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Author Topic: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...  (Read 5141 times)

RevDisk

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Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
« on: January 28, 2014, 09:54:05 am »

I did do some reading before posting, and did other homework elsewhere.

Since I'm not a high volume shooter at the moment (too much work and housework, without a good range really close), a single stage press is apparently what I want. Dillon is probably excessive, even if they are the king of quality. Lee Precision or is there another brand I should look into? I'm about to touch my toes in the water but I understand you don't want to cheap out on a press.

I also need a tumbler, chrono, calipers, reference manuals on loads and scale. Maybe go/no go gauges.

Recommendations on sources, brands, etc?
To know the darkness is to love the light,
to welcome dawn and fear the coming night.
- Book of Counted Sorrows

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    xsquidgator

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #1 on: January 28, 2014, 10:00:56 am »
    I would recommend getting a single stage kit and add in a few things.
    A digital scale is nice but not essential, maybe some loading blocks if they're not in the kit, and so forth.

    I have a bunch of Lee stuff and it's OK I guess, but I would recommend getting something better like Hornady, RCBS, or Dillon if it's something you will use.  The Lee dies are OK, but I have found their presses to be more hobby-grade-ish despite how they claim how great they are.

    RevDisk

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #2 on: January 28, 2014, 11:21:09 am »

    Aside from a load of old brass, I estimate 100-200 rounds per month average.

    So you'd recommend one of the following:

    http://www.amazon.com/RCBS-Chucker-Supreme-Master-Reloading/dp/B0078MWM2W
    http://www.amazon.com/Hornady-Lock-Classic-Deluxe-Reloading/dp/B007LV2LO4/

    Dillon doesn't offer any kits, apparently. I love a lot of their presses, looking over them, but very expensive for a first time user that will only be doing so many rounds a month.
    To know the darkness is to love the light,
    to welcome dawn and fear the coming night.
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    JesseL

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #3 on: January 28, 2014, 01:00:28 pm »
    I'd go with that RCBS kit and add:
    http://www.amazon.com/Mitutoyo-ABSOLUTE-500-196-20-Stainless-Resolution/dp/B001C0ZPNO
    (not cheap, but useful for a lot more than reloading)

    and:
    http://www.amazon.com/Frankford-205205-Arsenal-Reloading-Scale/dp/B002BDOHNA

    For dies, I like Lee. The rest of they're equipment ranges from crap to useable, but their dies are good quality and much less expensive than other brands.
    Arizona

    Brandon

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #4 on: January 28, 2014, 04:10:07 pm »
    For a tumbler I use the Thumler's Tumbler Model B High Speed Rotary Case Tumbler 110 Volt it is a wet tumbler so there is no lead dust and the Stainless Steel Pins I use as media should last a life time. The only down side to this system is that you need to dry the brass. Also I deprime all my brass with the Lee Universal Depriming and Decapping Die before I tumble it so the primer pockets get cleaned out. This setup is a bit on the expensive side but the Stainless Steel Pins should last a life time. 

    Tumbler
    http://www.midwayusa.com/product/426185/thumlers-tumbler-model-b-high-speed-rotary-case-tumbler-110-volt

    Stainless Steel Pins
    http://www.midwayusa.com/product/635839/pellets-brass-cleaning-media-stainless-steel-pins-5-lb-bag?cm_vc=ProductFinding
    Washington

    cpaspr

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #5 on: January 28, 2014, 07:18:37 pm »
    I have two old RCBS Jr presses.  I've used them on everything from .380 up to .30-06.  One came from a friend 28 years ago, the other I picked up from e*Bay, with a set of .357 dies.  There's nothing wrong with used stuff in good condition, if you can get it for a good price.

    You'll need a scale.  I have a beam scale, don't feel lacking without a digital.

    If loading precise rifle rounds, you'll want a powder trickler.  Which works well with a beam scale, but I'm not sure they work with a digital scale.

    You'll need a powder measure of some sort.  I'm only familiar with the RCBS/Dillon style measures, so can't comment on the powder disc styles. 

