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Old November 10th, 2013, 08:10 AM #1
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So... You Want To Reload? Questions to answer before taking the plunge.

So... You Want To Reload?

Reloading can be a rewarding and exciting hobby for many reasons, but only you can decide what the ultimate reason(s) is/are for you to start down the path to become a reloader. Below are some questions that only you can answer. Nobody can answer them for you because the needs/reasoning varies from person to person. Please keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers to these questions, again the answers are what is logical to you.

On to the questions.


************************************************** ************************************************** ***********************************

Initial questions to answer before going any further.

Why do you want to get into reloading?

What do you want/expect to gain from reloading?

What is your primary motivation to get into reloading as of right now? As time goes on your initial reasoning may change to something you didn't think of at this time.

How often do you go shooting?

How much ammo do you use during a typical range trip? Total amount or break it down into different calibers to find out a more exact amount by caliber you use.

Do you have the time to learn how to reload?

Do you have the drive to continue to reload?

Can you view it as a separate hobby or as an extension of the shooting sports?

Are you willing to keep your books up to date in order to stay safe?

************************************************** ************************************************** ***********************************

Second step questions.


What kind of press do you want to use?
(There are primarily 3 types of presses, single stage, turret, and progressive. I will go into those further down in the post.)

The type of press you pick should be defined by how much ammo you want to create for a shooting session or multiple shooting sessions.

Can you take some time to research the presses to find the one that will work best for you?

Can you take the time to get all of the components and assemble everything properly, so it will create safe and reliable ammo?

Can you follow the reloaders mantra of "Buy it cheap, stack it deep.", in regards to components?

Are you going to follow all state/federal laws regarding maximum powder quantities at your place of reloading and storage?

Do you have an area where you can have peace and quiet, so you can give 100% to concentrating on reloading?

Are you willing to wait to buy components, due to shortages/panic buying?

Are you willing to mentor people that are thinking about stepping into the reloading hobby, after you become proficient?

************************************************** ************************************************** ***********************************


Information about presses and the differences between each type.


Presses.

There are primarily 3 types of presses you can use to reload. I will be getting into the different types and have a short explanation for each type, so you can make an informed decision on what you think would work best for you. Just as a note, I will estimate rounds generated per hour (RGH) for each type of press. I am also going to include a picture or two of each type of press, so you can see what they look like.

Keep in mind the cost of the presses vary from manufacturer to type of press. Single stage presses are cheaper than turret presses or progressive presses. As a side note, progressive presses are generally the most expensive presses to initially start out with, but some progressive presses can also be altered to be used as a single stage press.


Single stage presses.

A single stage press can do one step of the reloading process at a time, due to having a single point to put the dies. As such you do not generate a lot of ammo in a single sitting. You will average 100 rounds per hour at most. As you complete each step of the reloading process you will have to manually change the dies, to get to the next step. You will have to buy a powder measure/thrower should you wish to go this route for a press.

This type of press is ideal for reloaders that do a low volume of shooting, want to make precision/match grade/hunting ammo for a rifle, or they wish to reload ammo for a revolver.






Turret presses.

Turret presses are capable of only doing one step at a time, but they are slightly different than a single stage press. This is mainly due to having a turret that holds the dies, and you can rotate the turret as you complete each stage of the process for each piece of brass you wish to reload. You start with a piece of brass and you have the first stage die in place, you pull the handle, then after you raise the handle to it's upright position, you can rotate the turret one notch to move to the second stage die. You will average 200-300 rounds per hour with a turret press.

Sometimes turret presses have powder throwers that are integral/attach to the turret.





Progressive presses.

Progressive presses are the Cadillac of presses. They do not require you to remove individual dies when you wish to switch to another caliber to reload, instead you pull a "tool head" that contains the dies, then pull a shell plate, and finally you insert a new shell plate and new tool head with the new set of dies. Total time for a caliber change is less than 5 minutes. All progressive presses use a powder measure/thrower that is secured to the tool head in some fashion. Some progressive presses use manual indexing (you have to rotate the shell plate after each pull of the handle), while others use auto-indexing (they rotate the shell holder automatically with every pull of the handle).

A manual indexing progressive press is capable of 400-600 rounds generated per hour, depending on the caliber you are loading, your organization on your bench for bullets and brass, how fast you are with primer and powder refills, along with other factors. With some manually indexing progressive presses, you can alter their function (they are designed to do this), so you can also use it as a single stage press. The Dillon RL550B is a good example of a progressive press with this type of capability.

A auto-indexing progressive press is capable of 900-1200 rounds generated per hour - keep in mind this is the most expensive press - and that is depending on the caliber you are loading for, how fast you are with your bullet refills, powder refills, primer refills, organization on the bench, and other factors. It is not easy to convert the auto-indexing presses over to single stage operations.

I am partial to the Dillon progressive presses, due to owning a Dillon RL550B.

A manually indexing progressive press (Dillon RL550B).




An example of an auto-indexing progressive press.



Dillon XL650.



