View Full Version : Interested in reloading. Questions.

10-03-2009, 11:22 AM
What is the learning curve? How long would it take to learn? Can I teach myself?
What is the cost for a setup? How much money would I save reloading?

10-03-2009, 04:13 PM
Been reloading for years. It's easy and fun. Check your local gunshop for a reloader that can walk you through your first time. Also, stevespages.com is a wealth of resources. Just look for the reloading section.

I'd recommend the RCBS supreme master reloading kit. It uses the rockchucker press. It has most every tool you need. $270 or so.

You will need a tumbler. Cabelas house brand tumbler kit does good. $60 or so.

Also, you will need a die set and collar for each cal. you reload.

Then it's just brass,bullets, and primers. Primers are the booger to get right now. They're out there, but prepare to be on a waiting list for a few weeks.

Brass lasts usually 7-10 reloads.

There are a lot of good reloading books on the market. I haven't found a good DVD on it yet.

It's satisfying to know that when you shoot your factory boxer-primed brass ammo you can reload it and get better accuracy because it is "fire formed".

And, believe it or not, you can tune in most any firearm to what it eats best.

10-03-2009, 07:35 PM
How long does it take to reload 100 rounds?

10-04-2009, 05:24 AM
I haven't been reloading all that long, just a couple years. I use a Dillon 550 press and I can load 100 rounds of .223 in about 20-30 minutes. Probably faster now that I have all the gadgets to go with my press.
As for just starting, take it slow and easy until you get the rhythm. The speed will come later. I get faster every time I load.
BTW, RCBS makes great products. I considered getting one of their presses, but a friend of mine had a Dillon and I figures he could help me if I needed it. The Dillon's do cost more though.

10-04-2009, 01:10 PM
HI Rafael
Reloading is not hard to learn. What it requires is the ability to perform repeative tasks consistantly, and attention to detail. A good book to get you started is ABC's of reloading

I have different copies by different authors. Dean Grennell's my favorate author.

Get that book first and read up. He tells you just about any reloading topic you could possibly think of. You might try checking your public library first. Mine has a copy. Read up first and formulate a plan in your mind. If you decide that reloading is for you, I'd suggest getting a starter kit with a single stage press. Something like this...

If you want to spend more, get the RCBS kit...
With it you get tools like the powder measure, and primer loader that streamline work greatly.

Along with the kit I'd also suggest buying Lee's carbide dies if you're reloading for a pistol cartridge. With carbide dies I just wash the brass in soapy water/vinegar/table salt and haven't tumbled brass for a decade.

WWW.Midwayusa.com is a good on-line source for reloading components. I buy from them frequently. I don't however buy powder or primers on-line because of the hazmat charges added to shipping. Those I buy locally.

It's kind of hard to put an hourly figure on reloading time. Generally what I do is wash several hundred cases, then size them. A little later I come along and prime them all. Then another day goes by and I get around to setting the powder measure and dispense charges. I may stick bullets into the case mouths at that time to enclose the powder, but I may leave the unfinished rounds sitting another day when I can seat and crimp the bullets. So, I'd say it takes 4 days to load 100 rounds. You however could do it in less than an hour.
Good luck to you,

10-04-2009, 02:28 PM
Michael, you make a good point about the time. I have so much brass it's a little ridiculous at times, so I tend to save up and do several hundred rounds at a time. Right now I have about 1000 pieces of brass, in 3 different calibers, all cleaned, sized and waiting to be reloaded. I have a progressive press, so it doesn't take me long at all once I actually start.

When it comes to the cost of reloaded ammo, whatever press you get will pay for itself in no time. Example:I shoot a lot of 223, which is my original reason for buying a press. The ammo I buy to practice, just plain 55gr FMJ, is about $9 a box for 20 rounds. Once it's fired and I reload it (with 60gr Hornandy V-Max bullets) it costs me about $3.50 for a 20 round box. It could be cheaper, but I use the Hornandy bullets and match primers, all of which costs a little more. BTW, my ammo has the same exact ballistics of Hornandy TAP, which is rather expensive new, at about $26 a box last time I priced it.

