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Posted: 7/11/2003 8:38:56 PM EDT
The only reloading I've ever done is a little bit on my Dad's old MEC 20 ga reloading equipment. He had it all setup. I knew how to run the shells through, but knew nothing about powder, shot, primers and all that important kinda stuff. This is the limit of my reloading experience.

What I'm really interested in is reloading centerfire rifle/pistol - .223/5.56, 45ACP, 30-06 is what I primarily spend the most on. I've looked in the Cabela's book and BPS, and other places. Seems like there are about as many reloading tools/accessories as there are goodies for my AR. I don't really know where to start. The shot shell reloader I used was a progressive station with an automatic powder measure. You can crank them out. Is this the same? I've seen scales, scales and more scales. Do you have measure each round out? Seems like it would take next to forever to get many done?

I'm thinking about getting into this for 3 main reasons. Save money. Shoot more. Be better prepared to buy and support that 458 Socum upper I drool over (Damn you, Holeshot4 for letting me shoot it ).

As you can tell I am nearly clueless on this topic and would appreciate advice from the reloaders out there on how to get started and what to consider buying. I want to do it the right way with good equipment since I don't want to blow myself or my weapons up.
Link Posted: 7/12/2003 12:49:17 AM EDT
I've never managed to save any money reloading. It's just another expensive hobby.

Dennis Jenkins


Originally Posted By MissouriBob:
The only reloading I've ever done is a little bit on my Dad's old MEC 20 ga reloading equipment. He had it all setup. I knew how to run the shells through, but knew nothing about powder, shot, primers and all that important kinda stuff. This is the limit of my reloading experience.

What I'm really interested in is reloading centerfire rifle/pistol - .223/5.56, 45ACP, 30-06 is what I primarily spend the most on. I've looked in the Cabela's book and BPS, and other places. Seems like there are about as many reloading tools/accessories as there are goodies for my AR. I don't really know where to start. The shot shell reloader I used was a progressive station with an automatic powder measure. You can crank them out. Is this the same? I've seen scales, scales and more scales. Do you have measure each round out? Seems like it would take next to forever to get many done?

I'm thinking about getting into this for 3 main reasons. Save money. Shoot more. Be better prepared to buy and support that 458 Socum upper I drool over (Damn you, Holeshot4 for letting me shoot it ).

As you can tell I am nearly clueless on this topic and would appreciate advice from the reloaders out there on how to get started and what to consider buying. I want to do it the right way with good equipment since I don't want to blow myself or my weapons up.

Link Posted: 7/12/2003 5:38:18 AM EDT
I have been reloading for about 3 years now. I started with a Lee Precision Anniversary set (single stage press about $75) for 30-06. This past year I decided to get into pistol reloading and bought a Lee LoadMaster. I am not displeased with the Lee equipment (decent quality for the $$ spent). I have more than paid for both loaders in $$ saved by reloading. BTW - also check out Dillon loaders - better quality but much more $$ to get started.

On pistol (LoadMaster progressive), I just look at the powder in the case as it passes by to judge if it is correct. On single stage for 30-06 I handweigh every round and measure each length after seating (this may sound a bit over the edge but my targets say otherwise !)

Regards,
Paul
Link Posted: 7/12/2003 6:20:16 AM EDT

I've never managed to save any money reloading. It's just another expensive hobby.

Then you're not much of a reloader. No surprise there.
Link Posted: 7/12/2003 11:29:53 AM EDT
Who are you and what is your malfunction?

Dennis Jenkins




Originally Posted By Jim_Dandy:

I've never managed to save any money reloading. It's just another expensive hobby.

Then you're not much of a reloader. No surprise there.

Link Posted: 7/12/2003 11:49:09 AM EDT
The cost effectiveness in reloading depends on the quality of you intend to produce and the quantity and selection of components. If you're out to make cheap blasting ammo, the margin of savings is going to be very low unless you produce a whole lot of it. Some cartridges like 7.62x39 or .223 can be bought sometimes for less than what it costs in components. Depends on the cartridge and availability of ammo.

