Newbie to reloading....HELP!

Newbie to reloading....HELP!

This is a discussion on Newbie to reloading....HELP! within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; Hello All, I have been posting here for quite some time but NEVER on this part of the forum. I have decided that after 'thinking' ...

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Thread: Newbie to reloading....HELP!

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    Senior Member Array harley2007's Avatar
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    Newbie to reloading....HELP!

    Hello All,

    I have been posting here for quite some time but NEVER on this part of the forum. I have decided that after 'thinking' of doing it for years, this last year has caused me to finally bite the bullet and get into reloading.

    I just ordered a Lee single stage kit, the regular one, not the anniversary kit, seemed like a better deal. I also ordered a bullet puller, dial caliper and 38/357 dies (starting with revolver stuff first to get the hang of it).

    Here are my questions:

    1. Is there a way to tumble by hand, such as put in a basket of some sort and stick in the dishwasher (man do I hope my wife ain't reading this)?
    2. Where is a good place to buy bullets (cast I guess but also FMJ for when I get there with auto loaders)?
    3. Where if different from #2 above, should I get powder and primers?
    4. Is there anything else I need to start out, seems like no, except for maybe a loading manual but I thought my die set comes with a recipe sheet for the caliber?
    5. Going forward, I noticed my PPS in 40 puts a dent in the middle of the case wall.....does this preclude using these shells for reloading?


    I want to get teh right amount of stuff to get started without going overboard so I am not between getting frustrated by doing it like a caveman yet not overwhelmed with too much stuff to learn.

    Thanks a bunch in advance, I am really excited about this.
    "I would rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy!" - Dorothy Parker


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array Rob99VMI04's Avatar
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    Sorry on a Droid
    So ill try to help with a few questions and decent franker use.

    Google cleaning brass with vinager.

    Also good places to buy bullets.

    Berry's mfg
    Zero bullets

    Missouri bullets (haven't tried them but my friends swear by them and there very cheap.)

    Primers try Sinclair, midway, widenors, midsouth, and powder valley. All can be found using your Google Fu.
    “Are you a thermometer or a thermostat, do you reflect or become what is happening in the room or do you change the atmosphere, reset the temperature when you come into the room”?--Chuck Swindoll

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    VIP Member Array friesepferd's Avatar
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    sounds like you are off to a good start. you do not need to tumble brass in media, you can clean it with various solutions and let it dry, such as vinager as suggested above. there are a lot of options there. im sure sure which works best, as i use a tumbler.
    as far as bullets goes, i used barry's mfg. Their plated bullets are a great deal assuming you dont want to use lead. i think probably some of the cheapest non lead exposed bullets you can find.
    for powder and primers, you arent going to be looking online. you get a $25 hazmat charge reguardless of the quantity you get. buy that stuff at your local gun store.
    reloading manuals are nice. i used to have one.. but honestly i rarely used it. i never ended up having a bullet, powder combo that was on there, but they did give u good guidlines. you can find recipes online at the powder and often bullet mfg website. dont use random info you find online. use stuff from mfg only. start a bit undercharged and work your way up.
    a large amount of deformation in a case will keep you from reloading, b/c it wont go in the die, if it has a little dent but your straightening die takes care of it, dont worry about it. as it is cold working the metal, it wont last as many reloads, but honestly.. i have yet to have cases start to crack on my. i am bound to loose the case before it gets reloaded that many times. but then again... i also have a ton of brass and a semiauto.
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  4. #4
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    I've been reloading for several years and I find it's a great next-step in shooting. It's logical from a cost point of view, if you ignore the going-in price. And it will give you great opportunities to find the "fit" for your gun regarding preferred loads, ballistics, etc. So congrats on this step.

    Now the lecture (please forgive the term): And having just put up several hundred bales of hay last night I'm too tired to get too involved.

    - I find my Hornady handbooks to be invaluable. They go well beyond a simple recipe for the load. They're extremely informative on many fronts and will offer a better, overall understanding of the entire reloading process. After awhile, you actually begin to understand what you're reading and it becomes informative and enjoyable to read them. I would definitely recommend a good manual or set of them.

