Because the sticky has dead links I am making a thread specifically for a new reloader. The goal of this thread is to help you understand the minimum equipment needed to get started. That alone is a tough enough question to answer because everyone has a different opinion on what is the minimum equipment required. I am going to use my experience as a pistol reloader as my guide. This is not designed for the person looking to do precision rifle or precision pistol. However, the basic setups I suggest will produce better ammo then what you normally buy at Wal-Mart so it’s still a great place to start. Because I make the assumption that you want to load in bulk I am going to only briefly discuss the single stage setup. Single Stage may be a great way to start but most bulk pistol shooters want more speed. I didn’t start with a single stage but to be fair, many people recommend a single stage as your first press. Even a progressive press can be run with one cartridge at a time till you get accustomed to the process. Only you can decide what is best for you. I want to avoid any type of “Press Wars” in this thread. I will highlight some basic strengths and weakness’ of each press, I am not going to shy away from recommending items I have personal experience with as a great option to start with as your first choice. I am going to try and not spend money foolishly but get items that I know work and have worked for most people based on their comments in this forum. You can always spend more but that’s a slippery slope I will try and avoid. First let’s start with non-press related items. Reloading Manuals. Get two preferably. Lyman has great manual. Many manuals are made by the Bullet manufactures so the data is geared towards their products. For a new reloader I recommend the Lyman as your first manual. Powder Scale. Get a good scale. Cheapest good scale I am willing to recommend is going to cost about $50. Most people buy a beam scale to start. I will recommend the Dillon Eliminator because it has a lifetime warranty, is made by Ohaus and is very well priced for its quality. Buy directly from Dillon and you get a Blue Press every month. Dillon, CED Pact and others all make good Electric Scales. I have tried some of the cheap electric scales and they are not worth the money. Expect to pay around $90 or more for a good electric scale. You will find many people have very different opinions about electric scales. I am not going to recommend one other then to say get a name brand and expect to pay about double the beam scale. Be sure you can plug it in and not rely only on batteries and that it has check weights. Dial Calipers. You will find a bunch of people sell Electric Dial Calipers that cost about $50. You will also find Harbour Freight sells what looks like the same thing for under $20. I got mine for under $20 at Harbour Freight and have been happy. You can get regular dial calipers cheaper but unless you are familiar with their use I am going to recommend the digital just to avoid user error. Bench. You are going to need a good strong bench. You can make your own or use a table. I have found it really helps to attach the bench to the wall to stabilize it. Also be sure to have excellent light on the press and the bench. You must be able to easily look in a case to see the powder and that requires good lighting. A good sitting height is 30-32 inch’s, standing is about 36-42 inch’s. Flip Tray. Dillon sells a nice one that I know works well. This item is not needed with the Lee Safety Prime used on the Lee Classic Turret. Midway USA has several options such as the Lyman, RCBS and MTM all have “Primer Turning Tray’s” and they are 1/3 the price of the Dillon. Dies. Dillon, Lee, and other all make good dies. Take my advice buy only one set of dies to start with and learn the process before you buy more latter. You can use Lee Dies on Dillon/Hornady presses. Get the Lee Deluxe Die set for pistol if you choose the Lee. They are carbide dies and you want carbide dies. Dillon and other dies cost more but they have some nice features Lee does not have. Functionally they all will work just fine. So don’t sweat it. I use Lee dies on my 550 and have one Dillon die. It’s just not that big a deal. You will find every Die maker sells their dies a little differently. Dillon Die Sets do not include the Powder die because that die is supplied with the press. Dillon includes a Sizing Die, Seating Die and Crimp Die. Lee 3 and 4 die sets both include a powder die that only works with the Lee Powder Measure (but can be used as a flaring die on the LnL). The Lee 3 die set does not include a Factory Crimp Die (FCD) or a dedicated crimp die. As with most 3 Die Sets the bullet seating die also