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post #1 of 11 Old 12-02-2013, 04:03 PM Thread Starter
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Reloading setups

Guys, I just picked up an AR from 2k2wranglerx and I think I want to reload some ammo for it. I have reloaded before, but I'd guess it was <100 rounds total and it was nearly 20 years ago. I don't remember much about the reloading setup that I used since it belonged to a friend.

So, someone school me. What do I NEED to get started? Any suggestions on a reloader that would be a good starting point?

I think it was RCBS... not 100% sure about that, but it rings a bell. I think the bullets were Speer... again, not sure.

Any and all advice is appreciated.

Thanks.


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post #2 of 11 Old 12-02-2013, 04:44 PM
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I've reloaded with my buddy that has super nice setup. As he states, there is Dillon, and then there is everything else.

Buy the reloading bible and look at starter kits. It comes down to how fast you want to make ammo and how much you want to spend on equipment.

https://www.dillonprecision.com/

This is a really good starter kit by Lee
http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Precision-.../dp/B008M5TSCG


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post #3 of 11 Old 12-02-2013, 11:24 PM
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What you need is a reloading manual.
Get one, read it 3 times and then start gathering reloading stuff.
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post #4 of 11 Old 12-03-2013, 11:25 AM
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^ Bingo. Read, read, read. As far as AR reloading, Natchez has an RCBS AR reloading kit that has dies for all the major AR calibers (5.56/.223, 300 BLK, 7.62x39, and maybe one more...) that'd be a good, ready-made setup.
Dillon is great, but getting parts can be tricky, especially now while things are still not yet cooled down in the ammunition/arms world.
I'm a big fan of Lee- I've had my Lee turret press for years and thousands of rounds. It's far from the fastest, but it's compact, inexpensive, and I can switch dies and calibers quickly and easily. Plus, parts are almost always available, and dies from other companies will fit it (I have a smattering of Hornady, RCBS, Lyman, etc. in the mix, and everything fits).

As far as what all you'll need:
Equipment:
Dies (5.56/.223, and any other caliber you want to reload)
Shell holder for your calibers
Priming tool with shell holder for your calibers
Powder funnel (not REQUIRED, but very damn helpful!)
Press of some sort (from the Lee Hand Press at $25-30 all the way up!)
Case trimmer (5.56/.223 almost always seems to need trimming, especially mil-spec cases)
Micrometer (digital, for case length prep)
Scale (again, not REQUIRED if you do volumetric loading [Lee has powder dippers- I use these for plinking rounds- competition rounds I use the scale, plus I run a check-up on the powder dippers on the first round of every volumetric batch], but recommended)
Case cleaner (also not required, but 5.56/.223 tends to be fairly dirty, and I like NOT putting old carbon, dirt, etc. back into my guns!) and media
Boxes for ammo (you can re-use your commercial boxes, or use specific reloading boxes. I'm a huge fan of MTM- cheap and easy!)
Bullet puller (also not required, but you WILL screw up, and it's nice not to have to summarily throw out components!)
Primer pocket swager (most mil-spec 5.56 cases will require the primer pocket to be swaged prior to reloading)
Reloading manualS (more than one. I use Lee and Hornady primarily, but the others are good, too. There's an AR-specific reloading manual I have that I got on Amazon that's been pretty darn good, too)
Load stickers and a marker (to help you organize your rounds, and remember what you put together)
Powder trickler (not required, but helpful. Spend more here for one that has good reviews, and doesn't leak like a sieve during changes/dumping! Ask me about that one... )

Supplies:
Primers (some say AR-specific rounds MUST run military-type primers, some disagree. I've run non-military-type primers with no issues, but that does NOT mean that's the best idea)
Powder (buy AFTER you read through your manuals and find some good combinations- start with ONE pound until you find what you like best, THEN buy in bulk when you find out what works- not the other way around!)
Cases (either once-fired [check with local ranges- many will either sell you bulk, once-fired brass, or let you clean up] or fresh. DO NOT NECK SIZE ONCE-FIRED BRASS FROM OTHER RIFLES! Only your own )
Bullets (.224 diameter for 5.56/.223. Make sure they're not for other .22 caliber rounds- .22 Hornet, .22-250, etc. as the length may cause issues)
Bullet lube (used if you don't run the cases through a carbide/titanium die)

