This is a great forum with lots of help:
Would like to get into reloading, specifically for my 9mm and .40. Where to start and what kind of costs am I looking at? Are there any classes you can take or good books? I'm a complete newbie and would like to avoid blowing my hand off.
Thank you in advance!
Getting into reloading is well worth your time and effort if you truly intend to spend the time, effort and money on your new "Hobby". There are many books and web sites as well as videos posted on You Tube for reloading at your disposal.
In my opinion the first thing you have to consider is this: Will you be shooting enough to warrant the cost, time and effort by reloading? Second thing to think about is how much are you able to spend on your initial outlay for equipment and reloading components?
There are basically two types of reloading presses with some variations: Single stage presses, (and Turret presses) and then there are the "Progressive presses". Single stage presses are usually the lowest cost (but not always) and take a considerable amount of time to reload since every reloading step is done one at a time. Progressive presses perform one step of the reloading process with "every pull of the handle". A person using a good progressive press can crank out hundreds to over a thousand rounds an hour with the right equipment.
I started reloading in 1979 with a single stage RCPS Rock Chucker press. Over the years I moved up to a progressive press and have been using a Dillon Precision RL 550 since 1994. I also have several single stage presses from Lee Precision for reloading other calibers such as the .577/450 Martini Henry and .577 Snider.
Point is you have to determine how much you wish to spend in both money and time and make the best decision. If you buy a single stage press and get tired of loading 50 rounds an hour you will soon be spending more money on one of the progressive presses.
I highly suggest you get at LEAST TWO reloading manuals and possibly more because every once in a while you will run across loads for the same cartridge that are vastly different in one book compared to another. The reloading book writers DO make mistakes so always have several different reloading books on hand for cross reference. I suggest the Speer Reloading Manual and the Lee Reloading Manual as minimum reference material.
Dillon Precision makes some of the best reloading presses in the world. They can be found at www.dillonprecision.com and are rated number 1 in customer satisfaction. Lee Precision can be found at www.leeprecision.com right here in Wisconsin. There are presses made by RCBS, Lee, Dillon, Hornady and many others. Components such as powder, primers, bullets and brass can be purchased locally at GM or Cabelas or online from many different places. If you reload a lot you are better off buying in bulk from a reputable online store such as www.wideners.com .
Welcome to the world of reloading! Oh, and get a good balance beam scale AND an electronic scale for comparison. You do NOT want to make the mistake of overcharging a case.
I've also been reloading for years......though not as long as rcawdor57
For just starting out, and for continued use when working up new loads, it's hard to beat the RCBS Rockchucker supreme kit. I've never heard anyone ever complain about their Rockchuckers and you can load all the way up to .50 BMG (with the proper attachment). The kit comes with a Sierra loading manual already so you just have to buy another one (usually from the bullet manufacturer that you prefer).
I still only personally own a Rockchucker press but A friend of mine has a nice Dillon progressive when I need to reload in bulk. No sense in buying one for myself!
Speaking of friends, the best way to start out reloading is to find a friend who already reloads and learn from them but if you can't do that, study everything you can because there are a lot of little nuances involved. One thing I can tell you for sure is to NEVER reload when you are distracted or with distractions in the area.....bad idea.
Lex malla, lex nulla
One other thing I forgot to mention that is very important is this: Always pick up your brass no matter what the caliber and keep it for reloading. If you have friends that do not reload ask them to pick up and donate their brass to you. The brass cost is about 60% of your reloading cost for components and you probably do NOT want to have to buy new brass unless you are reloading an exotic caliber (like the .577 Snider for example). If you shoot an AR-15 or similar type firearm invest in a high quality brass catcher. If you frequent an indoor or outdoor range you may be able to make friends with management and get all the brass you need. Another item you will have to have for reloading is a case cleaner. There are many types available and usually you get what you pay for. Invest in a high quality vibratory case cleaner and either ground corn cob or ground walnut shells for cleaning.
Ammo isn't hard to come by now for most calibers and if you do buy commercial ammo I suggest always buying the ammo made with brass cases so you can reload them. Steel cases can be reloaded but in my opinion it is not worth it and many of the steel cases are Berdan primed which is another reason to shy away from reloading them. Berdan primers require a special Berdan primer removal tool to remove them and most surplus military (European ammo) is Berdan primed and in steel or copper washed cases which are not really suitable for reloading. Most U.S. made ammo is Boxer primed which is what we normally reload in the good ole U.S.A. Also, most surplus military ammo from overseas is corrosive. Most Wolf ammo (not all though) and other Russian/Czech ammo in this country is made with steel cases. Stay away from that ammo if you intend to reload. The higher quality ammo is made with brass cases and if you look at the ammo online you can see which are brass and which are not.
