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Okay, folks, I really am interested in getting started with re-loading. Where are some good places to start learning about it?

How much does it cost for some decent equipment that I won't outgrow right away?

Is 9mm a good caliber for re-loading?
 

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good place to start - buy and read ABCs of Reloading
 

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Get with an experienced guy and "pick his brains" like I did.
And as above, good publication.
 

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I began this time last year a novice willing to learn. I got a lee anniversary press and standard dies for 223. It was a steep learning curve with a few technical fouls, none bad just PITA. (wrecked a die when I could fixed it if I read the manual)....
I was man of many questions for some time to fellows who knew more. Its only last month have I got the recipe and skills set down to be proud of my work as they are flying nice and consistent down range.

Cost is high at 1st vs buying of the shelf. I don't think you start to save until a fair way in and then you may get hooked and spend more $ tweaking and buying all sorts of gear, but the satisfaction of making your own is hard to value.

Hint from me, when a primmer gets NQR & stuck use light oil to deactivate 1st, then you can pop it out safer.
 

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Greetings,

I would suggest you get a Speer or Hornady reloading manual, and find somebody who has experience reloading. I would also suggest a real single-stage press to work with. Lee powder dippers work, and are a good thing to have around, but a good balance beam scale is a must have for serious weighing of powder.

Too much or too little of a powder charge will get you in trouble quick. :eek: I personally like RCBS equipment.

moondog911 :cool:
 

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Not having other reloaders close by, I started with the basic NRA course (easy to find on the web)-in my case at a Gander Mtn not too far away. Then Speer, Lyman, Hornady manuals and ABC's of Reloading. Got me off to a good start. An advantage to the NRA course at least where I took is you leave with a shopping list, personalized advice on what to buy to start based on what you want to do, and a chance to try at least a couple brands and types of equipment. My needs turned out to be pretty simple, I likely would have overspent without the course.
 

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Okay, folks, I really am interested in getting started with re-loading. Where are some good places to start learning about it?

How much does it cost for some decent equipment that I won't outgrow right away?

Is 9mm a good caliber for re-loading?
This forum is a good place to start learning about it. I'm not much further ahead in this than you are - UPS just delivered my basic set of stuff recently. I started lurking here a while back and posted a similar thread to yours. Got some good advice, as I'm sure you will too. Read the books mentioned. My new kit had a nice overview DVD that I just watched. Best thing would be to get with a friend or relative who reloads and have them mentor you. Hang out and watch him/her reload and ask questions.

As far as equipment goes I decided on a single stage press kit that included a digital powder scale and a case trimmer plus a couple of extra upgrades. I'm starting with some rifle calibers and my mentor had commented these would be good things to have. I don't expect to ever outgrow my single stage press but if I get into reloading for my handguns I will be looking at turret or progressive presses and still use my single stage for rifle calibers.

Based on my recent experience being in the same position you are I would budget around $300 - $400 to get set up. If you live in an area with a lot of firearm enthusiasts you may be able to find a deal on some good used gear and save a lot of money. Quality presses don't wear out and some of the manufacturer's have pretty much a lifetime no-questions-asked warranty. I looked around here in my area but I just didn't come across anything I was interested in. You may do better.

(I'm deliberately avoiding the use of brand names in order to avoid the seemingly inevitable ABC vs XYZ vs ACME reloading brand debate.)

WARNING: Heavy Opinion Content Follows: If your interest in reloading stems solely from a desire to save money on ammo there may be a considerable period before you get any real return on investment. Primers, powder and bullets cost money too. 9mm is not a terribly expensive factory round and unless you spend a good deal more money and buy a progressive press you may find the process of reloading hundreds of rounds very tedious, particularly with a single stage press. IMO reloading is something that needs to bring you pleasure and satisfaction in and of itself. That is my hope anyway. It's another rich dimension to this hobby/passion/addiction we call shooting. The fact that you can save some money on ammo is a nice added benefit.

Best wishes as you sort this out in your own mind and reach your own conclusions. I chewed on it for a couple of months before deciding to make the plunge. No hurry - take your time and good luck!
 

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When I started reloading 6 months ago I was advised to buy a progressive press to start with and not waste money/time with a single stage press. Dillon was the manufacturer that was advised by a 25 year reloader and in my case a Square Deal B model as I don't expect to reload rifle ammo. There are other fine manufacturers of progressive presses that will also work great for you.
I reload 9mm, 38spl, .357 Mag and find using Hodgdon Titegroup powder makes for easy repeatable ammo. I get my reloading specs right from the Hodgdon website: Cartridge Loads - Hodgdon Reloading Data Center - data.hodgdon.com
A progressive press is easy to set up and repeats and repeats and you will not outgrow it soon.
Yes 9mm is an easy caliber to start with.
 

