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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well Ya'll its about time i start getting some reloading equipment. I want to start small and slow. I dont need much volume, just want to be able to supply my own practice ammo and make some high quality hunting and defensive loads.

.223/5.56
.300 blk
9mm .380
eventually .308 or another similar large rifle.

So, I want like a simple hand press, hand tools for cleaning the brass etc. maybe do 50 -100 rounds in an evening, nothing major.

So what brands should I look at and what components should i start looking for first.

I have tons of Brass, but thats it.
 

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RCBS.
yeah,yeah,yeah,,,, lee is cheap and good to start with [so everyone likes to say] until you end up replacing half of it with RCBS stuff later.

just go buy the RCBS kit and be done with it.
 

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x2 on the RCBS Master Reloading Kit. If you lose interest, it will be easy to sell as a kit. Otherwise, you'll have a set of tools that should last your lifetime....and then some.
 

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I've owned the same RCBS Rock Chucker for almost 40 years. I happened to buy it new but wouldn't hesitate buying a used RCBS set to save money. I've swaged 30-06 to 7.7 Arisaka with my Rockchucker and resized 7RM brass using it.. My reloads are as good as my military surplus and sporter rifles can shoot. The feel and quality of the RCBS dies and press seem better than Lee even though I think Lee dies work. Invest in Lee collet neck sizing dies. I've heard of Lee presses breaking ( the company will replace the parts) but my RCBS is fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I appreciate the info!

looking at rcbs it is a little more on the pricey side, which has me leaning towards some of the LEE stuff.

the way i see it is IF i really get into this wont I want to upgrade to a better/ faster press anyways? so why spend the $ for a rcbs rock chucker if im going to end up replacing that anyways?

I really do plan to start slow. i even considered getting a hand press, but i think ill enjoy a bench mounted one better.

while the kits are nice, thats alot to lay out at once, so i was hoping to go piecemeal, plus, some of the stuff that comes in the kits may not be what i want anyways.

Is there a good powder that can work for .223 / .300blk/ 9mm/ .380 in one?
 

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When I was young, I bought a Honda Scrambler. It was suppose to be a hybrid between a road bike and a dirt bike. It handled poorly in both situations. I think you'll need at least two powders. Bullseye or W231 would be a common recommendation for your 9mm or .380. I don't shoot either a .223 or .30blk so I can't help you there.

As a recommendation, try researching and asking around for a used RCBS set and dies. The best price I've found for a brass tumbler is Harbor Freight. I use crushed walnut shells purchased at feed stores as media.
 

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RCBS.
yeah,yeah,yeah,,,, lee is cheap and good to start with [so everyone likes to say] until you end up replacing half of it with RCBS stuff later.

just go buy the RCBS kit and be done with it.
I’m going to go against the grain here. if you can swing it get a MEC single stage. RCBS would be a good second choice.
 

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Also, there’s this over on longrangehunting. I think it’s a good deal? I’m not up on prices.
You have to be a member for a week to post in the trading forum or direct message. Let me know if it’s a steal and you want me to initiate contact.

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I have 7 or 8 presses, 2 are Rocker Chuckers, expensive vintage press that has 8 spaces for dies so it is always set up, a progressive, a Lee Hand Press and a couple Lee bench presses and others. I keep the Rockchuckers set up for big stuff Like my 300 Wby. I use the 2 Lee presses for my simple stuff like 380, 38, 44 and 45, pistol calibers. You do not need much power in straight cases.

Tip. On pistol dies, always pay extra for the carbide sizing die, otherwise you will have to lubricate every case.

Second tip. Buy one of the little Lee hand priming tools. I have 2 of them, one is over 40 years old. You can sit and watch TV and prime your cases, simply tool that saves time.

Tip three. You need a case tumbler to clean your cases. Someone suggested one from Harbour Freight, those are fine.

Tip 4. You will needs some corn cob or walnut media for your tumbler. I suggest going to Pet Smart and buying the Lizard cage filler, get the one that says it is ground up walnut hulls, It is the same as what you buy at the gun store, only about half the price or less.

