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waterwolff

Ammo prices/Reloading Questions

21 posts in this topic

With ammo prices escalating the way they are I find the need to start hand loading where dose one begin. Which re loader in your opinions is the most user friendly. What are some key features to look for. Where do most of you hand loaders do your reloading ie: basement, garage. Where do you store your powder. and lastly is it more of a hobby or is there a real significant savings.

Thanks Mike

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I am no expert, in fact I only started reloading this fall for the same reasons you mentioned. I will try and break this down in sections to help you out.

First things first, buy a reloading book or two. I bought the Lee reloading book first and I recently bought the hornady book. Read up on how to reload and the steps that the manual goes through. And as I found out on the internet, read some more.

I bought a lee classic turret press since I was going to reload for handguns and rifles. I like my press, it allows me to use it as a single stage or as a turret (almost a progressive) I bought the kit from cabelas which comes with basically everything you would need except case, bullets and powder. Now I use the press and dies and almost all the equipment that came with that kit except the scale. I measure each and every single rifle load I make so I bought an electronic scale (rcbs chargemaster scale) yes it takes longer to measure out each and every load but I am looking for consitancy and accuacy in my loads.

DIES: I use the Lee dies and they work really well, just make sure you have your cases lubed well. I use Hornady One Shot case lube, and I apply it two times and spray it in the sizing die as well. Make sure you read the directions on how to install the dies and clean them as well. FOLLOW THESE DIRECTIONS......

Case Cleaning: I use a lyman vibrating case cleaner with treated corn cob media. I throw the cases in after I have sized them and primered them to get the case lube off.

Case trimming: I use the lee case and trim guages, lots of hand work, can be a pain in the butt but they work and are cost effective. You will also want to get primer pocket tools to uniform them and a flash hole beburing tool as well.

Primers: I use CCI's and Winchester.

Stores: Midway Usa is a great site for equipment and supplies, but you have to pay hazmat charges on powder and primers. There is a store in Minnetonka call The Gun Stop, that has a ton of reloading stuff. Powder runs about 20-25 bucks a pound. There are 7000 grains of powder in a pound, so in .223 I can get about 280 rounds out of a pound of powder.

ETC's: You'll need some reloading blocks to store the rounds as you are reloading as well.

There is a load of information out there on the internet. Some people are pretty brand loyal including absolutely hating the LEE products. I haven't had any problems so far and I have reloaded probably in the neighborhood of 5000 rounds so far.

For my .223, I can reaload ammo at 28 cents a round, for .243 it is closer to 32 cents a round. Handguns is a little less. The initial cost is gonna be getting the cases for reloading, the prices on those has skyrocketed since october of last year (2007).

I reload in my basement, and I store my powder in a lockable storage cabinet along with the rest of my bullets, both loaded and unloaded.

Only keep one powder on your table at a time. Also make sure you always have enough time to reload and don't get distracted by watching tv, etc. I have my ipod playing and that is it. Take your time, you will go slow at first and you will get in a rhythm as you go. I have now started to resize and prime my empty cases and then store them until I am ready to reload them.

It is a hobby that is cost effective after an amount of time. the best piece of equipment I have bought was that electronic scale. Some people will use a powder drop but I like the measuring of each load.

Oh yeah, I keep a 3 ring binder with spreadsheets of every reload I do. I write down the number of bullets, the powder, powder amt., bullet, primer, date, and any misc info. I also keep all targets I shoot so I can narrow down what my gun likes best.

Sorry for the long read, this has taken a while to type since my daughter has been fussy this entire time I have been typing.

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That is a great post.

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Picks has alot of good info. A few other things you are going to want to watch for are... cracks in your cases, this will happen after they have been reloaded a few times. How many depends on how hot your loads are. I like to keep my brass in 100 ct lots. When I get a couple of cracked ones it is time to anneal them.... loose primer pockets, cases with loose pockets need to be discarded....shiny spots on the bottom side of your brass, when you see this you are pushing the envelope of safe loads.

If you load something that needs to be crimped, such as 30-30, or 44 mag ect you need to be very careful with your crimp. Too little crimp and your bullets won't be held in place, too much crimp will raise your pressure to unsafe levels.

