I am thinking about getting a hand press to start out with. I like that it will force me to take my time. Not to mention storage will be easy in my apartment.
Anyhow, what I am not sure about is how you measure powder with this sort of setup. Do people generally still buy a powder measure, or just get some of those spoon type things?
Anyone use a hand press like the lee press? How do you measure your powder?
If you buy the Lee die sets they will come with a powder dipper and a list of suggested powders.
A handpress is okay for rifle shooters who reload the same few shells over and over while sitting at the bench. They're not very practical for handguns shooters who tend to go thru many more rounds between reloadings. While you could make it do in a pinch, I think you'd quickly want to progress to something more practical and regret buying the handheld.
A decent single stage setup is idea for any beginner. They're slower than a progressive, faster than the handheld, and if you set things up right, space is not much of an issue.
I no longer have the basement and heavy duty reloading bench I once had in WA., and space is more limited in my FL home. I mounted my single-stage press on a small piece of 5/8" plywood and clamp it to the kitchen counter when I load (Needless to say, I do it while the wife is out, although she knows I do it). I'd prefer to have a setup in the garage but it's simply too hot and humid. I also clamp my powder dropper the same way. When I'm finished, the clamps come off and everything goes into a cabinet.
I consider the scoops marginal at best. Nothing beats a good powder dropper for speed and consistancy. It also allows more powder options; you simply readjust the dropper to the new power settings.
If you check around, I think you can get into a Lee Challenger single-stage press setup for @$120.
At the minimum,I would get a single stage press,a lee hand primer,and a lee powder measure,and a lee perfect powder measure,the powder measure will allow you to weigh a charge,and then be able to fill cases by just turning a hand crank,you will need some case blocks to put the charged cases in to prevent spilling before seating a bullet.You should be able to do up to about 100 cases an hour once you get a rythm down.
I would up the anti just a bit, and suggest a turret press. It will increase your productivity and allow you to leave your dies set up once you get things like you like them. One turret per caliber and you just swap out turrets and shell holder when you want to reload for a different caliber.
You could mount it the same way that OldVet suggested for quick removal or installation. Lee sells a kit for 163 bucks with the measure and scale.
Honestly I have never used a hand press, but my priming arm broke on my Lyman T Mag last week when I was loading some ammo, so I had to switch to a hand primer and it was a pain in the back side. I usually expand the neck and put the primer in at the same time on the TMag. I can't really imaging doing the entire process by hand. With my turret press once I have things set up like I like them and have my brass ready I can put out about 300 rounds every two hours. Not a bad form of relaxation either.
Good luck with your quest.
You talking about one of these?
Originally Posted by farronwolf
Seems like it would be worth the extra ten dollars.
Yep, that setup. Looks like it is even cheaper than what Lee says it is.
110 bucks and the price of some dies and shipping, a little bit of studying on loading mechanics and theory and you will be set to make 100+ rounds per hour with a bit of practice.
You will eventually want to add a tumbler, calipers and some other stuff, but that basic kit will get you started.
Check out Cabela's - they had a couple of electronic scales, with check weights, for about $30. For apartment reloading, check out Frankfort Arsenal's reloading stand ($40).
I figure get all those extras now too. My girlfriend is nice enough to let me start doing this in our apartment, as long as its safe. That means the calipers and whatnot to double check myself. Besides, I can get it all before she has a chance to react.
Originally Posted by farronwolf
You should start out with a single stage press, and do each operation in steps so that you learn and control each step. It is important that as a beginner you take your time and have hands on at each step, so that you do not make a mistake.
I would highly recommend you seat the bullet IMMEDIATLY after putting the powder in the case, as with some powders that do not fill the case to capacity, it is very easy to double charge a load.
This way you will get a chance to examine each piece of brass multiple times for potential problems. Get a system and stick to it, and make sure you are not interrupted when the process begins.
With that Lee turret press you can take out the auto indexer and use it as a single stage press, it would just eliminate having to reset dies in between each stage like you do on a single stage. And with multiple turrets, you can set up each caliber and leave them alone.
I actually use my turret press like a single stage all the time. I deprime and resize hundreds or even a thousand pieces of brass. Later on I will prime and expand the neck, put them in a shell tray, then charge them and seat them 100 at a time.
Well that would work too, providing a begginer would know how to set it up and use it that way.
I think the primary issue here is his available space, probably for use and storage. A turret press is larger, heavier, and more turrets would mean more storage space needed.
Originally Posted by farronwolf
I have an older 2010 Cabelas shooting catalog that has the Breech-lock Challenger reloading kit, with all the usual accessories (press, powder drop, scales, hand primer, etc.) listed at $120. This would make a great starter setup. No dies with it, but it will take the standard size dies. It utilizes quick-change adapters for "fast" die changes.
I don't see the turrets as "time saving." Really, how much time does it take to screw out a die and screw in another? If the die lock ring is set correctly, it should remain set when the die is installed. I will point out that Lee dies do not use a setscrew locking ring and the lockrings are subject to moving. I ordered a set of lock rings from RCBS and took care of that matter. The Lee dies work fine, I just don't like the lockrings.
As for the commercial loading blocks, I always seem to get the ones that cases don't fit well. A 2x6 and a drill makes one that will hold any amount of cases you want. It also has that "nice, wood-tone finish." ;-)
I can change out an entire caliber with dies set on a turret press as quickly as I can change one die on a single stage.
When loading all I have to do is index the turret one place forward or backward in about 1 second or so to go from stage 2 to stage 3 or visa versa once I have my 100 rounds loaded. My Tmag isn't auto indexing, so it moves when I move it only. If I am loading several hundred rounds I don't have to worry about whether or not I have time to finish all of them after priming them. If I only prime 100 at a time I know how long it will take to finish those.
On a single stage if I have primed 500 or so cases at stage 2, I have to have enough time to finish them at stage 3 or leave primed cases until my next session. I don't particularly like that idea.
You can also use plywood for loading blocks. Drill out the correct diameter hole through the plywood on a 3/8 or 1/2 inch sheet for say a 9mm, another one for a .45 ect. Then attach that to a 1/4 inch backer for the bottom of the loading block. For rifle cases, you would want to go with a thicker piece of wood like maybe a 1x4 to drill holes in but can still use the 1/4 backer piece. Lots of ways to improvise an save yourself money for primers/lead/powder.
There is much to be said for both. I have been loading for 21 years and still use the same single stage Lee press. I have never saw a need to move up, although I bought it with the idea that I would later on.
I think to me it is because I spend the cold winter months loading, and it has become a hobby within itself. Now, if you are into competion where you use a thousand a month, the progressive is the way to go