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Reloading question for beginner


Collier Kid

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2 minutes ago, Muley Gil SASS # 57795 said:

I feel that ANY reloading beginner should start with a single stage press. Learn the basics first, then go for speed.

More mistakes can happen with a Single Stage than an Auto Indexing Progressive press.

 

;)

 

Phantom

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I have a single stage Lee, a turret press Lee and a Dillon 750.  I think it comes down to what is within your means and supports your wants.  You can limit the Dillon to loading one round at a time for the learning process.  A single piece of brass is easy to control and watch through the stages to get the hang of it.  My guess is that after about 25 rounds of 38 specials you’ll be ready to go and fill the brass loader up and get busy.

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Keep your eyes open for a used Dillon 550.  They pop up for sale occasionally and can be had at a reasonable cost.  If you happen to get one cheap that needs work, Dillon will rebuild to like new condition.  You’ll get a great machine that can be used for reloading a bunch of cartridges for decades and solid factory support behind it.  Dillon 550s are all that I have used for the past 40+ years and have two of them set up with case feeders. 
 

Whatever you buy, buy quality.  Going cheap will eventually cost more.  Based on my past experiences, that puts Lee out of the running.

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IMO, the perfect starter press is either the Dillon Square Deal or a 550C.  I started reloading on a RCBS Jr and upgraded to a 550B in 1987  (IIRC the 650 was introduced a year later) when I started supplying 3 shooters.  The Dillon was recommended to me by two shooters I trusted and both offered me the opportunity to try before I bought by using their setups.  One was a Square Deal and the other had a 450 (replaced by the 550 by the time I purchased).  I've since bought a second 550 so I have one machine set up for large primers and one for small.  I had never used carbide dies until I bought the Dillon.  And, it wasn't strictly necessary, still isn't.  But, it will add a step to your reloading by either using a lube pad or spray lube.  I still don't own a case or bullet feeder, don't see the need for my use.  IMO, the only necessary items needed besides the machine and dies (caliber conversion kit) are:

Primer flip tray

powder scale

Dial caliper

 

Everything else is simply "nice to have."   One of those is multiple primer tubes.

 

I also recommend finding someone to act as a mentor,   Check with your club and ask if anyone would be willing... preferable more than one person with diverse equipment so you can see 1st hand how they work and what fits with your budget, needs or simply wants.  Ignoring your "want" will only lead to dissatisfaction.  The 550 can be pushed to load ~500 rounds/hour, but I can leisurely load 350 rounds in an hour.

Edited by Griff
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im a fan of the turret press for our game - i load with an older lyman orange crusher , i like to hanb prime , hand dip and i enjoy the stage by stage process of each individual cartridge , ive also been casting bullets with friends but mostly i buy [ttry scarlet's] i feel its close to how they would have done it back then with enough of a modern twist , i like control of each one i load , but thats for the revolver and rifle , im currently and always have ,loading both 45 and 38 that way , 

 

the 12ga is different as i use it for more than just this , ive recently upgraded to a poncess-warne , you can crank out a lot of rounds in a short time with a decent progressive 

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I load many thousands of rounds in several calibers a year on my trusty Hornady L&L AP. Not a big fan of the quick die change feature but the machine works great. Special calibers are handled by an RCBS Ammo Master and an ancient Reloader Special gets a little exercise once in a while. Throw a MEC Size Master in to handle 12 gauge and 4-10 bore and I’m covered. When your arsenal expands to several cartridges you may find more than one press is needed to get the features you need.  

 

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1 hour ago, Buckshot Bear said:

 

I have had a Lyman 6 stage turret price for 30+ years and even though I have the Dillon, the Lyman gets a steady workout. 

thats what i have as well , i was given it when i first started SASS by a good friend , my dies are set and every winter i reload everything shot the previous year , ive got enough brass to shoot a couple years without but id rather have everything loaded and ready in case , they lyman has served me well , the rock chucker covers the 4570 in a similar fashion except having to switch out the dies every stage , thats a pain , but ill not be switching as i dont shoot enough of those 

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Most of my loading [probably 90%+] is done on my Dillon 550. But my old 3 hole Lee turret is still in use for all my rifle and odd-ball milsurp guns. You can get the entire Lee Turret set up for about $300 and it is a great way to get started, and extra turrets are under $15 each, far less than the conversion kits for Lee presses, especially the SDB.

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I started with a Lee Pro over 20 years ago and went to a Dillon 650 after experiencing too many issues with the Lee. A Dillon 550 base machine is a viable starter and can be upgraded as you can afford it. It isn't progressive, yet is popular with many folks. I like Lee carbide dies with their Factory Crimp Die. 

Don't be in a rush to buy something since money is a big concern for you.

