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    Member Ryan J's Avatar
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    Default Where to start?

    Never handloaded, never seen it done. I am very interested even though the wife would argue that I don't need another hobby. Where do I start? I'd like to get an idea of the process before I look into equipment to buy. I see a lot of terms and abbreviations here that may as well be french to me. Not looking at doing any experimenting yet, just loading for my .44 mag and .30-06 to begin.
    Where do I start?
    Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan J View Post
    Never handloaded, never seen it done. I am very interested even though the wife would argue that I don't need another hobby. Where do I start? I'd like to get an idea of the process before I look into equipment to buy. I see a lot of terms and abbreviations here that may as well be french to me. Not looking at doing any experimenting yet, just loading for my .44 mag and .30-06 to begin.
    Where do I start?
    Thanks
    The ABC's of Reloading is a great place to start. In addition to that book I recommend you buy a couple of loading manuals from various manufacturers: Nosler, Barnes, Hornady, etc. Once you have read The ABC's and the introduction/how-to part of the other manuals you'll have a pretty good idea of the process and the necessary tools/components that you'll need to being.

    Maybe someone in ANC could help give you a tour once you have a better understanding?
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    RyanJ,
    Once you take the bait it's over my friend!
    I would rec buying a couple good reloading books/manuals - Nosler is good and Hornady another. They will walk you thru the process. I would think there is a sporting goods store in your vicinity with some knowledgeable staff that could also help. It sure goes faster ( the learning curve ) if you can find someone to look over their shoulder and ask questions. Many great forum members near you I would suspect that would welcome you dropping by to visit and learn...
    Your 44 would be a good place to start - straight walled pistol cartridges are a snap to do... Rifles a little messier and slower...
    Don't be afraid to ask questions here - a great bunch of chaps to learn from!
    Randy
    When asked what state I live in I say "The State of Confusion", better known as IL....

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    go to a shooting range or local shoot or gun shop inquire about wanting to reload somebody will help learn a little before you purchase equipment match shooters invest thousands in equipment and supplies and are mostly willing to help and are allmost anal about the science of loading

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    Member Ryan J's Avatar
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    Thanks guys. The gentleman that works the gun counter at Mountain View Sports offered to get me started about a year ago. I may have to go back and see him.

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    Hey Ryan, you have received very good advice so far. Start with buying the above mentioned manuals, ABC's, ect... ect... I believe there are also basic introduction to handloading DVD's you could purchase if you are more of a visual learner. Best advice is to read up on it first, then get some hands on with an experienced reloader if possible. The reading part is important just in case your teacher has picked up some careless reloading practices over the years, you will know not to follow their example! I believe the Sportsmans Warehouse offers a basic intro to handloading class that might also help you along with the manuals.

    Equipment choices range from the simple basic to more money than you could spend. You don't have to break the bank to get started though with some good basic equipment. I would say that this is the forum to help you out with any questions. Pm anytime and I would be glad to help out if I can and I'm sure many more here would do the same. It is a wonderful hobby to enjoy for a lifetime!

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    I also am interested in reloading. I do know about the books already mentioned below. I do have a question though. Is it recommended to pick up spent brass at the shooting ranges? I have guys all the time ask me if they can have my spent casings at Birchwood shooting range.
    Hate America??....then get the Hell Out!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan J View Post
    Never handloaded, never seen it done. I am very interested even though the wife would argue that I don't need another hobby. Where do I start? I'd like to get an idea of the process before I look into equipment to buy. I see a lot of terms and abbreviations here that may as well be french to me. Not looking at doing any experimenting yet, just loading for my .44 mag and .30-06 to begin.
    Where do I start?
    Thanks
    Thanks for asking our advice. Good start.

    Here are 10 advices I composed for the new reloader. Keep in mind that my perspective is that of a handgun reloader (meaning straight-walled cartridge cases, not bottlenecked, which are used mostly in rifles).

    I have thought of a few things I think are useful for handloaders to know or to consider which seem to be almost universal. So much is a matter of personal taste and circumstance, though. So, all advice carries this caveat, "your mileage may vary".

