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 Post subject: Newly interested in reloading and completely ignorant
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 1:56 am 
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Shooting is getting expensive for me and I'm really interested in learning to reload, both to save money and to customize my ammo. I have several questions and I apologize if you've all heard them before.

1. What literature is comprehensive enough to fully educate a beginner, yet not so dull I'll hate reading it?

2. I spent some time on the Dillion website and tried to get some info about the machines. Can I reload .32acp, .380acp, .38special, .357 magnum, .45acp, .454 casull, 44magnum, and 500 magnum on the same machine?

3. How many dies are typically included with the reloader?

4. I'll only reload .32acp and .38/.357 until I buy more guns. Will I really save money by reloading?

5. How difficult is it to get the components needed to produce bullets? Is reloading practical?

6. I think the Dillion RL 550B Reloader sounds like a machine I could use for nearly anything. Am I on the right track?
Accommodates Over 120 Calibers

I may have more questions later but those are the main ones for now. Sorry about the long list and thanks in advance for your help. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Newly interested in reloading and completely ignorant
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 2:18 am 
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1 None

2 Yes, but not sure about 454 casull and 500 mag. All you need to do is switch the dies.

3 One of your choice.

4 .357 YES!

5 Duh Yeah! Thats why we do it. Buy your stuff online you get the best deals that way.

6 That is a great progressive reloader. I actually prefer rock chucker single stage, everyting by hand. I own a square deal B and a MEC. DONT GET THE SQUARE DEAL B GET THE 550. Dillon has the best warranty in the universe + 24/7 help line. No lie.

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 Post subject: Re: Newly interested in reloading and completely ignorant
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 2:29 am 
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1. Then what could I read or where should I go to get good information on the basics? Nevermind the part about dullness.

2. I won't own either for quite some time anyway.

4. and 5. That's good to hear/know. Now I really want to start, I just need money because I shot too much last week.

6. Customer service and support is huge for me so I think I know which reloader I'll be getting. Thanks for the warning on the Square Deal B. I was also considering one because of price.

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 Post subject: Re: Newly interested in reloading and completely ignorant
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 11:02 am 
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Here is my opinion on point #1.

I never really read any "literature" on reloading before I started. I was working at Gander Mountain when I bought my first press so I had a lot of reference material. I just went to the powder manufacturers and read all their e-books (yes they give all loading data for free on the net) and made my loads from their recommendations. I think of it as following recipie instructions for baking a cake. Now I read alot of literature. I am refining the loads I commonly use, which is mainly trap loads, and just want consistancy in patterning. Pistol reloading will save a ton shotgun is good too. Rifle loaders are purists I dont load for rifles yet. Pistol loading is the hardest.

Be careful you WILL make mistakes. If you are careful you wont make big ones.

6 Dont get me wrong the Square Deal B is a good press, it just uses different dies than everything else and is more limited than the 550. I got a really good deal on the reloader so I couldnt pass it up. I want a single stage press though. I mingt buy 1 for X-mas. And as far as the Dillion customer service, BEST I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE. Im talking 3:00am on a sun morning reloading and needing adjustments; service in less than a min. I wasnt even the original purchaser and they dont care. I would buy a used press after consulting various sources for prices.

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 Post subject: Re: Newly interested in reloading and completely ignorant
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 1:16 pm 
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TheRedScare wrote:
Pistol loading is the hardest. Be careful you WILL make mistakes. If you are careful you wont make big ones.

That's why I'm a little intimidated, I always research something before I jump in so I avoid as many mistakes as possible.

TheRedScare wrote:
Dont get me wrong the Square Deal B is a good press, it just uses different dies than everything else and is more limited than the 550.


I really like interchangeability if I were to upgrade in the future. I just priced dies and :( . I won't be buying something that uses exclusive parts if it doesn't do all the calibers I may need.

