Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

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RWIG
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Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by RWIG » Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:03 am

Hey folks, I have been seriously thinking about getting into reloading. I am still in the stage where I am talking myself into doing it and watching a lot of videos on the subject, but i would like to hear from members of the Canik Fanatic community who reload. I am thinking about getting a Lee Loadmaster progressive press. I know that you really don't save that much money initially, since I will have to purchase equipment and supplies, but I am drawn to reloading more because I like the thought of having control over the rounds I make and shoot. I am interested in hearing about a lot of different things as it relates to reloading, and I will list the most topics currently at the top of my mind, and hopefully we can start a wonderful new thread that will help me, and hopefully many others who are thinking about reloading.

Topics and questions I would like to have conversations about:

1. Casting bullets vs. purchasing bulk bullets?
  • I have spoken to many re-loaders, and most don't want to get into casting. I find myself very interested in casting my own bullets and powder coating them, but I would like to know if such rounds are reliable for competitive shooting, and how well do the guns, especially the Caniks, hold up after shooting these types of rounds over time?
  • I don't shoot at outdoor ranges that often, so I do not have much interest in reclaiming lead, but I would like to purchase clean lead alloy hard enough for bullets. Is purchasing clean lead/tin/antimony (Lyman #2) easy , and is it cost effective? If 1 pound of alloy make approximately 50 135 grain bullets, wouldn't be better to just buy bulk bullets?
2. Is the Lee Loadmaster a good starter press? Most articles and video that I read and watched mention the Lee Classic Turret as a great starter, but for not much more the I can get an entry level progressive press. I don't expect on becoming a bullet factory, but i do plan on making enough to shoot regularly, and a progressive press just seems to be more productive.
  • Adding case feeders and bullet feeders to a progressive press seems like a way to increase production and with the Lee press the addition of a case feeder and bullet feeder don't cost that much. What are the benefits and pitfalls to adding case and bullet feeders, and what have been your experiences?
  • I plan on setting up a small work table in the corner of my living room, a 64" x 36" work table, and some shelving and storage bins, do you think that would be an adequate work space?
3. For those of you who are reloading, how long did it take you to get set up and start producing rounds efficiently?

I hope that is enough to get this thread started, I have plenty more to talk about, but lets start with this.

thank you!
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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by ncjw » Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:32 am

I have had a Hornady Lock n Load progressive for a few years now. The setup is very time consuming if you are changing calibers a lot (especially going from pistol to rifle). Not just swapping dies (although the Hornady system works well), but picking up primers in the tube, loading bullet feeders (I just use tubes, manually putting each bullet in the case is much slower and the auto feeders are expensive for my level of usage) and getting it tuned right takes time. Once up and running though, you can crank them out quite quickly.

Currently, I only set up pistol for .45acp where the savings are a bit better than 9mm. I have only loaded a little round nose but mostly 200gr coated semi-wadcutters, all purchased.

Since I am shooting a LOT more 9mm now (thank you Canik), I have not been reloading as much. However, to get set up and loading is just a few hours (not including tumbling). It will take some iterations to go to the range and test your batches to dial them in. Also, I have had 2-3 squibs early on, so you really have to be careful and be able to recognize one when it happens. (The squibs were just really light loads, after a barrel check they all cleared the barrel, but you never know.)

One of the reasons that I decided that I needed to learn how to do this was the ammo shortages from the last administration. Even though you can manufacture a lot, you still need components and primers and powder were in short supply. So stock up a few 5,000 packs of primers and a few jugs of powder before Nov just in case.

I am in the tech industry and far removed from the products that we sell. I can tell you that seeing high quality ammo come off your line and perform on the range that you made with your own hands is extremely satisfying. Plus it is always good to keep learning, which is another reason that I got into it.
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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by RWIG » Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:50 am

Thanks NCJW for your response. I was looking at the Hornady Lock n Load because it was just about $30 to $50 more than the Lee Loadmaster, but the only case feeder I could find info on was that $350 electric case sorter & feeder. The only info I could find on mechanical case feeder's for the Lock n Load were home brews and a 3D printed feeder with no instructions or support.

I am looking to mostly produce 9mm, but i am thinking of getting a new AR 15, so I would also like to be able to produce .223 Remington.
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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by ncjw » Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:56 pm

I load cases one at a time (and give them a quick final look for cracks) but I use a tube to load bullets. I'm sure that it's not as fast as an electric feeder but I don't do enough volume to justify it.

Amazon has 9mm bullet tubes and a feeder die for Hornady, it shouldn't be a problem.

