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Thread: getting started?

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    Member joefish00000's Avatar
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    Default getting started?

    hi guys, ive been seriously considering getting into handloading. i think its time to take the plunge. i know someone who can teach me but i dont no buch about the equipment. where is the best place to get inexpensive, cheap equipment? what brands do you recomend?
    “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” - (Aldo Leopold)

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    What's your favorite color?

    RCBS = green
    Hornady= red
    Lee = bright red
    Lyman = orange
    Dillon (high dollar but you get your money's worth) = blue

    I like green but it's not the only color on my bench. In my experience though, they're all really good. Some do excell in given areas. RCBS scales and presses, Hornady and Lee dies, Lyman cast bullet equip. (My .02)

    RCBS makes a good starter kit (Master reloading kit around $330). Add dies, shellholder, and components and your ready to roll your own. Or checkout estate sales, yard sales, etc as the equipment doesn't wear out if maintained properly.

    Just be prepared...........once you start reloading you'll be hooked. Hello; my name is Mike, and I'm a Reloader................ I can count on one hand the boxes of factory ammo that i've bought in the last twenty years.

    One last piece of advice............ Get a reloading manual and read it AND understand it. The info in there is not to be deviated from without years of experience. Guns differ; and "Joe Schmoes" "whoop ASS load" could be a bomb in yours.

    Good luck.

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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    Find yourself a copy of ABCs of reloading first to read, it’s like reloadings version of ‘computers for dummies’ and is full of the how AND the why we do things . . . save you a lot of re-inventing the wheel to read that.

    Color for me is bright red for dies (Lee makes some very good dies) and green for most other stuff. I have stuff form about every maker and it all works. Now if you can afford blue go man go, I’d love a Dillon progressive but I’m too gun poor. RCBS master kit is the way to start, start with just one caliber first and get that down before you branch out. Handgun ammo is always good to learn on because it’s easy and you will go through more of it thus get more press time but any one caliber will do to start off.

    Get your other stuff and come on back here when you get any questions.
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    I think that ADs probably right about the ABCs book.

    Most reloading manuals have instructions, but some of them are sadly lacking, or just plain incorrect.

    IME, the most common mistake beginners make, is misadjusting the seating die because they don't understand issues with the crimping shoulder.

    as Wfoidaho, sayeth, "read it AND understand it".

    You'll do fine.

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    Member GrizzlyH's Avatar
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    Lee dies and equipment are nice to work with, as they have help videos on their website for setting up various pieces of equipment.
    You should get the Lyman 49th edition reloading manual also. It has alot of good info to help you understand what your trying to do. Good luck and enjoy!
    I can do the impossible right away. Be patient, miracles take me a bit longer.

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    If you want inexpensive cheap equipment, start with the Lee anniversary kit. I know some people disparage Lee, but I started with that kit and while I've replaced every piece off it over the years, it was capable of loading ammunition just as accurately as my current equipment.

    The classifieds on this website is probably your best bet on finding some deals on used stuff. If you put in the time and are lucky, garage sales, craigslist and e-bay could result in the best prices. That said, if you place any value on your time, just price out the various mail order reloading houses and order the equipment.

    Boondocks in Eagle River often times has sales on reloading components and sometimes dies etc, always worth stopping by. Great Northern guns sometimes has some good stuff on their used table.

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    Default Gun Shows!

    You missed a good one last weekend but I've found a LOT of my reloading stuff at gun shows. I've picked up several presses - the last one was a nice but dirty Rock Chucker for $25 in Dec. I've got several powder measures for $15- $20, scales for $10 -$15, lots of dies for $10-15 a set, shell holders for a $1 or $2 etc.

    If you have a friend that knows the stuff get him to go with you and help you pick thru what is available. You should always find a few good deals at about any gun show.
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    If you want to get it going as cheap as is reasonable , the Lee anniversary kit is probably your best bet. Individual pieces can be bought used cheaper but it will take a while to collect everything you need. I have most of the brands of stuff there is and find most of it to be plenty usable. I actually like Lee dies better than many. The ABCs of reloading is about as good as it gets to start learning. Pick up a couple of loading manuals and study those as well. Don't load to max loads until you know exactly what you are doing. There is better quality loading equiptment, Lees powder throwers tend to leak and their cheap press is a little shakey,but the better brand stuff is definately more expensive. We all have a little bit different methods of loading and each person has prefferences to one type of equiptment or another. You will actually have to start using any particular piece of equiptment before you will know whether it fits your style or not. So, start cheap and then decide how far up the price range you need to go.

