Starting out on a budget

SamuelBerryhill308

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 15, 2020
Messages
133
Location
Lincolnton nc
Hello all I made a post a week or so ago about trying to get started in reloading I've talk to couple people outside of people on here and I'm kind of confused I have kind of a idea of what I need to and what all I will end up having to buy but I'm stump I've been told I dont need a tumbler or chronograph also people have said I need to buy new brass not to use the 100 plus peices I've saved up over year or so time it's allWinchester brass that's been fired out of both 308 rifles that I will load for also I have been told so many different thangs about powder scales and messure that I dont know what to get also have been told not to buy any type of lee press I know there cheap but are they really that bad? Also I've been told to start out with a starter kit of some sort but I've priced hornady rcbs and lyman kits and what they have in them would I not be better off buying everything by it self?.I am wanting to reload for hunting ammo and little for presion
Thanks in advance
 

P7id10t

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2016
Messages
131
Location
Orygun
You've already heard a bunch of opinions. People will also tell you that Savage or Thompson rifles suck. YMMV. Here's my opinion.
There's the philosophy, buy once, cry once. You'll hear it when getting into reloading, but reloading is one of those things you'll discover you either love or can do without, so my suggestion is to start out on a budget minded set of components. Reloading gear is one of those things that, if you sell, you get back most of what you put into it.
The notion of reloading to save money is pure hooey. If you reload and love it, your ammo will cost you 1/3 of what you pay retail, but you'll shoot 6-10x more. Then you get the added benefit of tuning your ammo for what works in your rifle. From personal experience, I would have never thought of pistol ammo behaving differently in my EDC, then started testing different recipes of powder and bullets. Whoa, my groups tightened up significantly with the right mix. With rifle ammo, you can take something that is a MOA shooter at best and get 1/2 MOA with a good load. Of course, this presumes you are doing your part. Reloading ensures you get to do a lot more practice at doing your part. Bonus!

As far as components and gear:
  • Nothing wrong with Lee Precision stuff. Yes, some of it is made more cheaply than others. As far as a single stage, I think their aluminum one (Challenger?) is undesirable, but their Classic Cast (iron) one is bolted to my table, along with a Forster Co-ax. It is a rock solid press.
  • If there are gun boards / communities local to you, look for a RCBS Jr press. Typically they're old and can be had for $50. They turn out great ammo.
  • Dies can be found on sale, as well as used. As long as they're not rusted or gauered up with filthy brass (running sandy brass into your press, for example), they will work fine.
  • You can find dies from Lee, Hornady, Forster, Redding, Lyman, RCBS, CH4, Whidden and several custom manufacturers. Hornady has their "Get Loaded" rebates, which combined with the free bullets you will get, almost make the dies free. Personally, I'm not the greatest fan of Hornady dies, but they work and I have eight or nine sets. My favorites are Redding, Forster, and for custom, CH4. I'm sure Whidden are awesome too, I just haven't popped for any yet.
  • Bare arse minimum set up parts you will need:
    • Your press and a solid bench/table to mount it on. Yes, I used the kitchen table for a few years. Not a wise choice if you like keeping wifey happy.
    • A good reloading book. Recommend Lyman. I think any of them are great too. Be sure to study the safety section of the book first.
    • You MUST have a good scale. You can get a 10-10 beam scale for $50. Well worth it. You can also get digital scales. They're easier and faster to use. I have a bunch of scales. The notion of using a powder dipper, while it's what I did when starting out, is ridiculous. The point of tuning your ammo requires you to vary powder charges. You need a scale for that.
    • You do NOT need a powder measure or trickler, but they do make the job easier.
    • You MUST have a set of calipers. The Harbor Freight digital ones will do just fine. I've also found accurate, inexpensive ones at places like O'Reilly Auto Parts. I started out with cheap, vernier calipers ages ago. My first digitals were the auto parts store ones. Over time, I have upgraded as good deals come available and now run all Mitutoyo gear. They're worth it.
    • Though not necessary, I recommend you get some case prep gear. I have found this Lyman tool indispensable.
    • Dies for the calibers you shoot.
    • If your press doesn't have a primer attachment, you'll need a primer tool. I find the RCBS one to be very good. Couldn't stand the Lee hand primer, and my Hornady one works well also.
    • No, you don't need a tumbler or anything. You can wash your brass by hand or just wipe it down with 4/0 steel wool or a fine scotch brite pad. I got rid of my vibratory tumbler and now use an ultrasonic bath, a stainless pin wet tumbler (Frankford Arsenal or Harbor Freight Rock Polish drum), or do it by hand with 4/0 steel wool.
    • After so many firings, your brass will stretch to the point it will no longer fit your chamber. When this happens, you'll need a brass trimmer or just expect to get a maximum number of uses out of each case.
    • As far as chronograph, you do NOT need one until you get into long range precision. Then your reloading gear needs will change significantly.
    • The only time I used new, virgin brass is when I couldn't find 1x fired stuff or wanted a specific quality like Petersen brass.
So there you have it. Others will add more, since we all started somewhere. Not everyone was born with a big blue press bolted to their bench, though they are sweet.
Recommend, once you get your gear together, watch and learn from a reloader -- someone who you consider to be blessed with common sense.
Once you start reloading, the best advice I can give you is to follow published load data. After you become seasoned, you can start to experiment.
 
