The $100 Challenge

This is a discussion on The $100 Challenge within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; Hey everybody, I've been considering doing some reloading to increase my shooting volume. I recently sold my .40 and am now running .38 special, so ...

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Thread: The $100 Challenge

  1. #1
    New Member Array tmoreau40's Avatar
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    The $100 Challenge

    Hey everybody,

    I've been considering doing some reloading to increase my shooting volume. I recently sold my .40 and am now running .38 special, so now seems like a natural time to consider it. In order to make the idea more palatable for my wife (and as a fun research project for me ) I figured I could try to cobble together a bare-bones kit for at or under $100. My sources are all online, with site to store options available.

    The monetary value below has been taken from the Cabela's website (for free shipping to the store) and I have included a 9% sales tax, which is an overestimation.

    As things sit I have broken the bare-bones kit down to:

    1 - Lee "C" Press (Reloader Press): $32.69

    2 - Lee Safety Scale: $27.24

    3 - Lee Carbide 3 Die Set: $37.05

    4 - Lee Ram Prime: $15.25

    Total: $112.23

    So...do I have suggestions on items to change for cost savings or another retailer to try (remember shipping costs)?

    For the record, I chose the ridiculously cheap press because we would be talking maybe 100 rounds a month right now.

    I suppose the Lee Loader kit would cut half the price out, but then there is hammering involved and...I just can't see my migraine-prone wife dealing with that.

    Even if you don't think the concept is possible, chime in! All opinions and thoughts are welcome.

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  3. #2
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    I started with basically the exact setup you're describing above. IMO, it is an excellent beginning/experienced setup. With practice, it won't take long, you'll be loaing 150 rounds an hour with this setup. Check prices on Titanreloading.com and you'll save a little bit more money. You'll see a lot of negative comments on the safety scale. I can tell you from lots of experience, once you learn how to use it you'll find it is easy and accurate for reloading. You'll need a good set of dippers and consider getting the Lee Auto Disk powder meassure. You can make your own dippers, I have made many of them. Once you have a dipper for a specific load and powder, it will always throw an accurate charge. Have fun with your new hobby. good luck
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    I won't try to meet your challenge, but I would suggest investing a few more bucks and getting a better scale (I prefer beam scales, the RCBS 505 in particular) and a powder dropper. Measuring out individual loads is a pain in the neck. You say only 100/month, but then it will be 150, then 200, then 250...

    Lee dies will do the job I use some) but there are better. Nothing wrong with a single-stage press. Been using the same one since '75.

    Don't forget something with which to measure the rounds.
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    Member Array donp326's Avatar
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    I'm with old vet there I went with RCBS because of the options rather than Lee but believe me you will not stay at 100 rounds as time goes on there will be an increase. I also have been reloading since 1976-77 and am loading for 5 different calibers. Now mostly 7.62 and 5.56 because of competition season.

    No matter what loader you use a good scale, Power thrower and micrometer are a must. Check for excessive charges or powderless loads if you are using a powder like Unique. Look in the case after the powder charge has been placed to check it. Read you loading manual.

    I also found loading primers by had a drag I don't know if Lee had a primer tube feed available for it's press but I do know RCBS does and that setting primer much easier with a feeder tube.
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    Yep - you need to add quality calipers (and no, the $15 ones from Harbor Fright won't do, for lots of reasons) and a loading manual. May as well keep it all in the family and get the Lee manual.
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    Member Array a51young's Avatar
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    I second the calipers. Also, maybe wait until black Friday, it's only a couple months away and you might be able to find a whole kit for a good price.

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    VIP Member Array nedrgr21's Avatar
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    Look at the Lee hand press for low volume. After your graduate to a more advanced press you can still use it to tailor seating depth at the range. You can also use it to do mindless chores like decapping or seating primers while doing other things. Check out ebay for better prices.

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    Senior Member Array Chevyguy85's Avatar
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    Is your goal to only buy new? You can find deals on used stuff every now and then.

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  10. #9
    Member Array sfreed's Avatar
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    Best of luck to you sir! I had planned on the same sort of endeavor only to find that I enjoy reloading almost as much as shooting. First was Lee Turret press and dies for reloading .38 special. Then I realized I had no idea what my rounds were actually doing so I had to have a chronograph (purely for safety,or so I convinced my wife). Then, since I've got the "expensive" equipment already (or so I convinced my wife), I might as well get the dies for .40 and .45, and so I don't have to reset dies all the time I might as well get dies for .357. And I can't be expected to use the same powder for all 4 calibers, and of course I needed a better scale, and more books, and calipers, and another book......you get the idea. It's a sickness, and it's not my fault.
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  11. #10
    Member Array lee n. field's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmoreau40 View Post
    Hey everybody,

    I've been considering doing some reloading to increase my shooting volume. I recently sold my .40 and am now running .38 special, so now seems like a natural time to consider it. In order to make the idea more palatable for my wife (and as a fun research project for me ) I figured I could try to cobble together a bare-bones kit for at or under $100. My sources are all online, with site to store options available.

