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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think I'm finally going to get into reloading because I realized that I do restrict a lot of my shooting due to ammo costs. I love shooting 357mag and 44mag, but price gets pretty crazy just buying the ammo. Whats always stopped me from reloading is that I really don't have any space. I live in a small apartment with my girlfriend and I'm not kidding when I say we don't even have space to set up stool as a reloading setup. So I know a lot of you might advise against it, but I think I'm going to go ahead with a Lee's hand press. I know its really slow, so I most likely won't reload 9mm since I go through them too fast and I buy factory reloads for not that much more than it might cost to reload.

So I have a few questions..
1. First off I will primarily be reloading 357mag. What kind of savings will I be looking at here for just plinking ammo? I know reloading match ammo doesn't yield too much savings and I'll probably do it every now and then, but I'm really looking to save on range plinking ammo. Also throw 44mag and 45ACP in here. If I start reloading, I'll definitely get more guns in these calibers.

2. So I'll get the Lee hand press (I believe these come with funnel and the other small stuff), the appropriate carbide dies, brass tumbler, and something to weigh it all.. anything else really necessary aside from manuals, etc?

3. On the topic of manuals.... with all the sources on the net.. what are some reliable ones? I've already did some research on reloading and have heard differing views on the necessity of manuals. Essentially, everything in the manuals can be found on the net and just printed out.

4. Since I've already brought up my small space (one of the downsides of living near work in CA), I have limited storage space. I probably will never buy primers and powder in bulk which I know also diminishes on the money I save.. but I'd still be interested in any storage advice. From what I've gathered, just keep them separate, possibly in low static, and even in their original packaging. I'm hearing differing views on the potential for fires on these items... essentially many do think its overstated and we probably have things under out kitchen sink thats more volatile.

I'm open to any tips in equipment or reloading in general. I'm actually quite excited as this is letting me still be in the shooting hobby without being on the range. Lately my schedule hasn't allowed me to be free during range hours.. so this'll give me something extra to do on free nights. Maybe I can even talk my lady into doing some of the stages like removing the spent primer on her free time :cool:

Sorry I know this is a lot and much of it can be Googled (which I'm already doing and will continue doing.. just want extra sources) but I'd definitely appreciate it if anyone in here can share some helpful tidbits on any single points.
 

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Hi gore, even reloading components costs have sky-rocked.

IMO the only way to shoot low cost is with a .22 rimfire. You can also save some money for centerfire by buying reloads that some gun stores offer.

To address your questions:

#1 Check prices of components for the loads you desire, you can find those prices at Cabelas or Midway. Add up the component costs. Don't forget to add shipping and hazardous material fees.

#2 IMO the hand press is a novelty that you will soon get tired using. Maybe you can find a friend that has the room to mount a full sized reloading press and share the costs? Buy a used press? Lee dies are the greatest value. Lee dippers and/or a low cost digital scale (like MTM) will also be required.

#3 The low cost Lee reloading manual has everything you need in a manual. Lots of loads, tips, and information.

#4 You can store powder and primers next to your cornflakes if desired. You just need to keep those components away from children.

Besides saving money, reloading can be a lot of fun were you can produce light loads for new shooters and max loads for hunting, etc.. I still remember years ago during Christmas week when I bonded with my then young teen daughter reloading .45 Colt. After she finished helping me make Christmas bullets, she went upstairs and bonded with her mom making Christmas cookies.

Regards,
Richard
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm not too worried about the initial investment in equipment. I have a friend who wants to get into reloading as well that actually has space. The problem is, when I have free time to burn, it would usually be too late to just go to his house to use the equipment, hah.

So after the initial equipment costs, I'm guessing the cost of primers, powder, and bullets have gone up as well. I definitely kept that in mind, which is why I've decided not to reload 9mm. This would primarily be for reloading magnums and possibly 308.
 

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I have a hand press. It's good for in a pinch, and I generally just keep an expander die in it. It's more for special use, sitting in front of the TV depriming and sizing cases. Or I'll take it with me hunting or camping, or for load development at the range.

