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Pursus
Nov 27, 2007

Hook on!


Welcome to the new reloading thread! The last two threads are here and here. I'll try to keep this updated, so if you want me to edit something in, just let me know in the thread or via PM.

How much money can I save by reloading?
Lots. When I make the two cheapest calibers (9mm and 223) my cost per round is about half of what Iíd have to pay for brass-cased cheapo factory stuff. With more expensive rounds, I save a LOT more. For example, 357 magnum doesnít cost much more than 9mm to make (a little more powder and a slightly higher quality bullet) but, as you probably know, the factory stuff is more than double the price. If you need to feed a 41 magnum or want "match ammo" for your mosin, you really should be reloading.

So, exactly what gear do I need to start reloading?
First, you need to figure out which type of ammo you want to start with. Pistol ammo requires less precision, less specific gear, and has fewer steps in the process. If you are planning on loading for both pistols and rifles, itís probably best to start off with the pistol rounds and move on to rifle rounds once you get a feel for it.

Iím going to outline the minimum set of gear that you need, and then some optional extras. One thing Iíve learned (more than once unfortunately) is that spending a little extra money on optional stuff saves you a LOT of time in the long run. Chucking a bunch of brass in a tumbler and letting it run for a few hours is a hell of a lot less labor intensive than swishing them around in dish soap and drying them in your oven.

Iím not going to suggest specific brands of gear, think of this a more of a checklist for what you need to get started and a quick overview of some of the available options.

The Press (required)
Your press is the centerpiece of your whole operation, itís what provides the mechanical advantage that you need to squash metal inside your dies so you want one that bolts or clamps securely to your bench. The three main types are single-stage, turret, and progressive. Stay away from those little hammer kits and hand presses. You might be tempted to ďtry out reloading and see if you like itĒ with them, but they are so different than the real thing that itís really not a fair comparison and you might get discouraged.

A single-stage press has one station and you can use only one die at a time. For rifle rounds, people usually only require a single stage because they are doing extra manual things in between using each different die anyway (trimming, cleaning primer pockets, manually measuring powder loads, etc). If you only plan to load for rifles, get a high-quality single stage and spend the extra money you would have spent on a turret/progressive on stuff that makes case prep easier. Itís also worth noting that you can just use one station on a turret or progressive for rifle rounds like it's a single stage if you choose to so it's not like single-stage is the only way to go for rifle stuff.

A turret press has one station for your shell and multiple stations for your dies. You put in your shell, turn it to the first die, crank the handle, turn it to the second die, crank the handle, etc until you've done all of the operations then remove the completed round. This is a bit better than a single-stage because you can set your dies once and not have to worry about pulling them out and re-setting them for each batch, but you are still pulling the handle 3-4 times for every bullet which is 3-4 times slower than a progressive. Also, since you're not removing the shell in between dies it becomes more of a pain in the rear end to do those manual things. I've never used one, but it seems like a worst of both worlds kind of thing.

A progressive has multiple stations and each pull of the handle will use all of the dies at once like a little assembly line. One pull of the handle equals one completed bullet. This is the only way to go if you are planning to load any kind of volume. The better stuff will have more automation which seems a bit daunting at first, but I assure you once you have it set up it will save you tons of time. If you want to primarily load for pistols this is the best option by far because you can do the whole process in one trip around the press.

Dies (required)
You need a specific set of dies for each caliber you plan to reload. Each die in the set does a different operation like sizing the brass or seating the bullet. As far as I know, all dies are threaded the same so feel free to use dies from any company in your press. Most of the time, the resizing dies will also push out the old primer, so donít assume you need a specific de-priming die. Carbide dies cost a little more, but are smoother and usable without lube so they are nice to have for high-volume pistol loading. For rifles, youíre going to want to lube everything anyway, so you donít really need to spend the extra dough.

Shellplates (required)
This is the little piece of metal that the press uses to grab on to your brass. One type of shellplate will do a few different calibers (38spl, 357mag, and 7.62x39 for example). Sometimes your set of dies will come with the shell holder for a single-stage press. Generally, with progressive presses, they are specific to the press so you have to buy the right one for each caliber.

Priming (required)
A lot of presses will automatically do this, just make sure you have a hand primer of some sort if your press doesnít. A ďprimer flip trayĒ is a cheap little tool that automatically turns all of the primers the same direction to make them easier to pick up in your primer tubes if you use them.

Case lube (required)
You need to use a bit of lube on your cases so that they donít get stuck in your dies. Even loading for pistols with carbide dies, I still lube every fifth case to be safe (and it makes the press run smoother). You can use the stuff that sprays on and dries or a lube pad which is like an ink stamp pad that you roll the cases over. Note: this is different than the waxy bullet lube you use for lead bullets.

Powder measuring (required)
Thereís a million ways to do this, from little volume-based scoops to automatic electric scales that measure each charge for you. Generally, you use a ďpowder measureĒ which you can adjust to throw a specific amount, and then an actual scale to verify that you have it set right. For pistols you have a bit more margin of error, so I just set the measure and crack out hundreds of rounds at once on a progressive. With rifles you want to be more precise, which is why a lot of people suggest measuring each load manually. Also keep in mind that youíll probably need a funnel unless youíre measuring directly into the shell.

Calipers (required)
You use these to measure your brass and finished bullets. The overall length of a finished round is an important aspect of the recipe (even for pistols) so make sure you donít forget this, a cheap one will work fine. You can also use a "compirator" which is a set of calipers that measures your finished rounds from the ogive instead of the tip of the bullet. Due to tip variance, your OAL will vary by a bit when measuring the whole round, which is normal, but frustrating. This can help you make sure your seating is 100% consistent and help you load to a certain distance from the rifling (generally only a concern for precision rifle stuff.)

Load Data (Required, but you can get it for free)
You need a recipe from a reputable source to start from, guesstimating is wildly unsafe. I just go to the powder companyís website and work with their tested loads, which is free and as safe as any load manual. Some people still swear you need a paper book, so don't hesitate to grab one if you want to err on the side of caution. NOTE: A reputable source is either a published load manual or an online resource provided by the company that makes your components. This does NOT mean "what the guy on the forum uses," copying a factory round (they use proprietary components), substituting components from a published recipe, or any other shortcut-solutions. You will blow yourself up!

