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Newbie Hand loading questions

This is a discussion on Newbie Hand loading questions within the Reloading forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; Thanks for the feedback guys! I’m definitely going to start with polymer coated for the time being, and maybe buy some TMJ as well. Does ...


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Old March 7th, 2020, 11:32 AM   #61
 
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Thanks for the feedback guys!
I’m definitely going to start with polymer coated for the time being, and maybe buy some TMJ as well. Does anyone know if TMJ bullets perform as well as FMJ’s in revolvers? Seems to me that they might not, since the exposed lead in the bottom of an FMJ bullet expands to form a seal as it makes the jump into the forcing cone (at least that was my understanding).
Also: Does anyone have experience with lead free primers? I read somewhere that they can damage firearms, specifically breach faces; but I haven’t been able to verify this information, and it could be total nonsense (or: maybe it was true in the early 2000’s but no longer is the case?).



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Old March 7th, 2020, 03:40 PM   #62
 
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Back in the early '90s I bought a Dillon 550 progressive press from a friend. It came with an instruction manual, a beam scale, an inertia bullet puller, a gallon zippy bag full of .38 Super brass, .38 Super dies and shell plate, and Sierra pistol and rifle manuals.

I did not know the first thing about reloading, nor did I know anybody who did, so I read and re-read the introductions in the manuals that discussed nomenclature and definitions of things like headspace, etc. It was fascinating, and I soaked up the information like a dried out sponge. And then I read and re-read the instruction manual while I set up the press, and tinkered with it.

I bought a shell plate and dies for .45 ACP and then I tried out each stage to make sure I knew how it worked. I then I made a handful of .45 ACP dummy cartridges to make sure I had the steps down cold. And then I went "live."

I weighed each charge for the first 20 or so rounds, until I was comfortable with the consistency of the powder throw. When I had made 50 rounds I almost got a speeding ticket on my way to the range.

I was elated at the results. I quickly shot up those 50 rounds and then rushed home to load those cases back up. For several years I was a brass whore, picking up each and every errant piece of brass I could find, and asking other shooters if I could have their brass.

So you want to save some money? Right, good luck with that! Reloading quickly became one of my favorite things to do, even with my clothes on. Sometimes it could be a tough call: get "cozy" with Mrs. JohnnyAuto, or reload a batch of .45?

Next came .45 Colt, .38/.357, .44 Mag/.44 Spl, 9mm, .223 Rem, .308 Win, .30/06... And then came the gear for precision ammo! So yeah, so much for "saving" money!

To boil an elephant down to a pork chop, there is no reason to avoid a progressive press just because you are new to the game. Just make sure you purchase a quality press, read your manuals, and go S-L-O-W!!!!! Never mix powders. Keep only what you are reloading on your bench. Give this activity your complete and undivided attention, and be rested and alert. When you take a break, find a good stopping point to eliminate the chance of a mistake when you resume. Keep your powder and primers separate from each other, and in climate controlled conditions.

Have fun, let us know how you're doing!

Last edited by JohnnyAuto757; March 7th, 2020 at 03:43 PM.
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Old March 8th, 2020, 10:21 PM   #63
 
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Thanks for the feedback @JohnnyAuto757!
My 40S&W/10mm dies arrived in the mail today, and I should be getting my Lee Precision hand-held press kit on Wednesday. That means, if all goes well, I could be loading by the end of the week! I believe the only things I'm missing are a micrometer, a scale, and possibly a powder dispenser.
Speaking of which:
  1. At least on eBay, there seems to be a HUGE variation in the prices of scales. A quick search shows that digital scales range from $15 to several hundred dollars or more! Does anyone have a recommendation for a quality scale that won't break the bank? (either digital or analogue/balance type is fine). I figure that this is probably an important component not to "skimp" on, since it sort of represents a last line of defense against a "kaboom" or squib situation...But I'd like to spend as little as possible without being unsafe, if that makes sense.
  2. How about a powder dispenser? Is this worth buying at this point, or should I just weigh out each charge and use a scooper? As JohnnyAuto757 mentioned: I'll probably weigh each charge even if I DO have a dispenser just to be on the safe side (at least at first).
    And, if I SHOULD invest in a dispenser: Any recommendations that won't break the bank?