    - I was fortunate enough to have an on-site mentor. There are many nuances in the setup for loading a caliber. How far too seat? Taper crimp vs roll crimp? Brass condition? .... the list goes on. If you can, find an old timer who loads and spend time with him prior to launching on this. Between your research, reference materials and sage advise, you'll be fine. But it scares me to think about having to start this process alone.

    - Stuff happens while you're loading. You're using hardware that's typically high quality but you cannot depend on dies and powder throws maintaining consistancy. Typically they do, but the human loader has to be the constant and final check point in the loading process. I use a progressive loader for handgun loads and even when all things are running smoothly, I pull and measure powder throws regularly, measure overall length, inspect the final loads and blah blah blah. I'm building an explosive projectile that I'm going to put in my hand and in front of my face. Seems like a good idea to be thorough.

    - Don't get frustrated if that's possible. Sometimes it will get under your skin when the tweaking or the hardware just doesn't seem to be working. Deep breaths and thought usually will source the problem at hand.

    - I prefer to be alone when I'm loading. Talking is a distraction. Actually, everything can be distracting for me. I've got a buddy who thinks loading is a social event. I couldn't disagree more. When interruptions show up, I finish whatever is in front of me and stop.

    - Even though the beer fridge is 10 feet from the bench, it doesn't exist while I'm loading. And I'm a dedicated beer guy. Enough said on that front.

    There's tons more but I'll shut up and let others chime in. I don't want to be a dark cloud. With all of that said, I think you'll love the experience. But to my first two points, get a manual and find a solid teacher to help you start.
    Savage Heartland

    What if the Hokey Pokey IS what it's all about?

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    OK....one more thing. Sorry about this. Consistancy in quality checks is extremely important and I do this at regular steps/reload counts. By doing this, I know exactly when my last "good" load was completed (marked w/magic marker across the primer). When things get wonky and I find a load is not up-to-snuff, I pull everything back to my last check point and set them aside to be dealt with later. The frequency of check points, for me, varies based on what I'm loading; Every 5 loads or every 20....it's up to you. Never guess, never assume, never hope that a batch is ok. I never crank out, say 100, without checking along the way. I don't want to have to pull that many bullets, salvage or dump the powder and reverse the entire process etc.

    Good luck.
    Savage Heartland

    What if the Hokey Pokey IS what it's all about?

  6. #6
    Distinguished Member Array razor02097's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harley2007 View Post
    Is there a way to tumble by hand, such as put in a basket of some sort and stick in the dishwasher (man do I hope my wife ain't reading this)?
    Cleaning the brass by hand is painstaking work. Having an alternate way of cleaning brass is ok but if you reload more then 100 rounds at a time it would be wise to cough up the 50 bucks for a tumbler. Look at harbor freight for the tumbler and get some corn cob media to fill it.

    Quote Originally Posted by harley2007 View Post
    Where is a good place to buy bullets (cast I guess but also FMJ for when I get there with auto loaders)?
    Where if different from #2 above, should I get powder and primers?
    You can get cast but to be honest even with revolvers I use FMJ... granted the only revolver caliber I reload is .44 mag I still don't want to clean out the barrel of lead every 48 rounds.
    buying bullets and cases online is a good way to save money but keep in mind bullets are heavy and you might pay more for shipping then shopping around at a gun show.

    Powder and primers like was said above. Get them local due to the ridiculous amount you would have to spend on hazmat.

    Quote Originally Posted by harley2007 View Post
    Is there anything else I need to start out, seems like no, except for maybe a loading manual but I thought my die set comes with a recipe sheet for the caliber?
    Going forward, I noticed my PPS in 40 puts a dent in the middle of the case wall.....does this preclude using these shells for reloading?
    DEFINITELY GET LOADING MANUALS! The recipe sheet for lee uses their volumetric way of measuring powder this is extremely inconsistent.