    Bonus advice: Advice zero, if you will, "Why load?"

    At the same time as I bought my first gun (.357 Magnum Dan Wesson revolver), I bought a reloading setup because I knew I could not afford to shoot if I did not reload my own ammo. It cost me about 1/4 of factory ammo per round and paid for itself pretty quickly. However, most shooters will not realize any savings at all. Instead of shooting for 1/4 the ammo cost, you will shoot four times as much for the same cost. However, handloading can be more than a means to an end (money savings or increased accuracy), it can be a satisfying pastime in itself.

    Now, here are my Ten Advices.

    Advice #1 Use Reliable Reference Sources Wisely - Books, Videos, Web Sites, etc.

    Study up in loading manuals until you understand the process well, before spending a lot of money on equipment.

    I found "The ABC's of Reloading" to be a very good reference. Short on loading data but full of knowledge and understanding of the process. Check out offerings in your local library. Dated, perhaps but the basics are pretty unchanging.

    Read as many manuals as you can, for the discussion of the how-to steps. What one manual covers thinly, another will cover well. As far as load data in older manuals, the powder manufacturers and bullet manufacturers may have better information and their web sites are probably more up to date. But pay attention to what the ammunition was test-fired from. (regular firearm vs a sealed-breech pressure test barrel, for example)

    The reason you want more than one or two manuals is that you want to read differing authors/editors writing styles and find ones that "speak" to you. You also get better coverage of the subject; one author or editor may cover parts of the subject more thoroughly than the others.

    The public library should have manuals you can read, then decide which ones you want to buy.

    There are instructional videos now that did not exist in the '70s when I started.

    Richard Lee's book "Modern Reloading" has a lot of food for thought, and does discuss the reasoning behind his opinions (unlike many manuals, and postings). Whether right or wrong, the issues merit thought, which that book initiates. It is not a simple book, though and you will find it provocative reading for many years.

    Only after you know the steps can you look at the contents of of a dealer's shelves, a mail-order catalog or a reloading kit and know what equipment you want to buy. If you are considering a loading kit, you will be in a better position to know what parts you don't need and what parts the kits lack.

    Advice #2 All equipment is good. But is it good FOR YOU?

    Almost every manufacturer of loading equipment makes good stuff; if they didn't, they would lose reputation fast and disappear from the marketplace. Better equipment costs more generally. Cast aluminum is lighter and less expensive but not so abrasion resistant as cast iron. Cast iron lasts practically forever. Lee makes good equipment, but is generally considered the "economy" equipment maker, though some of their stuff is considered preferable to more expensive makes. Just think about what you buy. Ask around. Testimonials are nice. But if you thing Ford/Chevrolet owners have brand loyalty, you have not met handloaders. Testimonials with reasoning behind them are better.

    Be aware that many handloaders don't use brand names, prefering the manufacturer's chosen color, instead. RCBS equipment is almost all green; Dillon, blue; Lee, red. Almost no manufacturers cross color line, so many handloaders simply identify themselves as "Blue" or whatever. But this is not 100%. I have a Lee Powder Scale that is green.

    On Kits: Almost every manufacturer (and retailer) makes a kit that contains everything you need to do reloading (except dies and the consumables). A kit is decent way to get started (with less puzzling over unknowable questions). Eventually most people wind up replacing most of the components of the kit as their personal taste develops, but you will have gotten started, at least.

    Advice #3 While Learning, don't get fancy. Progressive or Single Stage? Experimental loads?

    While you are learning, load mid-range at first so overpressures are not concerns. Just concentrate on getting the loading steps right and being VERY VERY consistent (charge weight, crimp strength, seating depth, primer seating force, all that). Use a "fluffy" powder (takes up a lot of space for the charge -Trail Boss is one) that is, one that will overflow your cartridge case if you mistakenly put two powder charges in it, and is easy to verify that you have not missed charging a case with powder.

