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I’m interested in getting started into cowboy reloading. 

Progressive press style. Is the Lee progressive reloaders ok to use? I think Dilan are preferable in this game.

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I would say, if possible, find a mentor or club member that you help you out face-to-face.

 

also getting a reloading manual should be on your list of things to purchase early on.

 

We, the wire, will need to know if you'll be reloading just pistol caliber or both pistol and rifle caliber to steer you towards a reloading press

 

FWIW I reload pistol on Dillon SDB and what few rifle I shoot on a single stage.  Dillon 550s and 750s will do both rifle and pistol

 

let us know

cr

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Any single stage or progressive press  can turn out acceptable CAS ammo.  Many use Lee products.  I am pleased with my Dillon progressive presses.  BTW, I recommend you avoid reloading shotgun shells for now unless you want to shoot black powder.

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I'm not going to slam any makes, I'll just say that I found that I like Dillon the best, if you can afford them.  If you're only going to be doing straight walled cases then a Dillon Square Deal B is an easy to learn progressive machine and Dillon machines have a lifetime warranty.  Look around you can probably pick up a good used one at a reasonable price.  Or better yet post a WTB on this forum.

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Until you've familiarized yourself with the basics of metallic cartridge reloading, I suggest that you go with a single stage press.  It will get you accustomed to setting the dies up properly, and get you introduced to properly building the cartridge from the bottom up one phase at a time.  IMHO, you need to thoroughly understand the basics before jumping head first into a progressive set-up.  If you're dead set on Dillon, find a single stage that will accept Dillon dies, that way you can use them later as you progress.

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Dillon, Hornady, RCBS, Lyman, and Lee all make good reloading presses and all have outstanding customer support.

 

First thing is to buy the latest editions of he Lee and Lyman reloading manual and then read the sections on reloading. You will learn a lot and find out that you need a more than just a press to reload ammunition. Ask your local club and find someone who will mentor you starting out with the basics. If you get more than one offer take them all up on it. Ask a lot of questions. Your reloading requirements will heavily influence the make and style of press you buy.  Many shooters own a single stage as well as a progressive press. Some own several of both.

 

Once you start take your time and pay attention to the details. One little mistake can cost you a firearm, seriously injure you or a bystander. A simple mistake could even cost you or a bystander their lives. Done properly reloading is a safe low risk hobby that many shooters enjoy doing.

 

All progressive press function just fine loading one case at a time. Once everything is working to your satisfaction and you have a few hundred rounds of consistent quality ammo that you have tested on the range then think about loading more than one case into the machine at a time.

 

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15 minutes ago, Marshal Hangtree said:

Until you've familiarized yourself with the basics of metallic cartridge reloading, I suggest that you go with a single stage press.  It will get you accustomed to setting the dies up properly, and get you introduced to properly building the cartridge from the bottom up one phase at a time.  IMHO, you need to thoroughly understand the basics before jumping head first into a progressive set-up.  If you're dead set on Dillon, find a single stage that will accept Dillon dies, that way you can use them later as you progress.

 

I agree.  I started with the Lee hand loading kits and still have a shelf full of them.  I graduated to a Lee hand press and had all my reloading equipment plus powder, bullets and primers in one briefcase.  Then to a hand me down Hurters C press.  Then to a Lyman C press (my son still loading on it.) Then a Dillon 450.  Then a few years back added a second Dillon - a 550b.  Right now I have a Lee C press clamped to the bench next to the 450.  I've been using it to load 38WCF.  Jsut easier to use it rather than change out the 450 (that's set up for 38 Short Colt through 357 Magnum)  or the 550b. 

 

Here is my idea of q good starter kit. 

 

Lee Breech Lock Challenger Single Stage Reloading Press Kit 

 

https://www.grafs.com/catalog/product/productId/7524

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I’m only interested in 38 that we will be shooting at matches. 

Mice been around and helped with reloading most of my life with my dad. 

I was looking at the loadmaster but saw an upgraded 450 for sale. 

I just don’t want to regret buying one over the other.

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You don't need a brute press with ample leverage to reload 38s.  Any lightweight press can handle those cartridges.  So how much does the seller of the 450 want?

