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Plans To Reload... Best Equipment?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Last Rites, Apr 12, 2010.


  1. Last Rites

    Last Rites
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    GLocK FaNaTiC!

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    I plan on diving into my research and digging up all the intel I can about reloading and how to do it. I wanted to hear some opinions from folks out there that have some experience at this and what they think is the best company / manufacturer of reloading equipment.

    I've been reading a lot on Hornady reloading presses and so far they sound really impressive. I'm already assumed the initial cost is going to run me about $1,000 to get into this right. It sounds like an incredibly fun and rewarding hobby that I've been very interested in learning for a long time now for the sake of saving myself some cash on the ammo cost.

    I could use some help with suggestions and what I should look at to buy.

    My plans are to reload for many different calibers for both pistols and rifles. I'd like to start out with the basics and most popular calibers for my own guns at first and then move into more calibers at a later time when I can invest the money into more. I would like to reload for myself first, and friends secondly at cost. I would really like to consider the possibility of reloading for my own gun shop I will eventually own one day and sell to customers as my own branded specialized reload ammo.

    I would like to hear from anyone that can steer me in the right direction with my first press and what company / manufacturer I should buy from. Currently I've partial to Hornady and redding dyes.

    ALL and any input is appreciated and greatly welcomed... even if you think I'm an idiot. Lay it on me man! I need some noobie starting out advice.

    And keep in mind, I know nothing about reloading or how to do it. I will have to find a place or some resources on learning this.

    Thanks!
    :2gun:
     

    Wanna kill these ads? We can help!
  2. sdelam

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    Ohh a 1k wish list.... Where to start.

    P-press I have a LNL and works fine, You cant go wrong with a dillon either as I'm sure someone will chime in. you will probably want a single stage as well. I like the Lee classic cast.

    Trimmer- if you plan on loading rifle, than you will need a case trimmer, handgun dosnt normally req this. I have a RCBS that works fine.

    Scale, I like the dillon eliminator, it is a good scale at a fair price.

    -Calipers, personal choice but no real need to spend alot for what we do with them.

    -Tumbler, again personal preference,but Thumblers is probably the best but cost accordingly.

    -dies, dosnt matter much, Lee's work just as good as any others in my exp. i mostly use Lee and RCBS.

    -manuels, get several so you can compare loads

    -Powder measure, if you get a progressive it will come with one, if not than most work pretty well.

    -If you shoot alot of mil .223 brass you will want a dillon super swage to remove the primer crimp.


    Just about everything else is a nice to have and it will be up to you whether you need it or not. Hope this helps

    edit to add: I would not reccomend loading for others due to liability reasons. Even if it is family and you dont hink that they would sue you, think about how you would feel if something you did injured a friend or family member. A better suggestion would be to let them use your equipmqnt to load thier own.
     

    #2 sdelam, Apr 12, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2010
  3. Hoser

    Hoser
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    Dillon 550. Call Brian Enos and tell him what you want.
     
  4. fredj338

    fredj338
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    If yo uplan on loading for many dif calibers, the 550B is a pretty good middle road between ease of change over & use combined w/ speed/volumn. Get The ABCs of Reloading & read it. Buy a good laoding manual like the Lymna or Speer & read them.
    AS to loading for friends, I don't, never, not ever. If you are selling, you need an FFL & liability ins. Then you should be looking at something a bit higher volumn, ike the Dillon 1050 w/ a bullet feeder.
     
  5. kcbrown

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    The best press manufacturer?

    For a progressive, it has to be Dillon, if only because of their warranty (they back their equipment to the hilt, and they're not kidding about it).

    For a single stage, it appears it would be very difficult indeed to call a true winner. There appears to be a wide range of prices for which there is little to no correlation with satisfaction level. On that basis, I suspect the "best" single stage press is likely to be the Lee Classic Cast, followed by the Breech Lock Challenger. But since the only single stage press I own is the Lee Reloader (well, I guess the Thighmaster I have also qualifies as a "single stage" press), I can't really offer any experience-based opinions of single stage presses.


    If your budget really is $1000, I'd go with the Dillon 650 for sure.
     
  6. unclebob

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    Hands down my vote is for a Dillon. What Dillon would depend on what and how much you shoot? Now and in the future. How much time do you want too spend reloading? Do you want a case feeder? Or even a bullet feeder?
     
  7. fredj338

    fredj338
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    I agree, not much diff between the sturdier single stage presses. I would hesitate to buy a 650 for a bunch of calibers though. Change over is going to cost yo uquite a bit & you may not need the speed offered for a few hundred rounds of an oddball caliber.:dunno:
     
  8. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak
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    Get the books mentioned, and then start researching equipment. All presses have their good and bad. You might sour on the idea of selling your own reloads when you see the costs/licensing involved in becoming an ammunition manufacturer.

