Reloading advice

This is a discussion on Reloading advice within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; I'm looking to possibly get into reloading .380, 9mm, and .45. I'm looking for some advice on how to get started and what I need ...

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Thread: Reloading advice

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array skysoldier29's Avatar
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    Reloading advice

    I'm looking to possibly get into reloading .380, 9mm, and .45. I'm looking for some advice on how to get started and what I need to get to get the ball rolling. I'm a complete novice reloading, and looking for equipment, and recommended places to buy stuff. My shooting habit is getting expensive now that my girlfriend is into shooting.

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    Distinguished Member Array razor02097's Avatar
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    first and foremost... read, read, read! Get some reloading books ("recipe" books) to figure out what kind of load you want.

    When you are ready you will need a press, dies of each caliber, scale, dial caliper, and brass prep supplies. Depending on how much you want to reload it may be easier for you to get a turret style press. This way you can swap out the shell holder and top to a different caliber. The only down side is it is slower than a progressive style press. I use LEE precision products and can't complain. They are cheap and reliable starting out you can't beat their prices.

    For reloading supplies you will need bullets, powder, primers and either spent brass or new brass.

    The books will tell you more than you will ever need to know about actually how to and what to do when it comes to the reloading part.
    There is something about firing 4,200 thirty millimeter rounds/min that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

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    VIP Member Array frankmako's Avatar
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    read as much as you can before you buy anything.
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    Member Array medicineball's Avatar
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    The members above have given you good advice. Some additional thoughts:
    1. I don't think I've ever met a reloaded that saved money by reloading. At best, reloading lets you shoot more with loads that meet your needs. Most reloaders I've met simply shoot more when they reload.
    2. The best books I've ever read on reloading are those by George Nonte.
    3. Make safety your top priority.
    4. Have fun - reloading is a gas!

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    " Most reloaders I've met simply shoot more when they reload."

    Because it costs less? My .45 ACP 230 gr LRN reloads cost me $9.50 a box, would be less if I bought powder and primers in larger bulk.

    Many choices of reload kits are out there for under $4-500. While a single-stage is the cheapest and easily to learn on, a turret press is close in price and a bit handier. I recently bought a Lee handloader so that I can prep all my cases while I watch TV. My cases are all sized, flared and primed in the comfort of the LaziBoy! I don't have the space to have a permanent reloading setup these days, so the less often I have to drag out my 100 lb Herters press the better.

    By all means a GOOD reloading manual, one with lots of tips, etc. rather than just load data. My first was a Speer #9 which I still have, even thought Speer is up to #14 now.

    Just spend the extra bucks on carbide sizing dies and forget about case lubing. That's a pain.

    In general, the smaller the case, the more sensitive the load is to variances in powder changes. While I can easily jump .2-.3 grains in my .45 auto, I would NOT do that with a .380.
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    Senior Member Array jem102's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by medicineball View Post
    The members above have given you good advice. Some additional thoughts:
    1. I don't think I've ever met a reloaded that saved money by reloading. At best, reloading lets you shoot more with loads that meet your needs. Most reloaders I've met simply shoot more when they reload.
    2. The best books I've ever read on reloading are those by George Nonte.
    3. Make safety your top priority.
    4. Have fun - reloading is a gas!
    Been a lifelong handloader and could not give give better advice! Nonte's book may be hard to find now days and I would recommend Lyman's' handgun manual (or their regular manual for that matter) as your first book purchase. Just ask questions and move on from there.
    It is a very rewarding skill to obtain and will teach you more than you ever expected about shooting and your firearms.
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    I just started reloading about a month ago and got some great advice off this forum, so I'm sure you'll get some good advice as well... That said, I will echo what everyone else is already telling you. A. Read up on it. It's not rocket science, but it isn't a careless endeavor either, so it pays to be educated. and B. You won't really 'save' money, you'll just shoot more.

    Some basic things you'll need are the press, a way to measure powder, at least one quality reloading manual and calipers, along with die sets for each caliber you chose to reload. There are tons of other things that will make reloading more efficient and give you better results, so the first thing you have to decide is how much money you are willing to put up. Some of the kits that are available are good options because they get you almost everything you will need to get set up, and do it all in one box.