Another option is to mount a press similar to the attachment. I keep mine that way for portability reasons. In the winter it's too cold in the garage, so I move it to the basement. Or take to a buddy's house.

I'm currently loading a batch of 50 cartridges, 158 grain SWC for around $6. If I use jacketed bullets maybe up to twice that price. I load for target and hunting, and buy defensive ammo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thats actually not a bad setup as well. Never thought about having it clamped on to a contained box like that. All the other "portable" setups I saw are on stools or folding benches.. which still is too much space for me. Not only do I live with my girlfriend, but 2 other roommates, so for the most part, additional stuff kept in the living room is not preferable. I'd rather be able to store everything back in my room.. in an already cramped closet.

At the very least.. from what I've gathered.. even if I were to go with the hand press first.. its still a decent investment seeing a lot of people have them kept around for other purposes to free up their mounted presses.
 

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You can drill holes in your dining room table and make that a work bench. That's what I did when I was reloading.

But reloading is really tedious and boring.

And if you are not careful you can have an accident with the primers and burn your place down.

The only time reloading is really needed is if you are making 500 yd to 1000 yds shots with a scoped rifle. Or if you shoot in pistol competitions and you want to remove the 10% erratic loads in factory ammo.

Otherwise I recommend that you stick to buying factory loads instead.

For hunting or for self defense you definitely do not need to be reloading.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You can drill holes in your dining room table and make that a work bench. That's what I did when I was reloading.

But reloading is really tedious and boring.

And if you are not careful you can have an accident with the primers and burn your place down.

The only time reloading is really needed is if you are making 500 yd to 1000 yds shots with a scoped rifle. Or if you shoot in pistol competitions and you want to remove the 10% erratic loads in factory ammo.

Otherwise I recommend that you stick to buying factory loads instead.
So you don't think it'd be worth it to reload 357mag, 44mag, and 45acp for plinking?

If it were just me and my girlfriend living in the apartment, I'd be fine with drilling into the living room table. Unfortunately, we also have 2 roommates. The apartment we live in is decent sized, its moreso the fact that we have roommates that makes "our" space small.
 

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So you don't think it'd be worth it to reload 357mag, 44mag, and 45acp for plinking?

If it were just me and my girlfriend living in the apartment, I'd be fine with drilling into the living room table. Unfortunately, we also have 2 roommates. The apartment we live in is decent sized, its moreso the fact that we have roommates that makes "our" space small.
I definitely do *not* believe it is worth it.

This hobby is so tedious that you will hate it before very long.
 

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For me it's totally worth it. Reloading means cheaper ammo. Cheaper ammo means I get to the range more often. A long time ago I used to visit the range two or three times a week. Obviously before I was married. I sure wish back then I had been reloading.

Gorenut, I only load 38/357 and two other rifle cartridges. I do everything in stages. So on a free night when I'm sitting around watching a movie with the wife and kids you'll likely find me priming, sorting and inspecting brass.
Typical stages (not in any particular order):
- Cleaning in a tumbler, and inspecting looking for cracks, dings, etc.
- Lube, de-priming and sizing. After this I usually throw them in a bag and sit in front of the TV with my calipers and check case dimensions.
- Cleaning primer pockets, priming with a hand primer.
- Measure, charge cartridge and drop a bullet in case mouth (upside down), move to next loading block, so I don't double-charge. Phase 2 is seat bullet. (Measuring and seating I do completely isolated, no outside distractions)
- Check loaded ammunition; checking crimp on hotter loads, checking for deformations, measure overall length.

I do it in stages like this because it's broken down into pretty manageable chunks of time, and by keeping it to as few steps as possible it's really hard to screw things up too bad.
Some stages can also be done while doing other less useful things, like watching TV ;)
So except for charging and seating cartridges most other stuff is done while I'm doing something else anyway. Most of the time I try to keep at least a few hundred cases primed and ready for a bullet and powder. When I'm actually loading bullets I can typically crank out a box of fifty in about an hour on that Lee press in the picture. I'm running low on prepped cases, but winter is coming, so I'll likely have a few thousand cases prepped by spring.

By doing it this way I also find it fun, not "tedious". But to each his own.
 

