Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
PSA
Member Login

Site Notices
Posted: 1/26/2014 4:35:27 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/26/2014 6:47:40 PM EDT by CamdenTN]
Hey all,

I've always found the idea of reloading fascinating. A good friend's father has been reloading for decades and always said he really enjoyed it. I've been reading up on and watching a great number of videos on reloading for a couple months now and have been planning out my initial purchases. I was hoping I could get some opinions on my plan given that the stickies can only go so far. This will probably be quite long and I understand many won't read it all. But if you do, I would be extremely grateful for your insight.

Up until recently all I shot was 40 S&W from a Glock 23 and 22LR from an old Marlin. My dad picked up an XD chambered in 9mm Luger a number of months ago and we've been going to the range more often as a result. Over the holidays, my wife acquired a S&W M&P Shield chambered in 9mm Luger and I built an AR-15 chambered in 5.56 NATO. Over the next six months or so, I'd like to pick up a Glock 19 and a Springfield 1911. So, at least initially, 9mm will be most important to me. 223 Remington will likely be next, followed by 40 S&W, and finally 45 ACP once I acquire the 1911 I've had my eye on for a couple years now.

Mine and my family's interests currently lie completely within the realm of target shooting, so hunting and competition are of no importance at this time. I doubt I'll get into hunting, but sport shooting is a slight medium to long term possibility. Accuracy is not of utmost importance, nor is large production numbers. I have no expectation of saving money either short or long term. Being such a detail oriented endeavor, I believe reloading will be a good fit for my interests and personality. As such, I've decided a quality single stage press is the right choice for me at this time.

Finally, I don't usually buy things based solely on price or quality alone. I'm looking for value first and foremost, so that will play into what components I purchase. Initially, I was leaning toward Hornady mostly. I'm still quite interested in their products, but I think I've become more interested in an RCBS press. I don't have any brand loyalty, but I do tend to prefer obtaining things that go together from the same company. So, here's what I'm thinking right now.

1) RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Single Stage Press. My second choice would be the Hornady Lock-N-Load Single Stage press. I like the fact that the Rock Chucker is cast iron, as opposed to the cast aluminum of the Lock-N-Load. I also prefer the primer catcher design of the Rock Chucker. I like that the Lock-N-Load frame is twisted counter-clockwise for easier access to the ram, but I'm not sure whether Hornady was fixing a problem that didn't exist or if that is actually a valuable feature. While I could probably do the same sort of thing with wood for the Hornady press myself, the installation base plate that is available from RCBS sounds sort of neat. My wife is left handed, so the fact that the handle of the Rock Chucker can be moved to the left is a positive, even though I doubt she will ever use it. Finally, I like the Lock-N-Load bushings, but that's not such a big deal since an inexpensive conversion kit is available that can be used with the Rock Chucker. Both seem like they are of excellent quality. Both provide the ability to prime on the press, which I believe I would prefer over priming by hand or with a dedicated bench mounted priming tool. Both have accessory kits to provide automatic primer feeding. While the RCBS press is slightly more expensive, I think it is the winner here.

2) Hornady Lock-N-Load Bushing Conversion Kit

3) RCBS Quick Change Powder Measure and Stand. My second choice would be the Hornady Lock-N-Load Powder Measure and Stand. The RCBS Uniflow Powder Measure that comes with the kit does not provide the ability to quickly change the metering assemblies and does not come with a small assembly for metering pistol charges. I ruled out purchasing the kit for this and other reasons. While the Hornady Powder Measure does provide quick change capabilities, it does not include the pistol metering assembly. From what I understand, the body of both units are cast iron. The Hornady stand is cast iron and the RCBS stand is cast aluminum. I can't seem to find specifications on the RCBS metering assemblies or the Hornady hopper, so I'm just going to assume their capacities are comparable in those respects; they both look like they'd meet my needs nonetheless. I would need to either purchase the RCBS Powder Measure and Stand or the Hornady Powder Measure, Stand, and Handgun Rotor and Metering Assembly. In this case, the Hornady is more expensive, but doesn't appear to provide any additional benefits to justify the additional cost. RCBS wins out in this round as well.

4) RCBS Model 505 Mechanical Scale. My second choice would be the Hornady Balance Beam Scale. I would prefer a good old fashioned analog scale over a digital scale. I don't have anything against digital scales and I'm sure I'd end up acquiring one eventually, but my first scale will be a beam scale. I ruled out the Lyman Pro models primarily due to their plastic bases and the Redding just didn't look comparable to the RCBS and Hornady units. Both appear to have cast aluminum bases, have a capacity of around 500 grains, an accuracy of +/- 0.1 grain, and both are magnetically dampened. I believe I prefer the graduations on the Hornady and the RCBS looks to have an easier to read pointer and balance marker. While I think I prefer the Hornady overall, it doesn't look like anyone has it in stock. The RCBS is more expensive, but readily available. If I could get my hands on the Hornady, I might be persuaded to go that route unless you all say the RCBS is worth the additional cost.