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 Post subject: Re: Newly interested in reloading and completely ignorant
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 2:58 pm 
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I've got a Square Deal B and think it is a decent machine except for the die situation. I recieved it in a grab box of stuff at an estate sale for next to nothing as I wanted the other items in the box. It came with 38 Spl and 9mm dies which is all I use it for. I have a Lee 1000 progressive loader which was my first metallic reloader. I think it is a fair machine qualitywise for the price but I would not expect it to last forever as many other machines do. I have mine set up for .357 mag. My main loader is a Hornady Lock-n-Load progressive as it is capable of loading handgun and rifle cartridges. It was close between this one and the Dillion 550 but I liked the quick change feature for dies and the removable powder meter. This allows me to keep a whole cartridge combo together and I can change between calibers very quickly without the need to recalibrate powder measure and dies. The procedure that takes the longest time is switching powders if necessary. I regularly load .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, and . 454 Casull on mine along with .223, 6mm, 7mm/08, 30/30, .300 Win mag, and .375 H&H mag. I have dies for many other cartridges but don't shoot and load them all that often or use a single stage press that I also have due to small quantities. You will want to get a single stage at sometime too. These allow you to do many tasks like bullet pulling, load working, etc. that are a pain on a progressive machine. A full kit can be bought new for around $100 and used set ups can be found or half that.
In a die set you generally will get 2-3 dies in it. Bottleneck cartridges come with two dies, one to decap and resize the case and the other to seat the bullet and provide a light crimp. One needs to lubricate the cases to prevent their sticking in the die which is a real pain to fix. Strait walled cartridges come with three dies to do the same job with the third one to provide a better crimp on the bullet. One can get carbide dies for strait walls which negate the need for case lubrication and are well worth the extra cost.
Buying components via Internet requires some investigation to get the best prices. Powder and primers require a $20 Hazmat fee in addition to any other shipping and handling costs and some places ship them separate from other items so you can get hit twice for S&H. Bullets are heavy and there can be an extra cost for them if they can be labeled as a heavy or bulky item. Its not that there aren't deals, just that you have to look closely and compare to your local cost. For example, if you buy 32# or more of powder from Graf and Son, they will pay the hazmat fee. As they also have good prices and often have close out or clearancel powders at great prices, one can get deals. Same with bullets, I bought 5000 lead bullets for my 45 Colt for less than $80 including shipping. Locally lead bullets for the other pistol rounds are much cheaper. Depends on how far you have to travel and the shop's prices.
The common axiom is not that reloading saves you money, it just lets you shoot more for the same dough.


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 Post subject: Re: Newly interested in reloading and completely ignorant
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:27 am 
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I'm researching powder and bullets now, I didn't realize there were so many different powders. When I see bullets for .38 does that mean they are interchangeable with .357 and .38 reloads or do I need to find a heavy bullet for magnums? Unique powder seems to keep popping up in my searches, is that one of the best values?

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 Post subject: Re: Newly interested in reloading and completely ignorant
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 2:02 am 
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Gander mountain will beat their competitors prices and also deduct the difference in price. In Milwaukee, Sportmans Warehouse sells Red Dot powder for 95.00 8lb and Gander sells it for 119.00. If you deduct the difference of price from Sportmans Warehouse after it was matched that is 70.00 for 8lbs of Red Dot. I bought 16 lbs. That is a better deal than anywhere else you could find it.....if not please tell me.

uglydog wrote:
The common axiom is not that reloading saves you money, it just lets you shoot more for the same dough.


That pretty much sums it up.

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 Post subject: Re: Newly interested in reloading and completely ignorant
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 5:26 pm 
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Richard Lee's "Modern Reloading" 2nd edition was the book I read before I started loading and it was great. He does really push his company's product (Lee Precision) but hey, he's gotta make a buck somewhere. He really did pioneer a lot of reloading equipment, and Lee still makes some cool stuff that no one else does. You can get the book for $10 at midwayusa.com. It's got TONS of load data, definitely more than enough to get you started. People will bash Lee left and right, but their beginner's equipment is unbeatable, especially for the money! I got a deluxe turret press and got into reloading having only spent $130 on ALL NEW equipment, plus powder, bullets, and primers! I love my turret press. Now, if you're talking progressive, don't bother with a Lee and just go Dillon.

Anyways, I make about 500 rounds a week of .40 cal ammo and sped maybe 7-8 hours doing it. For my needs, the press is fine and my ammo comes out great!

Don't be scared by the dangers of reloading or making a mistake, but just let them guide you into having lots of respect for what you're doing. Make sure your attention is ONLY on reloading, EVERY time you reload. Also, don't feel bad when you forget to charge a case and lodge a bullet in the barrel. Just empty the chamber (and magazine or cylinder, whatever) then clear the barrel and be glad that all you did was NOT charge the case, and that you didn't DOUBLE charge the case!


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 Post subject: Re: Newly interested in reloading and completely ignorant
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 10:09 pm 
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Any .357" bullet will work for the .357 Mag and .38 Spl as they are the same bullet diameter. The ~ .38" diameter bullets ARE UNSAFE to use in the .38 Spl and .357 mag as the bullets are too big in diameter. Befor ebuying components read your manual and buy the bullets in the diameter and weight called for in the recipie. For my own use, I shoot 158 gr lead semi-wadcutters nearly 100% in the .38 Spl and .357 mag. The only exceptions are some 110 gr 38 Spls for my wife's gun and some jacketed bullets for the .357 if I want some hotter loads. Generally I'll buy these as it is easier than adjusting and then readjusting my dies for them.
For powder, I use whatever shotgun powders I have on hand. Unique, Blue Dot, WSF, WST, and 110 are the most often used but often I use what I have the most of or want to use up. I got a good deal on 4 pounds of Titegroup but I haven't used it yet. I like a powder that takes up at least 1/2 of the case as it lessens the likelihood of double charging. I use Lee's pistol dies for most of my reloading, they do an acceptable job for me and I like the crimp die for my pistols too. I saw that his Anniversary Kit sells for about $70 dollars at Cabela's and has most of what is needed to start loading with a single stage.


