This is a discussion on Opinions for a loader for a beginner within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; Yes, I am aware that this has been asked before. I have read the threads but they are older. So I am wondering if anything ...
Yes, I am aware that this has been asked before. I have read the threads but they are older. So I am wondering if anything new is out there.
I want to get into reloading, this will be my first delving into reloading. I am interested in 2 calibers really, 9mm and .40. These are our (wife and I) carry calibers and I mainly want to reload to allow us more range time.
So, fire away. Tell me what you would suggest I get to start out. Suggest videos to watch and books to read. I am open to all info.
My name is Frogman46 and I'm tougher than you.
how many rounds you plan on shooting a month depends on investment and savings,a single stage can produce 100 rounds in about 1 to 1.5 hrs,where a progressive can turn out 3-400 an hour pretty easy.
below is a kit with everything but case cleaner and dies.By the time you add case tumbler and dies you will be looking at low $200.00. #1 powder will reload about 1400 cases.if you can afford to buy powder and primers in bulk quantity,even paying shipping and haz mat fee it's cheaper than buying powder and primers #1 and 1000 at a time
Challenger Breech Lock Single Stage Press Kit
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I'd get a Lee Progressive and make a large run of each caliber at a time (at least 300 to 500 rds). It's worth the time savings for straight walled cases using carbide dies.
Other usuals are a solid workbench, scale, calipers, case trimmer, deburrer, reloading dies, shell holders, kinetic bullet puller, and reloading manuals. Also, get a case tumbler (like Lyman's) with media and additive too.
As far as a press for someone starting out, I still recommend a non-progressive press. Single stage is good for someone to learn each step/procedure well, without having to worry about getting "out of sequence" and missing something. However, to get more for the buck, still be tremendously useful later, even if advancing to a progressive, is the turret type press offered by Lyman or Redding (and others). It allows all the dies for at least one calibre to be/remain adjusted permanantly. This is one less thing for a beginner to worry about compared to a single stage/die press, and is cost effective in comparison.
Extra turrets can allow even more advantage.
My $.02 (adjusted for inflation)
I've reloaded for over 40 years and used a lot of different equipment. My recommendation is to start with a good progressive such as the Dillon 550 or 650. Then take your time to learn the machine and its procedures. You'll be happy with your choice and save $$$ in the long run.
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I have two progressives, a Pro-7, and a Dillon 650. I use both regularly, and would not be without them. On the other hand, my vintage (1970) Rock Chucker is still used for various de-capping, sizing, case forming, etc., and I would not be without it either.
I stand by my recommendation for a "newbie". I would feel severely limited with one press, unless it would do everything I needed to do, and some things can't/shouldn't be done on a progressive.
Old racer's adage applies here: "Speed costs money - how fast do you want to go?"
I'm a techhie kinda guy and was not daunted by starting out with a progressive. I got a Hornady AP for a good deal at Midway, and with rebates and such it was about the same price as the Dillon 550, but it has auto-indexing and 5 stages (more like the 650). Press, dies, scale and accesories ran me about $1000, plus I built a dedicated loading bench. In the year that I've been reloading .45 and .38, I've paid for the equipment in savings (around 4000 rounds).
That said, there were some frustrations getting the press dialed in, but a friend who got a Dillon at the same time had similar problems. If you're not mechanically inclined, or if there's no way you could pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time, I'd say a single stage is the way to go when you're starting out.
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For reloading ONLY pistol calibers, I suggest you look at the Dillon Square Deal B. It's a lot less expensive (but certainly not cheaper) than the Dillon 550 or 650, but it does limit one to only pistol calibers. I have a Square Deal B and reload .38spl, .357mag (same die set), .40S&W, 10mm (same die set), 9mm, .45ACP and .45LC. Press runs about $380, and comes set up for one caliber. Each additional caliber conversion runs about $100. As mentioned by jasgo, a lot of additional stuff must also be obtained:
"Other usuals are a solid workbench, scale, calipers, case trimmer, deburrer, reloading dies, shell holders, kinetic bullet puller, and reloading manuals. Also, get a case tumbler (like Lyman's) with media and additive too."
I disagree about the case trimmer and the deburrer, if you are staying with 9mm and .40S&W.
If you look into used presses, don't be shocked when you see Dillon presses cost almost as much used, as new.
