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Reloading

No, the other kind. Tools to set up reloading for your AR-15.

Any of you guys have any advice on reloading? I’m tangentially interested. Not to save money but I want to stock enough primers and boolits to have plenty in stock should the ammo market get all crazy again. I’d only need to re load 5.56, 9mm, and .357. Let me know what you got. Thanks.

21 Responses to “Reloading”

  1. Sigivald Says:

    I mean, depends on the quantities you want?

    I have a single-stage I never use anymore. Fine for smaller quantities, but if you want to be Tam, you’ll need a progressive press to get volume up.

  2. Ratus Says:

    It would probably be easier to just stock up a bit then to try and figure out what components to get for “just in case”.

    9mm is almost as cheap as it was before the ammo rush of ’08.

    Good 5.56 is down too.

    I’m still shooting some WWB 9mm from ’07 when it was around $128 a case.

  3. Tasso Rampante Says:

    Reloading 5.56 is a pain. Most ARs beat the tar out of the brass so itís clean lube size trim decrimp inspect and then frequently throw away.

    I only do it for specialty loads like Barnes TSX where the value is there. That said, I still hold onto my brass.

  4. wfgodbold Says:

    Reloading doesnít save money, it just lets you shoot twice as much for the same amount of money.

    The easiest thing would probably be to get a Dillion 750xl, casefeeder, and bulletfeeder, and conversion kit for .357. I think they make a kit that comes with every th omg set up for .223/5.56 and 9mm out of the box (not 100% sure). The case feeder is necessary, but the bulletfeeder is amazing.

    Iíve got a 650 and I only reload 9 and 40, so I canít speak to reloading rifle calibers. If you have a tool head and everything so that you just swap parts, changing calibers takes less than 10 minutes.

  5. RandyGC Says:

    I’ve loaded thousands of rounds .223 on my Dillon 450/upgraded to a 550.

    My biggest advice is LUBE LUBE LUBE! The Dillon spray lube works for me (you may be detecting a trend here).

    If you get military surplus brass you will need to swage out the crimped primer pocket (another tool from Dillon). I bought the tool back in the day because I was on good terms with various military range officers. NOT an issue with commercial brass in my experience.

    My most active time was before heavier bullets became a thing and I tried to replicate .mil loads. I used Winchester or Federal .55gr bullets, CCI or Winchester Small rifle primers, and Winchester 748 powder(which also worked well with .30-06, decreasing the number of powders I needed to stock) with whatever brass I had.

    Worked well in National Match, Navy Ribbon Qualification shoots and various tactical type fun/ competition shooting.

  6. cntbfxd Says:

    I’ll second the vote on the Dillon 550. I’ve been using one for close to 15 years and it has been a beast. I load mainly 9mm, 38/357, 40 S&W, 45 ACP, 45 LC, 223, and 300 BLK. If all things are going smoothly (kids are playing in another room), I can crank out between 250-350 rounds an hour. The savings aren’t there on most rounds, but having the ability to find a load that each weapon likes is where I find the benefit.

    The one round that I have found savings on is the 300 BLK. With the youngest daughter shooting a hundred or so rounds every outing, I would be bankrupt if I paid retail prices.

  7. Jailer Says:

    If you just want to take a stab at reloading the Lee Classic Turret is a cheap way to get into it and still be able to produce ammo in a decent quantity/time ratio. Just make sure to get decent dies such as Hornady though, Lee rifle dies suck ballz. If you like doing it then get a 550 or 750 as others have suggested for quantity loading. Rifle does take a bit more work and dedication so there is that. I have more time than I do money so I choose to load (and cast) for everything (yes, everything including my AR’s) I shoot.

  8. Jailer Says:

    Should have also added get a reloading manual and read up on it first to see if it’s really something you want to do. It’s a bit of a time sink but can be very rewarding.

  9. Ryan Anderson Says:

    I currently have a Dillon 550 and a 1050. Iíve had the 550 for 15 years and have loaded well over 100k rounds on it. The 1050 is newer to me but I bought it for just doing 9mm and 223. I HATE Swaging brass. The fact that the 1050 does that makes it worth it to me. Between some friends and I we load 10-15k a year which is still low for a 1050 but I like it. Where you can save a fair bit is on rounds like 44mag, 300blk, 500sw mag alone is almost worth it for a 550. Keep an eye out on the used market. Every year or two I find some guy that is selling everything they own for reloading. Iíve bought 6-7 setups over time and itís a steal every time

  10. chiefjaybob Says:

    Having owned a Lee manual turret press, and a Lee Pro 1000 progressive, I agree with the commenters above to get a Dillon.

  11. Reflex Says:

    Dillon 650 here. I do 9, 10, 45, 5.56, 6.8.

    Iíd consider not using the 650, but only to use a 750, 1050, 1100, or maybe one of them mark7 things that cost more than my car.

    As others have said, youíll not save any $, but youíll have a lot more Ammo and no time.

  12. The Neon Madman Says:

    I mainly load .38 wadcutters, have for years. Occasionally 9mm and .30-06. I use an old CH Tool single stage press, Lee dies, Lyman tumbler.