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 Post subject: Re: Newly interested in reloading and completely ignorant
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 10:14 pm 
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musicmanbass wrote:
Richard Lee's "Modern Reloading" 2nd edition was the book I read before I started loading and it was great. It's got TONS of load data, definitely more than enough to get you started.


I'll look into buying a copy thanks!

musicmanbass wrote:
Also, don't feel bad when you forget to charge a case and lodge a bullet in the barrel. Just empty the chamber (and magazine or cylinder, whatever) then clear the barrel and be glad that all you did was NOT charge the case, and that you didn't DOUBLE charge the case!


Instant Pipe Bomb :shock: That would ruin my day for sure. :cry: I thought even a light load would fill more than half the brass, thus preventing a double charge. That shows how little I know.

Edited:
Uglydog, thanks for the heads up on differing diameters. Can I correctly assume that the .38 diameter bullets are for the old .38 caliber?

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 Post subject: Re: Newly interested in reloading and completely ignorant
PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2005 12:21 pm 
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Fuelburns2 wrote:
I thought even a light load would fill more than half the brass, thus preventing a double charge. That shows how little I know.



That is correct some of the time. Some powders are more volatile than others. Um... I can't figure out how to explain it, but ..... well, 5 grains of one powder could have as much power as 8 grains of another, or maybe even 3 grains of another. Once you get your copy of Modern Reloading, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. You can even go to winchester.com and download their loading manual for free and print it off. There in the back they give a lot of load data, and you'll see that for the same bullet weight and velocity there are different amounts of powder used in each charge for each respective type of powder.

I started off with Winchester Super Target powder, which takes up almost all of the usable case volume (I say usable volume, because the bullet takes up a good portion of the case volume when seated) to make a double charge highly unlikely. Purposefully try to double charge your case while you're setting up your kit one time so you'll know what it looks like. In my case, the shell overflowed with powder when I was using bigger charges and 135gr bullets. Now, when I made up a load for 165 gr bullets, I had to use a lot less powder, and in that case, the double charge was apparent (the powder came right to the top of the case) but it didn't overflow, so I used even more caution when loading these.

Hope that helps! And seriously, I'm not trying to be rude, because I love helping out, but nearly every question you have right now can be answered by reading a good reloading manual. :)

In the relaoding manual you'll also learn about starting loads, (usually 10-15% down from maximum loads) how to inspect fired primers to see how much pressure you've got in your loads, how to inspect your brass before reloading, and lots more! I got Modern Reloading a month before I bought any reloading equipment, read it three times, consulted every online source I could, and asked lots of questions, just like you are. You're going about it right!

I was exactly where you are now about 3 months ago. Now I'm no expert, but I feel I have a good grasp on reloading for my specific caliber. (rifle stuff is a different story)

Here's a few links I've used that have been great for me:
http://www.reloadammo.com/reload.htm
http://forums.accuratereloading.com/eve
also, just looking at the stuff for sale at http://www.midwayusa.com/ and reading the product descriptions also gives you a lot of information. Plus, then you'll know how much you're about to spend, and you can use the wishlist to compile your reloading kit/supplies. Then you can either buy them there or go to a local place and tell them what you want!

Like everyone said, reloading is tons of fun! I ran off 200 rounds last night just to relax!


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 Post subject: Re: Newly interested in reloading and completely ignorant
PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:32 pm 
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Location: western NC
I've got mostly RBCS equipment, and hornady dies. I like the quality and fit & finish on both brands. I have some Lee reloading equipment, and functionaly it is good but not as pleasing esthetically. If you appreciate your firearms for the quality of manufacture, you'll know the diffence I'm speaking of..

I suggest starting loading for 38special or .357. One die set will work for both, usually. I have the Lee book and use it often. I also look at on line refernces, and have the speer manual. There are caliber specific books availible as well. Invest in refence material, you won't regret it.

I've been loading with titegroup powder mostly, but have been trying unique lately. I'd see if anyone your friendly with is reloading ad try to watch the process. Some Ranges/clubs do a training class for begining handloaders. (helps them sell equipment..)

Loading is not difficult, but you must be detail oriented and very consistant.

I have a single stage press and probably won't move to progressive at my current rate of usage (~100-200 rds/month)
Unless you are shooting mostly one caliber, I suggest starting single stage.

best of luck and keep us posted...


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