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Need help deciding whether or not to reload

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by undercover500, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. undercover500

    undercover500

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    I need some help deciding whether or not to reload.

    Can someone give me a rough idea of what I'd need to get started and what it might cost? I've done some poking around the internet and from what everyone else has said I'll need a single stage press, die set, powder scale, primers, powder, bullets, and a good reloading manual.

    I am looking into reloading for 38special and 357magnum and maybe 9mm and 45acp. I am a bit weary about reloading for the semi autos since they chuck brass everywhere and I shoot mainly indoors with no real good way of catching my brass. I have bent over and picked it up but that gets old real fast even for my relatively young body. I'd probably make some sort of brass catcher. I might reload for 9mm but it's so cheap, if I was into reloading It'd probably be worth it for 45.

    I am not looking to make a lot of specialty loads, just cheap reloads for shooting at the range. Bulk bullets, bulk primers, bulk powder. I may handcraft a few loads for the woods and hunting but that's about it. Looking into making this shooting hobby cheaper. I will probably shoot the same amount as I would if I didn't reload since money's tight.

    If someone could give me just some starting advice that would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Nick
     
  2. refugeepj

    refugeepj

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    Dillon 550 is under 500bucks, comes with one set of dies.
    start here, save over the long haul. you will out grow the single stage in a hurry. the Dillon will also out produce the single stage geometrically.

    primers 30-35 a thousand.

    lead bullets are relatively cheap, plated slightly more. Dardas 124 RNL $52.70/1000. Xtreme plated RN $46/500.

    you will need a tumbler for your brass, and some tumbling media. i use crushed walnut from Pet Smart, the stuff they put in reptile cages.

    i started 35 years ago on a Lee, and out grew it in less than two years.
    bought the Dillon and have NEVER regretted my association with the Dillon people. the best in the business IMO.

    powder will be a factor as well. i buy 4-8 pound kegs. both of these will run around $150 for eight pounds, depending upon the market/who is president.
    my go to powders right now are Hogdon Longshot and Ramshot Silhouette. both meter well and keep pressure down.
    i have used a lot of different manufacturers product, a lot of Accurate Arms #5, #7, and #9. even some #2 for mild 38 special loads. all AA powder meters very well.

    i have found this to be an excellent hobby, and it allows me to shoot one hell of a lot more than i could otherwise.
    i reload all winter, shoot spring, summer and fall, with an occasional indoor range trip made when i don't have too much global warming to shovel.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
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  3. fredj338

    fredj338

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    Imo, forget a ss press for pistol, just too slow. A Lee classic turret is about ywice as fast for the same $$, but if you shoot over 500rds a month, think progressive. Dillon sdb, but i would go 550c, about $700 all in for 2 calibers.
    You can save 50% of cheap factory, so even 9mm should be reloaded imo. Once you figure ipt out, 400rds per hour is pretty easy on a 550. A Hornady LNL is alao a decent oress if you must have auro index & never want a case feeder.
     
  4. Omar C.

    Omar C.

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    I just started, I reload for 45. If you have the money then I'd go with what those guys are saying, I took a different route.

    I started off with a rcbs single stage press that was a hand-me-down. Bought a few things I needed to get started and spent about $200 in total.

    It takes longer to make a round but I'm saving over 50% off of Walmart wwb which is what I was using before and I feel like my rounds shoot better in my g21 than factory.

    Wait for sales on bullets. Usually around holidays they go on sale. I made an email just for website ads like midway to keep an eye on sales too. I bought 500 plated 185 gr hp bullets for less than 7 cents each.
     
  5. RonS

    RonS Millennium Member

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    For my money, a Lee Classic 4 Hole Turret press with a turret and die set for each caliber. I splurged and bought a Lee Auto Disk powder measure for each handgun caliber and I just leave it set up on top of the die set. You can spend less, you can spend a lot more but for me that is the sweet spot in terms of cost and convenience. I batch process, not progressive, so it is a little slower but still gets me what I want and lets me monitor the process my way.

