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Thread: Thinking about buying my first press...

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Thinking about buying my first press...

    I've found myself shooting a little more lately and I've started doing some research on reloading and equipment.

    At least for starters, I'd plan to load 45acp and 147gr 9mm. Later, maybe 44 mag, 300 Blackout and a couple others.

    Let's say I can buy 45 for $14/50 and 9mm for $11/50 for bulk ammo like Blazer, American Eagle, Lawman, etc.

    So, running the numbers on a reloading calculator app, I come up with $11.50 and $7.75, respectively. And that's using once fired brass, and not taking into account reusing the brass, which bring down prices eventually. So, let's say I'd save 25% before reusing brass.

    My first question is, do my numbers look reasonable? Am I leaving out something other that equipment?

    And secondly, and more importantly to me, is it likely I could load more accurate ammo than bulk stuff like Blazer or UMC?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master dikman's Avatar
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    Many have started reloading "to save money".. Many have also said it's debatable if they ever achieve that.

    Usually you end up making, and shooting, more so you spend more.

    Seriously, though, it depends what you're shooting. If handgun competition, where pin-point accuracy isn't needed, then home reloading on a progressive press is fine. If you are a target shooter, trying to achieve the utmost accuracy, then a single stage is better - slower, but you have precise control over the amount of powder being loaded. In the first case your ammo would be every bit as good as bought stuff, in the second case it should be much better.

    The setup cost can be pretty high, particularly if you go progressive, but many here tend to ignore the overall cost (you have to!) just so they have control over their reloading.

    If you're shooting handgun competition, and/or Cowboy Action, you can go through a lot of ammo in a session and it just feels nicer not to be shelling out for a few boxes of 50 at a time.

    Addendum: casting projectiles often goes hand-in-hand with reloading, something else to consider?

  3. #3
    Boolit Master


    blikseme300's Avatar
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    Saving money comes faster when you reload for rifles that use expensive or unobtainable ammo. That said reloading for 9mmP and 45ACP allowed me to still shoot volume when ammo for those calibers were not so cheap and sold in limited quantities due to market pressure a few years ago. As far as accuracy goes reloading allowed me to keep practicing when others could not due to the shortages. Having a reliable source is worth the expense in itself, IMO.

    Will I ever be ahead money-wise, no, but reloading is one of my hobbies. Same with fishing and hunting. Mighty expensive food but the experience is priceless.
    Liberalism is the triumph of emotion over intellect, but masquerading as the reverse.

    I don't know how we ever shot maximum loads before P/C come along and saved us all. R5R

    "No mosque in the United States flies an American flag."

  4. #4
    Boolit Mold
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    The press I'm leaning towards is the Lee Classic Turret

  5. #5
    Boolit Mold
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    And it sounded like increases in accuracy might come from matching different powders or oal to a particular pistol

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
    DerekP Houston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wdfwguy View Post
    The press I'm leaning towards is the Lee Classic Turret
    its a solid starting choice, I just ordered myself another. Go with the "classic cast" version so you get the through ram primer disposal, otherwise they end up everywhere. My major savings is 38 specials since they are a bit pricier than 9mm. If we go through another shortage type situation you'll be glad you invested in it since you can reuse your brass *a lot* more than I originally thought as well. My handloads are just as much if not more accurate in my guns than factory ammo.
    My feedback page if you feel inclined to add:
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...raight-Shooter

    Thanks Yall!

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    By reloading you can do 1 of 3 things, 1) you can save money. cast boolits and reusing brass 8-10 times lowers cost of the ammo and you gear is amoritized over a short time. 2) You can shoot more for the same amount of money your spending now. Again cast boolits and reusing brass lower costs and increase the amount of shooting. Cost amoritize faster time wise as more ammo is being loaded. 3) you can load specialty ammo or more accurate ammo tailored to your firearms. Black powder cartridges, obsolete cartridges, wildcats ( ammo made for a special purpose drom one case and formed into something different), ammo tailored to your firearm as to overall length powder charge primer case and case uniformity or prep. You can get as involved as you want or as simple as you want to a point. Its up to you.

    Lee equipment is fine and a lot use it for everything, I will second the cast Iron versions if available. Lees Dies give good service also. There prep tool leave a little to want in my eye but a lot use them. If you decide to cast your own bullets then Lee moulds give a good start point ands work well. Don't over look used equipment either as its hard to wear it out through use. Abuse is a different story but that normally shows a lot more. Watch the local ranges for adds on the bulletin boards, Gun Shows, garage and estate sales, Auctions and sometimes local gun shops. Also watch the local papers for adds.

