Finally going to get started...but still can't decide what's right for me...

This is a discussion on Finally going to get started...but still can't decide what's right for me... within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; I'll be getting out of the Corps soon, so I won't be living in the barracks...finally I can get started reloading. I've been doing lots ...

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Thread: Finally going to get started...but still can't decide what's right for me...

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array C9H13NO3's Avatar
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    Finally going to get started...but still can't decide what's right for me...

    I'll be getting out of the Corps soon, so I won't be living in the barracks...finally I can get started reloading.

    I've been doing lots of research, and just about everyone says "start with a single stage press". I thought the Lee turret press would work well for me, since I want to reload .40S&W, .223 Rem, and .308.

    I am wanting to reload to save money. My ammo costs are really high, and I also can't always find enough ammo on the shelves at the stores. I once or twice a week, and I like to shoot at least 400 rounds per time. I'm also going to be getting into IDPA, so that's even more ammo to add to my expenses.

    This makes me think I will be spending a TON of time reloading with a single stage press. At an average of 50 rounds per hour (and that's once I finally know what I'm doing and get my loads set up the way I like them), it would take me 8-16 hours of reloading per week. I have time, but not that much time.

    I think for the quantity of ammo I want to produce, a progressive press would be better suited. From what I understand, you can still start out with just one stage at a time. So would it be better if I just buy a Dillon 550B or XL650 and the dies? What else would I need with a kit like this?

    The 650 is 5 station instead of 4 like the 550...what is the 5th station, and why doesn't the 550 have it? What is the powdercheck system?
    -Ryan

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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  3. #2
    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    IMO, you were right on track with the Lee Classic Turret Press. It's pretty fast, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg, and once you have it set up, it's a cinch.

    It's a great press to learn on, and for me, I would rather see a round come together from start to finish instead of doing one stage at a time like on a single stage.
    There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

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  4. #3
    Distinguished Member Array C9H13NO3's Avatar
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    Maybe I'll get started on it and upgrade later if I feel the need. If I reloaded an hour a night, and a few hours on the weekends, I could probably keep up with my consumption.
    -Ryan

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

  5. #4
    Senior Member
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    Been loading for 30+ years and finally got my first progressive (Dillon RL 550) about 2 years ago. Wow, wish I had jumped on that band wagon way before I did, they are definetly the way to reload most pistol and some rifle cartridges. I still use my single stage for certain things but only when I have to. You can use the progressive just like a single stage until your comfortable with it then you can crank'em out after that. My thought is buy once and be done with it.
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  6. #5
    Member Array Hamour's Avatar
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    High, hope you do well in the civilian world. Welcome home.

    I have reloaded since 1970 or so and strongly urge you to go with an RCBS RockChucker single stage press for your first reloading experiences. Mistakes at the reloading bench can be and will be costly.
    In my humble opinion, volume reloading has additional risks above and beyond the normal single stage reloading, and should only be done as experience level increases.
    I assume the Marines moved you in graduated steps in dangerous tasks, teaching basics then the more advanced courses.
    Learn and understand the process with the single stage systems and then graduate to a higher level of reloading with the Dillon series of products.

    That said, if you do volume shooting the Dillon products (not just presses but case vibrators, electric trimmers, case feeders etc!) are the way to go. Dillon sells "Systems" that can be expanded as needed.

    My reloading room is set up with an RCBS Rockchucker press and a Dillon 550B. The 550 will be set up for what ever high volume cartridge I am stock pilling. When I run out of components I set it up for the next one. .38special, .357 mag, .30 carbine, .223 Rem etc. when spare time is available I churn out an hours worth of production, soon I have enough of that round for a long time.

    The Rockchucker is used for lower volume reloading, .30-06, .300 mag etc, or say some pistol rounds if my Dillon is set up for another cartridge.

    An example of the Rockchucker use, I recently aquired an M-1 Garand from CMP and bought some HXP ball with it. I also wanted some hunting loads to go with it as well.

