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Thread: Equip recommendations for newbie

  1. #1
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    Default Equip recommendations for newbie

    I had been wanting to get into reloading for a while and have decided to take the plunge. I wanted to get some advice from those who know as to what equipment to invest in. The guys at my favorite shop recommended a progressive loader and Redding dies.
    I would like to eventually load for handgun:9mm, .357, .40, .45, .44 mag, 500 S&W and Rifle: 6.5x55, .308, 30-06. Is there one that would be best to begin with?
    I don't need to crank them out like mad, so if a single stage is better, please advise away! Any thoughts on equipment is appreciated.
    BTW I don't want to spend a ton of money but I like to invest in equipment that will last and not regret later.

    I would also be more than willing to pay someone for thier time in some lessons so I can learn from your expertise and not from trial and error!!

    Thank you in advance,
    BEE

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    As most will likely chime in, you should really start out with a single stage press. Even if/when you get a progressive, you'll still want the single stage for certain chores.

    While many will recomend the RCBS rockchucker, and I have one, I'd say if you can afford a Forster co-ax it is the best single stage press you can buy with many unique features. With the number of different chamberings you'll be loading for, the time saving from sliding dies in and out will be greatly appreciated. Redding dies are great, I like Reddings 3BR powder measure and a scale of your choice, something to measure and trim brass, and an RCBS hand primer seater and you are good to go.
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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    You list mostly stuff that progressive presses are great at so I think your shop guy were right there, youíll be wanting one sooner or later so just start that way. As Paul says you will still want a single stage too and if you had listed a bunch of rifle rounds youíd want a Rockchucker, Foster, T-7 or something top notch. But you listed a bunch of handgun stuff and Iíd recommend a Hornady L-n-L AP, dang nice 5 station progressive for around $400 complete. I have a Lee ďCĒ press Iíll give you that will back it up fine, just PM me your address and Iíll get it to you.
     
    Dies are mostly all good. I think Lee makes some of the very best and they are the cheapest, certainly the best value. I have some of every brand and as much as I like RCBS and Hornady their dies just arenít that great. RCBS tends to run too small and over work brass but that can be used to advantage sometimes if you need smaller. Hornady does weird stuff like change designs all the time and poke vent hole right into the shoulder where it shouldnít be. Reading dies are great but speedy, I buy Redding when Lee doesnít make a caliber but I think Lee makes just as good a die as Redding does. Lee even includes a holder with every set, just hard to beat the value of Lee dies in the common calibers.
     
    As for learning, get some components and come on out here and park yourself at my bench anytime. I have most of the dies in your caliber list and hands on pulling a press arm will tell you more about what to buy than anything. Get 100 say 45 (ACP or Colt) brass, bullets, primers, powder and come on out . . . I can hook you up with primers and powder if you canít find any.
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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul H View Post
    As most will likely chime in, you should really start out with a single stage press. Even if/when you get a progressive, you'll still want the single stage for certain chores.

    While many will recomend the RCBS rockchucker, and I have one, I'd say if you can afford a Forster co-ax it is the best single stage press you can buy with many unique features. With the number of different chamberings you'll be loading for, the time saving from sliding dies in and out will be greatly appreciated. Redding dies are great, I like Reddings 3BR powder measure and a scale of your choice, something to measure and trim brass, and an RCBS hand primer seater and you are good to go.

    This is pretty good advice. Started with a rock chucker in 1972 or so. Best thing I ever did was to sell it and buy a Forster Co-Ax. Still use an Ammomaster for the really long stuff but the Co-Ax puts other presses to shame. Dies? RCBS or Redding. I like Hornady as well but some of the handgun dies will not work properly because they can not be screwed down enough. I never developed the need for a progressive press. I like the idea of something to do during the winter months. RCBS offers a life time warranty on everything they sell.

    I did sell my bench priming tool to go to the RCBS hand priming units and after 4 years came to the conclusion that for most of my uses the bench mounted priming tool is easier and more precise. So just bought a new RCBS bench primer. Your mileage may vary.

    If you want to start with handgun ammo first I would buy a RCBS Partner press for about $70 or so and expand from that as you learn more.

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    Thank y'all so much for your quick input! I think I will likely want to have both a progressive and single, so I was online looking at them and ordered a Forster. It will take about 6 weeks to get in but didn't seem out of line price wise.

    Andy- I really appreciate the offer and I will take you up on the chance to learn from a pro! One of the things I love about the forums is people willing to share thier experience (or good fortune) with others and I have found that what goes around- comes around.

    Brian

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    With a minimal amount of effort, Iím sure I have a box of reloading supplies that you could have. Major components would be a hand primer and a balance scale. Probably have an electronic scale laying around that I donít use any more. Not sure what other extras I have Ö but youíre welcome to them (they are free) also.