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13 hours ago, Stump Water said:

Lee turret: How do you guys that have loaded "thousands of rounds" keep the dang thing indexing?  Do you have a box of the plastic collets (or whatever it's called) that rides up and down the "corkscrew" rod and "indexes" the tool head?

 

As someone said earlier.  Toss the indexing components and the Lee turret works as a single stage w/o die swap out.  BUT, for me it's pistol caliber only (.44 Mag and .38 S&W) because there's too much slop in the tool head for bottle-neck rifle reloading.

 

And before you accuse me of Lee bashing... I've been reloading on a Lee single stage (now called Challenger) since 1986.  Everything - including pistol calibers.  That is until I started CAS.  Then I bought two Lee turrets because I needed more throughput.  IMO they are junk.

 

Now running two Dillon 650s... and still the Lee single stage for anything that requires accuracy better than minute-of-steel-plate.

 

 

ETA:  The Lee Auto Bench Prime is junk too.

 

I haven't loaded as much as some on mine but I bet I'm up over 5k by now. I still have the original plastic index piece. I keep the tool head oiled up and it indexes super smooth and easy. 

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13 hours ago, Muley Gil SASS # 57795 said:

I feel that ANY reloading beginner should start with a single stage press. Learn the basics first, then go for speed.

 

Can't disagree with Muley.  In the mean time you might come across a pard selling a used one at a good price although these things seem to hold their value.

 

As for the Lee Turret, I have to be at 3-5000 and I have not had to replace the plastic indexer yet.  I have an extra but if I had to find it ....  If I destroy the plastic piece it will be because I was manually indexing with it installed because I was too lazy to take it out.  The nice thing about the turret for me is they stay mounted and stored on the plate and you just drop the plate in and start quickly.  In the volumes I run the setup time is a significant part of the time.  And yes, Mister Badley is right when he says to have a light shining down so you see the charge.  For my 38SPL Cowboy loads of Titegroup the loads are kinda small and not easy to see.

 

I'll dance with the girl I brung.  The money saved may get me a better girl and that won't be a reloader (tool) but one of the toys the reloader feeds   :-)

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14 hours ago, Stump Water said:

Lee turret: How do you guys that have loaded "thousands of rounds" keep the dang thing indexing?  Do you have a box of the plastic collets (or whatever it's called) that rides up and down the "corkscrew" rod and "indexes" the tool head?

 

As someone said earlier.  Toss the indexing components and the Lee turret works as a single stage w/o die swap out.  BUT, for me it's pistol caliber only (.44 Mag and .38 S&W) because there's too much slop in the tool head for bottle-neck rifle reloading.

 

Easy. I have extra parts. They actually last longer than you might think. Those little plastic square "collets" is a part I've changed maybe 3 times over the thousands of pulls my Lee has on it.

 

As for the Lee Turret and bottleneck rifle cases I have no idea as I do not load bottle neck rifle. Pistol and straight wall rifle only for me.

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15 hours ago, Buckshot Bear said:

Buy once cry once....Glad I've got a XL650 with all the bells and whistles. 

 

All depends on need.

 

I've yet to even remotely regret the Lee Turret.

 

Now, if I was to be needing to reload a high volume of 9mm or 38 Special for lots and lots of CAS, etc I have no doubt a Dillon would be a better choice.

 

For my current reloading needs the Lee Classic Turret is perfect.

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14 hours ago, Mister Badly said:

I use a Lee 4 hole turret press. I've never had a bad round. I use a light to see the powder charge which is extremely consistent. 

I consider this an essential feature on a press lacking a powder lockout die.  If loading without a lockout die, I stop and verify every case has powder before proceeding.  Sometimes powder measures don't drop a charge.  You don't want to be the shooter who needs a squib rod at a major march.

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I began reloading in the summer of 1972...…yes there was smokeless powder way back then.  I have never looked back.  I was a skinny kid in high school who worked  most of a summer to buy a RCBS Rock Chucker Kit and some components for my .357 Blackhawk.  I still use that press for large rifle loads and  blue one for pistol calibers.  Buy what works for you and jump in.  Unless you have a lot of money for factory ammo, it is the only way to go.  Talk to folks, read everything that you come across and calculate your savings.  There is so much information out there these days there is no reason to not become highly educated on the topic.  

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Buy once, cry once - CAS

It never costs more to go first class - father in law, what can I say to that?  Last ticket I bought in business cost 5x what coach did.

Pay twice as much for a tool as you can afford -  dumb a__ Boss...   I think he meant buy good tools that last.  I bought Craftsman when it was a wear tool, not SnapOn

You only get what you pay for - father in law ....and usually less.

They have to make $ too - Mom, but they don't have to make it all on me.

I'm on a fixed budget - retirees, yea me too you think I just go and tell the boss I want more?

 

Yea, I'm cheap.  Want and Need are too different things.  I understand payback analysis and fit for use.  I understand opportunity cost, the $2000 I saved on that Lee Load All turns into $4000 in 7 years, 8000 in 14.  Expensive 'investments' sitting around not getting used (Making $) makes me sick.