It is also possible to have a load that takes very little powder as far as volumn goes, make you don't mix them up and add powder twice. I have seen this in handgun loads, I don't know if it is a problem with rifle loads.

The manuals will give you alot of info as far as powder type and bullet weights for any given cal. You will have to experiment to find what works best in your firearm. I lean towards the loads that keep my cases as full as possible, I don't like it when I can shake them and they feel half full.

Another thing I like to do is seat the bullet so it as close to the lands as possible without touching. This will align your bullet more with your barrel and it should shoot better.They may be over the spec for overall length, but that won't hurt anything as long as they fit in your magazine.

I am sure I forgot some, but some info is better than none.

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As with anything involving a firearm safety is the first consideration. You need to be able to keep out children and others who may not take what is going on seriously.

When loking for a place to reload or store components look for a place that is dry. If your basement is damp at all you could end up with dud or slow to ignite primers or powder that won't burn completely. I use a spare bedroom with a couple of sturdy wooden work benches. A loading area should also be someplace that is quiet and off limits to anybody not involved in the loading process.

Reloading can save big if you are going to reload for cartridges that are expensive. Some of the factory ammo can be $40 or more per box of 20 and the brass can be reloaded for less than $25 per hundred rounds using good quality components. If you start using premium bullets form Nosler Or Barnes you cost per round will go up accordingly. Some of the Barnes bullets that I use are $35 per 50.

You can also save when loading in bulk for some of the popular varmint rifle calibers and competiton handgun calibers.

I agree with the previous posts that a good starting point is to get a couple of loading manuals and get familiar with what is all involved in getting started.

When i started loading I went whole hog and got a Dillon RL550 press. It is a progressive that allows a high volume to be put out or can be used as a single stage when I want to check every step. Now that I have had the press for over 10 years the one feature that I really apreciate is the quick change tool heads. I can change from 45ACP too 223REM in about 10 minutes. With a single stage press you need to remove and readjust dies for each stage of the loading process. If you have the time and want to save max money a single stage will cost about a third of what a progresive does. I have no regrets starting with my progresive Dillon.

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I would like to add one very important piece of advise for anyone who loads thier own. NEVER, EVER, FOR ANY REASON EXCEED THE MAXIMUM POWDER CHARGE IN A MANUAL. Some manuals will list different max powder charges for a certain bullet weight and caliber. If you check the list of components and the type of firearm used for devoloping the load there will be differences from one manual to the next. When you start to work up a load for your own guns use the recommended starting loads and work up from there checking for signs of excesive presure.

If you get to the max powder charge in a manual and still don't see signs of excess presure STOP. There are some combinations of powder and cartridge that even slight increases in powder can result in huge jumps in presure. Anytime you change any component you need to start over and work up. Not all 100 grain bullets will generate the same presures. Even changing primers will change the presure. Always follow the manuals.

Also don't use somebody elses handloads in your gun, especially if they were loaded "HOT."

In the past in these forums there were a couple of posts that claimed that they were deliberatly exceeding the max in a manual because the manuals were conservative. There was even one shotgun load that damaged some of the loaders friends guns. All shotgun loads should follow the manual exactly.

Always stay within the range of what the manuals say. Gaining a few feet per second velocity is not worth the distinct probability of getting your face blown off.

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Mechanictim, great posts, not only don't excede the load maximum, but also make sure your are comparing apples to apples...what I mean is this: I load vmax bullets for myself and a couple friends. According to my lee manual I can load in 22-250 up to 36.5 (for example) grains of varget powder for a 55 gr. jacketed bullet. Now, fortunately I bought a Hornady book and they said that the max load for their 55 gr. vmax bullet is 34.5 grains of varget with that bullet.

Thankfully my friend hadn't shot that set of developmental ladder loads. (5 shots at a certain weight charge, then increased .2 grains for the next 5 shots, all the way until .2 grains below max)

Since then I bought the "All in One Reloading" books, spiral ring bound booklets from cabelas that have all the load information from most if not all of the major powder and bullet manufacturers in one booklet.