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First you would need to get the press and the dies. That total will run you about $1000 by the time you have everything you need.

Then you need to get the supplies, including the lube, the primers, the powder, the brass, and the bullets. When you add all this up it costs about the same as buying the factory cartridges themselves, not much savings, just a little maybe.

Then you need to read the manual and suffer through trial and error, which is going to cost you wasted ammo as you make mistakes.

Then you need to spend hours doing the reloading. It takes hours to reload 50 to 100 rounds. You can walk into any store and buy 500 rounds in 10 minutes.

So far you have spent more money than had you just stuck to buying factory ammo instead.

Your savings comes from re-using the brass, which you can do up to 5 times. But to do that you have to go around shagging your brass off the shooting range. And then you need to clean it, which is another added step.

After a long time, you will finally break even, but by then you will probably be burned out on reloading, like I was. And by then you will have a ton of reloading gear cluttering up your small apartment.

Reloading is a hobby for someone with a garage and a work bench, and lots of free time on their hands. Maybe in retirement. During the off season when not hunting big game.

For a pistol shooter reloading makes no sense at all, unless you are competing professionally, and you really need that added little extra advantage of all the powder loads to be weighed exactly the same.
 

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CallSignShoobeeFMFPac,

Do you, or have you ever reloaded? If so, specifically 38/357?

I can tell you right now I get far more than 5 uses out of my brass. And my grendels are getting upwards of a dozen uses before I start even seeing rejects. Of course I don't load hot stuff except for experimentation and hunting loads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
CallSign.. thanks for you opinions on the other side of the fence. That's definitely something I took into consideration. I don't get out to the rifle range enough to really shoot far enough for match loads. Since I mostly shoot handguns, its pretty negligible how "match" I get it. I was just going to measure the powder based on the scoops that come with each Lee carbide die set (which eliminates lubing as well). I just wanna produce 38sp, 357mag, and 44mag as cheaply as possible. $1000 sounds like an awful lot for a humble setup.. I think my space constraints alone would probably have me spending closer to $200 to start it all up.. .but you bring up a very good point with time issues.
 

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CallSignShoobeeFMFPac,

Do you, or have you ever reloaded? If so, specifically 38/357?

I can tell you right now I get far more than 5 uses out of my brass. And my grendels are getting upwards of a dozen uses before I start even seeing rejects. Of course I don't load hot stuff except for experimentation and hunting loads.
I answered that question. Don't you read too good? Did you go to public schools in the inner cities?
 

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CallSign.. thanks for you opinions on the other side of the fence. That's definitely something I took into consideration. I don't get out to the rifle range enough to really shoot far enough for match loads. Since I mostly shoot handguns, its pretty negligible how "match" I get it. I was just going to measure the powder based on the scoops that come with each Lee carbide die set (which eliminates lubing as well). I just wanna produce 38sp, 357mag, and 44mag as cheaply as possible. $1000 sounds like an awful lot for a humble setup.. I think my space constraints alone would probably have me spending closer to $200 to start it all up.. .but you bring up a very good point with time issues.
The industrial processes use scoops too.

So if you are not weighing out each individual powder charge you are not getting much advantage for reloading at all.
 

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I answered that question. Don't you read too good? Did you go to public schools in the inner cities?
No, I don't believe you did answer that question. And now I see you switch to personal attacks when confronted about your knowledge. I also see you created your account this month and have a post count of 145 (and growing). Whoa...Gunkid, is that you?

Gorenut, take everything GunKi...er what's his name says with a grain of salt. That pic of a Lee press I posted can be had for around $100. Dies are typically $30-80, you will need some other stuff, but I think you could set up for around $350-400 no problem. Not a thousand unless you're real stupid about it, and I don't think your girlfriend would let you do that. :) If you want a list of what I recommend you start with I can get you one.
 

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No, I don't believe you did answer that question. And now I see you switch to personal attacks when confronted about your knowledge. I also see you created your account this month and have a post count of 145 (and growing). Whoa...Gunkid, is that you?

