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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, my name is Matt. I am new to the forum. I am a avid hunter, both here in my home state of Oklahoma and out west, and I was thinking about learning how to reload. I don't shoot pistols much. Just a .357, so I would be mainly loading larger rifle cartridges. The calibers would be 270, 6.5 creedmore, 30-06 and a 300 weatherby magnum.

I had a friend's dad, who was visiting from out of state, give me the basics on reloading tonight. He mainly reloads pistols though. I would like to buy the best equipment out there that would meet my needs. I think that I will need a single stage press, a tumbler, a powder dispenser, a set of 3 piece dies for each caliber, scales, trays calipers, casing lube, primers, powder and bullets. I already have quite a bit of brass casings. I don't think that I left any thing out.

I probably would reload no more than 100-200 cartridges per year for each caliber, so spending $1000+++ on multi stage press and top of the line setup doesn't seem to make much sense to me. However, I don't mind paying extra for quality, in fact, I would prefer to pay extra for equipment that will hold up and serve me well for years to come. I would appreciate your advice. Please include brand names and the benefits and cons of various equipment. Also, please give me your thoughts on buying new versus used, useful videos and books on the subject and where to buy.

My primary motivation for getting into reloading is to have handloaded cartridges that perform as good maybe better than factory ammunition. Saving money reloading is only an afterthought. Is that a reasonable expectation? Thanks for reading and thank you for the help. I am sure I will have more questions as I begin to purchase and setup my equipment.
 

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Good morning Matt and welcome to the forum. Saving money reloading is a good and wise afterthought!!! Ordinarily what happens is a fella shoots more and better ammo for the same money.

Your list looks comprehensive and the only thing I would include is a case trimmer. For what you describe a good single stage press should meet all your needs. I don't shoot a lot of handgun ammo these days and owning a progressive has never crossed my mind. I don't know that I would consider the cartridges you mention as "larger rifle cartridges". Those would start about 35 cal. and 9.3mm caliber then go up from there. Those you listed are medium bore cartridges, even the 300 Weatherby.

Many will recommend your fist purchase be a good loading manual and before they even start I'll highly second that recommendation. There's a lot of good ones out there and my preference is Lyman. Whichever you get devour and thoroughly digest it first, then start buying tools.

RCBS is the first brand that comes to mind. Lyman, Pacific and Hornady are also good. I hear and read that Lyman has sort of gone downhill the last few years so that might bear checking into. All of my Lyman stuff is at least 30 years old and of good quality. Most of my stuff is RCBS or Lyman. Lots of folks like Lee products and I have a few but they don't rate very high on my list unless I need a cheap set of dies to grind up or cut up to meet a specific need.

You mentioned new versus used. Over the decades I've picked up quite a bit of good, used goodies at gun shows and even estate/farm auctions so I wouldn't hesitate to buy used in good condition.

Handloading is a good and fun hobby which, if seriously pursued, you never stop learning about. Be forewarned, a lot of guys start out loading so they can shoot more then end up shooting so they can load more...
 

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I have to agree with all of the above with one exception.

The idea that a progressive press is only for pistol cartridges is wrong. I reload for 30+ different cartridges, both pistol and rifle, all on a Dillon RL550B Progressive Press. I can do that because the RL550 is versatile. It can be a single stage, a turret or a progressive press. That is because it has NO auto rotation of the table that the cases ride on.

A typical reloading session for rifle cartridges goes as below:
I size about 5 cases out of a lot and measure them for case length. If any exceed the manual max case length then I single stage size the whole lot followed by a trimming to the trim-to length for the whole lot.

If all 5 are within specs then I progressively reload the whole lot. If they have to be trimmed, I do that and then I remove the sizing die and load the entire lot progressively.

If I am doing just a few cartridges I will use the press as a turret press (one cartridge on the table at a time instead of four) rotating the table from station to station for the one cartridge.

Dillon is the leader in reloading in my opinion. Their "NO BS guarantee" is real (break a part, call them, and it is sent for free) and they actually changed how all the other reloading equipment manufacturers handle service. The versatile press to have is the Dillion RL550 of their many choices because it is the only one without auto rotation of the table.

