total novice here

total novice here

This is a discussion on total novice here within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; thinking about a lee single stage press but have no ideal what all I need to get started, I own 9mm, .38 spc, .40 S&W ...

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Array subhuman's Avatar
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    total novice here

    thinking about a lee single stage press but have no ideal what all I need to get started, I own 9mm, .38 spc, .40 S&W and .44 spc., may add a .357 mag. I have fired brass for every thing but the .44. most of it needs cleaned badly so I know I need a tumble cleaner of some kind but what all do I need to get started, be gentle I'm clueless in this game
    If it needs to be done, do it.


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    There are a number of threads in this area that address this but I'll give you a brief list:

    1. press
    2. dial calipers
    3. die set for every caliber you plan to reload
    4. priming device (some will do this on the press if you choose)
    5. powder measure
    6. scale
    8. reloading manual (or two)
    9. shell holder for every caliber (if your die set doesn't come with them)

    Along with this stuff you'll need the consumables, so primers, powder and bullets.

    A great way to get started is to just buy a starter kit. Lee and RCBS both make kits that will include the vast majority of the things on that list. Die sets and calipers will be generally what's left out. If you go with carbide dies you won't have to lube the cases. A brass tumbler is good to have but it's not absolutely necessary so buy one if you want or wait and get one a little later on. There will be plenty of little items that you'll eventually want to pick up but that pretty much covers the 'must have to get started list'.

    Go pick up The ABC's of Reloading and read it before you do anything. It'll give you a very good overview of reloading and answer plenty of questions that you're going to have.
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  3. #3
    VIP Member Array Easy8's Avatar
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    Lots of fun reloading, the single stage really works well, but depending on how many rounds you go thru it can become tedious. Dont be afraid to get a turret or progressive the new presses are very easy to operate and safe. With a single stage
    I would say you can do 50 rds in a hour where you can do easily a hundred on a turret and two hundred on a progressive.
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    I bought the RCBS rock chucker a little over a year ago. I have been very pleased. I already had a good caliper.
    The kit came with the Speer loading manual. I recommend buying two other manuals of different brands as all loading data seems to vary some.
    Before trying a new powder/bullet combo, I consult all three books and then scour the net for more opinions.

    I am almost to the point where I shoot just so I can reload. Why I waited 30 years to start reloading I do not know.

    If I could do it over, I would have spent more $$$ on case cleaning equipment. The standard vibrating pot and walnut or corn cob media works well enough, but I think there are better ways.

    I have read in many places that a tumbler with stainless steel media is alot less mess and even cleans primer pockets. I hate cleaning primer pockets!

    I also read about what kind of press to get, single stage vs progressive. Ultimately driven by $, I went single stage. Being paranoid and anal, I feel more comfortable doing each step individually.
    But that is a hot debate amongst reloaders. I think it depends on the size of your production runs. The most I have loaded at one time was about 300 rounds. But if you shoot alot, a progressive will save a lot of time.

    Reloading may also cause you to start buying more guns of different calibers. For me, 44mag is a good example. I would never have bought one without being able to tailor loads to my exact needs.

    Again, my biggest regret was not getting started 30 years ago.

    Today's plan is to load 44mag test loads with 3 different powders and 3 different bullets.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Array subhuman's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info
    If it needs to be done, do it.

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    I reccommend starting on a single-stage press. Yes, one can learn on progressive, and someone can learn to ride a bicycle by hopping on a Harley, but I wouldn't reccommend that either. The plus of the SS press is you'll always find a use for it, especially if you start loading rifle rounds. Or you can sell it and put the money toward a progressive.

    Personally, I would go with the RCBS Rockchucker kit over a Lee kit. It will include more goodies and is more adaptable with other press makers' components. I have both RCBS and Lee dies, and prefer the former--less problems.

    TX expat gave you a good starting list. I would add a hand priming tool to that. Most presses have some sort of priming tool on them. but a hand primer allows for better "feel" when seating the primers. I had a Lee hand primer that I wore slap out. Rather than try to get parts or another Lee, I switched to RCBS, which uses standard shell holders. Lee has their "special" shell holders for their tool only. They don't even work with their own presses.

    I use a small Thimblers Tumbler with pet store cage bedding (crushed walnut shell) with a few drops of NuFinsh auto polish added. The polish gives the cases a slicker coating that helps during resizing. I wouldn't reccommend my tumbler only for the lack of capacity. I don't work in large quantities so I get by with it. Harbor Freight carries a larger size that would handle larger loads. There are also case "vibrators" that are good also, although some are noisy. Keep in mind that both model rely on case and tumbler media movement to work best, so just because a brand says its model will tumble 1000 cases at a time doesn't mean it will do it well or as quickly as loading 1/2 - 2/3 full. Then there are sonic cleaners and chemical cleaners, but I don't care to mess with drying out wet cases. Cases only need to be "clean" for reliable reloading. They tend to pick up dirt/grit which can scratch both dies and cases. Many perfer to have "like-new" shiny cases. It's not necessary, but if it makes you feel better, tumble away!

    Make sure you buy "carbide" dies for reloading all straight-wall cases. Otherwise you need to lube the cases before resizing or they'll get stuck like you can't believe until it happens to you! They cost a bit more but are worth every penny spent.

