Originally Posted by jmason
BTW where were you when I started? You could have saved me some $$
I don't know, John. When did you start? I know - rhetorical, so let's let it serve that purpose. I'm not necessarily addressing a high-budget approach. He may not get everything that's in the kit, but for close to the same money he can get what he needs with minimal replacement later. You get the right big parts up front; no replacement.
PRESS: Redding Boss. If anticipating brass reforming or long magnum calibers, the Big Boss.
SCALE: RCBS 502, 505, 10-10, or Dillon. All made be Ohaus. You get a set of the Lee dippers and a Redding trickler, and your powder measuring requirements are satisfied. If you over-throw the charges and pinch, you save the price of the Redding trickler. If you use a trickler, get the Redding for its mass.
TRIMMER: A Lee trimmer will serve just fine. The Wilson is smoother, easier to use, and allows adjusting the trim length. When the Lee's replaced, you're not sacrificing a big investment. A trimmer isn't included in the RCBS kit, so this would be purchased anyhow.
PRIMING TOOL: Again, Lee - the AutoPrime. This is the most popular tool going, and is cheap. The RCBS tool supplied is good, but their new one, the Universal, is what people are buying. Use the Lee, and replace it if you don't like it. Again, cheap.
DIES: Go ahead and spend money to get a good seating die. It's probably the biggest key to loading straight ammunition. If you're loading to magazine length (factory rifle), the standard Forster die is the one. In micrometer dies, either Forster or Redding. Again, for a factory rifle, many use the Lee collet die with a Redding body die. I prefer to use a FL bushing die. A standard sizing die is fine if you aren't trying to maximize case life and you can make it give straight case necks. These are not kit components but are critical to making good ammo.
CASE LUBE: The kit includes a pad and liquid. The RCBS is OK, but Imperial is a better option and more convenient.
CHAMFER: The rocket ship thingy is good for outside deburring, but anything that knocks the burr off can be used. Inside chamfering is important for getting good initial bullet alignment. RCBS and Lyman both have inexpenseve VLD tools. A tool steel, tapered grinding bit (20 to 30 deg.) is better, but you need to furnish the handle. These make a long inside taper.
PRIMER POCKET TOOL: The little Lee tool serves nicely, or you can just use a small screw driver. Upgrade later to a Sinclair uniforming tool if you want to go that way. I don't see much need for the brushes furnished in the kit, but some like them. Likewise for case neck cleaning: an old bore brush works fine.
LOADING BLOCKS: Battenfeld has case-specific blocks for little money. Sinclair has some nicer ones for more money.
POWDER FUNNEL: Everybody has a plastic funnel; probably all made by MTM. Satern makes very nice aluminum ones (caliber specific), available from Sinclair for quite a bit more.
RELOADING MANUAL: Lyman's is excellent. Speer and Hornady are very good.
I believe I've covered everything in RCBS's kit except for the hex key set. I guess it's for the lock rings. I wouldn't buy one until I saw the need, and certainly wouldn't get the all-in-one variety. So, we don't have need for the powder measure. The big pieces we're looking at are the press and scale. Then it's a matter of making the right selection for a bunch of lesser tools. And, when we're finished, upgrading would be in order for the case trimmer. If we ever felt the need, a ChargeMaster Combo would be nice.
For the basics, I don't see where we have ruptured a budget, we're happier with what we have, and we save money later.