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I started reloading 47 years ago when I got a job in a Govt lab. I was taught by engineers that forgot more about ammo than I'll ever know. Unfortunately, most people aren't as lucky and learn the hard way through trial and error .... hopefully with a mentor and some good reloading manuals.

Later when I owned my gunsmith shop, I bought a RCBS Rock Chucker (single stage) and a Dillon RL550 (full progressive). I set the presses up in my shop and allowed my customers to use them free ... as long as they bought their supplies from me (under close supervision of course). I had all the handgun dies and most of the popular rifle dies. It was interesting to say the least ... some people had very limited mechanical skills ... some were very mechanically inclined. I always started new people on the RCBS so they got a good understanding what each die or operation does. Some people picked up the process in just one box of ammo ... some never got past adjusting the first die. Believe it or not ... the guys that had limited mechanical skills preferred the Dillon progressive over the RCBS single stage. The reason being ... once the dies were adjusted the first time, they never had to be adjusted again. It was a simple matter of changing the die pack and primer feed for different cartridges. Further, the loading process was very simple ... just put a spent case in the first station and a bullet on the powdered case in the third station. Pull the handle and a live round popped out of the 4th station. Some people feared the Dillon because it does several operations with each pull of the handle, however most people had more apprehension when trying to adjust each die in a single stage press. I didn't sell Dillon equipment but I sure did sell a lot of RCBS presses, dies, scales, powder measures, plus bullets, powder, and primers. In the 5 years I had the presses set up, I got a lot of people started in the reloading hobby. Of course there were some people that just didn't like reloading or maybe they didn't trust themselves and quit.

So here's some advice ... before you spend a penny on equipment, assess your own mechanical abilities and your needs. There are several avenues you can take. If you just want to "test the waters" so to speak, you may want to start off with minimum quality (and cost) equipment. You can always sell it if you decide reloading is not for you. If you really think you will enjoy reloading and plan to continue for many years, then buying quality equipment the first time will save you in the long run. It's much better if you can find a seasoned mentor that already has a good setup. Learn all you can then decide if you want to go first class, last class, or not at all.

Reloading is not brain surgery but it does require dedicated concentration. As mentioned above ... buy at least one good reloading manual ... Speer #14 or Hornady 7th Edition are by far the best. Not only do they include recipes for loads, they also have a good "how to" section and all sorts of information that is valuable even if you decide not to reload .... money well spent!
 

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I agree with eerything that has been said so far, the only thing i might add on top of it is to say if you think you are going to buy a kit, but intend to buy a manual first, get one that is a different brand, say the Speer manual if you intend to buy a Hornady or Lee kit, that way when you buy the kit, you will have two manuals to reference instead of duplcates. I would also advise you to think about what your needs/desires may be later on and how that might affect your purchase now. Good luck to you!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you everyone everyone who replied. Wow, that's a lot of information to chew on.

I could see from the first time I read about re-loading that it's not for saving money. My motivation though is to be able to shoot more. I'm sure I would spend more money, but I would hope the advantage would be lots more ammo to shoot.

Hmmmm... I just thought of something. I used to brew my own beer. My cost for each batch (5 gallons, or 2 cases), was about a quarter of what it would cost in the store to buy commercial beer, and the quality was way better.

Only problem? I drank it faster than I could brew it!
 

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All good suggestions. The decision about what press to buy will have to yours and yours only. For me it was decided by the number of rounds I shoot per month/year. I'd suggest you also consider a turret press, which is half way between a single stage and a progressive type.

9mm rounds are good for reloading; that's how I got started. There is only one thing to keep in mind: 9mm loads do not leave a lot of room for error. The cases are small and the required powder charges leave very little empty space in the cartridge. Also, the safe powder weight ranges are usually fairly narrow. My advice is that you get a good scale and be very "anal" about your powder charges.

Even with the prices for 9mm ammo being the lowest for any center fire rounds, I still can save close to 50% by reloading, but I get my fired brass for free.
 

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++ on all the posts. Read, heed and keep learning as you go. I've been at it four years and still enjoy spending time pressing out my own rounds. Great activity for winter and during the hunting season when you can't be out in the woods. I load .380, 9mm (for a friend), 38 spl, 357 mag, 40 S&W, 44 spl and 44 mag. I have all LEE equipment. Works great and have had zero problems. One of the local ranges has classes on reloading. You might check your area. Good luck and have a blast. :eek: {Controlled blast is what I meant.:D}
 

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Thanks for asking our advice.

Okay, folks, I really am interested in getting started with re-loading. Where are some good places to start learning about it?

How much does it cost for some decent equipment that I won't outgrow right away?

