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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm brand spanking new to the reloading process and have a few questions. I'm certain these questions have been asked 100s if no 1000s of times. Please forgive me in advance for being redundant.

Let me state my intended purposes for reloading from the start. I am going to reload 9mm, .380 auto and .223/5.56 (and maybe a few others later). I want to load REASONABLY accurate rounds at a REASONABLE price. I'm not a competition shooter. Once I get my load dialed in, I will begin to reload large quatities of each caliber (some to plink with and some to stock pile).

With all the information about consumables available, I have become somewhat overwhelmed.

Here's the previously mention redundant question. Where do I go to get REASONABLY priced cases/primers/powder/bullets that would meet my need?

Thank you in advance for your time.
kevinh
 

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Welcome to TFF Kevin; you have the right idea if you want the lowest cost per round. Buy in large quantities and get it all at once; especially if you can find a free shipping deal. For a large order, I would compare Grafs, Midway and MidSouth at least. Take into account shipping and any discounts and then order up. You may get a better deal on bullets direct, but by the time you add shipping, it could be a wash.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you, Sir, for the welcome. I'm excited about the venture.

If I'm reading the charts correctly...

X bullet in 55gr. To achieve 2200fps...

Y powder charge is 12gr
Z powder charge is 16gr

But EITHER powder charges will give X bullet 2200fps...

Is that correct?

Sorry for the juvenile questions (of which I'm sure I'll have more) but I just don't care to blow half my face off because I don't have proper understanding.

Thanks again,

kevinh
 

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kevinh:

Guns are unique individuals. A load that performs spectacularly in your buddy's gun may make shotgun groups in your gun. That's why there are so many choices in components for a particular cartridge.

Here's the way to approach it: Get a couple of good reloading manuals (I like the Hornady and the Hodgdon manuals); read the front instructional section multiple times in both manuals until you think you really understand the whole concept of reloading.

The big bullet manufacturers, like Hornady, Speer, Sierra, package their bullets in nice neat boxes. Theses are the better bullets. Barnes and Nosler are even more premium. But for adequate bullets you can buy what is termed "Bulk" bullets from Remington and Winchester that are less expensive and for non-competiton shooting are just fine.

There are several sources of brass but again Winchester and Remington sell "bulk" packaged brass that is more than adequate. You can shoot once fired (recycled brass that has been shot as new ammo). Avoid range pickup brass as the shooter may have left it behind because it was beyond re-using. That is, unless you saw the shooter open new ammo boxes, shoot , and then leave the brass behind. Just ask him while he is shooting if you can have the his brass on the ground.

As for primers find a regular source of name brand American made primers like Winchester (my favorite), Remington, Federal, or CCI. Buy in cartons of ten 100 primer boxes.

Delay buying powder until you read the manuals thoroughly. Use the recipes there to decide which powder to buy. Again, find a regular source that always has your choice of powders. I like Hodgdon powders because they are spherical powders that my powder measure likes that meters well, and is readily available. Some powder measures don't like the log-like extruded powders and give inconsistent metering of the powder. If you hand weigh each load then extruded powders are fine but shooting charges dropped directly from the measure is very acceptable if the measure is consistently accurate to a couple of tenths of a grain for rifle rounds and a tenth of a grain for handgun rounds.

The keys to success are to read and thoroughly understand the information on how to reload in the manuals even before you start reloading, consistency, and above all be safe (follow the manuals and forget using Internet data or the load your buddy uses or ammo loaded by other reloaders).

LDBennett
 

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Thank you, Sir, for the welcome. I'm excited about the venture.

If I'm reading the charts correctly...

X bullet in 55gr. To achieve 2200fps...

Y powder charge is 12gr
Z powder charge is 16gr

But EITHER powder charges will give X bullet 2200fps...

Is that correct?

Sorry for the juvenile questions (of which I'm sure I'll have more) but I just don't care to blow half my face off because I don't have proper understanding.