Wa11y posted:

Load Manuals do sometimes have extra information that could be helpful if you're a new loader, but unless you want to buy load manuals for every bullet and powder manufacturer, just buy "The ABCs of Reloading" (9th edition is the latest) for all your newbie education, and check out the powder and bullet manufacturers websites to see if they have load data available, or get the Loadbooks USA manual for your cartridge.

Case trimming (required for rifles only)
Iíve loaded over ten thousand pistol rounds, Iíve never trimmed a single one, and Iíve never had a problem chambering due to long brass. Bottle-necked rifle brass is a different story. Every time you use a piece of brass, the pressure squashes it a little, and the neck stretches. That can cause problems chambering, problems seating bullets, and most importantly it increases the case capacity. You need to trim it down to the proper length and then smooth out the cut edge (chamfering and deburring). There are a few ways to do this from hand tools to little lathe machines. As with everything in reloading, spending more saves you a lot of time and frustration. I bought the adapter to attach a power drill to my little hand-lathe and it turned my most dreaded case-prep step into a breeze. For deburring, a hand tool works fine for me.

Brass cleaning (optional)
This is one of those things thatís technically optional, but almost everyone does it. The absolute minimum you need to do is make sure that thereís no excess sand or rust on your brass so you donít scratch up the inside of your dies or your gunís chamber. Most people use a vibratory tumbler with walnut or corncob media. Make sure you have some kind of sieve to easily separate the brass from the media. If you add a teaspoon of liquid brass polish to your media it will last longer and work better. Other options include hand-scrubbing, washing with cleansers/acids, tumbling with stainless steel media, or ultrasonic cleaning.

Bullet puller (optional)
Sooner or later youíre going to load something wrong and need to pull the components back apart to fix it. The most common method is an impact puller, which is a little hollow hammer that uses momentum to force the bullet out. There are also more fancy and expensive ways to do this, but unless you plan to regularly pull apart a bunch of bullets, the hammer thing works fine.

Loading block (optional)
This is just a piece of plastic that you organize brass into on your bench for filling up with powder. I call it optional because I donít use them at all in my progressive, and if you need one you can just use the plastic grid that factory ammo comes in or drill a bunch of holes in a 2x4.

Case Gauges (optional)
A case gauge is a slab of metal with a chamber reamed out to the specification of a given caliber. You drop your completed round in there to make sure it's been resized/seated/crimped properly and will chamber in your real firearm. Some gauges have multiple holes for multiple calibers. Some people like to take the extra step to test that every round is in spec. Generally, I find that once I've got my recipe sorted out and my dies set, my next batch won't suddenly stop chambering so it's kind of pointless for me after my initial testing. It might be more important if you get a lot of brass that's bulged out from being shot through guns with super-loose chambers. If you don't do it the worst case is that your gun will jam, it's not going to blow you up. Also, you can just pop out your gun's barrel and test them with that to avoid buying an actual case gauge.

thermobollocks posted:

Another property of case gauges is they're generally cut to SAAMI minimum. This means that if you have a pile of different 9mms you don't have to worry about whether it'll fit one but not the other. This also means if you are neck sizing to something with a slightly larger than SAAMI chamber, the gauge may tell you all your ammo's too fat, and if you have a non-standard chamber intentionally, you're SOL.


Final thoughts
When you buy a press kit, it will generally come with some tool to do most of the things mentioned above. Just do a quick check to make sure you can do all of the non-optional stuff. A lot of kits leave out silly things like calipers or youíll forget to buy the right shellplate. There are also a million other finicky things you can do to try to make your ammo perfect and a million tools that will save you time, but Iíve tried to boil it down to what is actually required to get started.

To get a feel for the actual process (or to compare one method to another) youtube is a great resource. Find a video of someone running a single/progressive press or a manual/power case trimmer to see if the extra money seems worth it to you.

thermobollocks - A comprehensive guide to loading shotgun shells (with lots of great pictures and stuff).
GroovinPickle - A comprehensive guide to loading rifle rounds (it's on this page, but I'm linking it here because it's too good to overlook).
beetle - A pictorial guide for reloading rifle rounds. It doesn't go into as much technical detail as GP's post but I think it's a better starting point for a new reloader.

Pursus fucked around with this message at 16:03 on Dec 1, 2014

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Pursus
Nov 27, 2007

Hook on!


I'll use this post to link to some good effortposts that appear after the first page so they are easier to find once the thread grows.

thermobollocks - A comprehensive guide to loading shotgun shells (with lots of great pictures and stuff).
Easychair Bootson - A comprehensive guide to loading rifle rounds (it's on this page, but I'm linking it here because it's too good to overlook).
beetle - A pictorial guide for reloading rifle rounds. It doesn't go into as much technical detail as GP's post but I think it's a better starting point for a new reloader.

Wa11y - A very informative post about rifle accuracy from the last thread
Wa11y - Outlining his process for pistol rounds with a turret press.
thermobollocks - A quick note on how to adjust crimping, seating, and flaring dies.
Bedbouncer, moosepoop, Easychair Bootson, Wa11y, shalafi4, Sten Freak - Conversation about wet/sonic cleaning brass.
moosepoop, beta, Butch Cassidy, Yond Cassius - A couple people tackle the question "What health risks should I worry about near my reloading setup?"
Me - A quick note on powder burn rates and smoke/pressure.
needknees - About powder burn rates and felt recoil.
Butch Cassidy - A detailed look at his record keeping system for load data.
shalafi4, Easychair Bootson, Dirk Diggler, MisterOblivious - Discussion about stainless tumbling media.
His Divine Shadow - Using lead bullets in Glock factory barrels.
thermobollocks - What signs to look for to indicate overpressure.
Wa11y - A chunk of info about expanding/reducing/fire-forming brass to convert from one caliber to another.
thermobollocks - A more detailed post about adjusting dies.
Wa11y - Is it safe to tumble completed rounds?
Not Nipsy Russell - Using Lee powder scoops.
bunnielab, Easychair Bootson - Pressure signs and going over the max published load (Thread title is a joke, btw).
One Legged Ninja - Ladder testing (method of finding a consistent powder charge)
Wa11y - Ladder/load testing clarifications (reply to above)
fps_bill - Pictorial on how he made custom loading blocks.
thermobollocks, His Divine Shadow, etc - The start of 2 page conversation about seating lead bullets.
DkHelmet, fps_bill, etc. - The start of a 2 page conversation about the gear needed to cast lead bullets.
Yond Cassius, His Divine Shadow, AbsentMindedWelder - Some tricks to get a powder measure throwing more consistently.
Easychair Bootson - The first of two posts regarding how to test different charge weights for accuracy.
Parts Kit, gimpsuitjones, Cyrano4747, Itchy Itchiford, infrared35, MazeOfTzeentch - A little conversation with ideas for low-space reloading setups.
Itchy Itchiford, Picklesworthe, californiasushi, thermobollocks - A few posts about case trimmer brands.
Easychair Bootson, DkHelmet - Two posts about processing new brass.
Dalaram, right arm, thermobollocks, Doc_Awesome, etc - A couple page discussion about case trimmers.
Wa11y, thermobollocks, Butch Cassidy, Flatland Crusoe - Using a compirator to measure finished bullets (AKA Why the gently caress am I bouncing around -+ 5 thousandths!?)
my turn in the barrel - Casting and powder coating your own bullets

