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Reloading Newbie

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by Spikele, Jul 5, 2011.

  1. Spikele

    Spikele Bellevue Member

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    Sorry guys and forgive me for my ignorance but I've been tinkering with the idea of reloading my brass.

    I've searched a few forums and on here but was wondering what type of equipment and materials I should purchase. I know you need a press, but what do dies do? Etc...

    Is there a sticky somewhere explaining the equipment, process, etc...needed to start the hobby?

    Thanks guys!

    Regards,
    Spikele
     
  2. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Don't know about a sticky but here's what I recommend to all beginners. Go buy a good "How Too" book like "The ABC's of Reloading" before you do anything else.

    Second, consider a starter package from one of the Reloading Companies like LEE, RCBS, Hornady, or Lyman. Start with a good package that includes a basic press, scale, powder measure, and basic case prep tools. You'll know which you will need after reading the "book".

    Even if you plan eventually to load thousands of rounds per week/month, a Singe Stage Press is the way to start. Even when you make the jump you'll always use that single stage press for a multitude of tasks. From working up a load where you only load 3-5 rounds per powder load, pulling down "boo boo's" from your progressive using a collet type puller, to re-seating a bullet in a round that's too long to fit a magazine. The list of utility jobs for a single stage is almost endless so to me, a bench without one is very incomplete.

    Start simple, learn the process completely and safely, then decide which "step-up" suits both your needs and your bank account.

    Good Luck.
     
  3. HollisOR

    HollisOR Rural OR, South of Dallas Active Member

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    ^^^ what he said. If you have friends who reload, borrow their reloading manuals and read them or pick a few used ones at the used book store (new if you don't mind spending the $$). Reading a couple different ones would help.
     
  4. 2506

    2506 Seattle Well-Known Member

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  5. Spikele

    Spikele Bellevue Member

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    Thank you!!!

     
  6. Throckmorton

    Throckmorton Florence,Ore ah gone Well-Known Member

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    rifle? pistol? both? rifle takes more equipment and time to load,pistol is much easier and a good place to start if ur planning on doing both.
    Starting with a single stage press is a good idea,and buy the best you can afford. IE: a cast iron press.Less flex to them and especially for sizing rifle they are just easier on the arms to use.when u take the plunge start with 0ne caliber,then add more as your skill level and confidence increase.
    If u need to save money a good used press,and used dies can save some cash..use this to buy supplies,they go fast once u get into the swing of things.
    buying local is how I get powder and primers because I liike to try different powders and don't want to buy 8 pound jugs to save money..altho maybe I should,lol.
    Come back and ask more questions as needed,there is a lot of knowledge here.
     
  7. Spikele

    Spikele Bellevue Member

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    .223 and .40 S&W

    Anyone willing...to give a young kid a demonstration one day?

     
  8. doug

    doug Tacoma Member

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    There is a guy in Renton who helps people get started. He isn't on this forum so if your interested send me a message and I will give you some details.

     
  9. iusmc2002

    iusmc2002 Colville, WA Active Member

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    I go to Seattle once a week or so, if you get the gear, I'd be happy to show you what I know. Not as knowledgable as most of the other folks here, but I didn't use any of the fancy reloading books before I got started lol I just read the book that came with my Lee kit and another pamphlet that was written in the 1970's by the creator/owner of RCBS. I've loaded several thousand rifle rounds in the last 2 years, and I haven't killed myself yet :laugh:

    I'm sure there are people closer to you who've been doing it longer, but if all else fails, I'll make time in my schedule when I'm up there, to see if I can help.
     
  10. HollisOR

    HollisOR Rural OR, South of Dallas Active Member

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    If you where down in my area, you would be welcome over.
     
  11. 2506

    2506 Seattle Well-Known Member

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    I'd be more than happy to show you. I've got a rockchucker, a Lee handpress, and a few Lee loaders, plus everything else you would ever need to reload. I may even have some .223 dies I'd be willing to part with. I'm in Seattle.
     
  12. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Don't overlook a great, and free, resource. Online videos are available showing everything from the bare basics to advanced topics like reading pressure signs and special case preparation.

    A simple "Google Search" for "Reloading Videos" will yield lots of viewing opportunities to help you get started.
     
  13. scrappydoo

    scrappydoo Federal Way Active Member

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    Like Deadshot said, the "ABC's" book is really good. It answered a majority of my questions and really helps walk you through the whole process. I'm new to reloading too, and didn't know what I really needed vs what was a luxury vs what was just fluff. Pick that book up before you spend a penny, you won't regret it.

    If I had to do it over again, I'd have gotten a single stage press instead of a turret. You'll think you want a turret because you can eventually speed up the process, but after the new car smell and excitement wears off you'll find it not as sturdy and kind of useless. Besides, I've learned that I like to take my time and double check everything anyway. Right now I'm using my turret as a single stage and what I don't like is sometimes when I manually index it, it doesn't line up perfectly with the die. The other thing I don't like is how much play there is between the turret body and the plate that holds the dies.