Thanks again for all the awesome feedback guys!
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Old March 9th, 2020, 12:59 AM   #64
 
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I guess I'm the odd man out, as I bought a Lee progressive 4 hole turret, and have never had a problem that I didn't cause. It's simple to use, and produces quality ammo. That being said, I am saving my pennies for a Dillon 650. I had no one to ask questions about reloading, so most of my knowledge came from reading multiple books. Iowegan can correct me, but the best and safest recipes seem to come from the powder manufacturers books/web sites, and the bullet manufacturers bibles. I respect Iowegan's knowledge and experience, but I must speak up for my Lee turret press.
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Old March 9th, 2020, 02:43 AM   #65
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taters613 View Post
Thanks for the feedback @JohnnyAuto757!
My 40S&W/10mm dies arrived in the mail today, and I should be getting my Lee Precision hand-held press kit on Wednesday. That means, if all goes well, I could be loading by the end of the week! I believe the only things I'm missing are a micrometer, a scale, and possibly a powder dispenser.

Does anyone have a recommendation for a quality scale that won't break the bank? (either digital or analogue/balance type is fine).
...
How about a powder dispenser?
I would recommend a good quality dial caliper instead of a micrometer. Especially since you are loading pistol rounds. The micrometer comes into play when loading match rifle loads where you need to be anal about components. And then you need two types of micrometers, one with flat anvil and one with a round anvil for measuring neck thickness.

For pistol rounds you will be best served with a balance beam and good powder measure. The balance beam is to set the charge bar on the powder measure, and periodically check the measure. For 40 S&W or 10mm, IMO the pressure is too high to rely on a dipper. 45 ACP it would be fine because there is a lot of room for error.
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Old March 9th, 2020, 03:12 AM   #66
 
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Originally Posted by taters613 View Post
[LIST=1][*]At least on eBay, there seems to be a HUGE variation in the prices of scales. A quick search shows that digital scales range from $15 to several hundred dollars or more! Does anyone have a recommendation for a quality scale that won't break the bank? (either digital or analogue/balance type is fine).
I began with an RCBS 5-0-5 scale and continue to use it today. I use a powder dropper, and after zeroing the scale with check weights, I throw several charges into the pan, weighing each throw until I get the right weight several times in a row. Then I check every fifth round.

For several months I tried a digital scale but did not like it. When it broke RCBS replaced it, but I sold it quickly.

Last edited by Old School Wheelgunner; March 9th, 2020 at 03:14 AM.
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Old March 9th, 2020, 06:54 AM   #67
 
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Originally Posted by 70Dart340 View Post
I guess I'm the odd man out, as I bought a Lee progressive 4 hole turret, and have never had a problem that I didn't cause. It's simple to use, and produces quality ammo. That being said, I am saving my pennies for a Dillon 650. I had no one to ask questions about reloading, so most of my knowledge came from reading multiple books. Iowegan can correct me, but the best and safest recipes seem to come from the powder manufacturers books/web sites, and the bullet manufacturers bibles. I respect Iowegan's knowledge and experience, but I must speak up for my Lee turret press.
I have the Lee Classic Turret press, 4 hole version and I am totally happy with it. I use the Lee 4 die sets with it and the Lee powder measure with the adjustable charge bar for pistol cartridges 380, 38, 9mm and 45 acp. with the powders I use they are either right on or +/- .1 grain at the most. A lot of people think Lee products are crap but I have had outstanding results with mine.
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Old March 9th, 2020, 10:08 AM   #68
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70Dart340, Honestly, I have never owned a Lee press. I used to sell them but as I mentioned in a previous post, the satisfaction and return rate was grim so I lost a considerable sum of money selling Lee equipment. The reputation of my shop was at stake so I had no choice but to refund money for a bad product or lose valuable customers. Most of the problems were with dies that were out of spec but I did have a couple presses returned with broken parts …. quite possibly the owner's fault. If Lee would have been as responsive as RCBS or Dillon, there would not have been an issue. At best, it took Lee 30~60 days to respond and even then, they often blamed the owner and wouldn't ship replacement parts without a significant charge. With Dillon or RCBS, just a phone call and replacement parts were in the mail …. no charge, no blame. This sort of thing sticks in your mind so here I am 25 years later and I still won't touch Lee equipment.

I think we all have come to realize …. reloading equipment has more "brand loyalty" than any other sporting goods related items. I think it's because people take their gun to the range and their reloaded ammo works just as expected. When you are satisfied with good results, it makes you think the brand of your equipment is great …. never mind their may be some other brand that works easier …. or faster …. or produces better quality.

As for cost, yes higher quality equipment is initially going to cost you more. If you are in it for the long haul and are as anal as me, the cost to produce a box of ammo on the cheapest Lee single stage press is insignificantly less than producing the same box of ammo on a Dillon progressive, however when you factor in the valuable time you spend reloading, which one is really cheaper? There is always more to it than the cost per box of ammo …. like buying a Cadillac instead of a Chevy …. both will get you to your destination but the cost per mile for comfort has its merits.