    Go ahead and get a scale. This will help make your hand loads way way way more accurate and will also help keep your hands in tact if you go for max loads.

    Before you start loading .40 you should really read up on reloading and understanding pressures. Reading a spent case is very important. It is a plethora of information and a window to peek at what is happening inside the chamber. Kind of like a spark plug in a car.
    Depending on the size and shape of the "dent" it would be ok to reload. Again reading up on the subject of reloading is a good way to understand if brass is OK to use. Reloading books also illustrate things like this.


    Quote Originally Posted by harley2007 View Post
    I want to get teh right amount of stuff to get started without going overboard so I am not between getting frustrated by doing it like a caveman yet not overwhelmed with too much stuff to learn.
    Reloading will eventually pay for itself but it will take time to learn. You will end up buying more and more stuff, your reloads will get better and better.

    keep your powder dry and don't blow yourself up
    There is something about firing 4,200 thirty millimeter rounds/min that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

  7. #7
    Distinguished Member
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    I"ve got a buddy who spends his life trying to not spend money. He found an online source for bullets that uses the US Post Office "if it fits, it ships". I'll try to find out who he went to last time. We got a load of 45's for very little in shipping costs.

    As for primers & powder, yeah I'd shop locally. Hopefully you've got a good shop nearby where you can get what you need. I started with Win 231 powder which worked for all my handgun loads based on the Hornady manual and Winchester primers. They were the most available. Time passes and you may go for different powder combos but it isn't a bad place to begin.
    Savage Heartland

    What if the Hokey Pokey IS what it's all about?

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    I didn't read the previous replys so some of this may be redundant.

    Shiney brass doesn't shoot any better than stained brass. What you want to avoid is dirty brass, which can damage dies. Theroretically the dishwasher will do fine, but replacing it at the wife's request will cost more than buying a tumbler. Basically, any way you clean the brass is okay as long as you don't leave a residue that might interact with the powder/primer.

    Tumblers can be had cheaply. Check Harbor Freight if one is around. Also, crushed walnut shell media is availble at places like PetSmart. Look for the big bag of it there. About $12 and last forever.

    You got carbide dies, right? Otherwise, you'll have to lube the cases and that's a pain. Well worth the extra $.

    Bullets/primers/powder: Is there a store nearby that sells it? If so, that may be your best choice. One thing to keep in mind, when ordering powder or primers online, etc., you'll be charged a Haz Mat fee plus shipping that can raise the cost higher than buying locally. Primers are @$4 per hundred. If you're like me, buying a pound of powder and 2-300 primers at a time, it's not worth it to order online.

    Bullets have no additional fee, but shipping weight is an issue. Many bullet makers charge a flatrate fee per lbs of bullets. It's pretty affordable.
    I buy my lead bullets from Meister's and have been very happy. They offer a 100 round package which lets you try a particular bullet without the worry of having 400+ bullets left over that you don't like. Most bullet makers don't offer this.

    Did you get a powder drop measure? If not, put that on your short list. Much faster than scoops and more consistant.

    Dented cases in a semiauto are the norm due to ejection and hot (soft) brass hitting the ground. What the resizing and expanding doesn't cure, the rest will go away on firing. Not a concern. Do inspect the case mouths for nicks, etc. which can lead to split cases. Mild chamfering will take care of the smaller damage.
    Retired USAF E-8. Lighten up and enjoy life because:
    Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid... "For What It's Worth" Buffalo Springfield

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    Senior Member Array harley2007's Avatar
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    WOW guys, all fantastic replies and all point me in the right direction for suplies, to seek out a local sage if possible and to start looking at reloading supplies at my local gun stores, something I have never done. I am even contemplation looking for a 'reload' specific revolver so I don't risk my 25 year old K Frame 66-2 that I love!