There's probably something I'm forgetting. The basic rule of reloading is read, read read. Plan on screwing up. Take your time, and measure twice (or more) before you test-fire. I never recommend a progressive press to a newbie (or re-starter- no offense!), as the temptation to burn through rounds as quickly as possible makes the chances of issues (double-charge, deep-set bullet, inverted primer, etc.) more likely, and reduces the chances of noticing that mistake as well versus a single-stage or turret press. As I mentioned, I am a big fan of my old Lee turret press- slow, reliable, and easy.

The last thing I'll say is get carbide dies where able- they'll save you $$ in the long run in terms of bullet lube, case wear & tear, and the inserts supposedly last longer than plain steel (haven't reloaded THAT many cases in any caliber that I've had issues yet!).

If you have any questions, I'm far from an expert, but it sounds like we have some other experienced folks here, and we're all willing to help! Cheers- Mark W.

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post #5 of 11 Old 12-03-2013, 11:52 AM
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Great post above, pretty much covers it.

I disagree on a couple points. I consider a scale a must have and some manufacturers still require lube on carbide rifle dies.

I personnally have a Dillon 550 and have been reloading for about 6 years, no clue how many rounds. I reload mostly pistol which is why I purchased the progressive rig. When I reload rifle, I use the press in what I call a semi-progressive mode, in that I decap and resize brass then pull that station. When the brass is all ready (ie trimmed, chamfered, deburred and tumbled clean) I run it back through all 4 stations without the resize die. Anyway.

If I had it to do over again I would buy either the 650 or the 1050. Since I purchased my 550 the price on them has come up by about 100 but in the same time the price on the 1050 has almost doubled. I have used one they are nice but I don't think they are $1600 nice. The 650 is a nice rig/

With rifle I weigh every charge, pressures are high and mistakes can be very detrimental. I recently purchased an RCBS Chargemaster which brings brings my rifle reload time down to about 30 secs/round. Highly recommended but they are a bit on the pricey side at $350. Something to think about if you are going to buy a digital scale. Takes a little of the bite out.

A manual or selection of manuals should be your first purchase. I have a Lyman it's good, multiples is the way to go though.

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post #6 of 11 Old 12-03-2013, 01:18 PM
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As for the scale, it's not a "must," but it's a sure-as-Hell-should-have He put need in all caps, so I'm assuming budget/expediency is key. You can get by running volumetric loads from Lee without a scale, but I'd ALWAYS recommend checking them once in a while to be sure.
As for carbide dies needing lube, I have Lyman, RCBS, Hornady, and Lee carbide dies, and none of them mention lube... who am I missing? The whole point of carbide dies is a lube-free design- if they require lube, why bother??

As far as the scale, I have the Hornady electric sucker- for a little more, I wish I had gotten the charge dispenser model. One of these days, I'll upgrade It takes a while to warm up, but it's extremely consistent once warm- just turn it on when you get into the shop/basement/whatever, clean up and get organized for the day, then get to work.

Again, as he's asking for basic needs, I can't say the Dillons are the way to go. They're great presses, but a $500+ press for a semi-newb is ridiculous. Lee, RCBS, and Hornady make presses that are excellent for a fraction of that, and unless you're loading in bulk (hundreds plus per week), that extra cost will never be offset by cost savings in reloading. I follow the KISS rule, also the KISSTWDLMA (Keep It Simple So The Wife Doesn't Leave My Ass) rule- there's going cheap and getting cheap shite, and there's getting your money's worth- I have only once been let down by Lee's products (a .45 ACP bullet seating die that wouldn't seat), and they replaced it under warranty in under two weeks from shipping to receiving a replacement. Can't complain about that, especially for their prices! Mark W.