    I've used Redding, RCBS and Lee dies.  They're all equally good.  In fact, none of my dies were new when I acquired them.

    Some people prime on the press, some use hand-priming tools.  Or autoprimes.  You'll have to decide what you like.  Personally, I used to prime on the press, until I got a Lee hand priming tool (two actually).  Much faster and more consistent.

    Tumblers are nice, but they aren't a must have when getting started.  But for 1-200 a month, yeah, better plan on getting one.  When I started it was only to load hunting ammo, so low quantities.  Then I loaded some .38s and .357s, but I didn't shoot very much at a time, and those case never hit the ground, so cleaning them wasn't really necessary.  Now?  .223 and semi-auto pistol brass all hits the ground.  And while I don't shoot nearly as frequently as I'd like, almost every trip to the range brings back a couple tumbler-loads in various calibers.  Not all of them were originally mine.   ;)  Yes, I'm a brass-rat.  Don't scoff.  I have probably 5,000+ of both 9mm and .223 cases, and all of them were range pickups.  Much of my ability to shoot is because of the lesser cost of reloading components compared to factory.

    Oregon

    RevDisk

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #6 on: January 29, 2014, 08:42:19 am »

    I was actually pondering going with a hand loader until I was sure I wanted to make the full jump.
    To know the darkness is to love the light,
    to welcome dawn and fear the coming night.
    - Book of Counted Sorrows

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    Mississippi556

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #7 on: January 29, 2014, 11:26:48 am »
    I think any good starter single stage kit from any of the major companies is a good beginning.  I went for years without tumbling cases.  Very nice to make them shiny and to run easier through the dies, but not essential to start.  You do need to be able to trim cases back to specs.  Lyman hand trimmer (also works with a drill chuck) is fine.

    The press ought to be the "O" style that completely surrounds the die, if possible.

    Get several manuals.  Load only one or two cartridges for a while until you feel completely competent.
    Mississippi"When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe"  Words of Jesus, Luke 11:21 (ESV).

    StevenTing

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #8 on: January 29, 2014, 05:43:00 pm »
    What caliber are you loading?

    I'll still preach the Dillon because you can always sell it if you don't like it.  Plus they hold their value very well.

    If you need a tumbler, I might consider selling mine.  I've been thinking about buying one of the Wet Media Tumblers but I'd be looking at about a $280 investment.

    As for calipers, they're all over the place and they are fairly inexpensive.  Should only set you back about $20.
    Utah

    RevDisk

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #9 on: January 29, 2014, 09:43:08 pm »
    What caliber are you loading?

    I'll still preach the Dillon because you can always sell it if you don't like it.  Plus they hold their value very well.

    If you need a tumbler, I might consider selling mine.  I've been thinking about buying one of the Wet Media Tumblers but I'd be looking at about a $280 investment.

    As for calipers, they're all over the place and they are fairly inexpensive.  Should only set you back about $20.

    9mm, .40, .308 and 5.56

    Do have calipers already, will research level of accuracy needed.

    Thanks to drug dealers, pocket scales are cheap and everywhere.   :D
    To know the darkness is to love the light,
    to welcome dawn and fear the coming night.
    - Book of Counted Sorrows

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    Mikee5star

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #10 on: January 29, 2014, 10:31:10 pm »
    I still preach "Garage Sales", for newbies.  I got my first press for free from a friend of a friend's widow, with everything primers, powder, bullets, and some cases.  Some of it I could use, some was trading stock, and some for guns I want to buy some day.  My second press was a Redding turret press that my wife found at a garage sale with the full kit for $50. 
    If your not sure if your going to get into reloading ask friends if they have old presses they don't use.  Most reloader's that I know start with a Rockchucker or something similar, and progress to a progressive or other faster press.  So maybe some one you know might have something they aren't using.
    I like RCBS single stage presses for learning on, and they basically have not changed in 40 or 50 years so there are lots of them out there usually for sale reasonably if you are patient.
    Alaska

    RevDisk

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #11 on: January 31, 2014, 09:25:36 am »

    Did some pondering. I'm heavily leaning towards buying "Lee Challenger Breech Lock Single Stage Press Anniversary Kit", with some immediate odds and ends to make up for shortfalls (scale previously linked). I'll then keep an eye on eBay, craigslist, garage sales, here, whatnot for a higher quality and more functional press and accessories. It's hard to pass up a $125 kit that is well reviewed and apparently functional if basic. Whenever I outgrow it, I can pass it onto someone else as learner press. 