    Learn on a single stage press or a turret press. Do not learn on a progressive press. Too many things happen at the same time, thus are hard to keep track of. Mistakes DO happen and you want to watch for them ONE AT A TIME until handloading becomes second nature to you. You can learn on a progressive, but it is easier to make mistakes during the learning process.

    Note: A turret press is essentially a single stage press with a moveable head which can mount several dies at the same time. What makes it like a single stage rather than a progressive is that you are still using only one die at a time, not three or four dies simultaneously at each stroke.

    Also, a good, strong, single stage press is in the stable of every reloader I know, no matter how many progressives they have. They always keep at least one single-stage.

    Advice #4 Find a mentor.

    There is no substitute for someone watching you load a few cartridges and critiquing your technigue BEFORE you develop bad habits or make a dangerous mistake. (A mistake that might not have consequences right away, but maybe only after you have escaped trouble a hundred times until one day you get bit, for instance having case lube on your fingers when you handle primers 99 times, no problem because primers are coated with a sealant, but the hundredth primer may not be perfectly sealed and now winds up "dead")

    I started loading with the guy who sold me my press watching over my shoulder as I loaded my first 6 rounds to make sure I did not blow myself up, load a powderless cartridge or set off a primer in the press. I could have learned more, faster with a longer mentoring period, but I learned a lot in those first 6 rounds, as he explained each step. I educated myself after that. But now, on the internet, I have learned a WHOLE LOT MORE. But in-person is still the best.

    After you have been mentored, mentor someone else. Not necessarily in loading or the shooting sports, but in SOMETHING in which you are enthusiastic and qualified. Just give back to the community.

    Advice #5 Design your loading space for safety, efficiency, cleanliness

    When I started reloading, I did not use a loading bench at all. I just mounted the press on a 2" x 6" plank long enough to wedge into the drawer of an end table My loading gear all fit in a footlocker and spread out on a coffeetable, end table and/or the lid of the footlocker. Good leverage meant the table did not lift or rock. I still use the same plank, but now it is mounted in a Black & Decker folding workbench. A loading bench "bolted to the center of the earth" (as some describe their setups) would be more stable, but I do not feel deprived without it.

    You will probably spill powder or drop a primer eventually, so consider what you have for a floor covering when you pick your reloading room/workspace. I would not try to vacuum up spilt gunpowder unless using a Rainbow vacuum which uses water as the filter medium.

    Advice #6 Keep Current on loading technology

    Always use a CURRENT loading manual. Powder chemistry has changed over the years. They make some powders differently than they used to and even some powder names may have changed. However, if you are using 10 year old powder, you may want to check a 10 year old manual for the recipe. Then double check with a modern manual and then triple check with the powder maker.

    Read previous threads on reloading, here are a couple I read.

    TheFiringLine.com, "Handloading, Reloading, and Bullet Casting"
    http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=230171
    THE ACCURATE RELOADING.COM FORUMS - Powered by Social Strata
    http://forums.accuratereloading.com/.../frm/f/2511043
    RugerForum.com :: View topic - Interested in reloading
    http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=13543
    RugerForum.com :: View Forum - Factory Ammunition and Reloading
    http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewforum.php?f=11


    Advice #7 You never regret buying the best (but once)

    When you buy the very best, it hurts only once, in the wallet. When you buy too cheaply it hurts every time you use the gear. The trick is to buy good enough (on the scale between high quality and low price) to keep you happy without overpaying.

    Advice #8 Tungsten Carbide dies (or Titanium Nitride)

    T-C dies instead of regular tool steel (which require lubrication for sizing your brass) for your straight-walled cartridge cases. T-C dies do not require lubrication, which will save you time. Carbide expander button for your bottlenecked cases. Keeps lube out of the inside of the cases.

    Advice #9 Safety Always Safety All Ways.

    Wear eye protection, especially when seating primers. Gloves are good, too, especially if using the Lee "Hammer" Tools. Children (unless they are good helpers, not just playing around) are at risk and are a risk. Pets, too unless they have been vetted (no, not that kind of vetting). Any distractions that might induce you to forget charging a case (no charge or a double charge, equally disturbing). Imagine everything that CAN go wrong. Then imagine everything that you CAN'T imagine. I could go on, but it's your eyes, your fingers, your house, your children. Enough said?