223 shouldn't be a problem, but case prep is a LOT more time consuming. I've taken to sending them out to be processed.
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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by colonel00 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:06 pm

I started with an RCBS Rock Chucker single press because I was making cases and reloading for 300 BLK and it was nice for sizing the cases this way. A single stage press is great for when you are reloading for accuracy like for hunting or target loads.

I then went to the Hornady LnL for "mass production". It does take a little time to setup but once you are good, you can crank through a ton of rounds. I think I've made 1500-2000 rounds in the last week or so. Good way to pass the time in the winter to have a stockpile of ammo for the spring.

I have just been using the Acme coated bullets recently. These rounds are for range fun, plinking and maybe some quasi competitions with buddies.

Oh, and I feed cases and bullets by hand. Once you get into a flow it isn't bad. I'm sure case and bullet feeders are faster but doing it by hand gives me a pace where I can make sure to check everything

InLine Farbrication.com has some cool accessories for presses

Image

I added some DIY LED lights as well. I have white lights on the inside so I can see powder in the case and this orange strip on top that alerts me when I'm out of primers (because I forget to pay attention sometimes).

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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by RWIG » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:23 pm

Thank you for sharing your setup. I was considering also getting a separate single press to perform task outside the rotation, like sizing bullets if I decide to cast, or prepping rifle brass.

I checked out the Acme bullet site today, and that looks like a cost effective way to reload 9mm with coated rounds that won't lead my Canik barrel.
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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by ncjw » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:31 pm

Also try Missouri Bullet. Also recommend the Inland roller bar.

The pics above reminded me that if you are reloading in a small space and don't have a permanent bench you will need a pretty heavy table to mount the press on.
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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by RWIG » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:57 pm

ncjw wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:31 pm
Also try Missouri Bullet. Also recommend the Inland roller bar.

The pics above reminded me that if you are reloading in a small space and don't have a permanent bench you will need a pretty heavy table to mount the press on.
I plan of buying a sturdy work bench, and was thinking about getting a press stand. The setup will be permanent, it will just be in the back of my family room and my main storage area will be in the garage.

Also, what is the Inland roller bar for?
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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by colonel00 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:22 pm

There are also usually coupon codes for Acme bullets. I think right now you can really only find 10% off but they did run 20% off for quite a while.

The benches I have are from Sam's Club. I have 3 now of different sizes and they come with a nice hardwood top. I made shelves for underneath to hold ammo and materials with helps to stabilize the bench as well.

I think ncjw might be talking about the roller bar from InLine. You can see it on the right of my LnL. It's much more ergonomic than the standard handle that comes with the press. I also got the QD mount setup from InLine so I can swap out presses easily when i need. Not the cheapest but high quality and well thought out.

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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by ncjw » Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:48 pm

Ha! I'm an idiot. I was wondering how you could load the Rockchucker on such a flimsy mount - then I realized it was just a spare press holder. Cool!
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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by GearHead_1 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 8:55 pm

I have 8 different presses and most of the major press brands are represented. I think there are two schools of thought on this. Start slowly and see if your really going to like it. Don’t count out a single station press, they can make great ammo. RCBS and Lee both make “economy” kits that will load fine cartridges. If it’s something you already know you’re going to fall in love with go look at Dillon’s progressive presses, Hornady is worth a look too but I’d still end up back at Dillion. Lee’s LoadMaster will also get you there a lot cheaper but is a little more finicky. As far as casting your own bullets it can be fun but it isn’t the quickest part of the process. In the end this will enhance the time spent in the sport. You’ll feel like you’ve saved a little so you can shoot more often and because you shoot more often you’ll obviously need to reload frequently. You can do this stuff every day of the week.
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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by RWIG » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:19 pm

I was at my match this evening and one of the shooters was picking up brass, I asked if he reloaded and of course he did. The equipment for cleaning and prepping brass is something I need to get more info on. The range I shoot at has a guy come by and pick up their brass, but on any given time when I am shooting, there are thousands of 9mm brass casings all over the place, most only shot once from boxed of commercial ammo. It wouldn't be to hard to grab a few hundred each trip.

I would love to hear how you all prep your brass, what equipment are you using, what cleaning solution, or media?
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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by colonel00 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:53 pm

I have a Franklin Arsenel Rotary Tumbler. It is a wet tumbler with little stainless pins in it. Works great with a couple drops of Dawn and a little LemiShine. Brass comes out nice after a few hours. I've got one of those tall dryers that was a gimmick thing several years back. The top dries at low temps for delicates and whatever. Well, it never gets used so I now have a brass dryer :D

You'll need a media separator too and I have the one from Franklin Arsenel as well.