Once again I welcome you to the world of reloading! It is a lot of fun and there are many options available to you to load anything from target loads to high quality defense rounds.
No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. Thomas Jefferson (1776)
If you go into a store, with a gun, and rob it, you have forfeited your right to not get shot - Joe Deters, Hamilton County (Cincinnati) Prosecutor
I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians. - George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)
I have 4 presses, but the press I use and like the most is the Lee Classic Turret. You can rap out a box of shell in no time and you can also disable the auto indexing, (turning of the turret), if you want to use it like a single stage press. They make a kit with all the stuff you'll need to get started, besides the dies, for a shade over $100 bucks. Definitely work with someone who reloads, or read any of the books out there. I woulod also recommend the Lee Reloading book, 2nd edition. It really gives a down to earth perspective on reloading, pluss it has oodles of load data in the back. For pistol reloading, I also use the Lee 4 die carbide dies.
Besides making good stuff, Lee is a Wisconsin Company, so I to give them my business if possible.
I reload also with the rockchucker kit.Very nice setup but if you want speed go blue!Here are some links to read.
Last edited by Glockface; 07-16-2010 at 07:50 PM.
Hey thanks all - good stuff. A lot of research to do now!
I shoot and reload .22 Hornet, .32S&W, .38S&W, .32ACP, .38Special, .357 Magnum, .45ACP, .45Auto Rim, .45Long Colt, 30-30 Winchester, 30-06, .303British, 8mm Mauser, 7.62X39mm. The majority of my equipment is RCBS and some Lyman. For components I use primarily Speer and Hornady bullets, CCI primers, 'Lil Gun powder for rifle cartriges and Unique powder for handgun and the Lee reloading manual. As one gets more experience and confidence the choice of component gets more personal but the ones I list are good starting points. As a personal note buy the best powder measure, scale and micrometer you can afford. Duckdog is correct. It is hard to beat a Lee setup as a starter setup. There is no question that Dillon is the top of the line but it is far more the expensive. No sense spending the grocery money on a setup until you determine if you are in it for the long haul.
As a reference as to cost the following is about what it costs to reload a .45ACP: Brass 10c (once fired), Bullet 20.5c, powder 2c, primer 2c. Total 34.5c. Remember the cost of brass is not a recurring cost. I usually get 5 to 6 reloads per brass until stress indicators start to show. This may vary some dependanton the quality of the brass but the cost of the second through sixth reload should be around 25c per reload. I list the costs as reference they are not precise.
A person can often find good deals on reloading equipment, brass, powder, bullets and primers at gun shows. Ebay and Graig's list are other good sources for all but powder and primers.
There is a wealth of reloading information on the internet, only limited by a person's research ability. From the response to your thread there are also a bunch of knowledgeable reloaders on this forum. Any of which would be more than happy to give you assistance.
Beyond the cost issues is the satisfaction of being able to develope the very best cartridge load for an individual firearm. As a personal example I have .22Hornet caliber rifle that had a hard time getting 1inch 3 shot groups at 50 yards using factory ammo. By handloading I have been able to acheive .4 inch.
Happy reloaing and welcome.
Last edited by Captain Nemo; 07-17-2010 at 10:55 PM. Reason: corrected pricing
I use my Walmart reloader it comes with this little bell. I ring the bell and this guy comes and hands be a new box of ammo. LOLOL!
Of course I use other brands too such as Sheels, Gander Mountain and Midwest Shooters Supply.
Last edited by J.Gleason; 07-18-2010 at 12:10 AM.
I disagree with Nemo. Don't waste your money on a Lee progressive loader. Get a Dillon and be happy for the rest of your life with it. I have had a Square Deal for 23 years. It has loaded untold thousands of rounds of 9mm and .45acp and I have never had any problem with it whatever. They have a no B.S. warranty that covers the machine no matter who owns it. I could sell mine and it is still fully covered to the new owner.
You can also reload far cheaper than Nemo states. 200gr. .45 bullets can still be found for $100 a thousand online (Precision Bullet). Also you can reload the .45acp brass many more than 5-6 times. This is a low pressure round and the case last for a very long time.
Buying reloaders is akin to buying a car. Some can afford a Lincoln some can afford a Fusion. My first reloading equipment were a few Lee handy loaders, those that came in a red box. I picked them up at gun shows and garage sales for $10 to $15 ea. They are slow and labor intensive but on a cold Winter night work just fine. They are still available at Cabelas for $25 a caliber.
