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Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Vitals, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. Vitals


    Aug 1, 2012
    So I have been wanting to get a reloading set up for a while now. I shoot a fair amount of trap, rifle range, and now I'm about to attempt to feed my new 10mm which comes at a high price tag. I am utterly clueless as to what it takes to reload. I've been told a good set up, powder and materials not included, should go for roughly $200. I have several questions....and pleas chime in with all input.

    *How difficult is it to learn the process of reloading?
    *What are the risks associated with loading your own rounds, especially at first being inexperienced?
    *Is reloading something that I can easily do in my apartment?
    *How easy or difficult is it to reload ammunition to the level of factory loads?
    *What price range for an entire set up would I be looking at to get started?
    *Will I be able to use the same equipment for rifle and handgun ammunition? I know shotgun ammo needs different equipment.

    All input is greatly appreciated and whatever questions you could answer will help me immensely
  2. F106 Fan

    F106 Fan

    Oct 19, 2011
    Buy a copy of "The ABCs Of Reloading". It is even available as an e-book.

    1. Separate and clean brass
    2. Decap, resize and reprime
    3. Bell case mouth and charge with powder
    4. Seat bullet
    5. Taper Crimp
    Steps 2..5 and often done at the 4 separate stations of a press like the Dillon 550. They can also be done as separate batch operations on a single stage press.
    Well, you don't want to expose the primers and powder to fire and you need to avoid eating lead if you are using lead bullets.

    If you can read and follow simple instructions, there is very little that can go wrong.

    The BIG risk is a double charge. Therefore, you will mitigate this by using a bulky and slow powder such that a properly filled case will be obvious and there just isn't room in the case for a double charge. Overcharges are also a concern. A little powder goes a long way.

    Pretty easy. In terms of rifle ammo, yours could be far better than factory since you can tune the load to what the rifle likes to eat.
    Prices are all over the map. You could probably get going for less than $200 or you could jump into a production loader for about $1000 or an even higher end loader for $2000. Most of the folks around here have multiple presses that they have accumulated over a number of years.
    In most cases, yes. You probably can't load .50 BMG on the lightest of pistol presses but that might not be a problem.

    Read the stickies at the top of this forum. There is some very good information on getting started.


  3. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

    May 31, 2007
    Old Colorado City
    I suppose $200 is possible, but you aren't going to like it. Minimum, I think you start with a Rockchucker kit and a good set of calipers. You'll spend some money tooling up, but the gear isn't getting any cheaper and the sooner you do it, the sooner you'll hit the breakeven point. After that is all gravy.

    I'll second the ABC's of reloading. You'll be making loads better than you can buy for half the price in no time.
  4. F106 Fan

    F106 Fan

    Oct 19, 2011
    Everybody who comes into reloading wants to start for $200 or less. That's ok and it is certainly possible. The problem is that within a short period of time, the inadequacies of the equipment will be revealed. Mostly it is a matter of production rate. Low $ presses are SLOW.

    FWIW, I did the same thing over several evolutions of equipment. It's all good stuff but the newest gear is FAST!

    You can easily reload FMJ ammo for about half the cost of Wally World Federal bulk. I don't know anything about 10mm but for .40 S&W, that's about $18/box or $360/1000.

    Here's the BIG question: How many rounds are you going to shoot per year? If you save $180/1000 (and you can do better with cast lead bullets) how long will it take to save enough money to pay for the equipment? How long is a reasonable payback? One month? One year? How many years do you plan to shoot?

    Just for numbers, let's say 4 of us go shooting perhaps twice per month and we all shoot out of my ammo can. Each outing uses somewhere over 800 rounds (and that's not a lot) so maybe I shoot 20,000 rounds per year. I'm saving about $3600/year by reloading.

    I can buy a cheap press and spend 200 hours reloading so I'm saving $18/hour. I don't get out of bed for $18 per hour!

    I can spend about $1000 on a press that will load about 800 rounds per hour and do the work in 25 hours per year. Now I'm saving about $144 per hour. That's more like it!

    Without a discussion on volume, it's really not possible to talk about press prices. There isn't enough time in a day for a competitive shooter to reload on a single stage press (100 rounds per hour).

    Unless you are making dumpster loads of rifle ammo, a single stage press is great - for rifle ammo. In fact, for precision rifle, I still use a single stage press and most shooters do the same thing. I load bulk .223 on a Dillon 650 (although a 550 would be adequate) but if I want real precision, I will use my Redding T7 turret press (just a single stage press with a turret to hold all the dies).

    For a low $ beginning, most around here will point you to the

    This press will make about 200 rounds per hour and a number of folks here are using, and recommending, this specific kit. The Kemps kit includes something that is important (I forget what) and it doesn't include the crappy scale that is usually included in other LCT kits. If you consider this press, buy it from Kempf's. Buy a better scale...

    On a much higher level (at least in terms of cost) you might look at:

    The 550 is the workhorse of the reloading community. The 650 is popular with folks who load dumpster quantities. The 1050 isn't compared. It is a commercial grade machine and priced accordingly. It loads around 1000 rounds per hour.

    If there is any chance you are going to shoot competitively, the 650 is the way to go. Fully loaded it's right at $1000 and you would buy it from to save on shipping.

    There are dozens of machines and at some point it comes down to color. Green for RCBS and Redding, Red for Hornady, Blue for Dillon and I'm sure I missed a few. All of these manufacturers make a range of machines with capability and price to match.

