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New to reloading. Real world advice?

Discussion in 'Reloading Ammunition' started by Bean, Jan 24, 2017.

  1. Bean

    Bean .22LR

    Hi there.
    After many hours of you tube videos, and web surfing I thought I'd come somewhere comfortable, and familiar for some advice.

    The rifle: savage hog hunter. 308

    The reason: to keep on hand for cabin protection (bears, wolves), plain old fun target shooting, and possible future hunting.

    I have no desire to shoot competitive. I shoot one or two times a month to maintain profeciency (50 rounds or so each outing) and other than sighting in I don't use a benchrest.

    In terms of accuracy if I can hit a paper plate/gong out to 200 yards I'm happy.

    So what I'm looking for is advice on what do I really need? I have no problem paying top dollar for stuff (I truly believe buy once cry once) but I'd rather not pay for a benefit I will not realize.

    I will pay for convenience or for future proofedness.

    I've ruled out an annealer, and neck turning.

    For dies I'm looking at a Lee pacesetter set, although a bushing style resizer is not out of the question.

    The press is a bit more confusing. I had my eyes on the Lee anniversary set, but once at cabelas it seemed "sloppy" compared to the rockchuker.

    I held off on the press and am kinda intrigued by the co ax press. I like the priming system, and the quick die changes. I can see that being nice to have if I fall deep down the reloading bunny hole .

    I plan to use both mechanical scales and electronic. Powder throwing will be either a throw, or a scoop system, slightly under charging with a trickle finish. (Most videos I watched the powder throws were too inconsistent ).

    I am not I repeat not beyond the rcbs charge master electronic do hickey, and please if need be I can be talked into it. But if I can save 500 that's fine too.

    Bottom line this stuff will last a lifetime. I just want decent ammo and a new hobby for my soon to be workbench man cave area.

    I want quality equipment but don't want to buy something that will be of no benefit for what I will be doing.

    What say ye?

    Cheap dies/bushing dies?
    What press?
    Hand charge or auto electric charge the powder?

    What did you buy? Why? What would you do differently?

    Is there something I didn't mention that would be of consequence to my purchase?

    Cabelas has an rcbs kit for 1100. Just add dies and a shell holder and were good to go.

    I really like the co ax press, but I plan on using shims to get a repeatable shoulder bump. This doesn't seem possible on the co ax.

    Thank you all in advance.
  2. dieselmudder

    dieselmudder .30-06 Elite Member "Philanthropist"

    I've had great luck with my Lee press and dies. It does what it's intended to. And does it reliably. Just recently switched from the press mounted priming system, to a bench mounted priming setup. Also Lee. The round plastic primer trays of the press mount system warped. I use the plastic Lee powder thrower for stick powders, and a metal Hornady for ball, and flake powders. The beam scale that comes with the anniversary kit is pretty accurate. Within about 1/10 of a grain I would say. The electronic throwers are a nice convenience though. Especially if doing small batches of different charge weights. I've been loading a little over two years now. I estimate about 8000 rounds of various rifle and pistol. All on a single stage lee. The Lee quick trim dies, and cutter are well worth the money, especially if you find your rifle tends to stretch cases.
    pcolapaddler likes this.
  3. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    I'm a retired engineer with 20 years in the manufacturing and metalworking side. I just started handloading recently.

    But my buddy Bob has been loading with the Lee press for almost 30 years and he recently switched to the Rock Chucker. He doesn't have a lot of money so this was sort of a dream for him. The old Lee still works but it was getting worn. The Rock chucker is not the world's fanciest press, but for what I spent it represents an exceptional value and is quite heavy duty.

    Anyhow I bought a Rock Chucker 4 on his advice. Luckily I found the Rock Chucker Supreme Master kit for $300, which included most things I would need except for a tumbler ($70) Lyman carbide case trimmer ($100) and some little things like a primer hole brush and media.

    A little bit of slop in a press is OK & necessary, because the bullet, dies and cartridge have to align precisely and yet, they are not all exactly perfect and exactly the same from round to round.

    If you build the press too tight you are going to make some crooked rounds that would have been straight if the dies were forming ammunition and the presses had less influence.
  4. Don Fischer

    Don Fischer .410

    Did you get a caliper with that kit? Seem's to me none of the kit's have one. That is dumb, shoot they are relatively inexpensive!
  5. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

    My press is an old rock chucker.

    Old as in being made in the early 80's. Untold how many thousands of rounds it has loaded in that amount of time.

    It was given to me by my dear old friend Tom. Despite being 30 years old, it's still tight and good.

    My reloading setup is quite basic.

    I use a Lee handheld primer. You'll need a case trimmer of your choosing. A tumbler. Case lube. Obviously powder, primer, and bullets of your choosing. Die set and shell holder. Scale.

    The fanciest piece of equipment that I have is a Hornady Lock N Load digital powder dispenser. I like it because it is very precise in throwing charges. More precise than my old Lee perfect powder measure. Is slower with some powders though.

    For old military crimped brass, I also use a Lyman case prep tool. Works for cleaning out the primer pocket and also if you run it in the neck of your sized cases deburrs the edge and also chamfers the edge to help seat bullets better.

