I lied

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by Mr. Don, Oct 30, 2015.

  1. Mr. Don

    Mr. Don Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I know I said I wouldn't post again until I at least bought some equipment. Sorry. I lied. I'm looking at a "lightly used" Rock Chucker tomorrow and if I buy it I'm not the kinda guy who wants to wait around for stuff. I will want to start. Here is what I am thinking I need:

    Press
    Books - recommendations please :)
    Die set .38/.357
    micrometer
    scale
    primers
    powder
    bullets - can I use the same bullets for .38 .357. I think so? I'm only shooting paper, steel, and bowling pins.
    funnel
    primer hole cleaner?
    case trimmer?


    All brass has been shot from my Ruger. No range brass. I think this is a good thing?

    Anyway I'm not expecting recommendations on each component but I sure as hell need to know if there is anything else I need to get started.

    I will read before I start I promise. I will not go off half cocked (pun intended) and blow something up.

    Thank you.
     
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  2. gdmoody

    gdmoody Full Time Moderator Moderator Supporting Member

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    Don't stop posting just because you are waiting for something. Jump in on any ongoing thread or start one yourself about just about anything, just keep it clean!!

    Books - I always recommend the Lyman #49 and the latest Hornady, which is #9.

    38/357 bullets are exactly the same diameter which is .357

    I will probably get a little grief from this BUT I can't see any reason to get a primer pocket/hole cleaner or a case trimmer for ANY straight wall handgun cases.

    It doesn't matter what gun your brass was fired through, basically - brass is brass
     
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  3. Oneida Steve

    Oneida Steve Well-Known Member

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    I've been reloading .38's since 1978, so here's my take:

    You don't need a case trimmer. You won't be trimming .38/.357 cases. Case trimmers are for rifle brass.
    You don't need a micrometer for .38/.357
    Buy a primer hole cleaner if you want (they are cheap). I don't have one. I use a brad (thin nail) for cleaning primer holes.

    You should get a powder measure. They don't cost that much.
    If you plan on continuing to reload, a tumbler will come in handy. I use mine constantly.
    Yes, same bullets for .38 & .357 if you keep the loads sensible.
    The Rock Chucker is a hugely powerful press; much more than you need for resizing .38's, but great. My first press was a Rock Chucker.
    Hope this helps. Steve
     
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  4. Firpo

    Firpo Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Just to be clear, hate for you to buy the wrong gizmo. You don't so much want what I've always called a micrometer which is shaped like a C clamp, although it could be useful at times. What you're really wanting is an electronic or dial caliper which slides and looks more like a ruler. Thought I'd mention it just to be on the safe side.
     
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  5. Clipper

    Clipper Well-Known Member

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    Good choice! My RockChucker has had lots of birthdays, I don't think you can wear one out! I loaded thousands of rounds of .357 on my Rock...Keep it, you probably will never outgrow that press, even when you are loading on a Dillon 1050! I do like my Uniflo powder dispenser, throws accurately. If you have a drill press, break it out and make some loading blocks. Some of mine can be used either side, one side say for .45, the other side for .40. .380 and 223 can use the same block and shell holder...I didn't see a hand primer listed, you can prime on the RockChucker, and RCBS makes a nice hand primer.
     
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  6. Pawpaw40

    Pawpaw40 Well-Known Member

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    Buy a book, first, before you buy anything else. It will tell you everything you need. I would buy the book for the brand bullets I use, unless they are lead, unjacketed. I like the Speer book for pistol loads. (I like Speer pistol bullets, Sierra for rifle).I would get calipers instead of micrometers to start off with. You won't need a case trimmer for pistol cases, at least not for a while. When you start trimming cases, you will need a deburring tool. I've never had to trim straight walled pistol cases. I would get a powder measure in addition to a scale. Weighing every charge gets tedious. I use the RCBS Uniflow when I use my single stage press. A cartridge tray is invaluable. If you don't get carbide dies, you will need a case lube pad and case lube or use a spray on case lube. Later on you will want a case tumbler. You don't have to clean out the primer pockets. If you start wanting to load for accuracy in a rifle caliber, you might want to buy a primer pocket reamer and flash hole reamer to get uniform primer pockets and flash holes, but really not needed for pistol. I prefer using a hand priming tool over the priming arm on the Rock Chucker. Faster and better feel, but it's not necessary.
     
  7. Mr. Don

    Mr. Don Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Hand primer is a good idea. I can do that while watchin tv. I miss-typed. I did mean caliper but the word got stuck somewhere in my melon. :)

    Once I get going I plan on adding stuff at a budget friendly pace. A tumbler and every sorta shiny reloading type gizmo will eventually find it's way to my house.

