View Full Version : Which path to take to get into reloading?
January 24, 2007, 08:00
I'm planing on getting into reloading here in the near future. I'll be loading to feed my FAL at first and may start for my other current and future rifles if all ammo goes the way of surplus .308. so I may need to change to change to other calibers in the future but now it looks like .308 is gonna be the main one I'm reloading for and it would be relativly medium to high volume I know a single stage wouldn't keep up. here is my question I have talked to several people and they have advised me to go in one of two categories.
1. Buy a Lee aniversery kit, learn on that and then upgrade to a dillon 550.
2. Don't mess with the Lee isn't gonna meet your needs get the dillon 550 to start and use the money you saved on manuals and to properly out fit the dillon. There are tons of knowledgable people out there and they are all too willing and eager to share their insight and wisdom with you.
January 24, 2007, 08:22
I have been happy with my lee stuff. I must be wierd because I have never had any of the horror stories happen to me.
And Graf&Sons has been having a 1/2 off sale on a bunch of stuff. They are not offering the kit but they do have the "challenger" press on for $18.49 starting on the 31st. Even if you just decap with it you just can't beat the price.
January 24, 2007, 08:26
Start small. I have been reloading for over 30 years, and never had the desire to get into a progressive. I load on 2 Lee hand presses, and can easily do 100-150 .223 loads an hour. And I'm not tied to a bench mounted press, I can do it anywhere I want. Most of my equipment is Lee, not because it is cheap, but because the design is ingenious and it WORKS. The $20 Lee powdermeasure will kick the butt of many a $300 one, and the hand priming tool works way better than the RCBS.
The minimum you will need:
Lee hand press, shellholders and dies ($30, $5, $25)
Lee hand priming tool ($15)
Lee powder measure ($20)
Reloading scale ($50+)
Powder funnel ($5)
Dial caliper to measure overall length ($20+)
Lube (the only product from Lee that sucks)
Powder (Varget and RL15 will work well with 308, 223 and 30/06)
Reloading data (available on the web)
Primer pocket reamer and crimp remover
Lee case trimmer (cheap, easily interchangeable, and connect to your power drill)
You can add a case cleaner and other goodies later.
January 24, 2007, 10:29
Don't be so quick in dissing a single stage press for your needs. I loaded on one for 20+ years before I took a drink of the Dillon kool-aid. The Dillon works great on pistol cartidges but can be more challenging for rifle loading. Here are a couple of things that can be an issue with a Dillon:
1. Powder - if you are loading ball type powders, the Dillong dispenser works fine. For extruded powders (like Varget), they won't be consistent. Reaming and polishing the powder die will help as well as consistent strokes but still not a sure thing.
2. Case sizing - Resizing cases requires lubing the cases and still using some force to get the case through the die. The jerking motion will affect your powder throw and lube on the case mouth may cause powder to stick when you proceed to the powder stage.
3. Cases occasionally need trimming after the sizing operation anyway.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not downing the Dillon, just sharing my experiences. For my .308 FMJ loads, I use a ball powder so the Dillon does work. However, I still size my cases on a single stage press. After sizing and trimming, the cases go back in the tumbler to get the lube off. I use a Lee universal decapper die in the Dillon first stage to poke out the media out of the primer pocket. Doing it this way allows the Dillon operation to smooth out.
January 24, 2007, 10:50
For the amount of money I have to spend on ammo, and the demands I place on that reloaded ammo, the single stage press is the A-number-one choice for me.
I have a short attention span, and the single stage keeps me focused on just one thing at a time. I've tried a couple progressives, and they both gave me way too much stress.
January 24, 2007, 10:55
Nothing wrong with the Lee kit,
Do your ammo in batches of 100 or so and you will be suprised how fast it piles up.
January 24, 2007, 11:08
I find reloading rifle rounds even on a Dillon 550 paaaaiiiiinfully slow compared with reloading pistol rounds. Reloading on a single stage press is absolutely maddening how slow it is. In the time it takes to make one round you could easily shoot 3-4 magazines worth of that ammo at the range, even with well aimed shots.
