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Seeking info on doing my own reloading

I am considering doing my own reloading.  Is it worth the time, expense and effort?

WesternHunter's picture
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Oh yeah

Hell yeah it is!!  Do it, get into it.  The initial expense can seem like a lot, but the equipment will pay for itself after a while, depending on how much you shoot.  It takes some initial trial and error, but eventually the cartridges you roll are your own product loaded to your wants and needs and you know what you are shooting.  I recommend for a fee you take a formal 8 hour class on metallic cartridge reloading.  Many shooting ranges and gun clubs offer classes taught by NRA certified instructors.  Most private clubs offer this stuff to non-members too for a slightly higher fee.  I recommend taking the class if you don't know someone experienced enough in reloading who can teach you.  There are many books out there, buy a few and start reading before you take the class, you'll be glad you did.  I also have seen where places like Gander Mnt, or Sportsmans Warehouse also offer classes on reloading. 

Next step - get your equipment, build or buy a sturdy workbench in a quite area with plenty of light.  Someplace like a basement or heated garage.  Keep yourself free from all distraction when reloading, turn your phone and the TV off and lock the door.  Reloading requires 100% attention to detail and focusing on what you are doing for safety sake.  Just a word of caution - you will be addicted!!

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I agree if you do very much

I agree if you do very much shooting or if you do a lot of shooting handloading is the second funnist thing to do in the shooting sports.  You can pick up a real good reloading outfit anywhere from $250.00-$400.00 depending on your needs right now and the nice thing is that you can add to it as you get more experience as you go along.  The basic set up will get you a press, powder scale, powder hopper or dispenser, a reloading manual along with a few small tools needed for the reloading process.  Also depending of where you buy it they may even include your first set of dies and shell holder. 

As far as witch one to buy there are three or four top of the line kits that I would recommend.  RCBS, Lyman, and Horady make a fine first timer set up to get you started and then you can go from there.  You may even want to head on down to your local sporting goods dealer and just pick up a reloading manual and start to read it.  Just get one that isn't associated with the kit you are thinking of buying, it is always handy to have more than one on hand.  Most of them will tell you the process and how to go about reloading a cartrige.  As far as classes when I started over 40 years ago there weren't any unless you knew somebody that reloaded and had them give you a hand, but even without classes if you read the manual and keep to it you should be safe in doing it yourself.  Just be aware that what is safe in the manual and in their firearm may not be safe in yours.  That is why they recommend that you do not start at the maximum loads listed and to back off most of the loads by 10% when you get started and to build up to your maximum load in your firearm.  As far as expense, once you have enough brass all you are buying is powder, primers, and bullets.  I haven't looked in the last year but there had been a run on all of the components to load rounds in the last couple of years so if you do find what you want you may want to stock up a few extra components.  Powder can be bought in 1 pound and 8 pound jugs once you find the powder that you like to work with and works well in your firearm.  Primers can be bought in a tray of 100 or a box of 1000.  I would suggest the 1000 box, that is unless where you buy them are restricting you to what you buy.  As far as bullets they are usually sold in 50, or 100 per box depending weather pistol or rifle.   

Just one more thing it is additictive.  Just last winter I loaded up every empty hand gun cartrige that I had in my house and was looking for more brass before I ended my reloading for the year.  I now have enough rounds to last me a couple of years except for my high power rifles and I am still working up a few loads for them this winter. 

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Im sold

Thanks. Im sold on the deal.  Didnt take much to convince me. But I know thats the easy part. Actually doing it and doing it right is what counts. Im looking forward to it.

WesternHunter's picture
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equipment

As far as equipment goes.  Spend the extra money and get RCBS, Hornady, or Redding.  Lee offers a few starter kits that are relatively inexpensive and are fine for getting you started and will yield you some pretty accurate rounds.  The Lee kit is what I bough several years ago as my first kit.  However within the first month of reloading I was already slowly replacing my Lee equipment piece by piece with RCBS and Lyman stuff.  The first to go was the case trimmer, next was the priming tool, followed by the powder scale, then the hopper.  Overall the quality of the Lee kit was fairly good, except for the priming tool which was defective from the beginning.  It's just that for me most of the Lee tools were not at all very user friendly and didn't make the job that enjoyable.  Only thing I still have and use from that kit is the press, which I wish was heftier, but it's worked and performed very well over the years, so I kept it and still use it.  That's just my take on equipment. 