    I also like Imperial case lube, but a few drops of RCBS case lube in a ziplock is great for resizing.
  6. Daryll

    Daryll .270 WIN Supporter

    I've had a Lee Progressive 1000 since i first started reloading handguns 25 years ago... its still on my bench and producing good rounds, even after churning out nearly 40,000 rounds of .38 and .45.

    In the last 5 years or so I've started reloading rifles (.223 and .308) and I've got a Lee Breechlock challenger press, and Lee deluxe dies sets in both calibres... Lee works fine for me..!!

    My only non-Lee kit is, like JohnA, a Hornady LnL dispenser... its good enough for me, but then I don't shoot long range, and don't need everything to be to the nearest 0.05 gn... and it saves soooo much time...

    To me, reloading isn't a hobby, its a means to an end.... if I didn't reload, I couldn't afford to shoot as much as I do... :D
    Bobster likes this.
  7. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    You do not get a caliper with the rock chucker kit or any of the other ones I looked at. I have a dial indicator model from Central Tool that I've had for 25 or 30 years it still works great. If it ever breaks I could drop some money on a Starrett just because I can.

    I also have a dial indicator on a stand that I can use for checking overalls & trimmed cases.

    I do like the hornaday digital scale although it's a very cheap model at $35, it does work well and my only complaint is it shuts off too often. I would rather the batteries go dead more often and the scale not shut off so soon.

    The three Poise scale is so slow to use that I can't imagine them even including it in a kit anymore. But of course you don't need batteries! And unlike electronic equipment it is relatively impervious to humidity.
  8. Daryll

    Daryll .270 WIN Supporter

    Ok, maybe my Hornady dispensor isn't the same as John's... mine was a bit more than $35..!

    I've got this: https://www.hornady.com/reloading/precision-measuring/scales-and-accessories/lock-n-load-auto-charge

    You set your target weight and it dispenses it into the pan, trickling slowly at the end to get the correct weight. You tip the powder from the pan into your primed case and put the pan back on the electronic balance, and it re-zero's and starts to dispense again.
    While its dispensing you can seat a bullet in the case and pick up the next primed case ready to tip the powder in.
  9. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    I don't have a dispenser: just the electric scale. I have to trickle powder by hand.

    But I do it differently.

    I weigh the case before and after, so I know that the powder all went in there and not on the floor.

    First I weigh the case & zero.

    Then I dump my powder charge right into the case, and trickle as I re-weigh it.

    I normally never use a powder pan or a funnel. I drop a slightly short charge and then trickle the last fraction.

    I changed my method because after you throw several charges from a pan and funnel, the static electricity starts to make the powder stick on those things and then you have to discharge them.

    It's difficult to use the trickler on really narrow cases so sometimes I use a tweezers.

    I don't do any of this because I'm in a hurry. It simply seems the best way to me.

    (evidently I was in a hurry when I posted that and I have made a few corrections to typographical errors.)
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017
  10. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

  11. Scoop

    Scoop .30-06

    When I wanted to start reloading I went to 4 very trusted and experienced gentlemen who let me use a large variety of equipment for many different calibers. I loved using the machinery and handling the case, primer, bullet and powder stock.

    I am not a reloader. I'll tell you why.

    I noticed one common trait among this collection of skilled craftsmen. Their biggest reloading asset was NOT their machines or raw material. It was their DISCIPLINE and thorough RECORD KEEPING. Each of them could go back years of detailed logs about ages of powder, OAL, bullet weights, muzzle velocities... and on and on.

    I am not a reloader. I DON'T HAVE THAT DISCIPLINE to the degree I would consider myself safe.

    I would suggest to aspiring new reloaders to focus not so much on the machinery, but to get good advice on the laborious and meticulous attention to detail and recording necessary.

    I am not a reloader, but I feel that I can share this advice from my extensive and deep contemplation about this matter.

    Be safe my friend. That is what is what it is all about.
  12. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

    That is very good advice Scoop.

    Safety and attention to detail is paramount to reloading.

    I have 3 separate logs.

    One is a big binder that has a lot of factory loads in them, as well as some other things that I have printed out over the years in case the interweb ever goes down, I'll have a hard copy of it. Plus, I reload in my basement shop so it's easier to have them printed out than trying to find a bookmark while using a laptop or tablet.

    I also have two separate 3 subject notebooks that I have jotted down detailed notes concerning velocity, accuracy, what gun I used, personal notes, blah blah blah.

    For each of the 3 subjects, I have them separated for handgun, rifle and shotgun loads.

    One of the notebooks are kept at my loading bench for quick reference while I'm doing my testing and such, and the other notebook has the "final" loads that I call my "pet loads" that I settle on that I like the best. Sometimes I have loads for a particular caliber for plinking loads, hunting loads, and even defensive loads. But for the most part, I try to keep them somewhat organized by caliber.
  13. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    It's really much easier for me because I'm not a hunter. I'm really only interested in target shooting performance from my rifle loads, and defensive capabilities for my pistol and shotgun loads.

    Remember that when you label your finished ammunition to record the formula exactly as it is on the box but also to record what you have made in a book.