 

I had a president once, rich man, drove a Ford Ranger, he asked me to help him pickup a new lawn tractor with him.  I expected to go to the SImplicity, Cub, JD Kubota dealer.  We went to Tractor Supply and probably paid 1/3 what some of his employees paid for an equivalent tool.  I asked 'Boss, why not a brandname'.  Answer, last one lasted me over 10 years.  

 

Read the book 'The Millionaire Next Door'.  They buy cars used and by the lb and suits at Sears.  Live in their original house, paid off.  THey don't need to impress anyone.

 

Did I value my time when I bought my reloading equipment?  No, I didn't.  It is kind of therapeutic like mowing the grass.  If I was a professional skeet shooter would I have something productive?  Sure would but they probably get free stuff.

 

My stuff seems fit for use.  If I had a chance to buy better used for a slight premium I would have.

 

I have 'Buyers Remorse' before the ink is dry.  Just me.

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You can get a Hornady lock and load progressive press for less than $600 complete, add dies and shell plate and a little electronic powder scale for another $100 and your set to go, I reload 300 to 400 An hour on that press and the only extras I added was a RCBS powder lockout die to prevent squibs

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I agree with Lumpy and Muley.  New reloaders should start with a single stage. There’s no book or video that compares to having a mentor that can show you the ropes.  If you do start with a progressive, be very deliberate and careful setting it up. Lots of ways to ruin your gun or your face because of careless reloading. 
 

I use a Hornady progressive because I wanted at least five spots to include a powder cop or powder lockout die. Natchez Shooter Supply had them on sale. 

Edited by sarcasmn
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9 minutes ago, sarcasmn said:

... If you do start with a progressive, be very deliberate and careful setting it up. Lots of ways to ruin your gun or your face because of careless reloading. 

Totally agree and I'm still just collecting brass. Have everything else except a press.

 

Also  have a very accurate scale for weighing cartridges, and will not start without a mentor. I do not like the idea of any gun I have blowing up in my hands near my face!

 

I'm an engineer, I know the math. It is real.

 

However you might break up the chemistry between different compounds, the energy is well understood. This is one view:

 

Chemistry-of-Gunpowder-v3.png?w=2340&ssl

 

 

Move the chems around for smokeless, they are still the same chems and the energy is still predictable. It goes bang. Smokeless does go bigger banger for a given amount.

 

Please consider this advice from  seriously not an idiot before  I reload anything, Any change in primer, powder, bullet, even the case can make a difference in a bigger bang. Or a smaller bang, do not load squibs! The round after a squib will also blow up your gun in your hands next to your face.

 

Just suggesting you learn too much before you start reloading, agreeing have a mentor with you, and follow a known formula, You will then be fine. Don't just crack open a book and go for it.

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I am one who doesn’t subscribe to start on a single stage to learn.  If you know you are going to do higher volume pistol rounds, skip the single stage and buy a Dillon or Hornady.  Dillons are great presses, but they get really expensive fast if you do multiple cartridges.  In that case the Hornady can be a better choice.  Cheaper for multiple cartridges.   I fall into the second camp as I do 38 spl, 44 spl, 45 acp, 38 super, 380, 9mm and more.  
 

if you are going to reload rifle rounds, then a single stage is always a good choice.  Since you have to lube and trim length, unless you are using a 1050 with auto trim, you will be taking brass in and out of the press anyway.  This greatly reduces the efficiency of a progressive press.  I still use my single stage regularly for rifle rounds.  Pistol are done on a Hornady and shotshell on a pw.  Wish I hit sprung for the spolar.   

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On 11/21/2023 at 9:42 AM, Edward R S Canby, SASS#59971 said:

I consider this an essential feature on a press lacking a powder lockout die.  If loading without a lockout die, I stop and verify every case has powder before proceeding.  Sometimes powder measures don't drop a charge.  You don't want to be the shooter who needs a squib rod at a major march.

thats why i charge every cartridge individually , i dont use that on my loader , i dont like the thought of not knowing and i hate the hassle of checking , ive not found it inconveinent to hand prime nor hand charge the cases , i just enjoy my time reloading - im in no hurry , 

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On 11/20/2023 at 4:31 PM, Stump Water said:

Lee turret: How do you guys that have loaded "thousands of rounds" keep the dang thing indexing?  Do you have a box of the plastic collets (or whatever it's called) that rides up and down the "corkscrew" rod and "indexes" the tool head?

 

 

I use a LEE turret press that I've had since the mid 1990's.  I don't load thousands of rounds a month but probably thousands of rounds every quarter (:)) and only have used 2 maybe 3 of those indexing squares.  I never seem to have a problem with them wearing out.  Guess I'm lucky.