    As a new reloader, I can tell you that I'm glad I made the investment and I'm enjoying making my own rounds.

  9. #8
    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    In my opinion you should purchase a Lyman reloading Manuel, as it uses a diverse selection of bullets and a ventilated test barrel in a length that closely approximates real barrel lenghts, especially for revolvers. I have found my reloads are closer to given velocity ranges listed in this one that some others. Additionally, it covers every stage in the reloading process with good illustrations and technical info that is easy to understand.

  10. #9
    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    Buy "ABC's of Reloading" and read it cover to cover.
    07/02 FFL/SOT since 2006

  11. #10
    Senior Member Array Freedomofchoice's Avatar
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    I have been reloading for over 40 years, and for most of those years I even cast my own bullets. If I didn't reload, I never would have been able to pursue my sport the length and breadth that I have. There is no better feeling than a good day of shooting using ammo that you have remanufactured.

    You have received excellent advice above...the reloading books will give you all the info you're looking for including loads for for popular calibers in both rifle and pistol. My best advice to you is once you've done the reading and selected your equipment, set up an area where you will be comfortable, and do not do other things at the same time you are reloading. I kind of look at reloading in the same way I look at driving a car....after a while, it becomes second nature, but don't get distracted 'cause the results could be tragic!
    .

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  12. #11
    Member Array mandalitten's Avatar
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    I'll agree you need a reloading book to give you instructions and load data. However, I'd also like to recommend a couple of videos.
    RCBS has a good one here.
    http://www.rcbs.com/general/videos.aspx

    There are also a lot of home made videos, of various quality... Ammosmith makes some good ones though.
    As far as equipment goes, these are the major manufacturers that reloaders use.
    Lee are the cheapest ones, but many have used them for years and are very happy with it. They are probably not as solid as the other ones, but they should last for many years.
    http://www.leeprecision.com/cgi/catalog/browse.cgi

    Dillon has some die hard fans that swears by them. The 550 and 650 are the most popular ones. They are known for having great service. They are probably the most expensive presses.
    http://www.dillonprecision.com/#/Dil...hines-8-1.html

    RCBS is probably not used as much (at least I don't hear nearly as many that use them as Hornady and Dillon). They make very good quality products though.
    https://shop.rcbs.com/WebConnect/Mai...categoryId=C04

    Lyman also make good quality products, but just like RCBS I don't hear as many that use them.
    http://www.lymanproducts.com/lyman/presses-and-kits/

    Hornady is what I use and along with Dillon are probably the most popular ones. I think the quality is just as good as Dillon, RCBS, and Lyman, but they are cheaper (at least for the Auto Progressive Press). Their customer service is also very good. They have a very good deal going on now where you get 500 bullets if you buy the AP press (it was 1000 bullets when I bought mine), and 100 bullets for every die set you buy.
    http://www.hornady.com/reloading/metallic-reloading

    We all have our preferences, and many of us are biased and say the equipment WE use are best. One person got tired of the never ending discussion on what press was best between Lee, Hornady, and Dillon, so he bought all three of them! Here is his conclusion:
    http://www.comrace.ca/cmfiles/dillon...Comparison.pdf

    Before I started I thought the press would be the largest expense, but I have spend more money on all kinds of other equipment you need (scale, tumbler, case gauge, calipers, primer tray, dies, bullet remover, shell plates and I am sure I have forgotten a lot).

    Good luck, and let us know how you make out!

  13. #12
    New Member Array brolin_1911a1's Avatar
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    As others have said, the first requirement is a good manual. The Lyman manuals have extensive, exhaustive information about the handloading process and what's needed. Start by getting and reading that manual or a similarly good one.

    Progressive presses are nice. The thought of churning out several hundred rounds an hour is tempting. But... IMHO a progressive press is a good way for the rank beginner to get in trouble. Eventually you'll want a Hornady or Dillon progressive but if you start out with a single-stage you'll always find uses for it after you're gotten that progressive. I've been handloading for 30 years, 15 with a Hornady Projector, and believe me, I know. I include the various turret presses in that category of single-stage.

