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Old 01-27-2007, 10:46 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Reloading Advice and Equipment

There are so many books out on how-to that I don't think we need to get much into the weeds there, but what about the equipment you've used?
Any bad experiances?
Tips for folks just starting out?
Favorite suppliers?
Favorite components?
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Old 01-27-2007, 10:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I would get a single stage reloader, like a RCBS "Rock Crusher" for a 1st time reloader, how do I know this? I didn't, I bought a progressive The best book out there is "The ABC's of Reloading" Check out www.midwayusa.com
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Old 01-27-2007, 11:20 AM   #3 (permalink)
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If I were buying one now I would get something like the RCBS rock chucker supreme master kit. You can usually find it for under $300.
http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpag...eitemid=646599
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Old 01-27-2007, 11:26 AM   #4 (permalink)
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dont mean to hijack. But im planning on getting the RCBS master kit and i was wondering what other kind of tools i would need? I know nothing about reloading but i want to get into it. I have all your regular tools youd ever need but anything else special?
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Old 01-27-2007, 11:45 AM   #5 (permalink)
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A case trimmer is nice to have as is a really good pair of digital calipers. Also, if you're going to reload in the house, do it where there is a hard floor that can be swept...vacuuming up spilled gunpowder is not recommended.
I like the Lyman Orange Crusher or Crusher 2. I wish I still had my reloading setup...but I sold it all. May have to get back into it.
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Old 01-27-2007, 11:57 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I do not load shotgun shells, simply because I have never taken the time to purchase the equipment. Hopefully someone else can talk about that.
I do load rifle and pistol ammo.
I got started about 18 years ago with an RCBS Partner.
http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpag...eitemid=403729
It is also available as a very affordable starter kit
http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpag...eitemid=140616
I still have mine and use it.
About 7-8 years ago I found a Lee turret press on ebay for super cheep.
http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpag...eitemid=880135
It came with 3 extra turrets which is really nice. And the auto disc powder measure. Can set up a different caliber in each turret. Right now .223, .45apc, and 9mm stay stored in the turret and then the 4th one I just swap out for other calibers.
The auto index feature on this basically turns it into a progressive machine.

My current procedure is to put the decapping die into the Partner. Have a TV out in the shop. Will sit there and run all the brass through the decapping as I watch TV. Have a box of fired brass on the bench and then a box for the decapped rounds on the floor. Can get quite a rythem going and go through a thousand rounds very quick.
I then run the brass through a crushed walnut shell filled tumbler.

After sifting out the media I then go through and deburr the necks, clean the primer pocket, visually inspaect the brass. I then use a hand held primer. Holds 100 primers, squeeze the handle, round is primed. This can all pretty fast, sitting down comfortable.

I then move to the turret press. First station is the sizing die without a primer pin. Then a necker which also has the powder station. Third is seat the bullet. Depending on the round 4th is a crimper.

The turret press is not a progressive. It only holds one round at a time. Each throw of the lever does one operation and rotates the head to the next station. Still using the right for the level and the left to insert the brass, add the bullet, remove the brass I can crank out a lot of ammo quickly.

The only thing I don't do like this is .223 that I use for HP and the 45-70 that I do some long range shooting with.
For those I do take the time to check overall length of the brass, trim if necassary and I hand measure each powder load. I have two seperate boxes of 223 brass, the stuff for plinking and the stuff that has been sorted into lots and weighed for HP.

I keep track of how many times each piece of brass has been loaded. After the 5th time I throw it out. It all gets visually inspected and if there are any problems it will get disposed of earlier.

I would like to get a Dillon machine but for now this set up serves me well.
All told, including a case trimmer, varios die sets, the presses, scales, and tumbler I am under 500$ total invested.
I have die sets for 223 Rem, 308 Win, 7.62x39 Russian, 9mm, 45apc, 45LC, 45-70, 30-30.

If you havent noticed I love Midway. Been using them for 10 years. I try and find deals on once fired brass on ebay, get my powder from a local place, but every thing else I get from Midway.
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Old 01-27-2007, 12:02 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I second the single stage press. RCBS is good stuff but there are several manufacturers of good single stage presses. I still have my first press, an RCBS junior that I've had about 30 years. I can still get parts for it. Although Lee makes a good die for the price,(I have several) I would stay away from their presses, they're pretty cheesy. I think Dillon makes some of the best dies out there but there are several good brands of dies. Some of the Lyman stuff is kinda low end also. For any volume loading, a Dillon is the only progressive press I would consider. They have a no bullshit lifetime warranty, and their stuff is good. I've broken (out of stupidity) and lost parts to my Dillons and even offered to pay for the parts as it was my fault, and they still sent them for free. If you ever decide to get into shotshell loading, there is only two brands of presses I would consider. MEC, and Poinsess Warren (sp?). PW is the top of the line and kinda pricey, but if you shoot a lot of clay, it's worth it. MEC is reasonably priced and easy to use, but slower than a PW. Component wise,I have bought a lot of stuff from Midway and here lately, I've been using Widener's quite a bit. I usually just keep my eyes open for sales, and the buy a lot. Several places carry reloading starter kits that make it cheaper than buying all the ancillary stuff individually.Here's a pic (I've posted before) of my hobby room. On the left is a Dillon 550, the middle is a MEC sizemaster, and the single stage is my 31 year old RCBS junior.
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Old 01-27-2007, 12:08 PM   #8 (permalink)
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dont mean to hijack. But im planning on getting the RCBS master kit and i was wondering what other kind of tools i would need? I know nothing about reloading but i want to get into it. I have all your regular tools youd ever need but anything else special?
I am guessing you mean this?
http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpag...eitemid=646599

You will need a die and shell holder for the caliber you are going to reload. Post up that and people can point you in the right direction.