Tip 5. You will need a work bench or sturdy table for your press. Your list above is all short little cases but when you get to rifle cases like the 308, you will need a very sturdy bench of table so plan for that. You can reinforce a table with a piece of plywood if needed.

Tip 6. You need a scale, whether you use a powder measure like the little Lee or other brand or even the little Lee loading dippers. They will work fine for the loads you list, but you still need to verify the weight of the powder before you just start dumping it into cases. All of the little digital scales work fine, I have a Hornady that was cheap and a Frankford Arsenal. I also have 4-5 other beam scales. I have never had a problem with the little digital ones they are scary accurate, about $40.

As far as dies? I have the expensive old ones but the only thing I buy new now are the Lee Brand, they are cheap and have worked without fail many for over 45 years. If you want to go cheap and load what you list with a single press the Lee will do all you ever want. One last tip, never get rid of a press, just sit it up and dedicate it to one caliber, maybe something you do not load a lot. I use one of mine for 45-70. I have a 12 foot work bench just for loading, so I can leave presses and scales and loading books and such set up all along the wall. Works for me.

You mentioned the hand press. I bought one when I traveled for work and sometimes would load a few in the hotel room. After I retired, we take it in the RV. I have sat out at the NRA Whittington center, at Palo Duro Canyon in Texas, state parks in Oklahoma, and other places and reloading under the trees. It is relaxing to me. The hand press is slow, but it works for pistols and I have loaded a bunch of 300 BLK with it. But it is slow and I do not recommend at your first press. I have mine and loading stuff in an old briefcase, it does not take up much room and there is space for several hundred pistol brass and bullets. if you go that way, you might do the same.

Good luck, we all started slow.
 

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I have had and used the LEE reloading kit and dies, accessories, etc. from day one and have been more than satisfied. I did upgrade to their turret press eventually. However, as a side note, I am not as heavy a reloaded as some of the other fellers here.





This is what I started out with. You will need to add dies and shell holders for the calibers you wish to reload.
 

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You will also want to get a couple of good reloading manuals ( I suggest one of them to be the one from LEE; it’s pretty straight forward and easy to understand). Also the ABC’s of reloading by C. Rodney James is a must. Sorta the Bible for reloaders and can probably be found in every reloader’s library.
 

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I'm not into reloading (yet), but check Craigslist and some of the other online market places for used equipment. You might get lucky and get a good starter set-up that way. I just found this on my local Craigslist...

No, it doesn't have dies you need, but it's just an example.
 

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If you go to gun shows, there will often be used reloading products for sale. If you go for that reason, go the first morning they open, Old guys like me buy up the good deals. Like I said above, if you have the space, you can leave one loader set up all the time for single calibers. I have 5 separate reloading stations set up now.
 

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OK, not to be a contrarian; but I think something else should be said:

Let's understand each other: I ran two RCBS Rock Chucker presses for almost 50 years. RCBS tech support spent years on the phone with me, and is responsible for, something like, at least 30 or 40% of what I initially learned about metallic cartridge loading.

With this being said, how did I finally end up? I ended up with mostly RCBS ancillary reloading equipment (i.e.: scales, powder measures, case prep station, trimmer, neck turner, wet/dry number, and certain reloading dies), one Dillion Precision XL650 progressive press, and one auto-indexing MEC shotshell reloader—all of which I used, and used, and used for many decades!

There Are A Few Truisms About Reloading:

1. Handloading is an addictive hobby. Once you start it becomes one of the most pleasant, distractive, and relaxing hobbies any dominant, male-orientated ego could ever imagine. (The cares and woes of my job, the office, and the evil world-at-large always seemed to 'melt away' whenever I started working with one of the presses!)

2. Handloading/reloading is a challenging hobby that can give a hobbyist a real sense of accomplishment, technical know-how, and a feeling of pride in the finished products. (I used to make really beautiful, very powerful, and highly accurate ammunition!)

3. Now get this: THE EQUIPMENT YOU START WITH IS, MOST LIKELY, GOING TO BE THE SAME EQUIPMENT THAT YOU STAY WITH FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! (That's just the way it is for most people.)