Is 9mm a good caliber for re-loading?
ALL cartridges are good for reloading. 9mm is somewhat unique in that it has a tapered case, but that is not a problem, just a feature that may or may not present challenges to you. The main problems with 9mm is that factory ammo is fairly cheap. You can save money by reloading, but you can also save money by shopping around carefully. Many times you might find ammo cheaper than you can reload for.

What other calibers do you shoot? 45 Colt is fairly expensive compared to what you can reload for. In my opinion, .357 magnum is the king of reloading cartridges, barely ahead of 44 Magnum and 45 Colt.

Revolvers don't throw your (precious) brass all over the countryside.

The large capacity revolver cases are more forgiving of slight charge weight variations, making them (in my opinion) a better choice for learning/teaching. If you are off by a tenth-grain in a large capacity case, it does not make for as great a pressure change than if you are off by that same tenth-grain in a smaller case.

.357 magnum (and 38 special) take smaller bullets than 44 and 45 caliber, thus the lead is less expensive by a factor of about 25%-30% per shot.

I made a thread a while back which was informed by my experience researching and purchasing gear to completely repopulate my loading bench. I was tired of compromising and decided to get the best equipment that money could buy. (That "best money could buy" is, of course, tempered by the provision that it was the best that suited my needs...I do not need, nor ever expect to need a Dillon 1050. Your needs may dictate different choices.)

If I knew in 1975 what I know now, I would have made the choices (or as close to them as was available at the time) outlined in this thread:
Budget Beginning Bench you will never outgrow, for the novice handloader.

http://rugerforum.net/reloading/29385-budget-beginning-bench-you-will-never-outgrow-novice-handloader.html

Read also my "10 advices for the Novice Handloader", which is post #13 in this thread entitled "Newby needs help."

Newby needs help. - The Firing Line Forums

The whole thread is a good one to read. I have another post #11 in it, also.

Welcome to the world of handloading/reloading.

Lost Sheep

p.s. If the links don't work, here are the URLs you can copy/paste into your web browser.

rugerforum.net/reloading/29385-budget-beginning-bench-you-will-never-outgrow-novice-handloader.html

thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=430391]Newby needs help. - The Firing Line Forums
 

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A lot of good advice here.
I started by emptying a lot of brass at the range...:D
 

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Larry the Conservative
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Its not rocket science, but the learning curve is rather steep. Finding a local reloader who is inclined to teach instead of preach is the best advice I could give.

Everything else I'll add is my opinion and while some may argue the points, none will say that they are not valid from my point of view.

1. I feel that starting with a manual press is important in becoming a reloader who is not just a "handle puller". Going slow, one step at a time will give you time to see mistakes before they in up in your ammo box, then in your mag, then in your gun, then stuck in your barrel. I know from experience.

2. Having a manual press around will be a benefit for the day when you shoot more than one or four calibers. There are those calibers that load better on a manual press than a progressive. There are calibers that having two or three loads worked up for is good. A progressive press will only be an advantage when you are not changing things - just pulling the handle on round after another.

3. Don't go cheap. There is equipment out there that is marketed as inexpensive - it is sold that way for a reason. Equipment that will last for decades is not sold as CHEAP. Equipment designed to be passed down to your children will not be cheap. Equipment that carries a lifetime warranty will not be cheap, and best of all equipment that carries a lifetime warranty and that never needs the warranty to be used is not cheap.

4. There will come a day when a progressive press makes sense. YOU will know when that day comes and why. Just because a buddy has one is the least important idea. I waited 30 years and should have bought it sooner, but it's now a prized possession, used for four calibers. The other 6 calibers I load for are done on a turret press.

5. Consider if you shoot enough ammo of a particular caliber to make loading that caliber worth while. I load a bunch of 45acp, 9mm, 223 and 308, but I don't shoot enough 380 to ever make it worth while. I also reserve the manual press for 308 (hunting loads w/bolt gun), 223 (varmint loads), 22-250, 45-70, 45-120, 338,& 30-06.

6. Equipment and supply costs will be around $500 to $750. Jumping up to a progressive setup for three calibers and you will spent about $1500 on good equipment. Low ball that for about half price, but plan to replace it in a couple years.

Caliber change over sets for a good progressive will cost you around $150 (dies, tool head, change over sets, dedicated powder measure) contrasted with the cost of just a set of dies for a manual press.

7. I like Dillon, RCBS and Lyman. I'm not saying that these are best, but they have worked for me for almost 40 years of reloading. If you are concerned about cost savings as a reason for reloading, know that the longer you reload, the more you save. If you just shoot a couple hundred rounds a month, I wouldn't bother.

These are opinions. Mine. Others will be different.
 

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Stargazer's words are wise, heed them.