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    The RCBS Rockchucker Supreme kit is on sale for $289 at Natchez Shootings Supplies. Also, if you act fast, there is a $50 mail in rebate from RCBS. You could get the kit and some basic accessories for about $400, then $50 off that, $350 total. The kit comes with the 14th edition of the Speer manual. Great book, got one just the other day from a gun shop on Amazon (Guns4U) for $38. As stated, read the manual. Don't even touch the equipment till you do. It is basic stuff, easy to digest, but stuff you must know. In the process of reading it now. Just ordered a bunch of green stuff, to include the RCBS chargemaster (scales/powder thrower combo) from Natchez. It was on sale for $280 (and $50 rebate), around $250 for a $350 item. Good time to buy green. Cabelas, Midway USA, and Natchez are all good places to shop.


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    I have been using hand loading equipment for almost fifty years. I've used it all. I have done it on a very small scale and a full commercial scale with sales of about a 100 grand a year over about a decade. I hand loaded special caliber, exotics, N. E. and others with premium custom bullets for high rollers to take around the world to hunt expensive animals.

    Some will disagree with me but I think it is a serious waste of money to buy the cheapest equipment thinking it will do what good equipment will do. It will not. Buy Redding or RCBS strong cast iron press and the best scale and powder measure you can afford. This goes for die sets also. It isn't about saving money even though that is why we say we're doing it. It's really about shooting more for the same money and shooting better ammunition. Also some folks think they will just hand load their practice ammo and cheap equipment is all they need, not so. You can make the best ammunition ever for your own use. Factory ammo is good but isn't taylor made to your particular gun and needs. Don't sell the task short. The kits are a good buy, everything in one package. Stick with RCBS or Redding.

    I will reiterate what others have said about buy the books first. Study the process even before you buy equipment. This will help with the decision. The ABC's of reloading, the Lyman reloading manual and the Lee book are very good about teaching the technique. Also buy a couple of the bullet/powder makers manuals and study those for a while.
    I think Redding makes the very best dies......just my opinion. I have honestly loaded over one million rounds of ammo.....mostly with Redding dies, I am stocking dealer for them.....just for my own use and buy for a few friends, I own and use over 100 sets of Redding dies and about 40 of RCBS and a dozen or so of Forster dies. I own Redding presses, RCBS (rockchucker), and Dillion progressive loaders, (two 550's and a 1050) The new Redding Big Boss press will do everything and is easiest to use and has the best primer catcher. All dies fit all presses nowadays. It is a great hobby of itself...and it enhances the shooting/hunting experience. Winning matches or taking trophies with your home made ammo is still pretty cool. I've faced angry lions and charging buffalo with my hand loads.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    Some will disagree with me but I think it is a serious waste of money to buy the cheapest equipment thinking it will do what good equipment will do. It will not. Buy Redding or RCBS strong cast iron press and the best scale and powder measure you can afford. This goes for die sets also.
    Excellent advice to heed. I've very similar opinions myself.

    It isn't about saving money even though that is why we say we're doing it. It's really about shooting more for the same money and shooting better ammunition. Also some folks think they will just hand load their practice ammo and cheap equipment is all they need, not so. You can make the best ammunition ever for your own use. Factory ammo is good but isn't taylor made to your particular gun and needs. Don't sell the task short.
    That is precisely why I handload, though I do enjoy handloading. In our home we live on a firm budget; handloading allows me to fire a lot more centerfire rounds downrange for the same amount of money. Personally, I've always preferred more shooting to less shooting, but others may disagree.

    I am also allowed to maximize a firearms potential by choosing exactly the right load for my intended purpose. Ammo companies must load ammo that is a series of compromises due to the vast array of firearms that might use a particualr cartridge. I am not bound by such constraints. I can modify ammo to perform at a higher level (velocity, accuracy, projectile, etc.) since I am loading ammunition for one specific firearm or one specific purpose. For people that enjoy and appreciate shooting, I can think of no greater "hobby" than handloading.
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    Everyone has an opinion so might as well offer mine. Like most of the older guys on here started reloading when I was 12 so that gives me 46 years of experience with it. I have never shot an animal with a factory round other than rimfires in my life. Doesnt mean I am always right, but it does mean I seen a lot of equipment come and go.

