Author Topic: Reloading for Beginners  (Read 42146 times)

Offline Matthew Duncan

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Reloading for Beginners
« on: December 06, 2005, 03:06:15 PM »
Reloading.

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 http://dillonprecision.com/template/p.cfm?maj=6&dyn=1&cookieClean=1 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 http://www.booktrail.com/Guns_Reloading/Speer%20Reloading%20Manual%20No.%2013.asp 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.


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Disclaimer:  I have not slept in any hotel recently, not a certified CAS rule web lawyer.  Have not attended any RO III or RO VI classes.  Opinions expressed are by a cowpoke who believes the year is 1868.

Offline Marshal Will Wingam

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2005, 11:58:18 PM »
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

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Offline Matthew Duncan

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2005, 07:17:16 AM »
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!
 ;D
Major General J.E.B. Stuart's Division
Captain 1st Maryland Artillery, C.S.A.
SASS# 23189

Disclaimer:  I have not slept in any hotel recently, not a certified CAS rule web lawyer.  Have not attended any RO III or RO VI classes.  Opinions expressed are by a cowpoke who believes the year is 1868.

Offline Dakota Widowmaker

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2005, 11:17:23 PM »
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.
...etc.

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

Offline Ranger Popp

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2006, 08:09:13 AM »
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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Re: Reloading for Beginners
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Offline Tensleep

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2006, 08:25:59 AM »
Ranger I had a Loadmaster that would not stay in adjustment no matter how I tightened EVERYTHING!
Also to put it bluntly, I think the primer feed is junk.

The only Lee press that I have ever liked was the first one that I bought, the Lee Anniversary Kit, a single stage press that is still cranking out rounds.

I have tried the Lee 1000 and the Loadmaster.

If I were you I would go for the Dillon Square Deal B or the Dillon 650. I have both and they do great work.

If you want to go single stage go for the RCBS Rock Chucker, tough as hell and very inexpensive.
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Offline Virginia Gentleman

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2006, 02:23:06 PM »
Unless you are a millionaire and a multi one at that or are a sponsored competitor in IPSC, the shooting sports demand for volumes of ammunition nesscitate the need for reloading.

Offline Griff

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2006, 08:15:29 PM »
why sty away from the lee loadmaster... just curiouse. I am looking to buy a press and was looking at the lee booklet.
I've had my Dillon for about 15 years.  Load 3 caliber on it; .45 Colt, .45 Auto, and .38/.357.
I somehow lost one of the pins for my .45 Colt set.  I looked on-line and couldn't figure out how to order a replacemet, so I called Dillon.  They guy at Customer Service asked me for my addr info, said: "I've got one here in my desk, I'll mail it out this afternoon.  No charge."
Now that's what I call service.  If you think I'm even considering anything besides a Dillon for my next press... think again.  We'll put that first guess up to cheap recreational drugs. :o
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Offline Steel Horse Bailey

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2006, 07:50:47 AM »
Howdy!!

Without this becoming a Dillon lovefest, I think Dillon is the way to go.  If someone is leery about starting out with a "full-auto" progressive, then Dillon also makes a splendid Turret press, the AT 500. (Edited late 2006 - AT500 no longer available.)  Lyman makes a great turret press as well as Lee.  I'm not sure, but I think (I'd bet on it) RCBS Makes one, too.  The big advantage of the Dillon is that the AT 500 will convert to a full progressive, the RL550B.  However, Dillon while not TOO bad on the pocketbook initially, can get expensive as you add calibers.

No one has mentioned single stage presses, yet.  I started out helping my best buddy on his RCBS Rockchucker Jr.  That was about 30 years ago.  He still has it and that is his only press - no matter HOW hard I've tried to get him to make the Dillon plunge!  After loading on his for half-a-dozen years I went into the Army, and when I re-enlisted the first time, I bought myself a couple re-up presents:  a 6" Electroless Nickle Python and a Bonanza loading press.  That was in 1982.  I still have and USE both.  The Bonanza is pretty much the Cadillac of single-stage presses.

A good friend bought a Lee set that, except for the powder measure, has worked well for him.  I personally don't much care for Lee presses, but I have to admit they're a bargain!  I DO like Lee dies and much of their associated equipment, and have a number of tools and dies with Lee marked on them.

I have little experience with Lyman equipment, except for their turret press, but it's built like a tank.  Also, I had a Lyman 55 powder measure for years and it worked like a champ.  It did very "repeatable" settings.  (If you don't know what repeatable is, it is the ability of any piece of adjustable equipment to go back to the same setting, time and time again: this is VERY good.)

All in all, it takes about a thousand rounds to make up your equipment cost vs. savings.  (This is figured using my Dillon RL550B.)  It's probably cheaper for some of the less expensive equipment.  If you buy in bulk, say 1000-2000 primers at once; 500-1000 bullets at a time; a 4 lb. or 8 lb container of your chosen powder, altho there are no 4 or 8 lb. containers of Black Powder that I know of - you can still save by buying it in quantity; and buy 1000 Win. or other cases at once will save money.  Yes, the initial outlay can be daunting, but you'll save BIG in the end.

