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Reloading Questions

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by Drew68, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. Drew68

    Drew68 Eastern Oregon Member

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    I'm looking to get started reloading. I have zero experience with reloading. I've tried to do some research, but there isn't much concise information out there. I will reload hunting ammunition in multiple, basic calibers. Also some pistol calibers. Probably not huge volume, but I'd like capacity for more. My questions:
    Which book/books to buy?
    What equipment do I need?
    Start basic and work up or just buy a good set that will last a lifetime and meet my needs in the future?
    Brands? I see huge price differences, what is good value?

    I hope this is the right place to post this. Thanks for any help.
     
  2. billgrigsby24

    billgrigsby24 Beaverton, Or Active Member

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    I just started reloading as well. I bought the RCBS master kit and like it but I think if I could do it over again I'd save up more money and buy a progressive reloader, or a convertible one. I don't think mine is convertible. I would suggest getting multiple books. I find myself wanting to reload different manufacturers projectiles and wish i had more books. Nosler posts their load data online. If you buy a digital scale, spend $150 at minimum. Just about every review I've read for the lower priced scales are pretty bad. It'll take a while for you to make up your initial investment, but its definitely worth it. My wife is still trying to understand my obsession!
     
  3. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Buy the book that covers the brands of bullets you want to use.

    depending on your budget.

    The Lee starter set is the least expensive and will last a life time with proper care
    One of the RCBS kits will last 2+ lifetimes.
    Progressive Presses are best for Handgun and smaller rifle cartridges And best suited towards producing a lot of one thing at one time. But not small batches of a lot of things.
    If you by a good quality Single Stage Press it will still be a valuable tool on your bench even if you do buy a progressive (just be sure to get a Progressive that uses the same tye of dies.
    If you want Accuracy a Single stage weigh ever powder charge setup is going to be best. If you want to make a bucket of stuff to go BANG a progressive would be the ticket.

    Dies cost MONEY anywhere from $20.00 for a used set to $75.00 for rare or higher quality dies. I reload 6 different pistol calibers and 7 rifle calibers I use mostly Std. RCBS dies as well as some Lee Carbide and Redding Carbide dies.

    Depending on what you are reloading you can save an amazing amount of money. For instance with my 30-40Krag (reloaded for my Winchester model 1895) A box of 20 store bought is $35.00 when it can be found. I can reload for .90 cents less a round. In fact for the same cost as a .308 a little cheaper then .30-06 and a little more then .30-30. The only difference is the amount of powder being used.

    If I reload 200 rds of 30-40Krag I have saved $180.00 compared to Store bought ammo. And mine comes in bullet weights and styles not available in Storebought and its more accurate.

    Now for my .30-06 depending on the bullet I only save about 3.00 to 8.00 a box of .20 or about .15 to .40 cents a round.

    There is a very good reloading cost calculator here: Handloading Cost Calculator
     
  4. Throckmorton

    Throckmorton Florence,Ore ah gone Well-Known Member

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    start with pistol calibers to see if u like it .They almost never requre trimming,most rifle cases do. Pistol dies come in carbide which means no lube necessary ,altho ti makes the sizing task easier.ALL rifle brass must be lubed.
    Electronic scales are not necessary,a good beam scale is way less money than a good electronic one.
    Lyman/s has been my go-to book for years,the others not so much except to cross check data on bullet weight/powder qty.
     
  5. darkminstrel

    darkminstrel PDX Well-Known Member

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    According to that I end up saving 54% over factory loads. Specifically I can load 2450 rounds for the cost of 1000 retail. That's just plain crazy.
     
  6. slimer13

    slimer13 Deer Park Well-Known Member

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    I find reloading theraputic and satisfying. You can actually find individual caliber load books with much more data. +1 on starting out single stage.
     
  7. vmkeith

    vmkeith Vancouver, Washington, United States Member

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    I just got started reloading myself. The first thing that was recommended that I do was get some reloading manuals/books and do some reading. The ABCs of Reloading is a good book to get and explains the required equipment and each step. It does not have any reloading data, so you'll need to get a manual or two. Lee Precision, Sierra Bullets, Hornady, Lyman, and Redding all made really good reloading manuals. I've got Modern Reloading from Lee and Sierra Bullets reloading manual. Once you thoroughly read through the manuals, then start looking at the equipment and kits that are available. As was mentioned, Lee Precision's Anniversary Kit is inexpensive and will last a lifetime if properly cared for...it's the kit I got. Once you start looking over and using the equipment, you'll then get a feeling of what equipment you like, and what you don't and want to replace. I'll tell you right now, I've don't like the Lee scale and went with a digital one. I also replaced the powder dispense with an RCBS uniflow. Good luck.
     