    I agree with the moto, buy best and buy once. Start with a good press and my choice is the Forster Co-Ax.
    Tennessee

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    I have dies from RCBS,Lee,Pacific,Redding and C&H. Can someone tell me why my Redding dies are any better than any of the others? I've only been loading for 45 years and I must have missed something. I haven't seen a difference in how any of these dies perform except the Lee which has a collet held decapper instead of a screw in. In presses, I have Two Lyman turrets,a C&H, an Rcbs Rockchucker, a Dillon 550b, and a Lee hand held. If I were starting over and going on the cheaper end of new stuff my pick would be: Lee Classic cast press,Lee dies, Lee case trimmers, scales by Lyman,rcbs or such, powder thrower by rcbs or similar, a tub of Hornady Unique case lube and a stainless dial caliper from Harbour Freight. Every thing on this list should last several liftimes and be capable of making ammo better than factory stuff. Well, you may have to replace the case lube every few years.
    I really would like to know why people think the Redding dies are better than others.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rbuck351 View Post
    I really would like to know why people think the Redding dies are better than others.
    I don't think they are any better. I'll buy either Redding or RCBS, whichever is on the shelf and cheapest. But then again I am EXTREMELY happy if any of my 30 caliber or above hunting rifles shoot MOA when it seems everyone else owns rifles that shoot .50 MOA or better on a regular basis.
    Maybe the next dead moose or bear I run into can send me a message from the after life and tell me if I made the right choice for my reloading dies. Afterall, their opinion is the only one that matters.
    Tennessee

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    Snowwolfe:
    I'm with you. If my hunting rifle will consistantly shoot MOA I am more than happy. Most of mine won't quite make that with hunting bullets but I'm not sure a half inch on a moose really matters that much.

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    I'm happy with anything MOA or less, but prefer less. When I get it, I don't try and make it better, but, just try to make sure it's consistent.

    I think it's natural to TRUST some die brands over others, if they've worked well for you. Lee dies have worked well for me. Lee tools are innovative, but that's about all you can say for some of it. Some things work good too.

    Examples,
    The Lee Factory Crimp versions, are fine and dandy, IMO.

    The Lee Collette die doesn't.

    Some of the Lee innovative tools I won't even own. At least, they're cheap enough to throw away, though.

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    Yeah Smitty. Some of Lee stuff is very good and some is just plain junk. As far as dies go, the only die set I have ever had any problem with is one set of RCBS dies. I broke the end off a primer punch on a set of 45acp dies. Really wasn't the dies fault though. I was loading from a bucket of brass on the floor and a used primer fell into one of the cases and I didn't see it. The Lee primer punch will slide rather than break, which is nice. Other than that one incident, all my dies ( about 40 sets ) have worked very well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rbuck351 View Post
    I have dies from RCBS,Lee,Pacific,Redding and C&H. Can someone tell me why my Redding dies are any better than any of the others? I've only been loading for 45 years and I must have missed something. I haven't seen a difference in how any of these dies perform except the Lee which has a collet held decapper instead of a screw in. In presses, I have Two Lyman turrets,a C&H, an Rcbs Rockchucker, a Dillon 550b, and a Lee hand held. If I were starting over and going on the cheaper end of new stuff my pick would be: Lee Classic cast press,Lee dies, Lee case trimmers, scales by Lyman,rcbs or such, powder thrower by rcbs or similar, a tub of Hornady Unique case lube and a stainless dial caliper from Harbour Freight. Every thing on this list should last several liftimes and be capable of making ammo better than factory stuff. Well, you may have to replace the case lube every few years.
    I really would like to know why people think the Redding dies are better than others.
    I don't think that was true in years past....meaning all were on the par where Redding is now. They have just maintained a standard for so long where others haven't. Redding has the most consistent quality control and maintain the correct hardness, internal finish and dimensional control. They have made so many custom dies for me and never has one set ever failed to form a case that would fit my chamber. (They make dies from my reamer drawings.) I can't say the same for RCBS. Some RCBS dies I prefer over Redding, such as rimmed cases and the Forster/Bonanza dies are excellent as is their Co-ax press....I have one of those as well.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  20. #20

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    Wow I thought I was a old hand with 34 years reloading. Sounds like some of you started with paper cartridges in your '59 Sharps.
    About all I can add is never trust a single manual for max loads. Typos exist, and if you're not familiar with a certain round that obvious over load may not catch your eye. I have opened 4 manuals to the same caliber, same bullet, same powder and [for example] seen manuals a,b, and c list 50-50.5 as max and manual d list 58. I have seen max loads that would be impossible to load [I don't care how long your drop tube is, you ain't gonna get 65 gr 4350 in a 30-06].

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