    Iím a relative novice at reloading Ö but reload for several cartridges. Hereís my basic list of equipment.

    Reloading manual
    Case trimmer
    Chamfer deburring tool.
    Primer pocket uniformer
    powder thrower (Manual or Electronic)
    Balance scale
    Powder trickler
    Measuring gauge
    Powder Funnel
    Cartridge tray
    Die set and shell holder for the cartridge being loaded
    Notebook/labels (for keeping records)

    Hereís how I started in the reloading hobby.

    Brass

    1. Select brass for the cartridge being loaded. I use new brass but save all used brass.
    2. Cut brass to the desired length
    3. Chamfer and debur the brass
    4. With an empty/unprimed brass, adjust your dies to obtain the desired overall cartridge length.


    Primers

    1. Refer to the reloading manual. Use the primer that the book suggests for the cartridge you are loading.
    2. Use hand primer to load primers into the brass.


    Powder

    1. Calibrate your scale. Get comfortable how your scale is reading. I use multiple scales and never bothered adjusting them. For my records, I always record the powder weight used measured from the beam scale.
    2. Refer to the reloading manual. Use the powder that the book suggests for the cartridge you are loading.
    3. Start with a lighter load (say minimum powder suggested) and work up from there.
    4. Set the dispenser to just less than the desired load. Transfer the powder to the beam scale and trickle feed powder to the desired weight.
    5. Load powder into the primed cartridge.


    Bullets

    1. Take cartridge and load into the press.
    2. Take bullet and set at the top of the brass cartridge. Actuate the press and its loaded. Re-measure the cartridge to see if it is consistent with the desired overall length.


    Thatís the basics for now. Iím sure that several of the more experienced re-loaders will chime in. I really donít reload much because how many rounds of 30-06 rounds does one really need.

    Start saving your brass and begin stocking up on some basic supplies. Six weeks will pass by very quickly.

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    Wet:

    Thanks for the intro, advice, and the generous offer! I would be glad to buy the components you are not using.
    I had planned on this for a while- bad timing on my part...
    At more than $3+/rd it sure makes sense regardless of the craziness going on.
    Thank you again,
    Brian

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    One other thing you may want to get is a tumbler to clean and polish your brass. Especially after the 2nd or third time your brass has been reloaded.

    Always wear eye protection when dealing with primers, and take a lot of notes on your loads.
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    I've got a Hornady L-n-L.... really nice progressive press.

    In a pinch you can use a progressive like a single but not vice versa so I'd get a progressive first. I'd also start loading handgun rounds first and move into rifle rounds later.

    For handgun cartridges use carbide dies as it eliminates lubing cases which can be messy and time consuming.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Hodgeman:
    I was thinking of handgun first anyway, and Andy made the same suggestion so that is where I will start. I will look at the Hornady L n L for a progressive as well.
    Duckslayer: What you said about good records makes sense- I saw some stickers on a reloading site just for that. Appreciate the safety advice!
    BEE

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    One thing I'll add regarding records is using a sharpy to note the powder charge on the case itself. There are rare occasions where you will dump a box of loads and if you haven't marked the charge on each case, you'll have no idea what you are shooting and hence what load shoots best. There are also the times where life intrudes and ammo you plan to test a few days after you load it sits on the bench for better than a year and you just can't remember what exactly you did if you didn't right it down.

    I find either a spiral notebook to note the load data, gun date, range, weather etc is helpful or keep the target and make the notes on the target. I just find having a bunch of targets becomes a pain vs. the notebook where I can quickly review loads is helpful. If you're better organized than most, then make an excel spreadsheet to fill out your data with a section for notes and keep them in a 3 ring binder.
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    AKBEE you beat me to the punch on starting this thread but thanks for starting it I am building a list for myself from it. I am going the opposite direction as I am leaning towards mainly rifle cartridges. ADFields how do you like that Lee press?

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    Hey AKBEE...you're getting great suggestions already.

    I'll simply add a couple of other things. I started with a single-stage RCBS press (bought the master kit many years ago). I added other stuff and up-graded here and there, and I eventually bought a Dillon progressive press. If you shoot alot of handgun or 223, you'll want to eventually go progressive...if you don't shoot alot, you don't really need a progressive (in my opinion).

    I'll also note that the powder selection with a progressive is limited to spherical (ball) powder, as opposed to extruded, i.e., the powder drop on the progressive (Dillon) works best with spherical powders...and since you don't weigh every dropped charge with a progressive you want it to meter well. There are many good spherical powders out there, so it's not a deal killer. It's just a factor that you have to keep in mind. With a single-stage I weigh and trickle every charge so powder type is not a factor...many of the powders that I prefer for rifle are extruded. Bottom line is you end-up with a greater variety of powders in your storage cabinet.