Reloading on a single stage press will get you more consistent/accurate rounds, but if you reload for value/price like I do, it will make you crazy. Progressive rifle reloading is mostly painful due to all the manual case prep involved that cant be done inline on the press (trimming, lubing, primer hole decrimping). You can avoid trimming by using RCBS X-dies, but you cant avoid lubing each case or having to deprime then manually take the case out and cut the primer crimp off then put it back in. Theres little tricks to speed it up somewhat, but for the most part you need to have patience with reloading rifle rounds. If you are used to progrssively relaoding pistol rounds you will be frustrated when you start reloading tapered rifle rounds.
The only way to reload them significantly faster is to cough up $60k for a Camdex commercial automated reloading setup.
January 24, 2007, 11:39
Sounds like the lee is the way to go. thanks guys. Once I get it I'm sure I'll have more questions.
January 24, 2007, 11:49
Reloading on a single stage press will get you more consistent/accurate rounds, but if you reload for value/price like I do, it will make you crazy. Progressive rifle reloading is mostly painful due to all the manual case prep involved that cant be done inline on the press (trimming, lubing, primer hole decrimping).
Not a Slam but I think it is important to understand these steps need be taken "REGARDLESS" of the PRESS you choose..
Case prep is the Bottleneck of ALL reloading when added to the equation of Volume..
I PREP many cases at a Time and have a Pretty good supply READY to load at all times. For "ME" this has proven a Very Good method..
Keep in mind a FULL BLOWN DILLON setup using either the 550 or 650 Will cost between $800.00, & $1000.00.. (NOT including caliber conversions)
IMHO this MUST be considered in the decision making proces as it would take a Considerable amount of Re-loading (savings) to recoup the Initial Set-up costs...
I would have to say that a Beginner would be very well suited with a Redding, or RCBS Single stage press.
These can be found pretty easily on the NET and Auction sites for Much Less than New prices.. Contact RICKETTS when he gets back from his trip. He Buys and sells quite a Bit of reloading stuff on E-PAY..
The SKILL learned by starting slow will be invaluable down the road..
NOT Knowing HOW to properly setup a Machine that can load 500 rounds an hour could "EASILY" Get you 500 rounds of UNUSABLE ammo that will take MUCH more than 1 Hour to salvage..:wink:
January 24, 2007, 19:12
+1 on starting off with a single stage press. Progressives are good but if you dont pay attention even for a second you could end up with unusable ammo or even worse dangerous ammo.
Start off with a Rockchucker and learn the basics. Buy the Books ABC's of Reloading and Lyman Handbook of Metallic Cartridge Reloading first. Then buy you equipment.
fire for effect
January 27, 2007, 09:39
There are a few products that Lee makes that I like. Their presses are not among them. I must admit that I have not seen their cast Iron press so I cannot comment on them, but I would never buy one of their aluminum presses. I would also go with a Single stage press. It is good to learn on and you will still use it even after you purchase a progressive press.
January 29, 2007, 16:24
Find a used RCBS Rockchucker single stage press.
January 29, 2007, 17:36
I really think that jumping right into a progressive is not a good idea.
Start out with a single stage and LEARN the ins and outs of reloading, THEN with that knowledge under your belt, get the progressive IF you think you need it.
Handloading is NOT particularly difficult, BUT, done wrong it can kill you, literally.
Everyone must learn to walk before we learn to run, re-loading ammo is no different.
January 29, 2007, 18:21
I have several presses including turrets and progressives. The one I can not or will not do without is the Rockchucker single stage. Redding and Forster co-ax are very good also.
January 31, 2007, 14:29
Buy the Dillon.
There is no getting around case prep for rifle cartridge reloading, its a fact of life.
I use the Dillon 550B for both rifle and pistol and I'm so glad I bought it first time around. I shoot large volumes of pistol ammo in subguns and I'd be suicidal using a single stage press....it just wouldn't cut it.
As for rifle reloading, I set up a Dillon tool head with the decapping/resizing die in station 1 and the power trimmer in station 2. This allows me to produce a resized, reprimed and trimmed case every pull of the handle. NOTE: This is for brass that has already had the primer pockets swaged.
I deburr by hand and this allows me to again inspect the cases. Nothing wrong with ongoing QC when reloading.