Other SA threads:
gimpsuitjones - The Long Range Shooting Thread. Not specifically about reloading, but the OP has some great info about bullet choice and ballistic coefficients.
gimpsuitjones - Old LR thread.
B4Ctom1 - Thread detailing bullet pullers (and some scary tracer modifying stuff).


Sjurygg posted:

right arm posted:

how do you write "get a dillon" in norwegian
"bruk mere penger for Ś spare enda mer"

Somebody fucked around with this message at 13:47 on May 30, 2017

The King of Swag
Nov 10, 2005

To escape the closure,
is to become the God of Swag.

I think it's incorrect to claim that pistols have a higher margin of error on powder charges. Unless you're going for precision reloads, the charge on some rifle cartridges can safely vary by up to several grains without huge worry. Pistol cartridges can explode your pistol/hands/face with as little as .1-.2 grain difference, depending on how hot you were loading to begin with.

ilkhan
Oct 7, 2004

IF I JUST LICK ENOUGH BOOT LEATHER, BIG DADDY TRUMP WILL SURELY LOVE ME

Is it bottleneck cases or rifle cases that need to be trimmed? .357sig is a bottlenecked pistol case that comes to mind as being relevant.

Pursus
Nov 27, 2007

Hook on!


The King of Swag posted:

I think it's incorrect to claim that pistols have a higher margin of error on power charges. Unless you're going for precision reloads, the charge on some rifle cartridges can safely vary by up to several grains without huge worry. Pistol cartridges can explode your pistol/hands/face with as little as .1-.2 grain difference, depending on how hot you were loading to begin with.

Generally, pistol rounds are loaded to a much lower pressure so slipping an extra few tenths in shouldn't push you much farther than a factory +P. If you're that close to a KB! with your magnums, I'd say that's pretty unsafe to begin with.

Plus rifles are inherently more accurate than pistols, so any given person is more likely to be loading for precision in the first place, which is what I was referring to. I was talking about the difference between using a powder dump that varies by a few tenths or hand measuring every single charge.

Either way, people should be careful with their powder charges and not push anything too near the KB! threshold.

ilkhan posted:

Is it bottleneck cases or rifle cases that need to be trimmed? .357sig is a bottlenecked pistol case that comes to mind as being relevant.

357sig is an outlier, being one of the few bottlenecked pistol rounds. I don't load it myself, but I've read that it's a pain in the rear end due to the incredibly short neck, and you do indeed need to trim them.

Pursus fucked around with this message at 03:47 on Jun 24, 2011

His Divine Shadow
Aug 7, 2000

I'm not a fascist. I'm a priest. Fascists dress up in black and tell people what to do.


Gonna put this here for anyone who wonders about the wonderful world of lead bullets and casting, it's really that good a resource:
From Ingot to Target: A Cast Bullet Guide For Handgunners

gimpsuitjones
Mar 27, 2007

What are you lookin at...

I just worked out that it's probably going to cost me around 80 cents NZ a round to reload .223 for my AR, with NZ's equivilent of Varget (ADI AR2208), Winchester Small Rifle Primers (I have like 2000 of them sitting around and they're really easy to get locally), 77gr Sierra Matchking (w/ canellure) and whatever brass I have left over from shooting factory stuff... or I can buy a heap of oncefired brass for like $.25 apiece and make sure I don't lose any


Projectile/powder are going to be the biggest costs here, over $.50 per projectile, $.20 of powder. Need to see if I can get it down some by buying in bulk or something.




I hate lubing cases. Suggestions for making loading bulk(ish) .223 easier, in light of this?

It's bad enough sitting down and doing 200 rounds of .223AI on balance scales and a single stage press, doing 500 or whatever at a time is going to be painful... but will last me for ages I guess, not exactly going to be plinking ammo. I need a chargemaster. Don't have space or inclination to buy a progressive.

gimpsuitjones fucked around with this message at 11:01 on Jun 24, 2011

Easychair Bootson
May 7, 2004

Where's the last guy?
Ultimo hombre.
Last man standing.
Must've been one.


This is a post about reloading for centerfire rifles -- specifically, the .223 Remington cartridge. TFR got me started reloading, so I wrote this up in an attempt to give something back in the one specific area where I have at least a modest amount of knowledge. I'll try to add some pictures for illustration.

Why reload .223 Remington?
Tools, components, and information for the caliber are widely available. It's inexpensive enough that you can shoot (and therefore load) a lot of rounds, it's easy on barrels, has very little recoil, and is very accurate by most standards.

Why SHOULDN'T I reload .223?
Factory ammo for plinking is cheap, you don't have to spend time on it, and you don't have to chase your fired brass around. It takes a non-trivial amount of time to reload, so if you're working 60 hours a week and your wife just gave birth to triplets, it's not the best hobby to take up.

