Looking to get back into reloading after 15 years (help)

Discussion in 'Ammo & Reloading' started by Eye_Peeled, May 6, 2012.

  1. Eye_Peeled

    Eye_Peeled 8th Gen. Fla Cracker (not creepy though)

    So Happysniper1 (and anyone else who cares to offer help/suggestions), what do you think of this kit that was mentioned in another thread for getting started loading .45 and 9mm? http://www.midwayusa.com/product/42...reech-lock-single-stage-press-anniversary-kit

    It's been about 15 years since I did any reloading. I had a pretty good setup for loading my 30-06, in fact that's all I have ever reloaded. I slowed way down on the hunting and went back to factory ammo. I broke all my RL equipment down and packed in a couple Action Packers. It sat for a couple years and I finally sold it all to a friend. Mistake. I have missed doing it. I had the RCBS Rock Chucker press and all RCBS accessories.

    So what are your thoughts on me wanting to get back into it economically but staying away from junk? Like I said, I want to load .45 and 9mm. I have read things you and others have written on savings and whatnot but that's not my main concern. I am always tinkering at the workbench so it would be mainly for that and one more thing my youngest son (13) and I could do together. If not this kit, then what? Do you know if this press is as well made as the RCBS Rock Chucker? It's the only thing I've ever used so I have nothing to compare it to but everything RCBS sure did seem like quality to me. I know there are a few things one would have to purchase in addition to this basic kit, like a tumbler and maybe a powder trickler for starters.

    I appreciate any input.
  2. Happysniper1

    Happysniper1 New Member

    Hey, Eye_Peeled!

    I'll try to help, but I am afraid my help won't be much help.

    I know nothing of the durability of the Lee brand line of presses. I've been using a RockChucker Supreme, it's the only one I've ever tried, and like you said, RCBS set both the standard in quality, durability, and customer support (I have broken parts of dies out of sheer volume of reloading, and they have sent me replacements free of charge).

    A couple hundred years from now, I am sure that green O-frame single-stage press will still be functional! Heck, if the Zombies come out and I run out of ammo, I can always bash them upside the head with that thing!

    But seriously...

    I have developed my reloading process around the RCBS reloader and the use of ultrasonics to clean cases. I don't do the traditional tumble then decap and size then expand, prime, charge and seat bullet. Instead, I wash the dirt off the cases, decap and resize, then clean them in an ultrasonic cleaner, prime them (with the RCBS hand primer) and put them away until I am ready to load. This way, at any given time I have a couple thousand cleaned, sized, and primed cases ready to turn into live ammo.

    The price on the anniversary kit is a hard to resist price. I will say I have never heard anyone complain about Lee equipment, so this may be a good buy, and a good start to reloading. Heck, at that price, if you don't like it you can always sell it later on Craigslist or at a Saturday Yard Sale.

    Now, if my opinion were to be asked, I would go with the Hornady Lock-N-Load progressive press, but that is like $400++ (but comes with a voucher for up to 500 bullets of any caliber worth up to $169)....however, I cannot justify tossing my efficient and ever-faithful RCBS Supreme. It works, it works for me, and I have a system that works with it but would need rethinking if I ever go to a progressive reloading press.

    That being said, if I had nothing and would like to get into reloading, I would seriously consider the anniversary kit. It is cost-efficient, and frees up funds for other tools and reloading components. Plus, Lee dies are much less expensive than RCBS (but they are interchangeable!)....however, again, I have no experience with the quality of Lee reloading dies. Look at it this way: it would allow you to start reloading at a lower total capital investment than if you went with another brand or a progressive, and if you ever feel the need to replace it, the loader itself is inexpensive and therefore not so painful to get rid of, and the dies are compatible with Hornady, Dillon, and RCBS reloaders!

    I am sorry, it is not much help. Good luck to you!

  3. Eye_Peeled

    Eye_Peeled 8th Gen. Fla Cracker (not creepy though)

    Thank you so much. You wrote twice that it is not much help; it was very helpful! You have answered many questions and gave me something to ponder.

    I have no idea how to set up a progressive press or the difficulty in switching between calibers or even if I would need a progressive but I will look into it. Half the fun will be learning more about what I want to do and choosing.