    A few trips to the range and I soon had some once fired brass, developed my ball load and hunting loads. Each trip to the range netted me more brass as it was hunting season and once fired 30-06 brass was 5 cents each, always bought 200 additional rounds above what I shot. After one month I had loaded and stored-shot enough 30-06 rounds to use 8LBS of IMR-4895 (1140 rds or so)

    Each press will fill a specific need and you should wind up with one of each. Have fun learning.

    PS:

    Get started now on making brass monkeys (I mean children sorry). It is much easier to have the brass picked up thant to do it yourself! Plus they graduate into press pullers after a while!

    I could also write a book on brass and bullet scrounging or lead scrounging for cast bullets but I dont want to over whelm you with the various risks associated with reloading.

    Have fun and be safe.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Array tankdriver's Avatar
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    I have been reloading since I was 23. I'm now 55. I started with the Lee "hammer them in" kits. I now have the Lee loadmaster, but in between i used a single stage for many a year. I'd suggest you start with that, as it will serve as a great learning set. What dies, powders, primers, bullets, you like to use.... Learn the basic ballistics of reloading before trying to learn the high production rates. It is a lot cheaper and possibly safer to make a bad decision on an inexpensive single stage press rather than a progressive loader.
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  8. #7
    Senior Member Array Beans's Avatar
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    I also have been reloading for over 35 years, I started when I got out of the Corps ( 1961-1971, medically discharged)

    I started with a single stage RCSB press which I still have. Then went to a Star progressive, then to a Phelps Progressive, then to a Dillon.

    I currently am using two Dillons 650's, one Dillon 550 and my old single stage press.

    For a "Boot". I would recommend the Dillon 550

    It is a progressive machine, but you rotate the shell plate by hand, This allows you to have better control over each reloading step then the 650 that auto rotates the shells plate with each pull of the handle.

    You can check each casing and then rotate the shell plate, if a mistake is made, you just remove that case and continue, where with the 650 if you make a mistake you have to chase the round to the next station.

    Some times I also use the 550 as a progessive single stage when I am doing load development.
    I size, deprime and prime the cases, with one pull of the handle, then remove them.

    After determining what powder and amount I want to use, I then drop powder charge in the cases then reinsert the case for bullet seating and crimping

    This is a lot faster then doing it on a single stage press

    When you get use to the routine of the 550 and comfortable with reloading then you can upgrade to the 650. Maybe!

    Dillon also make a case feeder for the 550.

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  9. #8
    Member Array alfack's Avatar
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    I started out 15 years ago with a Dillon 550 and use it for all of my reloading needs. I can see no valid reason for starting off on a single stage press, other than initial startup costs.

    Really, there is no difference between the single stage press and the 550, other than you don't need to swap out the dies for each step on the 550. You can use the 550 to do one round at a time, if you want.

    The trickiest part of reloading, IMO, is getting the dies set up properly and this process is the same on a single stage press as it is on a progressive. Make the adjustment, ram the case into the die, measure the result and repeat if necessary.

    My humble advice is to get a progressive, if budget allows, and get a single stage, if it doesn't.

  10. #9
    Distinguished Member Array C9H13NO3's Avatar
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    Budget really isn't an issue, which is why I was attraced to the 550. I would start out reloading like a single stage. I want to be able to crank out more ammo though once I get good at it.

    When reloading single stage, is it quicker/safer to do all rounds in one stage, then move to the next stage, or to run each round through all stages before moving to the next round?
    -Ryan

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

  11. #10
    Member Array alfack's Avatar
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    If you were only doing 1 round at a time, I would start out at resize/decap die and rotate through all of the other stations, checking the round after each die.

    For example:

    1) Put fired/unfired brass in die 1 (sizer/decap), pull the handle all the way down and push it all the way up. Then remove the case and check to see if the primer is seated all the way and the case does not look crushed.

    Replace the case and manually index to next die (bell/powder).

    2) Cycle the handle again. Remove case and make sure you have enough, not too much, bell. Dump the powder on a scale to make sure your powder weight is correct. Dump powder back in the case.