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Mully Gil took the very thought I have. If first starting to reload get a single press. I like RCBS but that is not a closed conversation. Trying to learn basics and all the ‘oh by the way’ on a progressive can be overwhelming. Also, I find I use the single as the most used loader for all the special loads needing a bit of precision.  Also, I might add, I have many many Hornady quick change bushings to facilitate rapid die changes. I guess my suggestion at this point is get a good single press. I have a 1050 with complete heads for mass loading 38/45acp/ and 45 colt.  My first progressive was a Hornady LNL which is good for loading non SASS stuff. And lastly, in MHO, get good quality dies. Lee makes some stuff for processing IE: sizing bullets, bulge busting but hard to go wrong with RCBS, Lyman and Dillon goes without saying. Hard to condense reloading in a paragraph but most of the folks here are better than any salesman in a store, so I would take in all you can and ask if you don’t understand.

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I wanted to add a quote I sometimes use;

“HELP, I have ordered some Dillon caliber conversions and fallen into debt and can’t get out”

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Okay, one thing I will preach on...get the Lee Reloading Manual and read it first. It is so clear at explaining clearly how to begin reloading. Almost every reloader I know, whatever equipment they use, either has the manual or gave theirs to a beginner reloader.

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1 hour ago, Fallon Kid said:

Mully Gil took the very thought I have. If first starting to reload get a single press.

More prone to making mistakes.

 

There is no benefit to staying with a single stage press. You can make more mistakes on a single stage press than a progressive.

 

Tell me how I'm wrong.

 

Phantom

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1 hour ago, Fallon Kid said:

I wanted to add a quote I sometimes use;

“HELP, I have ordered some Dillon caliber conversions and fallen into debt and can’t get out”

Ahhhhh... The true catalyst for your precious post.

 

:lol:

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I guess a question that has not been asked, “how many reloaders do ya know that started with a progressive press?” 

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12 minutes ago, Fallon Kid said:

I guess a question that has not been asked, “how many reloaders do ya know that started with a progressive press?” 

I did for shotshell.  I later added a single stage for my tungsten hunting loads, but I can’t imagine doing any volume on a single stage, 5 or 6 pulls per round vs 1 round per pull.  When I was shooting 300 rnds per week, have to use a progressive.  

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On 11/20/2023 at 4:35 PM, Collier Kid said:

I've been looking at the Lee products because of the price range. I've got kids ranging from about to go to college and one still in diapers so I have to get the most bang for my buck.

And another thing to consider -- I started with a single stage Lee and used that for  20 years until last year when I bought a used Dillon Square Deal from a friend for about $300.  I spent alot of time on the LEE single stage which kept me away from the kids. With ANY progressive system you will have more time time for the kids!

So you are wise to think about a progressive press from the beginning. ( you can use this to help justify the purchase!)

Edited by River Jordan, SASS 18742
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The “compromise” press would be the Dillon 550 . You can use it as a single stage or a progressive. It’s fairly affordable and if you decide it, or all of this was a mistake you’ll have no problem selling it. I own Dillon , RCBS, Redding and Lee . They all have their quirks. I used to look down on Lee until I used a couple of their presses “APP & Six pack”. There’s no denying they’re cheaper, but there’s no denying they have served many people well. As well as frustrating a few. But that being said I have met people that have had problems with just about every manufacturer, along with fans of every brand. There’s always going to be more complaints about progressive presses because there’s just more to go wrong. 
The more complicated the press is the more patience is needed to get it running correctly. The priming system is where most people have problems with a progressive from any manufacturer. 
If you are strictly looking to load handgun cartridges and want to do it as fast and cheaply as possible I have a hard time finding fault with your original choice of the six pack pro . 
There’s a FB group for the six pac along with some good information on the high road forum 

https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/best-practices-checklist-for-more-reliable-operation-of-six-pack-pro-pro-6000-kit.913577/.

Welcome to reloading, do it safely have patience and enjoy the journey. And hoard primers and powder, lots of primers and powder :) 

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10 hours ago, Fallon Kid said:

I guess a question that has not been asked, “how many reloaders do ya know that started with a progressive press?” 

 

Seriously, you said with conviction that if you're starting reloading you should start with a single stage press. 

 

why?

 

You do know that you load one round at a time with a progressive... So please tell us why starting with a SS press is so much simpler... Safer... Whatever it is 

 

Phantom

 

 

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10 hours ago, Fallon Kid said:

I guess a question that has not been asked, “how many reloaders do ya know that started with a progressive press?” 

I did. 
 

I had zero reloading experience. I used a bubble level to check my OAL against a ‘sample’ bullet. I’m as far from ‘handy’ as you can get. I don’t even go beyond taking the side plates off my ‘73s when cleaning them because I’m worried I won’t be able to put them back together.

 

Yet I had no trouble loading on a progressive press.

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