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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

Let me apologize in advance for the long post but I figured you would need to know the background information to assist here.

HISTORY:

I used to reload with a good friend but have been out of it for approximately twelve years. Within the next year or so, I will be back into it again, this time with my son, and need to catch up with the times. That plus the fact that my memory is not what it used to be, so any help is welcome and appreciated.

My Buddy and I reloaded mainly for economy and never exceeded the recommended loads for the various calibers nor did any experimentation. We always checked every tenth powder charge and generally double-checked each other as we went through the process, safety first, last, and always (we had a fire extinguisher handy too).

Our/my equipment was mainly RCBS, a Rockchucker with a original Partner progressive attachment that never seemed to work perfectly, carbide sizing dies, beam scale, powder knocker, big case tumbler, some miscellaneous items, etc.

The calibers that we were reloading were as follows: .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .45 ACP, and .30 Carbine. The bullets were all hard-cast lead (except the Carbine, FMJ’s), bought in bulk from gun shows (and we weight checked them), the powders we used were mainly Accurate No. 2 (only one pound), Bullseye and WW-231, I believe, and the primers were all CCI’s.

In addition to the above-mentioned four calibers, I will eventually get into 9mm Parabellum and .40 S&W.

QUESTIONS/CONCERNS:

NEW PRESS: I was thinking on getting a Dillon setup, or equivalent, for the ease and volume as I plan to shoot 300 to 500 rounds a month. (As I said, I was never satisfied with the origional model Partner Piggyback). As to which Dillon I do not know, as there are too many choices. (I would like to get it right the first time $$$). I would keep the Rockchucker for future rifle caliber reloading.

POWDERS: What I am looking for is a clean burning, general use pistol powder that is case filling, so double charges are obvious. In addition, I would like to keep the powder selections to a minimum, preferably one, for the pistols, if possible.
PRIMERS: As I said we used CCI’s because we got them the cheapest and never had a problem with them.

SUPPLIER: I will need a good mail order supply house. If I recall, we use to use Natchez Shooters Supply.

GENERAL: I say again, any help is welcome and appreciated.

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Take care,
KG59 out!

"There ain't no freekin' Indians around here..."

G.A. Custer 1876
 

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It sounds like you're already on as good a track as any advice you may get from us.
The powders you already have are excellent fast burning pistol powders, and will be the most economical with more loads per pound. Using case filling powders will usually translate to a slower burning powder which may not give you the performance results you desire. An evening spent in your easy chair with a good loading manual will give you some ideas about velocity/charge weight/powder types, and possibly shed some light on your powder choices.
You cannot choose a better brand press than the Dillon. I have two of the 550's and they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. If you don't have a Dillon catalog, find one and choose the press that best fits your needs. I like the 550 because it's easy to change calibers, fast, extremely reliable, and will easily handle any pistol or rifle caliber. Dillon service, if it's ever needed, is second to none, and they don't have any grouchy employees. The 650 has the capability to add a case feeder and a few more bells and whistles, but may be an overkill for the volume you mentioned. I've never used the Square Deal press, but I believe it requires a few more manual operations and doesn't have the flexibility of the 550.
 

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I'm a big Unique user, but another excellent all around pistol powder is AA#5.
When searching for your bulk bullets look for suppliers close to you. Shipping can be outrageous these days.
Of course everyone has new data books out, but don't overlook the internet. You can find a lot of the book data on the company's website.
 

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I'll second the Dillon reloader.
In all probability you'd be best with the 550B.
If at a later date you want to, you can upgrade it to an even more progressive unit.

The Dillon will load anything from .25 auto to the 458 Weatherby Magnum.

I highly recommend Dillon pistol dies.
Although the Dillon will work with any dies, the Dillon have some real advantages.

As in many pieces of equipment, one brand stands out above all others, and in reloading that's Dillon.

Dillon will send you a free "Blue Press" catalog. http://dillonprecision.com/default.cfm?

For components, where you buy depends on whether you have an FFL, or a buddy who does and will order for you.
The cheapest prices are from the large distributors, but many sell only to Dealers.

I'd recommend buying a copy of The Shotgun News and looking at the distributor ads for those who sell non-firearms to the public.