    One thing that may seem minor but is always in my head when I'm at the range is re-collecting my brass after shooting. When I used to shoot my handloads from my 30-06, it was while shooting from a benchrest (or hunting) and the rounds were shot from a bolt action which made keeping the brass close by after shooting easier than flying brass from a semi-auto. It seems like keeping track of brass would be a nightmare with everybody's brass flying around and getting mixed up. That's probably a minor issue but I always think about it when I look on the ground after shooting.

    Anything else you would like to add as you think about it would be helpful to me and others, I'm sure. So, thanks again, here I go...
  4. Happysniper1

    Happysniper1 New Member

    If you are particularly concerned about being able to identify your own brass, get a knifepoint and score the case someplace, like the neck area. A small scratch will do. That way, it will always be there, you can add marks (how many times loaded), and will never be mistaken for someone else's brass. Just don't score too deeply into the brass. It doesn't take much to place a scratchmark in brass anyway.
  5. Happysniper1

    Happysniper1 New Member

    As for the debate between single-stage and progressive, the final analysis is simple:

    Cost of reloader: single-stage is cheapest, manual-indexing progressive is middle, automatic progressive is most expensive and most complex.

    All other items not part of the press are interchangeable: specifically the reloading dies.

    You of course know that with a single-stage, you do one thing with every pull of the handle.

    With a manual-indexing progressive you must move either the shellplate (with the cases) or the tool plate (with the dies) after each pull of the handle, and it can do up to 4 things at a time (such as decap+size, expand, prime, charge+seat bullet).

    With an automatic progressive, the shellplate turns automatically, advancing the cases thru each step. As you insert a fresh case for decapping on one side, a fully assembled round falls out on the other side.

    So it is all a question of efficiency: how many rounds can you produce per hour? Nothing beats the auto progressive in speed, while nothing beats the single-stage (ANY single-stage, regardless of brand and price) in terms of simplicity.

    If you are buying a press, I would encourage you (or anyone) to look closely for plastic parts. These will wear or break eventually. Guaranteed. So if you find any, ask about the warranty coverage from the manufacturer.
  6. Eye_Peeled

    Eye_Peeled 8th Gen. Fla Cracker (not creepy though)

    One possibility I was thinking about: What would be wrong with having two single stage presses? If a person had the workbench room to do so. Say you found a new press you wanted and also saw a used but in good shape additional press on eBay or whatever. It seems like that would eliminate some switching which would speed things up some. You could leave the used press set up for sizing, for example and never change it. Is that something you have ever heard of someone doing? You can pickup some pretty decent presses on eBay that are used and affordable.
  7. Happysniper1

    Happysniper1 New Member

    I've seen someone with the RCBS Supreme and the RCBS Partner presses.

    He uses the smaller one only for decapping+sizing, then the Supreme for everything else.

    I told him (as he handed me a beer) that that's too much upper body workout for me (twisting back and forth to address two presses). He laughed.

    People use whatever works for them. Same applies to me.
  8. Eye_Peeled

    Eye_Peeled 8th Gen. Fla Cracker (not creepy though)

    Thanks. I was referring more along the lines of, say, decapping and sizing several rounds at one sitting without doing anything else and then moving from that press to the next phase. I think it would be a viable option. I had some pretty clever quick disconnecting options when I reloaded before. Okay, it wasn't really all that clever, it was just some bolts with wing nuts. Anyhow, in a matter of seconds, I could remove everything from the bench and store it in cabinets above if I needed the bench for something else or wasn't going to be loading for a while. You could even do that (swap presses) if you were limited on workbench space.

    Speaking of sizing, seems like I remember that having a carbide die would eliminate the need for case-lubing. Am I correct on that? I didn't have one but I remember not being a real fan of lubing cases.
  9. Happysniper1

    Happysniper1 New Member

    YES, using TC dies (Tungsten-Carbide insert) eliminates the need for lubricating the cases prior to sizing.

    All my dies are TC except for my competition .223 dies, and for those I use Hornady aerosol lube.

    About doing the case prep in batches (in stages), that is essentially what I do, except my batches are in the several hundred-to-a thousand per batch.

    Works for me! :D
  10. nyycanseco33

    nyycanseco33 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Now you're just bragging! lol j/k bud :)
  11. Happysniper1

    Happysniper1 New Member

    Not bragging...LAZY!