Here are a couple links to different progressive presses if you decide to go that route. If you're wanting to load a lot of rounds, progressive is much faster, but also more expensive. Just depends if you want to spend more time loading, or more time shooting and what type of ammo you want. I'm just using mine to hunt and practice, but if you want ultra-precise highly accurate rounds, a single stage press is what most people use.



I have the Dillon, and it may seem cheaper at first glance, but the RCBS comes with a lot of extras you'll have to buy separate if you get the Dillon. In the end, the Dillon may end up being a little cheaper, but not by much.


10-04-2009, 02:58 PM
Besides primers , bullets, shells and propellant are those kit complete to get started?

10-04-2009, 03:23 PM
The RCBS kit is the most complete. Other than consumables (powder, primers, etc..) all you really need to start loading is a case tumbler and whatever dies and shellplates for your caliber. It's probably the easiest route to take.
Dillon presses seem to be more geared toward experienced users, or ones who have a lot of stuff already and just want new and better than what they have. It comes with one set of dies and a caliber conversion kit (shellplate and accessories) in your choice of calibers. You would need to also buy a tumbler, case trimmer, dial or digital caliper, case lube kit, deburring tool, case brushes, and powder scale. You can get all of this, add it to the Dillon, and the price will be almost the same; just with a little more hassle for having to buy everything separate.
Also, whatever kit you buy, I recommend a good chronograph. It helps a lot when you start to load to have some way to measure the speed of your bullets. If you're trying to match a particular factory round for speed, you can adjust your powder and dial it in to exactly what you want. It's also a good way to make sure your rounds are being loaded consistently, which is important in a progressive press. I f they deviate too much, you can go back and adjust your powder flow to make it more uniform. I spent several hours doing this when I first set up, and my reloaded 223 is within 30 fps of the factory rounds I matched it to, and every round is within 30 fps of each other.
I hope I haven't given you information overload. For someone new at loading, who wants a progressive, recommend the RCBS, even though I have a Dillon. It's a lot easier toi buy everything as a kit and just add a tumbler, dies, and a chronograph.


10-04-2009, 03:49 PM
Thanks for all the info.
I now know enough to know where to start figuring out where to start.
Seriously, useful info. At least I now have a clue at what I'm looking at.

10-04-2009, 07:57 PM
Just don't let all the gidgets and gadgets get you flustered when you start.

The LEE sets come with shell collars so no need to buy extras. I have several of their carbide sets and all work perfectly.

One thing none of us has mentioned is when you get into it a good dedicated reloading bench will be worth it's weight in brass.

The NRMA reloading bench (I got the plans free off the web) is great and really stable.

I started with a piece of 3/4 plywood clamped in a workmate bench.

Remember, you can make it as functional or fancy as you want.

10-05-2009, 01:17 PM
Everyone has been giving you good advice.

My suggestion would be to start with a Lee Loader, $20-30 bucks each, for whatever caliber(s) you want to start with.
Keep in mind that Lee's prices directly from them, are higher the say, Midway, Midsouth etc.

You would be able to reload and shoot with the very basic equipment.
It will allow you to start slow, learn the basics, so as to see what direction you want to go later.

I never had the bucks to buy "everything I need" all at one time...so started slow, added equipment as I became more familiar with the process.

Most people don't "need" (are nice though), a tumbler, digital scale, chronograph, etc, just to start reloading.

IMHO, as far a kits go, Lee starter kits/presses/dies and other equipment is about 1/3 the price, and I haven't seen anything in the others that would justify the added cost.

When you decide what it is you want to do, for example "How long to load 100 rounds?", sounds like reloading a lot of .45's or 9 mm or even .223's?, then move up to the Dillon. or RCBS progressive presses, for mass production.

Keep in mind that the progressive presses are pretty much "one caliber only" unless out-fitted with a lot of different accessories for each caliber, so set up time and adjustments come into play, each time you change over.

Guys, don't get me wrong, I would love to just get a catalog and set up a dream "Kit", but don't have the bucks.

It is fun and addicting......................

10-05-2009, 03:06 PM
Hi Rafael

I'll make this real easy. You can buy this on-line today. Get the RCBS starter kit. It's more expensive the the Lee stuff, but it is quality that will last you your lifetime. http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=646599 ...289$

It has the press, powder scale, and powder measure. Read through the Speer book included, follow their directions, and pick a load for your gun's caliber.

