Re: Help getting started
dstark, I feel your pain as far as no one to help you get started. When I decided to start handloading years ago I worked with a guy that loaded his own and asked him if he would show me the ropes but my pleas fell on deaf ears. I just decided that if other guys did it that I should be able to do it, so I ordered the RCBS reloading kit and when it came I started reading the Speer manual. I read all the information and advise in there and searched out information from other sources until it made sense to me before ever buying the dies and building the my first loads. I started with the 30/06 and when my load was very successful other dies I startedloading for those calibers. Like you, I had it in my mind that I could save money on ammo by rolling my own, but now get a good laugh when I think about all the money I spent on loading equipment and guns plus components but I don't have one shred of regret. I am getting older and don't seem to have the need to play with every cartridge in the way they used to peak my interest, and with my meager retirement income that is a good thing. I wish we lived closer because I just love teaching the younger guys the art of hand loading. I taught my S-I-L to reload some years back and have turned him into an addict like myself. He used to think a factory rifle that could shoot under 1.5 MOA was good and now if his rifles don't get under .5 MOA he moans and groans.LOL
Going back to reloading equipment, my RCBS Master kit didn't include a case tumbler, dial caliper or a powder trickler, and you ought to get a hand held primer tool as they are a lot better than priming on your press. I would recommend the RCBS one with the square primer tray, although the actual name of it escapes me. As far as picking components I don't need the expensive bullets to make loads that will shoot bug holes, although some rifle just aren't that accurate but some are. Stay away from Winchester Power point bullets as they seem to be junk as far as accuracy is concerned. I look for a powder that gives about 88 to 90% density at max charge and for the medium to large cases I like to stay with single base propellants (nitro cellulose only) but with the smaller ones like the 223Rem the double base stuff seems to give the best performance. While on that cartridge (223) you could do a lot worse than Hodgdon's Benchmark.
I will answer any questions to the best of my knowledge and I am sure others will also but be careful who you pay heed to, as there are some who don't know their jam from their biscuits and others who make reloading accurate ammunition as technical and complex as a space launch. I don't argue with these people but do give a little private chuckle as long as their advise is not dangerous. Good luck to you if you proceed with this endeavor.