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Thread: Looking for advice on getting into reloading

  1. #1
    Regular Member ()pen(arry's Avatar
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    Looking for advice on getting into reloading

    I bought a lovely Remington 700 XCR in .270 Win for myself two Christmases ago. I love the rifle (and I especially love the Nikon Monarch 4-16x42 I just upgraded to). Only long after I'd bought the rifle, however, did I discover that whatever the relative merits of .270, .308, and .30-06, with the latter two I wouldn't be blowing a dollar bill down the barrel every time I pulled the trigger. Oh, the things we realize too late. So. I want to start reloading soon. I've kept all my brass since the first round I fired, anticipating this. Now I'm ready to get started learning about it so I can get started doing it.

    Questions:
    1) What is the best single book/manual for learning about reloading? I realize that various manuals have various spec sheets for various rounds/loads/components/etc. I'm not ready for those, yet. What I want first is a book that teaches me everything I need to know about reloading as a practice. I like to know plenty about something before I start doing it. So what's the best introductory/instructional text?
    2) How much, ballpark, should I expect to spend on my first setup that is of good quality and will include everything I need to be able to take the brass I've saved and end up with ammunition I can fire? I'm not asking, "What's the least I can spend and be functional?" I'm asking what I should expect to spend if I want to do it right, as a new reloader loading my own ammunition (not looking to make a resale business, here, or reload a dozen different chamberings).
    3) What are the two/three brands I should choose among when buying the press and related equipment? I don't want to start a brand war, so I'm wondering what the top few choices are, and I wouldn't mind some objective input on how I can make an informed decision.

    Thanks, folks!

  2. #2
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    Depending on how much shooting you plan on you can spend as little as $100 and have everything you need or you can drop a months income.
    If you plan on 100 rounds a month or less than the Lee Classic loader and a few other things will be plenty and it all fits into a 50 caliber ammo can except for the powder.
    If you expect to shoot from 100 to 300 or so than a single stage press and a few more items totaling about $300 will suffice.
    More than that that and you will spend a lot of time reloading or spending big bucks for a progressive press and accessories.
    what ever you decide buy and read some reloading manuals first. They well show you how to go about reloading and answer a whole lot of question you will have.
    FWIW I have been reloading since 1969 and I started with a Lee classic loader then worked my way up through a single stage press to a manually operated progressive press to my Dillon Square Deal B press for pistol cartridges.

  3. #3
    Regular Member Gil223's Avatar
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by jeeper1 View Post
    Depending on how much shooting you plan on you can spend as little as $100 and have everything you need or you can drop a months income.
    If you plan on 100 rounds a month or less than the Lee Classic loader and a few other things will be plenty and it all fits into a 50 caliber ammo can except for the powder.
    Good, sensible advice! I would add that he should get the best equipment he can afford that fits that recommendation. We have Lee at the low end, and Hornady, Dillion, etc. at the other end.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeeper1 View Post
    If you expect to shoot from 100 to 300 or so than a single stage press and a few more items totaling about $300 will suffice.
    More than that that and you will spend a lot of time reloading or spending big bucks for a progressive press and accessories.
    what ever you decide buy and read some reloading manuals first. They well show you how to go about reloading and answer a whole lot of question you will have.
    I began reloading with a single-stage RCBS Rock Chucker. It was a well made unit, and very reasonably priced as I recall (the press alone was in the neighborhood of $40 back then) but I got bored with it PDQ. I went to a Dillion RL450B, 4-station progressive press (which was about 10X the cost of the RCBS, but I got everything I needed with it) about 25 years ago, and loved it (except for the 9mm powder dump tube, which - back then - threw light loads and cost me a new barrel for my Colt LW Commander.) Then on my last move, from OR back to UT, the movers either misdelivered the Dillion, lost it, or stole it. I didn't have the money for another high end unit, so I now use a Lee Classic Turret Press and I'm very satisfied with it. I don't know that you always "get what you pay for" and, other than some cosmetic differences and total casting vs a mixture of some casting and some machining, I don't know that the high end systems are really worth the difference in $$$. I have a Hornady Reloading Manual and a Speer Manual that are about 20 years old, and still basically useful although some of the recommended powders are no longer made. So, last Christmas I got the "Modern Reloading Second Edition" by Richard Lee (of Lee Precision Engineering) thinking that since he doesn't really have a dog in the "my powder can beat your powder" fight, the powder selections would be wider. I was right. I estimate that it has 2-3 times the number of loads as the Hornady or Speer manual because of that increased objectivity.

    Good luck with your adventure into the world of "roll your own ammo", and remember - Always begin with loads that use light to middle powder charges, and work your way up to whatever is comfortable for you. Pax...
    Last edited by Gil223; 02-03-2012 at 12:22 PM.
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    Regular Member ()pen(arry's Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses, folks!

    Let's say I'm willing to go with Dillon, and I'd like to be able to reload my .270 Win and also 9mm for my pistols. Can I use the BL 550 for both (I like that I can eventually upgrade it, piece by piece, to the RL 550)? Their website isn't particularly informative to someone who doesn't already know what they're looking for (or maybe I'm just that ignorant lol). Would someone be willing to suggest a full parts list for everything I'd need, from the Dillon site?

    Also, does anyone have any advice on what powder and bullets I should start with?

    Thanks again, everyone.

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    After looking at the Dillon bl550 I can say this "I personally wouldn't want one". It is nothing more than an expensive and awkward to use single stage press that holds all the dies at the same time.
    I believe that since you are new to reloading the cost of the Dillon press, required extras and the hassle of using it would turn you against reloading altogether.
    You still haven't said how much you plan on shooting each month and that's important.
    I wouldn't spend the money on a Dillon press for your 270 if you are going to shoot less than 100 rounds a month. I would however use a Dillon Square Deal "B" for the 9mm because it requires so few extras for 9mm. If I remember right with the SD B you only need a scale and a primer orienting tray.

