Recommended Reloading Equipment

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by olsonj85, Mar 24, 2009.

  1. olsonj85

    olsonj85 Member

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    I have been learning reloading through reading and with the help of a friend. It is time for me to start buying my own equipment. I would prefer to only have to buy right, buy once. By this I mean I want to get quality stuff right away and not have to upgrade later. I am sure I will be doing this for a long time and want to get this right. I plan on loading for quality not quantity. I was wondering what you all would recommend, I have no equipment at all. Is there starter packs out there that don't come with low quality components. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks all.
     
  2. woods

    woods Well-Known Member

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    What's your budget? The reason I ask is that there are several accessories like the RCBS Chargmaster 1500 that are expensive but will help a lot.

    Most get started with a starter kit like this one

    MidwayUSA - RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Single Stage Press Master Kit

    the press will last you a lifetime and you may never replace it. The other accessories you will use for a while and possibly replace when you understand what you want that you think is an upgrade.

    You will need to add a caliper. If you really want to buy quality first then you should look here

    011 : Dial Calipers

    and buy a good one for $100.00 or so. After a couple of Frankfort Arsenal I finally wound up with the Browne & Sharpe 6"

    103 : Brown & Sharpe Dial Calipers

    and do not regret the expense.

    Then you choose dies. I began with the typical RCBS full length sizer and seaters but have a drawer full of them now and use

    Lee Collet Neck Sizer
    Redding Body Die
    Competition Seaters (RCBS, Redding or Forster - expensive but worth it)

    Brass, bullets, powder and primers are up for discussion.
     

  3. FEENIX

    FEENIX Well-Known Member

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    olsonj85,

    I'm in the same boat as you and after doing some research and settled a budget I ordered my Lyman® T-Mag Expert Deluxe Reloading Kit at BassPro for $299 a couple of weeks ago (back ordered).

    I am slowly buying the items I need. Thus far I have the Nosler reloading manual, calipers, hand primers, redding dies, primers, powders, bullets, and brass to start with.

    Good luck!

    Ed

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Winchester 69

    Winchester 69 Well-Known Member

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    The powder system is the heart of your reloading process. I agree with Woods; if you can afford it, the RCBS ChargeMaster Combo makes for the simplest solution to reloading's biggest problem. In lieu of that, an RCBS beam scale (502, 505 or 10-10) with a set of Lee dippers and a Redding trickler. Either way, you'll get accurate, consistent measures.

    PRESS: Redding or Forster Co-Ax, your choice. They all do good work.
    DIES: Redding and Forster
    HAND PRIMING TOOL: RCBS Universal or Lee AutoPrime
    CASE TRIMMER: Wilson on Sinclair base (available as a unit from Sinclair)
    VLD case chamfer tool (Lyman or RCBS)
    Imperial sizing wax
    Sinclair catalog - great accessories

    Start with this stuff and you won't be wishing you had something else.
    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2009
  5. FEENIX

    FEENIX Well-Known Member

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    +1. Just got mine today ... lots of goodies.
     
  6. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

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    Fact is, a good loader can assemble excellant ammo on about anything currently available. A poor loader can't, no matter how much he spends on equipment. Meaning, the most critical eliment is YOU!

    Kits are okay, in a way, in that you don't have to make any decisions about the basic tools, but I don't care for "kits". I buy my gear based on features, not brand. I would hate to have to start with a batch of tools all the same color since that wouldn't fit my methods very well. If you get a kit, it really won't make much difference which one, in the long run.

    Fancy and expensive tools, such as digital powder dispensers, turret/progressive presses, powered case trimmers, micrometer heads on seater dies, etc., can make loading faster but do absolutely NOTHING to improve the quality of your ammo. And it can actually impede the quest for quality if you get caught up in seeing volumes of rapidly made ammo. Your current perspective on that is GOOD!

