Making the decision to get into reloading as an appendage hobby to collecting firearms is fairly easy.
Your major decision-making factors would be:
1. Can I spend $1,000 or so RIGHT NOW to get all the equipment I need, AND
2. Can I afford to sequester myself away for like 2 or 3 hours (often more!) while I reload...this means time away from family after work, AND
3. Do I shoot enough to justify the expense? Reloading does not make ammo free, it makes it cheaper in bulk.
If the answer is YES to all three questions, you are ready to begin the process of fully transforming into an enemy of the liberal media!
What guns do you have, meaning what calibers will you be reloading? This is important because shotshell reloaders are only for shotshell, and some reloaders cannot be used to reload rifle ammo, and other reloaders will not reload larger rifle calibers....it has more to do with the height of the ram than anything else.
If the focus is primarilly on pistol ammo reloading, keep in mind that AR15 or that 30-06 you have in the closet. Remember, the least "savings" in reloading will be the cheapest ammo...so least savings will be on 9mm, with savings going up proportionally by caliber (as compared to what is on the shelf at your LGS).
Then, you need to decide if you have a space you can use for reloading. A lot of people will say you need a dedicated reloading bench area, as well as a safe place to store components (remember, primers are explosive, and gunpowder is extremely combustible). For me, I have a safe storage area (a busted chest freezer in the garage) and when I load I use the dining table or the coffee table and C-clamp my reloading press to a wood stool, so I can load hundreds of rounds while watching TV or DVDs (does that make sense?). When done, everything goes back into their boxes, and I have room for my other hobbies.
So, ya got all that now....
What reloader to buy? All the main names (RCBS, Dillon, Hornady, Lyman and Lee) have "starter packs" that include the reloading press (the most expensive single piece of equipment you will need) and other goodies like a powder measure, a priming tool, etc. A quick look at www.midwayusa.com
, search on Reloading Press, and you will get a lot of results. BEFORE BUYING ANYTHING compare the prices with other sources, like your local sports outfitters (Academy, Scheels, Bass Pro Shops, Sportsman's Warehouse, Cabelas, etc)!
Then ya hit your first decision block: Do you get a single-stage press, a manually-indexing press, or an automatic progressive press?
I have a single-stage press, and have been using it for over a decade now, and honestly I cannot justify the expense of getting a progressive.
The difference is more than just cost, it is efficiency. A single-stage press will do only one thing everytime you raise and lower the ram (meaning operate the handle). Both the manual-index and the progressive can do up to 4 things for every function of the ram. It is the difference between finishing say 100 rounds per hour with a single-stage versus up to 4-500 per hour with a progressive.
Also, setup is critical. You will need to adjust every single die when you set it up with a single-stage, whereas with most modern indexing and auto progressives, you set up once and don't need to do it again.
Aside from the press, you will need:
1. A powder dispenser and an accurate powder weighing scale (I strongly recommend a digital one!). All automatic progressives will have this built-in, some manual indexing ones require you to buy them as an add-on.
2. The dies and shell holders (caliber-specific: one set for 9mm, one set for .40S&W/10mm, one set for .357/.38SPL, one set for .45ACP, etc.)
3. A micrometer scale, I recommend the digital ones for ease of use, for checking the critical case lengths.
4. A case length trimmer (especially for rifle reloading!)
5. A Case Prep center is especially useful, otherwise get a primer pocket brush, chamfer/bevel tool, military crimp remover (for milsurp brass), and case neck brush. Most of these would be included in the "kit", but unless you get a case prep center, you will really hate the case prep process.
6. A means of cleaning your brass, this could be a vibratory tumbler (with tumbling media as a consumable), or ultrasonic (which means the ultrasonic cleaner plus the cleaning agent as a consumable). Even if you use an ultrasonic (see my thread on this, it's a sticky in Ammo & Reloading), you'd probably still want to tumble the cases to polish them to a high lustre.
7. A case block, for holding cases while working on them.
8. A case lube kit (a lube pad and the lube, or aerosol case lube). Ignore this if you are using TC (tungsten-carbide) dies, they do not need the lube.
9. A priming tool. Progressive presses have this built-in, so this is required only for single-stage presses.
10. Ammo storage boxes, for sorting and counting your ammo (real easy: each box holds either 50 or 100, so it's easy to count your progress!)
11. One or more reloading data guidebooks. Some are bullet-brand specific, some are gunpowder-specific, get a whole bunch.
12. For really professional work, where you tailor the loads to your specific gun, an accurate chronometer (called a "chrony"). I use the RCBS AmmoMaster, it's a fantastic piece of engineering, extremely accurate, but not cheap. This is necessary for you to test the muzzle velocities of your loads so that you do not overpressure the cases and possibly blow up the gun. Spend $200 on a chrony, or go TLAR (That Looks About Right) on the reloads and maybe spend $600 on a new gun and $10,000 in medical bills.
Your recurring expenses would be for:
3. Gunpowder (available in 1 pound cannisters or 8 pound jugs)
4. Brass (unless you collect your spent brass)
5. Cleaning Agent (if you use ultrasonics)
6. Tumbling Media (and Case Polish, real cheap, for really shiny brass!)
Now, I have seen ads on Craigslist here (Nevada) for used reloading equipment, and have seen them on eBay as well. Also, Saturday yard sales can yeild wonderful deals if you look hard enough. If you go this route, you can save a tremendous amount of money off of people who bought the equipment but couldn't answer YES to the first three questions, above.
OK, really long post.
I am an enthusiastic reloader, and willingly help others who wish to get into it. It is a wonderful (and wonderfully rewarding!) hobby!
Hope that helps!
*PS* I saw those snide remarks....my feelings are hurt....