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New to reloading - what powders to look for?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by Joe13, Sep 17, 2014.

  1. Joe13

    Joe13 NW of Vancouver Opinionated & Blunt Bronze Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Hey y'all,

    I want to eventually get set up for reloading. (.38sp, .357mag, .308win, 9mm)

    I have nothing and want to stock up on powders first, then buy bullets and the reloading equipment.

    What powders should I look for specifically? I'm having a hard time getting started and wanted to see if I could get some real basic advice.

    Thanks!

    Joe
     
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  2. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    A good reloading manual to start - no exceptions!
     
  3. Joe13

    Joe13 NW of Vancouver Opinionated & Blunt Bronze Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Do you have a recommendation?

    I got a little overwhelmed by the assortment at the sportsmans I've visited a few times.
     
  4. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    I have always preferred Speer - a little more straight forward and simpler than some of the others. Also don't overlook the online manuals from the MAJOR 'players' - and not just sites that have reloading data. Hit the thrift stores for 'older' manuals too. They may not have all the 'new' powder data but a source of good information.
     
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  5. Joe13

    Joe13 NW of Vancouver Opinionated & Blunt Bronze Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Awesome! Thanks RVT!

    It's seems like a huge undertaking to get into reloading while not knowing any reloaders locally. I have a few kinfolk back east that used to reload shot shells but that's as close as I have for personal info.

    I know the internet is filled with "how do I start reloading threads" but reading so many of those has probably made me more confused then helped.


    I just didn't want to dump 4-$600 on equipment to find that I couldn't find the parts and powder I would need.

    Almost like buying a new gun and not being able to find ammo I imagine.
     
  6. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    You might hit up your local library and see if they have a copy of 'The ABCs Of Reloading' a must read for all beginners.
     
  7. rick benjamin

    rick benjamin USA, Or, Damascus Secure the drama Silver Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    What center fire cartridge do you shoot the most?
     
  8. Edmon

    Edmon Battle Ground Member

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    A couple of years ago I took a reloading class from JohnH a member of NWFA. It was very informative and helpful. Not sure if he still conducts reloading classes but once in a while you'll see someone on this site offering reloading classes. I would suggest something like that to help get you started.

    Edmon
     
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  9. rutilate

    rutilate Vancouver and Surrounds Active Member

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    Joe I see that you're in Vancouver. I'm not too far away and would be happy to host you and show you the process as well as the Dillon 550 and 650. You'll have to give me a few weeks as I'm still unpacking since moving from Boston.

    In the meantime I'd second the recommendation for the ABCs of Reloading. The NRA has a basic metallic cartridge reloading class that, given the right instructor, is awesome. I am new enough to the area that I can't make recommendations.

    You want to choose powders primarily based on burn rate, volume, and metering. Slow burning powders build up pressure slowly and are generally less sensitive to metering errors. They are typically better for heavier bullets. Fast burning powders spike pressure quickly and have much tighter tolerances, making it difficult to get higher velocity from heavier bullets.

    Volume: ideally you want to choose your powder volume such that if you aren't paying attention and try to double fill the cartridge it will spill out, an obvious indicator of a mistake. Slower burn rate powders tend to fill the case volume. Faster powders are lower volume. Thus, they can be cheaper as they stretch further, but it is very easy to double-fill if you aren't careful.

    Metering: most pistol powders are spherical or ball shaped so metering or accurate dispensing isn't typically a problem. Rifle powders often include cylindrical powder (sometimes called sticks) and may also include balls (ball and stick). These sticks can sometimes hang up in the dispenser, causing blockages and result in light loads.


    For my pistol calibers (380, 9, .40, & .45) I use Power Pistol. I'm still using titegroup for .45 and 9 because I have a bunch left and haven't been able to find more Power Pistol. Titegroup is a good albeit fast-burning powder but it is very low volume. In some of my loads I've pushed the load to the upper end of the load data and can't reach the desired velocity for fear of exceeding pressure constraints. I worry when helping others reload on my press that they might mistakenly double-charge.

    Many people in the competition circuits like Unique, and if you want to pay a premium, you can go with Vihtavuori N series.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014
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  10. scrandall01215

    scrandall01215 Washougal,WA Well-Known Member

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    I bought then newest addition of hornadys reloading manual and followed it step by step and was producing good loads pretty quickly it's not that hard. You just have to follow your manual step by step like it will state and there's a section on if you can't follow directions step by step you shouldn't attempt to do your own reloading.
    I really enjoy it!
    Good luck
    Stacy
    P.S. Pulling the trigger on that first load can be kinda scary! LOL
     
  11. Joe13

    Joe13 NW of Vancouver Opinionated & Blunt Bronze Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    I'm in no real hurry so that would be great:) Thanks for the offer!
     
  12. Joe13

    Joe13 NW of Vancouver Opinionated & Blunt Bronze Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    .357 mag, .308 win mostly right now. And those are the most expensive calibers I own right now as well.
     