  8. timac

    timac Loading Magazines! Well-Known Member

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    I recommend this book "The ABC's of reloading", it will help you get started and understand the correct and safe way to reload. Also there might be reloading classes offered by NRA instructors in your area, check with local ranges or internet search.
     
  9. unklekippy

    unklekippy In The Mountains Near Sprague River Well-Known Member

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    I am totally for starting with a single stage press, but the existence of the Hornady LNL makes it so (relatively) inexpensive to get a good progressive that you truly can learn on. The RCBS stuff will in fact last 2 lifetimes. I love it. I very much agree with starting with pistol calibers. Nothing is more forgiving, loader-friendly and educational than loading .45acp. In my opinion that is the best place to start reloading. Finally, reloading is therapeutic and satisfying. If you think you will "save" money, you are wrong. You will only end up shooting more for the same money. That is a good thing. When I buy bulk, plated .45acp bullets using brass that I already own and buy my powder and primers in bulk I can actually get my per round cost down to about 15-16 cents a round. That means $7.50-$8 per box of 50. Try and beat that price at Walmart. Kip
     
  10. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    44 years handloading, and at last count 44 cartridges currently and regularlly loaded for: this advice is worth every penny you paid for it.

    Credit to Drew who asked the first question first. Books. Abc's of reloading is a good start. The Lyman book is a hard reference and "how-to" that will be consulted for years. Then acquire (as some recommended) books from bullet manufacturers and powder manufacturers that you will be using.

    I will depart strongly from those who have recommended the Lee starter kit as a place to start. This kit is economical minimum in every fashion. Though it will produce good handloads, such a kit would be best utilized by the occasional hobby reloader: a guy who loads just a few times a year (or less) to keep the ol' 06 and .38 Special fed. A good friend falls very close into this category, bought that kit, and is already seeing drawbacks, wishing he'd spent just a bit more. I respect Lee equipment. I have a lot of it. But this kit is NOT the best choice if you have any designs on being frequent and serious about handloading. My frequent recommendation is to shop for used quality equipment in good shape: especially the big ticket items such as presses, scales, and measures. This gear is durable, and so even a novice can inspect the used stuff and make an accurate determination as to its condition. It is also easy to find: old reloaders die. A good portion of living reloaders give up on it (lifestyle changes, etc.). Any pile of good used gear can usually be bought for the first semi-reasonable offer made.

    The preponderance of my gear is RCBS. Even those who prefer other brands for other reasons will recognize RCBS as the base for comparison to all other brands. I have gear from just about all the rest, usually for some specialty procedures (Lee Factory Crimp Die for my blackpowder cartridge guns, Lyman blackpowder measure for instance. Redding is often my choice for custom or wildcat dies.) I can say nothing detrimental toward any of the major manufacturers, only that RCBS is what works (and has been working and will be working) for me.
     
  11. Drew68

    Drew68 Eastern Oregon Member

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    Thanks a bunch guys. I will order "ABC's of Reloading" book. This has been educational and I appreciate all your input. Please keep adding to this if you would like. Thanks again.
     
  12. Otter

    Otter Oregon - mid Willamette Valley Active Member

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    The best way to get started is to buy one of the reloading kits. It will contain just about everything you need to begin reloading. The RCBS kit is probably the best deal and very high in quality. The Redding kit is more expensive and some would argue higher in quality than the RCBS. Some Lee stuff is very good. I like their pistol dies a lot, and their collet dies can creates some of the most concentric ammo around. But some Lee stuff is crap and with their kit you get a little of both. Only if you are on a low budget would I recommend the Lee kit.

    I disagree about buying a book for each brand of bullet you plan to use. Get a good one like the Speer (included in the RCBS kit) or a Hornady and you have all the step-by-step information you are going to need. I don't have a Lyman, but have heard it is one of the best. I have a Speer and Vitavouri manual only, yet load about every brand of bullet out there. I've found you can get any and all load data off the various bullet and powder websites. There is even one small manaul you can buy that is caliber specific that contains load data for all the mainstream bullets. For the most popular Sierra calibers you can download load info for free off the 6mmBR website.