On the other hand, if you're shooting .300WM and are used to spending $12-$21 for a box of ammo, you're going to see an immediate cost savings in combination to ammo fine-tuned for your rifle and application.

The next question is how much hassle do you want /expect? You're going to pay either way, be it in time spent, or in equipment. If you're out to crank out as many rounds as possible in the shortest amount of time without hassle, you're initial startup cost is going to be much higher. The Dillons may look pricey for a first-timer, but everyone I know that has one is very happy.

Me? I have a single stage Rockchucker. I produce all my ammo in the winter when cabin fever sets in. I look at reloading as another time killing hobby.
Link Posted: 7/12/2003 3:41:30 PM EDT
Ditto with djenkins, Granted that I shoot more rounds, I still spend the same amount of money on shooting.

Bottom line is you will make more rounds per dollar reloading, but that just means that you will shoot more rounds per outing.
Link Posted: 7/12/2003 4:41:11 PM EDT
The main advantage to me is the ability to make my own ammo for somewhat unusual calibers like 7.5 Swiss, 7.5 MAS, 6.5 Carcano, and the kludge ammo for the Nagant revolver.

There's usually a problem of some sort with the commercial or surplus ammo in these and it sure is nice to be able to roll your own.

Especially since there is even brass with the right headstamps becoming available.

Kind of hard to save any real money if you buy Norma brass though. <G>

Dennis Jenkins



Originally Posted By Dano523:
Ditto with djenkins, Granted that I shoot more rounds, I still spend the same amount of money on shooting.

Bottom line is you will make more rounds per dollar reloading, but that just means that you will shoot more rounds per outing.

Link Posted: 7/12/2003 5:37:27 PM EDT
Bob, check your IM inbox.
Link Posted: 7/12/2003 10:46:13 PM EDT
I'm a "have to" reloader....I can't afford to shoot unless I do reload.
I don't like reloading, it's not a hobby I want to pursue, and I don't want to spend any more time or money on it than necessary.

This is what I recommend after doing it for 30 years.

1. Buy a progressive loader, preferably a Dillon. It'll handle anything from .25 Auto up to the largest African rifle rounds. Quality is high, service is EXCELLENT, price is good, ease of use is EXCELLENT, ease of conversion to different calibers is FAST, and setup is fast.
Quality of reloaded ammo is absolutely the best.
There are others, but Dillons the best.

2. Buy Dillon reloading dies. They work VERY well, and you don't wind up throwing the standard die set's expander die away. That die isn't needed in modern progressive loaders.

3. Buy a modern electronic powder scale. It's MUCH easier to use and more foolproof than the old balance-beam scales.

4. Stick to a couple of calibers to start. Add others only if you decide your actually going to shoot them enough to warrant the cost of dies and conversion kits.

5. Try to restrict the different types of powders to a few that work well for a large number of calibers. For pistol I use two: Bullseye for autos, Unique for revolvers. Both these are economical powders that go a long way. A pound of Bullseye will load a HUGE number of 45 ACP rounds. Investigate the different brands and types of powders and pick those that:
a. Cost less.
b. Have lots of loading data published on them.
c. Are economical in the amount needed. Bulky powders load fewer rounds per pound, but are more difficult to accidentally double charge a case.
Less bulky powders load more rounds per case, but you've got to watch your safety procedures to insure safe loads.

6. Always load lower-powered rounds. Loading data lists loads from the very lowest starting load to the hottest maximum loads. A load in the middle is known as a "Mid-range" load. These loads are usually more accurate than the hotter loads, easier on your gun, safer, and require less powder (cheaper).

7. Never load brass you find laying around at a shooting range. Who knows how many times it was fired, and what may be wrong with it.

8. When loading, PAY ATTENTION. Drift off, and things can get real dangerous the next time you go shooting.

9. For the cheapest pistol shooting, buy bulk lead bullets. The big suppliers have ads in The Shotgun News. Pick one nearest to you and do some competitive shopping on shipping charges.