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Are you reloading 40 for a glock? if so, make sure you learn a little bit about the unsupported chamber issue before you start reloading. As someone who is relatively new to reloading, I cant give you some of the advice the veterans have, but I can tell you why I chose what I did. I now have a Lee Classic Turret and Lee Classic Cast single stage. The turret will allow you to crank out around 150 rounds and hour, the single stage about 60 or so. I would highly recommend to get a cast iron press vs the aluminum lee presses. I chose the Classic Cast over the RCBS rockchucker because its bigger, stronger, and made in America (the rcbs is cast in China). I use the turret when i need to get some rounds loaded faster, and i use the single stage when im more in the mood to get into the hobby of it. Progressives are great, but I personally preferred to learn the craft before I started manufacturing lots of dangerous ammo. You can't go wrong with the Lee Classic series.
One thing about Lee stuff, it's affordable and works. I could easily afford having extra progressive turrets setup for 5 different handgun calibers. Heck, at one point I thought about getting another Lee progressive and keeping one setup only for 9mm as I was shooting that the most. Takes time to switch a progressive to another cartridge. I don't reload much anymore though. No time to shoot as much and can afford factory handgun ammo now. But if I were to reload handgun ammo again, Lee's progressives are so affordable that I'd probably have an individual progressive press setup for each cartridge I shoot the most often.
If getting a single stage press, no need to overkill on press strength unless planning to reload long length or magnum rifle cases (like 30.06 or 7mm Mag, 300Win Mag).
A case tumbler is a convenient must have.
Stick with a single stage first and learn the fine points of each reloading step. Learn QUALITY before you crank out quantity. If and when you want to move to a turret or progressive press you can still use the SS press for "grunt" work (decapping, priming in bulk, etc.) or use it for rifle reloading.
For your needs the Lee Breech-Lock Challenger press or full Kit will more than suffice. The breech-lock bushings allow you to change dies without having to re-adjust them each time you use them. Set 'em and forget 'em.
Lee makes 2 Breech-Lock challenger kits. One comes with a hand primer. The other comes with the "safety prime system for on-the-press priming. (the press also has a priming arm to individually place primers by hand). Go with the kit with the safety prime system. The reason I say this is because Lee offers a upper-tier grade hand primer called the "Ergo-Prime" which is a better-quality hand-priming tool than what is offered in the kit.
Other stuff you'll need:
Dies: Again, Lee Precision. Get the 4-die (carbide) set for each caliber and if you are going to reload plated, cast, or coated bullets suggest you buy a separate taper crimp die (it only crimps). The "factory crimp die" that comes with the 4-die sets is not recommended for anything but FMJ bullets.
Extra Breech-Lock bushings. The kit only comes with one, I think. extras are sold in pairs.
Calipers: don't skimp. Dillon makes a quality dial caliper.
9mm chamber check gauge. I use the Dillon. it's cut to exact/tight tolerances. If you ammo fits the gauge it'll fit any pistol barrel in the same caliber (you can use your barrel if you want).
Reloading trays: get at least 2-3 of the "universal" kind. I like the MTM case-gard brand
Media tumbler. Cabela's sells a very nice one. The Frankford arsenal tumbler gets lots of negative reviews.
Media separator: any will do. I use the cheap Frankford Arsenal "colander" type and a pickle bucket.
Media: many sources. I buy corncob (fine grade) in bulk from Grainger. Corncob cleans and polishes. Crushed walnut only cleans (it's sharper)
Brass Polish. Nu Finish car polish. Cheap and works great.
Bullet puller: for disassembling goofs. Any brand OK
Case trimming: unecessary for 9mm and .40
Primer flip tray. for hand-priming with an "on-Press" priming arm. Any brand OK I use RCBS "primer tray 2"
Reloading book: "Modern Reloading" by Lee is a good.
Ammosmith.com has excellent reloading videos. very detailed and easy to follow.
A couple years after ignoring the pleas to bite the bullet and buy a dillon instead of a lee turret and I'm still happy with my decision. I don't shoot a ton, though...I've used a dillon at my friends' and it's wonderful, but the lee does a great job on a budget. Used for .380, 9mm, and .223. Another great thing is the lee hand press - I use it to try different things right at the range (an entire reloading station fits in a little toolbox). Its also great to sit in front of the tv so the Mrs. sees you instead of you being hidden... just sit and take care of a pile of spent brass while watching.
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The SDB is a very nice press but they were nicer when they only cost $199.
They use proprietary dies which are not interchangeable with any other press made. Changing calibers is a mild PITA. My biggest peeve with that press was when the shellplate timing would get out of whack and the primers would get caught by the shellholder and SNAP! they'd go flying off onto the floor.
Progressive presses. When they're working well, they're great. When they're not, they can be a Rube Goldberg nightmare. If any of you who are looking at reloading simply cannot stand the thought of going single stage I urge you to consider a turret press instead.