Now all this has to be taken with a grain of salt: if you LIKE to shoot, and tend to shoot a lot, your cost SAVINGS can be eaten up by the fact that you now can buy, load, and shoot MORE, so perhaps you're not really saving any money, but you ARE shooting and practicing more, and hopefully having MORE FUN !!!
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Offline Marshal Will Wingam

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2006, 09:04:43 AM »
Now all this has to be taken with a grain of salt: if you LIKE to shoot, and tend to shoot a lot, your cost SAVINGS can be eaten up by the fact that you now can buy, load, and shoot MORE, so perhaps you're not really saving any money, but you ARE shooting and practicing more, and hopefully having MORE FUN !!!
;D ;D ;D

I've have a Dillon 550B for 5 or 6 years, now. What a great move that was. My single stage presses are in a box and I only use them to load fire-lapping bullets so as to not get any grit in my Dillon. It's paid for itself many times over. I buy my bullets, primers and powder (when I see what I use) at gunshows where good deals are available. It's the only way to go.

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #10 on: Today at 12:22:26 PM »

Offline Four-Eyed Buck

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2006, 02:34:49 PM »
I've got a Dillon SDB, a LEE PRO1000, an RCBS Partner , and a MEC jr.. I'm still going through a learning curve with the Dillon, the LEE I've had for years and it's worked pretty good for me. The Partner is a single stage that I started out learning to reload on, it handles my rifle calibers and the 38-40's, plus the experimental stuff. Most of these company's make workable stuff, it's what appeals to you and is easiest for you to work. For the Loadmaster, I've seen too many horror stories. My mentor had one and it seemed to work fine for him, but I'd stay away from them......Buck 8) ::) ;)
I might be slow, but I'm mostly accurate.....

Offline Coyote Tim

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2006, 09:39:02 PM »
While we're on the subject, are we allowed to discuss specific reloading data, and if so, which forum? (I saw the BP forum but nothing for smokeless powder.)
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Offline Four-Eyed Buck

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2006, 09:52:29 PM »
Try "Shooter's Meeting", Tim........ 8)
I might be slow, but I'm mostly accurate.....

Offline Skullyville Tom

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2007, 12:11:11 AM »
I started reloading on a Dillon RL550 in 1985 when I was shooting PPC competitively, the ability fo load large quantities of ammo in a short time was invaluable, it meant that I had the time and the ammo to get out and practice several times a week, that's what it takes to do well in competitive shooting.

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Offline Dr. Bob

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2007, 11:35:19 PM »
Skullyville Tom,

You just said it all.   Lots of practice is what it take to be competetve!  Learned that as a teenager 45 years ago.  Got into CAS 2 years ago and don't have what it takes to get to the top, so I'm in it for the FUN.  My shootin' pards and I are going on 30 years of buckskinning, reenacting and shooting together.  I mas shoot slow and miss some targets, but I have as much fun as the guys who win the whole shoot!!! ;D ;D ;D
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Offline Cyrille

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2007, 12:18:39 PM »
Well all of my reloading experance has been with Lee, I have Lee Classic Hand loaders for for my 30-30 Winchester Marlin lever action, my .45  Colt caliber Rugers, Colt, Henry BB and Winchester model '94 Trails End and also my 45-70 Sharps Perdosoli I recently purchased a  single stage Hand press Lee and the dies for both .45 caliber LC and the 45-70 Gov't. I have had no experence with other brands of reloading equitment. as I tend to go with with one brand.
 Can anyone tell me if Lee dies will fit a "Rock Chucker?"
CYRILLE...  R.A.T. #242
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Offline Arcey

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2007, 09:06:02 AM »
Can anyone tell me if Lee dies will fit a "Rock Chucker?"

They'll fit.....
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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2007, 10:38:00 AM »
CYRILLE...  R.A.T. #242
"Never apologize Mr.; it's a sign of weakness."
Capt. Nathan Brittles {John Wayne} in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon."

"A gun is  just a tool. No better and no worse than any other tool----- Think of it always in that way. A gun is as good--- and as bad--- as the man who carries it. Remember that."
                                                   Shane

Offline Arcey

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2007, 12:21:03 PM »
My pleasure..
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Offline Steel Horse Bailey

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Re: Reloading for Beginners
« Reply #19 on: June 02, 2007, 09:14:40 AM »
Howdy!

Cyrille, this is quite a bit later than your question Arcey answered, but as far as die interchangeability, the only dies - COMMONLY FOUND - that won't fit from one press to another are the special Dillon dies made for the Dillon SDB.  There are undoubtedly others, but they're mostly commercial (or VERY old) and not found often.  I load 13 calibers, (14 actually, if you count the 44 Russian blanks I make for our NCOWS club re-enactments)  have 16 die sets, of which 6 sets are Lee.  I also have various single dies with sets that are different than the rest of the set.  (For instance: Lee Carbide Factory Crimp die used with Dillon die set for 45 Colt.)  And same for RCBS, Hornady, & Lyman.  ALL make great die sets and other equipment, but Lee dies are outstanding; they have been made longer recently to be more progressive-press friendly  and are a real bargain - perhaps the best single item Lee makes, IMHO.  My Lee 45-70 die set was less than $20, but ALL others (I found) were close to, or over $40.  And just TRY to find dies for 6.5 x 50 mm Japanese!  $17 (Midway price) 2 die set made by Lee.  ($45 for 20 cases, 'tho!  :o )
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