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Newbie Start Equipment Cost Save Single Progressive Press Manual Thread

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Steve Koski, Jan 25, 2006.

  1. Steve Koski

    Steve Koski Got Insurance? Millennium Member

    Jan 31, 1999
    Dear reloading newbies (we were all newbies once),

    If you're serious about reloading, consider buying and reading a reloading manual first (Lyman, Hornady, Speer, Sierra, Lee, etc.) This $15 investment will be a valuable resource for years to come.

    Here are some videos to wet your whistle:

    Basic Process:
    Whirlwind tour - pistol ammo: [ame=""]YouTube[/ame]
    Slow tour - rifle ammo: [ame=""]YouTube[/ame]

    Minimum Equiment:
    [ame=""]Basic Reloading - Part 1 Equipment - YouTube[/ame]

    Working Up a Load

    Factory Crimp Die:

    Single Stage Press:
    Rifle: [ame=""]Reloading: Single Stage Press. Part 1 - YouTube[/ame]
    Pistol: [ame=""]Reloading 45ACP with the Lee Press - YouTube[/ame]

    Turret Press:

    Progressive Press:
    [ame=""]reloading 200 rounds 30 mins RL550B - YouTube[/ame]
    [ame=""]Dillon XL650 Loading 45 ACP (HD) - YouTube[/ame]
    [ame=""]Hornady LNL-AP Reloading Press Overview - YouTube[/ame]
    [ame=""]Reloading .223 5.56 on Dillon 550b 400 rounds an hour - YouTube[/ame]

    Die Setup:

    Startup costs:

    Cost of reloads (9mm in this example):

    Free Reloading Cost/Payback Spreadsheet

    Reloads for Carry/Self Defense?

    Can I shoot lead bullets in my Glock?

    Need help or tips with your Lee Loadmaster?

    Tips for Hornady LNL AP Users Here!

    AS THIS THREAD WAS STARTED IN 2006, as you can imagine, some of these links may not be good. Please don't report them unless you have a current one.or just post it further down the thread. Thank you.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011
  2. Sixgun_Symphony

    Sixgun_Symphony NRA4EVR

    Apr 16, 2002
    My advise to all newbies is that they get a copy of the ABC's of Reloading and read it cover to cover.

    The book is written for newbies. It goes over different types/brands of reloading equipment with simple, step by step instructions. The author's writing style makes it easy for beginners to comprehend the instructions.

  3. GlockJD


    Jan 24, 2002
    Tucson, AZ
    awesome post steve, great threads!

    sixgun great post too, I noticed a pattern in almost all the threads he posted:) Its a great suggestion though!
  4. jkrispies


    Jun 14, 2005
    Mojave Desert
    ;a ;a ;a ;a ;a ;a ;a

    It's about time somebody finally did this. May I move for a sticky? Anybody second that? Anybody? Anybody...?
  5. SlammedDime

    SlammedDime G23 Member

    Nov 6, 2004
    North Glendale, AZ
    I did that twice, then I read even more stuff online. A great help that book was in starting me out. Newbs can also check out their local library to see if they have it there as well. Thats where I found it.

    btw, I vote this for sticky status. I'll send a PM to Sidearmor. :)
  6. BigSlick

    BigSlick Black Assailant

    Aug 3, 2005
    Texas of Course
    Great idea Koski ^c

    What ? No red vs blue slapfight threads ;f

    We might also want to figure a way to include a link to the Reloading Amortization spreadsheet to help assess the the meaningess aspects of reloading, such as ROI and projected cost savings.

    I think everyone starts out with these things in mind, then turns into a brass grubbing, bullet mongering whore like the rest of us ;f

    Thanks for the effort on this one Steve...


  7. I know I could load more rounds faster with a progressive press, but I still reload using a single stage.

    Call me crazy. ;)
  8. Jayman

    Jayman Big Dummy

    Nov 3, 2002
    Chantilly, VA
    Here is a rifle reloading question:

    HOW DO YOU SET THE RESIZE DIE BASED ON HEADSPACE? ;) Or is that referenced in one of the previous threads?
  9. bush pilot

    bush pilot

    Jan 29, 2004
    You're crazy,nothing to look at either I've heard:)
  10. bush pilot

    bush pilot

    Jan 29, 2004
    It's about time someone on the company clock put that time to good use;g
  11. Martindog


    Dec 30, 2003

    I thank you.

    Richard Lee thanks you.

    And Mike Dillon would thank you, but I think he's chasing around one of his Blue Press models somewhere.
  12. You might be right on both counts.

