Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

mstang1988

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I've been thinking I want to start handloading. I've been shooting enough and am at the point where I want to handload. I believe it will be cost effective (although some may disagree) because I am shooting .338 Lapua in addition to .308, 5.56. $1.30 reload cost on lapua vs around $4.00/round is savings. I plan to start on the .308 and learn the ropes before moving up.

So, here is what I know and what questions I have.

- Buy a lot of reloading manuals and read, read, read max/min's etc.
- Try different power and bullet combinations to see if you can dial in what your rifle likes
- Most of the presses are relatively good these days.
- Powder throwers are not that accurate for some powders so it's best to throw slightly low then trickle up on the scale.
- I'm planning on buying an RCBS rock chucker supreme kit. This should have the basics I need for loading relatively accurate rounds. At some point I would like a redding T-7 turret and 1500 chargemaster combo... but that's down the road.

I also will need a trimmer, flash hole deburring tool, /inside/outside case mouth chamfer tool, and powder trickler

I am also considering having my brass stainless tumbled and annealed each firing. At 10 cents a case I don't think it's terrible and still will save long term. I would be nervous about doing the annealing myself but the stainless tumbling would be cheap/easy enough. Right now it seems most cost effective to outsource this to the hide deal.

My Questions:
Due to my recent engagement and ring purchase, spending cash is a bit tight. I really want Redding S-Type bushing dies for loading .308 and .338 lapua, however the cost seems pretty high for a set, even with the group buy. At some point I will upgrade to the redding dies but for now...

1) What other die options are out there that would be more economical and still give me FGMM accuracy? Will they decrease my brass life? If they do then I can see why it would be worth the investment up front.
2) How accurate are the cheaper calipers? Such as this:
http://www.midwayusa.com/product/604242/frankford-arsenal-electronic-caliper-6-stainless-steel
3) I still need to spend more time on case trimming but at the high level, how do you set the length for a case trimmer?
4) I've seen several methods to measure distance to the lands. What method do you recommend? The tool or the sticking the cleaning rod down etc as the reloading guide recommends. From what I read this has to be done to safely test max load in a "jam" condition.

Thanks in advance and hope you guys don't beat me up so bad.
 

jasonk

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

You need to hook up with a reloader and see the process, determine what you really need and don't need.

For example, I don't own a trimmer and I RARELY use my flash hole deburring tool. I've never annealed and actually don't even clean my brass to be honest. I can guarantee you I'm loading better than FGMM.

You can do all of the above, but you don't have to, not at this stage of your reloading game. If your location was filled out I'll bet someone might give you an invite to see how simple reloading really is to start.
 

mstang1988

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

Updated my location.

What is the impact on not cleaning brass?
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: jasonk</div><div class="ubbcode-body">You need to hook up with a reloader and see the process, determine what you really need and don't need.

For example, I don't own a trimmer and I RARELY use my flash hole deburring tool. I've never annealed and actually don't even clean my brass to be honest. I can guarantee you I'm loading better than FGMM.

You can do all of the above, but you don't have to, not at this stage of your reloading game. If your location was filled out I'll bet someone might give you an invite to see how simple reloading really is to start.</div></div>
 

mstang1988

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

More information:

Components .308 -
Will be using 400 pieces Winchester .308 brass and once fired
maybe 250ish pieces FGMM .308(until it quickly dies) once fired
168SMK's and 175SMK's (gun likes them)
Powders TBD - Have read a lot of good things about different powders
primers - Federal GMM #210M

Components .338 Lapua -
Will be using 100 pieces lapua brass once fired
20ish hornandy once fired
250 and 300gr smk's
Powders TBD - Have read a lot of good things about different powders
primers - Federal GMM #215M
 

turbo54

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

Redding is great, but I usually buy Forster. They are considerably less expensive and I find them to be every bit the quality of the Redding.

For our purposes, a cheapie plastic vernier caliper works pretty well, honestly. The $10 dial calipers from harbor freight are more than adequate to meausure to .001"

Most case trimmers have an adjustable stop. You peck away a little at a time unti the stop is set to the length you want. Higher end trimmers have a micrometer head, so you can just "dial" the amount needed after measuringa case.