Also buy the die set (sets) for the caliber you want to make. By the way, what do you shoot and want to reload? Here's a Lee carbide die set for 38special/357 magnum. You can substitute whatever die set you need for your particular caliber.

Next a good caliper

Lastly, a good reloading book. Actually, get this first and read through it to decide if reloading is something you're meant to do. I'm sure it is though.
http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct/?productnumber=837228 ....17$

Total is 353 + shipping

After you get this stuff you have a few more things to buy at your local sporting goods shop. Get a pound of the approprieate gunpowder.... 25$. Which one? You will not know till you tell us what caliber you're shooting and what you want to load. Get a box of primers...25-50$. Which ones? Again, we don't know untill you say what cartridge you want to reload. Finally, a box of bullets. You know what the next question is! A box of 100 jacketed hollowpoints might run about 15-20$.

Oh, and yes, you'll need either two bolts or two c-clamps to anchor your press to your work table.

After you have these things, pick up your brass off the ground and start reloading. You do NOT have to get a progressive press, or a tumbler, or a chronograph, or a casting outfit, or a bullet swage, or many other fancy gadgets, but you may someday in the future once you fall in love with reloading. Let me warn you though! You may start this hobby as a way to save money, but once you really get into it, you'll find incredible ways to spend more money trying out the lastest new reloading toys!
Good luck,

10-05-2009, 04:10 PM
The calibers I would reload are 9mm, 7.62 and either .308 or 30-06(Depending on which rifle I'll be settling on).

10-05-2009, 06:54 PM
Here's the dies I would buy for them.

9mm http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=140349 ... 27$

You might want a taper crimp for reliable feeding. I have a Ruger P89 that feeds raw reloads just fine, but I have a German Wather that needs taper crimped loads to function properly. For 9mm my favorate powder is Blue Dot. Other good choices are 231, Unique, and 700X. You'd prime the cases with standard small pistol primers and load it with 115 or 125 grain jacketed hollowpoints.

http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=538099.... 19$

Did you mean the 7.62X39? Here's the die set for that cartridge. For this cartridge you might want to use H335 or H4895. You load the cases with large rifle primers and light 30 (31) caliber bullets.

http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=740806 ...23$

Lastly, a .30-06. You can use H4895 if you shoot an autoloader like the M1 Garand, though you might want to shoot a bolt action rifle with a slow rifle powder like 4831 or RL-21. You can load it with either standard or magnum large rifle primers. A good hunting bullet would be soft point in the 150 to 180 grain range.


Hope that answers all your questions.

10-05-2009, 09:08 PM
One warning about the 7.62x39 ammo. You CANNOT reload the russian ammo. It's steel cased and berdan primed. Two major strikes and you cannot reload anything that uses either.

I looked into the 7.62x39 reloading and decided that just buying "cheap" wolf or bear brand ammo and packing it up in an old ammo can for SHTF is more practical.

Even with just burning 300-500 rounds at the range for fun and therapy.

Just my 2 cents.

10-06-2009, 12:38 PM
Oh, good point Kilroy.

Rafael, if you pick up any empty cases that are green to dark brown in color, those are laquear coated steel. If you hold the empty case up to sunlight and peek inside you'll see two little side by side primer holes. Those take Berdan primers and can't be reloaded with American style tools/components. Most of the Russian/eastern European stuff out there is Berdan primed and you won't be able to reload those. American cases are "Boxer primed" and have a single large central primer hole. The decapping pin of the sizing die pokes through the hole to punch out the primer. If you try to size a berdan case, the decapping pin will snap off (guess how I know this).

Sometimes you'll see yellow brass cases that are Berdan primed, but not as often. The only brass cases I've seen were NATO surplus 7.62X51mm (.308 Winchester). Even the European manufacturers like Fiocchi have switched over to Boxer primers, so they're just as good as American cases.
Good luck,

10-06-2009, 11:46 PM
"Ypu asked about time, this is my favorite time saver:


I ude two sigle station presses and a HOLLYWOOD turret, but I do all my priming with the lee auto prime.

