 19, 2000, 01:29 AM   #7
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...and I'll second what taco says.

I noticed your mention of "a pound of Bullseye". Bullseye is good powder and economical, but it's anything BUT clean-burning. You'll have residue all over your pistol after firing just a few rounds. You might want to reconsider and go with something cleaner-burning---and nearly any other powder is cleaner-burning! Winchester 231 is a good choice.

Have fun with your equipment. You'll get a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction out of it.
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Old December 19, 2000, 11:29 AM   #8
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Hmmm... That's exactly opposite of what I've found... My Lee scales are both dead on... I own two Lees, one Dillon/Ohaus beam, and a pact BBK. I find the Lees to be more accurate. They're a little touchy to use, but they both work well. I actually find the Lees to be considerably more sensitive than my other scales. You can't be too hamhanded with 'em tho... Set it up, zero it, and if you move it, zero it again...

At any rate, work your loads up for your gun... The scale doesn't matter all that much anyway, since you are NOT going to take your friend Bubba's favorite pet load and just blindly start loading, right? Right?

A good way to check for OAL, etc. is to TAKE THE BARREL OUT of your.45, and then see if the rounds drop in... Don't make 'em too short, but you'll know if you're trying to make 'em too long.

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Old December 19, 2000, 01:24 PM   #9
Mike Irwin
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 39,097

Which Lee scales do you have? The plastic Safety Scale, or one of their other scales?

And I do take some exception to the statement that the scale really isn't important.

Quite frankly, the scale is THE most important piece of equipment you can buy. Handloading without one is a disaster waiting to happen.

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Old December 19, 2000, 02:41 PM   #10
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I have the "Safety Scales" which have the metal bodies and the plastic beams. They work perfectly fine. In fact, I prefer 'em to the Dillon/Ohaus beam scale (which is similar to the 505). I use the electronic scale mostly for weighing bullets. It ain't worth a darn outdoors either.

Knowing how much powder you're using is the important part. The scale is merely ONE way of checking this. It's also what you use to get a _ROUGH_ idea of how your powder measure throws charges.

For example, I have NO IDEA what charge weight of H322 I'm shooting in my 6PPC rifle. I know what the powder measure setting is tho. The load comes a bit over halfway up the neck. I'd estimate it at being about 29-29.4 grains, but I'm just guessing right now. And yes, it's hot, but the rifle shoots very well with that load, significantly better than with milder loads. The bullets (Bart's Custom 68 grainers) are also jammed about five thou into the lands... So I end up having to throw away my brass at the end of the weekend's matches (it gets fatigued from the pressure, and then the FL resizing/bumping - I'm only moving the shoulder about a thousandth or so, but you do that 25 or so times, the brass gets tired)... Big deal, because I've usually spent a lot more traveling than the $40 or so I'll have in the 20 pieces of brass. When the rifle is capable of shooting 0.1" groups, I'm happy.

Of course, for one of the my different barrels, the numbers will all change. And if I play with different bullets or powders, the numbers also change.

Every chamber is different. My .243 Savage 110 shoots very well (for a $200 skinny barrel rifle - 3/4" at 100), with minimal pressure signs, when I load it a full grain over published max with 55 gr. Noslers and Varget. But then again, I _do_ know what I'm doing, and I've generally bounced loading data off other benchresters if I'm playing with something I'm not familiar with...

For new shooters, I'm a big fan of compressed/semi-compressed charges. If it almost fills the case (and it's a squishy powder), that's a good thing. I _DO NOT_ recommend that a beginner load with 231, Bullseye, or one of the high speed powders. I'm FAR more concerned with double charging a case than I am with someone carefully working up a load that turns out to be a tenth of a grain above the manual's max charge...