So what are we actually doing here?
When you buy a factory rifle and factory ammo, it works together because both presumably adhere to SAAMI standards for the given chambering/cartridge. The outside dimensions of the cartridge are slightly smaller than the inside dimensions of the chamber, so everything fits when you drop the round in the chamber. When the primer ignites the powder, the pressure inside the cartridge case causes the brass cartridge to expand to fill the chamber. This rapid pressure buildup causes the bullet to exit the cartridge to make its way down the barrel. With the inside pressure relieved, the "springy" brass cartridge shrinks to a size that allows it to be extracted from within the chamber, although not quite to the cartridge's original dimensions.

To reload that cartridge you have to work the brass to get it back to the point that it will enter the chamber and contain that pressure that sends the bullet on its way. This is accomplished with a full-length sizing die, so named because it can adjust all of the critical outer dimensions of a cartridge to allow it to be fired again. With the cartridge resized, you need to assemble the components, insert a primer, pour some powder, seat a bullet, and you have a finished round, ready to be fired.

How is doing this myself going to benefit me over buying factory match ammo?
First, the obvious part: handloading allows you to select the exact components (brass, primer, powder, bullet) that work for your gun. Using the scientific method, you can test a few bullets with varying powder charges and probably end up with ammunition that shoots as well as factory match ammo. Maybe even better.

Not to trivialize that "load development" part, but often overlooked is the preparation that goes into the cartridge case itself. It needs to hold the bullet concentric with the axis of the barrel, and to expand and release the bullet uniformly when fired. This part holds big implications for what you can do with load development. Getting the case dimensions right is also critical to safety and reliability, and adjusting the tools is completely up to you, so don't think it's just a matter of putting things together and pulling the lever on the press.

Some good reading on the subject of case measurement and sizing:
German Salazar - Measuring Cases
German Salazar - Headspace



The basic centerfire rifle reloading setup
I consider this to be must-have stuff, and we're assuming a basic level of quality here.

- Press
- Full-length sizing die
- Bullet seating die
- Shell holder
- a means of seating primers
- Case trimmer
- Case mouth chamfer/deburr tool
- Primer pocket uniformer
- 6" calipers
- Scale
- Powder funnel
- Loading block
- a way to clean cases



Components:

The popularity of the .223 Rem means that myriad components are available, and, likewise, there are plenty of opinions on what combinations work best.

* Bullets: Sierra and Hornady make good ones. Pick two or three appropriate to your barrel twist/length and use those for testing. Don't dismiss the lighter bullets at short (100-200 yard) ranges. Given a competent level of reloading skills, the bullet is almost certainly the biggest determinant of accuracy, so choose wisely.

* Powder: I like Hodgdon H335 or H322 for lighter bullets and Varget for heavier. See what's available locally or from your favorite mailorder joint and choose accordingly. If you buy mailorder you'll end up spending about an extra $25-30 per shipment in hazmat fees, but it's usually worth it if you're buying in bulk.

* Brass: Good brass is important, and Lapua is the best that I've seen. For a bolt gun, I can't recommend anything else. For an autoloader, Lake City is a good choice. Once-fired brass is fine, but if the primers are crimped that's one extra step (and one extra tool) that you need. Lapua is pretty much good-to-go out of the box, which saves you about an hour per hundred pieces in prep time, in addition to having great uniformity and generally lasting longer than lesser brass.

* Primers: I haven't done a lot of primer testing. I use Remington 7-1/2s in my bolt gun and Wolf Small Rifle Magnums in my AR.

Equipment:
* Presses: The press brings the cartridge and die together and provides the force necessary to shape brass or seat a bullet. All I know are single-stage presses (one die at a time, meaning one operation per pull of the lever), which is what you should buy to start loading rifle rounds. Even if you outgrow it it'll be handy to have, and they're not that expensive. I started with a Lee Hand Press for a truly compact setup. I used a Lee Classic Breech Lock press for a while, and I recently got a Forster Co-Ax. Find a highly-rated one that fits your budget and learn how to use it.

* Dies: In general rifles need a minimum of two dies: a full-length resizing die and a bullet seating die. The sizing die reshapes the critical dimensions of the brass so it will fit in your chamber the next time around. I have used dies from RCBS, Redding, Forster, Lee, and Wilson and have settled on the following as producing the best ammo for me: For a semiauto I use the Forster Ultra 2-die set with the expander mandrel polished down 2-3 thousandths. For a bolt gun I really like the Lee Collet die. To seat bullets I use a Wilson hand die in an arbor press. Other good seating dies that work in a standard press include the Forster mentioned above, and the Redding Competition bullet seating die. I used to recommend the Redding Type S FL sizing die but I'm no longer convinced that bushing dies are the most accurate way to go.

* Shell holder: Brand is not terribly important here, just get the proper size(s) for your caliber(s). As an aside, I really like the Redding Competition Shellholder set for ease of headspace adjustment.

* Priming: The Sinclair hand priming tool is really nice, but expensive. I hear a lot of good things about the tool from 21st Century Shooting. I used a Lee Autoprime and the accompanying shellholder until the handle of the tool broke, and it did a pretty good job and was cheap. Wear safety glasses when you prime - seriously.

* Case Trimmer: I have what is probably the best hand-powered trimmer in the Wilson Case Trimmer in the Sinclair stand. I've also got the attachment that allows you to run the cutter in a powered drill, which you need if you have to trim a lot. The holy grail of trimmers is probably the Giraud, which is a really nice system, especially since it does the chamfer/deburr at the same time. Gracey makes a similar trimmer which may be a better value and is probably decent. Trimming brass sucks enough that I would not steer you away from buying the Giraud even if you're just getting into reloading. It'll hold its value well and trimming 1000 cases by hand - or even with a powered drill - and then having to chamfer/deburr them - sucks.

* Case Mouth Chamfer / Deburr tool: Buy the basic "rocket ship" tool from someone like RCBS. I also own a VLD deburring tool from Sinclair and one from K&M that has an adjustable stop. This operation just takes a quick twist or two, so there's no cause to put it in a drill or anything. If you buy the Giraud trimmer you won't need to do this step.

* Primer Pocket Uniformer: Cuts primer pockets to a uniform depth. It also helps clean residue out of a fired and decapped cartridge, so I do this with each loading sequence. You're just trying to control the depth - not trying to widen the pocket at all - so don't feel like you have to go crazy. I use the tool from Holland's, and I can chuck it in the drill if I need to process more than a few.