Last edited:

Kansaswoodguy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2014
Messages
568
On a budget I would pick up a starter kit try and catch them on a Black Friday sale. You do not need a tumbler or chronograph I would pick up the Lee case trimmer in 308 that chucks up in a drill you can clean your cases with it and some 0000steel wool. I've never used a Lee press I started on a RCBS then bought a Forester Coax and Redding T7. I use a Redding Powder thrower and never weigh anything except to confirm my thrower but as a beginner weighing every powder charge on your balance beam scale is the cheapest way to go and the Lee dippers are a good cheap beginners option to speed up the powder situation until you deside to step up your game if you enjoy reloading.
 

aushunter1

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2012
Messages
689
Location
Australia
Hello all I made a post a week or so ago about trying to get started in reloading I've talk to couple people outside of people on here and I'm kind of confused I have kind of a idea of what I need to and what all I will end up having to buy but I'm stump I've been told I dont need a tumbler or chronograph also people have said I need to buy new brass not to use the 100 plus peices I've saved up over year or so time it's allWinchester brass that's been fired out of both 308 rifles that I will load for also I have been told so many different thangs about powder scales and messure that I dont know what to get also have been told not to buy any type of lee press I know there cheap but are they really that bad? Also I've been told to start out with a starter kit of some sort but I've priced hornady rcbs and lyman kits and what they have in them would I not be better off buying everything by it self?.I am wanting to reload for hunting ammo and little for presion
Thanks in advance
Firstly don't rush your decision, you will end up buying gear that you may not need & you will soon supersede.

Kits are good to start with but once you get to a certain stage you will realise you need part of it & not all of it.

I bought a RCBS rockchucker kit to start & all I use now is the press as I want to get more out of my reloading than just average reloads.

Imo these are the things you need from the start.

A decent press
Decent dies(I prefer Redding but Lee collet set will get you going)
A good powder scale, forget the cheaper powder throwers & just get a good balance scale & trickler.
Calipers
Oal gauge
Headspace gauges
Comparators
Chamfing & deburing tool
Primer pocket uniformer

For case cleaning a cheap Ultrasonic cleaner is a good bit of gear.
Mine cost me $40 & I can clean 40 cases at a time which takes 10 minutes.
 

codyadams

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2015
Messages
2,804
Location
Southwest Wyoming
I parted together my reloading components, starting with a press my father gave me. The kits will get you started. If you go with a kit, the RCBS or Hornady would be the ones I would get. My friend got the lee......I am really not impressed with it. Most components will need to be replaced eventually.

Your brass you have will be just fine. Don't worry about buying new brass, especially if it is fired in the guns your using it in, that takes away the point of reloading.

If you piece it together, this is my version of what aushunter1 said:

Solid press

Dies (and shell holders if they don't come with your dies)

Powder dispenser

Powder scale - balance scales work good for less money, but I prefer digital scales, but not cheap ones. My current one was $200 I think? and I want to upgrade to the FX-120i with V2 auto trickler system, but that is a LOT more $$$$

Powder trickler - I like the frankford arsenal, has a weighted base and stays put while trickling.

Quality Calipers

Hornady (or similar) headspace comparitor - Not 100% necessary to start, but will really help in the long run for consistency and increase brass life.