10. Although the supply of much of it is drying up, US military brass is an excellent buy, and with a little extra work, makes great reloading brass. If you buy .308 or .223 try to make sure it's fired from rifles, NOT machine guns.

11. NEVER reload for friends, family, or anyone else. Something goes wrong, you're the goat.

12. Unless you take it up as a hobby or are trying to squeeze the last drop of accuracy out of a load, settle on one good bullet and load for each caliber, and stick with it. This makes life much simpler.

13. NEVER load defense ammo. In spite of what many people think, you can't load ammo that's as consistently reliable as factory premium defense ammo.

14. Unless it becomes a hobby, don't spend money on accessories or gadgets unless you really need them. After a short time reloading, you'll have a pretty good idea what's needed and what's not really necessary.

Link Posted: 7/13/2003 8:10:11 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Dano523:
Bottom line is you will make more rounds per dollar reloading, but that just means that you will shoot more rounds per outing.



That doesn't sound like such a bad thing.
Link Posted: 7/13/2003 8:49:13 AM EDT
Faris, Duke, all,

Thanks for the posts. Lots of good info and good advice. One of the reason I generally resist the urge to by weapons in something other than mainstream calibers is the cost of the ammo. Plus there is the simple fact that you can load if you need to. You've all given me some good places to start looking. Thanks!
Link Posted: 7/13/2003 10:48:01 AM EDT

13. NEVER load defense ammo. In spite of what many people think, you can't load ammo that's as consistently reliable as factory premium defense ammo.

That's not true. The reason for not loading defense ammunition is liability. Handloads can be just as reliable if not moreso than factory fodder. If you're capable of loading good range ammuntion, then there's no reason why you can't load for other needs as well. However, if you're using handloads for carry ammunition, you're definitely opening yourself up for possible civil and criminal liability in the event of a shooting.
Link Posted: 7/13/2003 10:51:26 AM EDT
As a law student about to take the bar exam, I agree with Jim_Dandy.

Think of the plaintiff's attorney accusing the defendant in closing arguments:

"Regular bullets weren't good enough for this twisted man. He made every bullet himself, from scratch, with loving care, and he made them even more deadly than bullets you can buy at the store. You, the jury, must decide whether to let this man go free, or to hold him accountable!!"

And I just made that up on the spur of the moment. A real lawyer with months to craft his final argument would bury you.
Link Posted: 7/13/2003 3:59:31 PM EDT
Duke,

I don't doubt that would happen for a minute, but that's skewed big time. That's like saying in a routine car crash "Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury (from my Perry Mason education) the assailant wasn't satisfied with a regular car. No! He had to purchase a car with front AND side airbags so as to minimize his own chance of injury as he flew into fits of mindless road rage!" Aren't you entitled to protect yourself to the best of your ability when attacked? If you can make better, more accurate reloads there would surely have to be a defence a jury would buy?

Back to more specific reloading another question if you don't mind. How many 45 ACP can you reload in a hour (measuring, not eyeballing)?
Link Posted: 7/14/2003 6:12:04 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Jim_Dandy:

I've never managed to save any money reloading. It's just another expensive hobby.

Then you're not much of a reloader. No surprise there.



A find this judgement harsh considering that a resonably honest statement was made here. You can save money reloading but if you buy good equipment and use premium components it will take time for the pay off. 38 special, 44 special and 45 auto using lead bullets are dirt cheap to reload but as mentioned you will shoot more than before thus eating up your savings. I just purchased another single stage press and other accessories to share duties with my two Dillon 550's. This will take a couple of years to see the payoff but time is on my side.

I would recommend reloading but only if you have the time to spare and think you would enjoy this activity. As mentioned also some caliburs are beyond reloading due to the price of ammo. The worst inventment made by me (other than buying Lee equipment), was buying dies and other components for 7.62x39. Buy quality equipment, order components in bulk, read up and follow proper reloading techniqes and the savings will come. For more specific help go to the reloading forumn under the General heading.
Link Posted: 7/14/2003 6:47:25 AM EDT

A find this judgement harsh considering that a resonably honest statement was made here.