Thanks again,

kevinh
First off, welcome to the forum! I think that you are asking why buy powder Z, when you can get more reloads with powder Y, is that right? LD Bennet says, "Guns are unique individuals. A load that performs spectacularly in your buddy's gun may make shotgun groups in your gun. That's why there are so many choices in components for a particular cartridge", and he is correct. A combination of X bullet, and Y powder might not produce as accurate a load as X bullet with Z powder in your gun. If you start with X bullet, and Y powder, and it produces a group that you can live with, then it's the cheapest way to go!
 

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before i bought bullets in bulk.. i'd go get a couple small boxes and shoot them thru your gun after making several small run batches.. see what works the best.. then onthe next order get thos bullets and those powders.

if you already have a large amount of sored, reloadable fsctory cartridges for your guns, then you already have a good source of reloadable brass.

when i go to the range to shoot, I usually take some of my reloads and some of my stored factory loads and shoot both, and then reclaim my brass..e tc.

as the others said.. do read up about reloading .. many times.

I often suggest getting every reload manual you can find. not uncommon to see 7-8 manuals on someones desk.. at least one for each brand of projectile you are using.. ie.. sierra, speer, hornady, nosler, etc.. etc

after that , if you don't already have a press, you will need to get one.. ( maybee in a starter kit ).. you will also need dies, and some other gear that may or may not come in your reload kit.

some items to think about:

for instance. many kits come with some basic case prep tools like a ID/OD case reamer, hand prime tool, and usually some sort of scale.. some have a ballance beam.. some a digital.

you will also need a set of calipers to measure case dimensions. will be used more on the bottlenecked cartridges. you will also want a case trimmer, as they will grow in length ( again.. moreso on the bottlenecked cartridges ). Calipers go from about 8$ to 40$ for commonly available tool store and / or relaod branded digital or dial calipers. and from 80+ for units with more percieved quality and or popularity , etc. Case trimmers can go from about 40$ on up into the 200-300$ range depending on manual or powered, and a few different options. for calipers I have an industrial dial set I use to rebuild engines, and have also picked up the 10$ or so sets at harbor freight.. they compair well for reliability with my better manual dial caliper. I check calibration on them every month or so.. but otherwise use the cheap set almost exclusively. I personally went for a rcbs manual trimmer , and then later addes a 1/2" drill to it to make it a semi powered setup.. and still later I upgraded to the real powered setup for it. for processing lots of bottleneck brass.. it's nice to have a powered trimmer. there are several brands , options and setups. rcbs is not on the low price end, though not the most expensive either.

case gauges can be had from 20$ and up.. there are cheaper universal gague sets and more spendy cartridge specific sets. your call. I reload umpteen dozen different sizes so i went for a set that covers many sizes.. vs a set for each cartridge. if I only reloaded 3 calibers.. might have chosen differently.

I'd also suggest getting a set of case gauges as well as some sort of case cleaner. whether a standard tumbler, or vibro tumbler. prices go from about 30-100$ depending on style and name brand.

Case prep tools. while many kits give you the basic mouth reamer.. most don't ginge you many / any other tools. things like primer pocket cleaners, reamers for removing (military) crimps on primers, pocket uniformers, swagers, and flash hole uniformers/cleaning tools. severl manufactures sell these singally or in kit form, both as manual hand held devices, and as a powered unit. I myself have mostly lyman case tools.. both a full manual set and their powered station.

here's where it gets a lil dicey.. press type/brand, and dies.

first.. a quick mention about brand and prices and quality.

This usually starts a holy ware.. but among reloaders and their equipment.. thereis a decent range of prces, from 'economy to expensive' and as weall as percieved 'cheap to quality'.

Here's the dirty lowdown skinny... Lee is almost always gonna be the least expensive. anything.. you name it. cehapest scale, press, powder thrower, dies.. etc. On the flip side.. Dillion may be some of the more expensive equipment.. though for certain.. rcbs redding and hornady all make some stuff with good price tags too.. :)

now.. that said. you've got to look at your situation and decide your intentions and long term and short term plans. yeah.. you CAN get a lee classic C style press for a lowball price of 20$.. that's some sort of softer ( aluminum zinc? ) alloy frame press . it's economical.. and yeah.. it's cheap. You simply can't compair it, quality wise, to say.. a 150$ rcbs rock chucker for instance. A very sturdy press. etc.

