Getting Started


Well-Known Member
Mar 25, 2009
I want to start reloading. I am starting from scratch. I do have a set of lyman dies that I acquired and a Dillon digital scale. I have $400 cash to get going and $100 in Gander Mnt. gift cards. Tell me what to buy. I'm only going to be reloading .300 wm right now, if that matters.
You will want a good cast-iron press, and I recommend the Redding Big Boss II. It's a premium piece that will never need replacement. Anything less represents poor value. You'll also want Redding's powder trickler.

There is inexpensive equipment from Lee that's recommended. A primer pocket cleaner. The AutoPrime hand-held tool with appropriate shell holder. The case trimmer. I'll also recommend the Lee powder dippers as opposed to a powder measure that won't do what's needed of it; save up for an RCBS Chargemaster Combo. You will probably need a standard shell holder for your press, and I recommend the RCBS brand.

You'll need a chamfering tool. They're all about the same, but you want a sharp one. A VLD chamfering tool is good for getting a better inside chamfer. Been hearing that the RCBS is sharp and the Lyman isn't. The VLD is optional, but you'll get better results using it for flat-based bullets.

You can get caliber-specific loading blocks; the Frankford Arsenal brand are less expensive (and less premium) than the ones that Sinclair sells. Sinclair has a Satern caliber-specific funnel. It's a premium piece, but you'll be glad to have it.

Bottlenecked cartridge cases require sizing lube, and Imperial is the best and easiest to use. Neutral shoe polish (paste) is the same stuff, and Mink Oil is also a good lube. Hornady's Unique brand of sizing wax is very similar and is advertised as having the capability to preserve and waterproof leather. This convoluted message is that if you have the shoe polish or Mink Oil already, you don't need anything else.

You'll need a dial caliper. The rumor is that all of the inexpensive ones come out of the same Chinese factory, and they'll serve just fine. You can get one for under $25.

Should you find a gold nugget between now and when you buy, go ahead and get the RCBS Chargemaster. Then you won't need the trickler and dippers. You want a check-weight set for that electronic scale; both Lyman an RCBS have them. You can be assured that your scale is calibrated for the desired charge weight. The Lee dippers can be adjusted for capacity using plastic or cardboard spacers.

What you will need first is a loading manual. The Lyman has very good instructional material; it's worth reading and re-reading (several times) before you attempt anything. Having a second or third manual won't hurt anything.

You'll need bullets, primers and brass. They're where you find them. Choose your bullets according to their application. Winchester brass is better than the other non-premium brands, although quality is hit-or-miss these days. Avoid Federal brass; it has a very short life.

Future upgrades from what has been recommended here would be in the form of a Wilson case trimmer and better dies (Redding and Forster). Hornady's die lock rings are good replacements for Lyman and Redding.

Get a Sinclair catalog. It has educational value. Now you're ready to load ammunition as good as anybody's, unless your dies hold you back. Wait and see. There are a few goodies that you may want to have, especially after having gotten involved with Sinclair's stuff, but they won't be necessary until you have established a need.

Graf and MidSouth are good to do business with. MidSouth has excellent prices and shipping-at-cost. Graf has $4.50 flat-rate shipping for online orders, but compensates with higher prices. Sinclair is more expensive, but besides their excellent products has free, personalized tech service for the asking.
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Read through this link

How to Reload Ammunition

not too advanced but will cover basics and give you a better idea of what's required. With $500 bucks I'd say you should be able to set yourself up pretty good.

There's numorous places where you can purchase the equipment. I personally prefer this one...take a look, read and you'll get a feel.

Specializing in Reloading Supplies and Equipment for Firearms - Sinclair International

Also do some searches here on LRH and/or the reloading forum here and start reading.
Just FYI RCBS is starting to come stamped "Made in china" If that's any concern. Also here's a great link for calipers plus you'll learn something about them:

027 : Long Island Indicator Service : Sales, Repairs and Spare Parts

Good variety not from china.

IMHO-there's a reason why the Aero, Medical and hi tolerance manufacturers where safety is first don't use $25 calipers. I wouldn't either...gun powder explodes. Just my 2 cents.
I would recomend getting a good reloading manual like lyman, nosler, speer, and read it several times until you basically know the steps by heart and the danger signs by heart.
RCBS Rockchucker press is as good as it gets.
Do yourself a favor and buy a couple, or more, reloading manuals. There are some free ones available from powder companies. You cannot have too many and remember to look at more than one when choosing a load.
You can't go wrong with DILLON equipment. Quality and SERVICE best in the bussiness.
You can't go wrong with DILLON equipment. Quality and SERVICE best in the bussiness.

I did look at the 550B, I thought that might be over kill. Can you load well with a progressive press? I didn't like the fact that the powder needed to be ball. I thought about not using the powder portion, but didn't know if that was possible. Great advice everyone, thanks. Anything you could add is appreciated.
There is no way I would recomend a progressive press as a starter press.
Plus the 550 does not auto index... can you say double charge?
Instead of a 550 take the same money and buy a Hotnady LNL AP and get a press with the features of a 650 ... again not for a first press
+1 with hairtrigger for starter press...not a progressive. I started with and still use a Redding Ultramag...not that you have to start with's pricey but, sweet and I enjoy it and it's a single stage. KISS don't go progressive at least not to start out with. Just my 2 cents.
I hear you guys on the progressive. I have been getting similar advise. I will probably get a Rock Chucker Supreme. I'm thinking of forgoing the kit and just piecing things together as I go. Most places the kit is $200 more. Is it worth that much for the kit?
The RockChucker is the one of Chinese derivative, which in itself may not be condemning. However, the reputation for play in the ram is. Physically compare it to the Redding, similar price, before making a decision. The Redding comes in two versions, the Big Boss II having a superior primer disposal system which you will appreciate if you de-cap on press. The Chucker puts them all over the floor.

The great RockChucker legend is based on the previous model, not current production. If you can find a good used one, it's a good choice (but, it puts them all over the floor also).

As for the kit, it comes with a really good beam scale, but you already have a scale, and a good hand-priming tool. The powder measure won't do much for you. We've discussed the press. The rest of the stuff is pretty mediocre, as in any kit.
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