Bottom line: I always recommend buying higher quality equipment, however if you are satisfied with cheaper quality equipment and it does a good job, who can fault you?
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Old March 9th, 2020, 10:51 AM   #69
 
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When I started reloading cheap was good so I bought a used Lyman Spartan single-stage press (still use it). As I started to get into competition and used more ammo I just kept plugging along. With a single-stage each operation has a certain intimicy and you are aware of everthing that is going on, but it doesn't mean you can't make mistakes. In retrospect, I probably should have bought a progressive setup 25 years ago, but now that I'm 72 I guess I won't bother to upgrade to a progressive. If you are just starting out the only reason to buy single-stage is because you can't afford a progressive - and then upgrade as soon as you can.
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Old March 9th, 2020, 11:00 AM   #70
 
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Iowegan

When I buy reloading equipment I look at how hard I will be using it. My max usage so far is about 200 rounds a week. Mostly shot at an indoor range on the few times I am lucky enough to get to an outdoor range I like to shoot steel plates typically 6 to 8 inches in diameter at 25 yards shooting offhand.

The ammo I produce on my Lee press allows me ping the plates 100% with my two favorite range toys. Shooting indoors I can usually hold a 2" group at 50' so I am happy with my results. If I was into competition and running thousands of rounds of ammo and trying to wring the maximum amount of accuracy out of my ammo I probably would go for a more expensive set up.

If your experience with Lee customer service is from 25 years ago I am sure they have upgraded their service since then or they probably wouldn't still be around. I ordered a couple plastic parts that go on top of the index rod just to have as spares. When I talked to CS they shipped me 4 at no charge and got them within a week so I can't fault their CS.

Like you said a Cadillac and a Chevy will both get you to where you want to go just depends on how many bells and whistles you want on your car.
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Old March 9th, 2020, 12:59 PM   #71
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bubba68, There are thousands of stories just like your where people are happy with their equipment and as I said in my above post "if you are satisfied with cheaper quality equipment and it does a good job, who can fault you?"

Maybe Lee woke up .… maybe they got pressure from other reloading equipment manufacturers that really do an excellent job of supporting their products …. but it wasn't always like that. To me, it's like sticking your hand in a hole and getting bit by a snake. 25 years later, you probably won't stick your hand in a hole, even if there is not a snake in it. I've had nothing but good experiences with RCBS, Redding, Hornady, Dillon, and Lyman but really crappy experiences with Lee, thus exercising my right to avoid Lee products.
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Old March 10th, 2020, 04:12 PM   #72
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old School Wheelgunner View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by taters613 View Post
[LIST=1][*]At least on eBay, there seems to be a HUGE variation in the prices of scales. A quick search shows that digital scales range from $15 to several hundred dollars or more! Does anyone have a recommendation for a quality scale that won't break the bank? (either digital or analogue/balance type is fine).
I began with an RCBS 5-0-5 scale and continue to use it today. I use a powder dropper, and after zeroing the scale with check weights, I throw several charges into the pan, weighing each throw until I get the right weight several times in a row. Then I check every fifth round.

For several months I tried a digital scale but did not like it. When it broke RCBS replaced it, but I sold it quickly.
Thank you sir! Looks like these can be bought on eBay for not too much $$, so I think this is the way I’ll go.
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Old March 10th, 2020, 04:19 PM   #73
 
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By the way: I realized I’ll need a place to store all this ammo I’ll be reloading, and I ended out buying an MTM ammo case which holds 1000 rounds of various pistol calibers. It comes with an o-ring sealed ammo can which is filled with 7 ammo boxes, each of which holds 100 rounds. It also comes with some color coated reloading labels for the outside of the boxes, and some detailed labels for the inside. Just got the package today, and Im impressed by the quality, especially considering it was only $24 on Amazon! (https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00I8...b_b_asin_title)
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Old March 10th, 2020, 05:34 PM   #74
 
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Been reloading for a year now. My only experience is with a Lee classic turret press. It all comes down to money, I could afford a kit for about 200 dollars and a set of Lee dies,slowly added other items to reloading bench as needed.I enjoy immensely reloading on my turret press. I only load single stage and don't plan on going full auto any time soon.
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Old March 12th, 2020, 03:39 PM   #75
 
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Just won an eBay bidding war for a new in box, American made RCBS Scale model 5-10 for under $50 including shipping! Incidentally, another nice thing about reloading is that it’s a great excuse to practice another one of my hobbies: deal shopping on eBay!
I figure I’ll also need some calibration weights for my scale, and after doing a bit of research, it seems that M1 weights would be ideal (they require +- 50 mg per kg precision, which equates to +- .00075 grains for a 15 grain weight). Both eBay and Amazon have some extremely cheap M1 calibration weight kits for around $10. Anyone have any experience with these? Do they appear to be “good enough”, or do I need to fork out more cash for a good set of weights?
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