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Thread: To reload or not

  1. #1

    To reload or not

    Considering starting reloading, have just put £80 down the range of Federal and PPU so with using the range two or three times a month plus stalking about 100 animals per annum is it worth my time and money to start reloading I use the following calibre's
    6.5 x 55

    if so any body recommend what I need to start, would rather pay for the right stuff first off, and does anybody have a complete set they might want to sell
    Cheers doc

  2. #2
    Short answer - if your rifles shoot well enough with PPU then buy that and don't bother about reloading.

  3. #3
    me personally like messing around and tinkering so it was the next thing for me but i now am shooting alot and has been very worthwhile not only in satisfaction of getting really good groups but i have definately saved money no question. i have only got the lee gear and it is no less accurate than friends using vernier style comp dies but it depends on what you feel you can spend i am now loading for two 270 and a 300 win ,a variation has gone in for other calibres so will be reloading for those also. looking on what you do i would say yes its definately worth your while starting to reload. once you have the gear it will take a while to recoupe your money but it will do in the long run the only thing you need to ask yourself is will it be a chore or will you enjoy it ? . it doesnt take long to do 100 rounds so i would do it in batches .
    i have a room thats out the way in the house to be able to switch on the music and relax while i reload. let us know how you get on atb wayne
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  4. #4
    Cheers Wayne,
    somebody else mentioned the Lee kit, Think I would enjoy the odd hour here and there knocking out rounds, two of us are going to do it together so between us I am sure it would be worthwhile

    If I buy a Lee turret press what else will i need to get up and running?

  5. #5
    Reloading – what do you need?.
    This question pops up regularly, so if you are thinking about starting reloading, here are a few ideas. I’m not going to name many product names but, more or less, make a list of essentials. I assume you have the requisite brass, bullets, primers and powders. It's just a list of the very basic kit so as to keep costs to a minimum. Beware, however, there is an infinity of apparently “essential” gear out there, all “vital” to the reloading process but, at the very least, detrimental to your bank account!.
    -Firstly, get one or more reloading manuals and read thoroughly(see Reading List). You will then have a better sense of the kit needed and the way things work in this game. The ‘net is also excellent for info.
    -Secondly, and most importantly, get an experienced reloader to show you the ropes. A mentor in this business is worth his weight in gold.

    A word of warning before we start – Remember you are dealing with pressures of 50,000 psi or more, so caution should be your watchword.

    - Press – you’ll need one of those, of course. The type of press you need depends upon the cartridges you will be loading and a press capable of handling up to 30-06 length will suffice for most of the usual cartridges. Generally speaking, a single stage press may provide better control of the reloading process for a new reloader. If you decide to load for cartridges of Magnum length(eg 375 H&H), then your press will need to be larger and, consequently, more costly.
    I cannot give an answer as to the best makes and models, just get the best you can afford, preferably of steel and cast iron. Such a press should last for many years with a little TLC. Oil or grease the pivots and the ram occasionally, keep the press free of dust and anything else that might cause wear. With the addition of the appropriate dies, you will be able to carry out all the necessary steps in the reloading process ie, depriming, sizing, priming and bullet seating.
    - Dies. All the well known makers dies will, with a modicum of care, produce good ammunition. Dies usually come with the appropriate shellholders. Buy full length resizing dies to start. Neck sizing and other techniques can come later. To cut down on any possibility of wear in your dies make sure that your cases are clean before putting on the lube and resizing. I always wipe my cases and the interior of my dies with kitchen towel before starting. Occasionally cleaning your dies with your favourite bore cleaner is a good idea, too.
    - Balance. A basic beam balance is probably as good as anything and reasonably priced. There are cheap electronic balances on the market but for cost-effectiveness the beam balance is probably best. Never leave your beam balance assembled, always lift the knife edges off the agates so as not wear them out. Agate is very hard, I know, but will wear in time and can make your balance inaccurate and/or inconsistent.. Put the balance away in it’s box to keep out dust and anything else which may damage it. Treated with care it will give good service for many, many years.
    - Loading block. Most reloading companies do them and they are not expensive. You could make your own, of course, plywood or hardwood looks very nice. I made a couple from ¾” mahogony faced ply..
    - Powder funnel. The usual plastic powder funnels are not expensive and serve their purpose very well . If you get powder granules sticking to the insides due to static, a wipe with one of those antistatic tumbledrier cloths will sort it out.
    - Powder scoop. A small teaspoon(preferably stainless) is as good as anything for putting powder into the balance pan.
    - Powder container. Small containers to contain sufficient powder for your loading session. I’ve used small plastic drinks beakers for many years.
    - Calipers. A most important piece of kit. You’ll need a caliper to check the length of your resized cases as well as the final length of the completed round.. If your budget allows, a dial caliper of best quality, but there are a number of electronic models around £30 or less which will probably be just as good, although you do have to buy batteries. Don’t forget to remove the battery if not using the caliper for some time.
    - Case trimmer or trim die. Trim or file dies are available to get all your cases to the same length but you’ll need one for every cartridge and it is probably cheaper in the end to get a case trimmer(like a small lathe, turned by hand). I’ve had my Lee trimmer for many years.
    -Case neck chamfer tool. This cleans up any burrs on the inside and outside of the mouth of the case after trimming or resizing. You’ll also use it to put a small chamfer on the inside of the case mouth to ensure smooth seating of the bullet. Lyman sell a good one.
    - Primer pocket cleaners (large and/or small rifle). You can glue them into little wooden dowel handles for convenience
    - Primer seating. This operation is taken care of by your press and will prove more than satisfactory to start – indeed, you may never feel the need to use any other method. If your budget will stretch to it, get a Lee Autoprime.
    - Sizing Lube. I’ve used Imperial Wax for many years and never get stuck cases. Forget about the Lee Lube(lanolin based), I binned mine years ago after getting too many cases stuck in dies.
    - Hard nylon bore brush. Use this to clean the inside of the case neck prior to resizing and another candidate for a small dowel handle. It is important to ensure, as far as possible that the inside of the neck is clean in order to help get consistent neck tension, one of the prerequisites of accuracy.
    - Bristle brush or Cotton Buds. To put a very, very small amount of lube inside the case neck prior to sizing and after cleaning with the above hard nylon brush. Alternatively, you can use graphite.
    - Paper kitchen towels or good quality duster to clean off the lube after resizing both from the exterior of the case and the inside of the neck – unless you intend cleaning some other way.
    - Tumbler? I don’t own one and do not clean my cases other than by removing the lube by wiping with a cloth and cleaning the primer pockets. I do, however, run all cases through the ultrasonic bath about every five loadings, although perhaps it may not be really necessary. You don’t really need an ultrasonic or a tumbler if your budget is tight. OTOH you could pop your cases in the dishwasher, I suppose.
    - Bullet pullers. Just as a writer has a rubber to erase errors, a bullet puller erases your reloading mistakes. I recommend the collet type. It’s like a reloading die and goes in the press and with it you can unload ammo easily. I have found that those inertia hammer things are too slow, messy and inconvenient.