5) I'll start off with the Hornady Reloading Manual. I like the format. I will probably also pick up the Lyman and Speer manuals.

Here's where things get a little fuzzier for me. Dies.

6) Lee Universal Decapping Die. I think my second choice would be the Hornady. Rather than remove the primers at the same time I size cases, I think I'd prefer to do so prior to tumbling. I understand that I'll likely get media stuck in the primer pockets, but I think I would be happier if I could completely clean and prep the cases before sizing, charging, seating, and crimping. The cleaning and prep would likely also include cleaning the primer pocket. If I shoot anything with a military crimp, that would also be taken care of during case prep. I can't seem to find any warranty information on either one. Other Lee dies seem to have a 2-year warranty and the Hornadys look to have a lifetime warranty. I've read quite a bit that seems to indicate the Lee die is the best in class here. If I'm way off base, I'd like to hear alternatives.

7) Lee Factory Crimp Dies: 9mm Luger, 40 S&W, and 223 Remington. I've been swayed by the marketing as well as the fact that I shoot a Glock 23 and will need to deal with case bulging. I also like the idea of crimping as a separate step after seating. Like decapping separately, this is probably not necessary at all, but I'm okay with that.

8) Hornady Custom Grade New Dimension Nitride 3-Die Sets: 9mm Luger and 40 S&W and Hornady Custom Grade New Dimension 2-Die Set: 223 Remington. I'm fairly certain my second choices would be the RCBS dies. Both Hornady and RCBS have lifetime warranties. I like the Lee die sets well enough, but the 2-year warranty bugs me. The Hornady pistol dies come in standard and taper crimp versions. Since I'm planning on using the Lee Factory Crimp Dies, I don't think it matters which I purchase. Would it be best to go with the taper crimp versions just in case I end up discontinuing the use of the Lee Factory Crimp dies? Or would I need the standard crimp versions in order to adjust the crimp out so I can use the Lee Factory Crimp Dies? I'm not really clear on the intricacies just yet.

9) RCBS Shell Holders: 9mm Luger, 40 S&W, and 223 Remington. Hornady would be my second choice. The only reason I'm choosing RCBS over Hornady is because the press is RCBS. I've actually read the Hornady Shell Holders are of better quality and tolerances, so I might end up going with Hornady. Any opinions on this particular subject?

10) Hornady Lock Rings. The Hornady Die Sets come with these rings. The Lee dies look like they come with regular lock nuts with no way to set them in place, so I'll pick up some Hornady Lock Rings to replace those that come with the Lee dies.

11) Hornady Lock-N-Load Bushings. I'll need bushings for all dies in order to use them with the Hornady Lock-N-Load Bushing Conversion Kit.

12) RCBS Case Tumbler. My second choice is the Hornady unit. They're very close to the same price. I'm pretty sure these are exactly the same unit with different color plastic and labels. Since green is my favorite color, RCBS wins here.

13) I'll pick up some universal reloading blocks, a funnel, and some aerosol case lube for the rifle cases. Brand doesn't seem too terribly important here. I already have a set of Wixey digital calipers that I'm fairly certain are extremely accurate. At some point, I'll also need a chamfering and deburring tool and a case trimmer of some sort. As I understand it, I likely will not need to trim cases initially. If that is not correct, please clarify.

So there ya go. That's what I'm thinking right now. Your thoughts and insight would be greatly appreciated. If you made it this far, thanks so much for your time!

ETA I got caught up in the tools and forgot the procedures part. Using the tools described above and inspecting after each step...

1) Remove primers
2) Tumble
3) Clean primer pocket if necessary
4) Size and prime
5) Tumble again for lube removal if rifle rounds
6) Expand if pistol rounds
7) Seat
8) Crimp
Link Posted: 1/26/2014 6:42:42 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/26/2014 6:44:37 PM EDT by dryflash3]
Link Posted: 1/26/2014 6:47:19 PM EDT
Thanks dryflash3! Looks like I'm not too far off.
Link Posted: 1/26/2014 7:00:58 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/27/2014 10:32:53 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/27/2014 10:45:51 AM EDT by CamdenTN]
I've digested the feedback and have a few more questions.

Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History

2) Hornady Lock-N-Load Bushing Conversion Kit Total waste of money. Screwing dies in and out of a press doesn't take much time. If you go this way, you are stuck with buying bushings all the time. If you get a brand of die with real locknuts (Hornady and RCBS are two) the locknut keeps your die adjustment. If you get a Lee die, change the nut for a Hornady lock nut. A lot cheaper.
View Quote View All Quotes
View All Quotes
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History

2) Hornady Lock-N-Load Bushing Conversion Kit Total waste of money. Screwing dies in and out of a press doesn't take much time. If you go this way, you are stuck with buying bushings all the time. If you get a brand of die with real locknuts (Hornady and RCBS are two) the locknut keeps your die adjustment. If you get a Lee die, change the nut for a Hornady lock nut. A lot cheaper.