Chamfering and Deburring tool

Case trimmer, I use the Lyman E-ZEE trim. Works fantastic, and is cheap.

Case lube (possibly look at a rcbs stuck case remover as well, pretty cheap and very useful if you mess up)

Case cleaner (My frankford arsenal wet ss media tumbler is awesome) Not 100% necessary to start, but will be needed eventually, dirty brass scratches dies.

Bullet comparitor/OAL gauge (not 100% necessary at first, you can measure OAL with documented specific bullet length, but helps measure from ogive) I prefer this one: https://www.brownells.com/reloading...r-hex-style-bullet-comparators-prod83792.aspx

As far as an OAL gauge, I have found a better way to find OAL to the lands, requires no tools, and is free!! shown here :
(as a side note, this method can also be used without tools to set shoulder bump exactly how much you want if you have a micrometer adjustable sizing die) However, it is only possible on bolt guns, and is a little more challenging with controlled round feed and floating bolt head type actions, as you don't have as much feel, but if you combine it with marking the bullets with a sharpie, you can get very precise, and I have found it to be much more consistent and precise than the hornady OAL gauge I have used, and that is even making my own custom fire formed case gauges. The second most consistent gauge I have used is this one : https://www.brownells.com/reloading...lair-bullet-seating-depth-tool-prod35491.aspx and doesn't require any special tools, but it does have some quirks.

And by far the most important, a good reloading manual, and read it. Not just a data book, but an actual reloading manual that tells you the ins and outs of reloading safely.

Good luck, and enjoy!!
 

jimbires

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2008
Messages
1,588
Location
clearfield county , Pa
here is a list I have put together to help out guys getting started in reloading .

you have to have ;
press , dies , shellholder , trimmer , bullet puller , calipers , scale , debur tool , lube pad & lube , stuck case tool , loading tray , tweezers ,

nice to have ;
hand primer , case prep center , annealing machine , second caliper , primer flipper

should have ;
headspace tool , drop tube funnel , powder trickler , competition shellholder set
 

aushunter1

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2012
Messages
689
Location
Australia
Yes I forgot some items, my bad.

Hand primer, bullet puller(either kinetic or die mounted, kinetic is cheap!) case loading blocks(2 at least), flash hole deburrer, case lenght trimmer reloading manual

Each to their own what they think is important or should have, nice to have etc but what I have outlined is what I would call essential for making decent, consistent, repeatable accurate ammo that is capable of moa or better.

Even for hunting I'm of the opinion you need moa capable ammo!

I bought a RCBS rockchucker kit to start out & out of the kit there are 3 pieces I no longer use & sold them because I moved onto a better powder dispenser, they are the powder thrower, the 505 scale & trickler.
Yes they got me started but quickly found the thrower inaccurate so yes you needed the 505 scale to check pretty much every load & then the trickler to get it spot on in the scale.
This consumes a fair bit of time & really slows the process down, so I bought a RCBS chargemaster combo & that replaced 3 items.

Good luck & like I was saying, dont rush it, there are plenty of good informative youtubes out there to research each item & the processes.

This guy helped me when choosing things like dies & does comparison vids-

https://www.youtube.com/user/ammosmith/videos

This is one example on why I moved on pretty quickly from the powder thrower-


Oh & get a good notebook & make sure you document everything you do for each load your working on, including range results for each load by charge weight etc.
You might want to shoot a variety of projectiles in different weights using different powder & a log book is just great to look back on what you have done.
 
Last edited:

rsmithsr

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2019
Messages
455
Location
phoenix
one : I would pass on any kit
two: the problem with YOUR brass is it is mixed lot....pretty useless for load development. the cost of premium brass saves the time/bullets powder lost on poor data from poor brass.
three: do not buy used dies for your 308s.
four: did you buy and READ 2 reloading manuals yet ?? if not quit posting till you do.
 

jimbires

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2008
Messages
1,588
Location
clearfield county , Pa
this is my opinion .
I have a powder throw or drop , whatever you want to call it , I don't use it . it's not accurate enough to just dump the powder without weighing it . it takes way to much time getting it set up for a certain load , then you have to go through the set up again when loading a different powder , or for a different cartridge . I just use the cheap Lee powder spoon set , and pour the powder on my scale . you can pick a spoon that will weigh a light powder charge that's close and then use a trickler to bring your powder charge up to spec . if I'm using a spoon that is very close to my desired weight , and I go over a little , I use my tweezers to pick a few kernels off the scale .my large capacity loads that I don't have a spoon big enough , I'll use a spoon that gives a 50% load and use two scoops . these are quick , easy , and $15 for the set .