* Flash Hole Deburr tool: On brass that has the flash hole punched rather than drilled, you'll sometimes see burrs inside the flash hole. I have the Sinclair "gen 2" deburr tool, which I guess indexes on the flash hole opening, which means cartridge length doesn't throw you off. Just a couple of clockwise twists are all that's needed. You only need to do this to a given piece of brass once during its life, but there is some debate as to how useful it is, particularly on Lapua brass and the like.

* 6" caliper: Digital is the way to go. You can get decent cheap ones for ~$25, and you'll probably want more than one. I have a nice Mitutoyo (#500-196-20) that I use for general measurements, and I have a cheapo caliper that I keep a base-to-ogive comparator on.

* other measuring devices: A micrometer that measures to 0.0001" is nice to have. I've got a digital Mitutoyo (#293-349) that measures outside diameter, and I've got a vernier Mitutoyo (#115-313) ball mic that I use to measure case necks. I tried the Sinclair tool with the Starrett micrometer but I prefer the tool and stand to be separate.

* Scale: I think electronic is the way to go. Treat it well, check it often, and you'll be fine. I have an RCBS Chargemaster that I like. If you're not after big volume or speed, just get a very nice digital scale and some powder scoops. Get a scoop that will "throw" about half a grain below your target weight and trickle the rest.

* Powder Funnel: A universal funnel is fine, though I prefer the Satern funnel. It's worth the $10 or whatever.

* Loading Block: Something to hold cartridges when you're loading them. They're cheap, so buy a couple for each caliber as needed.

* Case / neck lubricant: The best stuff to use depends on what you're doing to the brass, but look into Imperial Case Wax (for a smear-on application) and Hornady One-Shot (spray-on).

* a way to clean cases: a vibratory cleaner works fine. You can clean cases by hand, if you want. I have recently started tumbling cases with a Thumler's Model B tumbler and stainless steel pin media, which does a great job but is a little more work in terms of drying the cases and working with the pin media.

You don't have to buy anything special to clean cases. An inspired individual could certainly find a number of homemade solutions based around stuff like vinegar. Don't use anything that is corrosive to brass, obviously. If you do a wet cleaning, make sure your cases are 100% dry before putting primers and powder in them.



The Process: Heavily biased towards precision ammo

New brass initial sort / prep:

For new brass, I take a small selection of cases (maybe 20 for a 500 piece batch) and take basic measurements: length, neck diameter, weight, and headspace. I scribble this stuff into a spreadsheet, take a look at it, and determine if there are any variations outside of my expectations. Throughout this process, if I see any cases that look suspect (dented case mouths, body dents, other oddities) I'll pull them aside. Even from the best brass I expect a 1-2% rejection rate. This is fine, because those pieces can be used to set up and test the equipment.

My most recent lot of brass (Lapua) measures up very nicely... so nicely that I hardly need to do anything to it. Headspace is a thousandth or two below minimum, length is good, neck diameters are great, weight is great. It's hard to overstate how nice it is to work with the good stuff. Were this once-fired brass, I would expect to spend about an hour per hundred cases to prepare it to a level that even approaches what the Lapua is out of the box (and there's still a marked difference when it comes time to shoot).

However, because I like to tinker, I'm going to do a few minor things to it:
1. Uniform primer pockets - Using my Holland's Primer Pocket Uniformer in a cordless drill, I uniform the primer pockets to the tool's preset depth. In my experience, this is a couple of thousandths off of how the Lapua arrives. I'm not enlarging the hole any, just doing a slight machining of the pocket.
2. Deburr flash holes - Lapua doesn't really need this since the flash holes are drilled rather than punched (or so I'm told), but the idea is to knock down any burrs that could inhibit the primer's flash and therefore the ignition of the powder. I use the Sinclair tool.
3. Set neck tension - A new case measures about 0.2487" +/- .0005" and with a bullet seated in the neck measures 0.2505" so we colloquially say that it has a neck tension of .0018" or so. This is where the Redding Type S dies are great: I'll run these through the .248" bushing to attempt to even them out without working the necks much, but to be sure that I size them consistently. I will not be using an expander ball on these cases. If I had more than a handful that had out-of-round mouths, I'd use a Sinclair Gen 2 expander mandrel (sized .001" under bullet diameter) and die to uniform them. With a standard die, the expander enters the neck of a fired case easily, the neck is resized by the die, and the expander pulls back through, sizing the neck. Pulling an expander ball back through the neck while the shell holder grips the cartridge from the head has been identified as a common problem area, so most precision shooters eschew the use of an expander button.


Loading:

With my cases prepped and my components chosen, it's time to prime the cases. I use a Lee Auto Prime, which works well. I only have one good eye, so I am very strict about wearing safety glasses when working with primers. I seat them pretty hard, and with the primer pockets uniformed I expect the primer cup to be just below flush. Primers are sensitive to moisture, obviously, so my primers stay in a humidity-controlled environment until I'm ready to prime and load.

The actual loading is straightforward. Primed cases are placed in a loading block, and the funnel is started at the top left position. I use the RCBS Chargemaster to throw charges, but use whatever method gives you charges that are +/- 0.1gr or better. Pour the charge, move the funnel to the next round, and return the tray to the scale all in one motion and always in the same sequence. Habits like this help prevent double charges and squib loads.

Set up your bullet seating die according to the manufacturer's instructions, and test it on a dummy round (no primer/powder). You can use your caliper to measure the COAL ("cartridge overall length") and adjust your die to get the desired number. Be sure to load a few dummy rounds before you start loading real rounds. COAL will sometimes vary by 0.015" or so even on very uniform rounds, so just because one round measured at 2.260" don't assume that to be the median or max... TEST a sample for yourself.


Shooting:

I am assuming that you are a good enough shooter that you can configure a setup solid enough to shoot accurately, and that you have the skills to do so. You know how everybody says of their run-of-the-mill factory rifle, "Well, it may not be a fancy target gun, but it'll shoot better than I can!"? That's nonsense - shooting 1/2 MOA isn't a ridiculous feat given good equipment and technique.

The best advice I can offer is to be completely objective, and to test with sample sizes large enough that you don't have to guess as to the validity of your results. A single 5-shot group on a given day means almost nothing by itself. See if you can repeat it again and again.