4. Once you really get into handloading/reloading, you are NOT going to save any money. Not if you become a highly skilled handloader like me! I just kept on getting deeper and deeper into the skillsets and hobby, and took more and more pride in both the work and finished products. Before I knew it I was purchasing equipment to turn down case necks to a precise diameter and high precision (i.e., long-range) fit. Then I started to anneal brass cases, too.)

If—IF—I were to start out handloading/reloading all over again, today, THIS is what I would do:

I'd get myself a Dillion Precision RL550C Progressive Press. (Because my Dillon XL650 [now Dillon XL750] was just plain too damned fast, and it took some of the fun and high precision out of reloading. (Yes, it CAN happen!) Then I'd buy additional shellplates (and, maybe, primer feeds) and set myself up for two or three closely related calibers.

You Are Going To Have To Make A Few Decisions, Here:

1. Chose whether it's going to be for either rifle, or pistol cartridges, here, because both won't work easily on the same press. (Because the setup time is way too long; and, after a while, you're not going to want to go through it over and over again.)

2. Choose between either large or small primer systems because . . . (All of the same reasons listed above,)

3. Get the best tumbler you can afford.

4. Get the best separate and detached powder scale, and powder thrower you can afford.

5. Get an RCBS Case Prep Station, and all of the associated fittings.

6. Get an RCBS Case Trimmer, and all of the associated fittings.

7. And HERE is a biggie: A strong decent size workbench and (hanging) overhead florescent light. (I had a kitchen cabinetmaker build a bench for me. It was 72 inches long by 30 inches wide with a raised ten inch (wide & high) shelf along the back, and storage shelves underneath the table top. It was a big solid bench with a formica top on it that stood thirty-two inches high. (Sit on a barstool when you reload.)

Now, maybe, you don't have to get into handloading/reloading quite as extensively as I did; but I consumed between 1,500 and 2,000 rounds of fired ammunition each and every month throughout most of the year. So I needed a lot of pistol, rifle, and shotgun ammo (in that exact order of use).

In the beginning I thought that I got into metallic cartridge handloading/reloading in order to save money, but that never turned out to actually be the case. I did it because I learned how to make much better ammunition than anything short of (say): Lapua, Norma, or Eley. Moreover, I really found handloading to be a very relaxing hobby that I could also be highly successful at; but, as far as saving money goes? With all the equipment I ended up buying I doubt that I ever actually did that.

You do NOT have to buy all of these things at the same time. I worked into handloading/reloading gradually, and this is still, I think, the best way for anyone who's new to the hobby to proceed. Just remember to be careful what equipment you start out with because, if the experience is typical, you're probably going to stay with it for a while! ;)

What, after more than 50 years of handloading did I find to be the most annoying thing about making my own high quality rifle, pistol, and shotgun ammunition? Originally, I wasn't going to say anything, but you should probably be ready for it: All of the 'shooting range glom artists' who seem to take a perverse delight in picking up and surreptitiously pocketing your fired brass BEFORE you have a chance to collect it, yourself—THAT is what!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
OK, not to be a contrarian; but I think something else should be said:

Let's understand each other: I ran two RCBS Rock Chucker presses for almost 50 years. RCBS tech support spent years on the phone with me, and is responsible for, something like, at least 30 or 40% of what I initially learned about metallic cartridge loading.

With this being said, how did I finally end up? I ended up with mostly RCBS ancillary reloading equipment (i.e.: scales, powder measures, case prep station, trimmer, neck turner, wet/dry number, and certain reloading dies), one Dillion Precision XL650 progressive press, and one auto-indexing MEC shotshell reloader—all of which I used, and used, and used for many decades!

There Are A Few Truisms About Reloading:

1. Handloading is an addictive hobby. Once you start it becomes one of the most pleasant, distractive, and relaxing hobbies any dominant, male-orientated ego could ever imagine. (The cares and woes of my job, the office, and the evil world-at-large always seemed to 'melt away' whenever I started working with one of the presses!)