    If I were starting over, I would buy a Lee turret press with 4 hole turrets instead of the old 3 hole press I have now and would buy a quality electronic scale instead of the old balance beam scale and cheap electronic scale I have now. Oh, and the Lee Micro Disk for when you want to really dial in a powder charge, I have one for my 9mm die set and once I worked it in with some graphite it works smooth as can be.

    Get some manuals first if you haven't already, it is a lot more than load data.
     
  6. dudel

    dudel

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    Get one reloading book that covers the basics. I like the Hornady book. After that, get Loadbooks for load information. Can't go wrong with a Dillon 550b.

    Don't think short term. Most people starting to reload look at the volume of what they currently shoot. When you start reloading, you'll likely start shooting more. Get a press that supports a higher volume than you shoot now.

    You'll also find you gun selection increases because you no longer have ammo limitations. Want to shoot 22Hornet, 45GAP or 357Sig? Just load it up. No more going to the LGS or hitting internet sites.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
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  7. undercover500

    undercover500

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    Thanks all for the replies. I will pick up a reloading book. I'll probably start out with a single stage press, just to get a feel for it or look around and see if I can get a used progressive press. I'm not really looking to shoot more, I'm just looking to shoot the same amount at a lower cost. I am also looking into 10mm and around here ammunition for 10mm is expensive. Would love to buy a couple boxes of ammo, shoot them, collect the brass and reload them for 1/4 the cost. Would have to make or buy some sort of brass catcher.
     
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  8. jmorris

    jmorris

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    No matter what you will need bullets, powder, primers and brass.

    After that you have many choices that can influence how much money you spend and how long it takes you to load.

    The slowest method happens to also be the least expensive. $28 if you already have a hammer and you could be loading with this.

    https://ads.midwayusa.com/product/702138/lee-classic-loader-357-magnum?cm_mmc=pf_ci_google-_-Reloading+-+Metallic+Reloading+Equipment+(Not+Presses)-_-Lee-_-702138&gclid=CO6W2Ynh59ICFUUdaQodV-QIyw

    $28,000 with this machine will load in a day more than you could load in your life with the one above.

    http://www.ammoload.com/mark_x_pistol.htm

    Most folks get something between the two extremes.
     
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  9. sciolist

    sciolist

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    I started out with a 550 and no previous experience. I spent about $1,200 on the press, tools, scale, parts, bench, etc.

    Then, I think I bought 30k primers, one hazmat of powder and 15 or 20k bullets. The bullets came from a friend who sold them at matches. I built out from there. This is just for 9mm, though.

    I would do it this way again.
     
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  10. SBray

    SBray

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    A lot of good advice already given by others, so I won't add anything.

    Only you can truly estimate your future needs for a supply of ammo. I started out with an RCBS Rock Chucker. I gave an earlier version "RS" to my brother that I had blasted clean and had primer coated. He's just starting out and putting it to good use.

    38 special and 9 mm ammo can be found in bulk supplies fairly cheap in local stores and on the internet. If you tend not to shoot more than 50 rounds per range visit, and maybe less than 150-200 per month, you may get by with a single stage.

    In the long run, it's hard to decide how much money you want to tie up in reloading.

    I have found Dillon presses to be enjoyable to work with even though I do not shoot a great deal.

    If you start out with something like an RCBS Rock Chucker, and go to a progressive, you can always use the RC for working up small amounts of ammo on the side.

    Enjoy,
    Steve
     
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  11. dudel

    dudel

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    Like Steve, I started out with a Rock Chucker. Tried a Lee LCT, ended up with a Dillon 550b (realized I DID want MORE ammo).

    I still use the RC. It's great for swaging primer pockets, testing lead hardness with the Lee tester, sizing boolits with the Lee push thru sizers, depriming off stage in prep for cleaning (although that has moved off to a Lee C press - it's very dirty), and working up small loads.

    Even with the 550b, I wouldn't get rid of the RC.
     
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  12. oldengineer

    oldengineer

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    I started reloading at age 74. I've got about $1500 invested in a Dillon 550b, 5 die and caliber conversion sets, tool heads, extra powder measure, scales (digital and balance beam) vibratory and ultrasonic cleaner, case trimmer, etc.