Edited by Edward R S Canby, SASS#59971
typo

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I shoot about four times a month and I load everything on a single stage RCBS that I have used for 40 years. I have no problem keeping up with supply and demand. I do not expect a lot of agreement as most people are set in their ways of doing things but I will give you my opinion for your consideration for what is worth.

 

If you spend very much time on the range you will see (and hear) a significant number of ammunition failures of all sorts. High primers, split casings, inconsistent powder charge, inadequate crimp of the bullet etc. When you use a progressive press there are multiple things going on with every pull of the handle and it can be difficult to detect when things are going wrong without a lot of inspecting of the finished product. A single stage press will let you feel and see what is happening in each step of the process.

 

If you have a high primer and you don't find it until after the bullet has been loaded over a charge, what is your next option? To try to seat the primer deeper on a loaded cartridge? You can feel a split or splitting case when you are resizing. You can feel the crimp which may not occur in a short casing.

 

Any of these issues could cost you 25 to 50 seconds in a match if the cartridge jams up the gun.

You should decide on the quality control you want to have control of especially when you're just starting out.
Just a thought.

 

 

 

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$300 for the 450, with the upgraded 550 package, dies and plates.

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^^^ other than shipping it's a good price

 

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Go with the D/550.

I've run one since 1987, and load 14+ calibers.

The Dillon will out last you.........

OLG

Edited by The Original Lumpy Gritz
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Any single stage press can eventually load shootable ammo.  However, if you continue to reload, you will most likely come around to a Dillon.   You won't truly appreciate that Dillon press unless you have struggled with something less for a while.

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I load (and started) with a Hornady LnL AP progressive press. When you first start, treat it like a single stage and just do one process at a time. Once you move to progressive, use a powder checker AND VISUALLY INSPECT INSIDE EACH CASE.

Long term, i wish i had gone with a dillon 650 (750 now), the hornady machines are fine and i produce great ammo but seem more finicky than the dillons, and getting setup for automation with a case feeder and such is definitely a bit more of a pain.

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Cowboy shooters have biases just like many shooters.

A TURRET Press is probably the best choice to get started in PISTOL caliber loading if you have never done any. They aren't much more expensive than a single stage and produce ammo in usable quantity.

If you plan the shoot more than once a month then a progressive press should be your next step up.

The most unbiased opinion I have ever read is here.  http://www.comrace.ca/cmfiles/dillonLeeHornadyComparison.pdf

 

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OP-Just 'cause you only load .38 now-

Doesn't mean it will stay that way.

Find someone in your club that has a D/550, and see if you can give it a try.

OLG

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The 1st press I bought was a Dillion XL650 basic with strong mount, tools & bullet tray.  After my 1st 500 45C I sprung for an automatic case feeder.  Most defective reloads occurred when refilling case feed tube (every 14th cartridge).  I probably have $2K in it with every upgrade except a bullet feeder plus a toolhead set-up with dies for every caliber I load except for 44SP, 44M, 300 Savage, 30-06.  Even if you use a progressive press you'll need a single stage or turret press to fix buggered reloads or do short runs.  Even with toolheads with dies for each caliber it takes me a minimum of 30 minutes to switch calibers that use the same primer feed size.  For single stage use Hornaday L-N-L or Lee breech-lock and buy bushings for each die.

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I think people make reloading more difficult then it should be.

 

Make it simple.

 

Buy a Dillon 750 and be done.

 

Progressive presses are easy...screw the single stage unless you have way more time then money.

 

Phantom

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If you think this is topic has a lot of opinions wait until you ask a powder question :lol:.  Just kidding the pards here all have their opinions based on what works for them and rightly so.  You have to find what works for you, either the hard way by trial and error, or the easy way, asking questions and having a mentor.  Either way it's a fun hobby but the best advice I've read so far is get a reloading book (Lyman's 50th) and read.  You're going to see at the front of the book they talk about what you'll need at a minimum and what's nice to have, the re-loader is only one piece.  Finding a place to work and put everything, getting all the equipment, setting up your dies all take time and thought.  Take your time, check and re-check everything while your loading and start out with a couple of small batches to see what you like.

