Help getting started

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by dstark, Nov 1, 2013.

  1. dstark

    dstark Well-Known Member

    May 15, 2012
    I have never reloaded before and would like to get started. I don't know anyone personally that could mentor me so I am starting from scratch. My main objective in reloading is first to save money and second to develop loads for my specific needs. I am interested in reloading .223rem, .243 win, 300 win mag, 308 win, and maybe 45acp. I have several hundred once fired brass for each caliber but no other components or equipment other than that. I am on a limited budget so I'll start with the absolute essentials and build from there.

    What prompted my enthusiasm was that I came across the RCBS rock chucker supreme kit online and it seems like a good place to start. I am looking for suggestions on good starting equipment and where to find beginner information. I know that reloading manuals have load data but where to I get info/instructions on the actual process of reloading from once fired brass to finished cartridge? Also, what are good powders to look for, IE common powders that I could use in several of the calibers I will be reloading?

  2. Gunpoor

    Gunpoor Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2007
    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.

  3. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Well-Known Member

    Mar 2, 2009
    I would get a manual or 2 & start reading, they all go over the common reloading steps. Most all the big name manuals are fine, Speer, Hornady, Sierra & the others.

    Two common powders that would cover the rifles you mentioned are H-4895 & H-4350. For 45 acp Win-231 & others in that range work fine.

    Keep saving your brass. Using new brass for rifle eliminates several potential mis-steps starting out, though it's not essential.

    Aim for quality & safety over quantity, all the more so just starting out. Measure & check several times all through the process. Don't get hung up on getting to a 'max load'. Modest loads are easier on the brass, gun & the shooter. Stick with reputable data.
  4. BackpackHunter

    BackpackHunter Member

    Oct 25, 2013
    Gunpoor gave some good advice.

    I especially like the part about some making it as difficult as a shuttle launch. I hate to admit it, but I'm slowly approaching that group myself. Not because it has to be, but because of curiosity.

    You will potentially see savings, but it will take time and lots of shooting before you see them (caliber dependent). I've got one rifle that for a box of factory ammo (20 rds) it costs around $125 dollars. I can load the same box myself for I'm guessing $15. Savings come fast for that rifle. If all you do is shoot a couple of shots before hunting season you won't see the savings.

    You'll definitely need to purchase some dial calipers and a powder trickler. Case tumblers aren't a requirement. They make your brass a little prettier, but not much else.

    Purchase the manual for the brand of bullets you plan to reload, and research which powders are recommended. Check the other calibers and see if the same powders can be used for them. The manuals I own even go as far as to tell you which load recipe proved to be the most accurate in their tests. It doesn't mean it will be in yours because every gun is different, but they are great place to get started.

    Start with a kit and follow the basic steps. You'll see improvements in accuracy with your hand loads. Once you are comfortable with the process, then start looking at expanding into all the fancy tools if you want.

    Like Gunpoor offered, if you have any questions I'll do my best to answer them.