    The Lee 50th Anniversary Kit is, IMHO, the ideal package for the first-time hand loader. Relatively inexpensive, it contains just about everything one needs to begin putting ammo together except for the bullets, powder, primers, dies, and manual. They are available for reasonable prices (just over $90) from a variety of dealers.
    <http://www.grafs.com/retail/catalog/product/productId/7542>
    <http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=423081>
    <http://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/item.asp?sku=0000690050>

    I addition to the items in the above kit, you'll also want a dial caliper, a kinetic pullet puller (you will make mistakes and want to pull the bullets,) and a case tumbler/vibrator to clean the cases. Get on MidwayUSA's mailing list and eventually you'll have a chance to buy a digital powder scale for a good price; it will be faster and more convenient than the scale that comes with the Lee kit but is not an essential when starting out.

    A dedicated loading bench is nice but I loaded for years with my press (a Lee Turret at that time) bolted to a 2"x6"x6' board that I C-clamped to the kitchen table when needed. You can also use a Workmate or similar portable folding workbench.

    Two places that I know of with good prices on bulk bullets are Montana Gold Bullets, http://www.montanagoldbullet.com/ and Missouribullets.com, http://www.missouribullet.com/ . Montana Gold bullets are jacketed and quite reasonably priced. They should work in all of your firearms. Missouri Bullets' bullets are cast lead and would work well in your Springfield XD and 1911 firearms but not your Glocks. My carry load in my RIA 1911CS .45ACP is a 200gr LSWC bullet from Missouri Bullets. One caveat, the Montana Gold hollowpoints are hollow pointed for accuracy, not expansion. Fired through jugs full of water, I've had them shed their jackets in the first two jugs and the wadcutter-shaped core then sail through a total of eight water-filled milk jugs with no deformation whatsoever.

  14. #13
    Member Array musicman's Avatar
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    I enjoyed all of the info that was mentioned above. Ill mention That i invested into a digital scale and powder measure plus trickler. It measures the charge that you want while you while seat the bullet from the last charge. I know their exspensive but worth every penny.

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    1. I have loaded shot shells for decades. I recently began reloading metallic cartridges so consider the rest of this post as coming from a noob. I purchased a Lyman T-Mag2 turret press kit, 2 turrets and 3 sets of dies (9mm, .38/.357 & .45ACP). I purchased the kit but have since added a RCBS powder measure/scale combo.

    Coming from the shot shell style where you throw powder by using bushings and it does not add time to the process, I was somewhat frustrated with the process of getting consistent measures from the kit's powder measure. It would fluctuate by 0.5 grains or more even with consistent process. Also, the scale that came with the kit was less than reliable. The time it was taking me to get the right charges was pretty frustrating and I was frequently having to re-zero the scale. A call to Lyman's customer service said to wipe the scale down with Windex and keep it away from fluorescent lights, cell phones and other electronic devices. If that did not work, then send it back. I began to look for a faster and more reliable way to measure powder. I read many reviews of the RCBS powder measure/scale combo and decided to go with it. This has been a huge time saver. It can measure the powder for the next charge while I am seating the current bullet. It was somewhat expensive - Midway has them on sale right now for - $309 with a $50 rebate - but for me, well worth the price.

    I like the turret style press as it makes changing between calibers a snap. Lyman uses a 6 hole turret, so I can have 2 calibers mounted on 1 turret. I have the auto-loaders on 1 turret and the revolver(s) on the other. (The revolver turret is just begging for a .44 special/mag set of dies.) It costs a few more $$ than a basic press, but I like having the ability to get stuff set up and not having to monkey with it every time. The Lyman reloading manual is a good resource and it came with my press kit. If you can't find the recipe you are looking for in the Lyman manual, don't forget the powder manufacturer's web sites; most of them publish recipes for their powders. I would be very wary of any online resources that are not from the manufacturers.

    If money were really tight, I would go with a Lee single stage press kit and Lee carbide dies. You will spend a bit more time at the bench, but your results will be the same.
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