This is two batches of brass so two shelves is what I can run through the FA tumbler.

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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by LT USN (Ret.) » Wed Feb 12, 2020 5:42 am

So let me jump in here. For a single caliber, 9mm setup, what is an estimated start up cost? I have a buddy who keeps trying to talk me into getting into loading. He has two stations for reloading.

No smelting will be involved. Odds of me loading any other round is nil as all my handguns are 9mm. Brass cleaning materials should be included; I'm a RSO at a local range so once shot brass is easy to come by.
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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by ncjw » Wed Feb 12, 2020 6:17 am

I just used Graf's for convenience:

https://www.grafs.com/retail/catalog/pr ... uctId/3780
$170 for 5K primers = 3.4 cents per primer

https://www.grafs.com/retail/catalog/pr ... ctId/74244
$200 (inc fees) for 8 lbs. 7000 gr /lb x 8 = 56K gr / 5.1gr per load = 11K loads. $200/11K = 2 cents per powder load (pistol is really cheap vs rifle)
(I used 5.1 to make the math easier - NOT a recommended load, but it is within Hogden's safe range)

https://www.grafs.com/retail/catalog/pr ... ctId/72674
$40/500 = 8 cents per bullet

Adding it up (you said Navy, right?...) 3.4+2+8 = 13.4 cents per round. Vs 17 cents shipped if on sale at Target USA for $8.50/box.

So you save 3.6 cents per round.

https://www.grafs.com/retail/catalog/pr ... uctId/5988
Hornady LnL at $400 plus dies = $450.

$450/0.036 = 12,500 rounds to break even.

Not accounting for labor (or fun or time in the garage away from wife's honey do list.)
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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by LT USN (Ret.) » Wed Feb 12, 2020 6:44 am

Thx, @ncjw great comparison.

I'm going to get with my friend and work his set up to see if it's something I'd be interested in. Us retirees have waaaaay to much spare time.
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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by Bigmaico » Wed Feb 12, 2020 8:53 am

I’ve been using a Early Lee pro 1000 since they first came out. About 40 years or so.

I’m sure you can find them for about $300 brand new!

The only thing I would add is the case collateral for about $15.

Then just google all the different setup for the pro 1000 & you should be good to go!
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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by varmint » Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:40 am

1 thing in buying seldom ever mentioned is buy what others also like as you may wish to sell to upgrade or? later, get something entry level you have a hard time selling is no good, go Dillion for all reasons these days I would not even consider another at all, you component costs are some high shown here, loaded all my long life and casted since the early 70's if you enjoy shooting as I do it is the only way to go, if you go Dillion you will not be sorry at all, get reloader friends together and group buy components we always have and your cost will go lower. Going Sat looking for components again primers only this trip. $28 about avg here 1000, I always price 45 acp and the going rate is always about $13.97 here in several stores CCI brass and S&B both 230 ball brass cases.
We estimate cost :
brass - free
bullet and metal - free
primers .03 max
powder .01
Cost about $2 a box not counting initial investment in equipment which is a lifetime investment another reason to go Dillion is the customer service. If I had not originally bought a STAR I would own another Dillion now a 750, my other one was a RL1000.
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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by ncjw » Wed Feb 12, 2020 10:36 am

I have no problem with Dillon, I just don't know them as well.

But a penny a round for powder means that you are buying if for less than $14/lb (assuming 5gr/load for 9mm). Where are you getting that?

I agree that the savings would be higher for .45acp as it does cost a lot more per box.
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Re: Thinking About Getting Into Reloading, Any Suggestions?

Post by varmint » Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:00 am

We are loading 45/9mm about the same charges 5 gr way to much for our matches shooting paper, 2 weeks ago I saw powder under $15, I could never buy anymore and still never run out, I remember well the 15 lb kegs and 12 lb 700x I bought so many of, we load about 4.2 Solo 1000, CLAYS, WST, they shoot great, 4.2 is a great loading, could go lower with Bullseye or N100. Sat will be a primers shopping day here, 2 weeks ago $20-28/1000.
A 5 gr 9mm load for our shooting is not needed to penetrate paper, we are closeout hunters with a constant lookout for deals, when you see them take advantage. Usually about 1-2 times a year I get contacted by someone getting out of reloading and buy all they have, recently it was bullets and primers $10/1000 each. Just something I have always done. Having a lifetime's worth of equipment helps a lot. Love to shoot cast and load all.
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