    Advice #10 Remember, verify for yourself everything you learn from casual sources. Believe only half of what you see and one quarter of what you hear. That goes double for everything you find on the internet (with the possible exception of the actual web sites of the bullet and powder manufacturers). This advice applies to my message as much as anything else and especially to personal load recipes. Hare-brained reloaders might have dangerous habits and even an honest typographical error could be deadly. I heard about a powder manufacturer's web site that dropped a decimal point once. It was fixed REAL FAST, but mistakes happen. I work in accounting and frequently hit "7" instead of "4" because they are next to each other on the keypad.

    Good luck.

    Lost Sheep

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    If you want, I would be glad to show through the basics of reloading on my equiptment. I have several loaders set up from hand held Lee through Dillon 550b. The advice so far is good. Get the ABCs and a manual or two. And give me a call if you want for some hands on before you buy. 688 3849 Buck I've been loading for over 45 years and have probably made most of the mistakes that can be made.
    Shoedawg; Many of us use range pickup brass but unless you have some experience judging used brass, you may want to just hold on to it until you can figure out what to look for. Pistol brass is not so bad but rifle brass should be checked carefully before use unless you know it to be once fired.

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    it is very gratifying to feel the difference of your own loads and watch your work and diligence tighten up on the target you will immediately become more aware of consistancey these 2 sites are my major research areas to loading go slow


    http://www.handloads.com/

    http://www.huntingnut.com/

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    Y'kno Ryan, What I did,............(and I'm not sure this will help keep cost down, but it'll get ya hooked Real Good)
    I went into SW and stood there, literally for hours, reading through All The Manuals, thinking I'd find just one that was best, described the process best ??

    I walked out with Nosler, Hornady, and a day later, grabbed the Barnes manual also.
    then when I got my RCBS kit, it had the Speer manual inside.
    I learned tons reading all the different ones. Still glad I got them all (have since, in my rookie year, bought the Lyman manual, a great book on Powders, "Propellant Profiles", and then spent hours reading other stuff as I started.)

    If on a tight start-out budget, I like Nosler, and Hornady best for the details of how-to start.

    Then another thing I did was go back through this forum, page by page, All the Way to the beginnings, reading everything that had a title that applied to me. For example, for you, read everything that says "30-06" You WIll find a lot of stuff, Learn A Ton

    I have a large Word Doc file saved as "Murphy Files," for copy/pasting all the excellent teaching and experience posted by a guy here, Murphy (still the moderator) he doesn't post as often these days, but the Archives are Full of his stuff, and that Gentleman taught me a lot. Such good detail, I had to save them and reread them now and then.

    This Forum is a Goldmine for the start-out guy, Ask Any Question you can imagine, and a bunch of hardcore experienced Reloaders will gracefully help you. It's amazing.
    Was a Huge Headstart for Me, Way beyond what the Manuals will teach you. Have Fun, You'll shoot a lot more,......

    PS by my experience, I'd skip asking the clerks at sporting goods stores Anything.....
    (with the exception of GNG maybe and they're often too busy to teach in detail, tho one of those guys helped me decide some things)
    In general there's way too many illinformed guys wanting to tell you stuff they don't know much about behind the counter,...
    Don't waste your time there
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    I'm not sure if they still offer them, but if you want to try it out without a huge investment, look into the Lee anniversary kit. They dont cost much, and come with most of what you need to get started

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    Member Ryan J's Avatar
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    Wow, definately a crowd passionate about their handloading. I truly appreciate all the advice. I've started shopping for books on Midway's site, and I think I'll do like kodiakrain and spend some time in the aisle at SW.
    You guys are too cool.
    Thanks again.

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    Great advice there. You might also want to view some of the better youtube videos on reloading.
    A number of them take you through much of the process and will introduce you to the mechanics of it all.