    I hate nothing more than having to recalibrate every time I change dies! No, wait, correction, I hate cleaning up spent primers more than that.

    Oh, well....:D
  12. Augi

    Augi New Member

    I just bought the Lee Aniversary reloading set up. I have been reloading for all of 2 hours now, exclusively with that kit. The price is attractive. You get a lot of stuff that you need to jump (back) into reloading.
    FWIW, I do NOT like the primer loader set up. I would say that 70% of the time I had to click the feeder multiple times to get a primer to load into said feeder and sometimes the primer went to the floor intead of into the primer loader. I will be buying a hand loader for that reason.
    The press is sturdy. It would take a lot to be able to break it. The Lee carbide die sets also worked great. (NO dies are included with the reloading set.) The powder loader seemed to work well enough and the beam scale was consistent.
    If you have a reloading reference book, cartridge trays, case cleaning system, cases, bullets, primers and powder, you should have the basics to "get er done".
  13. Eye_Peeled

    Eye_Peeled 8th Gen. Fla Cracker (not creepy though)

    I''ll look at it a little more closely, thanks. Having come from RCBS though, it's hard for me to look at anything else. Not because "I know it's the best", I don't...but it's the only thing I've used and I had no complaints with it plus I like green :). Seriously, I am not set on RCBS, I would really like to get away spending less (of course).

    I have also looked at the Hornady Lock-N-Load. It seems decent and they mentioned something about changing dies "in seconds". I don't know what that means, or if it's any quicker than any other brand.
  14. Eye_Peeled

    Eye_Peeled 8th Gen. Fla Cracker (not creepy though)

    Speaking of dies. Anybody know how interchangeable dies are from one press BRAND to another? I have always assumed that they were all the same but after reading a couple things, I get the feeling that they are not all interchangeable with each other, however, some are.
  15. Eye_Peeled

    Eye_Peeled 8th Gen. Fla Cracker (not creepy though)

    Thanks, TC it is then! So, aerosol lube means no more rolling cases on the pad? Or, you spray it on the lube pad?
  16. Happysniper1

    Happysniper1 New Member

    Yep, no lube for TC dies.

    Dies are generally interchangeable regardless of the press.

    For "quick change" mounts (like the Hornady Lock-N-Load) the dies screw into a twist-lock type bushing. Calibrate them once, and leave the bushing on and never need to calibrate again.

    For presses like the Dillon 500 and 550, the dies attach to a single metal plate called a "tool plate". Calibrate when attached to plate, and remove entire plate (keeping calibration) when changing calibers....another plate is used for the other calibers.

    I, too, love Big Green and his Reloading Machine! And it (RCBS) will accept Lee dies and vice versa, and Dillon (I believe). Standard Hornady dies will also interchange with other brands, but the Lock-N-Load dies would require an adapter.
  17. Happysniper1

    Happysniper1 New Member

    Oh, and when I lube .223 cases, they are in the shell tray and I spray 'em.

  18. Eye_Peeled

    Eye_Peeled 8th Gen. Fla Cracker (not creepy though)

    I really appreciate you being my reloading tutor :). I need it! When I started, a friend who was a gunsmith basically set me up reloading the 30-06. He knew everything about everything when it came to guns; he even made gun barrels from blanks! I guess you could say I cheated when it came to learning. Sadly, he moved away shortly after showing me the ropes. So all I ever knew was what he showed me about reloading 30-06 and that's all I ever reloaded.

    I remember those trays! If memory serves, the holes were alternating different sized holes, so the 30-06 cases would only fit in every other hole. I drew a circle with a permanent marker around the larger holes. That made it faster to put them in the right ones.

    You don't have to be careful to not get the lube inside the case? Seems like I remember it was important to not get lube on the neck or above the shoulder.
  19. Eye_Peeled

    Eye_Peeled 8th Gen. Fla Cracker (not creepy though)

    I have another stupid question....Why do you need a scale and a powder trickle if you have a progressive/turret press? If you are tooling along loading rounds non-stop, why the scale? Or do you need one?

    I think I know. You probably need one to confirm the charge initially and to periodically double check your charge.
  20. zipper046

    zipper046 Member Supporter

    Bingo...need to periodically check. Varying air temps (ie: humidity and such) can change how a powder flows. Plus good to check to make sure nothing is worn out and causing a little extra to be loaded..