  6. #6
    Regular Member Gil223's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ()pen(arry View Post
    Thanks for the responses, folks!

    Let's say I'm willing to go with Dillon, and I'd like to be able to reload my .270 Win and also 9mm for my pistols. Can I use the BL 550 for both (I like that I can eventually upgrade it, piece by piece, to the RL 550)? Their website isn't particularly informative to someone who doesn't already know what they're looking for (or maybe I'm just that ignorant lol). Would someone be willing to suggest a full parts list for everything I'd need, from the Dillon site?

    Also, does anyone have any advice on what powder and bullets I should start with?
    It appears that you have struck upon a good, practical plan. Dillion is a product I would buy again without a second thought... if I wasn't on a fixed income. Mechanically speaking, the only difference between loading rifle ammo and handgun ammo is the toolhead and shellplate. Generally, you will need at least a shellplate (if you don't want to have to reset your dies every caliber change) for whatever caliber you are loading... although some shellplates may fit more than one caliber. It depends primarily upon the construction of the cartridge case you're loading (belted, rimmed, rimless, etc.). Additional equipment? Definitely get a powder scale (I prefer the digital kind), and a 'powder trickler' (if you want extremely precise powder charges). If you go with Dillon, at some point in time it looks like you'll also need a "caliber conversion" kit (if you reload for more than one firearm). As much as I loved my Dillon, in all honesty I have to say that they are voracious consumers of your cash - and, from what I can see on their current website, the BL550 doesn't come with squat. Looks like you'll need everything!*

    Powders and bullets are pretty-much "dealers choice" items. The IMR powders are still quite popular (after decades) for long guns, and Bullseye and the Dot series (Red Dot, Blue Dot, etc.) are still staples in in the powder pantry of most handgun reloaders. It comes down to what your intended pupose is for reloading in the first place. Bullets? Same deal - some folks won't use anything but Hornady, others who swear by Speer or Nosler, and then there are those who cast and mold their own lead bullets. I have always preferred CCI primers. Never had one fail to do its job. Target shooters, hunters, and self-defense shooters each tend to like different combinations of powder and projectile. Why? Because they each do a different style of shooting, and they match their load combinations to their desired goal. Pax...

    * or at least everything you will need to achieve your desired goals.
    Last edited by Gil223; 02-04-2012 at 06:27 PM.
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  7. #7
    Regular Member ()pen(arry's Avatar
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    Self-necro!

    I ended up putting together the following setup over the last month:
    • Hornady Classic Single-Stage Press
    • Lee Precision Dies
    • RCBS Primer Pocket Swager
    • Lyman Gen 6 Powder Scale/Dispenser
    • RCBS Universal Priming Tool
    • Extreme Tumblers Rebel 17 tumbler with Stainless Tumbling Media
    • Miscellaneous accessories

    Basically, I researched each piece and put together a system with what I thought was the best value for each component. It was somewhat expensive, but I've got a straight-forward system with highly-rated components. I went to Storables and put together a 2'x3'x34" cart on locking wheels, and bought a 2'x3'x1 3/4" maple bench top from Grizzly for the work top, so everything is neatly stored and my wife isn't unscrewing my head and sh'tting down my neck.

    Reloading is slow, but surprisingly therapeutic. I enjoy it, and maybe one day I'll break even on the investment. I know I'm going to end up with cheaper and far superior .270 cartridges, and one day soon I'll give in to my black rifle disease, build an AR, and start loading 5.56.

    Many thanks, two years later, for the advice in this and other threads.

  8. #8
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    About those manuals

    Quote Originally Posted by ()pen(arry View Post
    I bought a lovely Remington 700 XCR in .270 Win for myself two Christmases ago. I love the rifle (and I especially love the Nikon Monarch 4-16x42 I just upgraded to). Only long after I'd bought the rifle, however, did I discover that whatever the relative merits of .270, .308, and .30-06, with the latter two I wouldn't be blowing a dollar bill down the barrel every time I pulled the trigger. Oh, the things we realize too late. So. I want to start reloading soon. I've kept all my brass since the first round I fired, anticipating this. Now I'm ready to get started learning about it so I can get started doing it.

    Questions:
    1) What is the best single book/manual for learning about reloading? I realize that various manuals have various spec sheets for various rounds/loads/components/etc. I'm not ready for those, yet. What I want first is a book that teaches me everything I need to know about reloading as a practice. I like to know plenty about something before I start doing it. So what's the best introductory/instructional text?
    2) How much, ballpark, should I expect to spend on my first setup that is of good quality and will include everything I need to be able to take the brass I've saved and end up with ammunition I can fire? I'm not asking, "What's the least I can spend and be functional?" I'm asking what I should expect to spend if I want to do it right, as a new reloader loading my own ammunition (not looking to make a resale business, here, or reload a dozen different chamberings).
    3) What are the two/three brands I should choose among when buying the press and related equipment? I don't want to start a brand war, so I'm wondering what the top few choices are, and I wouldn't mind some objective input on how I can make an informed decision.

    Thanks, folks!
    What ever you do, follow the advice in the other posts and get several good manuals. You can actually get several of them on line, FREE. I suggest at least a Hornady and a Speer manual. The more the merrier. And the most important thing: FOLLOW THEM VERBATIM. No fudging on the powder load or the bullet seating depth.

    STAY SAFE.

    roN

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