    I'm reloading 200 grain RN 45 ACP FOR 14 cents, 155 grain 40 S&W RNFP for 13 and 115 grain RN 9mm for .12. I do .223/5.56 for 23 cents, 125 and 158 grain RNFP .357 are about 13c per.

    I shoot a lot since I live less than 2 miles from a club so in 2 years I've recouped my investment at about 10 K rounds. It should be all profit from here on except that, as everyone knows, reloaders don't save money - they just shoot more.
     
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  13. sciolist

    sciolist

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    If you shoot twice as much for half the cost/round, you're still saving money. You are getting twice as much shooting for your dollar.
     
  14. oldengineer

    oldengineer

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    I'll try that logic on my wife and see what she says. :)
     
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  15. ithaca_deerslayer

    ithaca_deerslayer

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    I'm a relative newbie myself.

    I went with the Lee Classic Turret (LCT), which is sort of between a single stage and a progressive. You mount 4 dies on a turret, each die doing something different. You put 1 shell in the holder, and then pull the lever 4 times and that cartridge is finished. Then you put in the next shell and 4 pulls on that, etc. It is not a progressive because you are only working on one shell at a time.

    The cost for the press is about $115, and then another hundred or so for the dies, powder dispenser, and primer. So it all comes to about $250 for everything. You can buy a kit that includes most of what you need, or buy components separately. For pistol, you likely do not need a trimmer. One of the things you may want to find/buy separately is a scale (they usually come in a kit, but you may or may not want a different one).

    With my LCT, I allow an hour to reload a box of 50 (including brass prep and everything). The actual rate of reloading is about 100 per hour (if that's all you were doing, and not prepping brass or getting organized), and maybe others would run a LCT up to 150 or 200 per hour. I would think that is the upper limit.

    Others with more experience on here like the Dillon 550 progressive (which can work on 4 shells at the same time), and the start up price according to Fred in this thread is around $700. Those other posters can quote the typical easy going rate of reloading with the 550, but wouldn't surprise me that if they allowed an hour (for everything related to reloading, including brass prep) that they would create a lot more ammo than me :)

    Both the LCT and the Dillon 550 can also be used as a single stage press. I run mine as single stage for rifle, but use the turret auto index for pistol. If you were to use a single stage for pistol, my guess is it would take you twice as long compared to using the auto-index function of the LCT.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
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  16. happie2shoot

    happie2shoot

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    I probably have around fifty of those Lee Loaders, from shotgun
    to pistol and rifle.
     
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  17. dudel

    dudel

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    Not quite 50; but for almost every caliber I load. Whack a Mole on 30 Carbine is tough!
     
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  18. sciolist

    sciolist

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    It's not just the number of rounds per hour, but also a matter of how things break down time-wise. I can load 1,000 rounds easily in 40 minutes on my 1050. If you include loading primers into tubes and casing the ammo with a 10x10 gauge, I can pretty much do all of that in an hour. I've had a few days where I loaded and cased 5,000 rounds.

    But what's really nice is to be able to walk into the loading room, turn on 3 switches, pull the bag off the powder hopper, load 250 rounds, pop an inverted bullet on the charged case in the shellplate, turn everything off, and walk away about 20 minutes later.

    For me, that's a much easier way to keep up with my loading. I can keep my practice box full indefinitely without ever spending more than a half hour at a time on the press.

    practice box full.JPG
     
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  19. ithaca_deerslayer

    ithaca_deerslayer

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    That's a good way to look at it. What is the $price$ to get to that setup? :)
     
  20. sciolist

    sciolist

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    That's a little like asking what the price of a master card is. They send it to you in the mail free when your classification percentage hits 85. But then there's the 100,000 rounds of ammo, 3 or 4 guns, gear, travel, a few years of 20-hour weeks... to consider.

    I spent 5 1/2 years loading on the 550, learning what I needed to do, developing a process that would work for me. Lots of costs, but also lots of value in there.

    Just from a hardware standpoint, I guess the new press, bullet feeder, a few custom parts, a few aftermarket parts, second bench, etc. would be about $2,500. Relative to value to me? A drop in the bucket.

    1050 on bench.JPG