|10-09-2012, 07:13 PM||#2|
Join Date: Mar 2012
Check bullet/primer/powder prices.
Check reloading equipment costs for a single stage press, dies, measuring tools.
A basic set up without supplies is probably over $200.
A few boxes of good ammo might be a good start for practice and saving the cases for eventual reloading.
It's no secret you don't save $$$$ reloading.
Then throw in a few reloading manuals too and you'll see your $200 is a nice start, but you'll need to spend more to get a safe, reliable system up and running....imho.
|10-09-2012, 07:55 PM||#3|
Join Date: Aug 2012
I am not a big fan of kits to get started. They usually have some fluff in them that just isn't absolutely necessary to get going. When I started, I bought my stuff piecemeal as I could afford it. I started quite some time ago with an RCBS Partner press, a Lee hand priming tool, a Dillon case tumbler, a Lyman primer pocket cleaning tool, and an RCBS carbide die set for 44 mag. Am guessing those would be over $200 now, but don't know for sure. I have other presses now, but still use that little Partner as my primary sizing/decapping press for handgun calibers.
You will spend a sizable amount of money to get started, plus components. As mentioned, you aren't really going to save money, you will just shoot more if nothing else. I haven't checked lately, but as prices have gone up, you may be able to buy discount ammo cheaper than I can make it. I am to the point now, that I have enough brass probably to last me my lifetime. Especially handgun brass lasts a very long time if you are not loading max loads. I just like reloading, and to me it is a big part of the hobby. Most of my guns have never fired anything but my handloads.
|10-09-2012, 08:17 PM||#4|
Join Date: Aug 2012
So accounting for all the extras you need to make a reloading kit "complete", there's really only a few options in your price range. They're all colored red and carry the Lee label. Lee is sort of the Hyundai of the reloading industry. Affordable and competent, no matter what the BMW and Lexus owners try to tell you.
You could go with one of the Lee Loader kits, which are basically a set of dedicated dies you use to work the brass with by beating them into submission with a hammer. The Youtube videos do make them look intriguing, but unless you develop a tremendous amount of skill using them, they're going to be an extremely slow method of making cartridges that you'll likely outgrow.
In your price range, that really only leaves you one alternative, but one that I happen to own and can heartily recommend: the Lee Challenger kit. Shop around and you can usually find it for around $100.
It comes with the all important reloading press, a powder dispenser, the much-maligned old school powder weight scale and a very effective hand primer and set of primer shell holders. Plus a bunch of doodads: case lube, lock stud/case trimmer, a pretty chinzy chamfer/deburring tool, a primer pocket cleaner, a powder funnel and a pair of quick change bushings that take some of the hassle out of switching/adjusting different dies. Plus some miscellaneous hardware and probably a couple of odds and ends I'm forgetting.
The press is a straight-forward single stage unit, but it's solid, dependable and gets the job done. The above-mentioned quick change bushings are a useful feature, but it's still not nearly as convenient as a rotating turret press. It's perfectly adequate whether you want to make plinking rounds or match grade ammunition. Just don't expect to crank out hundreds of rounds per hour.
The powder dispenser works fine and even comes with a micrometer adjustment, but the whole unit is mostly plastic and doesn't feel particularly solid. It seemed to spit out slightly uneven charges at first, but I found once I broke it in, it got a lot more consistent. I've been weighing every 10th charge, but I'm finding that's become unnecessary. It's gotten consistent enough that I might bump that back to every 20th charge I throw.
Everybody hates the Lee scale because it's an old school balance beam model that's a pain in the ass to use. I suspect most folks quickly replace it with a digital scale. They're really coming down in price and I hear you can now get a decent one for under $50.
I'm probably one of the few that stubbornly continues to use the Lee beam scale. My reasons are two-fold: I was bound to get into this hobby on the cheap, and that meant sticking with the stuff that came with the Lee kit. The second reason is that once you make your peace with its quirks, you do come to appreciate how incredibly accurate that scale is.
Now on to all the "extras" you have to buy because they aren't "extras" so much as they're "f-ing absolute necessities":
A reloading manual. One of the big reloading equipment manufacturers does offer a kit that comes with a reloading manual, but that kit is more than $200 to start with. So figure $15 to $25 for this absolutely positively mandatory piece of reloading "equipment". I settled on the Lyman book (49th edition, available in paperback) because it's affordable and includes excellent introductory chapters that clearly walk you through each and every step of the reloading process like you're a brain-damaged monkey that has absolutely no idea what a completed cartridge even looks like.
Next you're going to have to buy a set of dies. Again, somebody out there (RCBS?) offers a reloading kit that includes a voucher good for one set of dies, but the whole package is a lot more than $200. So figure another $25 to $40 depending on whether you get steel or carbide dies. Listen to some advice that I ignored at first: spend the extra money at the beginning and just get carbide versus the regular steel dies. It's $15 - $20 more, but it's SO much easier to work the brass and you save the cost (and time spent using) messy case lube and those stupid lube pads.
The Lee kit comes with a lock stud and case cutter, which are two pieces of UTTERLY and COMPLETELY useless hardware until you spend ANOTHER $8 to purchase a specific Lee case length gauge necessary to make them actually work. Actually $8 for each and every different caliber you desire to reload. Now, if all you're going to reload is pistol rounds, don't bother. Yes, Lee will happily sell you a case length gauge for any of your pistol calibers. But you don't need to trim a pistol shell. As in: EVER. But rifle rounds absolutely do require frequent case trimming, so figure another $8 for the case length gauge if you plan on feeding that long arm.