Don't confuse honesty with ignorance.
Link Posted: 7/14/2003 10:03:20 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Jim_Dandy:

A find this judgement harsh considering that a resonably honest statement was made here.

Don't confuse honesty with ignorance.


J.D. Don't confuse making noise with making sense.
Link Posted: 7/14/2003 10:47:37 AM EDT

J.D. Don't confuse making noise with making sense.

Makes mucho sense, I can't help it if you and Denny need to take off your shoes to count and do the math.
Link Posted: 7/14/2003 12:54:20 PM EDT
I have to agree with (some of) the opinions above. Especially about the counter-intuitive assertation that reloading will not save you money. I find i have a mean amount of "mad Money" to blow every month. I could spend it all on ammo or i could sepnd it on reloading components. either way it gets spent, i just shoot a whole lot more.
Calibers i do: .380, .45, .38/357, And last but not least .44 magnum (where the effort really pays off).
Powders i like: unique, bullseye, H-110.
Because i use the .44 for hunting i usually spend more for premium bullets but the rest we just mould out of lead- cheap and effective.

And i mould all of the black-powder stuff. Really adds dimension to your load chain.
Link Posted: 7/14/2003 1:15:44 PM EDT
The key to saving money on "utility" calibers is to buy components in bulk. For example, I can load a thousand rounds of 115 FMJ 9mm for just under $100 versus $117 (with tax) for an equivalent amount of Wal-Mart Winchester Value Packs. If I turn around and buy my components on the order of say three thousand rounds or more, the price per thousand rounds of 9mm drops to about $90. That comes out to about $270 for three thousand rounds of handloaded ammunition versus $353 for an equivalent amount of factory loads.

Rifle calibers work the same way, but real savings can be realized through "recycling" the brass. Amortize bulk virgin 7mm-08 brass across five or six loadings and you'll see what I mean.

I'm able to reload specialty shotshell loads, like 7/8 ounce high-velocity 12 gauge, for about the same cost (sometimes less) than promotional loads. Again, amortize the cost of the hulls across several loadings.

If you're buying your components in quantities of say fifty rounds or less, then no, you probably won't save much if any money. You'll have the opportunity to tailor ammunition to your gun, but you're not seeing the full benefit of handloading.
Link Posted: 7/14/2003 10:24:05 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/14/2003 10:29:32 PM EDT by -Duke-Nukem-]
Missouri Bob I find that my Dillon 550B holds its calibrations very well. Once I have everything set to begin cranking away, I usually check the powder measure every 50 rounds just to make sure, but honestly it's never moved more than 1/10th of a grain on me, ever, which for the plinking .45acp I'm loading makes practically no difference. When handloading for .308 I measure out powder one at a time to the hundredth of a grain, so it takes alot longer.

On pistol calibers, checking my calibrations every 50 rounds, I average about 100 rounds an hour. I could probably go faster but that's a comfortable speed for me and it has proven to be a safe speed. My USP Tactical has over 3200 rounds of reloads through it since last January and it still looks brand new, and I still have all my fingers, and that to me is worth a little extra time.

EDIT: And about the legal argument thing, I'm not saying that its necessarily a persuasive argument that would definitely sway a jury, but its an argument that will be made. Frankly you will be demonized quite enough by the opposing lawyer just for being a gun owner and just for not dying like a good little victim would have. By the way, if you ever have to shoot anyone, in ANY circumstance, make sure you shoot them until they are dead dead dead dead. My advice is to unload the gun on them, reload the gun and then scan for additional threat. It is much better to have your lawyer explain away the additional rounds expended on a threatening target than to have the perp sitting in the courtroom across from you, paralyzed, in his lawyer's-supplied suit and tie, looking like he's the victim and you're the bad guy for assuming that he was going to hurt you just because he was in your house asking to borrow some butter. Anyway, we can chat about that stuff in a different thread. My home defense ammo is Speer Gold Dot +P, which happens to be what the police dept. in my area carry as their duty ammo, so my lawyer can point out that the police routinely carry and use the same ammunition that I used in the defensive shooting. The connotation between the police and myself, using the same equipment, can only help me.
Link Posted: 7/15/2003 6:53:09 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/15/2003 7:04:20 AM EDT by ken_mays]
In order to keep this short and not repeat much of what has been said, here's what I recommend.

