Should I start reloading? Equipment to start? Cost savings? - MP-Pistol Forum

Should I start reloading? Equipment to start? Cost savings?

This is a discussion on Should I start reloading? Equipment to start? Cost savings? within the MP Reloading forums, part of the Smith & Wesson MP Forum category; 1.) What should I start with for equipment? 2.) Where should I learn to safely reload? As I do not want to damage my weapons ...


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Old August 6th, 2016, 06:16 PM   #1
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Should I start reloading? Equipment to start? Cost savings?

1.) What should I start with for equipment?

2.) Where should I learn to safely reload? As I do not want to damage my weapons or more importantly myself or god forbid someone else!

3.) How soon will I see a cost benifit after initial investment? ie how many boxes will it take reloading to save enough (Lot of variables like buying brass if needed etc so might be unanswerable lol)

I have heard of factory remanufactured ammo causing issues and damage before if I recall correctly.
4.) So how safe is reloading? Will I increase risk of destroying my gun, will it void warranties and could they even know?

I plan to buy more guns so it might be worthwhile to reload.
5.) But is it more cost savings or more for controled production.

6.)Is it worth buying new brass and if used how do I know its only once fired brass?

Thanks!
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Old August 6th, 2016, 09:37 PM   #2
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1:
start with a rcbs starter kit, has 99% of what you need.

but you still need a book of loading information.

2:
someone local to you that reloads. does any lgs do classes?
watch lots of u-tube videos,
ask lots of questions.

3:
you mean there is a cost savings?

pending of what you buy how much you shoot and and reload says this part.
i do not reload to save money buy to have ample ammo on hand. but the 223 i just did up coast is about a fourth of store bought. + my time.

4:
reloading is very safe, or can kill you. maybe just blow off a finger of two.
every try crossing a busy street? can be done safely just in how it gets done.

5:
both. depends on what you are reloading for.

6:
best to use your old brass. i do range pick up. and have thousands of cartridges in production. from just sorted to ready to load up.
just look at each cartridge for defects, cracks, etc. crush them. lots more to work with.



reloading can be fun and rewarding or a major itch and a huge problem.
just be safe. go slow. and watch every step of the way.
correct reloading will not hurt you or your gun.
bad reloading can maim or kill you... others.

while reloading pack the kids away. get them away from you.

NO tv.

radio ok.

no distractions.

if you stop and restart check everything on the table, before resuming the work. try to never stop in the middle of something finish that first. then stop. easer to check and know what is what.

this is just in a nut shell but i like to reload. keeps my off the streets at night.

just remember these three word/rules.

safety.

safety.

safety.

and ask questions.


.
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Old August 7th, 2016, 05:59 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by 9MP View Post
1.) What should I start with for equipment?
You'll probably get more controversy over this question than any other that you asked. I started with an RCBS RockChucker to learn the craft and I don't regret that decision. It'll allow one to really learn reloading instead of cranking out mountains of ammo that might possibly be made incorrectly. I know many will poo-poo that, but I know of smeone who did that very thing. Another advantage is that a single stage press can reload pretty much anything as well as swage brass should you ever need to do that.

There are those who will suggest that you start with progressive press. They will turn out mountains of ammo in a short time, but the cost goes up dramatically with one and well as the (IMO) knowledge required to use one. It's very easy to throw a double charge of powder and that could be catastrophic. The price of converting to another cartridge is substantially higher with a progressive too. At this point you have no idea if reloading is for you or not.

For all of those reasons I suggest a single stage press to get started. Much of what you'll buy for it can later be used for the progressive press should you want one. If you're not a competitive shooter you may never want a progressive.

In addition to a press you'll need a scale for powder weighing, a caliper for measuring, dies, and if you'll have a single stage press a powder thrower will speed things up tremendously, and also loading blocks, and possibly case lube and maybe a lube pad if carbide dies can't be had for a certain set of dies. For a single stage there are some things I wouldn't be without, like a primer feeder.

If you get a progressive you can still use the calipers and scale with it.


2.) Where should I learn to safely reload? As I do not want to damage my weapons or more importantly myself or god forbid someone else!

Well, just by asking this question I can tell your head is screwed on right.

There are books, also there are manufacturer web sites that will talk you through it. There are a lot of yahoos on the web that have questionable (at best) credentials and I've seen really bad advice given. I'd stick with sites having high credibility.

Manufacturer sites will also have reliable load data. You want to stick to reliable load data.