Good point. Using both Lock-N-Load bushings as well as Sure-Loc locking rings does seem redundant since my goal is to eliminate unnecessary die adjustment. Saving time isn't terribly important for me here. I appreciate you pointing that out. I'll save plenty of money in the long run by not having to purchase bushings for every die I ever buy.


6) Lee Universal Decapping Die. I think my second choice would be the Hornady. Rather than remove the primers at the same time I size cases, I think I'd prefer to do so prior to tumbling. I understand that I'll likely get media stuck in the primer pockets, but I think I would be happier if I could completely clean and prep the cases before sizing, charging, seating, and crimping. The cleaning and prep would likely also include cleaning the primer pocket. If I shoot anything with a military crimp, that would also be taken care of during case prep. I can't seem to find any warranty information on either one. Other Lee dies seem to have a 2-year warranty and the Hornadys look to have a lifetime warranty. I've read quite a bit that seems to indicate the Lee die is the best in class here. If I'm way off base, I'd like to hear alternatives. Do not decap before dry tumbling, waste of time. Primer pockets are only cleaned with wet tumbling. That's where you want to decap brfore you tumble.

I think I must have become confused at some point in my research and believed any form of tumbling could assist in cleaning primer pockets. So if I do not need to deprime prior to tumbling, I no longer need to obtain a Lee Universal Decapping Die. After tumbling, I can size and deprime at the same time. Thanks for the clarification here. Let me know if I misunderstood.


8) Hornady Custom Grade New Dimension Nitride 3-Die Sets: 9mm Luger and 40 S&W and Hornady Custom Grade New Dimension 2-Die Set: 223 Remington. I'm fairly certain my second choices would be the RCBS dies. Both Hornady and RCBS have lifetime warranties. I like the Lee die sets well enough, but the 2-year warranty bugs me. The Hornady pistol dies come in standard and taper crimp versions. Since I'm planning on using the Lee Factory Crimp Dies, I don't think it matters which I purchase. Would it be best to go with the taper crimp versions just in case I end up discontinuing the use of the Lee Factory Crimp dies? Or would I need the standard crimp versions in order to adjust the crimp out so I can use the Lee Factory Crimp Dies? I'm not really clear on the intricacies just yet. I prefer Hornady dies myself. You always want to crimp as a separate step, so 4 die set for pistol. (you get that by adding a crimp die to a 3 die set) Same with rifle, 3 die set. (you get that by adding a crimp die to a 2 die set) I have both Hornady and Lee FCD, they both work well. The Lee is cheaper, but you need to replace the nut with a lock nut.


I'm not sure what you meant when you mentioned having both Hornady and Lee Factory Crimp Dies. Can you clarify? Does that have anything to do with the fact that the Hornady 9mm 3-Die set, for example, is offered in two versions -- standard and taper crimp?


13) I'll pick up some universal reloading blocks, a funnel, and some aerosol case lube for the rifle cases. Brand doesn't seem too terribly important here. I already have a set of Wixey digital calipers that I'm fairly certain are extremely accurate. At some point, I'll also need a chamfering and deburring tool and a case trimmer of some sort. As I understand it, I likely will not need to trim cases initially. If that is not correct, please clarify. For lube you want Dillon or FA spray lanolin lube, not one stuck shot. If you get OS, get a stuck case removal set. All cases need to be measured (you need a caliber for this) and trim any case not in spec. Yes almost all case will need trimming.

Case trimming is another area where I might have developed a misunderstanding. Your statement that almost all cases will need trimming contradicts my limited understanding. I could use some clarification here.

I was under the impression that brass length is not as important on pistol cartridges that headspace off the case mouth (9mm Luger, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP, etc.), that overall length is the more important measurement in this example, and that trimming this brass is unnecessary. Rifle cartridges that headspace off the shoulder of the case (223 Remington, 308 Winchester, etc.), as I understand it, must be trimmed if out of spec in addition to ensuring the overall length is within spec. There's a high probability that my understanding here is completely incorrect.

It's clear I need to read more about this to ensure I have a good understanding of what's involved. Maybe I'm being too general and must take more into account than simply a differentiation between pistol and rifle.

Thanks again for the help!
Link Posted: 1/27/2014 6:52:17 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/27/2014 6:54:24 PM EDT by dryflash3]
Link Posted: 1/27/2014 6:59:54 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/27/2014 7:01:45 PM EDT by CamdenTN]
You're a gentleman and a scholar!

I think I found the Hornady Taper Crimp Die you were talking about.

I'll read up more on the case trimming.

Sorry about the formatting of my previous posts.
Link Posted: 1/27/2014 7:29:09 PM EDT
Top Top