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    Hey Ryan, Sat 2-19-11 at Sportsmans Warehouse in Anchorage, there is an intro to reloading class you might also want to check out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiakrain View Post
    ... by my experience, I'd skip asking the clerks at sporting goods stores Anything.....
    (with the exception of GNG maybe and they're often too busy to teach in detail, tho one of those guys helped me decide some things)
    In general there's way too many illinformed guys wanting to tell you stuff they don't know much about behind the counter,...
    Don't waste your time there
    Sara, at Mountain View Sports reloads (for most of her life so far) and will not claim knowledge she does not have. Any of the guys at Great Northern Guns know their stuff, so find one that knows reloading and soak up the knowledge. Be aware that they will be disappointed if you do not reward their generosity of knowledge with appropriate purchases.

    A few of the folks at Sportsman's Warehouse know reloading, but you'll have to vett them.

    Good luck

    Lost Sheep

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lost Sheep View Post
    Sara, at Mountain View Sports reloads (for most of her life so far) and will not claim knowledge she does not have. Any of the guys at Great Northern Guns know their stuff, so find one that knows reloading and soak up the knowledge. Be aware that they will be disappointed if you do not reward their generosity of knowledge with appropriate purchases.
    Yep, I better take some of what I said about clerks back,
    I also, have run into a woman at MV Sports who obviously had her act together, was very cool to a start up guy (must have been Sara mentioned here) and what was best is she didn't "seem disappointed that I didn't turn around and buy a bunch of stuff." She was just excellent to deal with, helpful. Seemed to me MV also had some good prices and good stuff all around.
    Refreshing to NOT run into that pressure, "we'll help, if you buy..."

    GNG was kinda the same way, tho I did succomb to my own pressure to reward helpful folks by buying my RCBS kit there.
    Bit higher priced, than down the street, quite a bit more than down south, but I was feeling it would be cool to buy there as a result of the time spent with me as a customer and appreciating all they had in stock for reloaders.
    As I remember, they looked almost surprised when I grabbed the entire kit and brought to the counter to buy along with a bunch of first time tools I'd need, and a Jag of Powder (at good prices btw)

    Seemed apparent they have grown used to people asking all about it, then walking out the door to go to the cheapest place.
    Glad I wasnt' one of those, for a few bucks more. Support the Locals, now and then, is my opinion anyway

    I did quite a bit of traveling shortly after starting up tho and found all over the country, at the megastores etc. (no specifics here but you can imagine the mega hunting stores I am referring to) I found quite a few clerks behind the Guns and Shooting counter areas who acted as if they knew it all, but as I was saturated in reading all the manuals etc. it was obvious they didn't.

    That's why I caution about that, maybe few and far between who really have knowledge to compare with some on these Forums for example
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shoedawg View Post
    I also am interested in reloading. I do know about the books already mentioned below. I do have a question though. Is it recommended to pick up spent brass at the shooting ranges? I have guys all the time ask me if they can have my spent casings at Birchwood shooting range.
    If you can get the same type in quanity enough for your purposes,

    If it is Factory, Once Fired, brass. (You can usually tell, by looking at the primers, if there is some kinda sealant.)

    You can save your own brass from FLs.

    The problem of picking up brass at the range, assuming it's not stomped on, is that, there are those who pick it all up, and run it through a tumbler that polishes it, sort it out, and it all looks alike. So, you don't know how many times it's been fired.

    How many times a case has been fired, is a good thing TO KNOW, and keep track of. Be careful of the used brass you see at Gun Shows.

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    Good info. Didnt think about the used brass at the gun shows.
    Hate America??....then get the Hell Out!!!

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    Yeah. The problem of unknown brass is head seperation if it has been fired too many times or loose primer pockets if fired with too much pressure. You can check for head seperation using a paper clip (piece of wire ) with a short 90* at one end sharpened to a point. This wire is run down wall on the inside of the case. The seperation will start as a crack/ shallow grove just ahead of the case head running around the inside of the case. If you can hook the wire in this groove it's time to toss it. Most handloader books go into checking used cases with pictures. Straight wall cases normally can be loaded many times without problems. Split necks are usually what gets cases like the 44mag.

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