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Old October 7, 2013, 11:29 AM   #1
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Starting to reload

I am thinking about starting to reload with ammo prices in my area raising routinely. I'm not rich, but I would like some recommendations on some decent budget reload set ups. I will be reloading for .243, .308, .40 and .223
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Old October 7, 2013, 12:21 PM   #2
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Might want to look here:
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Old October 7, 2013, 03:23 PM   #3
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I've been reloading .223 and 30-06 for years and more recently 45-70 and .308 on a RCBS Jr. You don't need to spend a bundle on a press unless you want to go progressive to load your .40 on. I personally prefer single stage for rifle cartridges.
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Old October 7, 2013, 05:12 PM   #4
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I am thinking about starting to reload with ammo prices in my area raising routinely.
Reloading is fun, relaxing, sometimes stressful and at times very satisfying, and pretty much everyone of us said we're going to do it to save money on the cost of ammo. The plain truth is I doubt I'll ever break even as I can't stop myself from trying all the new powders, bullets, and precision equipment as they're just to cool sounding not too! With that said the Lee kits are very affordable and from everything I've read and heard from friends they do a good job. I use mostly RCBS equipment and am extremely satisfied that it is going to easily outlive me.
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Old October 7, 2013, 05:49 PM   #5
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What Jerry45 said. With the twist-All my reloading is done on a single stage.Never been In a hurry to load,Never will be. One at a time done very well and then the next one. I load for, 45,223,22-250,243,308,6MMBR and soon 25-06.
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Old October 7, 2013, 07:17 PM   #6
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Check gun shows and Craig's List for good-used equipment. Guys upgrade and put their old stuff on the market.

About the only thing to worry about is a scratched sizing die. Otherwise, hardly anything ever wears out.
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Old October 7, 2013, 07:22 PM   #7
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Should've put this in the reloading forum...
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Old October 7, 2013, 07:29 PM   #8
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+1 for Art

That is a great suggestion. A lot of my reloading equipment (all of my dies and quite a bit more) was purchased used through E-bay, forums like this, gunbroker, etc.

I started with a Lee press kit and continue to use the press as well as a lot of the other things.

Buy your books, "ABC's of Reloading", Lyman and whatever manuals you need new, but good used hardware is out their for much less than new.
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Old October 7, 2013, 11:04 PM   #9
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I have started with an old Lee D press and a Challenger kit that was added later.
You have everything you need to start with the Lee kit at an economical price. It is certainly no Dillon or even RCBS but my ammo doesn't seem to notice the difference. The only thing you should NEED is a case trimmer.

As others have stated the ABC's of reloading are essential. I would add the Lyman 49th to that and as many other print loading manuals you can afford. Have fun a be safe!
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Old October 9, 2013, 08:08 PM   #10
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Just talked with a coworker about this today. He's in the same boat as you, getting started. Ebay had Lee start up packages for as little as $125.00 and scads of dies for nearly anything. I'm still using an RCBS Rockchucker that I bought used in the mid 70s, along with a powder measure and 30-30 dies. Nice thing about RCBS is its "forever" warrantee. BTW, welcome to a life-long addiction. There is no rehab
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Old October 9, 2013, 08:37 PM   #11
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Not sure what your budget is but take a close look at the Forster Coax press, especially if your loading mostly rifle loads, its spendy for a single stage but very nice. Since your new you probably don't know yet but the die floats so to speak which helps the case/bullet self center giving less runout.
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Old October 9, 2013, 09:33 PM   #12
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If you're thinking about getting into reloading for saving some money. Well think again. I've been reloading for 20 years and have spent a small fortune. It only gets worse. Just buy your one box of shells a year and move on.
This is for people who have a serious problem. Once a week we all go to "Reloaders Anonamis".
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Old October 9, 2013, 09:52 PM   #13
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Ebay had Lee start up packages for as little as $125.00 and
Cabela's had the Lee Breechlock kit in the last flier they sent me for $99 ......
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Old October 9, 2013, 10:46 PM   #14
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eBay is good but you have to know your prices and not go over. I've bought used dies and sold them on eBay for more money than what I bought new ones at midway. Some people get caught up in trying to win. Yea you won, now I'll order mine new for $15.00 dollars cheaper than your used.
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Old October 10, 2013, 06:26 AM   #15
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Speaking of gunshows....i was at one this past weekend, valley forge, pa, and was looking for primers and powders...i came home empty handed. First of all, i wanted some.bluedot and was told that they stopped making it for three months. Then when i tried to buy primers, they told me i had to buy an equal amount of brass in order to sell me primers. Then, they were selling pwders for about $5-10 more then whats in stores. I did, however, see some good deals on press equipment and dies.