    Right now the hardest item to obtain is powder. Primers and bullets are back on the shelves, but selection of powder is still hit or miss. You can find some online, but you have to buy in bulk to make the added Haz Mat fee and shipping worthwhile. I would not buy bulk off the getgo (primers maybe) as it may take a few powders and bullets until you settle on what you like best.

    You're not going to save money right away if at all. It takes a while to recover the costs of the setup, and how much each box of rounds ends up costing depends on many factors. I look at reloading as a hobby itself and an extension of my shooting hobby.
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    Senior Member Array hdhnict's Avatar
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    In addition to the items listed by TX expat, I would add a kinetic bullet puller.
    Occasionally, you might seat a bullet too deep. A bullet puller allows you to unseat it and correct it.

    When buying a single stage press, look for one that has primer seatinv capability.
    The least expensive Lee presses do not.

    Like OldVet said, a cleaning tumbler for your brass is nice, but optional. Mostly the cases need to be clean.
    This can even be done by hand. Wiping off the outside and swabbing the inside, do most of what's required.
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    Senior Member Array JDavisArk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TX expat View Post
    There are a number of threads in this area that address this but I'll give you a brief list:

    1. press
    2. dial calipers
    3. die set for every caliber you plan to reload
    4. priming device (some will do this on the press if you choose)
    5. powder measure
    6. scale
    8. reloading manual (or two)
    9. shell holder for every caliber (if your die set doesn't come with them)

    Along with this stuff you'll need the consumables, so primers, powder and bullets.

    A great way to get started is to just buy a starter kit. Lee and RCBS both make kits that will include the vast majority of the things on that list. Die sets and calipers will be generally what's left out. If you go with carbide dies you won't have to lube the cases. A brass tumbler is good to have but it's not absolutely necessary so buy one if you want or wait and get one a little later on. There will be plenty of little items that you'll eventually want to pick up but that pretty much covers the 'must have to get started list'.

    Go pick up The ABC's of Reloading and read it before you do anything. It'll give you a very good overview of reloading and answer plenty of questions that you're going to have.
    Good reply. I would add to #2 and #6 Dial and digital calipers, and digital and beam scales. It never hurts to be redundant or double check when reloading.
    As for the missing #7 in the above, insert case lube there.
    As for a tumbler/case cleaner? You can go old fashioned vibratory and use corn cob or walnut media, or go ultrasonic.
    Granted, single stage is a good way to start, but if you shoot quite bit, may want to look into a turret press or progressive setup. Single stage will be tedious when you want to run a batch of 500 and have to change dies for each step.
    (insert Easy8's reply here)
    I do only precision rifle reloading 50-100 rounds per year for each (4) calibers. Regular pistol shooters would likely want more than that. That's why I still buy factory retail pistol ammo for now.
    It really depends on your long term plans here. Getting into reloading and tooling up isn't cheap. Then you also have powder and primers to think about purchasing (in bulk for discounts), and hazmat shipping if you can't find local.
    Reloading your own certainly gives one a kind of satisfaction, and it essentially makes you an engineer of sorts without paying for college or getting a degree. The enjoyment comes out of time, effort, and diligence. Without utmost care and safety practices, all of that could be gone in an instant.
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    Out of all the calibers you mentioned, the .44 would benefit the most from handloading.
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    TX expat is afraid of the number seven.
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldVet View Post
    TX expat is afraid of the number seven.
    My bad
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  12. #12
    TRX
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    Quote Originally Posted by Easy8 View Post
    With a single stage I would say you can do 50 rds in a hour
    I use my ancient Lee single state press and the Dillon 500 collects dust. The Dillon has to be fiddled with to make it work right. If I was loading *one* caliber, it would be useful... but it's simpler and faster to knock out a few boxes as I need them with the simple press.

    If you're so pressed for time that the difference in speed between a single stage and turret press is an issue, you should probably just be buying ammo that's already loaded.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TRX View Post
    I use my ancient Lee single state press and the Dillon 500 collects dust. The Dillon has to be fiddled with to make it work right. If I was loading *one* caliber, it would be useful... but it's simpler and faster to knock out a few boxes as I need them with the simple press.

    If you're so pressed for time that the difference in speed between a single stage and turret press is an issue, you should probably just be buying ammo that's already loaded.
    That's a good point. Reloading work with any press, and like most intricate hobbies, if you aren't willing to commit the time to do it right, you should do yourself a favor and take a pass. Reloading needs your non-interrupted attention.
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    I agree it needs your uninterrupted attention, and I throughly enjoy reloading. Some cartridges like 9 mm are mind numbingly boring to load. When my four sons and I go to the range we can burn through 5 to 6 hundred rounds fairly quickly. I go to the range twice a week most weeks and a single stage would be torture. The .38 spl and .44's are more versatile rounds and can be loaded quite differently to achieve different results. Which is why I said depending how much you shoot will help you decide on which kind of press to buy. It is nice to have a single stage for rifle though.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by TRX View Post
    I use my ancient Lee single state press and the Dillon 500 collects dust. The Dillon has to be fiddled with to make it work right. If I was loading *one* caliber, it would be useful... but it's simpler and faster to knock out a few boxes as I need them with the simple press.

    If you're so pressed for time that the difference in speed between a single stage and turret press is an issue, you should probably just be buying ammo that's already loaded.
    I cheat. I've got a separate tool-head for every caliber I reload on my 550 (.223 and every pistol cartridge). I leave them set where I want them and can switch one out in about 120 seconds, pull the lever and go.
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