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Discussion Starter #1
-or just naive. I would like to reload in four different calibers
(9mm, .40s/w, 10mm and .45 acp). Since I don't know doodley,
dudley, or didley about reloading, which reloader would one look
for? My range guru is pushing me towards the Dillon 550 or
650, but I've read very good things about the Hornady and the RCBS Rock Chucker. I am strickly a beginner, with minimal
knowledge of the undertaking. My guru estimated the 650 with all the needs to start in the neighborhood of $1200. With brass,
primers, bullets and powder I think that puts me over $1500
before the first cartridge is made. Is this a fair estimate?
Funding is not a big problem, but I would like a fair price for a good machine. I will have about 6-8 hours/week for the effort.
I am practicing for IDPA, therefore this need arises.
I realize this type of thread has been asked by every FNG that
even considers a reloader and hammered three ways to Sunday.
I've done the 'search' and got what I could get. Any other input
would be greatly appreciated by those of you in the know. Oh, btw, just to throw a crimp in the input- the reloader will be mounted on a portable work bench to be used inside a motorhome.
 

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Hi, I'm Dudley

I'd start with a single stage press, like a RCBS RockChucker or a Lee "C" or "O" press (that designates their shape, not a model number).

Although this may elicit great howls of disagreement from my fellow Forum mates, I'd steer you the way of a Lee Anniversary reloading kit. They can be gotten for under $70 from some of the mail-order houses (before S&H), and they include a large amount of stuff which is very useful. It can be viewed at: http://www.leeprecision.com/catalog/browse.cgi?1072485587.5689=anivers.html


Spending the kind of dough you mentioned, having never reloaded before, is foolhardy IMHO. Start out slow, buys some dies and reloading components, realizing that you can always buy another press down the road. Especially when it costs you next to nothing to start.
 

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I just started reloading as well. I bought a Dillion. Dillion seems to have the best support and quality of product. Dillion also posts on this forum - other press makers do not. So they are aggressive in helping there customers.
Since your firend already uses a Dillion- it might be easier for him to help you if you have a problem.
You may want start with one caliber to start with. 45 ACP might be a good place to start. The Dillion 550 B video shows you how to set up the press for 45 ACP. So it will be easy for you to follow.
If I were you I would buy a good press - and if you do not like it- you can sell it. You can always find a buyer who wants to upgrade. If you buy a low end press- you may not be able to sell it. People shoping on the lower end of the market - are tough to sell to.
I got a 550b - I reloaded almost 1000 rounds so far. I plan on loading 1000 rounds a week. The press seems to meet my needs.
 

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btw-
I mounted my reloader to a piece of wood and clamped it to a portable bench. Seems to work. It is very stable. look at the "apartment reloading" thread. you will see pic's of reloading setups from people with limited space.
 

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I suggest you start in the middle. Dillon makes a turret press based on the 550B. This press is also updatable to full 550B format, which is what you're going to need really quickly if you're going to shoot bucketsful of ammo in IDPA practice. For all it really matters, you could just start with a 550B, reloading isn't that difficult to learn anyway. Once you learn how to adjust everything, life gets a lot easier. I'd prefer the 550B over the 650, because you have to index it manually, allowing you to set your own pace, and pickup that pace as you gain familiarity with the procedures. You can use a progressive press like a turret press, by just loading one cartridge at a time, running it through all the stations before starting to load another. From there it's a short hop to fully progressive loading. I too cannot seriously recommend LEE equipment, some of their stuff is really quite ingenious, most of it is downright crude. They do make good reloading dies though. ==Bob
 

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The majority of reloaders will say 'Dillon'; 550, 650, 1050. There's no doubt that Dillon has the corner on the market; whether they're any better or worse than an RCBS 2000 or a Hornady LNL AP, you'll never get anyone using a Dillon to admit it. Realistically, each has its' strengths and weaknesses.