My preferred "finding the lands" method is loading a dummy cartridge WAY too long, dropping it into the chamber, tipping the rifle up to see if it falls out. Seat in .010" increments until the cartridge WILL fall out when tipped. Then pull the bullet out .005" and check. Continue until one hand on a cleaning rod down the bore and one finger on the casehead allows you to "seat" the bullet into the lands a little, and "nudge" it out with the cleaning rod. Theres a feel to it, but when you're at "the spot", its pretty obvious.
 

jasonk

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: mstang1988</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Updated my location.

What is the impact on not cleaning brass? </div></div>

Nothing for me. I lube them, size them, then wipe them clean when done and that's enough to get most the soot and dirt off. I don't care if my brass has a mirror shine to it. I might send them off to be SS tumbled after 4 or 5 firings, but not before.
 

Goin'Hot

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

I like the Forster dies as well, if not better than the Redding.

To find the lands I:
Load a round longer than it needs to be. Measure it's OAL and chanber it. Remeasure when you pull it out. If it's shorter, change your die seating depth to go 0.005" less than that measurement. I then take a lighter and put the bullet in the flame until soot is placed on the ogive. Chamber the round again and look for signs of rifling on the soot. If it's present, adjust the die down another 0.005 - 0.010". Clean the bullet and apply more soot. Keep doing this until you no longer see any signs of rifling on the bullets ogive.
 

MitchAlsup

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

- Buy a lot of reloading manuals and read, read, read max/min's etc.

It is much more than simple numbers, here. The reloaind manuals teach you about brass, and why there are pressure limits, how to read them, and what to do if you see any. IN addition, they reinforce the physics of the firing process that propells the bullet down the barrel, and the forces the action must support.

So, in general, the reloading manual is the information content you need to keep you from making fatal mistakes--not just how to reload.

- Try different power and bullet combinations to see if you can dial in what your rifle likes

A skilled reloader can take practically ANY match bullet, and set of cases, any primer and any powder (in the correct burn rate range) and create high accuracy ammo. Only after you have fully dialed in a particular bullet and powder and still can't get into the sub 0.5 MoA range, do you go looking at other bullets or powders.

- Powder throwers are not that accurate for some powders so it's best to throw slightly low then trickle up on the scale.

With the correction that stick powders are harder to throw accurately than are ball powders.

- I am also considering having my brass stainless tumbled and annealed each firing.

Any good tumbler and almost any media will do a great job for thousands and thousands of rounds.


3) I still need to spend more time on case trimming but at the high level, how do you set the length for a case trimmer?

With the calipers above. You measure the Case OAL and adjust the trimmer.

4) I've seen several methods to measure distance to the lands. What method do you recommend?

Partially size a case fired in your gun. Then seat a bullet as long as it will seat. Carefully cahmber, close the bolt. The sizing is done by the bolt, chamber and lands in the rifle. The trick, now, is getting the sized measurement back out of the gun. SO CAREFULLY open the bolt and slide it back. Then using a finger prevent the ejector from causing the still present bullet from being disturbed as you finish pulling the bolt back and grab the sized case+bullet in your hands. Measure OAL and adjust die based on this. do this 3 times until you get the same OAL (within 0.002). You might want to keep this case+bullet as a measurement tool for future reference.
 

judgedelta

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

JasonK's advice above is some of the best. Would have saved me several hundred bucks over the years. Find a reloader with experience who does the kind of shooting you do. (hunting loads, target, long range, bench rest, etc...) Not all reloaders need or use the same equipment. Good luck and be safe...
 

targaflorio

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

You can just load to SAAMI spec and not worry about finding your rifling. 308s tend to be tolerant of bullet jump (if you avoid VLDs). And if you are magazine feeding, you will be limited in OAL. Your equipment requirements can be quite minimal. If you want to start real simple (is upfront cost a major factor? if not, please ignore), you could buy new brass (about $20-$25 for 50 Win 308 pieces), which will be under max case length, won't need to be trimmed nor chamfered/deburred until they grow beyond spec (2.015" for 308 win). Which you can postpone by neck sizing your cases after you've fired them (bolt gun). You need a priming tool and a scale to measure charge weights. You can use a Lee dipper (or a spoon) and trickle by hand, and a bullet seater and calipers to measure COAL. You can copy load info from the Hide to keep things simple: Sierra 175 SMKs and Hornady AMAX 178s (a little less expensive than the Sierras) are good bullet choices for target shooting. Varget, RL-15, 4064, XBR 8028 are good, popular powder choices. You could easily pick one bullet and one powder, find a good load and be happy for a long time with it.
I suggest you start simple and add complexity (and gear) as your knowledge base improves. Case prep (making them all the same) being a good place to invest some time and resources (sorting, trimming, chamfering, deburring, annealing, etc.)
Good luck!
 

mstang1988

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

Typically startup cost wouldn't be a major factor but with the recent stuff (read proposal) it is a bit.