    I'd also recommend starting with a powder measure that's not press mounted. Something like this guy would be perfect. I've got the Lee Pro Auto-Disk and it drives me nuts fiddling with different disks when I'm working up a load at just 10 at a time. The reasons why I recommend the stuff above is when you're new you'll have to do everything like your using a single stage because you'll have to learn each step intimately. And like Deadshot mentioned above, you will always have a use for a single stage press. You'll also be doing A LOT of different charges because you haven't found your favorite pet loads yet. A separate powder measure will make it a lot easier to change powder charges.

    Here's a few other little things that aren't necessary but are nice to have around are, or are easily forgotten when shopping. (I'll post the brands that I bought because I don't have experience with other brands.)

    Hornady Headspace Gage - I bought this a few weeks ago and upon using it I found out I wasn't bumping back the shoulder of the case back enough when resizing. You can also use it to measure ogive once you have the basics down.

    Several loading blocks so you're not limited on space and get things confused.

    Several boxes for ammo with labels. This way you can write on the labels pertinent info. I bring them to the range and this really helps me keep brass separate so I don't get mixed up on how many times I've loaded those cases. I like these because they're cheap and meant to be stackable.

    Lube pad and rcbs case lube. I like this because as a noob it's easy to put on too much and dent your cases. The pad and thickness of this lube prevent that. It's also water soluble so you just have to rinse the cases to clean them instead of tumble them. (and your hands)

    Hornady bullet puller. Here's a vid. You're going to screw something up, and this is your eraser. I really like the collet pullers over the inertial. I don't crimp (yet) so my puller stays on my press 24/7. You should do some research though because I've read a few posts about broken handles on the Hornady's. I like mine though.

    Also, put some thought towards ease of use. For example, I like to put my primer pocket cleaner on my drill. Just keep that in the back of your mind when you're shopping.

    Lastly, it's easy to forget safety glasses.

    Here's a thread I started a little while ago when I first bought my stuff. If you'd like a noob's perspective you're welcome to shoot me a pm and I can walk you through my list of stuff. There's a few things I didn't need, should have gotten something different, or forgot to add to the list. I was on a budget and tried to buy what I thought was cost effective but still usable. I've had a ton of fun reloading, and the difference in accuracy is tremendous. If you're getting into it to save money it'll take a while to recoup your costs. And if you're like the rest of us you'll be buying new gadgets constantly, not always because you need it but simply because it's a cool gadget. Anyway, good luck.
     
  14. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    After purchasing several commercial loading blocks I was very disappointed in their overall quality and function. Holes were too loose, or too many of them, in order to make them usable with a wide variety of case dimensions.

    I finally decided to make some of my own. I went to our local Hardwood Dealer and bought a piece of Jatoba wood (Brazilian Cherry) that caught my eye. Took it home and cut it in 4 pieces and using a 1/2" Forstner bit in my drill press, drilled 50 holes (5 rows of 10) in it. Made a paper template so I could mark the holes prior to drilling. When finished drilling I sanded all the surfaces and sprayed it with some clear Minwax from an aerosol can.

    Result was 4 good looking blocks that I use for my 30-06 and .308 loads. Look nice enough that I take them to the range and kind of show them off when I'm shooting. Total cost for each was less than $5.

    If one has a drill press, or access to one, this is a neat way to get real nice loading blocks. While I used a premium hardwood, one can still do this as simple as drilling holes in a piece of 2X6.

    I like the fact that the blocks I made fit the case and are a little deeper than the commercial trays. This keeps the cases more stable. I also have more space around the case for my fat fingers to more easily grasp them.

    Just another fun part in the "Sport" of Reloading.
     
    ogre and (deleted member) like this.
  15. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    I think realistically there should be a sticky about this, but here's the really really really basic starter kit:

    1) Lee Reloader press, it sucks it's fragile, but it's a decent starter press that's less than $40 (last I checked)

    2) Appropriate shell holders (buy lee, RCBS, whatever they're all about the same)

    3) Priming tool (RCBS makes a really nice one, or the lee one that goes on the press, DO NOT buy the lee hand tool it sucks and requires different shell holders)

    4) Splurge and buy yourself a very nice balance beam scale, like the RCBS 505, look on ebay, craigslist, or anywhere else where you can buy a well cared for used scale. This is a very very important instrument and is the main thing standing between you and a blown apart gun.

    5) A pair of dial calipers, go to harbor freight, go to the auto shop, just get a pair, they cost about $20.

    6) an appropriate set of dies, you can start out with lee dies, but they are mostly garbage, I recommend RCBS, but prefer Redding. For .223 be sure to buy small base dies if you are shooting a semi-auto rifle. For the pistol set, buy carbide, lee is probably an ok first step, but if you decide you like this hobby, throw them away and go buy a nice set from someone else, it will save you lots of headaches later. Avoid hornady dies, they make good sizers but the bullet seating adjustments will make you crazy.