I like the Hornady because its' the equal of the 650 for 'way less money than it would cost to set up a 550 after 5 caliber changes are included. Some users are beginning to complain that the RCBS priming system is getting to be 'proprietary'; one must retain the priming strips in order to use the RCBS 2000 priming system, or pay for extra strips (if they can be found).
 

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I understand your plight. I started off loading for rifle and have mostly RCBS stuff with something from everyone. I now load for pistol as well, but not at the numbers some of these guys do.

What I do is keep pistol brass in various degrees of repair......some needs to be cleaned, some is resized and decapped while others are belled and ready to be primed. I have primed brass on hand and all that needs to be done is powdered and a bullet seated and crimped. I make a dummy for every cartridge/bullet combo making die adjustments a snap.

Adding powder and bullets is not all that hard as my loading block holds several rows of ten. I set the throw, throw ten, check the weight on the scale and throw ten more etc. After every cartridge is powdered in the block, I check the powder levels under a strong light making sure the levels are simular and there is not one without. I then place a powdered case in the press add a bullet and seat. I do this until every case I plan on loading has a bullet seated. I then adjust the crimp part of the die and run then all through on the crimp.

Some have found seating and crimping in two different stages give better down range performance. I look at putting as many bullets through the same hole as I can.

I have never liked the press priming systems and prefere using a Lee hand priming tool in order to get "primer feel" making sure the primer is fully seated. I don't get primers seated sideways, upside down or other ones without.

I do load a lot of 308 as I shoot high power service rifle. Dillion would also work for this but I tend to be more worried about quality over quanty. I weigh each powder charge. (that my friend is a pain) I load 100 rounds for each match.

I'm retired Navy and because I used to move around a lot, I never fixed up a real reloading bench. I bought a yard sale table and "C" clamped my press to it. I still use the table but now use bolts and wing nuts. I store my reloading equipment away and drag it out when needed. The table is not stable enough to put the scale on so I have to be near a more solid table, or at least one that won't get bumped once in awhile.

I have used a 650 and a 1050. I loaded a bunch of 38's and .45's as I needed the ammo quickly for a friend and I that was in a class. They are fine machines but not my cup of tea. I would like them more if there was an automatic bullet feeder that put the bullet on the powdered case.

Lastly one piece of advise and something not suggested very often. Keep a log of everything you do. You would be surprized how often I refer back to mine. That way I don't make a mistake twice trying something out. Mine is divided by caliber. Best
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I am indebted-

-this type of input is invaluable. My thanks to all of you.
What is the difference b/t progressive and non?
Is there one out there that is idiot proof?
I don't want a KB or to shoot a 20 ft movie flame down range
but I also don't want to spend most of the time fiddling or in
adjusting every cartridge? Is this realistic? Another buddy says
I'll love it, adjusting grain strength, working loads for specific
needs, tweeking the power for the right accuracy. Sounds fun,
but to me it's a wonder anyone can do 20 cartridges an hour
much less the hundreds that is said can be done. Oh and thanks about the input on the work benches, I just wanted to know if it was possible.

Mike
 

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Well, if you don't know the difference between progressive, turret, and single stage, then you're not at the point of worrying about 550 or 650 :)

Look around this forum a bit, there are plenty of posts on the various types of presses.

I started with a single stage rock chucker, and after ten years its still chugging along. I've switched my pistol loads over to a RCBS Pro 2000 progressive, but still use the rock chucker for the rifles.

Single stage presses can load about 100 rounds an hour once you get some experience and practice under your belt. They are better than progressives for short runs, such as when working up a load. There is less that can go wrong and cause a dangerous situation, and because things are going slower than with a progressive there are more opportunities for you to catch the problems that do arise. With a single-stage press, you resize all cases, change dies, bell all cases, prime all cases, change dies, charge all cases, change dies, and bullet them all.

Progressives can generally load 400+ rounds an hour, and because of the set-up time involved most people crank out batches of 1000 or so.

Progressives work by performing all the tasks of a single stage in one step -- they're a cartridge-manufacturing assembly line, and like an assembly line they are more complicated to keep running in proper order, and a mess to unsnarl if things go wrong.
 