2. Handloading/reloading is a challenging hobby that can give a hobbyist a real sense of accomplishment, technical know-how, and a feeling of pride in the finished products. (I used to make really beautiful, very powerful, and highly accurate ammunition!)

3. Now get this: THE EQUIPMENT YOU START WITH IS, MOST LIKELY, GOING TO BE THE SAME EQUIPMENT THAT YOU STAY WITH FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! (That's just the way it is for most people.)

4. Once you really get into handloading/reloading, you are NOT going to save any money. Not if you become a highly skilled handloader like me! I just kept on getting deeper and deeper into the skillsets and hobby, and took more and more pride in both the work and finished products. Before I knew it I was purchasing equipment to turn down case necks to a precise diameter and high precision (i.e., long-range) fit. Then I started to anneal brass cases, too.)

If—IF—I were to start out handloading/reloading all over again, today, THIS is what I would do:

I'd get myself a Dillion Precision RL550C Progressive Press. (Because my Dillon XL650 [now Dillon XL750] was just plain too damned fast, and it took some of the fun and high precision out of reloading. (Yes, it CAN happen!) Then I'd buy additional shellplates (and, maybe, primer feeds) and set myself up for two or three closely related calibers.

You Are Going To Have To Make A Few Decisions, Here:

1. Chose whether it's going to be for either rifle, or pistol cartridges, here, because both won't work easily on the same press. (Because the setup time is way too long; and, after a while, you're not going to want to go through it over and over again.)

2. Choose between either large or small primer systems because . . . (All of the same reasons listed above,)

3. Get the best tumbler you can afford.

4. Get the best separate and detached powder scale, and powder thrower you can afford.

5. Get an RCBS Case Prep Station, and all of the associated fittings.

6. Get an RCBS Case Trimmer, and all of the associated fittings.

7. And HERE is a biggie: A strong decent size workbench and (hanging) overhead florescent light. (I had a kitchen cabinetmaker build a bench for me. it was six feet long with a raised six inch shelf along the back, and storage shelves underneath. It was a big solid bench with a formica top on it that stood thirty-two inches high. (Sit on a barstool when you reload.)

Now, maybe, you don't have to get into handloading/reloading quite as extensively as I did; but I consumed between 1,500 and 2,000 rounds of fired ammunition each and every month throughout most of the year. So I needed a lot of pistol, rifle, and shotgun ammo (in that exact order of use).

In the beginning I thought that I got into metallic cartridge handloading/reloading in order to save money, but that never turned out to actually be the case. I did it because I learned how to make much better ammunition than anything short of (say): Lapua, Norma, or Eley. Moreover, I really found handloading to be a very relaxing hobby that I could also be highly successful at; but, as far as saving money goes? With all the equipment I ended up buying I doubt that I ever actually did that.

You do NOT have to buy all of these things at the same time. I worked into handloading/reloading gradually, and this is still, I think, the best way for anyone who's new to the hobby to proceed. Just remember to be careful what equipment you start out with because, if the experience is typical, you're probably going to stay with it for a while! ;)

What, after more than 50 years of handloading did I find to be the most annoying thing about making my own high quality rifle, pistol, and shotgun ammunition? Originally, I wasn't going to say anything, but you should probably be ready for it: All of the 'shooting range glom artists' who seem to take a perverse delight in picking up and surreptitiously pocketing your fired brass BEFORE you have a chance to collect it, yourself—THAT is what!

thanks for sharing your insight and experience.

I understand i have alot to learn :)
 

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I'd get myself a Dillion Precision RL550C Progressive Press. (Because my Dillon XL650 [now Dillon XL750] was just plain too damned fast, and it took some of the fun and high precision out of reloading. (Yes, it CAN happen!) Then I'd buy additional shellplates (and, maybe, primer feeds) and set myself up for two or three closely related calibers.

You Are Going To Have To Make A Few Decisions, Here:

1. Chose whether it's going to be for either rifle, or pistol cartridges, here, because both won't work easily on the same press. (Because the setup time is way too long; and, after a while, you're not going to want to go through it over and over again.)