Keep careful records of what you have reloaded and your results.

I noticed that cabelas had a reloading combo on sale for their breech lock system. Basically a smaller version of their turret system so that all you have to do is get the reloading die set in its sleeve and the sleeve goes into and out of the press with a twist and a turn. I would have bought that set up if I wasn't going to be reloading for handguns as well.....

I am gonna change the title of this post to ammo prices/ beginner reloader, I am sure a lot of people reload here and can add their thoughts as well. I only have half as many reloads as some people have posts on this site

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Waterwolff, I slipped "reloading questions" into your title with the hope that others will respond. As a non-reloader but someone who is thinking about it, this is a great thread. Thanks all for the information you have provided thus far!!

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Been reloading for many years and I think you can get a good start by buying a complete kit. Check out GM, Sportsmans,Scheels and they can set you up. In the starter sets you will get a press, scale, primer tools, books,case trimmer. You will still ahve to buy your dies. I am very happy with the RCBS brand outfit

that i have been using. Then you will have to buy primers, powder, bullets, and casings if do not save them.

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I'm going to step in here and urge folks to consider going to a local gun shop to buy their equipment and supplies. I'm not talking any of the big box stores, but the small guy who only does guns and reloading. The advice you can get from these folks if worth any extra you may pay for your supplies. Buying bulk brass can help you get going and a good shop will have either factory new or once fired brass for you to use.

I've spent a lot of time at the Wolf's Den in Hugo and have found them to be very helpful and informative. The next best is to spend some time with someone who has done it before and get some pointers on how to set things up and how to develop a routine.

Once you get some rounds together the next thing you have to do is to spend some time on the range checking out your results. If at all possible try and get a Chronometer to check your results. You need to run a number of rounds through this device to assure your consistency. That will give you a very good idea of how fast your bullet is going and whether you need to be more precise in your work.

The result most likely will be an incredible increase in your accuracy. Many look at this as a money saving effort, when in fact that is really secondary. Particularly if you've used the low end ammo in the past you will be stunned at the improvement.

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great post Tom, My frined lives in Willernie (sp.???) and goes to the wolf den once in a while. I have been to a few gun shops and the gun stop in minnetonka seemed like a nice store, but the testosterone , oops I mean "KNOWLEDGE" being spewed by another costumer at the gun counter really put me off.

In fact I was asking the guy behind the register what he would recommend for powders with 243 and 58 grain pills and his answer was I can tell you what not to use....I was in a hurry, my first time in the store and I need to get back and take a little more time while I am there. Someone else here referred to these kind of people (the loud obnoxious customer at the gun counter) as gun nerds. but yes, supporting small shops is a good way to go, to some extent. I refuse to pay 30-40% mark-up on items so knowledge of pricing is key. Gun stop has the best pricing I have seen so far, at least for bullets and brass, I have not bought powder or equipment there yet.

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I started reloading one week ago. I have the great opportunity to have a friend that has reloaded for about 45 years and was able to use his equipment - and soak in his extensive knowledge. I am looking at purchasing a RCBS Rochucker Supreme Master Kit. It basically has all you need except the dies - $270 at the Gunstop.

I reloaded 30.06 shells with Barnes bullets (used brass) for about $16.50 per 20; as compared to $40 - $50 per 20 in the store.

I can tell you that GM is way over priced. Their Barnes X bullets (50) are $12 more than Cabelas and $10 more than Gunstop.

I think there is a satisfaction in building your own loads - testing which loads perform best in each firearm. You can also build loads that can't be found in the store ie. 30.06 with Barnes X 130 gr. bullets.

Anyhow, I think you started a great thread.

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If a customers demeaner is how you want to judge the character of a store you are not on track. Reloading is not something you want to be in a HURRY while doing. As previously stated you should not let yourself get distracted while reloading. Do not let a costumer distract you when seeking information. Slow down, the guy that runs the reloading part of the gun shop is a top notch guy, give him a chance. He knows his stuff. If you always seem to be in a hurry, reloading is something you maybe want to think twice about doing. ONE SMALL mistake is all it takes to cause very serious injuries.