For the OP, id stay away from ebay for dies....way over priced. Ive been buying dies straight from! And i use a standard single stage lee classic. And rcbs dies. All in all, i think i spend about $300 when i first started. Mind you that was just .308.
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Old October 10, 2013, 05:39 PM   #16
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"This is for people who have a serious problem. Once a week we all go to "Reloaders Anonamis"

Yeah, that's not working out. My chapter spends too much time discussing equipment and component prices with out really getting down to the therapy angle.
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Old October 10, 2013, 06:09 PM   #17
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I feel ya man, same here ! Lol
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Old October 10, 2013, 06:46 PM   #18
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You can go big as you want or just go simple.
I bought a $13 Herter's Press (cast Iron) many moons ago. 1957 in fact. That and a manual, a set of 30-30 dies and a balance scale and I was off and running. It didn't take long to go for a powder measure. I got the Lyman 55. Hey, I am still using that stuff. Did I save money reloading? Per shot yes, total cost no. I did shoot a lot.

The only problems I ever had with that press, was once Herters quit, you could not get shell holders. I had a machinist friend make me an adapter so it would take standard shell holders. Also I broke a priming arm. I just got a hand priming tool.

If you want to go for something this simple for starters, I would only say go for a cast iron or steel press . No aluminum. I think Lee has a cast iron one? I really like that Lyman 55 too. It has the capacity for anything you may ever want to load. 3 different slides, so it does great on small amounts of powder too.

Oh, some presses have a priming arm. If not go for a hand priming tool.

You don't need to break the bank to get started. Have fun!
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Old October 10, 2013, 06:54 PM   #19
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Once a week we all go to "Reloaders Anonamis"
I got tired of falling off the wagon and just go to the range anyway....Feel no need to fight it any longer.
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Old October 10, 2013, 07:37 PM   #20
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Post WTB ads at your local gun clubs and shooting ranges. You will need a press, dies, powder measure, scale, shell holder and a way to lube cases at the barest minimum. Lots of other cool accessories can really run up the cost, some of which are very handy and some are more marketing hype. The RCBS Jr. press is one excellent basic press - mine has been going strong for over 30 years. You may have to get one or two things here and one or two there to complete your set, but that can be a way to save some serious money.

Don't forget to check your local Craigs List and garage sales
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Old October 10, 2013, 10:59 PM   #21
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Thanks for asking our advice.

10 Advices for the novice loader

I have thought of a few things I think are useful for handloaders to know or to consider which seem to be almost universally mentioned, so I put together this list of 10 advices.

Much is a matter of personal taste and circumstance, though. So, all advice carries this caveat, "your mileage may vary".

So you can better evaluate my words, here is the focus of my experience. I load for handguns (44 Mag, 45 ACP, 45 Colt, 454 Casull, 9mm, 357 Mag, 480 Ruger) a couple hundred per sitting and go through 100 to 500 centerfire rounds per month. I don't cast....yet.

When I bought my first gun (.357 Magnum Dan Wesson revolver), I bought, at the same time, a reloading setup because I knew I could not afford to shoot if I did not reload my own ammo. My setup was simple. A set of dies, a press, a 2" x 6" plank, some carriage bolts and wing nuts, a scale, two loading blocks. I just mounted the press on the plank wedged into the drawer of an end table. I did not use a loading bench at all.

It cost me about 1/4 of factory ammo per round and paid for itself pretty quickly.