    Then again, I've never been vain enough to care. ;)
  13. Glock4Life


    Jan 21, 2003
    Nice touch by adding all the necessary keywords into the thread title for untold searching potential. ^c
  14. margo


    Jul 19, 2000
    Savannah, Ga USA
    I have decided to reload and am full of questions, these threads should give me a good start. I'm going to order the book now!
  15. Steve Koski

    Steve Koski Got Insurance? Millennium Member

    Jan 31, 1999
    Contributed by our own Uncle Don

    Proper Die Set Up


    Some brands of dies are manufactured differently than others and should be set up slightly different. For Lee and standard RCBS and Hornady dies, the proper headspace is built into the length of the die. Therefore, you should set them by placing the ram in the up position with a shell plate or shell holder installed. Turn the die into the press until you can’t turn it anymore. At this point, lower the ram and turn the die in between a quarter and one half turn.

    On standard 7/8 x 14 threaded dies, a quarter turn equates to about .018 of an inch. This is negligible as to the operation of the press but does create an environment that when you raise the ram, you are able to eliminate any daylight between the shell holder and the bottom of the die.

    While some people tout an “over-center” feature of a press, it is not necessary or even advised if your die is set properly. About 25lbs of pressure on the handle can equal 600 pounds of force on the press.

    I can’t speak to other brands of dies but I am aware of at least one brand that should not be set in the above manner because it would create excessive headspace. With this type of die, proper setting come with trial and error until your case properly seats in your rifle with the action able to close on it without undue effort. This type of die would include specific instructions advising how to arrive at the proper setting.


    The flaring die creates a bell in the case mouth of the case allowing the bullet to be seated into the case without shaving lead or copper off of the bullet. These dies are most common with handgun dies as well as rifle dies that are essentially straight walled. The idea is to raise the ram with an empty sized case in the shell holder. Repeat the process gradually turning the seating die down until you get a slightly belled case when your ram is at the top of the stroke. Too much bell is not desirable, as it wears out the brass faster and can reduce the grip of the case on the bullet.

    For Lee dies, simply turn the powder through flaring die in until it touches the shell holder and then back it out one half of a turn. If you are using an Auto Disc Powder Measure, no further setting is necessary, simply remove the hex nut at top of the die and turn the measure into the die at this setting. This results in a properly charged case each time as long as you are pulling the lever to the bottom of the press stroke.

    Seating & Crimping

    This die setting probably causes more headaches for new loaders than any other die. This is because you are asking it to do two things at the same time. Raise an empty case to the top of the stroke, and while holding it there begin turning the die with the lock ring in the upper position and the adjustment screw turned outward into the press until it stops. This is where the crimp shoulder in the die has contacted the case mouth. Set the lock ring at this point and lower the ram to place a bullet on the case.

    Turn the center adjustment of the die in slightly and raise the case into the die. This will begin to seat a bullet but won’t crimp it. Lower the case, and turn the center adjustment in a bit more. Repeat the process until the bullet is seated to the depth you want

    At this point, lower the ram and loosen the lock ring and turn the die in about a half turn. At the same time, bring the fine adjustment screw outward about two turns. Raise the case (that you just seated the bullet in) into the die. This should crimp it properly. With the ram still raised, turn the center adjustment downward until it stops. This sets the proper bullet seating length.

    You now have a “dummy” round and future settings are very easy. Place the “dummy” round in the shell holder and raise the ram. Turn the die with the center adjustment turned outward as well as the lock ring, into the press until it stops. This is the proper crimping setting. Turn the center adjustment down until it stops. This is the proper depth setting.

    Factory Crimp

    Lee produces the only factory crimp dies I am familiar with. Factory crimp dies for rifle and handgun are different in that the rifle crimp die uses a collet to apply the crimp while the handgun factory crimp dies utilize a bushing system. The handgun dies also contain a carbide ring like the sizing die which “post” sizes the case to ensure proper dimensions.

    To set the rifle style dies, place the case to be crimped in the shell holder and raise the ram. Turn the die in until it stops, lower the ram and turn the die in about a half turn more. This applies a normal crimp and fine adjustments can be made from there.

    For the handgun factory crimp dies, turn them in until they touch a raised shell holder without a case present. Ensure that the center adjustment is turned outward. Lower the ram and place a case to be crimped in the shell holder and raise it into the die. There may be some resistance as the case goes through the carbide ring, but it should not be excessive. When at the top of the stroke, turn the center adjustment down until it stops. Lower the ram slightly and turn the adjustment ring about a half turn and raise the ram, the proper crimp is applied at this setting.

