Reloading is not hard, I've been loading my own rifle ammo since I was 12 years old.
That being said; even though not hard, it requires concentration and attention to detail. Certain practices and "rules" if you will, will keep you and your family and your firearms safe.
1st, pickup a couple of reloading manuals, the more info you can gather the better off you'll be, I promise. There are also some DVD's and videos out on reloading that can be very helpful.
There are alot of questions in your post, and you could very likely get 100's of opinions on what components are "best". I am partial to Hogdens powder, mainly because I've got an old reload manual that was personally autographed by the Hogdens guys........It's all I've ever used and am completely satisfied with it.
Since you mention being totally new to this, for now; I'd recomend a basic starters reloading kit. RCBS has been a big name in reloading for many many years and their stuff is good quaility. At minimum; You'll need a press with priming arm/tube or a hand primer, dies and shell holders, powder scale, calipers, loading block, case lube, and powder funnel.
From there; you can add all sorts of things to your reloading inventory. I've got alot of $$$'s tied up in precision handloading equipment. Granted, It's stuff I've accumulated over nearly 30 years, but alot of money nonetheless. I don't "reload" however, I "handload" and making the most precise ammo I can is my goal. I don't do it to save money.
A powder thrower/measure is really nice and highly recommended, but not absolutely necessary if you just want to save money on ammo. A case trimmer and chamfer/deburr tool is also highly recommended, but again not absolutely necessary to start with, you can add one later. Case neck brushes, and primer pocket brushes are fairly cheap and are worth adding too if you wish.
Best of luck to you.
Last edited by SBruce; 12-31-2010 at 10:49 PM.
Reason: Had to stop typing for a bit......lol.
I have reloaded my own ammo in the past using my grandfather's equipment. Sadly, my grandfather, one of my best friends, passed away at the age of 84 in April. Now I'm sure that I could use his equipment. I am sure that he would have wanted it that way, but there's just too much emotion in it for me. Having said that, I just ordered my own reloading equipment. Placed the order last night actually. I bought a kit which contained the press, powder thrower, case trimmer, powder scales, loading block, de-burring/chamfering tool, lube pad, and a reloading manual. To that I added a case tumbler, a powder trickler, shell holder, and dies. (I also had a few other goodies in the order), but the reloading equipment portion of the order was in the ballpark of $450.
If you have never watched anyone reload, I would highly recommend finding someone who reloads and just watch the process. As the previous poster noted, it isn't hard, but I think it would be very challenging to do it right by just reading the reloading manual. Don't get me wrong. You need to read the manuals, but I just think it would make it all "come together" if you saw someone in action doing it.
You will achieve a much greater consistency in ammo with hand-loading than you will with factory ammo. Not to mention you will be able to have "match grade" ammo at the "shoot 'em up" ammo cost. I made a spreadsheet to figure out roughly the cost of my ammo per round, and if I shoot much the equipment will basically pay for itself. This is even amplified if you consider the cost of premium factory ammo. Hope this helps.
For the 25-06, I like Winchester brass, CCI primers, and H 4831SC, H 4350 is good too.......one or the other should work for just about any bullet weight the 25-06 is capable of shooting. In my experiece, rifles are more particular about the bullet being shot than they are the powder being used (when it comes to group size anyway).
I've never loaded shotshells, so I can't compare. I've only loaded for precision shooting of rifles.
My Dad showed me how to reload, and 6 years later my Great Uncle showed me how to load for precision shooting/benchrest competition.
Since then I've modified/added some of my own techniques for long range varmints and coyotes.
I've got tons of books and some dvd's that I've accumulated over the years, but I am unsure which books to recommend at the moment (I am not near them currently) I will look through them and find the ones with the most illustrations and most info on "how to".
The DVD's I've got are about using advanced techniques for long range competition, nothing that would help the beginner really, because they totally skip over the basics. But here's a video that I've heard many good reviews about..............