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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
"To Kit or Not to Kit? That is the question" (Apologies to William Shakespeare)

The subject of the thread started by t conroy in this forum prompted me to speed up posting of something I began composing a couple of weeks ago.

t conroy's thread:

How do I decide how to get started reloading? Do I get a 1) ready-made kit, 2) assemble my own kit (a-la-carte) all at once or 3) populate my loading bench slowly only as I find needs for each piece of gear?

To my mind there are those three ways to get started. Ways #2 and #3 have sub-divisions I named "ultimate" and "cheap", so five approaches altogether.

edit: I use a term, PDS that I failed to define until later. Sorry about that. PDS means Press, Dies and Scale (or Scoops). A minimalist starter setup. The bare minimum to produce a loaded round.

Cheap PDS expand & upgrade over time
Premium PDS expand over time
Store-bought complete Kit
Cheap assemble yourself complete kit upgrade over time
Premium assemble yourself complete kit

Note that I do not believe a Premium Store-bought kit exists, as that would necessarily be a custom-designed kit especially for you, making it essentially a Premium assemble yourself kit. Nor do I believe there is anyone marketing a Cheap store-bought kit. If there is, I include it in the scoring for the cheap assemble yourself kit category.

Some definitions, so we don't get confusion over semantics.

"Cheap" means just that. You buy something because it will function, but you know you will probably not be happy with it. You know you want a Forster, but you buy the $30 Lee Loader Press because without it, you are stalled.

"Ultimate" means the gear about which you would say, "Where have you been all my (reloading) life?" That is, the pieces of gear which fit you best, out of all that's available.

"Upgrade over time" means you buy cheap stuff to start with, that you know you will replace with better stuff as soon as you 1) can afford it and 2) have finally identified what model and characteristics fit you.

"PDS and expand over time." Since it is possible to load with little more than a Press, Dies and way to mete powder (calibrated Scoops or a Scale), I abbreviate this minimalist approach as "PDS" (Press-Dies-Scoops or Press-Dies-Scale). Essential accessories such as calipers and bullet puller, etc are put on hold. You do need them, but not necessarily the first week.

Please don't add the debate over scoops/dippers vs scale or volumetric vs weight measuring. Open another thread for that, please.

Startup Cash - Start shopping on Friday; be loading on Sunday How much money did you spend? (Adjust the time frame for mail-order.)
Total Money - After you have been loading a while and are happy with ALL your gear. How much money did you spend in total?
Shopping effort - Time & effort researching gear before making your first purchase(s)?
Knowledge Required - How much knowledge of reloading processes do you need to make a go of it?
Convenience - How convenient is the loading process immediately after you get set up?

These are my quantitative estimates of the 1 & 2) cost 3) time involved in making the decisions and purchases, 4) amount of knowledge needed (of reloading and of yourself) to make a good go of getting started in reloading and 5) the degree of compromise and inconvenience you suffer using each of the 5 startup approaches. Note: Low numbers are good, which turns the inconvenience factor upside down, so I named it "Inconvenience".)

These are not rankings of order, but most could serve as rankings.
These are not value judgements.
These are not moral judgements.
These are not set in stone. I am open to critique. I am slightly less open to criticism. I am always open to humor. But sometimes it is hard to tell the difference. Please think before you post, the subject is complex and confusing enough.

I hope this may serve as a guide for those struggling with the subject question to which there is no single or best answer for everyone. Each of us is an individual with their own best answer. It is the thought process in examining these ratings that will guide you to your best answer. That process is the beginning of the "Shopping effort", don't'cha know? So, it isn't my numbers that are all that important. It is what YOU think about them, and the quality of that thought, that gives them value for YOU.

The five approaches and their ratings:

Cheap PDS expand & upgrade over time
Startup Cash 4
Long Term Money 8
Shopping effort 4
Knowledge Required 4
Inconvenience 8

Ultimate PDS expand over time
Startup Cash 2
Long Term Money 6
Shopping effort 6
Knowledge Required 6
Inconvenience 6

Store bought complete Kit
Startup Cash 6
Long Term Money 10
Shopping effort 2
Knowledge Required 2
Inconvenience 2

Cheap assemble yourself complete kit upgrade over time
Startup Cash 6
Long Term Money 8
Shopping effort 8
Knowledge Required 8
Inconvenience 4

Ultimate assemble yourself complete kit
Startup Cash 10
Long Term Money 8
Shopping effort 10
Knowledge Required 10
Inconvenience 0

Respectfully submitted for your consideration.

Lost Sheep

p.s. Be safe. All ways, always. Wear eye protection, especially when working with primers and don't pinch your fingers in your press.

p.p.s. my thread "Budget Beginning bench you will never outgrow for the novice handloader". talks about the premium PDS approach.
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