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reloading equipment

22047 Views 13 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Jeffvn
Going to try to get into reloading (on a limited budget) more or less just going to drop a few "HINTS" the the wife for Christmas.

Should I buy one of the kits or the individual parts?
What brands should I look at?
If I buy a kit what other parts/tools will need to get to go with it?

looking to reload 223, 308, 270 & 300 win.mag. at this point (what brands of dies are best?)
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Before you jump into this you need to do A LOT of research on some of the reloading websites. Different people tell you different things regarding individual company quality and what to buy. Read a lot before you spend any $$$, or at least some of your $$ will be wasted.

The only suggestion I have at this point for you is to pick a good quality company (like RCBS) and confine most of your stuff to that one company so everything is compatable. Hold off on the gizmos until you've loaded a few hundred shells. By then you'll have figured out that you don't need all of the automated garbage to get teh job done.

Since you are reloading a rimmed magnum (300 win mag), you'll need to make sure your press can accomodate that size brass and loaded cartridge. My RCBS rockcrusher will handle up to a 50 BMG, but some don't accomodate a taller shell very easily. I still use a singlestage press, and reload about 1,000 .45s and 200-300 .308s and/or 6.5x284s every 6-8 weeks. I could go progressive, but would still do my match rifles loads on the Rockcrusher - so why spend the extra $$$.

I do not recommend first-timers venturing into the realm of 300 win mag without gaining lots of experience reloading something small first, like the the .223. Reloading is NOT the time to try to multitask - when you reload that's all you should be doing - no around with your buddies or shooting the breeze with your girl on the phone. Dealing with flamables (powder) and explosives (primers) can be VERY dangerous is you're not paying close attention to what you're doing and have someone available to ask some basic questions of when you start out. I've pulled my share of bone-headed reloading mistakes, because I was trying to gab on the phone or BS with my father-in-law while loading ammo. I've had to take apart more shells than I care to admit simply because I was not paying attention.

I suggest a single stage reloader for a starting point, you can consider upgrading to a progressive when you get the hang of everything.

Get the best equipment you can afford, you only want to spend your $$$ once.

Get the best dies you can find - I like Redding, but everyone is different . Forster seems to have a strong following. If you have equipment-related questions call the company and ask. They all have hotlines and are used to answering the "dumb" quesitons - I've sure asked my share of them.

I'll step off my soap box now. Welcome to the reloading community - just be careful and pay attention to what you're doing and everything should go fine.

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Id deffinately get redding dies, maybe competition dies, get a rcbs, dillon, or redding press, a powder trickler, just about any digital or mechanical scale. I have found redding dies to be about the best. The more and more I have learned, I have kinda gone away from rcbs. And if I were you, dont powder charge your loads. Maybe powder charge 90 percent of them and trickle the rest. The chargers are not very accurate and there may be a risk of throwing a dangerous amount of powder. The rcbs primer strips are pretty nice. Although if you are not gonna reload a whole lot, id get one of those hand primer systems. You will need a case trimmer to. I use forester but there is probably better. Also get a lube pad or die. Lube every shell when you size cases.

If you only load lapua brass, you can save a lot of time and money on case prep tools.

Deffinately go with redding dies. I really like the competition bullet seating die. May possibly be the best die made.

I use redding competition dies, rcbs pro 2000 progressive press, lyman scale, lapua brass, nosler-lapua-sierra bullets, and primer strips. You will also need to get a good set of calipers. rcbs probably work fine but starrett would be better.

Just make sure you work up on loads.
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carver101, i am new to the forum and just read your article, so my comments may be to late as you may have already made your purchase of reloading equipment. Someone recommended redding equipment and I whole heartedly agree. Their competition neck dies and bullet seaters are premium. They make a single stage magnum press that if i were beginning i would purchase. It is the strongest most rigid press on the market, but it is pricey. I have rem 700 06 that would shoot 3/4 moa with federal premium or my best handloads. I purchased a set of reddings competion dies and shrunk to those groups to 1/2 to 1/3 moa on a good day. Use a single stage press of good quality, such as the rcbs rockchucker, redding boss, or magnum, weigh your loads, and sort your cases using a neck thickness gauge. Generally, a case that has thick spots in the neck also has thick spots in the sides of the case that can effect accuracy. Laupua brass is the most consistent. With the redding dies you can load magnums with sufficent tension in the necks to withstand the forces of recoil in the magazine. If that is not an issue you may want to consider the wilson hand dies and the use of an arbor press.
The wilson hand dies are high quality dies that are popular with benchrest shooters but they only size 3/16 of the neck. That may not be enough neck tension to hold your bullet in place while in the magazine when shooting a large powerful cartridge like the 300 win mag. You may already be familiar with them but sinclair international is a company that caters to competion shooters. They inventory all the equipment I have mentioned at very reasonable prices, and their sales people are all competion shooters who are very helpful. the web is
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I, myself was once like you Terry, about 1 yr ago. I talked to eveyone I knew, and people I didn't know about reloading. I went with a Dillon 550B progressive press, and a .223 caliber conversion kit. I could stretch this on all day with what gear I have, and experiences I've had, and mistakes I've made, but the important info is that pay attention when someone tells you about reloading, write everything down, double check measurements, use quality equipment, and as stated before PAY ATTENTION when reloading. If you would like further info e-mail me.
You don't need the fanciest press, but you do need the very best dies that you can find.