 

djfergus

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2015
Messages
1,538
Hello all I made a post a week or so ago about trying to get started in reloading I've talk to couple people outside of people on here and I'm kind of confused I have kind of a idea of what I need to and what all I will end up having to buy but I'm stump I've been told I dont need a tumbler or chronograph also people have said I need to buy new brass not to use the 100 plus peices I've saved up over year or so time it's allWinchester brass that's been fired out of both 308 rifles that I will load for also I have been told so many different thangs about powder scales and messure that I dont know what to get also have been told not to buy any type of lee press I know there cheap but are they really that bad? Also I've been told to start out with a starter kit of some sort but I've priced hornady rcbs and lyman kits and what they have in them would I not be better off buying everything by it self?.I am wanting to reload for hunting ammo and little for presion
Thanks in advance
I started on a Lee press and still do some work with it. I also have the large rcbs cast 50 bmg press. The fact of the matter is everyone is going to tell you something different and you are now at the point you don't know what direction to go. You've got to start somewhere. I don't have a huge gripe with the Lee breech lock press. I got my feet wet with it and loaded some fine shooting ammo with it. I would get a good universal hand priming tool. The kits do have some things you probably won't use. I know you've got information over load right now. My best advice is: start out with what you can afford, you've got to have a starting point. In the end, you will be like all of the rest of us who hand load. You will have a huge accumulation of tools that you may only use half of but you will learn a lot along the way. Don't give up if you get frustrated, just take a break for how ever long it takes for you to get the drive to tackle it again.
 

SamuelBerryhill308

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 15, 2020
Messages
133
Location
Lincolnton nc
I started on a Lee press and still do some work with it. I also have the large rcbs cast 50 bmg press. The fact of the matter is everyone is going to tell you something different and you are now at the point you don't know what direction to go. You've got to start somewhere. I don't have a huge gripe with the Lee breech lock press. I got my feet wet with it and loaded some fine shooting ammo with it. I would get a good universal hand priming tool. The kits do have some things you probably won't use. I know you've got information over load right now. My best advice is: start out with what you can afford, you've got to have a starting point. In the end, you will be like all of the rest of us who hand load. You will have a huge accumulation of tools that you may only use half of but you will learn a lot along the way. Don't give up if you get frustrated, just take a break for how ever long it takes for you to get the drive to tackle it again.
Thanks for you input I do appreciate it i really like the idea of reloading and being able to load your own ammo for each rifle to make it the best it can be I'm going to start with my 308 and then after I get to were I want it then I'll start on the 300 wm that I hope I have by that time then after I get some experience I'll start to load for my dad and brother.i got the idea to start hand loading through this forum and I've always wanted to do it as a hobby and now that I've done alot of research and asking around I'm definitely ready to get my feet wet in it
 

thwatson2

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2012
Messages
157
Where to start? I have accumulated 6 or 7 presses from 3 lee, 2-rcbs, and 2-Dillons. For rifle hunting rounds, get a nice inexpensive single stage lee. Plan to prime on the press, it comes with press so no need to buy a separate unit. If you aren’t loading real long rounds, like RUM, then get breech lock press. You can preset your length then you have quick 1/4 turn pop out/in ability. Get nice digital scale, I have a Lyman and hornady(prefer Lyman) a good powder drop, I use Quick Measure and it’s worth the money. Weigh Every Charge! Definitely use your used brass and neck size. I’d anneal 308 every 3rd shot. I use sand annealing but find your own preferred method. 308 is cheap to reload so you could toss your brass every 3rd shot also. get the lee Quick trim system. Cheap and easy. Yes you need a tumbler(Lyman turbo $56) and yes you need a chronograph. I will tell you that I no longer buy lee dies. RCBS or Forester are much better. I neck size everything except semi autos. chronographing is extremely important for load developing. I was an advocate of the press kits, till I noticed I wasn’t using half the stuff.
 

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