    The monetary value below has been taken from the Cabela's website (for free shipping to the store) and I have included a 9% sales tax, which is an overestimation.

    As things sit I have broken the bare-bones kit down to:

    1 - Lee "C" Press (Reloader Press): $32.69

    2 - Lee Safety Scale: $27.24

    3 - Lee Carbide 3 Die Set: $37.05

    4 - Lee Ram Prime: $15.25

    Total: $112.23

    So...do I have suggestions on items to change for cost savings or another retailer to try (remember shipping costs)?

    For the record, I chose the ridiculously cheap press because we would be talking maybe 100 rounds a month right now.

    I suppose the Lee Loader kit would cut half the price out, but then there is hammering involved and...I just can't see my migraine-prone wife dealing with that.

    Even if you don't think the concept is possible, chime in! All opinions and thoughts are welcome.
    I'll play.

    Lee Breech Lock Hand Press Kit: Lee Hand Press Kit, includes funnel and Lee's ram prime die. $45.49

    Lee .38 Special die set, $37.46

    Reloading tray, $4.99. Get two.

    $93.95 plus shipping. Spartan but it will get the job done.

    Not having a scale means you're limited to the bullets and powders listed on Lee's die instruction sheet. Lee's ram prime die is sucky compared to RCBS' or Lyman's, but we're limited by budget.

    For an alternate retailer, try fsreloading.com. They have good prices on Lee equipment.
    Last edited by lee n. field; September 17th, 2013 at 08:56 AM.

  12. #11
    VIP Member Array high pockets's Avatar
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    I'm staying out of this one, because my recommendation is to save up and buy Dillon. At your rate of 100 rounds/month, I estimate you amortize your costs in about 20 months.
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  13. #12
    New Member Array tmoreau40's Avatar
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    Thanks everybody for the responses so far! They've all been informative and a ton of fun.

    I'll play.

    Lee Breech Lock Hand Press Kit: Lee Hand Press Kit, includes funnel and Lee's ram prime die. $45.49

    Lee .38 Special die set, $37.46

    Reloading tray, $4.99. Get two.

    $93.95 plus shipping. Spartan but it will get the job done.

    Not having a scale means you're limited to the bullets and powders listed on Lee's die instruction sheet.

    For an alternate retailer, try fsreloading.com. They have good prices on Lee equipment.
    You beat my list! Nice.

  14. #13
    Member Array lee n. field's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmoreau40 View Post
    Thanks everybody for the responses so far! They've all been informative and a ton of fun.



    You beat my list! Nice.

    It's an exercise I run through every once in a while.

  15. #14
    Member Array Hoodoo's Avatar
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    I recently started reloading, went a different path, I decided to buy a quality kit instead of a cheap hand press or single stage. I don't ever plan on "upgrading" or replacing cheap plastic tools. Reloading is a hobby, yes it saves you money shooting but it's worth the investment to get something you like and makes you happy. I didn't want to dread having to reload because my tools suck and I have the bare minimum of what is required.

    I got the following for under $400 dollars, and I couldn't be happier with me setup:
    Lyman T-Mag II Turret Press
    9mm Lyman Dies
    Harbor Freight Tumbler
    Lyman 55 powder scale
    Lyman 49th book
    Hornady Shell holder
    Lyman auto primer
    Lyman loading tray, powder funnel, case prep tools, and case lubrication tools
    Lyman digital scale
    Mitutoyo Digital calipers

    Here's the kit I bought that includes most of that, it's $20 cheaper than when I bought it: Amazon.com: Lyman T-Mag Master Reloading Kit: Sports & Outdoors

  16. #15
    Distinguished Member Array dangerranger's Avatar
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    One of these days I need to photograph my reloading stuff, I get most of it at yard sales. I load more calibers than I care to admit. My first stab at reloading I bought a good Hornaday progressive kit. And I hated it! it was finicky, and I spent most of my time fussing with it to keep it going. I sold that and bought a simple lee single stage press kit. I have several other presses including RCBS and Dillion now. But i still use every piece of the origional Lee kit. Lee wont do everything for everyone but their equipment is very servicable. The only thing I dont like about Lee is I change all the lock rings to the old style double locks. the new ones come with an O ring to keep them in place. once adjusted with the old style Ive not had to readjust some dies in 20 years. But the Breech lock press may have made ths a moot point.
    I dought I have more than $300 tied up in my whole set up! This weekend I found dies for some of my odd ball calibers, 38 ACP, 38 S&W, and 32S&W short. I paid only $30 for all of them. Sometimes being cheap is its own sport!

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