What do I need to start?
I made a wishlist through midway. Here is what it includes.
Lee turret press kit.
Case Length Gage.
Lee Zip Trim.
What is the minimum out of this that I need? If i can start at a lower price I would like to. Can always get the rest latter.
Also, is there something important I'm missing.
Are you loading for pistols (mass producing) or a rifle (accuracy extreme)?
Handgun. Just looking to save money for practice.
A lot depends on what & how much you intend to load. You may want to consider a single stage press to begin with, not the volume of the progressives but it lets you focus on the process and details. RCBS and others offer kits to get you started.
The turret can have the indexing shut off. figure can do that then turn it on later.
For pistol ammo it doesn't need to be too fancy. Most of that stuff you can do without to get started.
Press kit. Dies. Powder. Bullets. Cases. Manual. Shell holders. Priming tool. Case deburring tool. Powder measure and scale.
The rest of the stuff is just nice to have.
You might want to start out with a kit since they include almost everything at less cost than buying the individual components.
Here is a Lee kit. Lee Challenger Breech Lock Single Stage Press Anniversary Kit - MidwayUSA
A bit more expensive but I am partial to RCBS. RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Single Stage Press Master Kit - MidwayUSA
My Rock Chucker is over 30 years old and I have not worn it out yet.
The kit will work fine. I load with a single stage press, and you will have less setup time with multiple dies on a turret.
Especially if you reload one caliber most of the time.
What do you need to start? The ABCs of Reloading and a good reloading manual, then read them. Once you done that, gear up. From you list, I would rather see a new reloader start with a single stage press-it forces you to see and understand each step, allows you to check powder charges easily, and is the least expensive start-up option. If you grow into a turret or progressive, you can/will always need the single stage for small jobs or special uses. You don't need polish or a zip trim. You can do without the case gauge and remove your barrel (assume we are talking auto loader here) and use your pistol chamber instead. Finally, you do need a good powder scale if it isn't in the kit. I've grown to really like the electronic scales, just don't scrimp here--you get what you pay for.
To best answer your question, you need to determine which is more valuable to you - your time or your money. I started reloading metallic rounds around Christmas and if I knew then what I know now, I would not have bought a kit. To me, my time is more valuable, so I was looking to spend the least amount of time on each round to safely turn out accurate ammo.
First let me tell you how I load cases, and this method requires a turret press. This method allows me to put the least amount of time in each round and still turn out a save and accurate round. I go through the following steps:
Single Stage Batch Processes
1. Case cleaning – (Tumbler with Media)
2. Inspect cases
3. Resize/deprime – (Press/Dies)
4. Measure case length – (Calipers or Case Length Tool)
5. Trim as needed – (Mill & Deburring Tools)
7. Prime – (hand held primer tool saves a bunch of time)
Steps Performed in Sequence for Each Round
8. Powder measure & fill case – (Measure, Scale & Funnel)
9. Expand case mouth – (Press/Dies)
10. Seat bullet/taper crimp for autoloaders is applied at this step – (Press/Dies)
11. Roll crimp for revolver rounds – (Press/Dies)
12. Final inspection
Note that steps 1 through 7 are done in single stage batch mode and steps 9 through 12 are done in sequence for each round while step 8 is going on for the next round. I have an automated scale that pours powder while I do steps 9 through 12 for each bullet. This ensures that I cannot have a double charge. It also performs many steps at once and saves a bunch of time.
Case Cleaning – I strongly suggest a tumbler with media. Clean cases are both easier to inspect for defects – a safety issue – and they are easier on your dies and equipment.
Case Trimming – you need some sort of a trimming device. The mill that came with my kit does a good job and is one of the few things that came with the kit that I still use other than the press.
Case Deburring - After trimming you will need to debur the case mouth both inside and outside. The kit may have a tool for this or it may not. If not, they are available from Midway.
Case Measurement – you need calipers, dial or digital makes no difference as long as you can read them. These are a safety issue. You do not need a case length gage. These are nice to have, but you can set your calipers to tell you the same thing and save the $$ for now. I have one and use it, but you don’t need it to safely produce ammo IF you have the calipers.
Press - I went with a turret press kit. The turret press is a great idea as you can set up your dies and leave them set up. This saves time. It also allows for doing more than 1 step to a bullet at a time without having to set-up dies. This is not possible with a single stage press.
Dies – Carbide dies are the way to go for straight walled pistol rounds. Depending on what caliber you are reloading, a Lee Factory Finish die may also be an added benefit, but you can add this later. If you have rounds that need a roll crimp, you can add this later and it is a very modest cost.
Powder Measurement - The power thrower and scale that came with the kit were a bit of a disappointment for pistol rounds. The error factor with the thrower was +/- .2 grains, so I had to set it for .2 grains to low then trickle it up to the full measure. The digital scale was also flakey and Lyman noted that if it was near flourescent lights or cell phones it would not be accurate. I had to check it frequently with my Hornady scale which continued to perform well. In the end, I ditched both the powder thrower and the scale for a RCBS ChargeMaster 1500 Powder Scale and Dispenser Combo . This allows me to perform other tasks while the powder is being measured and it is accurate about 90% of the time. This is a big time saver and based on the way I reload, I will never have a double charge. I always wait a few seconds before removing the charge from the scale. Occassionally, about 10% of the time, the scale will be off by 0.1 grain. I toss that back into the hopper and remeasure. If you go with the kit’s powder thrower, you will need a trickler as well.
Priming Tool – Most presses have primer tools built into them. The tool on my Lyman press was somewhat slow and sloppy with primers. For a modest investment, I purchased a hand-held primer tool that has yet to seat a primer incorrectly and is much faster than using the tool on the press. It is also easier to feel the primer seating properly.
Reloading Manual – Get a good one and follow it for measurements, and supplies.
Reloading Tray – I don’t use these. I use a bucket to keep track of the steps in the process. This is possible because I do steps 8 through 12 in sequence for each round. I hand hold the case when I pour in the powder, then it is transferred to the press for to be finished while the powder for the next round is being measured. If you do not plan to complete each round in this fashion, you will need reloading trays.
Obviously, you will also need the supplies – cases, bullets, primers & powder. These should be according to your reloading manual.
To each his own. Don't waste time trimming and resizing pistol cases (rifle cases are another story). Except competition target shooters, benefits to trimming cases are minimal at best and certainly don't merit the expenditure of time.
I am up for learning. As I stated, I have only been loading metallic cases since Christmas (shot shells for decades, but the skills, tools and knowledge are not transferrable). I can see not trimming cases once they exceed the max case length and just putting them in the scrap brass bin, but what do you mean by resizing? If you don't use the resize/deprime die, how do you get the primers out? I appreciate your input.
Originally Posted by FLSlim
"[Don't waste time trimming and resizing pistol cases]"
I think he ment not trimming to size, Unless match grade. I myself don't ever trim handgun cases, As I've never had one stretch, Just my preference. Good Luck & read a couple of manuals, You'll be good to go ; )
Sorry for the use/misuse of the term resize!!! My bad, very sloppy. I was referring to trimming a case. Of course you need to resize and deprime each case.
No problem. I thought you may have had another method similar to only sizing the neck of a rifle round so that it is fire formed to the specific chamber. I had not heard of this for pistol rounds, but you never know what you can learn. Thanks for the input.
Originally Posted by FLSlim