Further thoughts/tidbits:

For load development methodologies, have a look at Optimal Charge Weight and Ladder Testing. I will again emphasize that you should be sure that your brass prep process is as good as it can be before you start worrying too much about load development. If you're churning out cases with crooked necks and doing your load development, you're probably going to be frustrated with the results.

Case capacity matters. Lake City tends to have the highest capacity. If you change any component, the prudent thing to do is to work up your load again using the new combination of components. This is as much for accuracy as it is for safety.

Other aspects of brass matter too. Brass of a different manufacturer, headstamp, and even of different lots can vary. You should at least segment your brass by headstamp and adjust your dies accordingly. For example, I'll use a different size bushing or a different die height based on whether I'm sizing Lake City versus Lapua.

Get a Redding Precision Mic (or a similar "Mo's Style" headspace gauge) so you can measure how much you're bumping the shoulder when you resize. Buy this tool the same day you buy your dies and press. Along the same lines, look at the Redding Competition shell holder set. These shell holders let you adjust headspace in .002" increments without touching your die lock ring. It's brilliantly simple.

Full-length size every time unless you have a good reason to just be neck sizing.

Easychair Bootson fucked around with this message at 15:05 on Jan 3, 2014

moosepoop
Mar 9, 2007

GET SWOLE


Buy a used progressive or semi progressive press like the Dillon 550. Reloading presses almost never break down (lol lee) and dillon has a no bullshit warranty anyway so I am going to fanboy the dillon 550.

I use it to reload .223, 30-06, .357 and 9mm. And it is crazy fast compared to almost anything except self indexing bigger progressives (and they cannot do large rifle calibers and take forever to change caliber on). I got it used cheap with a lot of extras.

Buy dillon

Buy it used.

??

Profit pew pew

Pursus
Nov 27, 2007

Hook on!


gimpsuitjones posted:

I hate lubing cases. Suggestions for making loading bulk(ish) .223 easier, in light of this?

It's bad enough sitting down and doing 200 rounds of .223AI on balance scales and a single stage press, doing 500 or whatever at a time is going to be painful... but will last me for ages I guess, not exactly going to be plinking ammo. I need a chargemaster. Don't have space or inclination to buy a progressive.

For lube, I've heard that using the spray is the easiest. I don't know, I use a pad and it doesn't bust my balls too hard.

As far as making it quicker on yourself, you're right that the progressive won't help you unless you wanted to sacrifice your precision. It'd be great for cranking out cheap plinking ammo, but for all the hand measuring charges and trimming and whatnot, I end up using my progressive like a single-stage on rifle stuff anyway.

Measuring your charges on a balance scale is definitely the big time waster. I think the chargemaster, or perhaps finding a powder that you can trust out of a powder measure would be the way to save yourself the most effort.

GroovinPickle posted:

Pour the charge, move the funnel to the next round, and return the tray to the scale all in one motion and always in the same sequence. Habits like this help prevent double charges and squib loads.

COAL will sometimes vary by 0.015"

What a great post! I'd link it, but it's already on the first page. Great info all around, but these two little hints stand out as things I really wish I knew when I started reloading.

Using the same rhythm while powder charging is something you don't really think of, but it really makes a difference. On my old-rear end progressive, I manually throw the powder from my measure. I run the press all the way up, then tap the handle loud enough to hear it, tap it back down and then lower the ram. I visually verify my cases anyway, but that has only shown that I've never not charged or double charged anything since I've standardized my method.

And when I started out, I didn't realize that OAL naturally fluctuated by that much. I drove myself nuts thinking my dies were poo poo and trying to adjust them.

Easychair Bootson
May 7, 2004

Where's the last guy?
Ultimo hombre.
Last man standing.
Must've been one.


gimpsuitjones posted:

I hate lubing cases. Suggestions for making loading bulk(ish) .223 easier, in light of this?
How about an aerosol like Hornady One Shot, then maybe wipe the shoulder off as you put them in the press?

I prefer to use Imperial and put a dab on the case body and maybe just a touch on the neck (takes ~3 seconds per case, done as you're putting it in the press). I use the Redding Ti bushings with no expander button so my necks don't really need lube. If I'm sizing mixed brass for plinking ammo and don't want to worry about neck thickness, I just use a big bushing (.249) and the expander button. Since the bushing is barely sizing the case down, the expander doesn't have trouble pulling back through the neck.

Mad Dragon
Feb 29, 2004



Heintron posted:

Buy a used progressive or semi progressive press like the Dillon 550. Reloading presses almost never break down (lol lee)

My father is a member of the anti-Lee bandwagon. I forget what it was that he bought (probably dies), but the results were bad enough that he swore to never buy anything Lee again. He's the cheapest SOB I know, so the fact that he would rather pay double for RCBS dies speaks volumes.

I'll ask him what it was and when it happened. For all I know, it could have happened 30 years ago. Maybe the QC guy at the time was a drunk, and he had a bad hangover that day. \/

Wa11y
Jul 23, 2002

Did I say "cookies?" I meant, "Fire in your face!"

GroovinPickle posted:

How about an aerosol like Hornady One Shot, then maybe wipe the shoulder off as you put them in the press?

I can't shut up about how well One Shot works. And if you follow the directions on the can, it's so easy!

First, disassemble and clean your resizing die. Just spray it with some non-chlorinated brake cleaner, or other degreasing solvent (alcohol will work too) and wipe it down so it's dry. Not just the inside of the die, but the expander ball, too.

Then, give the inside of the die a quick spritz of One Shot. If it's dripping all over, you put too much. Just a quick spritz or two to make sure it's all coated on the inside. Put a quick shot on the expander ball, too. Then reassemble your die.

Put empty cases in your loading block, mouth up, and spray them at a downward angle so you get the outside and inside covered. If you can see it running down the sides, you used too much. Flip the block around, and spray it from the opposite angle too.

Here's the important part: WAIT A MINUTE OR TWO! One Shot doesn't work for poo poo while it's still wet. Once it dries, you get a really nice film on the cases that's really slippery. Now, start sizing.

Once you're done, give them a quick wipe with a rag (I use the Lee Trimmer sets, so when I chuck them into the drill to start that whole process, the first thing I do is wipe it with a rag while spinning it in the drill), and they'll be all ready to go.