    IGF
     
  9. jwc17

    jwc17
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    If you are considering a single stage press, the Lee Classic Cast Press is an excellent value. I have one and am very pleased with how well works:

    90998 Lee Classic Cast Single Stage Press
    90997 Lee Safety Prime Small and Large Primer Feeder
    90429 Lee Pro Auto-Disk Powder Measure
    Lee Deluxe Carbide 4-Die Set
    044000 Hornady Sure-Loc Die Locking Rings 7/8"-14 Thread

    I have owned single stage, turret and progressive presses. I shoot about 500 rounds per month and have concluded my quest for speed was foolish for that quantity. I personally see more benefit in using a single stage press at this time. Starting out with a single stage press may make sense and meet your needs too.

    Although using a progressive press will allow you to significantly reduce the number of times and amount of time you spend pulling the handle, you must account for the time required to prepare, adjust, measure and cleanup during each reloading session too.

    A solid single stage press like the Lee Classic Cast will allow you to build about 100 rounds of very consistent pistol ammunition per hour. It is easy to use and maintain and allows you to focus on each step of the reloading process. Although I have never used any of Lee’s other single stage presses, I have seen them all side by side and can tell you the Classic Cast press is significantly more substantial in terms of size, heft and apparent strength.

    Loading the tray of the Lee Safety Prime system takes only seconds and minimizes the chances of sympathetic detonation compared to tube fed priming systems. You can resize, deprime and prime in one step and the used primer collection system (a simple tube connected to the bottom of a hole in the RAM) is very effective and easy to use. Priming takes place on the down stroke and provides excellent feedback on seating.

    I have had great success with the Lee Pro Auto-Disk Powder Measure too. Although I have only used it with Bluedot and Winchester 231, I can tell you it is amazingly accurate with those powders. The expanding die bells the case mouth and allows the powder measure to charge the case in one step. Placing each charged case into a loading block lets you to inspect each case very carefully before seating a bullet and minimizes the chance you will build a squib load.

    You can build rifle rounds on a progressive press too, but everything I have read suggests you may have better results using a single stage press. Since you want to build pistol and rifle rounds, I would encourage you to start with a single stage press. You can always buy a progressive press to build your pistol rounds after you become more experienced and confident reloading on a single stage press. If speed is your priority, you will probably want a progressive press. If you enjoy the reloading process, 100 rounds per hour is an acceptable rate of production and you want to built consistent and accurate rounds a single stage press may meet your needs.

    Take your time, load only when you can devote absolute attention to the process and stop when you have a question or something does not seem right. Check and recheck your work at all stages too.

    Reloading is a very rewarding aspect of the shooting hobby. I am sure you will enjoy using whatever system you choose.
     
    #9 jwc17, Apr 12, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2010
  10. Bamamedic

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    I have been reloading for years. You can everything for half of that 1k. I use a single stage RCBS reloader special 5. Check midway. they have a set for around 300 dollars. Still need dies, tumbler and calipers.
    I use RCBS brand for everything. Great customer service.
     
  11. jwc17

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    #11 jwc17, Apr 12, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2010
  12. IndyGunFreak

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    A single stage is fine, a turret is fine, but it all comes down to what your needs are going to be.

    Buying a Hornady LNL/Dillon XL650 w/ case feeder, when you shoot 300rds a month, is obviously silly. Buy something smaller and spend the savings on components. If you shoot 1500rds per month, spending money on a single stage, is equally silly, because you'd probably spend about 40hrs a month at the bench getting your ammo together.
     
  13. chris in va

    chris in va
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    I agree...silly to go buy all this expensive equipment right off the bat. He'd do fine with a Lee Turret and some dies to get his feet wet, and then some.

    It's just like these guys I see at the range with their $2500 1911 and don't have a clue how to shoot it. Or like my other 'hobby', kayaking. All the latest gear, boats, racks...then the guy flips in the first little wave because he doesn't know how to handle that spiffy playboat.
     
    #13 chris in va, Apr 12, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2010
  14. kcbrown

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    Perhaps. I have to admit a caliber change was more annoying than I was hoping it would be (I switched from 9mm to .40 S&W and relegated 9mm to my Pro 1000 or Loadmaster, under the theory that .40 S&W was more demanding in terms of precision).

    However, I believe the extra flexibility of the auto-indexing to be a notable win for the 650. I haven't tried it, but I'd bet it's possible to disable the auto-indexing on the 650 if one really prefers things to be that way. It's certainly a matter of personal preference, but I'd rather have the machine do more of the "manual labor" if possible, if only because I find machines to be much more consistent about performing operations than I can be as long as they're designed and set up properly.

