Starting From Scratch - Reloading Equipment Needed

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by TX mountain hunter, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. TX mountain hunter

    TX mountain hunter Well-Known Member

    Dec 17, 2010
    I've recently gotten into reloading and am getting very interested in / excited about this new and addictive hobby. I am currently just reloading with a friend on his setup and only have one container of powder, a bunch of brass and a box of bullets. I'm looking at buying more types of powder / bullets (online I assume will be my best price / selection) in the very near future. I'm hoping to be able to test out multiple combinations and through some load testing, data analysis, etc. determine what shoots best through my rifle. Any idea where to find the best deals on powders, bullets, etc.?

    Also, as I'm currently just using my friends reloading equipment, I hope to aquire a full set to reload everything from a 204 to a 30-378 (eventually); I plan on starting with the 30-378 and going from there over the course of a few years or more. I'm hoping to pick up some equipment, new or used that can do handloads. I would like to focus much more on accuracy / consistancy than loading time. Are there any brands to stay away from or focus on? I would obviously like to do this as economically as possible, but do not wish to give up any measurement accuracy, etc. Can anyone recommend kits or brands to go with as well as websites to look at for making these purchases?

    Sorry for the long winded question/s. I'm open to any and all advice.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Well-Known Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    For powder and primers and some brass and bullets, try Powder Valley.

    After having done this for a long time, the trying out of multiple bullet and powder combinations has lost its appeal for me. I now consult ballistics tables and reloading manuals to determine what bullet weight would be best/most efficient in a given cartridge, determine what of 1 to 3 powders would be most likely to work and begin load workup with a single good quality bullets of the desired weight. Many times, I commence load workup with a match bullet and when I've found the most accurate load with that, I'll maybe try a hunting bullet of similar weight.

    If you have a 30/378 Weatherby, I would suspect you have a Weatherby magazine fed rifle. I found with my 378 Weatherby, that I had to crimp bullets in place to keep them from being pushed into the case under recoil. The very best die for crimping is the Lee Factory Crimp die which, for a case size of the 30/378 Weatherby, will have to be custom made and has a different thread size than the usual dies. For that reason, for you, I would suggest a Lee Classic Cast press which will accept the larger dies and has an adapter allowing you to use regular dies as well.

    If it wasn't for your 30/378 Weatherby loading ambitions, I would suggest Redding or RCBS equipment.

  3. roninflag

    roninflag Well-Known Member

    Feb 27, 2006
    i use an rcbs rockchucker press, a lyman 1200 powder measure, mostly rcbs dies. primer pocket uniformer from sinclair.
  4. comfisherman

    comfisherman Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2007
    Cant go wrong with an rcbs rockchucker perss. They have a large O and enough torque to size easily. In my area, Have seen used ones in the 90-125 dollar range new is not a lot more.

    I have an older ohaus 10-10 that rcbs sells, they are spendy new but they are fast and accurate. Look for them used, there are a lot of 5-10's out there but I really prefer the 10-10. Picked one up recently for 55 at a show. Ususally they go for 80-90, new they are 140ish. Have not used one newer than 15 years old, Have heard that the quality is not what it once was but cannot comment.

    I have several sets of older rcbs dies, personal preferance and a series of bad sets put me off the purchase of any more. Most like them however and they are fairly resonable.
    Have switched to Redding dies, they are 6-10 dollars more at most retailers but worth it in my opinion. Lee has had some quality improvements in my opinion and for my lower volume and plinking rounds I hava had great luck with them. Had one set of the new hornady dies, personal preferance on use and the softest primimg rod I've ever seen and out the door they went.

    Get a trickler, they save a lot of time and make small adjustments easier. The redding is nice but x2 the cost of the Rcbs, I lead filled the base on the rcbs, and put bushings on the tube and Really like it now. With some light chamfering it rarely breaks varget/4350.

    As for poweder measures, they really help for speed. The high end reddings are considered to be as consistant as balance beam by some, lots of volume Br guys use them. The hang up is a scale is still needed to check a dial in throws, many of th low end powder measures lack the capacity you will need for the 30-378.

    As for prices, I'm not sure how california is but I have not found a retailer outside a big box store that can compete with grafs...midway.. etc. even with shipping factored in.

