A minimalist reloading setup?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by GearZ, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. GearZ

    GearZ Decent Shooter

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    Hello all. Reloading is something I never really got into due to a lack of time and the fact factory loads were good enough. However, due to the spiraling cost of ammunition, particularly in some calibers, I am thinking of setting up a simple reloading kit for a couple cartridges (.30/30 WCF and .45/70 Gov't). As such I have so questions for those that reload:
    • What is the minimum equipment that I should acquire? I am not looking to crank out hundreds of rounds, just a dozen here or there.
    • Is it better to go new or used or does it matter?
    • Do you have any safety tips for storing powder, primers, etc.?
    • How much savings, on average, could one see by rolling their own?
    Thanks much. :)
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Decent Shooter

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    Hi there GearZ!

    The minimum equipment? Well, you can get a basic; progressive press, for about 110 dollars. This would be fine if you were not looking to load thousands of rounds. The dies for each caliber, are about 30-50 bucks. Other then the components, you would need a........can't think of the name; its a machine that cleans to brass (you buy the cleaning stuff, which is usually corncob-it's cheap). You also need a cheap; plastic tumbler, to get all the corncob off the brass. I believe my basic set up ran me about 200 bucks.

    I would probably go new for a basic setup. They are so cheap, that risking the press being damaged is not worth it. I might advise differently if you wanted a fancy press. That being said; if you found a used one for cheap; from someone you trusted, you might as well save a few bucks.

    Powder: Just keep it in the container. NEVER mix two different types of powder together. When your container is empty, put some water in it and shake it around. The water deactivates the powder, making it safe for disposal. Make sure you get a reloading manual for the appropriate charges.

    Primers: No real special considerations; keep them away from children. They are hard to set off (though I have done it-trying to remove one that was jammed in my brass). The primer isn't really too dangerous, except to your hearing; if they caught fire; all that would happen would be a lot of loud noises. The chemicals inside are probably not good to breathe though.

    Savings? At the local sports store, I can get 250, bottom quality (IE cheap) .45 ACPs for about 160 bucks. I can reload 350 good (almost as good as expensive match grade ammo) rounds, for 70-75 bucks. You're talking about more quantity; better quality; for half the price.
  3. GearZ

    GearZ Decent Shooter

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    Thanks so much for the great write up. That actually is a huge savings, so I might have to move this project up higher on this list. A couple of C-notes for a basic setup is not bad either, particularly considering the savings over time.

    Tangential question; do you cast your own bullets? I'm thinking for those two calibers (.45/70 and .30/30) that it might make sense.

    Thanks again. :)
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Decent Shooter

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    I don't personally case my own bullets, but many people do; and it will save even more money. Lead bullets are pretty cheap, but they do have their list of side effects. They are much dirtier; and the heat caused from the cartridge destination is sufficient to melt lead into the grooves of your barrel. They also tend to hang more on the feed ramp (not a problem if you're shooting a revolver or level action rifle of course). If you shoot lead, make sure you clean your guns well.

    Also, you cannot shoot lead rounds in any polygon barrel. Glock and H&K pistols fall into that category, and perhaps H&K rifles; but I'm not sure. I can't remember the exact reason off the top of my head, but people have blown up their guns doing it. Lead rounds fired in a gas operated weapon will royally screw it up too.
  5. GearZ

    GearZ Decent Shooter

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    Thanks for the details. As it would be for lever-guns, some of those negatives are addressed, but good point about being extra cautious with the clean up. I know a gun who casts lead bullets from wheel weights he gets free from a tire store. He's running them in blackpowder guns though, which is already pretty dirty.

    Back to the original topic, is Hodgdon's the one to go with for a reloading manual? Thanks.
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Decent Shooter

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    I would think just about any reloading manual would be pretty good. You can also get information on the page of whatever brand of powder you purchase. I would recommend starting at slightly lighter loads then published. The reason for this is simple; the gun used to test the loads might be different (many manuals tell you which gun).

    If somebody is running a hot load .45; for example, in a heavy, all steel 1911; it might not be safe for a cheaper, plastic Hi Point. In theory, all weapons chambered for a specific caliber should be able to handle all loads in the safe pressure range; but this may not be completely true. Likewise; even if you're shooting the load safely, it may wear out a less durable gun quicker. I always start a little lower on the charge then listed, without going so low I risk a squib load.
  7. GearZ

    GearZ Decent Shooter

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    Thanks much for the details. Also, agreed about a slight down-load. Though they aren't as strong as, say, a bolt-action platform, the lever guns are pretty well built. Still, there is no reason to not play it safe. Particularly in older guns.
  8. Thomas

    Thomas Decent Shooter

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    GearZ I completely agree with you. On older guns especially, make sure you load down a little bit and be gentle with the weapon.
  9. Slacktrack

    Slacktrack Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm looking at getting into reloading myself. One of the things that has popped up in my research is that having two manuals is very good. Due to the slightly different numbers published in different manuals, you can work up a powder charge with confidence that you're using safe numbers. It's always good to double or triple check the values in the books! Because my intent is to reload rifle rounds (.308 to start, then moving into .303 British and maybe 7.62x39), I'll be starting off with a single stage press. I'm looking at the Lee 50th Anniversary press kit. Anybody have any experience with Lee dies and presses?

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