Suggestions for getting started for deciding on equipment.

Draco877

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Dec 17, 2012
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Long-time shooter now wanting to get into reloading to save some money in certain areas and also wring the most accuracy out certain rifles. I am wanting to get a press and such that will allow me to reload a wide assortment of calibers and also lets me buy the stuff for each caliber I want. so say it comes with stuff for two calibers and later on down the line I expand to a new caliber I want to be able to order something that I can use to switch things around to that caliber and then back to the rest. Sorry if this has already been asked before a lot.
Current calibers it will be used for at first: 5.56mm Nato, .308 WIN, .243 WIN, and .45 ACP.
So what gear do I need and what fits my needs?
 

308pirate

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  • Apr 25, 2017
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    Press the easy button: https://www.midwayusa.com/product/93...tage-press-kit

    Then just buy Forster die sets for the calibers of your choice.

    More important than gear is knowledge. That RCBS kit comes with a Nosler reloading manual. Make damned sure you understand the theory/process before you start making ammo. Once you go through the how-to section of the book, then ask questions. That way you will be better informed about what questions to ask and the answers will also make more sense.

    I know that all should go without saying but I have personal experience with people with more money than patience, bought a bunch of Gucci reloading gear, then wanted to be spoon-fed about how to use it.
     
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    Sheldon N

    Blind Squirrel Finds a Nut
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    Sep 24, 2014
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    Multiple calibers including pistol suggests that you shoot a decent amount of volume. If you are shooting a lot, I would lean towards a Dillon 550 since it can do both pistol and precision rifle very well.

    Reloading is more about knowledge of what exactly you are trying to accomplish, from load development to safety issues, attention to detail is crucial. The gear IMO is more about how easily/efficiently you can accomplish the work. Dillon 550 for me has been a huge time saver.
     

    308pirate

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    I don't disagree that the Dillon 550 is the best starter progressive, but starting out with a single stage will pay off in spades IMO.

    Most of the stuff in that RCBS kit will transfer over/be usable with a progressive setup. And while you can do precision rifle ammo on a progressive, it's easier and cheaper (at least initially) on a single stage.
     

    Sheldon N

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    I started with that same RCBS kit, which currently sits unused next to my Dillon 550, only rarely getting touched for one-off projects. The one thing I still use out of that kit is the powder thrower, but I've actually upgraded parts in that since purchasing. I would have saved money by skipping straight to the Dillon.

    If you shoot something like 500 rounds of rifle/pistol per year and more rifle than pistol then the RCBS kit is great, But if you're shooting a lot the RCBS kit is SLOW in comparison to the Dillon. I loaded 3k rounds of precision rifle on my RCBS in the first year I had it, spent forever at the loading bench. Switching to the Dillon was a breath of fresh air. And pistol loading on a single stage? I'd rather take a sharp stick in the eye.

    But this is all from the perspective of efficiency and time at the loading bench for a higher volume shooter. If you aren't that or don't plan to go that direction then the RCBS is a great kit to start with. The fact that OP says he's a long time shooter, wants to reload for four calibers two of which are higher volume (pistol and 556) and wants to be able to swap between caliber setups makes me suspect a Dillon would be something to give serious thought to.
     

    supercorndogs

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    Feb 17, 2014
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    I started with that same RCBS kit, which currently sits unused next to my Dillon 550, only rarely getting touched for one-off projects. The one thing I still use out of that kit is the powder thrower, but I've actually upgraded parts in that since purchasing. I would have saved money by skipping straight to the Dillon.

    If you shoot something like 500 rounds of rifle/pistol per year and more rifle than pistol then the RCBS kit is great, But if you're shooting a lot the RCBS kit is SLOW in comparison to the Dillon. I loaded 3k rounds of precision rifle on my RCBS in the first year I had it, spent forever at the loading bench. Switching to the Dillon was a breath of fresh air. And pistol loading on a single stage? I'd rather take a sharp stick in the eye.

    But this is all from the perspective of efficiency and time at the loading bench for a higher volume shooter. If you aren't that or don't plan to go that direction then the RCBS is a great kit to start with. The fact that OP says he's a long time shooter, wants to reload for four calibers two of which are higher volume (pistol and 556) and wants to be able to swap between caliber setups makes me suspect a Dillon would be something to give serious thought to.

    x2 I actually load my pistol on a Lee loadmaster and still single stage my rifle. I would like a 550 or 650 setup for rifle rounds.
     

    jg6.5

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    Dec 20, 2017
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    Note: Reloading for accuracy and reloading for economy don't necessarily go hand-in-hand at first. You'll spend time and money on bullet, powder, brass, and primer choices up front to experiment around with what works and doesn't work...the internet is a wealth of information about good places to start though. But I digress -

    I personally use an RCBS rockchucker, it does the job. A friend of mine just picked up a Forster Co-Ax press, and it's quite a bit nicer than your typical single stage press. Google it up, you'll find that there are a lot of people that love it.

    Aside from the press, I'd suggest the following:

    Dies (obviously) - RCBS dies have worked well for me over the years, Hornady makes good ones too
    Shell holders (if you end up not getting a Forster Co-Ax)
    Electronic scale (RCBS rangemaster will probably suit you just fine)
    Powder trickler
    Powder thrower (for when you don't want to hand weigh every charge)
    Inside/outside deburring tool
    Case trimmer (L.E. Wilson Micrometer Case Trimmer looks like a good bet. I have an RCBS trimmer, but it's a little hokey to use)
    Primer pocket brushes
    Primer (I suggest a hand held one)
    Brass tumbler
    Walnut tumbler media
    Brass polish
    Caliper
    Bullet comparator set (let's you measure loaded round length to the bullet's ogive)
    Case funnel
    Reloading tray (I'd get 3 or 4 of them if I were you)

    Given your calibers that you're starting with, I'd suggest the following powders to start with:

    5.56-
    Hodgdon H335
    Ramshot TAC
    Hodgdon BL-C2

    308-
    Hodgdon Varget
    Reloder 15

    243-
    Hodgdon H4350 (good luck finding it at the moment though)

    45ACP-
    Winchester 231 (pretty sooty powder in my experience, not awful though)
    Alliant Unique (people normally have good luck with this, but it's a very dirty powder in my experience)

     

    Draco877

    Specialist (U.S. Army)
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    Dec 17, 2012
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    Thanks for the information on powders especially. yeah I know at first it will be a dump for money as many things are but eventually it will pay for itself. on the plus side I save brass when I shoot even without reloading stuff. Just hope none of it has any issues that prevent reloading. I do have a question when it comes to reloading equipment for 5.56 what differences between it and .223 equipment if any should I be on the look out for?
    I will say that the 5.56 and .45ACP will need more speed for making them while the .243 and .308 will be more precision based. The .45 is used in my edc concealed carry pistol, I love being big enough I can conceal a full-sized pistol.My AR-15 is a carbine right now but can be pushed into a precision role I want to load it more for the heavier bullets. The .243 is my bolt-action hunting rifle so I want clean kills with it. My .308 is the one I want to push out to 1000yds. Not sure if that info will effect what I should pick out but putting it out if it will.