Gorenut, take everything GunKi...er what's his name says with a grain of salt. That pic of a Lee press I posted can be had for around $100. Dies are typically $30-80, you will need some other stuff, but I think you could set up for around $350-400 no problem. Not a thousand unless you're real stupid about it, and I don't think your girlfriend would let you do that. :) If you want a list of what I recommend you start with I can get you one.
Your one sided promotions and your lack of reading comprehension are somewhat problematic for you. That's simply evidence however.

If I said you were ugly and stupid that would be a personal attack.
 

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No, I'm not promoting myself. I reload, but I am by no means some grumpy old sage with 50 years under his belt (of whom I greatly admire and enjoy the fruits of their labor). I've only been reloading for about 4-5 years.

You however, I suspect the only reloading you've experienced was on the receiving end by some of your other prison mates. I heard you were back in? How'd you get out already, offer favors to the warden? And I thought you weren't allowed to use a computer any more.

How is that tacticool wheelbarrow coming along, do you have picatinney rails on it yet? Me, I got married so I moved up to a tactical stroller. When are you going to stop creating new accounts?

Gorenut, I would like you to meet who I think is John Melvin Davis, AKA Gunkid and about a hundred other names. I heard he's been lurking again: http://multigun.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/the-return-of-gunkid/

http://xavierthoughts.blogspot.com/2006/07/goodbye-gunkid.html
 

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First off to the OP I think getting into reloading is definitely a good idea. It has a lot of benefits and few down sides. I will mention a few right here now based off the 35 years of experience I have that includes loading for commonly available cartridges as well as a couple of wild cat cartridges I have been loading for.

1. Loading the rounds you are planning should get you a 40-60% savings depending on how you get your components. This will be less if you buy your bullets, cases, primers a hundred at a time.

2. I think I have about 5 presses at the moment mounted in my work area, but you know what, I still use the dawg doo-doo out of my Lee hand Press! Its a bit slow yes, but its simplisity at its best. I also use the dipper powder measure kit and find it to be reasonably accurate for dropping powder in my cases. Its not accurate enough to win you any bullseye shooting matches, and you likely wouldnt wont to rely on it for making that once in a life time trophy hunt, but for plinking and general shooting, its very simple, very fast and plenty accurate enough to be safe. I worked with explosives for 21 years and safety aint something I take lightly I assure you, especially if I am the one thats going to have to feel the pain from any mistake I make. I just use a small inexpensive digital scale to spot check every 10 or so drops of powder just to make sure things are on the up and up. They work well as long as your not trying to load max full throttle loads. If this is what you like to shoot then you might want to buy a no kidding powder scale and trickler.

3. A manual is a neccesity in my opinion. Yeah you can get a lot of data on line. Any Joe Shmo can post loading data on line. Doesnt mean he got that info from a relaible source or proper testing like the manufacture who will surely be sued into oblivia if you blow your gun up using their data. Besides they spent a lot of money on guys in lab coats with lots of very sophistacated equipment to develop those loads. Thats not to say you cant get some good data on line.

Many reloading manuals are proprietary in nature. If you pick up a Barnes loading manual then guess what 90% or more of their data will be for barnes bullets. I would suggest since economy is your most important over riding factor to browse through Midway USA web site and settle on a bullet that fits your needs at a price you can live with then buy a manual that has loads for that bullet. Another option is to buy one of the paper bound caliber specific manuals that run between 6-10 bucks since they contian a very wide variety of info on the specific caliber you are looking to load.

I WOULD DOUBLE CHECK ANY LOAD YOU GOT OFF THE INTERNET AGAINST A PROPER LOAD MANUAL!

4. The more you buy things in bulk the more you will save or be able to afford to shoot. 500 pack of bullets doesnt take up that much room. A 4 lb Keg of powder doesnt take up that much more room than 1 or 2 one pound containers. Buying primers by the 1000 is much cheaper than buying by the 100 pack. They too dont take up much room. If your so cramped for space that you cat spare the room to store 500 brass cases, 500 bullets, 1000 primers and 4 lbs of powder maybe you should just stick the the high cost of buying commercially loaded ammo. Not trying to be mean to you, just trying to watch a little Dr Phil and get real here. I live in a 22 ft RV and I have 20 lbs of of powder in here, 9000 plus primers plus all my other crap, so I have a Phd in storing stuff in a managable arrangement. Its all about your priorities and creativeness!