    Top grade 7/8" x 14 dies (meaning Redding and Forster, ONLY, IMHO) are nice. Sorta. Actually, the difference in ammo made with ANY of the less expensive dies (which are all quite good) on average, I've found one brand is about as good as any other. The much more expensive dies are really not all that much greater, and that not instantly. I use the better dies for my better rifiles, now, and love them. But it took a loong time for me to become a sufficently good reloader to actually see any difference in using them. My more common factory sporting rifles can't tell if I loaded the ammo iwth Lee or Redding/Forster dies.

    SO! Get a good, solid single stage press (the Lee Classic Cast is as good as any , better than some and a LOT less expensive too), actually any current press of that type will do nicely. A good (beam) powder scale (RCBS 505 is great). Dies/shell holders. A case trimmer (a simple one). Get a double ended case deburring tool, any brand. A drum type powder dispenser with a "micrometer head" and a heavy trickler (OK, both of these should be Redding's). A powder funnel, any brand. Two loading blocks in a size to match each of your cartridges. An inexpensive 6" stainless steel dial caliper (maybe an inexpensive micrometer too?). A tumbler is nice, any will do as well as any other, ditto the media type. A Lee Autoprime tool, and its shellholder kit. "Imperial Die Wax" or Hornady's "Unique" case lube(applied with finger tips) is as good as it gets.

    Perhaps the most important single reloading "tool" is a good bench with lots of strength, lots of storage and lots of light. All that rarely gets mentioned but it's VERY important. Most of us build our own so lots of us have some good ideas about benches and it needs thread of it's own.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2009
  7. zigliss

    zigliss Well-Known Member

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    You are absolutely right Boomtube.....but it is nice getting a ready packed box full of reloading goodies!:D

    Good counsel also on the most important piece of kit being the reloader...I will not treat myself to a swanky co-ax press until I feel I have outgrown my current £20 Lee outfit....and I am not there yet!!
     
  8. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

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    Yeah Zig, guess we all have our favorites. I sure do. But I don't confuse my favorites with what's "best" for others. I know that, aside from some snob appeal, there just isn't a vast difference in what can be done with any of our reloading makers products.

    I had a real chuckle last week reading where two guys were posting on equipment. One of them, said, in effect, the two of them were superiour reloaders because they each had chosen to pay for the "best" press, a Redding Big Boss, IIRC. When anyone is REALLY a good reloader he knows it takes much more than the simple purchase of expensive tools!

    I know an auto "mechanic" who owns a great set of Snap-On tools. He has trouble changing a set of brake shoes without bending or braking something else! Proving that good tools help get a job done somewhat easier but it sure doesn't convey any knowledge or understanding and that's the vital part.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2009
  9. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Writers Guild

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    Me too!!

    The only way to load quality ammo is to have an Idiot Check machine handy. When you have finished sizing some cases put them on the machine and see if it runs over into the Idiot part of the dial.

    I use an RCBS. But I don't ever tell anybody what mine reads. :D

    RCBS Case Master™ Gauging Tool : Cabela's
     
  10. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

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  11. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Writers Guild

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    I'm not that weird. I don't test dies. I take advice from people who have demonstrated that they know what they are talking about.

    A lot of people recommended the Lee neck die and being just about idiot proof. Having used the RCBS case master I knew from the readings I was getting over in the red zone for idiots that the RCBS dies were not idiot proof. I ordered one Lee neck die and it really reduced my neck runouts so I started ordering more and then to avoid screwing everything up I had to have "body" dies.

    AS far as seating dies, I suspect with a lot of tinkering I could make the regular RCBS work but the competition seaters are so good that it is easy to do a good job. I do just order Redding or Forster and do not much worry about which one.

    There is not much point in doing a lot of work if you are not a good shot or if your rifle and scope will not do the job. So for me, I am happy with reasonably low runouts because I am only a reasonable shot. I do not need true one of a kind custom dies being as I will never be that good.
     
  12. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

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    "I'm not that weird. I don't test dies."

    Understand that! But, after I got my concentricity gage I had to see if all I thought and heard about which brand of dies were made to tighter tolerances, etc., were true.

    (I don't mean to hi-jack the thread but it seems this certainly addresses the original question about "recommended reloading equipment", at least so far as the dies go.)

