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Reloading help

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by travis551, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. travis551

    travis551 salem Member

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    I have decided it is time I unlesh my potential reloading beast. I have a very addictive personality, so I will most likely need to pace myself. The idea of doing my own reloading has intrigued my for a few years now. I plan on doing a ton of research and reading as much as I can on the subject! But being as I love tool/equipment I thought I would pick your guys brain on the subject. I am just starting out and would love some suggestions on starter setups that are midrange and will last me for years to come without me needing to upgrade. I want it to be a progressive press because I mostly do target shooting with handguns. I am trying to set up a budget for a kit. Would it be best to try and buy it all separately or all together in a kit? Also would it be better to try and find a used set up that is nice but since its used it will be cheaper, or just buy it all new? Sorry for the long rambling post! Thank you

  2. eternalphoenix64

    eternalphoenix64 Washougal, WA Member

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    The RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading kit is a great price, although you mention progressive, it's best to start on a single stage or turret so you get everything down and don't end up messing up your equipment. And, as a bonus, RCBS has a $50 off rebate that you can send in for $300 in stuff, another $50 and you can add in the $10 rebate. Or you can get bullets from them instead. The dies and everything else you need/want you can get separately. I'm looking into getting my own that (a month ago) is gonna run me around $900 to get fully set up. Before rebates (which I'll be turning into powder/primers/bullets)
  3. ma96782

    ma96782 Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    Part 1

    To begin on your path to re-loading. My suggestions would be to...........

    Get a hold of some books and check the Internet. Invest in a re-loading manual (or several). LEARN the processes that one must go through in order to produce a round of ammunition. Get an idea of how certain jobs are done and take notes of the choices available to do the job. Get a mentor and/or go to classes that might be held by the local gun shop or gun club.

    Meanwhile, here are some good sites to learn from.......



    What you’ll need…..

    So you want to reload

    Overview of the Handloading Ammo process…..

    Handloading - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Re-Loading Pistol Ammo…..

    Reloading Steps

    Re-Loading Rifle Ammo…..

    RIFLE-COMPANY.COM ? View topic - Basic reloading for your rifle .


    >KNOW THAT: Handloading comes with some RISK.

    An individual needs to gauge his or her own RISK TOLERANCE LEVEL to each situation in their life.

    What's acceptable to ME........may not be, to someone else.

    The Manual writers/publishers and editors, decide what's their safety margin and each will have their own threshold for safety. Load data between various manuals will vary.


    Each manual contains many WARNINGS.

    One popular warning, is against making “any substitution” of components, as it may be dangerous.

    Try reading this subject: How do changing various components affect chamber pressure and velocity?

    Miscellaneous Questions 4

    Then..........from SPEER..........

    So, what do you do, if you don’t have the exact re-loading components as mention in the book?

    IF you have a low risk tolerance level......perhaps, you’ll wait until you have the exact components?

    But, doing that isn’t always practical.

    For ME………..I'd take into consideration my RISK TOLERANCE LEVEL and maybe EXPERIMENT a little or not.

    I'd search my available resources and various internet web sites. I'd attempt to figure out a SAFE (acceptable to ME) plan of action, using the available data. And/or perhaps, I might even contact the manufacturer.

    ALWAYS REMEMBERING TO: Start low and work your way up.


    Good re-loaders will not just "pick one" from the book or reproduce someone else’s load and expect to see the exact same results. Conditions, equipment, components, lot#s and specs, can vary.



    WARNING: My way of doing things may not be suitable to some of the other folks out there........so, take it for what it's worth.......this is/was, only my advice, which you got for FREE, so it's only worth that much (if anything at all).

    Aloha, Mark

    PART 2

    As a "first press," IMHO get a bench mounted single station press. LEARN the techniques and "problem solving" of re-loading. Later, IF/WHEN, you want more production......consider a progressive press.

    Forgive me for saying and please, "SOME OF YOU OUT THERE," don't take offense.

    But, for some folks it's best that they: "Learn to crawl before you walk, learn to walk before you run, learn to run before you drive or fly."

    Some, are smart enough to start with a progressive press and be happy. Some, come running to this forum, asking for help with their progressive press problems. Maybe, IF they had learned on a single station press, they would KNOW HOW to fix the problem. And, I'm not saying that it's BAD TO ASK for help. It’s just that, “YOU GOT TO KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS.”