If you anticipate loading any military calibers in quantity using military brass you'll want one of these


Military primers are crimped in place and this removes the crimp from de-primed military brass. There are other tools but the cutting types ALL leave you with oval primer pockets and this one doesn't it leaves your primer pockets nice and uniformly round.

Buy 4 or 5 Handloading Data Manuals to start, LEE publishes a good one and all the bullet makers publish manuals all of them contain good basic and safety instructions for handloading. If you get into it, google WOLF publishing Co. and subscribe to HANDLOADING magazine. its the gold standard.

Good luck and have fun. I started handloading in 1967 at the age of 10 and started cooking lead and casting my own bullets in 1969. When its raining spend time at your loading bench when the sun is shining go burn some powder.

10-07-2009, 12:08 AM
If you use the Lee Auto Prime, you will also need the shell holders for it.


I also use this and prefer it to doing on the press.

10-22-2009, 02:30 PM
I started reloading last year. It took me about six months to get up to a fair level of confidence and speed. I have a Lee turret press and I can reload 100 pistol rounds in about 45-60 minutes if I've done all the prep work.

10-22-2009, 02:33 PM
I use the Lee Auto Prime Hand Priming Tool also. It definitely does a fine job. It's good hand exercise too. :)

10-25-2009, 01:07 AM
Also, the Lee die sets all come with the proper shell holder for each. It can save a few bucks for each caliber.

10-25-2009, 02:11 AM
Also, the Lee die sets all come with the proper shell holder for each. It can save a few bucks for each caliber.

The only thing I have found to not be to my satisfaction is that they used one shell holder for both the 9mm and .40 S&W. I've had a problem with the 9mm being too loose in the shell holder and causing misalignment problems. When I bought a 9mm specific shell holder from RCBS the problem went away.

10-25-2009, 08:04 PM
I started reloading on a Lyman single stage press. I have started people out and that is what I suggest to them. The reason I have them get a single stage press is due to a couple of reasons.
1. It makes you go slow. When you start out you don't want to be fast. You want to learn about the process, and more importantly what does and doesn't feel right. If a primer is seating hard you want to feel that or if it's upside down you want to see that.
2. It makes you inspect every cartridge that you load. With progressive presses it's easy to have so many things going on that you loose focus, that can lead to issues.
3. Having a single stage is always a good thing. I have a new single stage press that I load my hunting rounds on. The gentleman that got me into reloading has two progressive presses and three single stage presses. He uses all of them but when he's doing load development or somthing that he wants total control of he uses the singles.

Now with all that being said. I own a progressive, it's a Dillon my single stage is a Hollywood turret press made in 1941. It's cast iron weighs the better part of small car and I love the thing. I have Lee dies as well as Redding, Rcbs, and some Sinclair stuff. The only thing I don't like about lee is that they use the grams and powder scoops. Other than that I like their stuff.
Lee isn't going to take you loading 50bmg or 600 nitro on it as well as say Rcbs. But Lee is going to get you into the game of loading and let you see what you like and don't like. Lee makes the press affordable to get so you can put rounds down range.
Books. You can never have enough of them. I collect them as fast as I can. The old ones have some info that the new ones don't.

Loads. keep in mind that without a cronograph you will be looking for obvious pressure signs. Sometimes those show up right away and sometimes they creep up on you. Always start a hair below the middle and go from there.

Lastly find someone that reloads and have them walk you thru it. We always love getting someone into the addiction. I am on this site and there is a ton of good people and good info here. www.handloadersbench.com Everyone is welcome,the coffee is always on and most ofall we just want to talk loading.

Take care Be safe Poacher


10-25-2009, 09:04 PM
I taught myself. I read a lot on gun forum reloading forums and bought a couple good books on it first though. When you start, don't be afraid to stop and go ask questions before moving on. The consequences of making a mistake are too great to get to thinking "I know it" and bull through. The ABCs of Reloading is a good starter book, followed by a good manual. I like Lyman's 48th Edition and the Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading.

It took me about two months to get comfortable with reloading. I started out doing repetitions of each step until I was familiar with that, then moved to the next step. Using the Lee Turret Press makes that easy because you can remove the index rod and only do one step. I also concentrated on one caliber pistol reloads until I was comfortable before moving on.