3.) How soon will I see a cost benifit after initial investment? ie how many boxes will it take reloading to save enough (Lot of variables like buying brass if needed etc so might be unanswerable lol)

I can't specifically answer that because it depends on initial cash outlay. 40 years ago the savings was calculated at about 60% of factory ammo. That meant that you would pay 40% of what factory ammo cost. I suspect that is pretty close today, but sometimes not. For my competition ammo it costs me $.12 just for the bullet, then a few cents more for powder and primer. But I want what I want for competition. I can buy 9mm ammo in bulk for $.06- $.08 per round. But it's not what I want for competition. No one makes factory ammo in the bullet weight that I use. I might be able to match the factory price of ammo in a similar bullet weight but I don't want that. I want what I want. That's one of the nice things about reloading; you can make what you want and not be tied to factory offerings.

While the masses had problems with ammo supply not many years ago, it didn't put a crimp in a reloaders ammo supply. We might have had to use components that we could get rather than what we specifically preferred, but we all had all of the ammo we could shoot.

You won't have problems with safety if you stick to the rules and reputable load data. Nor will you void your warranty or cause problems for your gun if you stick to the tried and true.


I have heard of factory remanufactured ammo causing issues and damage before if I recall correctly.
4.) So how safe is reloading? Will I increase risk of destroying my gun, will it void warranties and could they even know?
They can't tell. Plus there is "case law" that says that a gun manufacturer can't void a warranty becasue you are using reloads.

Some things shouldn't be done... no unjacketed/coated lead bullets in polygonal rifling is one. I have 2 handguns that MUST have shiny polished brass or the cartridiges won't feed through the magazine.

As I've already written, stick to the tried and true and don't have an idiotic excursion with the loads you make and it's perfectly safe.


I plan to buy more guns so it might be worthwhile to reload.
5.) But is it more cost savings or more for controled production.

I load to get things I can't buy and isn't loaded. I also load for cost savings when I load thousands of a specific load. Another load that I make the bullet alone cost $5 and I don't think that they're made anymore. I can't imagine what cartridges loaded with that bullet would have cost; I never priced them out that way but I bet it was over $200 for a box of 20 factory ammo. Plus, since I load them in a wildcat cartridge no one makes it. (yeah, back to that )

6.)Is it worth buying new brass and if used how do I know its only once fired brass?
When I first started I bought new brass. I haven't bought new brass in 40 years for my common cartridges. Some cartridges you simply can't find once fired brass for. I always buy once fired for the commonly found cartridges. Buying from a reputable source is the best way to get once fired. There is a good reason for once fired brass. If there was a manufacturing defect it was seen on the first firing.

Today I also load a lot of range brass as it's not possible to pick up "my" brass during a match and after a match it's like looking for a needle in a haystack of similar looking needles.


Thanks!
You're welcome.

Last edited by BrianK; August 7th, 2016 at 06:11 AM.
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Old August 7th, 2016, 01:04 PM   #4
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Have you READ anything about reloading?

1.) What should I start with for equipment?

What are you going to load:
straightwall pistol cartridges?
1) two reloading manuals, both that you have read.
2) press (a $25 Lee Reloading Press will do fine as you learn and also learn what you LIKE (and not what others tell you to like) and a Lee Ram Prime unit to prime the cases.
3) dies and shell holder (Lee dies are fine. I prefer Lee 3-die set and a separate Lee taper crimp die (not the FCD)
4) 6" dial calipers (you can use the gun's barrel for determining the proper COL for each brand/style of bullet, but it is easier to measure and record
5) A rag to wipe off the exterior of cases (you don't NEED a tumbler or such)
6) Powder
7) bullets
8) a scale to weight powder and a Lee powder funnel to pour powder into die. I use the Lee PTE die, that expands and flares the case neck and the top is a funnel that also holds the Lee powder funnel. If I didn't want to spend the money for a powder measure, I would raise the case into the die, leave it there, weight the powder, pour in the funnel, lower the ram and inspect the powder charge in the case, and set the charged case in a loading tray.

Bottleneck rifle cases:
1) two reloading manuals, both that you have read.
2) press (a $25 Lee Reloading Press will do fine as you learn and also learn what you LIKE (and not what others tell you to like) and a Lee Ram Prime unit to prime the cases. I have used this for cartridges up to .30-06 and they were as accurate as from any other press--just not a lot of fun to size.
3) dies and shell holder (Lee dies are fine. Don't even think about neck sizing for at least a year after you start reloading)
4) 6" dial calipers (you can use the gun's barrel for determining the proper COL for each brand/style of bullet, but it is easier to measure and record
5) A rag to wipe off the exterior of cases (you don't NEED a tumbler or such)
6) Powder
7) bullets
8) a scale to weight powder and a Lee powder funnel to pour powder into case. I prefer to use a bench-mounted powder measure (the Lee PPM works great--it leaks to start with, but throws very consistent charges). I take the primed case, put it under the powder measure and charge it, look into the case at the powder to be sure it is at about the right height, and then IMMEDIATELY seat a bullet.
9) Some means of trimming cases. Generally after 3-4 firings, the case will stretch beyond the max case length and need to be trimmed. Never had a straight-wall case stretch or need trimming.