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2 hours ago, The Original Lumpy Gritz said:

Go with the D/550.

I've run one since 1987, and load 14+ calibers.

The Dillon will out last you.........

OLG

What OLG said! I started with a 550 and we now have two. I will never need or want another press. My daughter read the manual and set up the second one by herself at 14. I think any adult should be able to figure it out. If you can read, you can use a progressive like the 550. READ READ READ. There are no mysteries to reloading. It's all in a good reloading manual. A good mentor cuts out a lot of fear in the process.

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1 hour ago, Phantom, SASS #54973 said:

I think people make reloading more difficult then it should be.

 

Make it simple.

 

Buy a Dillon 750 and be done.

 

Progressive presses are easy...screw the single stage unless you have way more time then money.

 

Phantom

 

The manual indexing of the 550 does have several advantages.

Just one example-Load'n .45-90 for my Shiloh.

I size and prime on stage #1-On stage #2, I then flare the case mouth. Do this for all the cases in that 'run'.

Remove case from press and ad BP off press and fiber OPW.

Now back to stage #2, with compression die in place. Stage #3 seat the bullet and the remove the case mouth flare on stage #4

OLG

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I started with a Lyman single stage "C" press... then my B-I-L gave my a RCBS Jr... the family then started shooting multiple matches a month.  I went to a couple of friends, one with a Square Deal Dillon, one with a Dillon 450.  I went to Dillon to order a 450, but they'd already replaced that with a 550, and had just started the 550-B, the guy on the phone convinced me the 550-B was a worthy upgrade over the 550.  So much so that some 20 years later, I bought a 2nd Dillon 550-B.

 

I've since replaced that RCBS Jr with a RCBS Rock Chucker (for loading longer rifle cartridges) and passed that RCBS Jr press on to another B-I-L.

 

I agree, a single stage will load lots of ammo, over a period of time, something most of us like to use for a myriad of other purposes.  The progressive will load just as good, quality ammo, and if one is paying attention, with few or no defects.  It will just do it in a much shorter period time. 

 

I always recommend that you buy a reloading guide for each powder manufacturer, Hodgdon's is online & includes IMR & Winchester powders, but, the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook (#4 is current), is probably your best resource to for CAS.  (As you're limited to cast bullets).

 

A mentor is the best option for learning to reload.  But, pick one with care...   Enjoy your new hobby!

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3 hours ago, Ace_of_Hearts said:

Cowboy shooters have biases just like many shooters.

A TURRET Press is probably the best choice to get started in PISTOL caliber loading if you have never done any. They aren't much more expensive than a single stage and produce ammo in usable quantity.

If you plan the shoot more than once a month then a progressive press should be your next step up.

The most unbiased opinion I have ever read is here.  http://www.comrace.ca/cmfiles/dillonLeeHornadyComparison.pdf

 

 

+100

If you buy a single stage make it a turret press.  You can swap put turrets when changing calibers. Depending on the model you may be able to load 2 or 3 calibers with one turret.

Edited by Sedalia Dave

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How many rounds a year do you think you'll be reloading? We only shoot about 3,000 a year and the Lee 4 hole turret does the job for us at a great price.

Edited by Marshal Chance Morgun

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During the shooter’s meeting at your next match announce that you would like to watch some of your fellow shooters reload their ammo. There will probably be a variety of presses available and you can schedule visits to the ones that interest you.  You should get several offers within easy driving distance and it will be time well spent.  

 

I watched a friend load on a Dillon 550, tried it and liked it, so I bought one 20 years ago.  Never felt the need to change.

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When my wife and I got into CAS about  7 years ago we bought an RCBS turret press.  We both shoot pretty much every weekend during the season (we live in Michigan) and have no problem with running out of loaded ammo.  We started out loading just .38 on it, but now use the same press for .45 Colt, .45 ACP, 9mm, .32 s&w.  Just had to buy the correct dies and shell holders. To keep it simple we also bought additional turrets so once the dies are set up we wouldn't have to do any swapping out of dies.  Each turret has space for 6 dies so we are able to load 2 calibers with one turret.  For example, the turret we use most is set up with 3 dies for 38 and 3 dies for 45 Colt. 