    My main reasons for reloading: I like to shoot wadcutter target loads, and I load them for a third of what virgin ammo would cost (of course, my labor is free). Sometimes, I wonder what kind of jobs some of the other shooters at the range have, when I stand there and listen to them burn up a hundred dollars or more of ammo in a session. I’m a poor retired guy – yes, it takes some work to build up a batch of 500 rounds, but I have the time and I also have ammo on hand anytime I need it. Buy components when you see a good deal, or have a few extra bucks burning a hole in your pocket. Keep a good stock on hand, and you’ll not worry about shortages (or worse) again.

    Best bet would be to actually sit with someone and watch for an hour or so. I’m sure someone you know at your range loads. A fellow known as “Weasel” runs a very popular gun thread Sunday nights at Ace’s place, a few months ago there was a reloading series oriented towards beginners on .38. Weasel maintains an archive, so the series is retreivable.

  13. Irving Says:

    Lotsa equipment recommendations above, other than recommending Dillon and “progressive beats single station” I won’t duplicate them. Get a good electronic scale and learn how to use it correctly, having a mid- to high-end beam scale as backup isn’t a bad idea. Follow all the recommendations in the reloading manuals, a chronograph is useful (tip: Consistency rather than absolute velocity is the goal). NRA has a Metallic Reloading Course (also a Shotshell Reloading Course), pretty good as a newbie starter if you can find someone teaching it. When reloading focus is key – the kids, TV, radio, dog, etc. all need to be somewhere else. If you go progressive, extra primer tubes are great, get lots of them.

    Powder and primers – look for hazmat discounts (Brownells does that from time to time). Get a used fridge, doesn’t need to work, just be well insulated and airtight. Scrub it until it’s sterile inside, dry very thoroughly, make sure it’s “desert dry” with a week of dessicant, use it for storing powder. Do not bolt or tightly lock, it, if there’s a fire you want a big bright fizzle not a bang. Do not store primers with powder, a thick inexpensive styrofoam cooler works for that, extra points for multiple smaller coolers (multiple eggs so multiple baskets…). Humidity and high temps are the enemy. Larger quantities are cheaper, esp at gun shows but price comparison shop.

    Everyone has favorite primers, generally Federal primers are harder to ignite, changing primers is changing the load, means restarting the “start low and work up” process.

    Bullet casting is a useful skill, means a lead pot (2 if you’re serious, one’s heating while the other is being used), moulds, mould handles, sizer and sizer dies & lube, having a source of good lead alloy (wheel weights used to be OK, but that was 30+ years ago, today they’re chinese crap) etc. Cheaper & easier to just buy cast bullets. Tip: Group buy from a large caster means cheaper, but someone needs a forklift if it’s a really big order that comes on a pallet. Don’t buy a pallet-load cold, try the caster first for a while as a quality check.

  14. Ravenwood Says:

    My advice is don’t do it. I spent thousands on a reloading press, supplies, the reloading bible, etc only to find it tedious and boring.

    What’s more it’s a pain in the ass for me to go shoot anything, so trying out my newly reloaded ammo was a pain. It’s much easier if you can load up a dozen rounds and then step out back to see how they do.

    Further, I discovered the hard way that there’s different sizes of primers. That meant sorting my .45 ACP brass one case at a time because half of them were large primer and half of them small primer.

    Eventually it just became too much so I gave it up. The idea of reloading was awesome. In practice not-so-much.

  15. totc Says:

    I started out with a Lee single stage press to get my feet wet. I reloaded a lot of 9mm and .357, plus a fair amount of .223/5.56 on it.
    The Lee single stage serves me now for low volume rifle rounds and to deprime brass.

    Currently I own a Dillon 550 and I am quite satisfied with it for the quantities I reload.

    If you go with a progressive press, be sure and buy the spare parts kit, so when that spring or pin or set screw gets lost, you are not down waiting to go to the gun store for a new one.

    Lately I’ve been seeing more and more equipment come from estate sales, or widows selling off their husbands stuff, so be sure and check around for deals that way.

  16. Ritchie Says:

    I can’t speak for the autopress, I use a green single stage and swage primer pockets with the RCBS swage set.
    I prep brass in stages, in coffee can lots. I have found the Lee Precision dies to be fine, and seem to work the brass less than Big Green dies. RCBS case lube 2 on a stamp pad. Notes for the AR-CCI #41 primer or similar hard cup. Size cases only enough for free chambering. Excess sizing increases headspace and case stretching. In the same connection, use a piece of coathanger wire to check for thinning inside the case. H-4895 seems to work well.

  17. Sendarius Says:

    @Ravenwood:

    .45 ACP with small primers? Are you sure? The specification is for large primers, and I can’t imagine anyone deviating from that.

    I just checked, and .45 GAP (Glock Auto Pistol) uses small primers, so maybe that is what you were referring to. The GAP case is also a little shorter, and thus has smaller volume, so you should definitely NOT reload GAP cases using ACP data.