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Dillons 550B is semi-progressive. You manually index the shell plate to change stations. This is the reason I recommend it, so you can go slow at first, then pick up speed as you become more comfortable. Hornadys press, RCBS's, and the 650B Dillon are fully progressive. They automatically index the shell plate. In my area, the Hronady is more expensive than the 550B, but less expensive then the 650B. I have no first hand experience with the RCBS, but I do not like their priming system, you have to buy their primers, already in strips, which aren't always easy to find. You won't find anything idiot proof- idiots are just too damn ingenious:) . I doubt you qualify anyway, you're thinking this out and asking good questions. As far as mounting goes, I too mount my tools on pieces of 3/4 in. plywood, and mount them to my bench with large "C" clamps. The rest of your questions are mostly load development, some powders "flash" more than others, and I've never know anyone to blow up a gun by following the the load information in any good reloading manual. I have known guys to get in trouble by using loading data from questionable sources, like from a buddy, or somebodys uncles, brothers, fathers, cousin. ==Bob
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I zipped over to Hornady-

-on the internet just to see the set up. $396 for the press.
$291 for the start up kit. $131 for the shellplates. $98 for the dies. $80 books/tape= rough total of $998. That's w/o supplies.
Of course, I'd like to set it up, push a button and watch it all happen, and regardless of how much it initially costs, after 7000 rounds it 's in the black. That's the plus, but it seems that there is so much involved that one could get easily frustated just getting started and throw in the towel after the first batch. It seems
pretty overwhelming, (and I do anesthesia for a living).
However it's something that I need to do to shoot alot.
 

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islzzpm

I'm really new to reloading and did many and various searches for products and asked alot of questions.

Final result, Dillon 550b you can go as slow as you wish or as fast as you can put components in.. I bought the dillon mostly because of reputation for reliability etc.. warranty.. it's an easy machine to setup and use.

I would suggest you get seperate tool heads with powder measures for each caliber, that way all you need to do is change the primer bar from large to small and the shell plate to
accomodate all the different calibers.

Switching tool heads is very easy and then your dies will be setup already etc.

You can certainly bolt the press to a piece of 2 x 6 then clamp it to a bench/table, may not be totally sturdy but should work ok. My friend has his clamped to a desk with 2 good size C clamps.

Check out Brian Enos's site for Dillon pricing, he's got pretty good numbers. http://www.brianenos.com

I load a modest 200-400 a week during the summer..and more maybe if a match is coming up. There are a HUGE amount of websites to buy "stuff" from, componentry wise.

good luck have fun..

Jeff.
 

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I think you have to ask yourself a question first, if you already haven't: is this something you are very motivated about and can anticipate being involved in for a while? I realize hobbies change, and it's difficult to anticipate the future, but the question is important.

If this is something you are unsure about, but want to sample to see what it's all about, then I woud recommend a simple, single stage press.

If you have some large degree of internal desire, and find yourself very motivated (even if unexperienced) then I'd start with a progressive machine and learn as you go.

I've been reloading for almost 20 years. I started with a single stage(RCBS Rock Chucker). I've loaded several thousand rounds on it, from .38 special to .338 win mag., but it's very slow. And cranking out modestly large volumes of ammo takes time.

If IDPA motivates you, then I anticipate you will be expending a moderate amount of ammo (between matches and practice). Hence, my recommendation would be start with a progressive machine and learn as you go.

Just my $.03 :)
 

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Pourboy, you're mistaken about the RCBS primers

You do not have to buy RCBS primers pre-loaded in the strips, any more than you need to buy Dillon primers pre-loaded in tubes.

That RCBS sells primers pre-loaded in strips is a nice feature that the other manufacturers can't match.

You do need RCBS primer strips, which cost something like $3/8 strips (200 primers), and are reusable. The kit that the press comes in includes a bunch of strips as well. The RCBS press also comes with a primer flip tray that will load the strips. Flip the primers, insert a strip, push a lever, and it punches 25 primers into the strip. Insert another strip, push the lever again, repeat twice more, then start on the next box -- it's faster than loading primer tubes.