    Good luck with the start in loading its a great hobby, my wife calls it my cocaine once you start no ammount of counseling will kick the habit. :)
  5. Forester

    Forester Well-Known Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    My advice is to go buy factory ammo:D

    Reloading, if you like to experiment, is addictive and soon you will have a whole room in the house and god only knows how many thousands of dollars in equipment. I started reloading to save some money, now I hope I live long enough to shoot enough to break even on the dealgun)
  6. BountyHunter

    BountyHunter Writers Guild

    Jun 13, 2007
    I would not buy a kit. Buy them separate.

    Used Rockchucker. Just bought a second one for $75

    RCBS 10-10 scale (used $75)

    Lee Autoprime (new model) ($20)

    Lee case head holder set for autoprime ($15)

    Used powder measure, Lee, RCBS ($35-75)

    Set of Lee Dippers ($10)

    Case trimmer (used Forester or Wilson) $50-75

    12" Dial caliper (Harbor Freight $30)

    primer pocket tools ($40)

    One shot lube($8)

    used tumbler ($30)

    Dies (Hornady Redding, Forester Bonanza) IMO forget Lyman, RCBS and Lee, others will disagree

    Hornady headspace guages ($40)

  7. edward hogan

    edward hogan Well-Known Member

    May 7, 2003
    what I use:
    RCBS deluxe scale checkweight set,
    RCBS 10-10 scale and a 505,
    Redding Ultra Mag press,
    Forster mic-head comp seating dies
    Redding Type S FL bushing dies for sizing
    Dillon 550b,
    RCBS or Redding mic adj powder measure
    RCBS flash hole uniforming broach
    Sinclair carbide primer pkt uniformer Lg & Sm
    Lyman VLD carbide case neck debur tool
    Wilson RCBS debur tool
    Inertia bullet puller
    Collet bullet puller, have RCBS wish had hornady or forster
    RCBS stuck case puller or make your own with correct taps.
    Carbide die sets for pistol/revolver ctgs
    Various powder funnels and MTM ctg boxes,
    Sierra loading manual
    Mostly Sierra bullets except Nosler or hornady BTHP match bullet to save money.
    Mid-South, Graf & Son, Brunos, and Wideners for buying resources for occasional deals on Accurate Powders.

    You will need the Ultra Mag press to load the .30-378. I had one of those some years back. Great press for all around work would have nothing else. The Dillons do the repetitive work with great reliability.

    Good luck!
  8. RockZ

    RockZ Well-Known Member

    Mar 10, 2006
    If I were starting over I would get the Forster co-ax press.
    I have a Rockchucker but I like the Forster much better.
    I may even sell my Rockchucker to get the Forster.
    Forster dies are also very good.
    Lee collet dies are also very good for the money. I just get the deluxe set that has all 3 dies in it.
    Lee dies are the best value in reloading.
    The rcbs auto powder measure is a good buy for reloading alot of ammo.
    Of course with ball powder I often use the Lee Perfect Powder measure and dispense straight from it.
    It's embarrassing how accurate that little $20 powder measure is.
  9. TX mountain hunter

    TX mountain hunter Well-Known Member

    Dec 17, 2010
    Sorry it's been so long since I've been on the computer to reply. I can't wait to start putting together my own set of equipment! Thanks to each of you for your help here!
  10. strombeckj

    strombeckj Well-Known Member

    Nov 24, 2010
    If you have a sportsmans warehouse near you they cant be beat on the price of powder and primers. They are right inline with a lot of online stores and you don't have to pay the shipping and hazmat fee.:D
  11. lever-hed

    lever-hed Well-Known Member

    May 8, 2008
    there is some sound advice here on equipment preferences.. You are getting into one heck of an addiction.. A rockchucker, a rcbs or redding scale, and set of lee dies (dont buy a kit, do some research).. many sites on components and such,; too many to list, suggest you buy various primer/powders in a single shipment with the hazmat fees..
    may I ask what other chamberings you are planning, maybe start out with something more modest to get you going?? say .243 ?
  12. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2010
    first of all those big cases will become a chore with most presses made. Get a Forster or something even more powerfull (P&S). The powder measurers out there will not throw those slow long grained powders very well. Buy yourself a Lyman #55 and get the Sinclair bottle adapter for it. You'll still have to trickle into a scale pan. I use a similar setup or a Harrell Culver measurer. I weigh with a Pact electronic scale. Before that I used an Ohaus 304. The Pact sent it to the fleamarket. Of course you could buy one of the electronic dispensers, but they are big bucks. The Forster press comes with an excellent primer tool, and dosn't need shell holders. You probably won't turn necks, so I won't go there. But for a case trimmer it's hard to beat a Wilson, and they can be had fairly cheap on Ebay. I do recommend at least buying a good dial caliper (do go cheap). I use a Mitutoyo, but own about eight pairs. I like the Mitutoyos because of their ease in resetting the zero when a gain of powder gets in the gears. Digitals are fine as well, and any of the better brands will do a fine job. The best runout gauge is a NECO, and this gauge will do more than you'll probably ever want to do. Also get yourself a Hornaday case gauge to help set the headspace deminsions in the dies. They also make a nice overall length gauge that is pretty much a copy of the Davidson.