As for dies the RL550 takes standard dies (others in their line up take only Dillon dies). My first choice in dies is always RCBS. I find Redding and Forester dies good but too expensive. I don't have any Lyman dies and do have a few Hornady die sets. At one time I had a bunch of LEE dies but I have slowly sent them to the trash bin as the quality is much lower than anyone else's.

If a progressive press does not tickle your fancy, I would suggest a Turret Press rather than a single stage. It allows you to load the case once, do all the steps, and end up with a finished round. On a single stage you have to keep putting the case on and off the press for each process which is wast of time. With a turret you can even get press mounted powder measures (don't buy into the old fallacy that every round has to be weighted as bench rest shooter reload by volume as you do with a powder measure and they shoot tiny groups in the "teens").

The Redding T-7, the Lyman T-Mag 2, and the RCBS Turret press all look good for turret presses and all are under $300 at MidwayUSA.

Welcome to reloading. You may want to review the stickies in this part of the forum, some of which I wrote. Do get multiple manuals before you buy one piece of reloading equipment and read the "how-to" section in each manual. I like the Hornady manual for the great explanations and drawings of how cartridges work. The Lyman manual is good too as is the Speer and Sierra manuals. Avoid the LEE manual as it is just a compilation of data from others written by an arrogant writer who thinks only he understands reloading and only his tools are any good. The Hodgdon reloading internet site has a great database of loads for almost any cartridge you can think of. Hodgdon is a powder distributor for IMR, Hodgdon, and Winchester powders (and others??).

LDBennett
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you Sharps, Howlin and LDB for the information. I will start out with some manuals. All good recommendations. My friend recommended both RCBS and Dillion. LDBennett you don't think that the Dillion 550 would be too small for what I would be reloading?

My friend told me last night that I would need a 650 or better. He didn't mention that the 550 would accept all brands of dies and that the other Dillion models would not. That is good to know. No need to limit yourself before you get out of the gate. Thanks again guys for the recommendations. This is just the kind of information I was hoping for.
 

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I reload 7mm Rem Mag in my RL550B as well as 45-70. Dillon offers shell holder plates for cartridges up to and including 458 Win, and most all the magnum cartridges like 375 H&H Mag. They offer 24 different shell plates for the RL550 covering just about any cartridge you can think of.

The RL650 is more of a production machine with auto advance (auto rotation of the table the shells ride on) which I think reduces its versatility. It is much more expensive. Dillon suggest only using their dies for this production machine but it does take regular dies. It also has options of case loaders and other production features. I think it is not the machine for your requirements.

The cartridges you plan to reload for are well within the capabilities, with no compromises, of the RL550. The latest version is the RL550C with few difference to my RL550B.

To be clear, I am not in any way connected to Dillon. I have used my RL550B for nearly 30 years and am a happy user and that's all. I had no help learning reloading and made all the mistakes along the way. I offer advice based on my experiences. In fact, I don't care what you buy or use for reloading but I just hope you make the right choice up front so you don't get to buy a reloading press twice or three times as I had to to get to the RL550B. Others here will disagree with my opinions on reloading and that's OK too. We all get to choose.

LDBennett
 

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Well I've been doing single stage for rifles and handgun's since about 1968, some where around there. I did have one progressive press but maybe to many years of single stage made it just to difficult for me. I sold it and went back to single stage for everything. I would suggest you getone book on reloading to start and follow it. Different writer's say thing's in different ways and could result in confusion. I have never read that Lyman book but most people claim it's best. Could well be because you have pretty much one man's opinion and it works for all bullet's as I understand it. Otherwise I'd figure out who's bullet's I'm gonna start with and get their book. One thing I didn't notice it the tools you need is a caliper for measuring case's. Before trimming you should check and see if the case even needs trimming in the first place and then after you start it's good to know when to stop.

I don't know that three piece die set's are all that important other than with handgun rounds. I did add a third die for my 30-06 and 243 but not really necessary. It's a Lee collet die to neck size and no expander through the case neck. The most stretch you'll get will be pulling the case back down over the expander in a full length die.