In addition to what comes in the kit's (no matter what brand you buy) you'll need to add the following tools extra - Cartdidge specific dies, accurate dial calipers, case tumbler, tumbling media (corn cobb), powder trickler, loading trays, case lube, case lip trimmer, sometimes a deburring tool, glass graduated shot glass, and a calculator.  Keep the following handy within reach - a 10 inch adjustable wrench, allen hex keys, and a pair of 8 inch slip-joint pliers or a pair of standard sized vise-grips.  Keep an notebook and pen/pencil for keeping notes and records of your recipes.  Also you'll want to get some plastic MTM or Plano cartridge boxes that hold 20 or 50 rounds per box so that you can properly store your finished work.

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You must be a mind reader

Thanks a million I about to ask about preffered equipment.  I am keeping good notes on these recommedations.  Kindly appreciated.

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I'm suprized to hear that

I'm suprized to hear that about the Lee primer tool. I've been using one since they first came out. My stepson broke the first about 15 yrs ago and I got another, still doing fine! Recently I did get a Lee collet neck die for my 243 and my 30-06. Both work well. One draw back is the lock ring, it don't lock so well! Way to fix it is simply get another lock ring from anybody and use their lock or simple double lock ring the Lee die.

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Lee

My only beef with LEE is that most of their stuff, while being good quality, is just difficult to use sometimes.  Take for example your dies.  They have no jimping or checkering on them anywhere to make adjustments or tightening very easy, just smooth steel.  If you've ever tried turning or tightening something made out of smooth round steel with cold dry finger tips then you know what I mean.  I always had trouble adjusting those dies.  Especially as you said, they loosen from the press easy. RCBS and Redding add this useful checkering feature to their dies along with a small hex head set-screw on the main locking ring. 

I think the priming tool I got from LEE was just defective in the trigger or spring or something.  I will say that LEE will load just as accurate of ammo as long as you do your job as a handloader correctly.  My only problem with LEE is the ease of usability, that's all.  But that's just me, others may have a better experience.  I think the quality and accuracy of LEE equipment is pretty good for the money.  I still have and use the LEE press and like it, but if it were to ever get stolen or broken I'd surely replace it with an RCBS or Redding without a thought.

JJD
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Lee

Don,

Don't quite understand why you need to Lock the ring on the neck collet die.  As long as the shell base holder is forced up into the sliding base of the die, being set to an exact spot should not be neccessary.  I suppose if you wanted your press handle to come out in the exact same place every time, a locking ring might have an advantage.

Joneklan71,

Only Lee products I've ever used are the priming tool and the collet dies.  The primer tool instructions claim to use the tool with only certain brand primers.  I've never had any issue with any brand primer.  The Lee neck collet dies are my primary dies for all calibers now.  They are super simple to use.  Oh yeah, How could I forget Lee's case trimmer.  Dirt cheap and super simple.  You can trim cases to factory specs while watching a football game on TV. 

WesternHunter's picture
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Trimmer

JJD wrote:

Oh yeah, How could I forget Lee's case trimmer.  Dirt cheap and super simple.  You can trim cases to factory specs while watching a football game on TV. 

True, when you use a cordless power drill to chuck it in.

Don Fischer's picture
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I think your right but that

I think your right but that is the biggest complaint I hear about Lee dies. Pretty simple fix for it huh? I haven't tried their case trimmer's but I do recommend them. How could anything be simpler? Do you recall the Lee inside neck trimmer? You knocked a case into a fl die then ran a reamer down into the neck while it was still in the die. Can't do a lot better than that. On the down side, my son has the Lee powder scale and I couldn't throw it far enough. The bad part is it works!

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