    Handloading is great...

    Chuck

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    Doc and Paul:
    Thanks for the comments- I think a spreadsheet will be handy (as well as a spiral notebook). I am looking forward to getting started!
    BEE

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    I'm fairly new to reloading with a few thousand rounds and a handfull of recipes worked with so far. I load .223, 9mm, and .357 on a Lee turret and like it fine. More recently I got one of their hand presses and boy do I wish I had it all along.

    I love being able to accomplish some reloading steps at places and times I'd otherwise not be able to. I can be on the couch with my wife or lounging at a campsite as I do just about anything besides powder work. I purchased the thing to make .308 while away from my main press and didn't realize how something so affordable would open up my options. I won't even load my .308 on the turret because with the hand press I can feel any subtleties and the hands on approach, in my experience, gives me a feeling of making truly the best match ammo I can make at my level of skill.

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    Quote Originally Posted by barber8605 View Post
    AKBEE you beat me to the punch on starting this thread but thanks for starting it I am building a list for myself from it. I am going the opposite direction as I am leaning towards mainly rifle cartridges. ADFields how do you like that Lee press?
    The Lee Classic Cast (the ďOĒ press) is every bit as good as the Rockchucker but the little ďCĒ press I was talking about is week. Lee has a lifetime warrantee and if I was to buy a new single stage their Classic Cast would be high on my list. It will last about 3 lifetimes of normal use.
    http://leeprecision.com/breech-lock-classic-cast.html
    The Chalenger is about the same thing but the frame is aluminum. A good press that should last a lifetime unless your full length sizing 300rum all the time.
    http://leeprecision.com/breech-lock-challenger-press.html
     
    Then there is the cheap little ďCĒ press, it will do handgun stuff fine but will not stand up to sizing rifle stuff for very long at all. The top round part where the die threads in will snap off (been there like 5 times) then you mail it to Lee and they send you a new one. They are real useful as a cheap 2nd press to knock out primers or seat bullets but not good for a primary press.
    http://leeprecision.com/reloader-press.html
     
    For best pricing type the names into search engine, the price from the Lee links I posted is higher than from web venders.
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    The Lyman T-Mag & Crusher kits are about the best value going for getting started. You get all the tools (less dies) needed for producing ammo. About the only things you'll need to buy is a loading block, a pair of calipers and a case tumbler kit. The best value there are the Frankford Arsenal kits sold by the usual suspects.

    Lyman has also upgraded some of their dies offering carbide-button, 3-die (FL, N, S) sets for bottleneck cartridges that were originally only offered by Redding and even Redding expander balls require a conversion kit to upgrade to carbide.

    http://www.lymanproducts.com/lyman/p...p_Del_Tmag.php

    BTW, I wouldn't purchase it from the Lyman site. They can be had much cheaper from places like MidwayUSA, Cabela's, Graf's, Mid-South Shooters and other suppliers and even then you can catch them on sale for under $300 at times.
    Now what ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevelyn View Post
    The Lyman T-Mag & Crusher kits are about the best value going for getting started. You get all the tools (less dies) needed for producing ammo. About the only things you'll need to buy is a loading block, a pair of calipers and a case tumbler kit. The best value there are the Frankford Arsenal kits sold by the usual suspects.

    Lyman has also upgraded some of their dies offering carbide-button, 3-die (FL, N, S) sets for bottleneck cartridges that were originally only offered by Redding and even Redding expander balls require a conversion kit to upgrade to carbide.

    http://www.lymanproducts.com/lyman/p...p_Del_Tmag.php

    BTW, I wouldn't purchase it from the Lyman site. They can be had much cheaper from places like MidwayUSA, Cabela's, Graf's, Mid-South Shooters and other suppliers and even then you can catch them on sale for under $300 at times.
    Thanks for the heads up. I already placed an order with Midway for a press, some dies and brass/bullets- I have been very happy with them in the past for different things I couldn't find in town.
    I really appreciate all y'alls input.
    BEE

  19. #19

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    Start with a single stage press and learn the basics then switch this knowledge to the progressive style press. There aren't any modern presses superior to the RCBS Jr when it comes to a standard-length single stage press; They are cast iron and last forever, they are also discontinued due to production costs, but used ones sell pretty inexpensively. They work well for small jobs when you don't want to change the current press set-up and do a small job as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by brav01 View Post
    Start with a single stage press and learn the basics then switch this knowledge to the progressive style press. .
    That makes sense and what I plan to do- thank you sir!
    BEE

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