I still believe in a minimalist approach and and try to keep my inventory of tools low. I do not keep my loading gear set up when not in use, either, but pack them away in small toolboxes until the next loading session.

Now, here are my Ten Advices.

Advice #1 Use Reliable Reference Sources Wisely - Books, Videos, Web Sites, etc.

Study up in loading manuals until you understand the process well, before spending a lot of (or any) money on equipment.

Read as many manuals as you can, for the discussion of the how-to steps found in their early chapters. The reason you want more than one or two manuals is that you want to read differing authors/editors writing styles and find ones that "speak" to you. What one manual covers thinly, another will cover well so give better coverage of the subject; one author or editor may cover parts of the subject more thoroughly than the others. The public library should have manuals you can read, then decide which ones you want to buy. Dated, perhaps but the basics are pretty unchanging.

I found "The ABC's of Reloading" to be a very good reference. Containing no loading data but full of knowledge and understanding of the process. I am told the older editions are better than the newer ones, so the library is looking even better.

There are instructional videos now that did not exist in the '70s when I started, but some are better than others. Filter all casual information through a "B.S." filter.

Only after you know the processing steps of loading can you look at the contents of of a dealer's shelves, a mail-order catalog or a reloading kit and know what equipment you want to buy. If you are considering a loading kit, you will be in a better position to know what parts you don't need and what parts the kits lack. If building your own kit from scratch, you will be better able to find the parts that will serve your into the future without having to do trade-ins.

Advice #2 All equipment is good. But is it good FOR YOU?

Almost every manufacturer of loading equipment makes good stuff; if they didn't, they would lose reputation fast and disappear from the marketplace. Generally you get what you pay for and better equipment costs more. Cast aluminum is lighter and less expensive but not so abrasion resistant as cast iron. Cast iron lasts practically forever. Aluminum generally takes more cleaning and lubrication to last forever. Just think about what you buy. Ask around. Testimonials are nice. But if you think Ford/Chevy owners have brand loyalty, you have not met handloaders. Testimonials with reasoning behind them are better. RCBS equipment is almost all green, Dillon-blue, Lee-red. Almost no manufacturers cross color lines and many handloaders simply identify themselves as "Blue" or whatever. Make your own choices.

About brand loyalties, an example: Lee Precision makes good equipment, but is generally considered the "economy" equipment maker (though some of their stuff is considered preferable to more expensive makes, as Lee has been an innovator both in price leadership which has introduced many to loading who might not otherwise have been able to start the hobby and in introduction of innovative features like their auto-advancing turret presses). But there are detractors who focus on Lee's cheapest offerings to paint even their extremely strong gear as inferior. My advice: Ignore the snobs.

On Kits: Almost every manufacturer makes a kit that contains everything you need to do reloading (except dies and the consumables). A kit is decent way to get started. Eventually most people wind up replacing most of the components of the kit as their personal taste develops (negating the savings you thought the kit gave you), but you will have gotten started, at least.

On building your own kit: The thought processes you give to assembling your own kit increases your knowledge about reloading. You may get started a couple weeks later than if you started with a kit, but you will be far ahead in knowledge.

Advice #3 While Learning, don't get fancy. Progressive, turret or Single Stage? Experimental loads? Pushing performance envelopes? Don't get fancy.

While you are learning, load mid-range at first so overpressures are not concerns. Just concentrate on getting the mechanical steps of loading right and being VERY VERY consistent (charge weight, crimp strength, bullet seating depth, primer seating force, all that). Use a voluminous, "fluffy", powder that is, one that is easy to see that you have charged the case and which will overflow your cartridge case if you mistakenly put two powder charges in it.

While learning, only perform one operation at a time. Whether you do the one operation 50 (or 20) times on a batch of cases before moving on to the next operation - "Batch Processing" or take one case through all the sequence of operations between empty case to finished cartridge - "Continuous Processing", sometimes known as "Sequential Processing", learn by performing only one operation at a time and concentrating on THAT OPERATION. On a single stage press or a turret press, this is the native way of operation. On a progressive press, the native operation is to perform multiple operations simultaneously. Don't do it. While you can learn on a progressive press, in my opinion too many things happen at the same time, thus are hard to keep track of (unless you load singly at first). Mistakes DO happen and you want to watch for them ONE AT A TIME. Until handloading becomes second nature to you.