While any foolproof system can be defeated, having used both primer tube systems and the RCBS strip system, I can say with confidence that they are a quantum leap improvement over tube systems. My RCBS Pro 2000 has loaded ~15000 rounds so far, and the primer system has never needed cleaning or lubrication (graphite or otherwise), and has never misfed a primer except for a few times when I short-stroked the handle on the primer seating step.
 

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Something to consider

I will not try to direct you to multi-stage vs. single stage presses. My advice would be to find a forum member who reloads and lives reasonably close to you and go watch him reload for awhile. See if you think it is something you would like to do. It is very safe so long as you follow the directions and pay attention to what you are doing. And I find it relaxing and fun. Plus, for .45, I can load a 200gr. lead round nose to about 850fps for a whopping 2.8 cents.
So whatever you buy will be paid for in savings within several months, compared to the cost of factory loaded ammo. You can get brass from friends who shoot and don't reload, or start with several boxes of storebought ammo, shoot it up, and save your own brass.

You will find that 9mm and .40 S&W brass are virtually free at gunshows, or thru guys on this forum, or thru websites that you can locate by searching this forum.

.45 acp and 10mm once-fired brass cartridge cases are pricier.

With all the calibers you want to reload, you will have to change your primer feed back and forth between small and large primers. So be sure and get a press that makes that an easy operation. Or, as another member suggested, use an RCBS or LEE hand primer.

I happen to have Dillon 550B and love it, but I started with an old Lyman Orange Crusher single-stage and it worked great with anything I fed it. Any good press will do the job; it's just a matter of how fast you want to go. If you ever want to load rifle cartridges, some presses are better than others for that. if all you ever want to load is pistol, you might also consider the Dillon SDB.

Also, as one member mentioned, should you change your mind or wish to upgrade later on, you will probably have more luck selling a top-name press for close to what you paid for it than you would a less-expensive brand. Check the prices on ebay vs. new prices for the presses and accessories you are interested in; it's an enlightening exercise, and may help you make your original purchase decision more easily.

Whatever you decide, good luck, and good shooting!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Many many good points-

and DarrelC you've made a good point. IDPA is one major
reason for me to reload. If I were to only shoot up 500-600
rounds a month, I don't think I would venture into reloading.
Also, I don't anticipate doing more than one caliber per session.
I don't think I need the most expensive machine out there
but i would like the ability to pick speed when my skills improve
and not be hampered by the inability of the machine to
adapt with me. If I can only end up doing 100 rounds
an hour then it'll be a waste of my time and I'd rather
just go to a gun show or discount house for ammo. If I
can eventually double or triple that amount then it would
be worth my time and money.
I think also where MY confusion lies is that each system seems to
require different parts needed for its basic function. I can look at
any of the catalogs and I don't know what's necessary or what
is just nice to have. In that respect, it's hard for me to compare the basic cost of each.
 

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I think a single stage press isn't capable of much more than an average of 100rounds per hour (one has to change dies for every different reloading operation). Powder charging and priming are also separate (hand-operated, single) operations usually performed away from the press. Not including powder charging and priming time, a single stage press is at least 4x slower than a 4-stage Dillon 550.

Expenses from one OEM to another will be hard to tally without thorough knowledge of the press' design and function. ALL OEM's will require that the user change dies for caliber changes, and therein is found the main difference in design philosophy. Hornady requires that each die be individually changed out (this is not as daunting nor time-consuming as it sounds--in fact its' the "gimmick" they tout most highly--the speed with which caliber changes are executed). I can do a full caliber change in under 90 seconds and crank the handle on a different calibered case in that time. For this, I require 4 or 5 bushings (depends on the number of stations I require), a powder meter, powder drop linkage, and possibly a shellplate. Excluding the costs of the dies themselves, the Hornady changeout I describe would cost about $65, $70 tops (internet vendor prices). It's so easy to change calibers, I don't care where I am in a tub of clean empty cases, if I need to switch calibers for tomorrow's shoot, I'm reloading for that caliber as soon as I can find the brass. It's no big deal with the Hornady changeout. Some guys tell me it takes a while; enough to "dread" the chore, and they'd rather reload big batches of one caliber than switch over with their Dillons.

