Reloading Equipment and Your ChoicesJul 15th, 2011 | By RhinoDoc | Category: D.I.Y., Firearms, Getting Ready
By, THE Patriot!
When I started reloading many long years ago I settled pretty quickly on the equipment that worked best for me, and that’s what I will likely use till the day comes when I stop loading. I found that after trying out many friends and families equipment, I really liked the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme single stage press, having said that, don’t get the idea that this is going to be an article that is all about RCBS and no other info on other makes and models of equipment, it isn’t!
Other makes and models of tools are pretty wide ranging with manufactures like Lee, Dillon, and Hornady just to name a few. All offer pretty good quality, and all are capable of helping you to load quality rounds.
When choosing your equipment, make sure you ask a lot of questions at the stores you might purchase your equipment from, as well as people you know that reload. Their input and knowledge will be very helpful in helping you to decide what to purchase.
In general there are two types of presses, “Single-Stage” and “Multi-Stage”, the difference is simply this….A single stage press is a press that only has one station to screw your dies into to perform which ever task you need to do at that time. For instance, there are basic steps that need to be done in order to make your reloads. There is de-capping/de-priming, re-sizing, seating, and expanding/belling. When using a single stage press, each die must be swapped out to perform the next step in the process, whereas in the case of the multi-stage press, all of the dies are in play and nothing needs to be swapped out. Multi-stage presses are great for making a lot of rounds, but can make the loader a bit complacent when it comes to quality and safety…..my opinion only! Using the single-stage press, you tend to take your time a bit more, and although it takes longer to make your rounds, the quality……in my humble opinion…..will be superior! I’m not a fan of the multi-stage presses , but that doesn’t mean it won’t be just what the doctor ordered for you!
As far as scales and measurers go, they can make an otherwise pleasurable experience a royal pain in the butt! The old school scales and powder measures certainly do their job, and do a fair job, but they are time consuming to say the least. I think it is important to learn to reload without any electronic gizmos, that way when you do finally get your electronic gizmos and they fail, break, or just stop working, you can always pull out the equipment you learned on and keep reloading while your gizmo is being fixed or replaced. Gizmo’s? What kind of gizmos are we talking about here? Well I’m sure most of you know I’m not talking about the fuzzy little dude in the movie Gremlins, and if you thought that’s what I was talking about…PLEASE, do us all a favor and DON’T get into reloading. No, what I’m talking about are things like the RCBS Charge Master Combo, it’s an electronic measurer and scale. It’s a great tool to have, but like all things it failed me once and I had to pull out the old school scale and measurer while RCBS took care of the problem for me. The new school, ninjafied, high performance goodies should not be relied on without question, and true, the Charge Master does make things easier and is a bit faster but you still need to check everything, I’ll check the accuracy of the powder charge about every ten rounds, and re-calibrate the machine after about every one hundred rounds…better safe than sorry! The Charge Master is a wonderful piece of equipment and I’m loathe to be without it. It’s made things much more pleasurable and has allowed me to reload more often because it takes some of the tedium out of the process.
Hornady makes a scale and measure combo very much like the RCBS Charge master combo, and for less money, $249.99 compared to $339.99 of the RCBS. Lyman makes a combo scale and measurer for $279.99. So as you can see, there are many choices, so do your home work and make an educated choice, and not an uncertain one.
When it comes to Dies there are also many choices, but instead of naming the makers, let’s look at the type of Dies there are since many of the makers named above also make dies.
As far as Dies go, the types and opinions are numerous, in my opinion Carbide Dies are the best Dies to use hands down, I’ll tell you way in a minute so relax!
There are two types of Dies, Standard and Carbide, the standard or non-carbide Dies will help you load rounds just like the Carbide Dies will, the difference is, the Carbide Dies offer a bit more accuracy and smoother operation and usually do not require the shell casings to be lubed with oil first before using!
There are also Dies that are for the precision loader and shooter, they have a built in micrometer, and they offer a very accurate round. The prices on these Dies range from comparable to holy shit, it just depends upon what it is you want to do. Are you a loader for bulk, are you a loader for accuracy or are you a loader for precision?
Midway USA have a huge selection of all of this stuff, I recommend you take a look.
Shell holders are really a non-issue….in less of course you don’t have them…or the right one for your application. Most makers of the equipment above makes shell holders, shell holders are what you use to hold the shell casings in place on the press and the primer tool, they are pretty inexpensive, and I don’t think it really matters what maker you choose, it’s rarely a problem part. Just remember, without these little tools you can’t do a darn thing, so don’t overlook them, I recommend purchasing two every time you start loading a new caliber. But here’s a little something to keep in mind, many shell holders will work with multiple calibers, so make sure you ask your gun store personnel or reloading supplier whether or not your current shell holders will work with your new caliber. They usually have a chart, or something like it, there in the store to help you out!
After shooting, you’ll want to clean up your brass before reloading it, that’s why a tumbler is so important, it not only make your brass pretty, but it also removes burnt and un-burnt powder which may be corrosive, and that’s always a good idea. I have two tumblers, makes it easy to clean up a lot of brass after a day or two at the range or in the desert.
That should cover the basics as far as equipment goes, I’ll be talking about reloading supplies next time around, and that means bullets, brass, primers and powder. I’ll also cover a little more about equipment too.
Remember to always load and shoot safe.
Keep your powder dry, and I’ll see you at the range!