1) Buy a Dillon 550B. A great general purpose progressive.

2) Invest in an electronic powder scale. Eliminates a lot of frustration.

3) You can use whatever dies you wish, I use Lee, Dillon, and RCBS with pretty good results.

4) Since setting up the 550 for new calibers can get expensive, get a Lee Anniversary kit for those low volume rounds, like 7mm mag, etc. All you have to do is buy the dies ($20), and you are ready to go.

5) Buy powder and primers locally if possible to avoid the hefty HAZMAT fees.

I disagree about not saving money reloading. I see a big benefit: you don't have to drop a couple hundred bucks at a time. To get the best prices on ammo you have to buy in bulk, preferably 1000 rounds. This is usually well over $100 for whatever ammo we are talking about. When you reload you can spread this money out over the components. $30 for 1000 bullets, $17 for 1000 primers, $15 for a pound of powder (less if you buy the big kegs).

I know for a fact I was spending a lot more money when I was buying a couple cases of ammo every few months. I may not be saving a huge amount of money, but its impact on my checkbook is definitely lighter when you can stagger your component purchases.

Also there are a couple of intangible benefits from reloading that are rarely mentioned. First, I no longer worry about how much ammo costs when I am considering buying a gun. It all costs about the same now, i.e. cheap. Second, convenience. I most always have the stuff on hand to whip out a couple hundred rounds of whatever, so I've eliminated those last minute side trips to Wal-Mart or wherever to pick up ammo. Spending a half hour or so to churn out some ammo is a small price to pay to avoid the crowds and hassle. Of course I still have to remember to put all the necessary ammo in the car, which is often a bigger problem than it sounds like.
Link Posted: 7/15/2003 9:29:39 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/15/2003 9:37:16 AM EDT by MissouriBob]
More good info.

--Dillon (especially 550B) good. Lee - mixed reviews.
--Can save money if you do things the right way (volume purchasing, avoid interstate shipping taxes on powder, re-use brass, etc).
--Can save significant money on less common calibers. (this will hopefully be 458 Socom for me someday). I will have to add that it is worth something to me to avoid driving across town looking for the best deals on ammo. Sometimes it is hard to find what I want in any quantity. Last shoot I went 4 places to find two boxes of 45acp.
--Loading your own means shooting more. Gotta like that.
--And if I ever shoot anyone in self defense make sure they are dead dead dead. Got it.

Seen the Dillon RL550B in .45Auto for $329. Is that a decent price?

What's the average cost in equipment to add a new caliber?
Link Posted: 7/15/2003 10:32:51 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/15/2003 10:34:05 AM EDT by ken_mays]
I believe Dillon sells it with one die set (your choice) for $329.

To add a new pistol caliber:

Dies (carbide) = $40 or so
Shellplate + case expander = $35

Dedicated toolhead and powder die are optional but recommended, because they let you keep the dies all set up and you just swap the toolhead in when you want to reload for that caliber.

Dedicated toolhead = $13
Dedicated powder die = $7

For rifle calibers, the cost is basically the same with the exception of the dies. Carbide is not necessary, so I generally buy the Lee dies ($20).

There are also some accessories that are handy to have (not necessarily Dillon) listed in order of importance.

Reloading manual $20
Dial calipers $20
Primer flipper tray $5
Tumbler and sifter $50
Dillon bench wrench: $6
Bullet puller $20



Link Posted: 7/15/2003 2:10:00 PM EDT
And electronic scales I assume. What about a case trimmer? Looks like roughly $550 for equipment to do two types. Then supplies to get going.