 

Our process is that we resize/deprime/prime with the first die for 100 empties.  Then turn the turret one notch and bell the 100 primed empties.  We drop powder from an RCBS Uniflow powder measure set for the correct charge (we have one set for each caliber we load).  We then double check by looking inside each cartridge to make sure there is powder in it and that it doesn't appear to be double charged.  Then set a bullet onto the cartridge.  Turn the turret another notch to the next die and set and crimp.  We can usually turn out 100 rounds in about an hour.  Not a super fast speed, but then again, we don't have to worry about too much or too little powder.  We also check for primer seating depth by giving each round a quick feel after priming.

 

We have found that that the "holders" (don't know what else to call them) that come with 45 acp cartridges are an ideal size for putting the primed and charged empties while looking inside (with a small flashlight) and for placing bullet onto the charged cartridge.

 

We've had a couple things break on our press (our fault) and RCBS was quick to replace them at no charge and no shipping charge.

 

I just now looked on-line and see that Midway has the deluxe press kit for $520.  The deluxe kit includes: 

  • Turret Press
  • Uniflow powder measure
  • Model 5-0-2 reloading scale
  • Nosler 7th edition reloading manual
  • Universal case load block
  • Case lube kit
  • Fold-up hex key wrench set
  • Primer tray-2
  • .17-.60 deburring tool
  • Powder funnel
Edited by Outrider Outlaw

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Great guys Thankyou. 

I already have a few reloading manuals. Just getting primed up to reload. 

 

I guess now, I’ll have to ask about powder and bullets. ;)

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Started with Lee Classic Turret, now use Hornady LNL AP. Love my Hornady;) Good Luck:) 

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Unique, Red Dot, Trail Boss, in that order is my preferences. As far as bullets go, a midweight RNFP in your caliber of choice. Easy.

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On 9/3/2019 at 1:01 PM, dannyvp said:

$300 for the 450, with the upgraded 550 package, dies and plates.

 

4 hours ago, dannyvp said:

I guess now, I’ll have to ask about powder and bullets. ;)

If the 450 is local (no shipping), jump on it.

 

There are at least 20+ suitable powders for .38 spl, and everybody has their favorite - Bullseye, W231, Red Dot, IMR Red, Clays, Clay Dot, Titegroup, American Select, 700X, Trail Boss, AA #2, Unique, etc. Most folks don't use a bullet over 125 grains in .38 spl - all lead or powder coated lead, of course, with a round nose, round nose flat point, or a truncated cone design.

 

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On 9/3/2019 at 3:31 PM, Badlands Bob #61228 said:

Any single stage press can eventually load shootable ammo.  However, if you continue to reload, you will most likely come around to a Dillon.   You won't truly appreciate that Dillon press unless you have struggled with something less for a while.

I started 30 years ago with a used Dillon SDB, it still runs strong today and only needed the powder measure replaced a couple years ago. I loaded 1000 38's for the Missus this weekend with a bad shoulder and 1000 pulls of the handle. With a single stage that would have been about 4000 pulls and my arm would not have made it and I'd still be down there on the machine. Dillon will willingly help with any set-up and adjustment issues and their videos and manuals are great. I once in a blue moon get a high primer these days and knock on wood have not had any fail to fires in 30 years. I do use a single stage for 30-30 & 45/70 however. JMHO    Do use and read some reloading manuals and get load data from Pards you know you can trust with experience.  Happy loading.

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21 hours ago, Sedalia Dave said:

If you buy a single stage make it a turret press.  You can swap put turrets when changing calibers. Depending on the model you may be able to load 2 or 3 calibers with one turret.


Is there any great advantage to a turret vs a set of dies in the lock-n-load adapters?
 

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32 minutes ago, bgavin said:


Is there any great advantage to a turret vs a set of dies in the lock-n-load adapters?
 

Depends on which turret.  Lee Classic Turret is auto incrementing (not progressive) and is easily changed to a manual turret(simulating a single station press) if you wish. Press only can be had for about $115 new. Then you need dies & powder measure like you would for many other presses.

Edited by Yusta B.

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