I really like RCBS dies and these are all that I use. But I have tried Redding dies and these are very nice also.

I use a Lee Hand Press as my only press. With it you can full length size brass. The Lee Hand Press only looks "Mickey Mouse". It is actually very useful. You can use this press at the range to size all your cases. You can even size all your cases while you watch television. But it all goes to show you that the press is not that important. And ammo loaded with my Lee Hand Press will routinely shoot sub MOA.

I also like the RCBS digital scale and digital powder dispenser. These items are a great aid to precision handloading.

You really don't need to spend a fortune to get into handloading. But you should never buy cheap dies.

Let me deal with specifics. Suppose you want to load .223 ammo for a bolt action rifle.

Here is a inexpensive way to do it. Inexpensive, yes, but not cheap.

One Lee Hand Press: available from
price $27
One chamfering tool: available from Lee Precision. price $3
One primer pocket cleaning tool: available from Lee Precision. price $2
One RCBS powder funnel: available from Cabelas. Price $4
One RCBS hand priming tool. available from Cabelas. Price $23
One RCBS shell holder for .223 Remington. available from Cabelas. Price $5.49
Set of RCBS dies in .223 Remington. available from Cabelas. Price. $25
One Lee Safety Scale available from Cabelas. Price. $18
Lee trimming tool. (consists of shell holder, caselength guage, cutter and lock stud) available from Cabelas. Price $6.29

Now that is all you need to get started. The total price is $113.78, or thereabouts.

If you decide to get further into reloading, you will probably get a better scale and other equipment. But you will keep everything else and you will use it.

I have a full sized bench trimmer, but I still use my Lee trimming tool. In fact I prefer using it. I also prefer the Lee chamfering tool to any other on the market. And the RCBS hand priming tool is something you should get right away. It is the best reasonably priced hand priming tool around.

And load your ammo with Sierra or Nosler bullets.

You will also need a powder trickler and a powder scoop. You can make your own powder scoop from cut-down .223 case. And you can attach a paper clip to the case with some epoxy to form a handle. You would use this improvised scoop to place powder onto the scale pan. And then you would trickle powder onto the scale pan to bring your charge up to weight.

You can also buy cheap powder scoops from Lee Precision. You can find a trickler from Cabelas

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I always love to hear the cheap way to do it.......... Thanks MAD, you da man.
I would also recommend two other things.

1. When you set up your sizing die, you need to adjust the die using a Stoney Point cartridge headspace guage. This guage is used in conjunction with dial calipers. This enables you to set your sizing die so that it does not excessively set back the shoulders of your cases.

2. You should also concentrate on a single load. When you develope a single standard load, you will find yourself learning a lot about your rifle and ammo.

In my next post, I will outline what you might want to try when you start loading .223 ammo.

I have a copy of the Speer Manual and I will relate to you the load that I am about to use myself. I intend to start loading the 55 grain soft point Speer bullet with IMR-3031 powder. So keep tuned.

mel, ithink this might benefit from being placed in the seldom used DIY forum. Or at least, the essay fowarth coming.
You guys are mentioning a lot of RCBS equipment....I was wondering, does anyone have experience with a DIllon Precision with the measured powder charge hopper, and if so, how accurate/precise is it compared to weighing the charge for every round? I would like the convenience of the Dillon, but I dont want to sacrifice precision while loading ammo with very tight specs.
no charge hopper is going to give you the precision you seem like your looking for.
spade said:
no charge hopper is going to give you the precision you seem like your looking for.
Just trying to eliminate all factors except my crappy shooting, lol
12twist - dillion is fine, if not the preferred chosice, when it comes to loading pistol ammo. Loading match rifle ammo seems (at least to me) to take a bit more precision than the hopper can manage. In my case I sue some of the hardest to meter powders out there (Varget, H4350) I end up beam scale measuring every round. I just can't seem to throw it in tight enough weights to go any other way. (plus I'm anal as hell about getting the charge absolutely correct)

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