That is a list of what you NEED. Keep it Simple and Learn to Walk before Running.


2.) Where should I learn to safely reload? As I do not want to damage my weapons or more importantly myself or god forbid someone else!

Well, for decades, folks learned by reading. If you don't learn well by reading, you can watch manufacturer's videos (Lee and others), you can try YouTube (but there is a LOT of pure crap out there), you can find someone who reloads, or you can sign up for classes and spend a lot of time and money learning. It just isn't that hard--it is easier than trying for follow the instructions from IKEA.

3.) How soon will I see a cost benifit after initial investment? ie how many boxes will it take reloading to save enough (Lot of variables like buying brass if needed etc so might be unanswerable lol)

Who knows—it depends on how much you spend. I doubt that very many have actually had a positive ROI—just like any other hobby, ROI is not the purpose.
The big benefits are that you will shoot more and you can make better ammo than factory for at least half the cost (provided you have the cases already)


I have heard of factory remanufactured ammo causing issues and damage before if I recall correctly.

Not often, but it can happen. Know the source and don't shoot your buddies reloads.

4.) So how safe is reloading? Will I increase risk of destroying my gun, will it void warranties and could they even know?

If you follow the directions in the manuals (and not from some internet guru, even me), quite safe. You know the main-stream media would LOVE to report problems.
If you load for competition and rush things, you can have a problem. Thankfully, guns are proof tested and can take a lot of pressure before they fail. Caution; If something feels wrong, stop and find the problem and you'll be fine.


I plan to buy more guns so it might be worthwhile to reload.
5.) But is it more cost savings or more for controled production.

See above. Really, if you don't think you'll enjoy reloading, please do us all a favor and stick to factory ammo.

6.)Is it worth buying new brass and if used how do I know its only once fired brass?

I have been picking up range brass for over 40 years and never had an issue. You don't KNOW that it is once-fired unless you get it from a police or military range, but reloaders don't just leave cases behind. I only buy virgin cases for cartridges that are uncommon (9x21, .38 S&W Long).

Last edited by noylj; August 7th, 2016 at 01:08 PM.
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Old August 8th, 2016, 05:39 AM   #5
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I agree with what pretty much everyone has echoed. As for the most controversial question (single stage or progressive), if pistol I would do progressive. If rifle, well I still size cases on my single, load them on my progressive. I check case length after resizing and that is not as easy to do that in a progressive.

Some other advice:

Pick your first powder that will work in most calibers AND almost fills up the case at max load. This will lessen the chance of a double charge. If the powder is flowing over the case, you screwed something up.

Get a subscription to loaddata.com. It does not replace manuals, but opens up more recipes.

Charge weights are NOT linear relative to pressure, especially at max loads.

You will shoot more and probably not "save" any money.

Reloading is almost a hobby unto itself

Do not load with distractions or while tired

You will learn to hate Berdan primed cases and dislike crimped primer pockets
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Old August 8th, 2016, 06:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhawkins View Post
I agree with what pretty much everyone has echoed. As for the most controversial question (single stage or progressive), if pistol I would do progressive. If rifle, well I still size cases on my single, load them on my progressive. I check case length after resizing and that is not as easy to do that in a progressive.

Some other advice:

Pick your first powder that will work in most calibers AND almost fills up the case at max load. This will lessen the chance of a double charge. If the powder is flowing over the case, you screwed something up.

Get a subscription to loaddata.com. It does not replace manuals, but opens up more recipes.

Charge weights are NOT linear relative to pressure, especially at max loads.

You will shoot more and probably not "save" any money.

Reloading is almost a hobby unto itself

Do not load with distractions or while tired

You will learn to hate Berdan primed cases and dislike crimped primer pockets
Same here.

Although I'm even more anal.

I've been reloading for a bit over 40 years now, and have yet to have a squib. I have had two rounds that didn't fire; bad primers.

I use a Lee progressive, but started way back when with $9.95 Lee Loaders, then graduated to a single stage Rockchucker.

My "rules" are simple; no radios, no TV, no one else in the room with me, and no food or drink, while reloading (ie; no distractions).

I also check the head stamp of every piece of brass before I put it on the press, and visually check the powder level in every case as I rotate it from station two to station three.

I take my time, and load about 200 rounds per hour on my RL 550 B.

Could I forgo the above, and load more rounds per hour? Yes. Is it worth it to me? No.

Be careful, take your time, and you'll be fine.
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