    The BUY LIST………

    Your list should be individual to you. Buy the equipment needed to accomplish the job, at a price that YOU can afford. More than likely, there will be some amount of compromise involved.

    Say, you're re-loading military 5.56mm brass cases for your AR with a single station press........consider your choice(s) for:

    A re-loading manual (or several manuals).
    A Press.
    F/L Sizer Two Die set (or 3 die set).
    Shell holder.
    A way to clean dirty cases (liquid cleaner or tumbler/vibratory machine w/ media or a wipe down w/rag).
    A way to de-prime military cases (regular die or universal de-capper or hammer and anvil method).
    A way to de-crimp military cases (swage or ream).
    A way to prime cases (on press or off press).
    A way to lube cases (what lube and applied w/fingers or pad & lube or spray lube).
    A way to test your re-sized cases (case gauge or actual rifle chamber).
    Caliper (though, not absolutely needed if you use a case gauge).
    A way to trim cases (hand powered or motorized).
    A case de-bur/chamfer tool, if your trimmer didn't do it all in one pass.
    A way to measure and dispense powder (dippers or disk measure or hopper/dispenser).
    A way to weigh the powder (electronic or balance beam scale)

    And cartridge cases.

    I feel that these basic tools and components will do, for simple ammunition production.

    Note that: The list above can be shortened or lengthened.

    Remember, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

    There are many other tools that one can purchase to do other specific jobs. It's up to YOU to choose which tools you need and which tools you want. Some tools are there to make a job simpler and some are there to hopefully make you "better" ammunition..........though, was the purchase absolutely necessary?

    Choose wisely.

    IF you're looking to go cheap (not a bad "cheap")..........IMHO, consider, "LEE."

    For dies.......use any brand (from a major mfn) that you like. They are basically, all of high quality. The differences are in the, "features and small parts."

    LEE makes good dies (and they give you a bonus: a shell holder and powder dipper w/load data chart).

    When re-loading bottle neck cases (.223/5.56mm) to be used in a semi auto, IMHO, buy the FULL LENGTH re-sizer, two die set. Generally, you don't need a SB die set (unless you run into trouble). IF, you want the LEE FCD they also have a three die set that includes it, for a little extra.

    When re-loading for straight walled pistol cases (9mm, 45 ACP, .38 Special, etc...), IMHO, buy the carbide, three die set. The carbide re-sizer will eliminate the need to lube cases. And, IF you want the LEE FCD, I believe that LEE has a four die set, for most of the popular calibers.

    ASSUMING, that you purchase a single stage press.

    Basically (For non-crimped primer pocket, rifle brass for example .223 Rem., say a batch "lot" of a 100 cases):

    1) Inspect and clean the cases- a liquid bath in hot water, a squirt of dish soap and some wht vinegar, will get them clean. Though, not shiny.

    Or, you could just wipe the cases off with a solvent dampened rag.

    IF you want, clean with a bit of shine……Birchwood Casey Case Cleaning Solution (#33845 CCI) is a fast and cheap way. Mix with water (follow the directions on the package) soak the brass, drain and dry. Save the solution as it can be re-used.

    2) Set up your press with the shell holder and de-capper/FL re-sizer die.

    3) Lube the cases. LEE lube (#90006) can be applied with fingers. Or, buy a spray on lube from one of the "other brands."

    4) Then, run some test cases through the die, it'll de-cap/re-size the brass in one pass.

    5) Next, using a case gauge, check the brass to ensure that the proper re-size, has been achieved. Insert a case into the case gauge. The headstamped end of the case, needs to be at or between the high and low cuts on the gauge, to pass. This checks the headspace. While the other end, is used to check if the case will need to be trimmed (a job for later on). IF, it’s not the “correct size,” your die setting will need adjustment. Lower the ram and simply screw the die in or out a little. Don’t forget about the lock nut. Then, re-size another couple of test cases and check your work again. Repeat the test and adjustments, as needed.

    *IMHO…………"the secret" to re-loading a bottle neck cartridge is a case gauge. There are many different brands and ways to gauge your re-loads. I use a Forster Products case gauge (the Wilson or Dillon case gauges are also popular choices).