    Thanks again, very greatful to you all.
    "I would rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy!" - Dorothy Parker

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    VIP Member Array nedrgr21's Avatar
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    Some of the reloading companies make videos on the entire process (at least the basics) that are done well. If you ever have a question, or need loading data all of the bullet manufacturers have toll free numbers and their reloading techs are devoted to not having their customers hurt themselves. When in doubt, don't hesitate to use the eraser (bullet puller). If you use plated bullets, don't drive them faster than 1100 -1200 fps. If you use Berry's, the guy to call about loading data is Bud Watson @ 909-930-6712. Ask around the gun shops, shooting ranges, etc for a reloading class. Hornady OneShot is a great lube, but read the directions - spray at a downward 45 degree angle from 4 directions to make sure you get lube inside the neck as well as the outside of the case.

    svgheartland: does magnus, moyer, or kead sound familiar - thanks for the tip.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Array Keltyke's Avatar
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    S**t happens, even with the best powder delivery system. When you place the bullet, look into EVERY case to make sure there's a powder charge in there. A squib shot isn't fun and if you're rapid firing when it happens, you'll likely destroy your gun and possibly injure yourself. In the best case, you'll have to stop shooting and drive the bullet out of the barrel with a hammer and rod.

    I've never had a squib when rapid firing, but I've had two slow firing. Now I check EVERY case.

    Check your load weights often. Some powder delivery systems don't like certain types of powder and static electricity can play hell with an accurate drop. In fact, I believe there's a caveat on the Lee website about using one type of powder with their delivery systems. Check it out.

    I also prime by hand. It's actually quicker with less chance of a screw up.

    I also agree that reloading is no time to carry on a social conversation. Pay attention to what you're doing. If you pull the press handle and it doesn't feel like the last 10 times you pulled it - STOP, and check things out. Don't be watching TV - watch the press action - you'll catch mistakes before they happen. Good example there: you place the bullet and begin to cycle the press. About halfway through the stroke, the bullet falls over sideways. If you continue, you'll ruin the case and possibly the bullet. You may also damage the die. ($$$) After you clear that out, go back and check the amount of flare you're putting on the case.

    Good luck!

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    Distinguished Member Array razor02097's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harley2007 View Post
    WOW guys, all fantastic replies and all point me in the right direction for suplies, to seek out a local sage if possible and to start looking at reloading supplies at my local gun stores, something I have never done. I am even contemplation looking for a 'reload' specific revolver so I don't risk my 25 year old K Frame 66-2 that I love!

    Thanks again, very greatful to you all.
    That old smith can take quite a bit. Just be careful with your loads. Take pride in them and you will find that you can shoot way better groups then even the most expensive ammo.

    Keep within spec and start with 10% under max load you go to. Work from there. You want to make small batches until you get the accuracy you like. I have 2 for the .44 mag. One is very accurate and not much recoil or report. The other is pretty accurate with a huge flash, recoil and report (show off load )
    There is something about firing 4,200 thirty millimeter rounds/min that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

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    You definitely have to devote your attention to reloading. Just this week, after 1000s of reloads, I managed to insert a primer backwards! Just didn't see it flip over. (I use a Lee hand primer rather than the press mounted one, better "feel.")

    Many powder makers offer reloading data for their powders (Hodgdons for instance). The only catch with bullet makers' manuals is they only list their bullets. Most reload data can be found on the internet and printed for whatever buller/powder you decide on.

    You'll find that max loads are not the most accurate and only increase wear and tear on cases and firearms. Okay for limited SD rounds and practice, but for range practice, you'll find lighter loads more enjoyable.
    Retired USAF E-8. Lighten up and enjoy life because:
    Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid... "For What It's Worth" Buffalo Springfield

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    Senior Member Array Keltyke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by razor02097 View Post
    Keep within spec and start with 10% under max load you go to.
    I like to start in the middle of the load range. DEFINITELY get a manual. I really like the latest Lyman's.

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    Cabela's has primers in stock. Some are on sale. If you order a quanity and powder at the same time you still only pay $25 hazmat. I just ordered 9000 primers and 11 lbs of powder. Should be here 21 May.
    Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around laws. Plato

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