Reason for the used brass:
I have 400rds of Southwest ammo .308 175SMK's on the way with Winchester brass. I figure I should reuse it once I've burned through it. Ditto with the once fired FGMM brass. I guess I could sell it but part of the money savings are reloading the brass and I could be totally making this up but I thought fire forming has the potential to help accuracy.

How would I find max load if loaded to SAMMI spec? Wouldn't I worry about a kaboom without finding max length and testing with a Jam? I do plan to load to mag length though.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: targaflorio</div><div class="ubbcode-body">You can just load to SAAMI spec and not worry about finding your rifling. 308s tend to be tolerant of bullet jump (if you avoid VLDs). And if you are magazine feeding, you will be limited in OAL. Your equipment requirements can be quite minimal. If you want to start real simple (is upfront cost a major factor? if not, please ignore), you could buy new brass (about $20-$25 for 50 Win 308 pieces), which will be under max case length, won't need to be trimmed nor chamfered/deburred until they grow beyond spec (2.015" for 308 win). Which you can postpone by neck sizing your cases after you've fired them (bolt gun). You need a priming tool and a scale to measure charge weights. You can use a Lee dipper (or a spoon) and trickle by hand, and a bullet seater and calipers to measure COAL. You can copy load info from the Hide to keep things simple: Sierra 175 SMKs and Hornady AMAX 178s (a little less expensive than the Sierras) are good bullet choices for target shooting. Varget, RL-15, 4064, XBR 8028 are good, popular powder choices. You could easily pick one bullet and one powder, find a good load and be happy for a long time with it.
I suggest you start simple and add complexity (and gear) as your knowledge base improves. Case prep (making them all the same) being a good place to invest some time and resources (sorting, trimming, chamfering, deburring, annealing, etc.)
Good luck!</div></div>
 

aron

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: mstang1988</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I believe it will be cost effective (although some may disagree) </div></div>

I am a loooong ways away from gaining back the up front cost reloading for 308 but I did it for accuracy not cost effective.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: mstang1988</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> At some point I would like a redding T-7 turret and 1500 chargemaster combo... but that's down the road.

I also will need a trimmer, flash hole deburring tool, /inside/outside case mouth chamfer tool, and powder trickler
</div></div>

I skipped the kit and went straight to Redding T-7 and chargemaster combo and don't regret it one bit. I also bought a flash hole deburring tool and never once have used it.
 

aron

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

Read through some of the stickies on the top of the reloading forum. Tresmon and others have lots of valuable information on there.

Once you start reloading, the reloading depot is a great place to see what loads work for others and could be a good starting point.
Reloading Depot
 

targaflorio

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

Shooting the SWAmmo makes good sense and I think brass fire formed in your chamber might be more accurate than the new brass. Check out the Forster neck sizing/bump die kit for a great value die kit. I use the Wilson hand trimmer and deburring/chamfer tool and sinclair primer pocket uniformer and flash hole deburring tools all work great, manual, but great. My SWAmmo chrono'd almost identical to my 43.5 grs of varget load. Keep factory ammo around to compare your handloads to. I have never been happy with federal brass. The Hornady/stony point l-n-l oal tool is what I use to measure oal to the lands. Depending on your mags, you prob won't be able to set to the lands, but playing with coal is a good tool to have in your toolkit. Enjoy!
 

fireguyty

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

You are getting a lot of good advice.

1. Try out the cheap Hornday or RCBS full length 2 die set to start. People also mentioned Forester, I couldn't agree more......great dies.
2. Those calipers are fine. Consider a Hornday comparator gauge for measuring over all length.
3. The instructions are self explanatory.
4. I have a Stony point gauge that I love for this. I think Hornday bought em and now is a Hornday product. Takes 2 minutes to measure the lands.

Keep a journal with all components used, accuracy, temperature when you shoot ect. You will be surprised how much you will look back on it.