    The one thing to build and not scrimp a lot on is a good solid bench for equipment to mount on. This is the base for Presses, powder measures , Scales and other tools to mount to. It needs to be solid and vibration free for scales and powder measures to work their best. Simple to build a lot use 4X4 legs and 2X4 or 2X6 framing with heavy plywood or planks for the top, Glue and screw bolt the joints solid. Glue the top to the upper frame and supports then screw it down with dry wall screws.

    My heavy bench has a butcher block top made from 2X4s 30" X 8' this is a super solid bench top and the base frame is 4X4 legs 2X6 framing and 1/2" plwoob side and back covers glued and screwed bolted together. It dosnt flex vibrate or shift and weights enough it dosnt tip under heavy forming.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master sawinredneck's Avatar
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    The Lee classic cast turret is a solid place to start, I have one and it's my recommendation for a starter press. Take out the index rod and you can start off as a single stage and learn slowly. Then start to index and slowly increase volume. Seriously, one of the best low entry presses to get for a new reloaded with a lot of options in the future. It won't ever beat a true progressive press for speed, but "bang for buck" its truely hard to beat!
    Now the bad and ugly.
    If you want to start reloading to save money, unless you have an oddball caliber that is very expensive to shoot, forget it.
    Unless you want to get into volume shooting at ISPCA levels, 2-5k rounds a week, forget it!
    I'm not going to sugar coat it, I started reloading because I was tired of $1 rounds for my 10mm. Buying presses (my choice), molds, dies, powder, a toaster oven, powder coat, sizing dies, manuals, I can go on. You aren't going to save much over a short time. Sorry.
    But you can have the satisfaction of shooting what you've made. You can work up loads to better factory loads. You can work up loads to make a specific firearm happier than it's ever been. You can work up loads for low recoil and loads to blow the barn down! It's up to you and what you want!
    As someone once told me, not that long ago, "put the calculator down!" You will be very hard pressed, even using the cheapest of the cheap reloading equipment, it will be a while before you realize a cost savings.
    But you get satisfaction, you get the joy of bettering factory ammo, you get the knowledge to become self sufficient if you need to, and you get to look at your buddies and say "Look at this target, I loaded these myself!"
    I'm sorry if I confused you more, like I say, I was saving money on my 10mm loads, but prices have dropped drastically on them, but I can create what I want or need myself!
    Quote Originally Posted by sniper View Post
    Irish Proverb: Never approach a Bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or an Idiot from any direction!

  9. #9
    Go for it! You won't regret reloading no matter your initial intentions. Factory ammo is built to work in as many guns as possible while reloading you tailor your loads to your guns. Once a decent load is dialed in it should be more accurate than anything from the factory. The numbers depend on numerous factors. Are you buying your primers on sale and in bulk or full retail at Cabelas? HP or cheap lead bullets? Scrounging brass or buying it new. With low pressure rounds like 45 ACP the brass will last much longer. 9mm brass is plentiful and I've never had to buy it. You can recoup you're initial equipment cost pretty quickly.

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    And secondly, and more importantly to me, is it likely I could load more accurate ammo than bulk stuff like Blazer or UMC?
    Absolutely. And you will save money. If I didn't load I wouldn't be able to afford to shoot and I like to shoot. With handguns you need to keep your skills honed or they will erode. I use a Lee turret for most of my loading. One of the benifits is that you can keep your dies set up in a turret and swap the whole assembly when changing over. I don't use the turret as a progressive. I removed the indexing rod and load as if a single stage. It is just nice to have all the dies set up and being able to swicth from sizing through seating with a twist of the turret. Keep an eye on the classified ads for sales on brass, bullets, etc, to save even more. Welcome to the club!

  11. #11
    Boolit Master tazman's Avatar
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    I have tried a number of full progressive presses and always come back to my Lee Classic Cast turret. It loads fast enough for me and makes great ammunition. If you want to use it as a single stage all you need to do is remove the index rod which takes all of 10 seconds. Changing calibers is quick and easy.
    I currently load 5 handgun calibers and 4 rifle calibers on mine and my results are excellent.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

    jcren's Avatar
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    The Lee classic current is a great starter. Take out the index rod and run it manually with weighed charges for precision stuff, let her rip with an auto-drum for quantity. You can make ammo tthat is far superior to cheap bulk stuff, and not accounting for brass ( I buy used and reloading light loads they last far longer than you would believe) my plinker 45 acp is between .09 and .11 a bang, depending mostly on primer cost.
    "In God we trust, in all others, check the manual!"

  13. #13
    Boolit Mold
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    Well, I think I'll at least give it a try. And it sounds like the Lee Classic is a solid choice.

    I could get the Lee kit, 45acp and 9mm dies, shell holders for both, and maybe a bullet puller

    Then brass, powder, primers, and bullets

    That would get me started?