    I'm a bit of a sucker for stuff. You should see my fly tying pile. I have almost (and there are a crap load) every fly tying thingy you could imagine. :)

    thanks again
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2015
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  8. sharps4590

    sharps4590 Well-Known Member

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    All I can say is I'm glad my fly tying didn't take the same course as my handloading!!!! I do understand the comparison, however.

    I pretty much agree with the others. I prefer the Lyman book but have most of the others....even though they're 30+ years old. And I have compiled my own....folder, can't call it a book...with data for all the unlisted cartridges I work with. Powder measure for certain. I have the RCBS Uniflow and an ancient Belding & Mull....which is the more accurate of the two but the Uniflow is much quicker. If you get a powder measure you probably won't need the funnel for handgun cartridges but if you reload for rifles you might. A Rock Chucker is never wrong. I have a friend who is one of the test ballistician for Sierra in Sedalia, Missouri and he tells me he believes their Rock Chucker has sized over 10 million cases over the last 30 years, which is all they use it for. It's still fine. I prefer a hand priming tool to priming on the press but both work. Just keep your fingers clean if you use the press mounted primer. It is claimed case lube can foul the primers. I suspect you'll want a brass tumbler pretty quick.

    I've been in Sierra's underground test facility and I can assure you, it's a handloader's dream. I could have stayed.

    Primer pocket cleaners....I have them but the only time they see use is for long range target loads.

    I must be doing something wrong because I have to trim my 45 Colt brass fairly regularly as the mouths get uneven throwing off the crimp and ruining accuracy. I do not recall that I've ever trimmed 38/357 but I haven't shot enough of that in 25 years to amount to a hill of beans.
     
  9. SteveM

    SteveM Well-Known Member

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    Here is what I would use as a minimum to reload 38/357. Brands are not that big of a deal for the most part. If you're loaded buy Redding and Dillon, if not buy Hornady, RCBS, or Lyman, if don't even have two Benjamin's to rub together then buy mostly Lee.

    Tools:
    • Lyman #49 (Hornady #9 also if you can afford it)
    • Single stage press
    • Carbide dies and shell holder (The Lee 4-die set is good as I like to crimp separately)
    • Digital or dial indicating caliper (Might be cheaper at a local hardware store or Amazon)
    • Loading block (you could make your own from wood)
    • Balance beam scale (Any brand but Lee)
    • Powder trickler
    • Powder funnel
    • Powder measure with pistol rotor
    Components:
    • Xtreme plated for 38 Special
    • Jacketed or Laser-Cast for 357 Magnum
    • Small pistol or small pistol magnum primers as specified by your load data.
    • 700X, 800X, W231, Bullseye, Unique, Power Pistol, BE-86, HS-6, #5, etc for 38 Special
    • #9, N-110, 300-MP, H110, W296, or 2400 for 357 Magnum
    The 38 can use pretty much any bullet weight up to 158gr, but I wasn't fond of some 357 test loads that I made with H110 and 125gr XTP bullets. It felt like it was overly powerful for a 357 and flames were shooting out everywhere, so I prefer to stay north of 140gr with the 357. I've loaded 158gr into 38 and 357 with good result, but the 38 also does quite well also with 125-130gr. The Xtreme bullets are a good value and have free shipping right now, just observe their velocity limits if you try to put them into 357 loads. The Laser-Cast 158gr SWC are excellent paper target loads in my 357 and you can get their loading manual which lists suitable loads for these harder bullets. Most manuals list slower loads for soft lead bullets which isn't appropriate for Laser-Cast hard cast bullets.

    I've listed some common powders, but you can find load data for a lot of other powders and even make one do well in another load. For instance, SR-4756 can make a decent 357 load, but good data isn't as easy to find (don't use Lee's data) and the powder is now discontinued. Any brand primer will do and use your load data to determine if a magnum primer should be used, not all 357 loads will require a magnum primer.

    You can clean your brass in the kitchen sink and lay out on a cookie sheet in the sun or in a mildly warm oven to dry so don't rush out to by a tumbler just yet. The next tools I'd be looking for is a set of scale check weights, a crimp die (unless you got a 4-die set), more books, a chronograph, MTM ammo boxes, and eventually that tumbler. After a while you may have some of your 357 brass start to split or chip at the mouth. Set these aside and when you have several of them buy the Lee 38 Special trimmer that you can chuck in a drill and turn that brass down for use with 38 Special loads.