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Last edited by thaduke2003; 12-03-2013 at 01:20 PM.
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post #7 of 11 Old 12-03-2013, 07:09 PM Thread Starter
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Lots of good info here, guys. I'll read up on it later. Thanks.


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post #8 of 11 Old 12-09-2013, 02:50 PM
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I think I have a pretty minimalistic setup:

--Lyman turret press: http://www.lymanproducts.com/lyman/p...c_RPK_Tmag.php
--Cabelas digital powder scale
--Lee volumetric powder measure: http://www.midwayusa.com/Product/540...powder-measure
--HF digital caliper

I've never trimmed cases. I can get plenty of once-fired .223 brass at the gun range. Just measure it to make sure it's in spec before you load it.

I put my loaded rounds in sandwich bags or freezer bags and label them with a sharpie.

I use a volumetric measure but I always check it with a scale when setting it up.

Right before I pour the powder in I always hold the case upside down to make sure I don't double-charge.
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post #9 of 11 Old 12-09-2013, 04:06 PM
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^ The one thing I'll say about plastic bags is that they'll rip with anything but rounded tips, and when they do, bad times! Try old cardboard boxes- if they start to crap out, there's always tape!

Also, another thing I forgot is a chamfer/deburring tool. I use the Lee ones- I keep a couple around because they're cheap and easy, but, like any sharp edge, they will wear out over time (I have at least a thousand rounds done on each tool, and they're all still good)- Mark W.

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post #10 of 11 Old 12-11-2013, 09:23 AM
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Side note, I just received the 49th edition of Lyman's reloading handbook. I now have the latest from Lyman, Lee, and Hornady. Here's my review of the three:

Lee: MASSIVE number of different loads for a pretty good variety of calibers. Nothing on 300 BLK, for instance (only missing caliber I reload I've found yet). Very detailed information on many loads (pressure, FPS, etc.), but not the clearest in terms of operations (the intro of every reloading manual includes a "how-to" section. Lee's is 1/2 ad for their equipment, and 1/2 information. While I understand this, the other two books are more specific, with the nod going to Hornady. Because Lee doesn't make bullets (only molds, dies, etc.), the loads are not limited to their own brand of bullets, which means loading is not restricted to similar or same-type bullets- very nice in the current environment! Also, they include volumetric loading data, which is nice if you have Lee equipment- otherwise, a bit of math is required, but nothing awful- just check your work (yes, like high school math, all over again, but it actually matters now!!) Overall, A-

Hornady: they only mention bullets they make themselves (and not all of them!), which limits the usefulness of this book. However, it has a ton of great information, including background on some cartridges, occasionally including the gun used for testing. They also mention SOME cartridges' needs in terms of crimping, which is nice! Their latest edition also has loads for the 300 BLK, which is why I bought it in the first place. I noticed that they left out the 7.35 Carcano, although they make a bullet specifically for this application! Weird... Also, some loads neglect to include a C.O.L. (Case Overall Length- the preferred length of the finished round), including .223 Remington with a 50-grain bullet, again, a bullet they themselves produce! Their C.O.L.'s often disagree with those of the other two, but at least charge weights for the same powder/round/bullet weight seem to more or less agree between the three. Overall: B-

Lyman: disclaimer: I only got the newest edition in a few minutes ago, but going by a brief impression, I really like this book. The pages are large (it takes up more shelf space, but even older eyes can read the text/load data easily. Mine are young, and I still appreciate this, vs. Lee's manual which uses tiny font), and the data is pretty impressively complete. Lots of loads, but not as many as Lee, but seemingly more than Hornady. This book includes C.U.P. pressures, velocity, and clear C.O.L. data. If this had as many different bullet weight loads as Lee, I would probably consider this to be THE reloading manual. If I find any glaring faults, I'll mention them, but until then, this may well be my new go-to manual! Overall: A

Hope this helps Mark W.

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post #11 of 11 Old 01-09-2014, 06:46 AM
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This is my setup, it's basic:


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