Both will make acceptable shootable loads. in the short term.. you probably couldn't tell the difference even on match ammo .. etc. 20 ys from now will the 20$ lee press be in the same condition as one that costs 6.5 times as much? probably not.

it's complicated... relaoding can go so many ways long term. some guys get 1 press and stick with it for life. some get a starter press.. see if they like the hobby, then 'graduate' to other equipment, and sell or give the starter equipment away, or relegate it to other tasks. I myself have one of theose 20$ lee presses, and have relegated it to being a dedicated decap station.. and my rcbs press is the actual loader. you can argue it both ways. start 'good and expensive' or start cheaper and move up. in the end.. I don't think anybody is wrong. this is one of those 'journey' things.. not so much a destination. I do know that with a couple-3 presses.. if I should ever have the msfortune of one breaking.. I can still make ammo on the others.. :)

Die's fall into the same boat. lee are almost always cheapest.. and it goes up a few bucks per brand from there.. with many lee sets comeing in on the mid to high 20$ range.. and stuff like rcbs hitting low 30$ to low 40$ ranges for commmon stuff. I have seen some dillon dies go as high as mid 60$.s but i'm not all that familiar with dillon equipment..so i don't knw if those were specialty dies or not.. You can always find an expensive specialty die set for an odd caliber or to do some specific task.. and it's gonna cost you mre than the run of the mill basic sets. One thing that many people will note though.. even though lee equipment is looked down on by many.. they have a factory drimp die that many like.. not uncommon to see lyman and rcbs and dillon and hornady dies and presses.. and a LFC die for each caliber .. :)

now.. with brand out of the way.. the next big issue... style.

single stage, turret or progressive.

single stage is cheapest / slowest. each pull of the arm performs 1 function to 1 cartridge. and the press holds 1 die. i tend to favor single stage as it's very clear to see what is going on, especially when learning, about what actully happens on each pull of the arm.

turret.. a variation on a single stage. turret uses a plate system that holds multiple dies.. you perform single step operations, but then just rotate to a new die set for a new operation. once your dies are setup, you go. it's like a bunch of single stage presses setup in a carousel. you only do 1 function at a time based on what die is selected.. then rotate it to a new selection when ready. gives you hte single stage operation to figure out what is going on.. but changes over faster tot he next step each time. costs more than single stage, has more setup time initially.

progressive.. this one gets a lil hairy. multi stage, all at once, if you so desire with indexing, etc. can basically , with optinal equipments and such have a powder feeder, primer, case feeder and bullet feeder all setup so that weach time you pull the arm,, lots of magic happens and a completed cartridge falls into the 'done' bin with each pull.

lots more cost and setup.. if it auto indexes.. lots more to pay attention to.. probbaly not the easiest to learn on unless you just basicaaly run it with no auto indexing.

what are your goals? do you want to set down and make 2000 rounds in a run each setting, all forthe same caliber? or do you want to make 4 different calibers in runs of 500 each. or are you gonna load up 20-50 cartridges, but for many different calibers.