Resizing is the part of the process I find the easiest, because of this method.

Around here, a can of One Shot is about $9US. I have no idea how many cases I get out of them, but it's a lot. I've never felt that I have to buy it too often, or that I'm not getting my money's worth.

Of course, if you can't get One Shot in New Zealand, I guess it won't help you. Maybe some home made sizing lube? I've got a spray bottle I made up of it, and...I still haven't used it. I just can't quit being gay for One Shot long enough to use something else. But, from what it sounds like, the Lanolin and Alcohol mix works the same way. Only problem I had was that a 4 oz. bottle of Lanolin cost me something like...$14, I think? Though, I was able to make 20 oz. of spray with it. And it hasn't really been separating or evaporating in the cheap spray bottle I have it in.

One of these days, I'll give it a try.

poopgiggle
Feb 7, 2006

it isn't easy being a cross dominate shooter.

I have heard rumors that Ballistol is also a good sizing lube. It does loving everything else so why not?

I'm in the middle of loading ammo for an IDPA shoot tomorrow and I'd just like to remind everyone that loading pistol ammo in any kind of volume on a single stage press will make you hate your life. When I move into a place large enough to fit a proper reloading bench, I'm ordering a Dillon 550.

thermobollocks
Jul 5, 2009

GET A DILLON

poopgiggle posted:

I'm in the middle of loading ammo for an IDPA shoot tomorrow and I'd just like to remind everyone that loading pistol ammo in any kind of volume on a single stage press will make you hate your life. When I move into a place large enough to fit a proper reloading bench, I'm ordering a Dillon 550.

Sten Freak
Sep 10, 2008

Despite all of these shortcomings, the Sten still has a long track record of shooting people right in the face.


College Slice

poopgiggle posted:

I'm in the middle of loading ammo for an IDPA shoot tomorrow and I'd just like to remind everyone that loading pistol ammo in any kind of volume on a single stage press will make you hate your life.
Hate makes you stronger though right?

poopgiggle
Feb 7, 2006

it isn't easy being a cross dominate shooter.

Sten Freak posted:

Hate makes you stronger though right?

keeps me warm

ilkhan
Oct 7, 2004

IF I JUST LICK ENOUGH BOOT LEATHER, BIG DADDY TRUMP WILL SURELY LOVE ME

poopgiggle posted:

When I move into a place large enough to fit a proper reloading bench, I'm ordering a Dillon 550.
heh. My bachalor pad will have a 6' bench for gun stuff / reloading.
I know this mostly because I just finished building it (needs lighting and to move my 550 to it).

IuniusBrutus
Jul 24, 2010



Not trying to sound like an rear end...but where exactly do you guys buy your bullets that let you get 9mm down to ~9 cents a round?

Gina like vagina
May 8, 2007

"Tears of the Mariners."

I think I read a review of that. Thought it was one of those baseball stories like "Pride of the Yankees", you know? But it's just about some crabby old sailors, stuck in this little town.


IuniusBrutus posted:

Not trying to sound like an rear end...but where exactly do you guys buy your bullets that let you get 9mm down to ~9 cents a round?

Casting your own can really bring down the costs if you are just after some cheap plinking loads.

poopgiggle
Feb 7, 2006

it isn't easy being a cross dominate shooter.

IuniusBrutus posted:

Not trying to sound like an rear end...but where exactly do you guys buy your bullets that let you get 9mm down to ~9 cents a round?

Basically anyone who sells cast bullets?

I like J&K but Missouri Bullet Co is about at the same price.

AR
Oct 26, 2005
a beautiful collision

poopgiggle posted:

Missouri Bullet Co

Also, Zero Bullets for plated .45. Both loads were less than half of retail price. I took advantage of a free shipping & no hazmat deal for primers/powder, which reduced CPR even further for this last order.

AR fucked around with this message at 05:32 on Jun 25, 2011

moosepoop
Mar 9, 2007

GET SWOLE


ilkhan posted:

heh. My bachalor pad will have a 6' bench for gun stuff / reloading.
I know this mostly because I just finished building it (needs lighting and to move my 550 to it).

My reloading corner is the worst, I can barely fit into it
But it is kind of cozy and I get to be alone and in peace while reloading so it works fine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMGTA_o2TcI

His Divine Shadow
Aug 7, 2000

I'm not a fascist. I'm a priest. Fascists dress up in black and tell people what to do.


Krigen posted:

Casting your own can really bring down the costs if you are just after some cheap plinking loads.

Lets not assume cast rounds are less accurate than jacketed. That would be false.

The King of Swag
Nov 10, 2005

To escape the closure,
is to become the God of Swag.

Alright, I've been keeping this a secret (not really) but Mastercast Bullets is dirt cheap and his bullets shoot beautifully out of my Makarov (the only thing I reload for at the moment). I haven't mentioned him as he told me that rising lead prices means he's going to need to charge half again more per batch (all prices on his site are per 1000) once he has to order another truckload of lead, but I love you guys too much to keep it from you.

While it'll add a few more cents per round once his price goes up, at the moment I'm reloading 9x18 at 7Ę/rnd, by converting range pickup 9mm Luger brass into 9x18 cases.

IuniusBrutus
Jul 24, 2010



poopgiggle posted:

Basically anyone who sells cast bullets?

I like J&K but Missouri Bullet Co is about at the same price.

The only thing that concerns me is that I've been told (here and elsewhere) that 9mm lead bullets can leave substantial leading in the barrel, and also that the residue can make shooting indoors a bitch (which is where I mostly shoot).

However, a brief tally says that I can get my costs down to about ~$5.50/50 when I am not even buying in bulk, which I would be happy with.

Uncle Caveman
Jun 16, 2006

I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am.


Regardless of caliber, the only way to completely avoid leading in the barrel... Is to shoot jacketed bullets. It's not a catastrophic event, it just means an extra step in the cleaning process. That's a small price imo compared to the substantial cost savings.

Gina like vagina
May 8, 2007

"Tears of the Mariners."

I think I read a review of that. Thought it was one of those baseball stories like "Pride of the Yankees", you know? But it's just about some crabby old sailors, stuck in this little town.


IuniusBrutus posted:

The only thing that concerns me is that I've been told (here and elsewhere) that 9mm lead bullets can leave substantial leading in the barrel, and also that the residue can make shooting indoors a bitch (which is where I mostly shoot).