    You would have to sort the brass anyway, so that’s not a reason to not reload.

    Here in Oz, I can’t buy ammunition for my competition guns that meets the power factor required for IPSC, so reloading is my only option. That it is so much cheaper is just a bonus.

  18. Sendarius Says:

    To get back to the original topic:

    I use two Dillon XL650 machines with case feeders, and calibre conversion kits for .38 Special/.357 Magnum, .38 Super, .38 Super Comp, and .40 S&W.

    I have quick change tool heads for each of the conversions, so I just swap the lot (shell holder, tool head with dies and powder measure, and primer feed if necessary) and keep cranking.

    A swap takes less than ten minutes.

    For reloading assorted rifle calibres, I use an old RockChucker single stage as I don’t go through nearly as much rifle fodder as pistol.

    Recently fitted “smoothing kits” bought from Ebay that replace a lot of sliding contact points with rollers. Next purchase will be a bullet feeder.

  19. Billll Says:

    I have a Lee 1000 progressive press, 3-hole, and load mostly pistol ammo, about 200 rounds/month. The Lee works well and quickly but does not handle primers well and has some other quirks. For my quantities, it works well. .40, 9×19, and 9×18 wind up costing between 11 and 14 cents/rd.

    Rifle ammo is much more finicky. For that I use a Lee single stage.

  20. countertop Says:

    I used to reload all the time. I mainly just reload hunting ammo now. I enjoy it, but its time consuming and I don’t have the time. For pistol calibers, its just cheaper and easier to buy commercial loads (though I will still load .38 wad cutters on occaision). I have dies for both .223 and 5.56 but have never actually used them. Just easier, and cheaper, to buy ammo. However, in the new Virginia that I live in I imagine it will be illegal for me to even shoot an AR (let alone my SaysUncle built AK). All my fun guns (had they not been washed overboard into the ocean in a tragic boating accident) would have needed to find new homes out of state.

  21. Tom from east Tennessee Says:

    13 years after getting into reloading and even casting bullets, I can agree with every one of the posts above even the ones that disagree with each other. (ie do it no don’t do it)

    I would say “do it!” but not necessarily for the reasons everyone else has stated.
    -if you want your own “uninterruptable supply” of ammo, reloading is kind of a way to do it provided you laid in a large supply of components.
    – absolutely you won’t save money, you will shoot more for the same money though

    If just having ammo available in case there’s another shortage, ban or whatever, reloading will be of limited use to you.
    Reloading was very cool for me when I started since I no longer had to plan to go to the store before a range trip, rather I’d plan instead to do one or two loading sessions to make enough ammo for the range trip.

    Later on, during and after the great panic of 2008, I realized that reloading wouldn’t help me if I didn’t have components. Primers, powder, and even projectiles-bullets were non-existant or very scarce for several years after the 2008 election.
    After that election I laid in a decent stash of powder and primers, enough to last me for another drought.
    Not all that different from just laying in a bunch of cases of ammo though if I hadn’t reloaded. I am *still* working through that stash of components.

    So, why reload?
    If you have the $ to buy ammo, I would say that learning to reload WILL make you a more knowledgeable and therefore a better shooter. Among other things, you’ll learn why you should specify each thing in a load that you’re making, why this powder or that powder, how much, bullet type and weight, do I crimp the bullet or not, and on and on.
    Plus, if you have the reloading gear and know how to use it, you can control all of these variables yourself which is very cool. You can make good hunting ammo, precision ammo, cheap blasting ammo, etc.
    You won’t look at the shelves in the ammo store the same way again, nor at the selection in any of the online ammo places.

    To learn, get any reloading manual and read the couple of chapters that describe how to reload. If you don’t want a particular vendor’s manual (e.g. Lee, Speer, Hornady, etc) you can get a copy of “The ABCs of Reloading” which is equipment-agnostic. (I got a copy from my local library)

    I would recommend that when you start doing it, that you do so on either a single stage press or a turret press. Everyone wants a progressive press “ammo factory”, I get it and I have one too. But with a progressive press, there are 5 or 6 things happening every time you pull down on the handle and it’s a lot to keep up with even if you’re experienced. If you must start with a progressive, use it in sort of turret mode that is only put in one brass case at a time and pull the handle 4-5-6 times to load up that one case by itself, while you learn how it’s supposed to work.
    You don’t know “how it’s supposed to work” well enough until something jams or goes wrong with something, and you can identify it immediately by the sound and feel not being right.

    I started with a Lee Turret Press kit (and still have it) and that’s fine for being in the game. After several years of that I upgraded to a non-Lee progressive (do not get the Lee progressive, I have read too many negative reviews of them) which can make more rounds per hour.
    I think the Lee stuff is fine for learning on but when you look at other brands of dies, presses etc you will immediately see the quality difference. Lee is hobbyist grade at best, which is fine for many things. I agree with the above, don’t get Lee rifle dies and also do not get the Lee rifle case prep stuff (I finally bought some other case trimmers and case prep centers for rifle brass, the Lee case prep stuff is just not good enough imo)

    Good luck and enjoy!