I collect old guns, and load for many cartridges. I don't make sunds of more than a few boxes at a time. for instance. i may only load up 50 rifle cartridges at a pop.. but I may do so for 4 different calibers. I go single stage. I don't load up 2000 cartridges in a setting. if I loaded for only a few calibers and wanted bulk ammo.. I would 'graduate' from single stage to something better. I chose an RCBS single stage press partially because it can be upgradded with add on's to go up a level in capability.. , if I wanted to. Again.. not many right / wrongs here. some suggest starting out with a single stage to learn on, then move up.. some say don't wast the money buying a press just to move up.. just start with the one you want. that's a different ballgame for each user IMHO. Reloading doesn't save you money really.. :) but it lets you shoot more for the same price.. that's the way I see it. ( actually.. it will save you money.. it jst takes longer to realize the savings depending on what you reload. if you load for a rifle that has cartridges that cost 4$ a pop.. then yeah.. after you relaod that a few times you are 'making money'.. etc. ) With that said.. this is one of those hobbies that the more $ you sink int it, the more production you get out.. or the 'wider' it gets. for instance. a 'working mid level kit ( i'll use my rcbs SS rock chucker as an example for $$ ) to get you started into metalic reloading with all basic needed gear and your first set of dies might run you. 600$ from open box to making projectiles ( stater kit with manual, press, powder thrower, scale, relaod block and starter case lube and pad, powder funnle and remaer hand tool , hand primer tool), 1 set dies, case tools, manual, 1 # powder, 1 bad win brass, manual trimmer, 1 pack of 1k primers, cheap digital caliper, basic tumbler plus media, 1 box projectiles )

that's 600$ before you can pull the handle to make your first cartridge. now.. add 30$ to that and you can now reload for 2 calibers. IE.. first 570$ gets you the tools to relaod.. and then every 30$ you pump into it you add a new caliber. that's what i mena when I said going wider.

now.. that 600$ would be less if you did not do bottlenecks..( less need for triimmer etc ) it would also be cheaper if you went with say.. lee for instance. as a comparison, using a lee starter kit and lee gear instead of rcbs, that above list would drop to: 375$ since the lee kit is near 200$ chepaer than the rcbs, the dies are a lil cheaper.. and the case trimmer is too.


it's a high initial investment.. but then once you start reloading components your cost average goes down. IE.. brass cost keeps going down on each reload.

A few sugestions, for now.. stick with a commonly available primer.. like a winchester. usually can get em enywhere.. about 30$ a pack per 1000. Some like CC, etc.

later on, you can do your own expirementing.. some of us are now liiking at cheaper wolf/tula/S&B primers in t he 20-25$ per box range ).. etc. but I would not suggest that starting out.. stay with proven industry standard while learning.

also... get a kinetic bullet puller ( hammer style ). usually 20-35$ .. great for reclaiming 'oops!' components, or for reclaming a batch of ammo that wasn't shooting well.. or getting 'free' components from milsurp. IE.. pull projectiles, toss powder, if cases are reloadable, keep... etc. Also, most of us make up dummy rounds when starting a new cartridge, and we make sure it chambers and test different COAL.. once done, you can reclaim those components, or keep the dummies as 'gauges to measuer off of, .. just mark them as suck and set aside. I keep a box with unprimed, trimmed brass to measure off of, plus unprimed, non charged assembled brass and bullets as a go/no go gauge for chambering and checking magazine spacings with respect to COAL.

soundguy
 

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Your question has been answered very nicely by all of the comments, so I will just welcome you to TFF and to reloading.
 

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Welcome to the addiction! Not a "get rid of him" answer, but google "reloading supplies" and you'll get a bunch of suppliers, more than can be mentioned here. You'll have to do your research. Some vendors have good prices on components, but terrible shipping/handling costs. Some are very slooooow in shipping. Some have a great variety of components, and some just a few. Don't forget the "hazmat" fee on primers and powder (but not on primed brass or loaded ammo, go figger!). I have gotten down to two for most of my component purchases; Midsouth Shooters and Graf and Sons.
 

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Kevinh,

Welcome to the forum.

I have always purchased my lead bullets from HERE

My plated bullets always from HERE

Both have always supplied me at competitive prices and excellent customer service.

Good luck with your newest addiction. Now go buy a 1911 in .45ACP and watch the addiction get out of hand. :D
 

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Gunshows can be a good source of supply for reloaders. I bought small quantities of supplies at gunshows until I determined what components I needed for my pet loads and then I ordered those components in bulk to beat the hazmat fee from online vendors. I buy once fired brass when I need to and order from Starline when I can't find once fired in the caliber I need. I really don't have to order much brass these days though.
 

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I'll add that pistol brass has an almost unlimited life, rifle brass not so. When you resize pistol brass, the brass is literally pushed down which tends to shorten the case, or at least NOT cause it to lengthen. Pistol brass does not need to be trimmed to length.