  13. Rick4070

    Rick4070 Central Oregon coast Active Member

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    Some very good advise from all, and Rutilate's post was also spot on.
    A good manual will walk you through the steps, and will steer you in the direction of what powders will work in what.
    Many reloader/handloader suppliers have setups/kits that have pretty much all the basics that you will need.
    A scale is very important. I can't emphasize that enough, and if you are using a measure, check a charge weight often.
    Also, visually verify the volume of the powder charge in EVERY case.
    Never have cans of two different powders on the bench at the same time, only the one you are working from.
    A class is a great idea.
    Thinking about this takes me back, I was probably around 16 or so, had my dad buy a .41 Mag. Ruger , of course for "him,"(I don't recall him ever shooting it, though.), they had a deal at the gun shop, a press, measure, scale, lube and pad, a set of dies, and a Speer #8 manual. Dad didn't handload, so I was self taught from reading and rereading the manual, and never had any problems other than an instance when I loaded a cartridge too light, and stuck a cast bullet in the barrel. Luckily it was a cast bullet, so it was easy to get out.
    After that, the "hobby" just grew, shotgun press, Dillon progressive, lots more casting, lot's more dies, etc.
    I haven't done much loading for the last few years, several moves, different priorities, etc., but still have all my stuff.
    One story... My cousin had been loading for his .44 Mag., a friend of his wanted to learn about handloading, so my cousin ran him through the steps, and watched him load a few, the friend then asked if he could use the setup when my cousin was at work, sure cousin said, just remember what I told you, look at the height of the powder charge in each case before you seat a bullet. Cousin was loading cast bullets with around 6 grains of Bullseye......
    Friend called my cousin at work and said: " I'm just lucky to be talking to you, I just took the top strap and the top 3 chambers off of my gun" ( A Ruger Super Blackhawk, no less!!!)
    There was no doubt that he at least double charged, if not triple charged a case.
    My cousin of course should have known better...
     
  14. rick benjamin

    rick benjamin USA, Or, Damascus Secure the drama Silver Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    I reload, my opinions, suggestions.
    Ask questions before experimenting.
    Advantages:
    learn a new skill, become independent of market supply.
    I would begin with .357 Magnum. It's a straight-wall case.
    The .308 is a bottleneck, some additional steps, knowledge needed regarding the neck.
    Gather information
    .357 Magnum
    IMR pistol load data
    .308 Winchester
    Sierra .308 load info

    Consider supplies
    .357 bullet
    - What bullet?
    pistol primers - buy a tray (100), brick (1000)
    powder: Buy a pound ($25-$30).
    Some powders that have like burn rates for .357 Mag, .38Spl, 9mm Luger, .40SW, .45ACP
    Winchester 540
    Vhitavouri N-340
    IMR SR-7625
    Ramshot True Blue
    Hodgdon HS-6

    .308 bullet - Suggest 150gr.
    rifle primers - buy a tray (100), brick (1000)
    powder: Buy a pound ($25-$30).
    Some powders that have like burn rates for .223, 5.56, 308, 30.06
    Winchester 748
    Vhitavouri N-133
    IMR 4895
    Ramshot TAC
    Hodgdon Varget

    Borrow, buy equipment.
    Single stage "O" press
     
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  15. Joe13

    Joe13 NW of Vancouver Opinionated & Blunt Bronze Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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  16. orygun

    orygun West Linn Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Buy yourself a Lyman manual. Can usually find them at Bi-Mart. It's not the only manual I have, but it's the only one that is not bullet brand specific. All manuals are full of info, but if you have to start someplace, start with the Lyman.

    What powders you need depend entirely on what you want from each round. H110, W296 and Blue Dot will give you everything you can ask for from a .357 Mag.
    Unique works somewhere for most handgun rounds.
    Bullseye is great for target 38 Special loads.

    Not sure, off hand, about what works for different 308 loads, cuz I don't load .308, but there is a TON of info for that round.

    Welcome to the party. You didn't pick a great time to get started, but it's not as bleak as it has been.

    Good luck.
     
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  17. ron

    ron Vancouver, Washington Silver Supporter Silver Supporter

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    I have reloaded for the 38/357 for over 30 years! These are my best accuracy
    loads:
    My favorite 38 load is 158 swc lead and Unique powder. Light target loads
    357 125 grain Remington Golden Sabers. Most accurate 125 grain bullet I have ever loaded. Generally the 158 jacketed bullets will out shoot 125s except for
    Golden Sabers. Favorite powder for 357 H110.

    My most accurate 308 load is 168 Sierra Match Kings and IMR 4064.
    This depends on your twist rate. I have tried many different powders
    over the years and I have found the IMR 4064 works best in
    308/30-06/8mm/7.5 Swiss
     
  18. Joe13

    Joe13 NW of Vancouver Opinionated & Blunt Bronze Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Thanks so much y'all!:)

    This has given me some specifics to focus on and that's just what I needed to start.

    I'll get those manuals and get to reading. I'm sure if I end up with powder I decide not to use, there's plenty here I'm sure I could pass it on too; at a hefty markup for my time if course...

    I joke;), I'm not a fan of making money on transactions like that.
     
  19. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    Just get what you can get.. a manual will tell you what you need to get and whatnot.
     
  20. rick benjamin

    rick benjamin USA, Or, Damascus Secure the drama Silver Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    Joe;
    The great thing about helping you along is that there's lurkers learning also.

    Ron in post #17, my favorites are Unique and IMR4064 also.
    Unfortunately, this isn't the time to be picky about just about anything.
    I saw Win748 and IMR4064 (among others ) new Cabelas Monday evening (special invite)

    Lyman's Getting started in reloading
    How to use a burn rate chart
    Powder relative burn rate charts:
    Ramshot
    Tiemens
    IMR
    Accurate
    Hodgdon
    Lapua-Vhitavouri

    Frog's font of knowledge