People that are a lot more religious than me have told me for years that we would be put to a test one day. I think that day is about on us. Our new president is going to put as much pressure on us as he can. I think he will try to break us as gun owners and free men in as many ways as he possibly can. These are going to be trying times, but with God's help we can get thru it. The United States has never gone thru anything like this before so we don't know what to look for or to watch out for. Keep the faith and do the best you can. That's all any of us can do.
In these next few weeks or months I would suggest you set aside a gun or two and as much ammo as you can afford. Hopefully you did this way back a year ago when we first started talking about this for the prices of the guns and the ammunition are far greater now than they were then.
I had planned to go over the new items that were premiered at the SHOT SHOW but will set that idea aside for the next Gun Notes. Instead I wanted to go over reloading and the new products for that are here now as they may get scarce in the near future. Reloading in the next year or so will be a boon to those that are already set up to do so. Ammunition prices seem to continue to ease higher. Not quite as fast as they were going this time last year when we had price hikes almost weekly but they will surely continue to ease up a bit at a time. If you reload your ammo, a box of ammo that costs you $40 can be reloaded for probably $15 to $18. So it doesn't take long for you to cover your initial investment.
Reloading is not hard at all. It is not something geeks do in their basements at midnight. And becoming a reloader doesn't mean you have to become another waterboy. Thank goodness for that as humanity couldn't stand another waterboy. Actually Scott Boggs is a very decent boy, a bit warped at times, but a nice guy, considering his mother dropped him on his head a few times too many. But I digress.
Reloading can be a fun thing to do and keeps you out of the local bars. Your wife will appreciate that. And you don't have to spend a fortune to get started either. She will love that even more. A good reloading set up can cost you as little as $100 or less for a Lee Reloading set up or up to $450 or so for a better set up.
Years ago I started out with a Lee handloader kit, the ones with the little sizer die that you hammered the brass into and hammered out and pressed the primers into with a hand tool, quite often having one go off on you when you tapped a bit too hard. That little press was a nice beginners tool but too rough on my underwear so I got away from that and went to a little RCBS single stage press called the Junior. I thought I was high tech. No more primers going off in my face. It cost me around $30. I used that press for a few years before going to the brand new RCBS Rockchucker press, at the time the Cadillac of reloading presses. I still have that press and the Lord only knows how many rounds I have loaded thru it or how much money I saved myself in reloaded ammo.
Today I have a long T shaped reloading bench with 6 progressive Dillon's, one RCBS Ammo Master and a Redding Turret press set up on it. No, I don't need all those, but with my schedule my reloading time is hard to come by and if I have to change a press over from one caliber to another (in a change the companies say takes less than 5 minutes, but actually takes 35 to 45 minutes) then I would rather just go to another press, sit down and reload. Time is money to many of us and with both in short supply these days, I opt for another press.
If I were to help someone get started today, someone that had never reloaded before and who needed to load maybe 300 or so rounds a month, here is what I would recommend.....
Before we even get started, forget the progressive presses. There are a lot of real good ones out there but for a beginner they can mess with your head. If something goes wrong you can screw up a lot of ammo before you figure out which end is up. As I mentioned I own 6 Dillon's progressive presses. I like them. They are great for straight wall cases like 9mm, 357, 44 mag, 45 long colt etc. OK for 223 and 308 but I don't use them for bottleneck revolver rounds. Years ago Steve Hornady sent me one of his new Lock N Load AP progressive presses. It is an extremely well built press, as strong if not stronger than the Dillon. Larry Kovach was just trying to get started in his new business Cartridge Performance Engineering and I gave that press to him. Andy Rowe owns the company now and is a super nice guy to deal with. Almost as warped at Scott Boggs but a nice guy nevertheless. Anyway, pass on the progressive presses if you are just starting out. Maybe later when you learn to walk down stairs, sing rap music, shake your ass and chew gun at the same time.
Now, you are just starting out, so, first a good strong single stage press. I would go with the RCBS or Hornady press. In the RCBS I would go with the Rockchucker if you plan to load rifle ammo or the smaller unit called the Reloader Special if handgun ammo is all you plan to reload. In the Hornady I would go with the Lock N Load Classic for rifle or handgun ammo. These are inexpensive presses and will literally last a lifetime. Also if you can afford it, go with the Kit in each of these. In the kit you get several other accessories that you will need anyway and in the kit you get them at a slightly better price. In the Hornady Lock N Load Classic kit you get the press, the powder measure, magnetic scale, loading manual, die bushings, primer catcher, the Hornady priming system, the priming tool, a loading block a deburring tool, your primer tray, and the case lube. This kit is somewhere around $300 but well worth every penny.