************************************************** ************************************************** ***********************************

Books

I can not express the importance of books when it comes to reloading. There are many reloading books that are out there and I have tried to list most/all of them in the other 2 threads, but I am including them here to minimize the need to go through multiple threads to find the list of books.

A lot of people have opinions on books. I believe that the more books you have read and have on hand, the safer you will be as you pursue the hobby of reloading. The list below is by no means a total list of what you need to have in the beginning, but the list I am going to write will be a good start. Just remember that if you are going to load with Serra bullets, get your reloading data from the Sierra reloading book. Never mix and match load data recipes, that can kill you.

Sierra 5th Edition Reloading Manual
Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading
Speer Reloading Manual #14
Lyman Reloading Handbook: 49th Edition
Nosler Reloading Guide #7
The ABC's of Reloading

Log books

As an add on to the manufacturer's books, you may wish to get a log book of some sort so you can record the results when you shoot your hand loads. Office Depot, Staples, and OfficeMax have plenty of composition/bound books you can use, for this express purpose.

As you make loads, be sure to document everything you use (primer manufacturer, primer number (e.g. CCI 200, CCI 300, CCI 400, etc...), manufacturer of the brass and caliber, manufacturer of the bullet, bullet type and weight, powder manufacturer, powder type/number (e.g Ramshot Tac, IMR 4895, Winchester 748 or W748 for short, etc...), powder charge thrown for the batch/lot, OAL/COAL (Over All Length/Cartridge Over All Length), date loaded, and the number of times you have loaded the brass in that specific lot), so that you can replicate your loads, just by looking in your log book. You will also want to use the stickers to label your lots in the boxes you put your loaded ammo in. You can get those stickers from MidwayUSA or any other store that sells reloading supplies.

************************************************** ************************************************** ***********************************

Cost effectiveness

Is relaoding cost effective?

Reloading is very cost effective, depending on the caliber(s) you wish to reload for. One of the things I am always seeing people say is, "I saw ____ component and it costs just a little less than buying pre-made factory ammo, is reloading really worth it?". My response is always yes.

Let's break down some of the math on one the calibers I am loading.

Virgin 308 brass - 1k pcs for $300
168 grain Sierra MatchKings (SMK) - 1000 pcs for $300
1 lb. IMR 3031 - $30
CCI 200 Large Rifle Primers - 1000 pcs $30

The brass seems like it would make the overall cost of reloading be relatively high, dues to each piece costing 30 cents, right? You are wrong, due to being able to use the brass 5+ times before throwing it away. Divide the cost of brass by 5. That comes out to the brass actually costing 6 cents per piece, because you can make 5000 rounds with it. So we have 6c so far.

The consumables are actually what is going to make the price per round fluctuate. The SMK bullets are 30 cpr (cents per round), so we are now at 36 cpr.

I can get 300 rounds (easy number for the math) out of pound of IMR 3031 with my loads, so that brings the cost of powder going into each case to 11 cpr, so we are now at 47 cpr.

Each primer adds another 3cpr, so we are at 50 cpr.

I am making match grade 308 ammo for $0.50 per round, instead of spending $1.50-2.00 per round of Federal Gold Medal Match (FGMM). So based on the selling price of FGMM, I am saving between $1.00-1.50 on every round I make.

Keep in mind that you will always want to compare your reloaded ammo to match grade ammo, in regards to cost. You can use any components you wish and still make ammo that is just under match grade or is match grade, in regards to accuracy. As a reloader you will want to strive for accuracy, so to get the accuracy, you need to do load development. When you find the load that your rifle/handgun likes, stay with that load. You will have lower cost ammo that is more accurate than anything you could ever buy at the store.


************************************************** ************************************************** ***********************************

Further information.

This section is for information not pertinent to making the decision on whether to reload or not to reload.


As you start to make final decisions on if you are truly going to reload, keep in mind that there are plenty of resources on MDS that you can refer to. I have created a Single Stage reloading thread and it is a sticky. I also have another thread that is about the Dillon RL550B and it is also a sticky. If you wish to find somebody that is willing to teach you bout reloading and help you out, please see this thread about members willing to teach others how to reload.

All of us here on MDS that reload can answer most questions about reloading, so don't hesitate to ask the membership questions or if you are unsure of something.

************************************************** ************************************************** ***********************************

Revision history.

1.0 - Posted thread
1.1 - Fixed typos
1.2 - Fixed punctuation, more typos, and wording
1.3 - Added books
1.4 - Added the section on cost effectiveness and added the members teaching sticky link
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Old November 10th, 2013, 08:15 AM #2
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Part 2 (if it is needed later down the line).
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Ban hammer falls and makes all better
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Old November 10th, 2013, 08:32 AM #3
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Looks like another sticky coming soon for DA. Well done.
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Old November 10th, 2013, 08:35 AM #4
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Looks like another sticky coming soon for DA. Well done.
Thank you sir! Let's hope that nobody gets upset with the record I'm probably going to set sometime soon, for all the sticky threads I created or helped create.
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Ban hammer falls and makes all better
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Old November 10th, 2013, 09:45 AM #5
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Great job DA!