    Because of good record-keeping I was able to detect a typographical mistake in my labeling, for I had indicated a load had 18 grains of powder instead of the 13 grains it actually contained.

    By weighing the finished cartridges and checking my records I was able to assure myself that they did not actually contain an 18 grain charge (which could have been dangerous.)

    Anyhow after this incident I found out why it's a good practice to write everything down twice. Once on the label and once in the book. And keep Batch numbers on the boxes and in the book so that you can make sure you know what box of ammo you're looking at.
  14. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

    For any rounds that I don't shoot up almost immediately and store, I put them in a zip lock, and inside the baggy, I use a 3x5 note card and write on it.

    It's quick, it's easy. It works.
    carbinemike likes this.
  15. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Baggies are probably a very practical idea. I tend to put all my reloads back in the old ammunition boxes and tape them up and label them.

    But if you just shoot two or three rounds out of a box you have to tape it back up & the boxes wear out after a while and then I end up using whatever little boxes I have. This means I have an assortment of different size boxes which makes it sort of difficult to organize.

    Also I have loaded at least a thousand rounds that I have not shot. I found the formulas that I liked and I started cranking them out and boxing them away.

    I am starting to get away from the cardboard boxes and actually buy plastic ammunition boxes for my reloads. They're not very expensive and they don't wear out quickly plus they are water resistant.

    But if you had to box up a thousand rounds all at once it could be a little expensive. :rolleyes:
  16. Terry Mayes

    Terry Mayes .22LR

    I shoot one or two times a month to maintain profeciency (50 rounds or so each outing) and other than sighting in I don't use a benchrest.

    So what I'm looking for is advice on what do I really need?

    I plan to use both mechanical scales and electronic.

    Powder throwing will be either a throw, or a scoop system, slightly under charging with a trickle finish.

    Bottom line this stuff will last a lifetime.

    I want quality equipment but don't want to buy something that will be of no benefit for what I will be doing.

    What say ye?[/QUOTE]

    I started loading my own ammunition about 1965, and have rarely purchased factory ammo since. (It is good to test function and for use a a standard to compare your own stuff). Initially I used my fathers Herters single stage press, (which is still in use with my brother, BTW), when I left home, I purchased a RCBS Junior single stage press, which is still in use today. It's as good as it ever was. My loading volume is/has been between 2000rds-8000rds of handgun and rifle ammo per year. Looking at my primer consumption for 2017, (now I'm retired), and I managed to use up closer to the 8K number. Good hardware will last almost forever.

    Buy a single stage press, as setting up a high volume operation for < 1000 rounds a year is not really necessary. RCBS, Lyman, and Redding are all first class. I also own Lee reloading stuff, it's OK, but not in the same class.

    I also have a RCBS powder measure, it's been with me since the Jr press came home. Friends that load have used various different measures, they all have their quirks, none of them will meter IMR 4350 or IMR 3031, most will meter ball powders with very near perfect accuracy. Some will not do so well with very fine ball powders, and some will tend to bridge with low charge flake powders.

    I'm on my second RCBS balance beam scale, in almost 50 years, the first one died in a move. My fault. I have a digital scale, it's OK. They are all about the same as near as I can tell.

    Dies also last forever if you clean them once in a while. I have RCBS dies, AND Lee dies for each of my favorite in house rounds, as sooner or later you will stick a round in a die. If you are inclined to pick up brass others leave behind, (I do that myself), get a small base die for your .308. I've never had a problem with RCBS or Lee dies, and I don't need one of the fancy sets with dial indicators.

    Get a priming tool, I have one of the newer Lee priming tools, it's OK, but not as user friendly as my friends more expensive units. Priming with a press is difficult as far as precision and constant seating depth goes. But this tool isn't essential, just nice.

    Over time you may want to add a tumbler, or any number of other gadgets, but they are not essential.

    The .308 is easy to load for, especially for a bolt action rifle. The guy who loads his own can assemble loads for everything from low recoil paper punching, to elk. The Savage line, including the Hog Hunter, is on average, very accurate and reliable. I eyed a HH for a while, and went with an MPV, but they are very similar except for the magazine.

    With reloading stuff, like every other thing, you get what you pay for. That's a good indicator, as the pricey stuff from the list above, all good. How much fluff and frills is you want to adjust and manage is the biggest difference.
    Don Fischer and John A. like this.
  17. Don Fischer

    Don Fischer .410

    Great post!
  18. nitesite

    nitesite Sheepdog Moderator "Philanthropist"

    Great thread!
  19. carbinemike

    carbinemike Global Moderator Staff Member Global Moderator "Philanthropist"

    That's what I do or if they are going into an old ammo box a use a piece od masking tape and write the data.

    Oh yeah, Lee single stage guy here. Nothing fancy but it does a decent job for the amount of reloading I do.
    Eddie Stewart likes this.
  20. Eddie Stewart

    Eddie Stewart .22LR

    I've been reloading for several years now and like dieselmudder, almost all of my equipment is Lee. The only others I have were either gifts or bought because Lee didn't sell that particular piece of equipment. Lee is very affordable and has always served the purpose well.

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