Now for some tips to keep cost down and keep things safe...

1. Dont store the primers and the powder next to each other. I store my primers under the bathroom sink of my RV and the powder under one of the seats in my RV. Keep em seperated! Thats a tip coming from an Weapons Tech with years of experience working with explosives. The stuff is not that hazardous. If you do have a accident it wont likely be a catastrophic accident if the components are seperated. The military does not store Bomb Bodies, Boosters and fuzes in the same magazine for a very good reason, they have been playing this game for a couple of centurys now and they have it mastered well, having learned from their mistakes in the past. I suggest you take a couple of notes from them on this.

2. To keep your components to a minimum look through a loading manual and find loads that use the same powders, same primers, same brass type, same bullets and then buy and load accordingly. This will minimize the space needed to load the ammo you want. For example...I use Unique and Bullseye to load 357, 44 Mag, 45 ACP, 12 guage shot, buck shot, and slugs not becuase those powders are all that and a bag of chips but becuase they give acceptable performance in all of the loads in those calibers I shoot and minimize the number of different components I have to maintain on hand. I keep 4 basic powders (by the 4-8 lbs keg) on hand and I load everything from 38spl to 44 Mag, 223 to 308, to 12 guage powder puff skeet and trap loads to 12 gauge sabot slugs!

3. I also keep things cheap by volunteering on range clean up day to spend a couple of hours cleaning up the range. Whats in it for me you ask? I have about 55,000 223 cases, 25,000-30,00 308 cases, at least 10,000 empty shotgun hulls and it didnt cost me more than a few hours of my time and sweat at the range. Since I got free sodas and grilled burgers out of the deal I though it was a worth while expenditure of my time. Have any idea how much it would have cost me to buy all that? Those berms at the range occasionally need a little TLC too, I have several buckets of lead that will be melted down for pistol bullets, slugs and 00 buck. Just saying...there are ways to make this hobby less expensive if you get a little creative without being as big a tight wad as I am!

4. Buy in bulk everytime you can. 500 bullets dont take up that much more room than 100 do and your pocket book will thank you! You will have more fun at the range than the law probably allows too :) ! Same thing with primers and if your buying it Brass cases.

5. Reloading aint dangerous unless your stupid! Buy and store your stuff the way the manufacture suggest and use it as directed and its pretty damn safe! In almost 40 years I have never had a mishap of anykind. Its all about attention to detail. None of the detail is trick or teadious, its all just basic common sense really. The one thing I learned in 2 decades of working with explosives in the military and being on investigation teams reveiwing a mishap is this...Accidents dont "just happen" - 99.9% of the time, they are created!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Thanks for all the input so far.
Risasi: I'll keep what you said in mind (I figured $1000+ was a gross over-statement) and thanks for the input on reloading. Luckily my girlfriend has no issues with how much I spend in anything. Even if she had something to say, it wouldn't matter to me unless it impeded her life or dug myself into debt, haha. On top of that.. if nothing else.. she's actually on a few occasions talked me out of selling a gun and even offered up to buy a gun I wanted so I don't sell one to get one. The thought definitely means a lot to me, but I think sometimes she misses the point on how I like my collections (no safe queens, each gun serving a specific purpose).

Lunatic: Thanks for that write up, very informative. I've been researching more stuff still and I'll probably get the Lee's reloading book 2nd edition for starters. Also, you're right about the expendable reloading supplies. .it doesn't take up that much room. I had to physically see it myself when I was at the store to see what a difference the powder makes up. Something like that I can definitely store, I have around 5,000 rounds of ammo stored around at any given time.. so won't be an issue. Its just having more fixtures lying around that I can't really do... so no offense taken at all with the "Dr Phil reality" haha.

So for those who have actually used the Lee hand reloader.. do you use the Ram Prime or a separate hand primer tool? I'm leaning towards the separate hand primer tool as it seems like it'll allow me to do it without touching the primers with my hand.
 
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