Good for you!
I like the RCBS for a single stage ( I have 2 set up). However when I got into it many years ago I started with the Lee kit. It was cheap and won't last forever. However you can get a couple of die sets and start the process and see if you like it. As you load more calibers, you will need to purchase more dies. As you get more experience and develop your "system" You will be purchasing better equipment. But this happens as you figure out how you want to load and your procedures.
I have the Dillon 550 for my pistols and use the 2 RCBS units for my rifle loads. The Lee set was donated to a friend who wanted to get into it. My brother in law got the lee set and started the process and did not like it. At least he did not invest a ton of money into the equipment.
I think as you load more pistol ammo you may try different powders. Just get a pound at a time work your loads and go from there. The beauty of the reloading process is you can make custom ammo so different powders and bullet combos are the best part.
I like the RCBS die sets and the Dillon Die sets. ( I do not like the Hornady dies or Lee die sets). Redding is good also.
Get a couple good manuals and a good scale like a Gem-Pro.
I tumbler is nice ( so you can have nice clean brass). My ammo looks like jewelry when I am finished. I take pride in my consistency, however it takes time. If your not in a great mood do not load or don't rush it.
I prep more brass in the winter months and have it pre-primed ready to charge and drop bullets. Once the season starts I can determine the powder type, charge and bullet depending on the match that I will be shooting in.
My other tip is to just use your own brass. Some shooters that I know always take their brass unless they know it is shoot out. Then they leave it at the range. So if you did not have a lot of experience you may not know what it wrong with it. I always take all of my brass home with me. I have a bin for junk brass. I never leave brass that I have used many times at the range.
I would definitely recommend you go with the balance beam scale. After you set it up (maybe 2 minutes) it is good to go as long as you don't move it or bump any of the counterweights. The digital not so much. You breath on it it changes, the air conditioning comes on it changes, it heats up it changes. They are absolutely a pain in the back side. Mine has been put away and only comes out now and then to weigh cast bullets every so often and to weigh gold because it will do grams and I don't have to do the math. My balance beam is set up and used every loading session whether I'm using the single stage or the progressive. This is a can't live without it piece of loading equipment.
Lots of good advice in this and other reloading threads.
The only thing I would like for you to consider is the possibility of a turret press, non auto indexing. It can be used just like a single stage, except if you set up each turret for one or two calibers, depending on the number places, you don't have to reset your dies between stages. You simply get them right, lock them in place and rotate to the next stage when you get to the next process. Once they are set, you don't have to mess with anything unless you change types of bullets you are loading with.
I have my turrets set up for two pistol calibers each, 6 hole turrets, and 3 rifle calibers each. If I want to swap calibers, I simply swap turret heads, which takes less than a minute. I essentially use it like a single stage, doing lots of depriming at one time, then lots of expanding and priming, then charging and bullet setting/crimping.
Good luck, it is a great hobby to get into, not only for cost savings per round, but you learn alot about ballistics and the mechanics of cartridges ect.
Oh, and spend the extra couple of bucks for carbide dies.
I suppose you could wear out an aluminum Lee Challenger, but I think my arm would wear out first, since it's single-stage. Mine has seen lots of use over nearly 20 years, and is just starting to loosen a bit, but far from worn out.
A cast iron Challenger would probably survive a nuclear war--waaaay overbuilt, but not necessarily a bad thing. Take a look at the Cast Iron Lee Turret press. Will work like a single-stage, but can be indexed to make it faster for pistol ammo. Plus, the biggest pro to me, is if you get extra turrets, you do not have to keep taking out and readjusting the dies.
I started with W231, and it is still one of my favorite all-arounds for handgun ammo.
Read Richard Lee's book, it's gospel for reloading.
Good luck and have fun!
Wow! What a great writeup. Thanks.
Originally Posted by gasmitty