    I also like the fact that the 650 has 5 stations, and find this to be immensely useful because it allows me to put a powder cop in place. Since I don't rely on it exclusively (I always peer into the case to check its powder charge as well), it serves to increase the safety of the operation.

    What's the biggest advantage the 550 has over the 650 in terms of the caliber change (aside from cost, perhaps)? The priming system?
     
  15. Colorado4Wheel

    Colorado4Wheel
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    As with most things in life you generally get what you pay for. Ussually the most expensive is the most expensive for a reason. Presses are lifetime purchase. As a press gets faster it gets more complicated. It becomes less versatile at the same time. Casefeeders add complication. Simple is sometimes good. Speed comes at a price in more then one way. Thankfully, you now have many good choices. Just don't expect a fast press with a casefeeder to be versatil as some of the simpler setups. Be realistic with what you are going to expect your finest/best press to do.
     
  16. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak
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    I'm not really saying a Hornady or Dillon isn't what this guy needs, or that a single stage is a bad idea.. just saying he didn't really give us enough info about what he needs, to give an informed decision. If you start throwing stuff at him now, its more or less fanboy silliness.

    I think to often people watch cool videos of these automated setups, and think "Wow, cool, I want that"... Well, as C4W said, all that automation adds a considerable amount of complication.

    IGF
     
  17. kcbrown

    kcbrown
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    This is true as far as it goes.

    However, there's complexity and then there's complexity. Some additional features add quite a lot more complexity than others. Some remove flexibility while others don't. It just depends.

    For instance, the 650 has an autoindexing system. But that system can be disabled if desired: it appears all you'd need to do is remove the indexer block (item 18 on the "Machine Assembly" diagram, page 48 of the 650XL manual). So you don't get any additional complexity there unless you want it. As such, the autoindexing capability of the 650 adds flexibility that the 550 doesn't have.

    The 650's casefeeder does add some complexity compared with the 550, but the bottom end of the it is quite solid and generally foolproof, in my experience. The only failure I've had of it resulted from a screw working itself loose, probably because it wasn't tightened quite enough at the factory (at least, not enough to withstand the rigors of shipping). And if you don't want to deal with the complexity that comes with the electrically-driven upper end of the casefeeder, you can probably adapt a Lee case collator assembly (with the 4 tubes and all that) to the unit without too much work (indeed, there are people that have actually done this, e.g. here: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=228575). That gets you most of the benefits of having the upper portion of the casefeeder (which is an optional accessory on the 650) without the complexity (the Lee case collator is the embodiment of simplicity).

    What this means is that the casefeeder assembly that comes with the 650 doesn't really add much real complexity to the system in my experience. It's certainly not quite as simple as simply feeding the cases into the shellplate by hand, but it's reliable enough to not really make any practical difference. But I suppose it does remove a little flexibility (or, rather, trade one kind of flexibility with another), in that it will feed a case whether you want it to or not.


    I'm not sure how much of a difference in versatility there really is when all is said and done. What can the 550 do that the 650 can't?


    I think the bottom line is that if you get the right machine, the extra money you spend gets you more options and optional additional complexity.
     
  18. Colorado4Wheel

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    So the 650 is not more complicated then the 550 because you can disable the auto indexing???? Thats silly. How do you index quickly and easily if you have it disabled? Grab the case and push it around? Thats a huge step back and you have to take the machine apart to do it. 650 primer feed setup is far more complicated then the 550 setup. Plastic tray shuttling primers around and dumping the live primers that don't get used when you pull the handle on a station with out a case. Thats more complicated then a simple system like the 550/LnL that presents the primer and doesn't care if the primer is used or not. 550 takes longer to become fast with because of the lack of automation. It's all a trade off in the end.
     
  19. STI

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    All advice is good, BUT get a progressive press over a single stage or both if you can, if you shoot mush the SS will get old quick.
    I load all pistol on a Star Universal that I bought new and the rifle on a RCBS and arbor press with Wilson dies for the good stuff.
     
    #19 STI, Apr 13, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2010
  20. Colorado4Wheel

    Colorado4Wheel
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    Thanks. And the more you change calibers the more you have to reset things like a powder measure, shellplate (and it's adjustment), primer setup, casefeeder adapters (never mind emptying the thing). The LCT has got to be the easist press ever to switch from one caliber to the next. Things like Micrometers make things a lot easier (for seating depth and powder measure). I am learning how to adjust my Dillon Measure with just the dial on the back to get my powder throw to the same as last time much faster. I may get a micrometer to make this quicker. It's amazing how much fiddling you can do just switching from one bullet profile to the next even in the same caliber.
     
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