A case trimmer is nice, but for once fired brass or new brass it's not really needed. I would hold off a little while on that and when you do get one get a manual like a forster.I only really ever use mine when I am reloading the super accurate rifle rounds for competition.

Calipers are definately something I would grab. Biggest thing is to check overall loaded length of the round. Just to make sure you have the bullet seat die set up correctly. Also handy to check brass length if you are getting a trimmer, neck thickness, etc.

Only other thing I can think of is a bullet puller. The ones that look like a hammer work, but are a total PITA to use. I broke the first one I owned. What is better is a collet type that goes into the press.
http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpag...eitemid=419303
With the proper sized collet in place you insert the round into the shell holder, run the ram up until the bullet is seated in the collet. Tighten, drop the ram. Bullet is pulled. Works great.

If you get into it more and are loading to compete or hunt I would consider a digital scale and a powder trickler.
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Old 01-27-2007, 12:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Neat, Yeah i was looking at the powder tricklers, Might get one sometime

Yeah i knew i had to get dies and shell holder'

Ill get one of those pullers too, i was gonna get the hammer one but when i looked at them they look like theyd break really easy, So i was trying to find something better, glad i did.

edit: Thanks!

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Old 01-27-2007, 12:23 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I do not load shotgun shells, simply because I have never taken the time to purchase the equipment. Hopefully someone else can talk about that.
I reload shot shells with a MEC 9000. http://www.mecreloaders.com/ProductLine/9000.asp
Once you get the hang of it, it works great. I can load upwards of 250 shells an hour with this machine.
I reload for both hunting and sporting clays.
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Old 01-27-2007, 02:24 PM   #11 (permalink)
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dont mean to hijack. But im planning on getting the RCBS master kit and i was wondering what other kind of tools i would need? I know nothing about reloading but i want to get into it. I have all your regular tools youd ever need but anything else special?
A vibrating case cleaner is almost a necessity, and a flash hole reamer and primer pocket tool are handy also. And you'll end up needing more than one loading block. I have several of the small RCBS ones and the larger MDM ones. I also determined long ago that I prefer the spray case lube.
What calibers are ya gonna load?
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Old 01-27-2007, 02:49 PM   #12 (permalink)
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A vibrating case cleaner is almost a necessity, and a flash hole reamer and primer pocket tool are handy also. And you'll end up needing more than one loading block. I have several of the small RCBS ones and the larger MDM ones. I also determined long ago that I prefer the spray case lube.
What calibers are ya gonna load?
I have had great luck with using the hard plastic inserts that come in pistol ammo boxes for loading blocks.
I only use loading blocks when I am doing the accurate loads and don't do them more then 50 at a time so it works out well.
The 9mm ones are the perfect size to hold 223 rounds and 45lc for 308.
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Old 01-27-2007, 03:30 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Why do you load your own? Cost? Fun? Accuracy?

I've been loading for years and everything from .223-.50BMG. Also shotshell from #9's-000.

I load for accuracy and effectiveness. Started out simple and now have so many steps in the process it is almost absurd.

Case prep:
Sort cases by volume.
Sort cases by concentricity.
Uniform flash hole.
Uniform primer pocket.
Outside turn case neck.
Sort by neck wall thickness.
Check case length and trim to length if necessary.
Chamfer and deburr mouth.

Those steps are for virgin cases. For fired cases; annealing, sizing, trimming, polishing, etc. are dependent on the cartridge, individual case, and which firearm it is used in.

Bullets:
Sort bullets by mass.
Sort bullets by concentricity.

Once a bullet is seated (to a depth determined by throat dimensions), check length from head to ogive.
Check OAL if cartridge will be used in a repeater for magazine clearance.

I'm sure there are steps I have left out. These are what I think are most important for accuracy.

Chronographing and pressure testing is essential to any loading operation. Unless you have recorded these variables, you have no clue as to what velocity or pressure a published load is developing with your rifle/handgun. Furthermore, recording atmospheric conditions during chronographing/pressure testing is also essential. A hot load one day could blow your rifle the next depending on the weather.
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Old 01-27-2007, 03:47 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Here is my setup....


Dillon 450 setup dedicated for 5.56
Lee partner setup mostly for 7/TCU
and the RCBS .50 BMG Press



Most of my stuff is SHTF ammo so I don't get crazy with the accuracy department. I do go nuts on the 7/TCU stuff however. I would get a Dillon Press like the 550 B If I was just starting out again.