crimps the case at the same time. Lee’s 4 die set includes a Factory Crimp Die which is a crimping die that also does a final resize of the cartridge to insure everything is in spec. Hornady sells you a Sizer, Seating/Crimp (Like a Lee) and a flaring die. With any 3 Die Set I would recommend that you get a separate crimp die and avoid crimping and seating the bullet at the same time. For those that don’t like the idea of resizing a completed round with the Lee 4 Die Set and the FCD, just get Lee’s Deluxe 3 Die set and add the proper crimp die for your caliber from Lee or someone else. Tumbler. I would recommend a tumbler. I didn’t start with one. I just wiped off each case by hand. It’s a PITA to do it like that and does not get any crud out of the inside of the case. You can wash the cases with water/vinegar and some soap. Then let them dry a really long time. This actually works pretty well if you have time to wait for them to dry. You would want to be sure all the water was out of the case before loading. That’s hard if the case is drying upside-down in a humid environment. I would plan on getting a tumbler sometime during your first year or less. Midway has a decent tumbler/shifter/bucket combo. I got the tumbler and just use a mesh laundry bag from Walmart to shift my scases out. Remember, the tumbler is the place with the most potential for lead exposure. Do all of these things outside. Press Design Let’s briefly talk about what a “station” is on a press. You will hear me and others talk about “It’s a 3,4,5 station press”. First let’s talk about what a press does to reload a typical pistol cartridge. 1) Resizes and de-primes the case 2) Primes case 3) Flares the neck to allow easy bullet insertion 4) Inserts powder in case 5) Inserts bullet 6) Crimps Bullet (removes flare is a better way to think about it). Most 4 station presses operate in the same way. 5 station presses can be configured a variety of ways. The primary reason for a 5 station press is a Powder Check Die to insure every case has powder. It’s still important to look in every case even with the powder check die. Here is the standard process of a 4 station press: Station 1. Resize/de-prime case on the down stroke, prime case at the end of the upstroke Station 2. Flare the case and insert powder Station 3. Seat bullet Station 4. Crimp/Remove flare Some 5 station press will give you an extra station after the flaring/powder drop for a powder check die. The LnL does not come configured like this from the start but it’s easy to set it up to work as a traditional 5 station press. For the record the Lee Load Master does not have room for a powder check die if you seat and crimp in separate stations. All right now the fun part. Let’s talk about presses. I am only going to list the presses that most owners have expressed good results with on this forum. Sorry, if your favorite is not listed but that’s the breaks. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Simply means people have reported more problems than with these other presses based on my perception. There may be “fixes” etc. but that’s not what this thread is about. This thread is meant to help you get into reloading with out a lot of hassle. I am trying to be objective but at the same time list the differences and issues so you can make a wise choice. I have personal experience with the Lee Classic Turret, Lee Load Master and the Dillon 550/1050. That’s it. Triming, Camfer and Primer Pocket Cleaning These things are not needed for most straight wall pistol calibers. Research things on your own if you are concerned. I know no one who does these things with 9mm, 40, .45. Single Stage Presses. Nearly everyone makes a good single stage. Hornady, Lyman, RCBS, Lee and Redding all have kits assembled with all the stuff you need to start reloading (reloading blocks, scales, etc). It’s going to be a lot slower then using any of my other options. But it’s a good way to start if you don’t mind going slow. I do mind going slow so I went another way. If you are going to reload on a single stage I recommend you get the Lyman Reloading Manual. Read it and then choose your kit based on your needs. Keep in mind that most kits come with varying level of quality in the accessories that come with the kits. Most the scales for instance are not as good as the Dillon I recommended before. The Lee scale in my own experience is particularly frustrating. Consider avoiding the Lee Kit and buying the parts individually. Yes, I dislike their scale that much. I have used two of them and they both were very unpleasant to use compared to a good scale. Low volume rifle shooters should really consider the single stage as their first press. Wanna kill these ads? We can help!