    As for what equipment you need, I would stick with a single stage press, considering your original post. Everything you need for the most part is included in the kits. The one item not included you will want is a decent caliper. I consider that item a must. You will eventually need a case trimmer because all brass grows in length. Pistol brass does too and if you have a caliber that headspaces off the mouth it can't be allowed to get too long. If you become an accuracy fanatic, you will end up with deburring tools, primer pocket correction tool, even neck turning equipment. But hold off on all that stuff until later.

    Not sure why some people are suggesting you start with reloading pistols first. I consider reloading rifle cartridges as easy as reloading pistols. I don't see how adding lube into the equation makes it any more complicated. Some pistol cartridges require 4 dies to complete the process. Rifle cartridges generally only require two dies.

    Don't kid yourself about saving money though. You will only shoot more.
     
  13. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    "I disagree about buying a book for each brand of bullet you plan to use. Get a good one like the Speer (included in the RCBS kit) or a Hornady and you have all the step-by-step information you are going to need."

    This advice certainly applies to starting out. I contend it does not apply to ongoing reloading ventures. Using Sierra or Speer data to load Nosler Partition or Ballistic Tip bullets (or another example: Barnes solid copper) can get you in some trouble. To my way of thinking, in any scientific project (and handloading is precisely that), more data is better. I NEVER handload without cross-referencing nearly every book I posess. Not only for safety reasons, but very often one book will have a nugget of information not contained in another about the chosen cartridge, saving time and frustration toward load development.

    Otter and I are in full agreement about all else: single stage press, rifle handloading being perhaps simpler, caution toward the Lee basic kit, and especially end result of shooting more!
     
  14. Otter

    Otter Oregon - mid Willamette Valley Active Member

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    I might have worded that better. You do need load data for a specific bullet/powder combo, and if possible cross reference cause there is conflicting information in manuals as well as off websites. My point is you don't need to buy every bullet/powder manual out there. "I've found you can get any and all load data off the various bullet and powder websites." My point is the information is free off the Internet if you are willing to look for it.

    One source of info for load data I do not trust is load data posted on forums. I've seen crazy hot loads recommended. This kind of data I cross reference for sure!
     
  15. waltermitty

    waltermitty seattle Active Member

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    i've been reloading for about 30 yrs. it's almost second nature, rewarding, and relaxing.
    i'm a stickler for detail and less so with quantity per hour kinda reloader.

    couple of weeks ago, a buddy at work informed me he wanted to begin reloading. I also
    knew that he was a smoker, has tried to quit several times, and his wife is worried about
    him.

    i cut a deal with him. I will set him up with a complete, single stage system and he is to
    stop smoking. honor system - just his word he'll try. if he realizes his smoking isn't going
    to stop, he'll call me and i'll come over to retrieve all the gear.

    my buddy is super excited, as I (and other friend) will now come over every other weekend
    to give him pointers on proper and safe techniques.

    hmmm, he's a contractor. i should have added a proviso that he remodel my kitchen if
    he can't stop smoking, ya think? :)
     
    Mikej and (deleted member) like this.
  16. Mikej

    Mikej Portland Gold Supporter Gold Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    That's pretty cool, hope it works for the guy! He could end up without smokes, surrouded with lots of ammo, win win situation!!

    I'm a new reloader too. I only do pistol and started a bit before Christmas. I bought the RCBS supreme kit and got used dies and tumbler from the classifieds. If you go that route read, and absorb, every word in the intro of the Speer14 book and follow the directions.

    Mike
     
  17. dennisf

    dennisf Battleground, Wa Member

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    I started with RCBS single stage in 1978, and like most, a dry spell of a few years when I didn't shoot much. When I started shooting more and reloading 9mm, I realized that to run 500 or so rounds takes many strokes and moving around of the charged cases. I am currently setting up the Lee turret press with the disk loader, no priming setup. I like to do that by hand. This eliminates the throwing charges in the loading blocks and moving them around and also puts the factory crimp die in the cycle vs a separate operation. My single stage has worked for years and I still have it mounted to a bench and use it. Also, having the manuals, mine are all old, really helps. All of mine are on the kitchen table right now as I looked over 9mm loads doing a comparison of Unique and Bullseye loads with the 115grn bullets.
     
  18. waltermitty

    waltermitty seattle Active Member

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    LOL dennis - that's all nearly identical to my start time, and learning experience and my current set up now. :)