    As for the press and dies, there are lots of good dies out there. Forster and Redding are the best out there. Personally I like the sizer ball setup on the Forster a little better, and think the seater is better with the Forster (but not by much) than the Redding. I'd ask around to find somebody that has the big Redding and the RCBS presses, along with a Forster. Try sizing a half dozen cases in each press, and pick out the one that fits your needs.
  13. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2007
    Everyone likes to point a new guy towards what they "use"; I don't. What I use can easily be duplicated with any of several other brands or models and I know it. Many people spend far more on prestige tools than they will ever see any advantage from.

    I've been doing this stuff a looong time and have used a LOT of different tools, enough to know that unless a rifle - and shooter - are capabile of sub .5 MOA accuracy, the brand/model of press, dies, etc, really doesn't make any average difference on targets. Few new - or old - guys can do that well, never mind better! I've used and measured the results of a lot of dies in a lot of cartridges and all brands (except Dillon) and can assure you that there is as much difference between individual dies of the same brand as there is between brands. That's true of comparable model presses, etc, too.

    Do a web search for "Dan Newberry OCW system" and take a look at the list of "tools" on the left side of his home page. He not only lists the tools actually needed for accurate reloading. I don't fully agree with him item by item but you sure won't go wrong with what he suggests. (Well, I would suggest you get a Lee Classic Cast press instead of the RCBS Partner since you plan to load some really big cases.) Dan correctly addresses some popular but frivilous/costly tools too. And read how he does quick and accurate load development with the "Optimum Charge Method" as well.

    All any digital scale or dumpster can add to a loading session is a bit of "saved" time and not a lot of that. Such electronic gadgets are costly and using them sure won't show any effect at the range. Get any common beam scale and know that it not only will be highly accurate and sensitive but, unless you physically damage it, it will last forever with no loss of effectiveness.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2011
  14. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2010
    locate a Rockchucker, a Redding and a few others, and try full length sizing with the same die set. Some presses are easier for some to work with than others. I use two different presses for different operations. An RCBS and a Forster. The only thing I do with the RCBS is with some case rework operations that are much easier with an O frame press. I can full length size .300 mag brass with two fingers all day long while watching a ball game on the TV with the Forster. As I said big cases become a chore after awhile, and are very hard on presses. I've been using my Forster since the summer of 1978, and when I finally croak, I expect to still be using it.

    If you have to have a beam scale, then buy a Ohaus 304. The rest are toys. But for a fraction of the money you can buy a good electronic scale that's much more accurate. The best measurer is a Belding & Mull or a Jones or Harrell. The B&M is long outta business, but it's the one for cutting long grained powders. The Jones is very good, but not really anybetter than a Harrell Culver, and a Harrell Culver is no better than a Lyman #55 with a Culver insert. And the Culver insert is maybe .05 grain better in repeatability. If ball powders are your game the Lyman will go +-.12 of a grain all day long, and a good one will do .07 of a grain all day long. The #55 is cheap, and you pretty much gotta spend twice that to get one as good. You can buy the Lyman with the bottle adapter and a couple drop tubes for about the same price as a Redding 3BR in the box. The Lyman is better. Then you buy a Pact electronic scale for another $85, and you have a more usable outfit than the Harrell or Jones (they work best with fine grained powders at 45 grains or less)

    The best seaters out there (threaded die) are from Forster. This is proven out almost daily. A Wilson seater is only slightly better. The Redding neck sizer is probably the best because it uses Wilson bushings ( a Forster uses Forster bushings); otherwise they are the same quality. The sizer ball on a Forster is in a better location than the others, and usually necks will be straiter.