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Old November 10th, 2013, 09:49 AM #6
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Looks like another sticky coming soon for DA. Well done.
I agree. I think DA has excellent ideas with his threads. It would save a lot of time for others in the future if the topics were stickied and lost lost in the sauce all the time.

to you DA and I did get your PM sir. Have Great Day !
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Old November 10th, 2013, 10:02 AM #7
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Great job DA!

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Thank you sir!

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I agree. I think DA has excellent ideas with his threads. It would save a lot of time for others in the future if the topics were stickied and lost lost in the sauce all the time.

to you DA and I did get your PM sir. Have Great Day !
I agree that it should be stickied, and just asked the Admins/Mods if they could do it. As long as members keep coming up with things they want to be written up, and I have experience with the items/procedures, I'll keep making these kinds of threads.

I sent you the PM as a heads up so you would know it was here and if there was anything I needed to add, I'm pretty sure you would let me know.
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Old November 10th, 2013, 04:28 PM #8
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A few things to add.

To me, a BIG question to ask is: Are you willing to take the time to learn and then WHEN RELOADING, PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU ARE DOING?

While there are steps you can do while watching TV or talking to someone, in general, reloading safely means PAYING ATTENTION. And not taking things for granted (exactly what was the powder measure set to and for what powder??).

And, IMO, NOT reloading under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Mistakes can be costly and harmful.

About the various presses.

Single Stage Press - I typically batch process using one. So I spend a session sizing/decapping brass. Then expand (possibly another session) if doing pistol. Then I prime off the press (Lee Auto Prime hand tool). Then I spend a session charging and bullet seating. If you are loading for auto pistol, there will be another round of taper crimping. So rounds per hour are hard to really put a number on, as I may size/decap 500 pieces of brass. Then later prime only 100, then charge and bullet seat.

I normally only do rifle rounds on the single stage. But it is nice if you want to work up a load for pistol. But then I sometimes size/decap, prime, and expand on the progressive, then charge and bullet seat on the single stage. Doing 5 rounds of each of several charge weights is a pain on the progressive.

Also, if doing precision rifle rounds, the time is in weighing each charge. Even with a automatic powder weighing setup (RCBS Chargemaster), it takes a lot longer to load these.

Adjusting dies is not a huge deal, IF, after you adjust them, you set the lock ring and TIGHTEN it. That way, you just screw the die in until the lock ring hits the press and start working.

Turret Press - With some turret presses (Lee - http://leeprecision.com/4-hole-class...ret-press.html), you can swap out the tool head like a progressive, leaving all dies in place and adjusted.

Also, I prefer the turret presses where the tool head does not rotate on a center pin/bolt. With the center pin/bolt presses, there can be misalignment of the head under the forces of using the press. Not a huge deal on pistol rounds, but you get into the longer rifle cases, requiring more force and it can lead to issues.

When I had a turret press, I used it to do every step in sequence. So I would put in a case, then size/decap, prime on the downstroke,turn the turret, expand (if pistol), turn the turret, drop powder, turn the turret, seat bullet, turn the turret, taper crimp (if auto pistol). Then repeat.

Progressive -Swapping calibers on a progressive is much more involved. While the tool heads swap easily and quickly, you have to swap several parts in the priming system if you are switching from large to small primers or back. Or, spend the money to have a second complete priming setup so you can just swap them. You also have to swap the shell plate (the single stage and turret have a snap in shell holder that takes a few seconds). And may have to swap out several pieces to get the cases into the shell holder plate. Add an actual case feeder and you have a couple more pieces to switch.

For my Dillon 650, a caliber conversion setup (caliber conversion kit, tool head, powder die) can cost more than a single stage press. Add in a case feed plate (if needed) and a powder measure to make the swap faster, and you are over half the way to a complete single stage starter kit.

So if you want to load a few hundred of each of several calibers, you may be spending more time swapping calibers than actually reloading. So this leads to loading more each time I have the press set up for a caliber. Leading to more money tied up in powder, primers, cases, and bullets at any given time.

You really need to be shooting A LOT to justify a progressive. I am not shooting enough these days to justify the 650, but I have it, and it has more than paid for itself.

But they are nice when you need to load a lot of rounds.
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Old November 10th, 2013, 09:07 PM #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinecone View Post

To me, a BIG question to ask is:

... and then WHEN RELOADING, PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU ARE DOING?

While there are steps you can do while watching TV or talking to someone, in general, reloading safely means PAYING ATTENTION. And not taking things for granted (exactly what was the powder measure set to and for what powder??). .

That, right there, is one of my biggest reservations.

I have ADD. It's mild. But (undivided) concentration can be difficult at times.

I'd really like to get into reloading, but the more I think about it, the more I start to second guess myself.

And......
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Old November 10th, 2013, 10:39 PM #10
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That, right there, is one of my biggest reservations.

I have ADD. It's mild. But (undivided) concentration can be difficult at times.

I'd really like to get into reloading, but the more I think about it, the more I start to second guess myself.

And......
ADD can be a blessing or a curse. Keep in mind that you need to think of it like something that will keep you occupied because you will probably go OCD over it.
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