What he calls a "Manual" press is what most other people call a "Single Stage".

He did leave out Lee in his list of equipment makers. Lee Precision has probably introduced more people into loading than any other single manufacturer through the low prices of their equipment. Inexpensive does not necessarily mean cheap. Their Classic Turret is the best auto-indexing turret in the world. Of course there are only two currently in production. Their "Reloader" press is extremely inexpensive, thus bordering on "cheap" in the pejorative sense (in my opinion). But it does work. My friend and I each got one in a special offer. It came with a manual for less than either listed for alone. He loaded for 45ACP and 500 S&W until his Lyman press arrived. Later, he used it for a powder measure mount until he snapped the thing off at the base (fell against it).

Lee offered to replace it for free, even though we explained how it broke. All they wanted was the broken pieces. Unfortunately, he had already recycled the aluminum.

I gave mine away for his birthday to a friend who had no press at all. For his 475 Linebaugh.

In one of my posts on the other threads for which I posted links, I mention prices. But I will give you a notion now, in case you didn't read them yet.

You can build the foundation for a first-class setup for $204 plus shipping. You will be limited in speed, but not in function. You will not have to trade off anything for future expansion. A better scale than Lee's will make that $240 or so. Adding an extra caliber will set you back $40 to $50, including a spare turret to make swapping calibers a ten-second affair.

My setup, for one caliber set me back $500, including shipping, numerous small tools, a really good scale and a brass tumbler. I lack nothing.

Most of the stuff is made by Lee Precision. The Scale is RCBS (made by Ohaus, their 10-10 model). Loading bench is Black & Decker folding. Not counted is my beloved RCBS RockChucker (semi-retired since I got the Turret). Everything fits in three toolboxes (largest of which is 23" x 10" x 10") and sets up in minutes.

It isn't rocket science, but it does involve flame and things that go very fast. If you can follow a cake recipe and change a tire without losing your lug nuts you can reload ammunition safely.

Lost Sheep
 

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The last two posts here are very well thought out and should tell you all you need to know.
I might also ad that while the equipment may seem expensive at first, it will ALWAYS be worth something, and will hold it's value well in the long run, allowing you to recoup part of your investment if you choose to not continue with it!
 

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Larry the Conservative
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Lost Sheep - thanks for the Single Stage phrase correction, old age creeping in I guess :D All I could think of was manual.

The traditional single stage press (Known in RCBS circles as a Rock Chucker Press) is a great place to start. My personal preference is the RCBS turret press, it's just a little faster and it gives the operator a couple different methods of working.

Perform one operation to all your brass, index the die, perform the next operation on all the brass, etc., or to insert a brass, size it, index head and dump powder, index head and set bullet, pull the handle to seat the bullet, remove the finished round. Your choice.

One gizmo that I forgot to mention was a priming tool. For 30+ years I used a Lee Hand Primer tool, but due to a accident in my reloading room, my long lived priming tool was destroyed by a fall to a concrete floor. I immediately went out a bought a replacement, but when I got home I discovered that the new tool is not nearly the machine the old tool was. It lays in my toolbox unused today, and as a replacement I purchased the RCBS Hand priming tool.

There are a couple point that have made it ideal for me.

First, it uses the same shell holders that my RCBS press uses. Shell holders from Lyman, Lee and some unknown source I had in my box will not work due to a certain inside taper being required to fit the primer tool. Since about all my holders were RCBS, this was no heart burn for me, but potential buyers should be aware of it. Their priming tool also comes in two price points - off hand I do not recall the exact reason that I purchased the less expensive model, but you should look for whatever this difference was.

Second, unlike the new Lee primer, I find loading primers MUCH easier with the RCBS unit. It will also feed primers without a hitch, whereas the Lee caused all kinds of grief.

There are other Lee products that I own such as bullet molds for black powder mini balls, two Lee Lead furnaces and a handful of usefully small tools that are just great.

I do use RCBS, Dillon and Lyman Powder dumps. I have been around Lee dumps and while people I respect tout the Lee tool, I have only been around a lesser quality dump that was very inconsistent, poorly made, junk that was impossible to use accurately. This was undoubtedly the least expensive model they make, but I'd still advise caution.

I used RCBS dumps for 40 years of accurate reloading with no problems. The most recent addition to my bench was a Lyman powder dump that I'm VERY happy with. It is a great piece of equipment. Model is a B5, I think.

If you choose to look at the Lee line of equipment (and you should look at all of them) do try to stay away from the lower end of their product line. It's not that the lowest level stuff will not work - it will. The question is for how long will it give you consistent loads. The key to satisfying reloading is consistency.

Hopefully I filled in a few more gaps here. Feel free to jump in with any questions.
 
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