For the 308, just stick to Varget. Easy to load for, fast, temp stable, accurate.

For the 338 I feel the same way about H1000.
 

mstang1988

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

I looked at the stony point tool and the sticky thread on how to measure it and read about the million other ways. Was just curious as to the advantages of each. I did like the lighter idea that somebody suggested. Causing carbon buildup on bullet and look for it touching the rifling.

aron, I've read through a lot of the stickies and looked through the reloading depot. My biggest question was on case trimming and die selection. I haven't found clear information on what I need.

I want as good as FGMM ammo and hopefully better with long brass life.

If I do the Type-S for my .308 and .338 it will be around 250 for the die sets (not the worst, not the best). Will this get me where I want to be? Is there a better option for a lesser price?

Looked at Redding, Forster, RCBS dies.
 

targaflorio

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

I have the type s redding neck sizing/body kt and seater die in 300 win mag and the Forster equiv in 308. Running 329 bushings in both. Both would be great choices, not always in stock, so if you have your heart set on a product dont wait until the last minute to order your dies. My next step is to play with neck tension and think about neck turning. I'm almost 5 years into the hobby and still looking at the Sinclair catalog like a kid in the candy store. The good news is that the incremental investments tend to produce incremental results.
 

fireguyty

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

The FGMM accuracy that you are worried about will be easy.

I used full length RCBS dies and got 7 firings out of Winchester 308 brass. The primer pockets started to get loose is why I tossed em.
 

Coletta

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

A precisely made batch of 338 tailored specifically for your rifle would cost more than $4/round. If you follow the books, and take your time, then you can squeeze every drop of accuracy out of your rifle.
If you are trying to save money, and you shoot a lot, then consider a multistage press. If you want the most consistent and precise loads, and you will be shooting fewer rounds, then single stage it. Don't forget to factor in your time when estimating reloading costs
 

dx_caliber

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: jasonk</div><div class="ubbcode-body">You need to hook up with a reloader and see the process, determine what you really need and don't need.

For example, I don't own a trimmer and I RARELY use my flash hole deburring tool. I've never annealed and actually don't even clean my brass to be honest. I can guarantee you I'm loading better than FGMM.

You can do all of the above, but you don't have to, not at this stage of your reloading game. If your location was filled out I'll bet someone might give you an invite to see how simple reloading really is to start. </div></div>

I'm really on the fence whether or not to buy a case trimmer right now. How do you get away with never trimming cases? I would imagine at some point it's a necessity. 100% beginner here and just curious........
 

dx_caliber

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

I guess I should just always go with the obvious answer. I figured it would just be cheaper in the long run to keep the brass and trim it rather than toss it.

I also assumed you would always want brass that is the same length for consistency.
 

targaflorio

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

Consistency is what you want. Every way possible. You might check out the lyman x die tho. I saw a rec here on the hide a while back. Supposed to alleviate req to trim. I have never used one.
 

armorpl8chikn

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Re: Want to load, been reading. I have lot's of Q's!

Plain jane full length dies from RCBS, Redding, Forrester they will load great ammo. Just set up the FL die correctly and your ammo will be top notch and your brass will last. I am glad to see you have already been advised on finding the lands. Using a candle to soot the bullet is a great method. Using a candle to soot the neck of the brass is also a good way to set up your FL die. You don't need the most expensive press you can buy. Just get the cheapest thing that RCBS,Redding,Forrester, or Hornady has available. In the case of Lee the only one I reccomend is the Classic Cast. Check out Natchez shooters supply or Midsouth.

Your brass doesn't care what length it is as long as it isn't too long. I get the biggest giggle out of this one most of all. I am really surprised to see so many Benchrest loaders on a place like the Hide. When I quit shooting BR most of my high dollar tools were sold as well including my NECO concentricity guage. Take it from someone who has been on the inside looking out, you don't need $1000 worth of tools, guages, electronic gadgets, and spit shined brass. You can make great ammo that rivals the best FGMM with a $100 press, a decent balance beam scale, a teaspoon(trickler),a decent set of FL dies, Lee auto prime II,Imperial sizing die wax, Qtips, roll of paper towels and a few other things anyone has around a domestic domicile. I handloaded for years with less than $300 in equipment. The important thing is crawl before you walk.