    Handgun factory crimp dies for straight walled revolver cartridges apply a roll crimp. Factory crimp dies for cartridges that headspace on the case mouth, such as semi-auto cartridges, apply a taper crimp. However, excessively crimping with a taper crimp die will cause it to apply a roll crimp as well. If you are rolling the case mouth into the side of the bullet, you are applying too much crimp for semi-auto cartridges.
  16. mikeb9550


    Dec 28, 2002
    OK basically this is how it works. Each stage could be done separately on a single stage press or all at the same time using a progressive. The example given is based off of a Dillon 550B. This is the readers digest version and put in a format without all the reloading jargon. You can go to Dillon's website, download a 550 manual, and look at it while reading the different stages. This may help. I will work on putting pics in the email if I get some time tomorrow. LEE Factory crimp die set (4 die carbide set) used for example with the LEE powder die staying in the box since you must use the Dillon one on their machines. The press does come with one attached to the powder measure when the box arrives. These are the steps but it doesn't take place for all the reading that should be done to understand the right and wrongs as well as the safety safety safety. Its intimidating at first but after you load your first hundred rounds, you will wonder why you were ever stumped in the first place.

    Stage I - This stage does 3 things when you pull the handle (Size the case, deprime, and prime). With an empty shell plate, pull the handle down which will raise the shell plate. Screw the sizing die so that it touches the shell plate. Now, put an empty cleaned case in the shell plate (piece of metal that holds the case in place - comes with the conversion kit from Dillon). Pull the handle down, the shell plate rises to insert the empty case into the stationary sizing die. The case goes fully into the die to take the case down to the size it was before it was fired (expands when fired) while the little punch will punch out the old primer. On the up stoke of the handle, the new primer gets seated into to primer pocket. Make sure you can feel the primer a little bit. If it goes in too easy, the case should be tossed. On a progressive press, you load 100 primers in the primer tube at a time The primers move into position on the down stroke and seat into the case on the put stoke. If you forget to seat a primer, you will wonder why you got all this powder all over the place. Its because its coming out of the hole that the primer should have been in. You also want to make sure the primer is seated flush. This is why some people use reloading boxes. The help to identify a high primer. I only use them to keep track of a new load I am trying out since I feel like I am working in a sweat shop in China putting all those rounds in their little holes.

    Insert empty case into stage I

    Pull handle to size and prime

    Push handle forward to seat primer

    Stage II - This stage does two things (bell the case and charge it). First it puts a bell on the top of the case. This is to have something for the bullet to sit on and so that is doesn't cut into the brass when it is seated on the next stage. The other thing that is done on this stage is dispense the powder. The powder dispenser is basically a hopper that drops a dialed in charge that you set. Screw the powder die (must be a Dillon powder die) in the second stage hole and put the powder funnel in the die. The powder funnel comes with the Dillon conversion kits and is what puts the bell on the case as well as "funnels" the powder in the case. Attach the powder measure on the die and finish assembly per instructions. Put a case from stage I in the shell plate and pull the handle all the way in the down position. The shell plate will rise and go into the die a little bit. Return the handle in the up position which will return the shell plate in the resting position. Keep screwing the die in a little bit until you get the bell you need or back it off if you have too much. Just need a little bit. You will get the feel of it. Too much and you will have a hard time getting the case into the next stage. Too little the bullet will fall off since it has nothing to sit on. Its not that hard to get the hang of it. There is a starter recommendation in the Dillon manual but you will find out what works best for you. On the up stroke, it pulls the case out of the die and resets the powder drop for the next round. Now add powder to the powder measure. Pull the handle, it will bell and drop the powder (I know you already belled but you have to bell again since it goes along with dropping the powder). Weigh the charge and adjust until you achieve the load you are using. Weigh and weigh again. If its not perfect, dump the powder out of the case and put it back in. weigh a couple more times just to make sure the charge is correct. Can you see the charge weight is important? Also its good to cross reference a charge weight between two references. A typo could mean a KB!!! Especially if the load is from a friend. Don't be scared to try peoples pet loads. They are some of the best I have ever tried. But please always check to make sure they are within loading specs per published manuals. When you get more experienced, you can play with pushing the envelope. When switching brands of powder in your measure, make sure you get all of it out. 5 grains of one powder could be a low charge but that same load in another powder could KB your gun. I have read where one guy switched powders and had a KB. They pulled the rest of the bullets and everything was OK. I suspected that he didnt clean out the measure good enough and it dropped some of the old power which would be at a dangerous pressure at the new weight. Just be careful. I played around with it to see if it could happen and it can.

    Move case into stage II

    Pull handle to raise case into die which will bell the case and dispense powder.