    -----------------------------------------------------------

    Some things I learned from a concenticity gage:

    I found that no one makes the "best" dies, consistantly. Why do I say that? Well one long, cold winter several years back I borrowed as many dies as I could and started testing, something like fifty sets in addition to my own 35 sets. Many were of the same brand and cartridge. It took awhile to do the tests. What I found is that dies all dies are pretty good but they vary as much within a brand as they do between brands, both sizers and seaters, with a very few specific exceptions. I'll explain them.

    Forster's BR sizer dies do tend to make for straighter FL sized necks due to their exclusive raised expander button system. But, on average, no other brand of FL sizers seems superior to others. They all meet SAAMI specifications, no more, no less.

    I found NO average advantage to any conventional OR bushing neck sizer dies for producing straightest necks, even compaired to most FL dies. BUT, the Lee Collet Neck Sizers DID consistantly maintain straighter necks than any other dies I had to test.

    I found no short sliding sleeve seaters, such as the Hornady or RCBS (exensive!) "Competition" types, to be consistantly better than conventional seaters, but they ARE easy to use!

    I found that only the Redding and Forster full length body sleeve "straight line' seaters are consistanly better than any others. (And even they can't seat straight in crooked necks!)

    -------------------------
    That's basically what I found, just wanted to hear what you might have learned.

    So, I now load much like B.B., with either an occasional FL size as needed and a Lyman "M" expander die OR a Lee collet neck sizer, both followed by a Forster (for me) BR seater.

    My "body dies" are an -06 for .270, a .260 for .243, and slightly neck bored conventional sizers for my .22-250, 6mm International and 30-06. (I had to grind down carbide bits to bore the sizers so I could get to the right diameter. I'm just too cheap to pay what Redding, et al, wants for "real" body dies!)

    Now I buy any new dies I need and work with them. If I find either the sizer or seater lacking, I'll buy another set,new or used, and test them. Keeping the best of each, sizer and seater, I'll sell or trade the others, repeating until I can find the best FIT to my rifle.



    " I take advice from people who have demonstrated that they know what they are talking about."

    Seems buying dies by brand is a hit or miss thing with any of them! Anyone wanting to say his favorite brand is better than others needs to come with some values other than opinon or reputation.
     
  13. olsonj85

    olsonj85 Member

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    I do understand that the equipment isn't going to make me better at reloading by it's self however, I would prefer to spend a little extra for quality, not necassarilly fancy, equipment now as opposed to buying something that is currently good enough for my current skill set. To use an anallogy, I have always had a fairly decent set of golf clubs but it seemed like I could practice all I wanted but I would always hit a plateau. Last year I bit the bullet and purchased a custom set of clubs. In the month following I cut my handicap in half. So to me I want to do it right this time. Especially as I believe this will become a lifelong hobby. Anyway, I think I have made up my mind on the press. I am still looking around at the extras. I prefer to assemble my own equipment rather than use a kit. I think it gives me more control over my purchase, but it seems to be much more work. I was curious if you guys would share with me what tools you use in reloading you long range rounds. Anyway thank you all for the info so far it has sent me out looking for more information. Seems to be how it always works, the more you learn, the more you understand how much more there is to learn. Thanks again.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2009
  14. nheninge

    nheninge Well-Known Member

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    Everyone brings up great points, but I think you have to look at lifestyle as well!

    If... you are an old retired husband that enjoys tinkering in the garage while the kids are off to college and your wife cooks in the kitchen (boomtube?), maybe all those "traditional" methods work well...for you

    I live in a hectic environment with a stressful job, a new kid, and a wife who wants me to spend as little time in the shop as possible. I have to get quality work done fast. New fangled dadburned "gadgets" (as the old timers call them) mean that I work smarter, not harder! Oddly enough the wife doesn't mind time on the range, its when I'm home and not in the house...

    The point is before buying, look at your lifestyle, and what is asked of you as a husband, father, etc and see what will give you the biggest bang for your buck (pun intended). Don't shy away from "gadgets" if it will give you quality in a shorter amount of time!

    I maintain marital bliss and OCRD (obsessive compulsive reloading disorder)!