    You might notice that I didn't mention a hand primer. I've got the Hornady one and overall I just prefer priming on the press. While the hand primer was faster I found small pistol primers could flip over as they left the tray and went down the little chute, requiring that I squeeze the handle part way and verify proper primer orientation before sliding the brass into place. The priming ram is rounded on the end which left a lot of large dimples on my primers that just looked sloppy and unprofessional. You're supposed to be able to feel the primers seat better with a hand tool so I tried to use a lighter touch to find this magical seating point where the primer bottomed out without the dimple, but I was rewarded with 2% of my loads requiring two strikes of the firing pin, one to seat the primer fully and the second to set off the primer. I have had none of these issues since switching to press mounted priming and I have no problem feeling the primers bottoming out. If your press has a method to prime then give it a try before being additional priming equipment just in case you're different like me.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2015
  10. sharps4590

    sharps4590 Well-Known Member

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    Is both ends of the priming ram rounded on the Hornady priming tool? I have the RCBS and one end is rounded to fit in the cup in the handle that rises to seat the primer. The other end is flat.
     
  11. mikld

    mikld Well-Known Member

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    Well, you've gotten some good info, so I'll just add my .02. I began reloading the .38 Special in 1969 with a Lee Loader, 1 lb. of Bullseye, 1 flat of CCI primers, some generic lead bullets and brass from a local Police range. Oh yeah, a plastic mallet too. I reloaded for a full year, shooting 2 or 3 times a month and made some good ammo. Saying all that to mean you can start out really simple and get good, safe, accurate ammo without breaking yer bank account.

    Your list is pretty good and mebbe add "The ABCs of Reloading" to the already mentioned Lyman 49th, and Hornady 9th, and it will tell you the ins and outs of reloading, bu also what equipment will suit your reloading needs.. Actually most reloading manuals offer good "How To" sections and you can't have too many manuals.

    Nuttin' wrong with having a micrometer and if you shoot lead bullets it's a very good thing to know the diameter of the bullets and barrel and cylinder throat slugs. A beam scale is a must and I began using a dipper and trickler with my Lee Safety Scale, I'd dip a charge and trickle it up to the desired weight (the only "problem" with a Lee scale is some can't or won't learn how to read a vernier scale and it is a bit slow not being dampened. But I still have one and it is as accurate and repeatable as any scale I've used. The Lee scale can also be locked at a specific weight which is helpful. I have an expensive Ohaus made scale that will jump settings; the poise will jump notches if the pan is removed too quickly).

    I could never find a hand primer that fit my hand as I'd have to "reset" the tool in my hand every squeeze, trie 3 different modes. Several years ago I discovered ram priming and it has worked better for me than any other method I've tried so far (I've not tried an RCBS bench primer,yet). BTW, one of the most reported problems with new reloaders is misfires due to improperly seated primers. Just make sure all primers are seated all the way to the bottom of the pocket, snugly.

    I haven't trimmed any .36/357 brass nor cleaned any flash holes or primer pockets in mebbe 30 years. If you want to, you can, but many, many folks have found it's not necessary. Another item sometimes recommended to new reloaders is a tumbler. I reloaded for 4 different cartridges for 12 years before I got a tumbler. I merely wiped each case with a solvent dampened rag as I inspected ir before processing. Nope, no scratched or ruined dies or chambers, and yep, I could spot any defects. If I wanted "BBQ" brass I could easily shine/polish my brass with a hardwood mandrel in a drill and fine steel wool. I have fired some great groups with "brown" brass and tumbling is OK, just don't think of it as a necessity. I'm not "anti-shiny", polished brass, but it ain't necessary and a new reloader can wait for this equipment without incurring any problems..

    Another hint, pay no attention to any load data you hear/read from any forum expert, gun counter clerk, pet loads website, or gun shop guru. Use load data right outta your reloading manuals and you'll be 100% safe and get good accurate ammo...

    Go slow, double check everything, and most important have fun...
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2015
  12. gdmoody

    gdmoody Full Time Moderator Moderator Supporting Member

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    I started the exact same way but a little later, probably 1972 using what I call the "whack a mole" loader. And that hint is the best recommendation any one can give you. Folks might mean well giving you their favorite load but one little typo can kill you!
     
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  13. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    I have had a few "oopses" that I caught before they got to the gun. A kinetic bulllet puller is handy for taking apart bullets.

    I like the Lee Auto Prime for priming the brass. It gives me one more chance to handle the brass, check it over.

    I have been very happy with my RCBS carbide dies for my .38/.357 reloading.
     
  14. Mr. Don

    Mr. Don Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    All I managed to buy today was the ABC's of Reloading. I did find a nice gun shop who has everything I need.
    He carries RCBS and Hornaday presses. Maybe I will buy next weekend. :)

    Again thanks for the good advice.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2015
  15. SteveM

    SteveM Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the suggestion. I just looked and it only goes one way.