The counter person does not know how educated you are in reloading, so, letting you know what NOT to use is a good start. Then,if time permitted, he would have probably asked you what your goal was and you would be on track.

Did you even take the time to check any of his pricing? I think you will be surprized.

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ScoutII,

I truly fail to see your connection to my being in a hurry at a store and my reloading practices. I had a limited amount of time to get some supplies and check out a new store.

Any time someone goes off spewing their knowledge at the volume he was, including large amounts profanity, I get put off, period. Is that a reflection of the store, yep to some extent it is. The guy behind the gun counter and that customer sure seemed to know each other pretty well and Gun stop is not a big store now is it.

thank you for pointing out my need to re-edit my post, GUNSTOP's prices are good, not internet good, but you don't have shipping costs either. My comment on 30-40% mark up is not directed at gunstop, but other smaller shops and big shops (cableas, Sportsmans warehouse, and Gander mt.'s) I have been in. Gun stop has a great (dare I say awesome) selection of bullets and brass along with an impressive inventory of new and used firearms. Gander MT's current 20% off reloading supplies is a great deal right now for powder only. I walked out of there with 2 pounds of varget for 20 bucks each.

When I asked the guy a direct question of "I am reloading for 243 and shooting 58 grain vmax, what powders do you recommend?" and his response is, "I can tell you what not to use" I don't know how else I could have asked my question, maybe you have more insight on how to acquire advice and help from him?

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Reloading does NOT save us money! It just allows us to shoot a lot more for the same amount we would have spent on factory ammo. Its far cheaper on a per box cost for ammo i just shoot more and thats a good thing!! I would buy a Redding boss press for under 100.00 at midway and a set or Hornady or Redding dies. The press will last longer than any of us and its reasonably priced. I cant remember when i last bought a box of factory ammo. its been many years!

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Who you want to talk to is the guy that runs the counter next to the FRONT door. He is not always standing at the counter because they do have a website for reloading supplies. I too am not real impressed with the firearm part of the store, but alot of the firearm pricing is reasonable.

Reloading has many variables to it, and a person needs to pay attention to what they are doing or it can be hazardous to your health. If someone is always in a hurry or trying to cheat something, you have a formula for problems. Reloading does not need to get a bad rap just because a few people do not want to take the time to do it right.

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Just got back from Gun Stop, and I must have been talking to the wrong guy last time. The guy at the door was awesome. He took time to answer all myquestions and demontrate a bullet puller for me as well. Completely different experience this time. They didn't have the RCBS Chargemaster dispenser I was hoping for, but they should have it in later this week.

Scout, not sure how much reloading you have done, but I was watching a video on you tube the other day, and the guy was using synthetic motor oil for case lubricant. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I would hate to see what that does to your cleaning media...........

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John is a great guy, glad to be of assistance. Remember to slow down and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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I have a lyman set. I should have went with the rcbs. Not that mine is bad, but parts and other lyman brand stuff is hard to come by. Since then i bought a rcbs digital scale and case trimmer, oh plus thats what my dies are. All in all good stuff. Granted the few people i load some for get cheaper bullets, but for me it cost more. Instead of trying and sticking to one bullet, i now have 5 coyote bullets. 55gr nosler in 243, and 32 and 40gr nosler in 204 and 30 and 35gr berger's in my 204 as well. I also suggest getting a digital powder scale, they are simple and accurate. After you get started you will find out you want more and more and more stuff, always trying to get that magic tool that you "need". Oh well good luck. Read and read and becareful, also check out the predator master website, that is the best website that i know of regarding reloading, thats where i learn and spend time at.

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Hunter Lee, what kind of powder are you using in your 243? I have some 58 gr. vmax and some 70 gr. noslers, and I just picked up some 62 gr. Varmint Grenades by Barnes but I can't find any reloading information on them yet......I have a good stock pile of varget and benchmark right now. I like the varget in my 223 and 22-250, and I haven't tried it yet in 243. Thanks

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I had h4895 that is my 204's diet, and some varget, the varget kicked the [PoorWordUsage] out of the h4895, but my gun didn't care for a hot load, so i think the h4895 burned a little to fast for it.

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