Another "I need help setting up for reloading thread"

This is a discussion on Another "I need help setting up for reloading thread" within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; Good for you! I like the RCBS for a single stage ( I have 2 set up). However when I got into it many years ...

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Thread: Another "I need help setting up for reloading thread"

  1. #16
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    Array MrBuckwheat's Avatar
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    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.

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  3. #17
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    Array Jeff F's Avatar
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    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.
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  4. #18
    VIP Member Array farronwolf's Avatar
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    Buckeye,

    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.
    Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
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  5. #19
    Senior Member Array Devilsclaw's Avatar
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    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!

  6. #20
    Member Array Big_Blue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gasmitty View Post
    I just started reloading less than 2 years ago, so the memories of getting started are pretty fresh.

    I deliberated long and hard about single stage vs progressive; I chose progressive but I'd still flip a coin today if I was starting over. You won't regret a single stage, and in fact I know there's one in my future for running up small batches (say, under 100 rounds of a given load).

    Realistically, any of the 'name' presses will serve you well, but among my reloading friends the RCBS "rock chucker" seems to be the most popular, and conversely, the Lee presses the least. I don't think there's a notable difference between cast iron (probably cast steel, actually) and aluminum presses; you don't care about the weight difference if it's mounted to a bench, and any modern aluminum press is going to be strong enough by design.

    I think people do get pretty picky about dies, and with reason. I've got Lee, Hornady and RCBS. The Lee dies have a relatively short threaded shank so they may not have the full range of adjustment on non-Lee presses. My handgun caliber dies are Hornady and my rifle cal dies are RCBS. If you're loading for rifles other than bolt actions, you want the "small base" dies which resize the case almost all the way down to the rim. Lever guns, pumps and autoloaders don't have the camming action that a bolt gun does, so you'll end up with stuck cases if you use a standard die.

    You'll probably never need to trim handgun cartridge cases other than magnums, but rifle cases, you will. I got the Forster "original" trimmer kit and mounted it on a 1x4 board that clamp to the bench when I need it. You'll also need a case mouth chamfering and deburring tool; there are a few combination tools on the market that have the ID chamfer on one end and the OD de-burr on the other, about 15 bucks... that's all you'll need. A primer pocket brush is handy; probably won't need it for pistol cases but you will for rifle, and you'll need two - one for large primer pockets and one for small.

    I got a Hornady powder measure with my Lock'n'Load progressive press, it came with powder drums for rifle (large volume) and pistol (small volume), and it works well for me. I can't offer advice on others, but maybe read the customer comments on the Midway site for the different brands of measures.

    One of the other tools you will invariably need is a bullet puller! I got a Lyman simply because that was the one available.

    For scales, I'd skip the electronic ones in favor of a beam balance. The digital ones are sensitive to drafts and almost all of the "affordable" ones (like under $200) tend to drift when left on for a couple of hours. I'm happy with my RCBS 5-0-5, but understand that you need to re-level/re-zero any scale whenever it's moved (takes just seconds). Get some calibration/check weights around the lightest charge weight you'll need (say 5-10 grains) and the heaviest (maybe 50 grains?) and maybe one in between. If you have access to a precision industrial scale, you could make your own check weights with stainless steel wire or washers; just set them aside and keep 'em clean.

    One other measurement tool you definitely need is a dial caliper. Don't go too cheap here (like skip the Harbor Fright specials... the gears are soft steel and don't wear well); Brown & Sharpe and Starrett are nice, but really pricey these days. I'd look in the McMaster-Carr catalog and see if you can find a Mitutoyo or similar for $50 or so. And a loaded case gage to check your finished cartridges is a big help, especially for autoloader cartridges and especially when you're dialing in that crimp.

    I think that covers my "beginner notes" on equipment. For manuals, I got the Lee, Lyman and Hornady books and I've found them all useful. Invariably, the load you want either won't be listed with the bullet or powder you're using, OR - more likely - the overall length for the listed load will be different than what you need. This is where cross-checking the recipes between cookbooks is helpful, and even so, cautious and common-sense extrapolation will still probably be required.

    About powders... lots of debate. Everyone has their favorites they swear by. I got lucky at the start and chose Titegroup for my .45 ACP and .38. It's pretty economical and burns clean, and it'll work for 9mm and .40 if I start loading for them, too. I think 231 is equally versatile. Rifle powders seem a lot more specialized; so far, I'm only reloading for a Garand so IMR 4895 was a pretty easy choice (with tons of reference literature to guide me).

    Lastly, I'd recommend starting out loading for .45. Reasons? It's a low-pressure round, so even if you screw up and throw a double charge, it's unlikely to damage the gun or you (squib loads are sneakier and more dangerous, I think). The case is short and fat and it's easy to look inside and see the powder charge. The bullet is likewise fat and easy to handle, as in seating it in the case.

    So... all this is worth exactly what you're paying for it, but I hope it helps!
    Wow! What a great writeup. Thanks.

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