Here are some updated actual cost of reloading my favorite small caliber rifle ammo .22 Hornet. The prices come from the latest Cabela Shooting catalog (except the brass).
1lb "Lil Gun powder 21.99 3c per round (10grs/round) 7000grs/lb
CCI primers 32.99/1000 3c per round
.223 Hornady bullets 16.99/100 17c per round
New Brass (gun show) 14.00/100 14c per round Total initial cost per round 37c/round
recurring cost(reused brass) 23c/round
1box of Remington Express CoreLokt catridges/50 per box $45 90c/round. Average savings 65c/round (6reloads)
The figures for other calibers will vary depending on popularity and caliber but there is no reason to believe that a person should not be able to save 40 to 50% over good, brand name ammo. A brand new Dillon(XL650) progressive kit from Blue Press will cost about $540. The comparable RCBS Pro 2000reloading kit from Cabelas will cost about $550. Both are progressive style systems. Both companies single stage kits are also comparable, $280 for a Dillon AT500 and $300 for a RCBS RockChucker To justify it on a cost saving basis, using the .22 Hornet prices, one would have to: Reload 838 rounds to recover the equipment cost for a Dillon, RCBS progressive press kit. Lee 261 rounds.
Reload 446 rounds to recover the equipment cost for a Dillon, RCBS single stage press kit. Lee 169 rounds.
Note: Both the Dillon XL650 and RCBS are quality systems. Each stand behind their products 100%.
For comparison the Lee Pro 1000 progressive press costs $170 and the Lee Breech-Lock Callenger single stage press kit costs $110. As Comp45 says the Lee quality is not on
par with either the Dillon or RCBS, under heavy use, but it is not junk.
References: Blue Press catalog Aug 2010 Pages 12 and 13.
Cabelas Shooting catalog 2010.Pages 17, 22, 27 and 35
Last edited by Captain Nemo; 07-18-2010 at 08:52 AM. Reason: Added references
While I do not reload, I have some friends that do. If you are looking at reloading because you are afraid of ammo shortages from what I was told to was just as difficult to get the components for reloading as it was to find ammo on the store shelves. Just my .02
To "waste ammo" begs many questions, modus ponens affirming the antecedent to make the epithet "ammo waster" true. I would rather have my ammo and not need it than need it and not have it, having "wasted" it. EFMJ is about a dollar a round when I can get it.
You bring up a good point. There recently was a significant shortage of reloading components. The shortages included primers, bullets and brass. The calibers most affected were 9mm, 45ACP, 223 and .22LR. The shortages began to abate about 6 months ago, albeit at significantly higher prices. There has been all kinds of speculation as to what caused the shortages, from Obama being accused of not allowing used military brass into the civilian market to too much military demand on manufacturer's production and a number of other speculations.
The wake up call to us is:
The second amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Art I s25 of the Wisconsin constitution guarantee us the right to keep and bear arms. There is nothing in either amendment that guarantees us the right to keep and bear ammunition. The anti's, including the Obama administration are shrewd. If they can't ban firearms they surely are aware they can ban ammunition and/or price or tax it to the point that shooting is cost prohibitive. That of course will be of little handicap to the criminals. They will just steal more so they can buy the ammo they need, off the black market. As with all firearm controls only the law-abiding will feel the pain of any such legislation or presidential order. The anti's of course could care less. They decry that gun control is needed for crime control. That of course is a smoke screen. Their real objective is the prohibition of firearms, period. They will do anything to make that happen including making the cost ofowning and shooting a legal firearm prohibitive.
Can't happen? Well here is some example of how it has:
The "bunny-huggers" were able to get legislation passed that prohibited the use of lead shot for shooting migratory waterfowl. When you consider the demographics of the situation it is ridiculous to declare the ingestion of lead shot as a significant detriment to waterfowl populations. When you consider the volume of lead shot to volume of water hunted, when you consider that shots at waterfowl are most often taken towards the water and the shot most times ends up out of reach of bottom feeding waterfowl, when you figure that the specific gravity of lead is so high that it sinks deep into the muck and out of reach, you then see how ridiculous the steel shot requirement is. By using selected examples from selected locations the anti-hunters were able to get the legislation passed. The result? The requirement that hunters use the inferior higher priced steel shot.
This one is on-going. The anti-hunters are pushing to have lead shot outlawed for the use of sinkers and other fishing lures. Using the same argument as with steel shot. Claiming that fish ingestion of lead fishing equipment is harmful to the fish population. Again consider the volume oflead fishing equipment vs the volume of water fished. Stupid? I think so but some states already have legislation in the works to prohibit the use of lead fishing equipment on public waters.
Bottom line; it can happen to us. A back door approach to firearm restrictions. We have to be vigilant my friends.