    Anyone see any major flaws in the logic?
    To know the darkness is to love the light,
    to welcome dawn and fear the coming night.
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    StevenTing

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #12 on: January 31, 2014, 11:24:36 am »
    I try and go the Buy Once route.  But either way, it will work for you.  In the end, you might end up getting a Dillon and you can use the Single Stage for load development.
    Utah

    seanp

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #13 on: January 31, 2014, 07:01:25 pm »
    Anyone see any major flaws in the logic?

    Nee....  No, not really.  Lee stuff is good and I own and use quite a bit of it.  Some of their products (like their hand primer) I don't think can be beat.  Some of their products though are just... economical?

    If I knew what I know now back when I started reloading, I would not buy a kit, from any manufacturer.

    Like Mikee5star, I really advocate the garage sale route for your hardware.  There is a huge amount of quality stuff out there that people are letting go for just about nothing.  Thread sizes for dies have not changed in my lifetime, and you can pretty much use any dies with any presses.  A beam balance scale can always be re-zeroed as long as it's not damaged.

    When I started, I educated myself, and bought stuff piece by piece that way.  Learned a lot, saved a lot of money (A lot of money - my single stage press, which I use to this day for everything is cast iron and weighs 15lbs.  It cost me $10) and have stuff that will last.
    "Nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave."
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    Outbreak

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #14 on: February 05, 2014, 04:33:08 pm »
    Unfortunately, I can't preqch Dillon to beginner reloaders because they don't make a single stage and it's really difficult to do load development on a progressive. I still have a Lee Turret press for small batches and load development.

    Sent from my LCARS PADD

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    only1asterisk

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #15 on: February 05, 2014, 06:34:49 pm »
    Honestly I not sure would buy the Challenger press.  I'd either buy the Lee Reloader "C" frame for $40 less or the Classic Cast for $40 more.  As for the Lee kit, there isn't much in it that you will not be replacing in short order.  It all works to some degree, but you'll find that the slightly more costly equipment pays of itself in ease of use.  Buy a Lee press if you want to save, but buy a different powder measure, hand primer and scale.

     

    Mississippi556

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #16 on: February 06, 2014, 09:29:23 am »
    Most of my accessories are either RCBS or Lyman. Some Hornady.  Very little Lee.  I still use a turret press and have never felt a need to get a true high speed progressive loader.

    I think a single stage press or a very solid turret press is a must for load development.  As to press brand, just go to a box store like Cabelas, Gander Mountain or such and play with the floor models.  Look for solid, strong construction and smoothness of operation.  The strength of the frame, the size of the ram, the cam links all matter.  Avoid thin, flimsy turrets or die plates that can flex.  Get the strongest you can afford, regardless of brand, as long as it is a major brand.

    This is one situation in which heft or weight is a plus.  I like heavy cast iron and tool steel, rather than aluminum, but that's just me.
    Mississippi"When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe"  Words of Jesus, Luke 11:21 (ESV).

    Outbreak

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #17 on: February 06, 2014, 04:25:33 pm »
    As for the Lee kit, there isn't much in it that you will not be replacing in short order.  It all works to some degree, but you'll find that the slightly more costly equipment pays of itself in ease of use. 


    True. I like some Lee dies, but ive replaced virtually everyting else that came in the kit.

    Sent from my LCARS PADD

    TexasOutbreak

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #18 on: February 11, 2014, 11:16:20 pm »
    Quote
    I try and go the Buy Once route.  But either way, it will work for you.  In the end, you might end up getting a Dillon and you can use the Single Stage for load development.