    This is what the bell should look like

    Stage III - This just seats the bullet to the depth you want it. With the shell plate empty, pull the handle to raise the shell plate. Screw in the bullet seating die until it touches the shell plate and back it off 3 full turns if using the LEE die set. Back off the screw on top of the die. Now put a case in the shell plate that has already been through stages I and II. Place a bullet on top of the case (I always look in the case to make sure their is powder in the case before I set the bullet on the case) and pull the handle. On the down stroke, the shell plate will rise. The case with the bullet will rise into the die. On the up stroke, the round (its a round of ammunition at this point) will pull out of the die. Take it off and measure the overall length with a caliper (need one of these things). It will be long because you backed off the screw a lot. Screw the top screw of the die in more to further seat the bullet to the depth you want (little at a time). Each time, put the round back in the shell plate and pull the handle down and up. Measuring each time. Stop when you have the depth you want.

    Move case to stage III

    Place bullet on top of the belled case

    Pull handle to raise the bullet/case into the seating die.

    Pic shows seated bullet

    Stage IV - This is the crimp stage. The purpose of this stage is to take the bell out that you put on the case during stage II. Its not to retain the bullet although some people think it is. With an empty shell plate (no case) pull the handle to raise the shell plate. Screw in the die until it touches the shell plate and back off the bolt on top of the die. Put the round in the shell plate and pull the handle down and the shell plate rises (I figure you get this by now). The round will go into the die. While keeping the handle in the down position and the round in the die, screw in the bolt on top of the die until you can feel it touch the bullet. Pull up the handle to return the shell plate to its resting position. Screw the bolt on the die in additionally 1/4 to 1 turn. I usually do a little less than 1/2 turn. Put the round back in and pull the handle down then back up to complete the cycle. Take your calipers and measure the crimp (top of the case) on the round to see if you have it per your load data that you are trying to accomplish. To much crimp and you will dig the brass into the bullet. Too little and you will have feeding problems due to the bell. The nice thing about the Lee Factory Crimp Die is that you don't get over-sized rounds that can get stuck in your barrel.

    Move case into stage IV

    Pull handle to raise the round into the crimp die.

    Crimp complete.

    Thats it, you have a round made on a 550. Of course on the 550 you do all the stages with one pull once everything is setup. I broke the stages down as if you were setting it up for the first time. As you can see, most of the work is setup. Thats why I always recommend a turret at the very least. Don't have to mess with the setup all the time. Lee makes a pretty good one but its still 4 pulls of a handle instead of 1 for the same end result. The startup price is very small with the LEE kit. If you shoot more than 200 rounds a month, I say get the progressive. I would take a LEE progressive any day over a top end single stage or turret. Just my opinion.
  17. margo


    Jul 19, 2000
    Savannah, Ga USA
    Thanks for the run down. I got the ABC and lyman book but your version answers some questions that were not addressed in the book. I think you meant to say "long" in stage 3, the next sentance.

    "It will be short because you backed off the screw a lot. "

    The round will be "long" at first till you screw it in, that's how I understood it anyway.

    I'm still leaning towards the turret press because I have all the time in the world, and I want to do rifle rounds and would like one press that does it all.

    Actually I will be changing shifts soon and will be losing my shift diff which is a substantial amount of mad money. I might not be getting any press at all.
  18. mikeb9550


    Dec 28, 2002
    Thanks, changes made. you dont know how many times I have had to updated it. Everytime I read it I find something else.

    I had the "All the time in the world" philosophy but decided that would wear off. I have been saved a few times already having the 550. A few times freinds have called and asked if I wanted to go shooting. Went in my reloading room to grab my range stuff only to find that my ammo surplus is low due to being busy with work and stuff around the house. Told my buddy to give me 20 min. Cranked out enough rounds to shoot for the day and off to the range. Really, happened more than once. I usually have a stock pile but things happen. Also if you start shooting IDPA or other shooting sports, ammo goes fast. My ammo usuage doubled for a range outing. Just things to consider. Did you know you call load pretty much everything but the big 50 BMG on the 550? Just cant use the case feeder.

    With that being said, I dont think you can go wrong with the LEE turret to see if you like it. Especially if cost is a factor. I dont know any shooter that is still active in the sport and just stopped reloading. Usually the only reason they sell their machines is to buy faster ones.

    How many rounds do you shoot??
  19. mikeb9550


    Dec 28, 2002
    Just read your post fully and seen the money thing. Sorry to hear that. I wouldnt let the money thing keep you from reloading. That is if you still have the money to shoot. What I mean is that if you are still buying factory ammo, its still cheaper to get the regular LEE kit and die set. It will pay for itself within just a few boxes of ammo.

    Added pics to give visuals.