    There are many other bits and pieces which are supposed to help to make more accurate ammo, but my advice is to concentrate on producing good safe ammunition, finessing can come along as you gain experience and expertise.

    - A place to reload. This can be a problem and depends on your circumstances, house layout etc. One of the essentials is a sturdy reloading bench on which to mount your press. Now, I suspect that “Management” would object to holes in the dining room table so you’ll have to find a solution that suits your circumstances. One answer is a folding Workmate type bench. Your press can be bolted to a sturdy lump of wood and clamped in the bench “jaws”. The bench can be folded up after use and the press and its attached timber put away.
    Don’t load in a room where there is a lot of traffic as the draughts will upset your balance. Find a nice quiet corner where you won’t be disturbed and draught free. Avoid distractions like TV or radio, you will need all your concentration, especially at the beginning. A bedroom/boxroom or the kitchen if disturbance can be kept to a minimum..
    - Safety. I advise the use of safety glasses, particularly when priming. Although, by and large, the process of reloading is quite safe, you are dealing with powders which are flammable and primers which are quite sensitive to shock or static. Keep primers in their packaging (usually little trays), take only as many as you need at a time and make sure that those bits of kit which come in contact with them are wiped clean to ensure they do not have dust on the surfaces. Those tumbledrier antistatic cloths are good for this.

    -For those addicted to the weed – need I remind you not to smoke whilst reloading?.

    - Reading list
    The ABC's of Reloading (I strongly advise starting with this one.)
    Metallic Cartridge Reloading
    Modern Reloading by Richard Lee
    Manufacturers Manuals:
    Speer Manual
    Lyman Metallic Reloading Handbook
    Hornady Reloading Handbook
    Sierra Manual

  6. #6
    Reloading can be fun but don't expect to save a lot of cash especially if you normally shoot cheap ammo. One thing to watch out for is people telling you that you need piles of gear. My advice would be to buy the very basics and then add things as you go along and find yourself actually needing them. Here is a photo of my reloading gear, it is missing the press and a powder funnel. You could do it with less than this and could even go down the route of the Lee classic loader which would mean that you don't require a press which is usually the most expensive single item. If you can save on buying "stuff" then that would reduce the cost per load.

    One other thing is that reloading is often an outlet for OCD - we all do things that we feel are necessary but that aren't really. Recently I was forming some new cases to my chamber. I didn't size the cases at all but just to them new, out of the box and loaded them with a bullet that I don't use but somehow have a box lying about, over a powder load that I know to be a very moderate pressure load, just so there was no risk. I didn't worry about OAL length but just popped the bullets into the case based on the length my die was set to for the previous bullet I'd used. I shot 20 of them into a less than a 2 inch group, in fact it might have been more around 1.5 inches and I bet most of the group size was down to my shooting. So, don't get too tied up with all the things people tell you it is necessary to measure or worry about as my experience is that often I can ignore all of that, pop some powder and a bullet in a case and it will shoot better than I can.
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by docholiday View Post
    ... I use the following calibre's
    6.5 x 55
    Can I suggest starting with either the 7mm08 or the 6.5 x55 first? If you've friends locally that load one of these two rounds, that might help sway your decision. I've not saved any money reloading, but I have shot more. The Lee reloading book is a good place to start. Good luck. JCS

  8. #8
    Reload for accuracy, not to save money.
    As JCS says start with the 7mm and 6.5x55. Iv no experiance with the 7mm08 but have with 6.5x55 and is deffinatly a calibre that benefits from reloading.

    Cheers. Matt.

  9. #9
    I have been reloading for a few years now, started off with a Lee Loader, then bought a whole lot of gear. I now get almost as much pleasure out of reloading as I do out of shooting.

    My newest toy is a Hornaday concentricity gauge. This has made a huge difference. Just to see, I tried reloading my 308 using the Lee Loader and then running the cases through the gauge.

    I was able to shoot comfortable 3/4 inch groups at 110yards off a Harris bipod with no rear bag or any other support, I suspect that these would all keyhole off a bench! So a Lee Loader can be all the tool you need!

    PS I still use the full reloading set up, because I like the tinkering (OCD) and enjoy the process, not sure if I would have bought it all if I was just reloading to save cash.

  10. #10
    thanks everybody, lots of great stuff here especially PeteL for all the information

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