Rifle brass, on the other hand, does tend to grow longer with each firing, particularly so with bottlenecked cases. These have to be trimmed every few shootings.

Now, having said this, I wouldn't worry too much about picking up range pistol brass. Just inspect the cases and be sure there are none that look too battered up or with splits. I have some .45 brass that I've reloaded so many times I can;t even read the headstamps any longer. But I don't hesitate to reload it again and again.

Rifle brass, because of the constant lengthening and trimming, and the much higher pressures, has a short case life. You may expect to get maybe 5 - 8 reloadings out of rifle brass with midrange loads, possibly more with very light loads. High pressure/max loads will give you a very short case life. So be careful picking up range brass from rifles. Inspect each case carefully for cracks, breaks, and beat-up rims. Discard those.

I'd also recommend a good book which will answer a lot of your questions ther weren't already answered here. The ABC's of Reloading is a great book, and probably every reloader has a copy on his shelf. Try Amazon for good prices on it. Read and ask more questions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
WOW...the responses are overwhelming. Thanks to each of your for your thoughts. And thanks for the warm welcomes.

I will take every bit of it to heart.

I've done some research re: equipment. Primarily because I have the opportunity to purchase a Hornady progressive (older model) from a coworker that wants to downsize his operation. But, like Soundguy says, good equipment will last forever.

Y'all have brought up points that I have not previously thought about and probably never would have thought about until the critical moment that I realize I should have thought the process through. If that makes any sense.

Anyway, keep the info coming. There's alot I need to know.

kevinh
 

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Welcome Kevinh.
You see the common point in all those responses? Don't just read the manuals, study those manuals. Remember, you are building a little bomb and setting it off, at arms length from you face.
Brain farts, are not acceptable in this hobby.
 

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Since you're just beginning, I'd suggest before you buy anything you read The ABCs of Reloading and/or Lyman's 49th Edition Reloading Handbook. Reading and re-reading these texts will give you a good idea of what reloading equipment will suit your reloading needs.

Personally, I wouldn't suggest a progressive press to start with, but with care and a lot of patience, it can be done...
 

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While it is important to know the processes of reloading, it also is important to know how cartridges work and how the steps in reloading help to keep the cartridges working correctly. For this reason I like the Hornady Reloading manual because it includes an explanation and pictures that show how they work. When you know how something works it is easier to understand the processes involved in making it work correctly. Hornady bullets are well covered in there and Hornady makes some fine bullets well worth considering or testing. Therefore, the Hornady manual will NOT be a waste of money.

There are five stickies that I wrote for beginning reloaders that appear on the index for the reloading part of this forum. They will help the unknowing to get up to speed faster and avoid making a dumb mistake. Covered there are all the press types, manuals, crimping, trimming and some advanced technics for later. A newby might gain a lot reading them in addition to a couple of reloading manuals.

LDBennett
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
While it is important to know the processes of reloading, it also is important to know how cartridges work and how the steps in reloading help to keep the cartridges working correctly. For this reason I like the Hornady Reloading manual because it includes an explanation and pictures that show how they work. When you know how something works it is easier to understand the processes involved in making it work correctly. Hornady bullets are well covered in there and Hornady makes some fine bullets well worth considering or testing. Therefore, the Hornady manual will NOT be a waste of money.

There are five stickies that I wrote for beginning reloaders that appear on the index for the reloading part of this forum. They will help the unknowing to get up to speed faster and avoid making a dumb mistake. Covered there are all the press types, manuals, crimping, trimming and some advanced technics for later. A newby might gain a lot reading them in addition to a couple of reloading manuals.

LDBennett
Thank you, Mr. Bennett. I have read those posts and studied them well. I have the Hornady manual, The ABC's of Reloading and just received the Lyman manual.

I agree with the above posts about starting with a single stage press. Although the press that I may purchase is a progressive, I will be certain to remove the auto indexing pin and use it as a single stage for quite a while.

Thanks again,

kevinh
 
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