If you go with the Rockchucker Master kit, you get the Rockchucker press, the 5-0-5- scale, the powder measure, loading manual, hand priming tool, loading block, powder funnel, deburring tool and a lube kit. Pretty much identical to the Hornady kit. This one is about the same price as the Hornady kit, at $300 or a bit more.
With either of these kits you have everything you need to get started except for the dies and shell holder for the caliber you plan to start with. Speaking of dies. If at all possible, go with the carbide dies. They are available for most straight wall handgun calibers. You won't find them for but very few bottleneck cases and these are very expensive. The carbide dies have a carbide insert in the sizer die that lets you size the case without lubing it. This is great if you have a lot of ammo to load. No messy lube on your hands and on the loaded round that has to be wiped off before you shoot the round.
There are countless other accessories you can pick up as you go along, some you will need fairly soon, some you can put off for a while. Accessories I would try to get as soon as you can include the powder measure stand. This gets it high enough off the bench to make it handy to put powder in the cases. Pick up several loading manuals. Watch the gun shows as they often show up there used but in good shape. You never get enough loading manuals. The loading manual I highly recommend is the Lyman 49th edition loading manual. Most other companies that make bullets or powder only show their bullets or their powder in their manuals, Lyman does not make bullets or powder, so they show everyone's bullets and all the powders, even showing lead bullet loads. They also show a factory load equivalent and show what they consider the most promising load as far as accuracy goes. The Lyman book is the best of the bunch. The 49th edition has only been out a short time but any of them are good.
Speaking of loading manuals, check on the internet for the free small loading manuals that several of the powder companies put out. These come in handy. Most gun shops have them as freebies too.
Here are some of the accessories. Some of these I would pass on at first, some I would consider. As you progress and get deeper into reloading, then pick these up if you like, but at first, pass on most of them.
1.First the electronic scale. Learn the standard way first with the magnetic beam scale.
2.Powder tricklers...I have yet to really find a use for them.
3.Dial or digital calipers. Down the road it will be useful but not at first.
4.Micrometers, I put them right up there with the powder trickler and licorice flavored condoms..
5.Flash hole deburring tool. Geeks and anal people love these.
6.a 22 degree VLD deburring tool. If you figure out what in hell that is, let me know.
7. a case neck turner..if you are an anal target shooter, ok. If not. Forget it.
8. Vibrating case tumbler. You will eventually need one of these but not at first.
9. Case trimmer..You will also need one of these down the road if you load for a rifle or a bottleneck revolver round, but not at first.
10. The scale and powder dispenser combo. There are a lot of these out there. Most are really good, if you have plenty of time, they are good. Most of them take 30 seconds to meter out a specific load and if you need to load a couple hundred rounds of ammo in an evening they can take forever. In 30 seconds I can drop powder in most of a loading block of brass. This one is all personal preference, but I would pass on it at first. Just another thing to try and remember how it works. You will have enough mental roadblocks to stumble over at first without another.
11.Primer pocket brushes. Probably not exactly extremely important at first, but they are cheap so I would pick up a set. Primer pockets tend to get a bit cruddy and often need a little help. Just stick the tiny metal bristles in the primer pocket after you have deprimed the case, give a little twist and you've cleaned out the pocket. Takes longer to type it then it does to do it.
12. Lubes. For making new cases out of other cases, like the 300 GNR from 30-30, you need a good heavy duty lube. As you probably won't be doing this at first, the spray lubes are very good.
13. Powder baffle. This is a neat little gizmo that drops into your powder measure and helps keep the powder flowing evenly and not clumping up. I use this.
14. Hand or bench primer..I like the RCBS Automatic Priming Tool. This sits on the bench and as quick as you can put a new case in with your left hand, you prime the case with your right. very quick and very positive seating of the primer. I have recommended it so often I know the model number. It is the model 9460. If your wife is not heavily endowed in the bust department, I hear this helps build up her bust. You can even chant along with her.."I must, I must, I must build up my bust". Make sure you have good insurance before you suggest this to her.
15. reloading bench..Don't try to set this up on a card table or on the kitchen table. Build you a good heavy duty bench, and if you don't know how or have never built something like this before, let me know. Get your address to me and I will send you a sheet of plans to build a good reloading bench.
That's it. It is truly a simple thing to do. If Puff Daddy can do it, anyone can. And he does it with a salami sandwich in one hand. If you want to get started in reloading but still need some help, get on my forum. On the opening page of the site down in the bottom left hand corner it says "Ask Reeder Custom Guns". That is our forum. You don't have to have passwords or know how to spell your favorite 14 letter word. Jump on there and ask any reloading question you might have. The guys on there are handy little devils and are always willing to help out. Or you can call me at 928-526-3313 and I will help you all I can.
We will go over the new goodies from the SHOT SHOW next Gun Notes. Until then, give reloading some thought. You won't regret it.