    Last edited: Aug 8, 2012
  5. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    You had me until right their Richard. WHile reloading is not rocket science, there is a very real chance of blowing up a gun, happens all the time, particularly w/ noobs. Wrong powder choice, wrong data, things can go very wrong very wucikly. That is not to deter noob reloaders at all, but attention to detail & following pretty strict rules will keep you safe.
    A squib can be as devistating as a double charge. All easily taken care of choosing the correct components & proper techniques/steps. The issue for many today is the progressive & the urge to just be a handle puller.
  6. ColoCG


    Mar 18, 2011

    :agree: Not only reading all you can find about reloading, but following directions and paying close attention to all details is very important. Common sense can help a lot too.

    Good Luck.
  7. Colorado4Wheel


    Nov 2, 2006
    If people can train a dog to walk a blind man down a busy sidewalk you personally can load safe ammo if you take even a moderate amount of energy to study and learn.
  8. ursoboostd


    Jun 30, 2009
    Florence, Ky
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2012
  9. F106 Fan

    F106 Fan

    Oct 19, 2011
    But not if they follow the simple instruction to put the right amount of the right kind of powder in the case and seat the right bullet to the right OAL. Everything by the book!

    That's one of the reasons that when I write something about loads, I try to refer to a manual. Something printed and verified by thousands of reloaders over many years.

    I think your point about proper components can't be overemphasized. Particularly with the popularity of plated bullets and essentially no published data, it is quite possible to overload them. If the book says to use a particular bullet seated to a particular depth, the new reloader would be well advised to do just that.

    It's when the reloader starts to mix and match that bad stuff can happen. Or when they get careless. There just isn't room for careless. Or guesswork...

    You mentioned the squib load (and I didn't) and while not a problem by itself, the next round down the barrel will certainly be exciting. At a minimum the barrel will dog-nut and probably split. With a heavy load, the barrel will likely come out the side of the slide. Bad things will happen in the vacinity of the grips when the magazine is blown out the bottom. Maybe that's why I like steel frames... I'm not so sure about plastic.

    As you said, this ain't rocket science. It just takes vigilance.

  10. RustyFN


    Sep 29, 2006
    West Virginia
    I'm sure there are some presses that fall into that catagory but there are quality presses in that price range. The Lee classic turret comes to mind. That kit version is around $220. It is a quality press that will give an output three time more than a single stage.
  11. F106 Fan

    F106 Fan

    Oct 19, 2011
    In fact, I linked to the LCT at Kempf.

    But I still maintain the selecting a press should be based on volume. The LCT takes 4 handle strokes per loaded round. The 550 or 650 take just one. As a practical matter, they are at least 4 times as fast. With the case feeder on the 650 is it a LOT faster.

    If the volume isn't there, why buy more than an LCT? It will work just fine.

  12. Colorado4Wheel


    Nov 2, 2006
    Because the 550 is just a lot nicer and you are going to own it a long time.
  13. TX Archer

    TX Archer

    Jun 4, 2011
    Austin, TX
    Here's what worked for me: Read the stickies at the top of the forum. Buy a good reloading manual (Lyman, Hornady, Speer, etc.) and read it. Now you'll have a good idea of what's involved so go back and read the stickies again and they'll make more sense. Then search this forum with any questions you have. More questions will come up so search for those concepts. Then come here and ask the questions you haven't found answers to or about areas where you're not completely clear.

    This process really helped me. I had most of your questions and that answered them for me. It also led me to buy what I feel is the best equipment for my needs and budget. Perhaps most importantly, I haven't had to start any threads asking how to reach 1,100 fps in .40 S&W with Titegroup and I didn't get the urge to load 1,000 rounds at max charge on my first attempt.

    Best of luck and have fun with it. This is a great place to learn a great hobby.
  14. unclebob


    Oct 14, 2000
    Mary Esther FL
    I have seen a couple of Glocks that have blown up and one about 10 feet away when it did. About the worst that happened to any of them were blood blister and a miner cut. A Glock has built in pressure relief points in the gun. If I had a choice of a steel gun and a Glock blowing up I will take the Glock any day.
  15. robin303

    robin303 Helicopter Nut

    Sep 27, 2009
    Austin, TX
    I bought this several years ago on sale for $95. Bought the for $35. Then I got this
    I did buy 3 manuels and started off slow and these guys really helped me out when I asked silly questions. I'm happy with a single stage and will stick with it even when I can only reload 50 per hour. :embarassed:
  16. CaptainXL


    Nov 20, 2009
    I just started reloading early this year and like you was concerned about my initial equipment cost. I ordered a Lee Turret Press kit, a couple of reloading manuals, etc. after doing some research.

    To date I have reloaded approx 2500 9mm's. I recently bought .40 dies and a 2nd turret but have not yet started to reload .40's. At first my production was in the 50 rounds per hour range due to the fact that I was VERY cautious, as every newbie should be. When I first started to reload I would check every 5th round for powder charge and OAL. Now that I am more confident in the press and myself, my production is about 150 - 200 rounds per hour on the Lee Turret press.

    Since I started reloading I am shooting way more than I used to. The results of shooting more is that my shooting has markedly improved. I'm shooting way more and spending the same amount of $$$ or less than before I started to reload.

    IMO a Lee Turret Kit is a great way to have moderate production at a reasonable cost and I would recommend it for someone looking for good quality entry level equipment.
  17. shotgunred

    shotgunred local trouble maker

    Mar 1, 2008
    Washington (the state)
    At the $200. price point the lee classic turret is the way to go. If you are willing to spend some more the Dillon 550 is a much better press and if you decide to sell it you will get most of your money back, unlike the lee press.

    But it is hard to beat the kempfg deal if you want to dip your toes in the reloading world for a little investment as possible.