    BINGO.   I use a rockchucker supreme for load development and low volume stuff, and a dillon 650 for high volume work.  I've been at it that way for over a decade.  Would have been longer if I could have afforded the 650 sooner.

    I'd say start with a single stage, and if you like it, and/or decide you need more volume, then jump into the progressive press world.
    This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty. . . . The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction- St. George Tucker, Blackstone's Commentaries

    Mississippi556

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #19 on: February 12, 2014, 12:35:50 pm »
    A few somewhat random thoughts about other equipment mentioned at the end of the original post.  Others may disagree, of course.

    Chrono:

    Optional but useful.  The basic Shooting Chrony chrono has worked well for me for, gee, probably twenty years now.  Got one when they first came out.  Still using it.  Never had a problem.  I think they are only about $100 or so, even now.   You really don't need the remote or printing features of the more expensive models.  If you want them, I can't speak to reliability of those options.   You'll need a camera tripod to mount it.   I can't wear mine out.  It folds up, clamshell style, for storage.  Mine runs on a square 9 volt battery.  Remember to remove the battery when not in use, as with all electronic devices that are not used constantly, to avoid leakage and corrosion.

    Go, no-go gauges:   

    Optional. I use those only in calibers that I load super hot, at or ever so slightly above published data in carefully developed loads for specific rifles that have worked up very deliberately for that chamber in that rifle.  For me, that is primarily in .280 Remington, where I have some loads that approach 7mm Remington Mag velocity with lighter bullets.  I have three rifles in that caliber.   If you get such gauges, be sure to also get a "field" gauge.  That's the true failure gauge for excess headspace.  If a bolt action bolt closes on a field gauge, the rifle is unsafe.  I have one rifle that the bolt will close on a no-go gauge but not on a field gauge.  It was used with hot loads for too long when I was much younger and less cautious in my approach to reloading.  It only sees milder loads now, and cases don't last more than a couple reloads in it because of excessive case stretch and the bright ring around the cartridge just forward of the base.  You can feel impending case separation with a paper clip bent with a short right angle.  You'll feel a groove inside in the same place as that bright ring.  When that shows up, throw the case away, get out the no-go and field gauges, and back off on the load, even if you see no other pressure signs.  I've never had a separation, but worry about it with that rifle.   I guess I could just neck size cases dedicated just for it, not to be used in other rifles, but I don't shoot it much any more.  It has more sentimental value than practical use. 

    Calipers:   

    Necessary.  You need them.  I have a plastic RCBS dial gauge analog type one and a nice Starrett steel one of the same style.  Both cover 1-6'"  I don't need anything longer.   The Starret stainless would cost about $200, but I got mine at a garage sale for $50, if I recall.  Ditto to posts above about garage sales.  Maybe there is some benefit to digital, but for this work, analog is fine and I trust what I can read with my eyes rather than what the electronics are telling me.

    Frankly, the plastic RCBS calipers have been used by me for several decades and still work well.  Also, they do not mar the surface, like metal can.  I still use the plastic ones the most.  I've looked at the stainless ones at Harbor Freight.  If I were just getting into reloading, I'd probably start with them.  You don't have to spend big bucks on basic calipers that will not get heavy use or abuse. 

    Just be good to your tools.  Keep them clean and stored properly after each use, and they will last.
    « Last Edit: February 12, 2014, 12:50:00 pm by Mississippi556 »
    Mississippi"When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe"  Words of Jesus, Luke 11:21 (ESV).

    only1asterisk

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    Re: Alright, I'm ready to make the leap...
    « Reply #20 on: February 13, 2014, 01:34:09 am »
    BINGO.   I use a rockchucker supreme for load development and low volume stuff, and a dillon 650 for high volume work.  I've been at it that way for over a decade.  Would have been longer if I could have afforded the 650 sooner.

    I'd say start with a single stage, and if you like it, and/or decide you need more volume, then jump into the progressive press world.

    A quality single stage is your first, best and most versatile tool.  If you decide not to invest in one right away, you likely will eventually if you keep at it.   Many a would be handloader are turned because they choose tools that were not right for the intended job.

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