One more think I would do is keep it simple to start. It is an unbelievably easy hobby that can go really bad in a hurry. Learn to make safe loads and when you get there, learn to experiment! One more thing is I would stick to either cup and core bullet's or bonded bullet's. I have not used monolithic bullet's, I find no need for them, they are at least double cup and core and I read to much about seating problem's with them.Lot of people do well with them but other's don't get it, I'm in the group that don't get it!

For bullet's, Hornady, Speer, Sierra and Nosler all make good bullet's. As far as brands go, you can spend as much as you like but just how much better one is over the other, I wouldn't say. RCBS is my choice of press, I've had the one I have now pushing 30 yrs and I got t used. Lee is the one everyone like's to pick on but they have been around a long long time and have a great many happy custmer's. I'm a big Hornady bullet fan but their lock and load or whatever the new set up in press's turn's me off. You need to buy a collet of some type to put the dies on the press. I think your supposed to get a new collet with each cartridge, I don't know. With pretty much everything else you just screw the dies into the top of the press! One of the hardest thing for me is determining what really is an improvement and what is just a sale's aid. Tool's I have have been working for me since the late 1970's and they still work. Speaking of tools again, dies.I've got Lee, RCBS, Ly,an, Redding Herter's and maybw other's. They all work the same and do the same job! I inherited my Redding dies. Absolutely beautiful dies but I'm not gonna spend that kind of money on them! I've got old Lyman and recently a new set of lyman. the older one's don't look as nice as the new one's but both do the say job and the older one's have been doing it longer!

Something that is very hard about reloading is the different attitudes toward equipment, bullet's, case's , primer's ect. I swear some times I think there's gonna be a fight because a Lee lover get's zapped by a Redding lover. Lately RCBS has been coming under fire and I haven't a clue why. The people that use these different product's become very attached to the brand, brand loyalty! Come's to bullet's I haven't shot any big game with anything other than a cup and core Hornady for 40 some years. And for varmint's IMP there is nothing better than a Sierra Match King, but, I do slip in some Hornady's there to. Nothing I say make's my choice of component's and tools' best, just what I prefer. Same goes for anyone else too, we all have out Gods and you are left to choose your expert!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
LDB, That is why I am on here to get good information so that I don't make a bad purchase. I am not sure why my friends dad thought that the 550 would be undersized. I bet since he primarily relies pistol ammo that he was just being conservative. Your suggestions make sense.Thank You
 

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He may be confused on the different models of Dillons. It is the Square Deal press that is handgun only and uses only Dillon dies. The RL550 will do almost any cartridge made short of the 50BMG. That takes a huge press (been there, done that). The RL550 is probably their most popular press. It has gone unchanged until this latest "C" version (minor changes) for more than 30 years. Meanwhile the other progressive press makers have gone through multiple iteration to try to equal the Dillon with various degrees of success. Along the way Dillon offered free updates when they thought it necessary. I used my press a lot in the last 30 years and it has gone back to Dillon twice for Total rebuilds for FREE. Broken press parts are replaced normally for FREE.

But buy what you want. I just wanted you to know that the Dillon RL550 should be a press you should consider and why. It certainly is quality. I am too impatient to single stage reload and am convinced single stage reloading offers no advantages. Turret press reloading is a good compromise.

LDBennett
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks Don. It sounds like there are quite a few setups that would work we for what I am wanting to do. Please explain why I wouldn't need a 3 piece set of dies. Doesn't the first die resize, remove the primer and reprise. The second, drop the powder and bell the rim and the 3rd seat the bullet and crimp. Am I not understanding this correctly?
 

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Welcome to the wonderful, oft confusing and frustrating world of reloading...

Before you buy any equipment, get a copy of "The ABCs of Reloading" (there are other texts available, but The ABCs is the most popular). The text is more than a "how to" as it explains components and equipment as well as methods. Read it and you will have a good idea of the equipment for your reloading needs.

FWIW, when you ask "what should I buy?" on a forum you will get bias opinions, not necessarily a bad thing, just be aware these answers atr 99% what the poster uses, not tests or comparisons...
 