Next step is pop the tool head out and put in the one with the powder measure, seating die and crimping die (about 20 seconds....but who's counting).
I start in station 2, dropping the powder, top it with a bullet and rotate. After the first three pulls, loaded ammo drops off every pull of the handle. I can easily load 400rds in an hour and thats not rushing things. I need a break before that anyway so I'll go a little slower and do 300 at a relaxed pace....I'm not getting paid, its an enjoyable hobby.
You'll never go wrong buying a Dillon or any other press, they are all good and will all get the job done, some are just a bit faster and more efficient. If you plan to load large quantities everytime you load a single stage press will be your doom.
There is nothing to be "learned" on a single stage press that doesn't apply to a progressive press. The usual cautions must be taken with either one. Both will turn out quality ammo, one just does it faster and more efficiently. Other than available funds, thats where you make your decision. I chose Dillon and glad I did. Their no BS warranty is also the best in the business, bar none. I've yet to pay for any replacement part no matter what it was in nine years. I broke a decapping pin a year or so ago and they sent me a whole package of them on a phonecall. My powder measure was messing up, they sent me a new one and never even asked for the old one back. I'll stick with a company that treats it customers like that.
February 01, 2007, 14:24
I love most of the Lee stuff, but the Lee LOAD MASTER is a load of SOMETHING alright!! The one I bought had a warped ram because Lee cooled them too fast, which they admit, but they refuse to fix it unless I pay another 50% of retail (dealer cost) to replace it. The Lee single stage presses have all been good buys for me, as have the dies and case lub. Don't store the case lub for long periods, the plastic tube will shatter.
The RCBS ROCKCHUCKER is now made in China and imported, there was an article in one of the gun rags a few months ago about it. Still a good press, but why not buy the US made Lee CLASSIC?
The US military PALMA shooters use a Dillon (I think 550) for their 600 yard Palma ammo, so it must put out some good ammo. Even if you buy a used Dillon, they stand behind it. Break it, even if you do something stupid, they fix it. Lose a part because you were screwing around with it? They replace the part. Need help? it is a phone call away. Great company!! Yo will NEVER regret getting a Dillon.
fire for effect
February 03, 2007, 08:52
Originally posted by tommygun2000
Buy the Dillon.
That is advise that I would ignore.
Buy the single stage first. Learn the basics. Once you get that down, you can advance to a progressive Dillon or Hornady, but you will never outgrow the Single stage press. I have three progressive presses, and I still use my Rockchucker.
I load 9mm, .38Super, .45ACP, .45LC, .223, .308, 30'06, 45/70, and 50/70.
February 03, 2007, 09:13
A single stage (or turent) should be part of any reloading setup anyway, so get the single stage first. Your future needs will determine whether you need a progressive or not, but if you get into competative pistol and start shooting 10k rounds or so per year, you won't do it with a single stage.
February 03, 2007, 11:48
I've only encountered one Lee single stage, it was at bass pro shops and it was downright FLIMSY.
That little powder measure they have is nearly toy-like.
Whatever you do Young you've got to do yourself the justice of seeing some choices in person before making your decision.
The idea of more thorough learning through single stage is true.
But cant you do the same on a progressive set up with only one die?
And at that point , couldnt you do single function case prep on a progressive only much faster?
Sure "walk before you run" is some of the best advice in town. But everything there is to learn on a Single Stage, still needs to be learned on a Progressive regardless.
IMO for you? - Redding Single Stage. RCBS Ammomaster seems like an awsome machine too.
But for me, Im picking up a brand new 550B today! It was my girlfriends christmas present promise to me. Were finally making it out to Space Coast Bullets (1 hr drive).
And the 160. dollar 550B Casefeeder I picked up in the marketplace is gonna help me out some.
February 03, 2007, 17:23
That little powder measure they have is nearly toy-like.
Don't knock it unless you have tried it if you are talking about the "perfect powder measure" As many here have found that "toy" works very well and is consistent top to bottom.
I still think he should buy the Lee kit. Even if he winds up pitching the press the rest of the items are still less than buying them piece by piece.
Just my two cents on the subject.
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