    Replace the case and manually index to next die (seater).

    3) Place bullet on case and cycle handle again. Remove cartridge and check for OAL.

    Replace the case and manually index to next die (crimp).

    4) Cycle handle again. Manually index the shell plate to get the finished round into the hopper. Check the round for diameter at the case mouth, to make sure you have enough crimp. A cartridge guage or caliper works fine for this. For extra peace of mind, try cycling the round through your magazine and chamber to see if everything fits ok.

    It would be a royal pain to have to handle (and keep from spilling) your various phase cases, otherwise.

  12. #11
    Distinguished Member Array C9H13NO3's Avatar
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    I understand the process of running single stage on a progressive, but I guess to clarify what I was asking....

    Say you're making a batch of 50 rounds single stage (on a progressive or a single stage, doesn't matter)

    Would you
    a. Run all 50 through the resizing die, then prime all 50, then charge all 50 rounds, etc until you are done, or
    b. Resize, prime, charge, seat and crimp one round to completion, then start on the second round
    -Ryan

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

  13. #12
    Member Array alfack's Avatar
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    Sorry, wasn't clear. Option b, in your scenarios.

  14. #13
    Senior Member
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    On a single stage you would do scenario A. On a progressive doing it as a single stage you would probably want to do it as scenario B.
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  15. #14
    Senior Member Array Beans's Avatar
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    On a single stage you would do scenario A.
    I agree!!

    If you chose scenario B you would changing the dies at lest 3 times for each rd

    1. Size /depriming die
    2. Re prime-No die change after removing the sizing die
    3. Belling die
    4. Seating/crimping die

    For 50 Rds that would be 149 die changes WHEW

  16. #15
    VIP Member Array cvhoss's Avatar
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    If you're sure that you're going to get into competitive shooting, keep you investment in a single stage press to a minimum as you're not going to use it for very long. You'll always have a need for a single stage if for no other reason than loading up just 10 rounds for developing a load but unless you're retired and going to have a bunch of free time, you're not going to want to reload on a single stage press for competition and the practice that comes with it.

    To this end, the Lee is a good, inexpensive press to fill your basic learning needs and for those times when you just want a few rounds for testing/load development. If you were going to be doing a lot of loading on the single stage, I'd recommend either a Rock Chucker or what I found to be the best single stage press I ever owned, a Forster Co-Ax Single Stage Press.

    Once you decide you don't want to spend as much time as you'll be spending in front of a single stage press, I can only recommend Dillon as that's what I have and I've never had any other progressive press. If you go Dillon, do yourself a favor and look at the 650 instead of the 550, especially if your primary reloading will be pistol cartridges and not rifle cartridges. The advantages are:
    Auto Indexing
    With the addition of a case feeder, the only thing you have to do after initial set-up is pull the handle, place a bullet at the correct station and keep the primer tube and powder hopper filled. This prevents you from accidentally pulling the handle twice without rotating the shell plate and double charging a case.
    5 -hole tool head
    The addition of the 5th hole allows you to use both a separate seating and crimping station (my preferred method since I use Lee Factory Crimp Dies on virtually everything I load) and still have the powder check alarm. In volume reloading, the powder check alarm is a great "peace of mind" addition.
    Automatic Case Feeder
    The 650 was designed for a case feeder from the beginning, not an add-on unit like the 550. The case feeder so speeds up loading that you'll just about spend more time loading primer tubes than actually reloading though if you really have more money than time, you can get one of these. Yes, the 550 now has an add-on case feeder and I have a shooting buddy that would be glad to sell his if anyone's interested. He got so tired of trying to get it to work right that he has now removed it from his 550 and it sits in a box.
    My first progressive was a Dillon 550 (about 25 years ago). Still have it, won't sell it, and don't use it anymore since buying my first 650 (now have two 650s). I use the 650s for all of my volume reloading and use a Lyman T-Mag turret press for precision rifle rounds.

    Good luck and thanks for your service.

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