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The only reason a 3 die set would be needed for loading rifle ammo is if you're loading cast bullets. The third die is the belling/flaring die. Other than that a 2 die set is all that's needed.

Ultimately, as your habit grows and evolves, you might find things you like different or better than what you initially bought. That is not uncommon with any activity one undertakes. The one thing that is certain is you won't know until you try and, secondly, how deep you get into handloading and what direction you might or might not take can often change your needs.

The two best single stage presses out there, and this is my opinion, are the RCBS Rock Chucker and the old Forster Co-Axial press. I believe the Co-Ax is still made but I'm not certain it's still Forster.
 

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Matt,
You've received many good suggestions here. The only thing I can add is that I'd be willing to meet with you (if needed) and help (if required) you get set up and loading. I have reloaded several medium bore rifle cartridges as well as the assorted pistol calibers for over 30 years. PM me if you ever need some help...I live in Stillwater and am retired in just a couple of days so I will have time to spare. Good Luck!
 

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Ok great. Congrats on your retirement. I hunt in Tryon, so I will more than likely take you up on your offer.

The only reason a 3 die set would be needed for loading rifle ammo is if you're loading cast bullets. The third die is the belling/flaring die. Other than that a 2 die set is all that's needed.

Ultimately, as your habit grows and evolves, you might find things you like different or better than what you initially bought. That is not uncommon with any activity one undertakes. The one thing that is certain is you won't know until you try and, secondly, how deep you get into handloading and what direction you might or might not take can often change your needs.

The two best single stage presses out there, and this is my opinion, are the RCBS Rock Chucker and the old Forster Co-Axial press. I believe the Co-Ax is still made but I'm not certain it's still Forster.
Thanks Sharps. I will look into those two presses. I appreciate all the advice. I am a member of a western big game forum and the guys on there are not even close to as helpful as everyone on here. This is great.
 

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Thanks Sharps. I will look into those two presses. I appreciate all the advice. I am a member of a western big game forum and the guys on there are not even close to as helpful as everyone on here. This is great.
It's one think to give reloading advice, it's another thing entirely to give away any hunting of fishing secrets :rolleyes::cool::)

You'll find that this group is always helpful to other respectful members.

My 0.02. RCBS and Dillon are both top manufacturers. Both make great products, both have superior warrantees and my experiences with both of their customer services have been very positive.

I have a Rock Chucker that I've used for 20 plus years, and a Dillon 550B that has been a dream to use.

Welcome to our addiction.
 

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A little side story and, I'm mentioning this only because I was absolutely amazed, not saying "you should get this one".

A good friend of mine is one of the ballisticians/testers at Sierra bullets in Sedalia. I stop in to see Tommy when I'm occasionally that way and we correspond fairly regularly. One time when I was there he showed me their loading room, (I DID NOT want to leave....ever!!), and pointed to an RCBS Rock Chucker they use only for priming cases and have for over 30 years. Tommy roughly calculated it had primed well over 3 million cases based on 100K plus rounds per year....and the pins were just getting loose.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
It's one think to give reloading advice, it's another thing entirely to give away any hunting of fishing secrets :rolleyes::cool::)

You'll find that this group is always helpful to other respectful members.

My 0.02. RCBS and Dillon are both top manufacturers. Both make great products, both have superior warrantees and my experiences with both of their customer services have been very positive.

I have a Rock Chucker that I've used for 20 plus years, and a Dillon 550B that has been a dream to use.

Welcome to our addiction.
Thanks Jw. You are correct everyone on here has been helpful. Having taken everyone's advice into consideration it is between the RCBS Rock Chucker Single and the Dillon rl550. I am seeing a lot of rl650s for about the same money as a 550. Have you or do you know anyone who has used a 650? What are the differences. I guess the 550 is out of production but other than that I think the only differences is what LDB stated in his previous post.
 

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The 550 is still in production. The 550b has been replaced with the 550c. Check out Dillon Precision's website for the full rundown. You can compare the 550 and the 650 easily on that website.
 
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