2. Choose between either large or small primer systems because . . . (All of the same reasons listed above,)

3. Get the best tumbler you can afford.

4. Get the best separate and detached powder scale, and powder thrower you can afford.

5. Get an RCBS Case Prep Station, and all of the associated fittings.

6. Get an RCBS Case Trimmer, and all of the associated fittings.

7. And HERE is a biggie: A strong decent size workbench and (hanging) overhead florescent light. (I had a kitchen cabinetmaker build a bench for me. It was 72 inches long by 30 inches wide with a raised ten inch (wide & high) shelf along the back, and storage shelves underneath the table top. It was a big solid bench with a formica top on it that stood thirty-two inches high. (Sit on a barstool when you reload.)
this is a great post, I trimmed it to the list. I’m going to pick a little bit, and no offense meant. I like what you wrote here.

I have a Dillon 550. I use it a lot, but only for high production pistol. .45 ACP, 9mm, etc. However, I know more than one person that loads all their precision long range rifle ammunition on their 550. It’s a solid option for an only press. I’m actually turning out very high quality ammo on my Lyman T-Mag turret press though. I still load my long range stuff on my single stage, but a lot of cartridges get made on the turret.

Full disclosure here. I have one single stage, one Lyman turret, one Dillon 550, one Lyman lube sizer, and 3 MEC junior presses for shot shell. I’m not exactly a single press owner. I’ve owned 2 Lee presses, they were given to me and I gave them to someone else.

Regarding number 1 - a good single stage will do everything you need. With precision. It’s very slow for high production though. Even compared to a turret press, especially compared to a progressive. But if you can only afford one, I’d honestly opt for the best single stage you can get.

Regarding number 2 - I’ve never had an issue switching between large and small primers. I’m not exactly sure what was meant here. If you get a hand primer, you’ll like it.
2.b - get a universal decapping die. It’s way better. I took the decapping pins out of my sizing die. Just the pins, not the whole neck expander.

Regarding numbers 3 and 4 - Agreed. However, best isn’t necessarily the most expensive on the powder throw.

Regarding number 5 - a prep station is worth the money. I don’t use my RCBS prep station so much anymore since I bought the Frankfort Arsenal Case Prep center. I also don’t use my high end trim dies anymore (Worlds finest trimmers) preferring the FF solution.

Regarding number 6 - see number 5.

Regarding number 7 - Agreed. To add, try to minimize air movement over your bench. It messes with your scales more than you’d think.

as an additional thing, I still prefer a really good balance beam to a digital powder scale. I use my digital scale to sort brass, bullets, and double check my beam.
 
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I made my own case prep set up. Harbor Freight drill and foot pedal switch. I use the LEE zip trim three jaw chuck and case length trimmer and deberers along primer pocket trimmer. Cost was about $50 plus the caliber specific length trimmers.



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Thank you, Dutch and MosinRuger for the votes of confidence! :)

The main (and maybe the only) reason I had the single-stage Rock Chuckers was because I wanted to build superlatively well-made rifle ammo for my high precision long-range shooting. This is, as I am sure Dutch knows, something that cannot be done right on a progressive press because of all the mechanical slop in the rotary shell plate.

Set up time on a progressive can be quite extensive. One of the things that often needs to be (laboriously) changed are the primer feed assemblies of which there are two different sizes: large, and small. (Handheld priming tools never did it for me. The RCBS model was too clumsy, and the Lee offered no particular advantage other than adding a little variety to the usual reloading routine.)

Today, if I had only one press for metallic cartridges it would probably be a Redding T-7 Turret Reloading Press. A quality scale (I don't care what kind), a powder measure, and a powder trickler are also absolute necessities. So is a handheld case mouth chamfer/deburring tool; AND, that other indispensable reloading tool we haven't talked about, yet: A nice stainless steel caliper! (I prefer to use a dial-type.)
 
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Also, there’s this over on longrangehunting. I think it’s a good deal? I’m not up on prices.
You have to be a member for a week to post in the trading forum or direct message. Let me know if it’s a steal and you want me to initiate contact.

View attachment 168845 View attachment 168846
This seller wants it gone. Just an FYI update.
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