I agree with a previous post that Dillon changeouts aren't truly comparable without a powder measure for each toolhead; that'd push the price to near $109 per caliber change (A check at the Dillon website shows a "Deluxe Caliber Quick Change Assembly" for $74 and a caliber conversion kit for $35; these are Dillon prices; no aftermarket vendors allowed, though you might find a middleman carrying parts. Admittedly I'm not up on Dillon middlemen). I doubt if I'm mistaken; I'm sure a Dillon user will correct me if I am, but my numbers say that a caliber switch is $109 vs. $65, comparing the Dillon 550 vs. Hornady. As I recall, the 650 changeouts are a little pricier, maybe 30% more than the 550.

Don't forget a "one-time fee" (a favorite Dillon ploy) for the beefier charging handle and table mount (aka "Strong Mount"). That'll add ~$65 to the price of the press. Most users I've read encourage that purchase as a 'necessary luxury'.

Minimally, I think these steps below are the required operations (one stage/station is required for each operation desired on a progressive press. Where one expands the case mouth depends on the user and OEM's die configuration):

resize/decap/expand case mouth
expand case mouth/ prime
powder drop
seat bullet/crimp

With the all the 'advanced' progressives--650, LNL AP, RCBS 2000 (and even the 550) I'm sure you can crank out 500rd/hour; and I'd say a minimum 400 at a leisurely pace for sure (w/o casefeeders).

These are the dies you'll need,and it'd be most convenient if they were carbide tungsten. CT's don't require that you lube the cases; that makes these dies both faster, and cleaner.

1. resizer/decapper (expander)
2. seating die
3. crimping die

The case mouth expanding/belling die will come with the OEM powder measure. They're called different things by the different companies--i. e., Dillon calls it a powder drop die, I can't remember what Hornady and RCBS call'em, but it's not exactly named the same, though they function the same.
 

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Sounds to me like you are needing a progressive press for the numbers of rounds you will need.

Most reloaders have about the same equipment accessaries for single stage/ turrent/progressive presses.

One thing to remember when it comes to reloading is you are your own QC. Distractions are a bad thing.

You are thinking about getting into reloading to save money. I believe this is what most guys think about when they buy their equipment. Truth is you won't save any money.....you just get to shoot more.

If you are worried about breaking even for the equipment out lay, I would not worry about it. That first box of home rolled ammo makes it worth every cent spent.
 

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Re: Many many good points-

islzzpm said:
<snip> If I can only end up doing 100 rounds
an hour then it'll be a waste of my time and I'd rather
just go to a gun show or discount house for ammo. If I
can eventually double or triple that amount then it would
be worth my time and money. <snip>
If you stand-by and believe in those statements, then I'd skip the single-stage press and go progressive. One caliber per session will make change-overs to another caliber less frequent and therefore less of an issue.

moredes15 did a good job of describing the equipment used with a press. I don't remember if it's been covered or not, but don't forget a case tumbler with media.

Just as a side note, since your original post stated "Funding is not a big problem, but I would like a fair price for a good machine.", I'd worry less about trying for direct price comparisons between machines and instead focus on the machine that you think will be easier to learn with, grow into, need less maintenance, have a good warranty and customer service, etc. In the end, even if you spend a $100 more (example) to get setup with the essentials, it'll will not seem a big deal when you are sitting there watching a loaded round dump into the bin with each pull of the handle. You'll just be grinin' :D
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks again-

-it's getting a little less overwhelming. I don't really expect to save a great deal, but I hope I can spend enough time with
it to be worth my time, and give me more to shoot. Also, I hope to get to a point where I'll have the experience to know
what loads are good for each type of shooting. Thanks
for all the info.
If you think of anything else feel free to email me for the
research continues.
 
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