Reloading for Beginners

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Matthew Duncan:

About five years ago my son (Morticai McCool) and myself watched our first cowboy shoot.  We thought this would be a great sport for us to do together as Father & Son.

To keep things simple we decided to use the same caliber in the pistols and rifle, 45 LC.

With ammunition and match fees, our cost was just over $100 per match (ouch).  About 34 cents per 45 LC round.  So I decided we needed to reload our own.  I have a technical background but have never tried reloading.  Where to start?  So I searched the Internet and watched posts about reloading.  I came to the conclusion that Dillon Precision was the place to start.  I purchased a Square Deal B with the strong mount option, CV-500 Vibratory Case Cleaner and CM-500 Case/Media Separator.  I also bought Starline brass and lead bullets from Dillon.

The Square Deal B is designed for one caliber (yes you can change calibers but it would easier with a more expensive model) and seating depths are preset at factory.  This would be great for a beginner like me!

Loads?  What powder and primer?  Well I know you just don’t fill a case with powder without knowing how much to use.  I have had my fingers my entire life and plan on keeping them for a while longer.  Purchased a Speer reloading manual it lists primers and loads for different brands of powder.  I went to the local sporting goods store and bought the only powder they had that was listed in the Speer manual, IMR 4227 and Remington 2 ½ large pistol primers.

Mounting and assembling the Square deal on the workbench was very easy.  Loaded the primers and powder.  Here we go!  You do have to adjust how much power is dispensed and I didn’t have a scale to weigh it.  Rats.  So I went online to Dillon’s web site and looked at scales.  I’m a sucker for anything electronic so I was really leaning towards their electronic scales.  But I ended up ordering an Eliminator Loading Scale for about $50.  It is what I’d call a triple beam scale.  I thought why spend extra money for their real neat electronic scale; because once I find the right adjustment, I’d only use the scales to spot-check my work.

Now we’re ready to go.  Load 5 rounds and reweighed them.  They all weighed the same.  This is good.  Took the rounds outside and tried to load.  Cylinder wouldn’t turn!  Primers were not seated flush, RATS.  What’s wrong with the factory settings?  The Square Deal came very well packaged but maybe something got knocked out of alignment?  So I sat down and actual read the instructions!  The primer is seated when you press the handle all the way up.  I wasn’t doing that (amazing what one learns when you read the instructions).  Loaded another five rounds and they all went boom!

I have reloaded approximately 2000 rounds at a cost savings of about 24 cents per round.  I figured the reloading equipment has already paid for it’s self.

I have had two problems with the Square Deal.  Twice, primers would not feed.  Cleaning solved that problem.  The other problem involved the plastic holder that catches the spent primers.  It wouldn’t always catch them and primers end up on the bench or rolled to the floor.  I just took off the plastic holder and slip the cardboard box that the bullets came in under the Square Deal, solved that problem.

If I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t have bought the Media Separator.  It’s just as fast for me to grab the brass out of the Vibratory Case Cleaner.  It also gives me a chance to spot check for split casings.

End of story.

Marshal Will Wingam:
Sounds like you got it worked out, Matthew. Congrats. Now you own the stuff free & clear. Doesn't it feel good to pull that handle, now? ;D

Matthew Duncan:
Nope it’s frustrating!

Pull handle out of primers.  Run to town and buy more.

Pull handle out of brass.  Go online and order more.

Pull handle out of powder.  Run to town to buy more.

Pull handle out of bullets.  Run to local garage for wheel weights.  Melt down, pour into casting, size and lube.

Pull handle … I just haven’t figured out how I can get all the components to run out at the same time so I can finally finish!


Dakota Widowmaker:
Just buy lots at once...  ;D

Seriously, you bite the bullet (so to speak) once and need not worry.

I have now over 1100 200gr 45lc bullets waiting to get shed down range.
I have about 500 44-40 200gr bullets that need lubing. I usually do 150-200 at a time pan lubing and then load them in a week or so.

A good progressive is your salvation. (for time...not money)
Lee, RCBS, Dillon...all make good presses. (except for the Lee Loadmaster...stay away)

Ranger Popp:
why sty away from the lee loadmaster... just curiouse. I am looking to buy a press and was looking at the lee booklet.


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