What do I need to get started? I want to reload my 45/70, .44 mag, .45 acp. Hope that's enough information.
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Welcome to the wonderful world of reloading. it's great fun and very addictive. As far as what you'll need, here's a quick rundown.
Your best bet is to get a starter kit. I like RCBS, but Hornady, Lee, and Lyman all make them. They typically come with single stage presses which is fine for a novice. There are enough things for a beginner to think about without the added complexity of a progressive or turret press. Dies have been standardized and will interchange between the manufacturers.
A starter kit won't include a tumbler but you'll want to get one soon. Clean brass is easier on the dies, takes less effort to resize, and is easier to spot case defects.
You'll need reloading books too. A starter kit will include one, but most people have several. I've not read it, but "The ABC's of Reloading" is supposed to be quite good. My personal favorite is the "Lyman 49th Edition", but I also have books by Hornady, Speer, and Barnes, along with pamphlet style books from Alliant, Accurate, and IMR. In addition, most powder makers offer their info online. I like to check several sources when developing a load because as good as the books are, anybody can make a mistake.
You won't be able to get carbide dies for the .45-70 but you can for the 44 and ACP, and I suggest you do. They cost a little more but they're easier to use since they require no lube.
You'll need to build or buy a bench for all this gear, and it can be as simple or elaborate as you want. Mine is 18"x36" and although it's a little cramped it gets the job done. I'd love to have a bigger one but I just don't have the space.
Those are the tools you'll need, now it's time to think about components. Hopefully you've been saving your brass, if not you'll have to buy some. Don't feel bad about buying used brass, it lasts a long time and defects are easy to spot. In fact, all of my brass is used. How long it lasts depends on how hot it's loaded.
As far as primers and powders go, your books will give you that info and much of that will be determined by intended use. They will also list the types of bullets used. You're fortunate because the cartridges you'll be starting with have been around a long time and each has an endless amount of components and data available. Of the three, the .44 will be easiest to load for so I'd start there. It's a simple, straight walled cartridge and being a revolver, it's not as fussy about overall length. The .45-70 is pretty simple too, but OAL might be an issue if it's being loaded for a levergun, as might bullet profile. Both cartridges are large capacity so you have a little wiggle room with your charges. If you're off a tenth of a grain or two it's probably not going to be a big deal, particularly if you're loading mild target rounds.
Of the three, the ACP will be the trickiest to load for, but it's still not difficult. The challenges are correct OAL, bullet profile, and charge amount. A bullet that's too long won't fit in the magazine and some auto's cannot feed certain types of bullets. Being a much smaller case your measuring needs to be more precise. Finally, the load must have enough recoil to properly cycle the action, and every gun is different. However, if you use the guidlines in your books I doubt you'll have a problem.
For case lube I use Hornady One Shot aerosol. It's easy to use, works very well, and isn't nearly as messy as other types of case lube. And although it isn't required, I use it on my carbide dies as well, just to reduce the lever effort a little bit.
There's lots more I could post here, but I don't want you to suffer from information overload. Hopefully I've given you a rough idea on what you're in for, and I'm sure others will fill in whatever details I've missed. I hope you decide to take up reloading. I find it to be a relaxing, rewarding hobby and hopefully you will, too.
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First buy a copy of Modern Reloading by Richard Lee.
Modern Reloading 2nd Edition Revised Reloading Manual
Read the first 205 pages. That will give you a very good understanding of reloading.
When you buy equipment, you don't need to buy everything from one manufacturer.
Lee equipment is priced less than most, and works well.
We need to support the rights of owners of "assualt rifles" and "high capacity magazines"
Otherwise our guns WILL be next!
The Henry 44 lever action rifle (16 rounds) The "assualt rifle" of the Civil war.
The Winchester 1873 (15 rounds) The "assault rifle" of the Indian wars.
The MARLIN 1894 (10 rounds) The "assault rifle" of 2013 New York gun laws.
DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO OPPOSE THE OBAMA GUN LAWS!
I would recommend the ABCs of reloading as well. If you can find someone locally that can be a big help as well. I showed a guy here the ropes and he taught me casting. (He casts pewter jewelry). Now I have a shootin buddy as well.
Look at Lee Factory Sales for some good prices. The Anniversary kit is a good starting point. https://factorysales.com/
Agree with the carbide dies - man these things are way easier to use than the old style I learned on.
If you have microgroove be aware that many need oversized cast bullets to shoot well. If you need oversized bullets be aware that the crimp die usually has a sizing collar that will resize your bullet - Ranch Dog (a site sponsor) sells a few Lee custom dies for certain calibers that will NOT resize.
I actually vote for a turret press. Get a 4 position, set the dies once and be done with it. If you get Lee equipment, you can get a replacement turret for about 10 bucks - get one for each die set you load. Changeover is then as simple as popping one out and pop the new one in. RCBS makes some mighty fine equipment but kind of overbuilt. They are the IBM of reloading equipment - nobody can go wrong buying their stuff but you need a bankroll to go there (compared to other choices). It's been my observation (possibly wrong) that to a certain extent you marry into a system so consider all the aspects beforehand. The basic reload operations are prepare the case, size case, insert primer, flare case opening, load powder, seat bullet, crimp. Primers and powder can be accomplished on the press with additional equipment - on a progressive press (which I do not recommend unless you're a high volume reloader - 1,000s of rounds at a whack) you can even get bullet feeds. All that to say I'm not sure how much these parts are interchangeable between brands.
If you get carbide dies you don't need case lube. I doubted that when I got my new equipment and they spoke truth - the bottle of lube hasn't been touched. If you buy your cast bullets from one of the many vendors they usually lube their bullets so you won't need that either.
Get a good scale and I recommend an electronic one since you'll use it frequently. I have an inexpensive Frankford Arsenal that set me back a whopping $25 and is accurate to .1 grain.
Well - that's the stuff I thought was important. Oh - one last thing - ask the folks here about their best loads for a particular caliber, bullet and application. I wish I had because I would have saved some money on powders that I thought would work well. The folks here are amazingly well informed and generous with their knowledge.
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The lyman 48 manual walks you through step by step.
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The RCBS Rockchucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit has everything you need except:
Calipers- I went digital to reduce the likelihood of misreading the dial.
Shell holder- This attaches to the press ram and is specific to the cartridge rim diameter.
Powder- I started with Unique because it has published data in all the calibers I wanted to load.
Brass and bullets.
As mentioned before, a tumbler is nice but not truly necessary.
Safety glasses while loading are a must, and I wear earplugs.
The price is right
Changing caliber takes a whole 20 seconds if you get extra turret (I think they are around $12 shipped)
And you can use it like a single stage press by just removing the rod (takes about 20 seconded, no tools required)
I reloaded a couple thousands rds on it (38 spl and 9mm, soon will do for my 22-250, 30-30 and 35 REM, when I have the time) I had zero problems with it.
I think the turret is the way to go as you can go as slow as you want in the beginning and once comfortable you can speed up and reload at a much faster pace. Because I shoot a lot with my 9mm I also have a progressive, but they are... Tricky...
Also Lee dies comes with the shell holder.
Tumbler I got it from amazon with free shipping. Bullets for my handgun ate plated bullet . When you need primers,powder try and get to a group buy, you'll save money on shipping and hazmat.
and yes, I loe my electronic scale, check amazon they have a bunch of them for $25 or under.
reloading is NOT complicated, their is some basic, size and of course powder charge that need to followed, but overall is very easy. stay in the low to mid range for your powder. you can also check on-line for the load you need , example winchester/hodgon powder : http://data.hodgdon.com/main_menu.asp
Last edited by loic; 07-04-2012 at 09:53 AM.