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Old December 19, 2000, 06:29 PM   #11
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Don't forget to get a bullet puller, an impact puller with collets. Probably run you around $15, well worth it. And like Ea2 said, get some calipers, very valuable, I use my calipers a lot.
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Old December 19, 2000, 10:39 PM   #12
Mike Irwin
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 39,097

What you're describing, as pertaining to loading RIFLE cartrides, unfortunatly has little to no validity when loading handgun cartridges with powders in the speed range of Bullseye, Unique, or 231. The kinds of variations you get in load weight when loading a rifle cartridge could cause a catastrophc failure if applied to a handgun cartridge with fast burning powder.

When you're a newbie to loading, and loading handgun cartridges, a scale MUST be your first stop.

Otherwise, how do you adequate judge what constitutes a safe load in a .38 Spl. when the powder takes up perhaps 1/3 of the case volumn, if that much?

As for not starting with a fast burning powder like 231. I'm sorry, but are you joking? You don't have the kinds of choices when loading for handgun that you do when loading for rifle, either. The majority of the powders that are really suitable for handgun rounds like the .38 or .45 all have relatively low fill rates.

I've been loading for over 20 years, now, and started with 231, and have since used over 200 pounds of it. It would have been more, but I was away at college for a couple of years.

I've never double charged a case, but I've also NEVER started a loading session without checking the charges being thrown by my progressive against my scale.

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Old December 20, 2000, 11:04 AM   #13
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I agree with the idea of using at least three reloading books. I always check one against at least one other, to make sure the powder weights and OAL are not a mistype or just wrong.

I also use a case guage for almost every caliber I load (.223, 22-250, 30-06, .45 ACP, 40 S&W, 9x23). The only exception is the 9mm Makarov, and that's only because I haven't got around to finding one yet. A case guage ensures that your round will chamber, without having to use the barrel of your gun.

If you only neck size rifle brass, the case guage is probably of limited value. However, you are currently loading pistol rounds that should be full length sized anyway.

"Our job is to give people not what they want, but what we decide they ought to have."
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"To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men."
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Old December 20, 2000, 11:41 AM   #14
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Lee's charts and dippers, along with the fixed cavity autodisks, are darn near foolproof. As you learn, you can modify your methods. As for filling cases - For example, I'd recommend a beginner start off with AA7 for a .45 instead of AA2 - Yeah, it'll be dirtier, but there's less room for errors, and errors will be more obvious. How about Unique in the 9mm? IIRC, a double charge won't fit... And I think that 4227 takes up a fair amount of room in the .38... Start 'em with light bullets, and you're using still more powder.

Hey, I've shot my share of 148/2.8 gr. bullseye .38 loads... and they work very well. But it's not the sorta load I'd start a newbie on... I'd take 'em to the range, and work up a load with a 110 gr. jacketed...

Oh yeah - I don't start newbies off with a progressive, or even a semi-progressive. I start 'em off the way I like to load - With a bunch of blocks. And after the charges have been dumped, I stress that they should take the blocks, and the little mag-light I keep in my toolkit, and inspect the cases for visual uniformity of load. Even with the .38 special and bullseye, you'll see a difference.

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Old December 20, 2000, 01:14 PM   #15
Mike Irwin
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 39,097
Hum... Let's see... Did I pick up the .069 or the .074 powder scoop...

Did I put the .069 or the .074 disk in the measure...

That's why you need a scale, Bogie, to take one more aspect of the "Human pucker factor" out of the equasion.

The difference between the .069 and .074 disks or scoops is, depending on cartridge, enough to cause a severe overload.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Reloading without a powder scale is as stupid as reloading without a loading manual.
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Old December 20, 2000, 04:38 PM   #16
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Hey, my Lee Safety scale works just fine, tracks with my neighbors more expensive RCBS scale using the same cal weights. Like everything else reloading, you just gotta pay attention to detail and set it up right. Or go buy factory ammo.

Watch the charge weights with that Bullseye powder. Stuff burns fast, so not exceeding max charge/OAL ya-de-dah is critical. I use it myself for other rounds, but it definitely is not the first choice for those magnum numbers. And ditto, it is kinda dirty.

Take your time, and bask in the glow you get the first time you shoot one of your own loads that really makes your gun right. That's what it's all about.
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