Fucking forgot the picture...


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Old 01-27-2007, 04:15 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Why do you load your own? Cost? Fun? Accuracy?
I got started for Accuracy back when I was just loading .308 for a bolt gun I built. up.

Since then it's mostly cost and consistancy.
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Old 01-27-2007, 04:59 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Brain, how are you pressure testing your loads? Just checking for flat primers and such, or do you have a method/machine of some sort?
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Old 01-27-2007, 06:45 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Brain, how are you pressure testing your loads? Just checking for flat primers and such, or do you have a method/machine of some sort?
Depends. Once I reach a point in load development where pressure becomes a concern, I use a strain gage.

This is a pre-packaged version if you don't want to build one on your own. Actually cheaper and comes with the cool software. http://www.shootingsoftware.com/pressure.htm

Used to be all math to develop a maximum "do not load more than x gr. of x type of powder with x weight bullet under x atmosphere" and then look for signs of pressure while building up to that point. Flowing primers, sticky bolts, stretched primer pockets, etc

It is really amazing to wring performance out of cartridges that people literally won't believe because the "loadbook" doesn't have velocities that high. Most folks are afraid of blowing themselves up and rightly so. Maximum published data is there to put the fear of death into peoples minds and also to cover the collective asses of the shooting industry.
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Old 02-01-2007, 06:03 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I like the RCBS rock chucker press.
I prefer Redding dies, but I have all brands.
I prefer the lee hand primer tool.

All presses, dies, and tools are interchangeable (all the ones I have seen anyway).

Don't get hung up on one brand.

You are better off to buy a used set up if you can find one.
I bought about $500 worth of stuff for $175 to a guy that changed hobbies.
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Old 02-01-2007, 10:04 PM   #19 (permalink)
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The bigh thing is the bullet you buy. I bought high end hornady bullets, paid 74 bucks for 100 and found almost a 1 grain differnce across the board
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Old 02-02-2007, 05:56 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Buy dillon equipment, easily the best ive used, and ive used most every brand, cept those crude ones by lee (The ones with the yellow powder scoop :P)

Even if you find an OLD beat up dillon press, he will refinish it for you. Also, Hes got one of the best warrenties out there.
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Old 02-03-2007, 06:15 PM   #21 (permalink)
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I decided one day that I wanted to start reloading for my .223 AR15. I did not know anything about reloading at that point (Still do not know too much, haha).
Anyway, I got the RCBS rock chucker complete kit on sale at Bimart for 200 bucks. the only other stuff I have had to buy was a .223 shell holder, .223 dies, a case tumbler, some media for said case tumbler, some primers, projectiles, and powder. All said and done, I was out of there for 330 bucks after tax.
I do not have a case trimmer, calipers, digital scale or any of that high end stuff. While I do not have the capability to make as good of ammo as those with the high dollar relaoding equipment, I still am able to make some stuff that shoots better then the store bought stuff I used to shoot.
The best part is, I can make boxes of 55 grain .223 FMJ for about 3 bucks each without even getting that great of deals on components.
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Old 02-03-2007, 07:10 PM   #22 (permalink)
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calipers are high end? Since when did a pair of 10-30 dollar digital calipers be high end?

I love mine and i dont even reload, theyre just extremely handy.
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Old 02-03-2007, 07:10 PM   #23 (permalink)
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A turret press would also be a good choice.

http://www.pistoleer.com/lyman/presses/

Same as a single stage but lets you set up two sets of dies, so to change from one operation to the next you just rotate the head.
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Old 02-03-2007, 07:38 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I`ll add the same as what most have said, Start with a single stage press. RCBS, Redding both
offer exellent equipment. Get an electronic scale, the balance beam style`s are a pita to use and
slow. Get a decent vernier caliper. You`ll need a way to trim cases if loading rifle ammo, you don`t
generally need to trim most straight wall pistol/revolver cases. One accessory you definatly need is
a vibratory case cleaner, clean cases are easier on the die`s and equipment. I`ve never had a bad
expierence while reloading, but I had one "from" reloading.

This happened from a double charge of Bullseye gunpower.

Glock 21 .45 ACP.

This was the first round in a 13 round magazine. When the gun went off I was fortunate the slide
assembly flew forward off the frame instead of to the rear.



Handloading/reloading demands your full and undivided attention.
The reason this happened is I thought it would be O.K. to have
a couple beers while reloading , yes I was stupid
and learned my lesson. At the time this happened, I had been
handloading 20+ years, and took what I did for granted.

I only ended up with some semi minor cuts on both hands
that didn`t require a hospital visit. I was also fortunate the
explosion didn`t ignite the rest of the magazine. In fact, the
magazine and all internals were still quite usable and they are
currently in another 21 I have. Don`t get me wrong, reloading/handloading
is completely safe, just pay attention to what your doing.
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Old 02-03-2007, 08:20 PM   #25 (permalink)
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one trick to prevent double loads to to weigh each shell after loading, a set of ammo will be close in weight so I set the scale for the heaviest, and drop them on if the scal move its a double charge.
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