  14. #14
    I use the Lee Classic Turret the most. Not sure which kit you're looking at but you'll need a scale and calipers. Lee's beam scale works but is, um, fidgety... There are better options. I can't believe it hasn't been upgraded yet.

    I started with the bare minimum to safely reload and added and upgraded later.

    Read, read, read! Start slow and establish a process you don't deviate from.

    That first trigger pull with your own reload is exciting!

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

  15. #15
    Boolit Master sawinredneck's Avatar
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    Reloading manuals! Reloading manuals! And reloading manuals! Own at least two copies from different sources to be able to compare. I think I have at least six right now? But it's important to be able to compare! I've seen the starting load in one manual as the max in another! I wish I was kidding!
    I'm very sorry for how I'm coming across, I'm by no means trying to discourage you from reloading! Just know it's hard to save money as most of us try to improve on factory loads! I own four presses and seven molds? in different calibers. It's a great hobby and keeps many of us out of the bars!
    Quote Originally Posted by sniper View Post
    Irish Proverb: Never approach a Bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or an Idiot from any direction!

  16. #16
    Boolit Master JBinMN's Avatar
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    Lots of good advice here. I started with a MEC for shotguns shells long ago & then went into handguns using a RCBS single stage RS3 press. I still use the RCBS one to this day. I also have an inexpensive Lee single stage & a Lee hand press for the times they can be handy. I don't remember right now what the RCBS cost me( came in a RCBS kit in the early 80s), but I am still using it for most of my reloading, with the other two for specialty reasons, like sizing for the Lee bench one, & reloading in the field or at a buddies place for the handheld one. I am going to get one of those Leeclassic cast turret ones sometime in the future, when I pass the RCBS to my oldest sons for his reloading adventures.

    My point is... You can get by for a long time with just a single stage press & then advance to a turret/progressive in the future if you decide to stay in the game. That will make a little less investment in the press at the onset & you then have more $$ for a few other necessities like a scale,etc.. Then , if ya decide to keep in the game & want to add on, you can either keep that single stage press for other dedicated uses like sizing on the single stage & using a progressive for loading either in single stage or progressive setup. That is just a thought for ya to consider, anyway.


    One more thing is, if ya can... try to find a "mentor" near ya to help ya as ya go along. Castboolits here is a great asset, along with the rest of the internet, but having someone that can show you "in person" some of the tips & tricks would be a great asset to have also.


    G'Luck! if ya decide to go on the great adventure of reloading & even casting! Like most of the folks here, you will likely become pretty dedicated to doing it once you actually see the results of your efforts & initial expense. Like tying flies, making fishing jigs or anything that YOU produce on your own, it is quite satisfying.
    "If ya don't like my gate, ya don't have to swing on the hinges..." - L. Ackerman ( RIP)
    *------*
    "A man ought ta do what he thinks is best" - "Hondo" Lane.(John Wayne)

  17. #17
    Boolit Master


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    If you do go ahead and get into reloading and you find that you don’t care to continue, you can sell the equipment for around 75% or more of what you paid for it. That would make the education relatively inexpensive. Should you continue reloading after gaining a little experience and knowledge you will be able to make ammunition that is more accurate than anything from the factory.
    I think your calculations are off just a little. I usually find reloads cost “about” half that of factory for a comparable loads. That is when you factor in buying on sale and in bulk. Even better when you start casting your own boolits.
    As others have said, you need to read as much as possible first.
    L.E.C.

  18. #18
    Boolit Bub EddieZoom's Avatar
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    I'm only loading pistol ammo right now (so not talking extreme accuracy) but I've always found my reloads are better than most if not all of the stuff I can buy.

    I've gone through periods where strangely I seem to enjoy reloading just as much as shooting....it takes on a life of it's own.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    As much as I bash the Lee product jmorris's video of making the Lee press run actually made a believer out of me. About any press will be a winner for you. I'll be honest here.... I told myself I'd be saving money and truth is I probably spend more on additional equipment than I save. The other side of the coin is when the shelves were empty at the gun stores years back my shelves were full. The ability to make your own and have ammo is probably the consideration more than saving money is.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master


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    Nothing wrong with a turret press unless you shoot a lot. Then a progressive makes more sense. So think about how much you intend to shoot, and how much time you want to spend at the bench.

    You will never regret the Lee press even if you decide to upgrade later. I shoot a lot of pistol rounds so for me the turret does not fit my needs but YMMV.

    I have never used a turret but know it is slower. The Dillon 550 nets about 300/hr for me and that is as slow as I want. Most of my pistol ammo in done on a 1050 and it is considerably faster.

    A good rule of thumb is you will shoot about twice the amount of pistol ammo after you start reloading so think about that.

    One last caution, do not reload for you buddies. Not only illegal but fraught with liability issues.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check