    Examples of various gauges……..


    6) When you're satisfied that your test cases are properly re-sized, do the entire lot. Also, do some random tests throughout the run.

    7) Trimming brass. Remember the case gauge? Well, if your brass failed the gauge test, you will need to trim the brass. Or check the brass length with a caliper.

    The cheapest way to trim brass, is with the LEE case trimmer. You'll need the cutter & lock stub and shell holder & case length gauge tools. The assembled trimmer runs on hand power or with a drill. Once the trimming is done, use a chamfer/reamer tool (LEE #90109) to "knock off the edge" on the newly cut case necks.

    8) Clean the brass to take off the lube.......repeat, Step #1.

    9) When throughly dry, re-prime the cases with a new primer.

    The LEE auto prime hand tool makes fast work of this job. BTW, you'll need a special shell holder (not your reg. press shell holder) made especially for the LEE auto prime.

    OR........use your press mounted primer tool.

    10) After the cases have been re-primed, place the cases in a loading block.

    11) Using a simple powder measure, calibrate it to throw the weight of powder charge that you want.

    12) Check the thrown weight with your scale.

    13) When you're satisfied that the weight is "correct." Charge each of the cases with powder. Do some random powder weight checks, throughout the run.

    14) Next, remove the de-capper/re-sizer die from the press and replace it with the bullet seating die. Then, place the bullet on top of the opening of the case neck. Run the case w/bullet into the bullet seating die.

    15) Inspect your rounds. You're done.

    IF you’re dealing with military cases (I’ll assume the primers are crimped)……..so, add these steps...........

    2) With once fired military brass, this next step only has to be done once. You could de-cap primers with the standard de-cap/re-sizer die. Though due to the primer crimp, there is a high incidence of parts breakage. IMHO, de-cap the once fired military brass using either, a “universal” de-capper die or with a skinny nail/punch and anvil (with a hole in it, large enough for the old primer to fall out of, but still support the case rim). Or, buy the LEE military primer de-capper set (#90102-.30 cal., #90103-.22 cal.). Simply, run the nail/punch down through the case neck. The nail will enter the flash hole and rest against the old primer. Put the case on the anvil (old primer centered over the anvil’s hole). Then, with a hammer knock out the old primer, letting the old primer fall through the hole in the anvil. Yes, the military crimp is sometimes that stubborn.

    3) Again, since we’re using once fired military brass, this next step has to be done only once. The primer crimp will need to be removed. The crimp gets either swaged or reamed/cut. My friend has a Dillon swage and I use a Lyman hand reamer/cutting tool. Both can do the job......one is cheaper. Lyman hand reamer (#7777785 Large, #7777784 Small). I do the crimp removal while watching TV. It's as simple as: pick up a case, insert the tool into the primer pocket and twist, remove case, next.....

    *Commercial cases, usually don't have a primer crimp to bother with. So, steps 2 and 3 can be omitted. Likewise, for the next time you load these “already treated” military cases.

    To adjust dies correctly.......see the link…….

    How to Adjust Reloading Dies

    There are many LEE single station presses to choose from.



    If you're in the market for a "kit." I like this one.


    IMHO, a good compromise between a single station and a progressive is a Turret Press........


    NOTE: There are many ways to skin a cat. I tried to write this, keeping in mind a CHEAP WAY to do things. Thus, the choice of LEE products. Shop for your best prices. LEE products are frequently discounted.

    That being said, a good press will last a lifetime and then some. Be it a LEE or RCBS or whatever other brand.

    I bought a lot of my starter equipment, USED. And, I still have a lot of it.

    My first press was a used RCBS Jr. and I later traded it for a used RCBS Rock Chucker. My friend wanted a smaller press and it was a straight across trade. So, how could I refuse?

    Anyway, after a long time of using a single station press…………I up-graded.

    I bought a Dillon. Then later, three LEE M1000 presses (just for pistol calibers).

    Even after I got the progressive presses........well, just say that for ME, there will always be a job for the single station press on my bench.

    And, even IF (and/or WHEN) you get a progressive........with bottle necked cases, depending on how you like to do things, you may not really gain all that much speed. BECAUSE, of the case prep steps involved (case lube, military primer crimps and trimming cases).