Note: A turret press is essentially a single stage press with a moveable head which can mount several dies at the same time. What makes it like a single stage rather than a progressive is that you are still using only one die at a time, not three or four dies simultaneously at each stroke.

On the Turret vs Single stage the decision is simpler. You can do everything on a Turret EXACTLY the same way as you do on a single stage (just leave the turret stationary). That is, a Turret IS a single stage if you don't rotate the head.

Learning on a progressive can be done successfully, but it is easier to learn to walk in shoes than on roller skates.

Also, a good, strong, single stage press is in the stable of almost every reloader I know, no matter how many progressives they have. They always keep at least one.

Advice #4 Find a mentor.

There is no substitute for someone watching you load a few cartridges and critiquing your technique BEFORE you develop bad habits or make a dangerous mistake. (A mistake that might not have consequences right away, but maybe only after you have escaped trouble a hundred times until one day you get bit, for instance having case lube on your fingers when you handle primers; 99 times, no problem because primers are coated with a sealant, but the hundredth primer may not be perfectly sealed and now winds up "dead")

I started loading with the guy who sold me my press watching over my shoulder as I loaded my first 6 rounds to make sure I did not blow myself up, load a powderless cartridge or set off a primer in the press. I could have learned more, faster with a longer mentoring period, but I learned a lot in those first 6 rounds, as he explained each step. I educated myself after that. But now, on the internet, I have learned a WHOLE LOT MORE. But in-person is still the best.

After you have been mentored, mentor someone else. Not necessarily in loading or the shooting sports, but in SOMETHING in which you are enthusiastic and qualified. Just give back to the community.

Advice #5 Design your loading space for safety, efficiency, cleanliness

Your loading bench/room is tantamount to a factory floor. There is a whole profession devoted to industrial engineering, the art and science of production design. Your loading system (layout, process steps, quality control, safety measures, etc) deserves no less attention than that.

Place your scale where it is protected from drafts and vibration and is easy to read and operate. Place you components' supplies convenient to the hand that will place them into the operation and the receptacle(s) for interim or finished products, too. You can make a significant increase in safety and in speed, too, with well thought out design of your production layout, "A" to "Z", from the lighting to the dropcloth to the fire suppression scheme.

Advice #6 Keep Current on loading technology

Always use a CURRENT loading manual. Ballistic testing has produced some new knowledge over the years and powder chemistry has changed over the years, too. They make some powders differently than they used to and even some powder names may have changed. However, if you are using 10 year old powder, you may want to check a 10 year old manual for the recipe. Then double check with a modern manual and then triple check with the powder maker.

Read previous threads on reloading and watch videos available on the web. But be cautious. There is both good information and bad information found in casual sources, so see my advice #10.

Advice #7 You never regret buying the best (but once)

When you buy the very best, it hurts only once, in the wallet. When you buy too cheaply it hurts every time you use the gear. The trick is to buy good enough (on the scale between high quality and low price) to keep you happy without overpaying for features you don't need. "The delicious flavor of low price fades fast. The wretched aftertaste of poor quality lingers long."

Advice #8 Tungsten Carbide dies (or Titanium Nitride) rather than tool steel.

T-C dies instead of regular tool steel (which require lubrication for sizing your brass) for your straight-walled cartridge cases. T-C dies do not require lubrication, which will save you time. Carbide expander button for your bottlenecked cases. Keeps lube out of the inside of the cases.

Advice #9 Safety Always Safety All Ways.

Wear eye protection, especially when seating primers. Gloves are good, too, especially if using the Lee "Hammer" Tools. Children (unless they are good helpers, not just playing around) are at risk and are a risk. Pets, too unless they have been vetted (no, not that kind of vetting). Any distractions that might induce you to forget charging a case (no charge or a double charge, equally disturbing). Imagine everything that CAN go wrong. Then imagine everything that you CAN'T imagine. I could go on, but it's your eyes, your fingers, your house, your children (present of future - lead is a hazard, too. Wash after loading and don't eat at your bench). Enough said?