Anyone buy the shot once brass. Looks like it's about a 1/3 the price of new.
Link Posted: 7/15/2003 3:32:10 PM EDT
I like LC brass for my .223 loading. BUT, the aggravation of reaming pocket primers to remove the military crimp is just too much. For a mere $10 more per 1000 rnds, I get the prepped brass from www.gibrass.com (Jeff Bartlett). I figure it is worth it to have someone else do this nasty chore. So, I end up paying about $40/1000 for once fired brass that is ready to load.

I find no advantage to ordering primers, just pick the up at the local shop. I do buy powder several cannisters at a time. Find friends who reload the same cal, settle on a powder, and order awhole case. The pulldown or new powder from Bartlett is good, but lately I have been using AA2230C from Natchez Shooters Supply, $60/cannister. If kept cool and dry, and well sealed, it will last a while.
Link Posted: 7/15/2003 3:47:45 PM EDT
The Lee case trimmer does a creditable job for the few bucks it costs. You buy the cutter and mandrel, and I believe the caliber-specific parts are like $5.00 for each caliber, at least that was what I paid the last time I bought any.

I highly recommend coming up with a way to automate using it though. I used an electric drill until I got my lathe, which makes it easier.
Link Posted: 7/15/2003 5:04:10 PM EDT
A safety question. I've been scouting out where I can set this up. It's the basement or the garage. I worry about neighborhood kids getting into things in the garage so would prefer the basement. It might be a dumb question, but how far from the furnace/hot water heater do I need to be?
Link Posted: 7/15/2003 6:08:21 PM EDT
Wow, I'd keep it as far away from any open flame as possible. You'll spill gunpowder periodically, and, well, a Glock factory did kill 3 people earlier this week with a powder explosion...
Link Posted: 7/15/2003 8:40:47 PM EDT
Hmmm. Maybe garage with some sturdy cabinets with locks? How would the heat/cold affect things? I imagine the garage could hit 115 in the summer and 20 or so during the winter.
Link Posted: 7/15/2003 9:02:27 PM EDT
Its not heat or cold that matters so much as open flame imho. Hopefully some other people will chime in on this as well.
Link Posted: 7/16/2003 5:03:16 AM EDT
I have my reloading setup in the garage, which is open much of the time, and the climate here is much like yours. As long as you keep the lid on the powder cans, you shouldn't have a problem. I don't have a secure area where I store my powder, but I don't have any children and I don't keep that much powder anyway. Harbor Freight among others sells a steel wall mounted cabinet that can be locked, for around $50. I would take a good look at something like that. You can see some photos of my reloading bench at my page.

www.geocities.com/kemays
Link Posted: 7/16/2003 11:39:29 AM EDT
My .02 on storage and buying. a little while back i ran a topic asking about a used (busted) fridge for storage, a couple of people have them and they work fine. I got me one and it works great for powder and and primers. controls temp and humidity, and the two compartments let you store primers separate from powder. Now add a hasp for a padlock and you will really be ahead and safe. On buying, GREAT comments by everybody, keep in mind that some retailers will let you mix powders and primers under one hazmat charge, others will pay your hazmat charge if you buy more than x pounds. Natchez shooters supply and T&T reloading will do the above to one degree or another. it pays to buy bulk, even on primers if you do it this way. You may have to spend some $$$ to get a deep discount, but powder that is properly stored keeps, i have powder 10+ years old and it works just fine. Plus you will have a leg up on future "arsenal control" legislation. Welcome to the world of roll your own.
Link Posted: 7/16/2003 6:46:35 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ken_mays:
I have my reloading setup in the garage, which is open much of the time, and the climate here is much like yours. As long as you keep the lid on the powder cans, you shouldn't have a problem. I don't have a secure area where I store my powder, but I don't have any children and I don't keep that much powder anyway. Harbor Freight among others sells a steel wall mounted cabinet that can be locked, for around $50. I would take a good look at something like that. You can see some photos of my reloading bench at my page.

www.geocities.com/kemays



Wow! I thought my garage was packed. Thanks for the pics.
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