    However, for straight walled commercial pistol cases, using carbide dies with a progressive press will really speed things up.

    How much $$ will I save??

    To help you with your math on your cost per round.........just plug in your cost of components.

    Handloading Cost Calculator

    Aloha, Mark
  4. Throckmorton

    Throckmorton Florence,Ore ah gone Well-Known Member

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    geeze Moab ,leave some answers for the rest of us ! LOL very nice response.
  5. Silver Hand

    Silver Hand Southern Oregon Coast Well-Known Member

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    Lee single stage hand loader. They have been around for nearly 100 years never changed and are very progressive. Nothing will lead you to progression faster.

    Buy a good single stage press with extras in the classified here or Craigslist and a book relative to the bullets you will be shooting most. Just take your time. Once you get it down, think Dillon.
    Silver Hand
    mjbskwim and (deleted member) like this.
  6. travis551

    travis551 salem Member

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    WOW amazing responses! I felt the need to go straight to a progressive press, but after some very wise responses I will go with a single stage press :) money is a bit of an issue but I am willing to wait and save up to get quality. Now that i am no longer at work I have been surfing the web more intently and finding prices, info and advice. Their seems to be a certain amount of people that just love a particular brand over another, and not to start any arguments but is lee to-words the mid or low end of the scale in regards to quality? or is it worth it to wait and save up for a dillon?
  7. ma96782

    ma96782 Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    Old posts of mine......

    Aloha, Mark
  8. ma96782

    ma96782 Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    Sorry for the double post.

    OK.....what do I use?

    Press, Single Station = RCBS Rock Chucker (mostly for rifle cartridges)
    Press, Progressive = Dillon and for pistol cartridges LEE M1000
    I actually have 3 Lee presses set up in different calibers: .38 Special, 9mm and .45 ACP that way I don't have to mess with the die ajustments, primer set ups, or shell plates. For this application I prefer it over the Dillon. In fact, I don't hardly ever use my Dillon anymore.

    Dies = Lee (mostly for pistol calibers, get carbide dies), RCBS for the rifle calibers, though I do have some in Lee brand.

    Aloha, Mark

    PS.......die parts, consider this. Ever see a LEE decapper pin at the local well stocked sporting goods store? LEE says that their decapping pins are "unbreakable."

    LOL, nope.

    But, I've been able to find RCBS pins. Take a look for yourself.
  9. ridnjon

    ridnjon vancouver wa Active Member

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    Read and read, but find a couple reloading friends, spend the day with them, see how and why they do things(including there presses), buy them lunch and adsorb all the info. There is alot to know.when you think you have it down, well then you will Learn more.

    I have progressive and a single stage. Best of both worlds.
    There is alot of reloaders that wouldn't mind showing how to do it on this board
  10. Silver Hand

    Silver Hand Southern Oregon Coast Well-Known Member

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    I am for the rcbs rock chucker press. Buy one used with all the goodies for the right price and if you don't like it resell it and get your money back. Most people like them, I think.
    for starters a single stage, non progressive, with a Speer manual - Follow the instructions exactly and you will do fine. It is not magic, Safety comes first. It is all in that book. Some friends might pass on bad habits others not, keep that in mind.
    One of the oldest guys I shot with when I was starting out was trying to get me to load triplex powder loads. He could get bullets in one hole more than most but he is the only person I ever saw that constantly user a wooden mallet to open his bolt. Not for me Thanks.
    Silver Hand
  11. mjbskwim

    mjbskwim Salmon,Idaho Well-Known Member

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    I bought the Rock Chucker kit. I wouldn't buy it again,I would just buy the press and buy all the rest of the equipment from other brands.(redding,hornady,Lee) I just found the quality of the others to be better than the RCBS.Some have used then for "20 years" ,but the quality seems to have gone away.
    I use it for all my rifle loading and will use my new 650 dillon for my hand gun loads.
    I had the money to do it and knew it would never be cheaper,so I splurged
    Now Hornady has a progressive for much less than the Dillon,but I went that route and ended up selling it to get the Dillon.

    Anyway,this reload section is the best place to get info on reloading. It's the best place for info I've seen on the webernetter . Everyone here likes to help fellow reloaders.

    Good luck!