I have been doing research into reloading for awhile now. It used to be that I only went to the range once a year to make sure the rifles were sighted in. Last year I bought a XD45acp, my first handgun. Now I have thousands of .45ACP brass cases, so I started to look into reloading. It seems expensive to get into. It did not seem to be worth it for .45ACP as I can get Remington UMC at Wal-Mart in Mega-Paks for about $350 per thousand. One thing that I learned was that hand loading can improve rifle accuracy. That has me sold and will be my primary motivation. I am looking at Turret presses because I want a single stage for reloading rifle, but be able to turn the auto indexing to run .45acp.
For rifle I want to use a hand priming tool, measure out each charge on a digital scale, but for .45acp I would like to use an powder measurer/dispensar and prime in the press. I plan to build my own tumbler.
After all the research that I have done, I have one burning question.
Why does not anyone deprime before cleaning brass cases?
This thread is serendipitous as I just did my first re-loading today. I loaded 50 .44 magnum cartridges in a couple of hours while watching TV using a Lee Loader, the little one-at-a-time loader where you do everything manually and tap the round together with a hammer.
It was a great learning experience and I have my eye on a Lee Loadmaster progressive that will allow me to load for my S&W 500 in .50 cal. as well as rifle rounds.
The information about pricing in the Cabela's catalog does not take into account sale prices and bulk buys including military bullet pulls and surplus powders. There are a lot of ways you can cut corners and save a bunch of money. I bought almost everything I needed to re-load my .44 mag in one box for 100 bucks at a gun show.
Being you have all that .45ACP brass you are somewhat ahead of the game. Using the components I use for reloading .45 ACP your cost per round would be close to the following.
CCI primer .03
185 grain Jacketed hollow point bullet (Remington) .25
8gr of Unique powder 1 pound @ 7000 grains per pound (total possible number of rounds per pound 875) .02
Total cost per round = .30 or $300 per thousand
My cost per round is about .03 higher. I usually buy my brass from gun shows as once fired. On the conservative side I figure to get six reloads. Once fired brass can be found at about .12 a round so it averages to .02. Usually there are some throw aways so I figure the cost at .03 per. My cost per round is .33 give or take a penny one way or the other. The last bulk purchase I made of Remington .45ACP 230gr full metal jacket ammo was from Cabelas. Cost was $290 per 600 rounds or .48 ea. Based on that purchase reloading saves me about .15/round. However, the savings can be elusive. Diligent shopping can cause significant variation. For example Herters .45ACP from Cabelas can be bought for $309.99 per 1000 or .31 ea. or .02 less than I can reload it. Only .01 per round more than you could conceivably reload it. So, is reloading worth the cost of equipment. It depends. Initially, maybe not, but once you purchase the equipment that cost is set. It is unlikely that you would ever wear it out. If retail prices on ammo continue to escalate , as the current trend suggests, then the cost savings begin to drift in your direction.
Note: The cost per round prices I listed are based on bulk purchase. Many can't afford to spend $300 for ammo at one time. Not and stay married that is. When purchased over the counter in single boxes the cost per round for .45ACP is closer to .90 per.
Last edited by Captain Nemo; 07-23-2010 at 07:15 AM. Reason: Added note
Cases need be cleaned before running them through a sizing die - Carbide or regular. If you want to clean the cases (again after depriming, trimming, chamfering, cleaning primer pockets, etc) use a fine ground walnut media. It flows right through the primer flash-hole.
What I did for a tumbler is buy a double container rock polisher from Harbor Frieght Tools. It cost $40 and works just fine. Each container holds 20 30-06 brass fine. I put walnut shells in one and corn cob in the other, I use the walnut shells for dirty cases and the corn cob for those that just need a polishing. I also put in an inch long string of tube Flitz.That really shines up the cases. The Flitz at $11 a tube is pricey though and you probably don't want to put it in with deprimed cases. As to whether or not to polish unprimed cases I tend to agree with phred. I have had problems with clogged primer holes on cases using small rifle or handgun primers and walnut shells. Not so much in the primer pocket but in the small flash hole. Adds another step to the process. Have a needle handy. I also have read that when using walnut shells and unprimed cases that the primer pockets can enlarge. I don't know if that is true or not because I polish my cases only once and only shoot wheel guns in centerfire. Things aren't as fussy with revolvers. Also the people that write for the magazines are usually purists and talk in extremes so I am suspicous of of that comment. I don't trim my revolver cases but that is a critical step when reloading semi-auto ammo. Also don't crimp semi-auto ammo. Sem-autos chamber on the front edge of the case not the rim as do revolvers.