    7) review the past history of threads in this forum, as it will contain thousands of human years of experience that is all here, for free. Maybe read a book or two if you can't get the basic idea from the threads.

    The #1 thing with reloading is start slow. Go too fast, and you may be buying a new gun rather than saving money on ammo by reloading.
     
  16. scrappydoo

    scrappydoo Federal Way Active Member

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    I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with you on a couple things. There's nothing wrong with lee dies. They're not the best dies on the market but they're not garbage. For someone on a budget they're also a great way to keep costs down.

    Secondly, I don't think digging through threads is an efficient or a safe way for a new reloader to learn. Even the walk-throughs on the big shooting forums don't have all the information a new reloader needs. Someone new to this hobby needs to be walked through the process with very clear information, in an organized manner, with safety properly emphasized, and pictures to help fully understand the subject. The $15 for a reloading guide book is worth every penny and a time saver.
     
  17. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    One nice thing about a turret press is that you can get extra die holders (turrets.) Then you can install all of the dies for each caliber in a different turret, and merely change the turret when changing calibers. If you're using the same bullets, you don't even have to adjust the dies again unless a quick check of the first round dictates it. A single stage will keep you busy changing and adjusting dies.

    The Lee Classic Turret press is affordable and will switch to single stage for beginners or for those who prefer it. You can then turn the turret to the next die manually. You can batch load, doing just one step on all rounds.

    I think this set is a good buy with a scale, measure, both large and small primer feeders, etc., and it will do rifle rounds as well as pistol. Link
     
  18. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    An opinion that is not shared by many competitive shooters. You know, the guys with all those big trophy's in their dens. There are only two things about Lee dies that most shooters will agree on. The lock rings leave a lot to be desired unless installed on a Tool Head or Turret Head. They also lack the level of polish that the "big names" put on their product along with prices that can be 3-5 times more than a similar LEE Die.

    I check ALL my rifle ammo I load for final dimensions and uniformity. Lee Dies perform as well, if not better in some cases, than the others I own (RCBS and Redding).

    For pistol dies, the Lee Carbide dies are a lot less expensive than the "Big Names" but the ammo looks just as good as from a die costing twice as much. I've loaded many, many, thousands of rounds of 9mm (over 7,000 rounds so far this year) using the Lee Carbide sizing die and don't know what headaches one might have with it. As a matter of fact, I bought this die in 1985 and it's been in continuous use ever since.

    Some facts about Lee Dies:

    They are inexpensive
    They work great
    The polish is not as bright on the inside but it doesn't harm the performance
    The de-priming pins are almost indestructible, even with military crimped primers.
    The old "Round Boxes" that the dies shipped in suck but the new sets come in flat boxes that are easier to store
    Lee Die sets come with shell holder included, extra cost on others.

    They are inexpensive therefore a Dealer doesn't make as much money when they sell them.

    I don't work for Lee and never had. As a matter of fact I dislike many of Lee's products but their dies are among the best on the market based on using them for well over 30 years.
     
    iusmc2002 and (deleted member) like this.
  19. Throckmorton

    Throckmorton Florence,Ore ah gone Well-Known Member

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    +1 for Lee dies,they get the job done just fine,cost less,and last forever.
     
  20. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    Perhaps I should cite my specific distaste for lee dies:

    1) Made of cheap steel, scratch easily and often
    2) lock rings have a tendency to walk on long runs
    3) seating plug will walk even on short runs
    4) Unbreakable decapping pin isn't
    5) Poor quality steel used in the expander ball section of decapping pin wears out too quickly
    6) locking mechanism for decapping rod is difficult to adjust and will often be pulled out when expanding rifle case necks

    Carbide die complaints:

    1) Carbide ring is too thin, has a tendency to crack especially with 9mm
    2) Carbide ring doesn't have enough chamfer, often catches case mouths, destroying cases on progressive presses

    I consider dies a disposable part of the reloading process, once you load a few hundred thousand rounds with a die set you start to see what the limitations of that die set are. Generally, Lee dies have a lifespan of about 10-50K rounds, RCBS dies seem to go about 100K and then they need a good polishing with a lead lap, and will then usually be good for another 50K. Redding dies are usually good for about 120K, then polishing and are good for about another 80K. Dillon dies, depending on whether carbide or not, are usually good for about 120K before repolishing, and the carbide sizers for .223 are good to about 200K but can't be repolished.

    I am not saying you shouldn't start with them, just know what you're getting into and be sure to watch for trouble signs, just like you would with any of the "big names". My complaints about lee are as a result of my experience with lee products, which I started reloading with 20 years ago because that's all I could afford, once I had a bigger budget and loaded more rounds, I quickly found them inadequate and replaced them with nicer die sets, some came second hand, some I bought new, now that I can afford better dies and have tried almost every die set out there I can say with some certainty that Lee makes poor quality dies that don't last.