Dial or digital calipers? Don't argue, just get thee to a store and buy one. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, you need it. I got a $23 cheapy digital set from Cabelas and besides the reloading manual itself, it's the most indispensable bit of reloading gear I own.
If you've read this far, it's time to burst your bubble. Your $200 budget is unreasonable. Why? Because you NEED a case tumbler. And even with the Lee Challenger kit, steel dies and sticking with that g-damn quirky Lee balance beam scale, a case tumbler is going to blow a bullet sized hole in your $200 budget.
Reloading with dirty brass is an exercise in frustration. It increases the effort you must exert on the press to make the cases go through the dies. It wears the dies out faster. And all that careful measuring, weighing, and case trimming will be largely wasted, because dirty rounds will still feed less reliably and shoot less accurately.
And finally, there is an intangible factor at work here that you can surrender to now or discover on your own later: there is nothing, I mean NOTHING more satisfying than working with clean, bright, beautiful brass.
It's like the swish of a basketball hitting nothing but net.
It's like a hole in one in golf.
It's like lemonade, in a hammock, and a brand new Tom Clancy novel.
It's like sex, on a beach, with Scarlett Johansson. In that leather outfit she wears in Iron Man 2 and the Avengers.
OK, that last one might be an exaggeration. But my point is, you will buy a case tumbler. Yes, it will blow a gaping hole in your $200 budget. And no, you won't regret it for a moment.
FYI: Cabela's cheap-ass vibratory case tumbler, bottle of polishing paste, 5 lbs of corn cob cleaning media and media strainer come as a kit that often goes on sale for about $55. That little bastard-runt of a tumbler just works. So much f-ing WIN with that purchase.
Cabela's Model 400 Vibratory Case Tumbler Kit, Tumblers & Scales, Reloading, Shooting : Cabela's
Last edited by majorhavoc; 10-11-2012 at 04:38 AM.
|10-10-2012, 02:10 AM||#5|
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: New Jermany
What's the risk factor?
What's the savings?
What about the "Pre-Owned Market" Where would one look for a pre-owned set-up?
|10-10-2012, 05:44 PM||#7|
Join Date: Mar 2012
Let's put a "sticky" on this thread. It's a goody for newbies with the exact same question. The answers, imho, are spot on.
|10-11-2012, 05:24 AM||#9|
Join Date: Aug 2012
Avoid this be being very systematic when you reload, don't drink and reload, and double check your entire block of charged cases before moving on to bullet seating. Peer down the necks with a flashlight and play "which one of these things isn't like the others?". With all the the charged cases arrayed together in the reloading block, a double-charged case will jump right out at you. This is probably the single most important step in all of reloading.
A little further down the list is skirting the extreme upper range of recommended powder charges and/or not rejecting a case with a split neck/exhibits signs of over-pressure.
I've never understood the attraction playing around with extremely hot loads. It's like speeding. Sure we all nudge the odometer 5 or 10 over the speed limit on the highway. But in a school zone? What payoff could possibly be worth the risk? And I own thousands of brass cases. None of them are worth more than 20 cents. If it looks at all suspicious, it goes in the trash.
Much further down on the list of risks is somehow setting off a primer during the reloading process. I've accidentally seated primers backwards and even sideways and it's never gone off, but I've heard stories of it happening. It's the #1 reason why I've never bought a Lee Loader kit. That primer seating step just looks inherently risky.
I personally believe that furthest down the line of potential risks is possible ignition of the reloading powder itself. I remember actually being nervous the first time I cracked open a bottle of powder and poured it into the dispenser (I'm working with friggin' explosives!). But as long as you don't think reloading would make a great fireside activity, or heat your reloading shop with a woodstove, it's just not going to happen. (FYI: if you're one the four people left on the planet that still pumps gas while smoking, pick another hobby).
Last edited by majorhavoc; 10-11-2012 at 10:17 AM.
|11-14-2012, 07:54 AM||#10|
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: South Dakota
majorhavoc gives good advice. I may have a different view on some fine points, but agree strongly with him and his advice.
I loaded commercially for many years, loading 2.5 million rounds a year. As a result, I have a slightly different take on reloading than some folks. The reasons for reloading are two fold. First, you will shoot more for the same cost. It will not be cheaper than factory ammo simply because you will shoot more. Second and most important you can make a product that is every bit as good as the best factory ammo and way better than the bulk cheap stuff. A side benefit is that you can taylor loads to individual weapons allowing you to achieve better accuracy than you can get with factory ammo.
You did not indicate what cal. you intend to load, or maybe I missed it. Some calibers are much more technically challenging to load properly than others. If you are considering 45 acp, 40 S&W, 9mm or any rimless cartridge you have considerations beyond those of rimmed cartridges such as 38 spl. The rimless cases headspace on the case mouth meaning that you must carefully check case length before loading. This case length is NOT the same as OCL overall cartridge length. No big deal, but an extra very important step. A case that is too long can result in an out of battery discharge in some weapons. A rather unpleasant experience.
Best advice I can give you is do it, but first get a couple of reloading manuals including Lymans manual, and read. As always, take any information gleaned from the internet with a very large grain of salt.
If you do decide to get involved in the reloading process and have any questions feel free to contact me and I'll be glad to give you a hand (if I'm not out in the shop loading my own ammo). I'll PM my contact info. Good luck.
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