Advice #10 Take all with a grain of salt.

Verify for yourself everything you learn. Believe only half of what you see and one quarter of what you hear. That goes double for everything you find on the internet (with the possible exception of the actual web sites of the bullet and powder manufacturers). This advice applies to my message as much as anything else and especially to personal load recipes. Hare-brained reloaders might have dangerous habits and even an honest typographical error could be deadly. I heard about a powder manufacturer's web site that dropped a decimal point once. It was fixed REAL FAST, but mistakes happen. I work in accounting and can easily hit "7" instead of "4" because they are next to each other on the keypad.

Good luck.

Lost Sheep
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Old October 10, 2013, 11:12 PM   #22
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3 things

Aside from eye protection and manuals, you only need three things (physically) to load good ammo.

However, you also need loading data, knowledge, caution and wisdom. Wisdom is the hardest to come by, though. At a bare minimum, You need 3 tools, without which it is physically impossible to load, but unwise until you also have some good judgement. You know where good judgement comes from? Good judgement comes from bad experiences. You know where bad experience comes from? Bad judgement. The wise man learns from his experience. The TRULY wise man learns from the experiences of others. So, read manuals and threads and talk to experienced loaders wherever you can.

Here are the 3 things.

Press because fingers are not strong enough to form metal
Dies because fingers are not accurate enough to form metal to SAAMI specs
Scale (or calibrated dippers) because eyeballs are not accurate enough to measure out gunpowder

Everything else can be done without, substituted for or improvised until you can afford to buy good quality gear.

Even the cheapest press will be multiple times faster, quieter and more convenient than the Lee mallet-powered kit (as good as it is, it compromises your ability to produce large quantities).

Lost Sheep
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Old October 10, 2013, 11:17 PM   #23
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Good luck

I have compiled a few web sites that seem to have some good information (only some of which came from me).

Go get a large mug of whatever you sip when you read and think and visit these sites.

Sticky-contains much general information.
For the New Reloader: Thinking about Reloading; Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST - THR

Sticky-contains much general information.
For the New Reloader: Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST - The Firing Line Forums

New guy considering if/how to get started reloading
New guy considering if/how to get started reloading - THR

On the fence
On the fence - THR

"Newby needs help." (A typical new reloader thread). My posts are 11 and 13
Newby needs help. - The Firing Line Forums

"Just bought my first press. Needs some info tho." (A typical new reloader thread)
Just bought my first press. Needs some info tho. - THR

"I am looking at getting into reloading for the first time" (A typical new reloader thread)
I am looking at getting into reloading for the first time - THR

"Considering reloading" (A typical new reloader thread)
Considering reloading - The Firing Line Forums

"Interested in reloading" (A typical new reloader thread) ? View topic - Interested in reloading

"Is the lee classic loader a good starter loader?" A thread from someone considering the Mallet-driven Lee Classic Loader.
Is the lee classic loader a good starter loader? - The Firing Line Forums

"Lee Classic Loader Kit" My post, Minimalist minimal is the seventh post down. ? View topic - Lee Classic Loader Kit

"45 Colt question-Lee loader" Another Lee Classic Loader thread
45 Colt question-Lee loader - The Firing Line Forums

"Best starter kit?"

Informed by my 2010 repopulation of my loading bench (If I knew in '75 what I know now)
Thoughts on The Lee Classic Turret Press ? View topic - Thoughts on The Lee Classic Turret Press

Use what type of scale? (poll)
Use what type of scale? - The Firing Line Forums

Good luck

Lost Sheep
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Old October 10, 2013, 11:23 PM   #24
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Dang, somebody had their coffee earlier !
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Old October 10, 2013, 11:32 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by BuckRub
Dang, somebody had their coffee earlier !

I keep some full coffeepots on a thumb drive ready for re-posting occasionally.

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