If you are really super worried about excess leading, fouling or residue with running softer lead alloys at a higher velocity you can always buy lead bullets with a copper gas check already seated to the base or run them through your die and add them yourself for very little cost. Since they protect the skirt of the bullet from direct contact with the hot gas, they reduce leading noticeably while allowing you to achieve higher velocities.

Gina like vagina fucked around with this message at 13:22 on Jun 25, 2011

bongwizzard
May 19, 2005

Then one day I meet a man,
He came to me and said,
"Hard work good and hard work fine,
but first take care of head"

Grimey Drawer

gimpsuitjones posted:

I I need a chargemaster.

This is true for everyone. Sell your least favorite gun and buy one. Just the piece of mind it gives you is worth it.

Mad Dragon
Feb 29, 2004



The reloading cave:


Presses (ancient and sorta old)


Dies and stuff


Books.


More books.


Presses and reamer.

Lathespin.gif
May 19, 2005


Pillbug

"pressure signs.jpg"



a pretty nifty hand-deprimer





homebrew media separator



this looks like a pretty sweet setup



and I just jumped on prebuying a bullet mold, goddam you guys





to be fair, nobody seems to make 200gr .38 bullets for a webley anymore, so it's cast or nothing.

anybody wanna buy some bullets in a few months?

bongwizzard
May 19, 2005

Then one day I meet a man,
He came to me and said,
"Hard work good and hard work fine,
but first take care of head"

Grimey Drawer

CougarsWrath posted:



to be fair, nobody seems to make 200gr .38 bullets for a webley anymore, so it's cast or nothing.

anybody wanna buy some bullets in a few months?

http://www.rimrockbullets.net/catal...products_id=119

They are expensive, but his stuff is good. He also sells Keith .357 and .44 bullets.

poopgiggle
Feb 7, 2006

it isn't easy being a cross dominate shooter.

IuniusBrutus posted:

The only thing that concerns me is that I've been told (here and elsewhere) that 9mm lead bullets can leave substantial leading in the barrel,

I just shot a little over 100 rounds of 9mm cast lead. It left the barrel dirty but it came right out with standard cleaning. You can always shoot some jacketed bullets through your gun to blow out the lead too.

quote:

and also that the residue can make shooting indoors a bitch (which is where I mostly shoot).

Yeah cast lead for indoor ranges is probably a no-go. Just order FMJ from Precision Delta; it's somehow almost as cheap as cast lead.

IuniusBrutus
Jul 24, 2010



poopgiggle posted:

I just shot a little over 100 rounds of 9mm cast lead. It left the barrel dirty but it came right out with standard cleaning. You can always shoot some jacketed bullets through your gun to blow out the lead too.


Yeah cast lead for indoor ranges is probably a no-go. Just order FMJ from Precision Delta; it's somehow almost as cheap as cast lead.

Never saw precision delta; I was basing my prices of Weidners/Midway USA, where it was $120+/1000. I was about to give up on reloading for now, but this just brought hope back to me.

Uncle Caveman
Jun 16, 2006

I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am.


Midway is a great store for general shooting stuff but their prices on components is really high. I only get bullets/cases from them if I can't find a specific type for less elsewhere.

Pursus
Nov 27, 2007

Hook on!


IuniusBrutus posted:

Not trying to sound like an rear end...but where exactly do you guys buy your bullets that let you get 9mm down to ~9 cents a round?

I like to use plated bullets from Berry's. The plating isn't as thick as a jacket, but they are totally coated in it, so they don't smoke or lead the barrel like cast bullets do (and are great for indoors). I use their 9mm, 40s&w, 45acp, and 38sp wadcutters. When I load for magnums I spend a bit more to go with something jacketed (Montana gold).

http://www.berrysmfg.com/product-i1...m_124gr_FP.aspx

That price per thousand includes shipping and works out to 8.6 cents per round.

Uncle Caveman posted:

Midway is a great store for general shooting stuff but their prices on components is really high. I only get bullets/cases from them if I can't find a specific type for less elsewhere.

True that. Their prices on primers and powder aren't bad though.

Pursus fucked around with this message at 21:24 on Jun 25, 2011

ZebraBlade
Mar 26, 2010

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

Anyone have some load data for CZ75 SP-01 using bullseye or unique? I just got my 550 dies and poo poo and I have pounds and pounds of both unique and bullseye for my other caliber loads. I will be using Berrys plated 124gn round nose bullets for now, but I hear that if you push Berrys over 1k fps the plated jacket will separate and destroy accuracy so eventually I will be shooting hard cast.

Capn Beeb
Jun 29, 2003

We all got it coming, kid


Uncle Caveman posted:

Midway is a great store for general shooting stuff but their prices on components is really high. I only get bullets/cases from them if I can't find a specific type for less elsewhere.

Where would you recommend I shop for ingredients needed to cook up some .38/.357 cowboy loads? I was already leaning to Midway

Uncle Caveman
Jun 16, 2006

I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am.


Capn Beeb posted:

Where would you recommend I shop for ingredients needed to cook up some .38/.357 cowboy loads? I was already leaning to Midway
Here's the places I've gleaned for cast bullets from this and the previous thread. All are waaaay less per bullet than Midway:

http://www.missouribullet.com/index.php

http://www.precisiondelta.com/product.php

http://mastercastbullets.com/home.html

http://www.wideners.com/itemview.cf...278%7C281%7C299

There's also Montana Gold if you want jacketed:

https://secure.mooseweb.com/montana...m/pricelist.tpl

As for powder, check out IMR Trail Boss. It's an extremely bulky smokeless aimed at the CAS market. It's designed to emulate the volume of black powder - in most all cartridges (i.e. every straight-walled pistol round), you can simply load to capacity without risk of overcharge (i.e. the same way you would load for black powder cartridges), with the same mild recoil and low velocities as BP. I've been loading .44mag for my Redhawk and it is just fun on a bun.

Uncle Caveman fucked around with this message at 00:19 on Jun 26, 2011

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Capn Beeb
Jun 29, 2003

We all got it coming, kid


Uncle Caveman posted:



Boolets AND black powder style powder. You're awesome <3

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