Among those who sell reloading supplies are:
J&G Sales. http://www.jgsales.com/
Graf & Sons. http://www.grafs.com/
Midway USA. http://www.midwayusa.com
Huntington. http://www.huntingtons.com
Widener's Inc. http:www.widners.com

Among these, Graf & Sons and Widener's probably offer the best prices, with Midway having a very wide selection of harder to find items.

If you intend to shoot cast lead bullets, I recommend looking in The Shotgun News under reloading and finding the bet buy from the index of sellers.

I always balanced the price versus the lowest shipping charges to get the best all-around deals.

On powder, I'm no longer up on the latest new powders, but I also tried to keep the number of different powders to a minimum.

In my case, for revolvers I used Unique.
For autos I used Bullseye.
I used these because these powders have been around for about 100 years, and there's more loading data and experience available than any others.

I's possible that these days there's a powder that will do a good job of loading both revolver and auto cartridges.



[This message has been edited by dfariswheel (edited 06-28-2005).]
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Good Morning All,

I greatly appreciate the knowledgeable input I have received (which I am saving in a word.doc) - THANK YOU.

As I stated in my original post, if plans work out for us, it looks like I will be reloading again by next year. We will be in a rural setting (12 semi-wooded acres in south-central Wisconsin) and can shoot and hunt on our own property – OUTSTANDING! A dream comes true for us, finally.

After we settle in, we will build and setup the reloading bench, with spots for two presses. Then sort out all my reloading equipment, remove the RCBS Piggy-Back unit, and setup just the Rockchucker.

Then I think I will go back to basics, single stage, and .38 Special ammo. This, I feel, will serve two purposes. First, it will get me safely back into the swing of things and, two, I can teach my son to reload from the bottom up.

Once a bit of extra cash is raised, I think, after some research and your kind advice, I will go with a Dillon 650 with all the “bells and whistles”. It is very expensive but if we continue to reload then it will be worth it in the end. Of course, I will keep the Rockchucker for small batches and experimental loads.

I did look at other progressive loaders like Hornady’s Lock and Load unit. They are a lot cheaper but I think if we are shooting the volume I suspect we will, then the Dillon 650 would be the way to go.

One more question, if I may:

CHRONOGRAPH: Does anyone use one, and if so, what type and any recommendations or advice? I never had one due to their cost at that time however, I hear they’re a lot cheaper now, and the quality is suppose to be very good.

Again, a big thanks to all of you.

------------------
Take care,
KG59 out!

"There ain't no freekin' Indians around here..."

G.A. Custer 1876
 

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Even if you don't load up to the maximum levels, a chronograph can be a great help developing accuracy loads by revealing unwanted velocity spreads, determining the most efficient powder charge, compare velocity to group patterns, etc. I started with one of the inexpensive Chrony fold out models, that cost about 65 bucks at the time, and later advanced to a more sophisticated Pact chronograph. I still use the Chrony more often, because it's self contained and a more convenient. The disadvantage of the Chrony is that a misplaced shot can hit the electronics, where the Pact has the screens and electronics separate.
They vary from simple basic velocity readouts to mini computers that store and analyze shot strings. You can spend a chunk, depending on how far you want to go with the extra features. Some of the newer systems even have the capability of reading actual chamber pressure via stick on strain gages.

[This message has been edited by ohiobuckeye (edited 06-29-2005).]
 

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I never used a chronograph, as I didn't see a need for safely loaded shooting ammo.

My intent was to be able to shoot expensive guns, so most of my reloads were standard (non blow-down-the-barn-door) loads.

Standard loads are usually more accurate, cause less wear to the gun, are more pleasant to shoot, and are less risky than max loads.

With that in mind, I never saw much value in a chronograph.

One thing I WOULD highly recommend, is an electronic powder measure.

These are much easier to set up and faster to use than the old balance beam scales.

Last, if you intend shooting about 500 rounds a month, I'm not sure the 650 is the best buy for you.

With a Dillon 550, 500 rounds is about 1 1/2 hours of loading.
Dillon's are FAST.
And unlike other loaders, Dillon's are also SAFE, and highly accurate.

The 650 will cost significantly more, and takes longer to convert over to other calibers.
A 550 can be converted very fast if you buy extra tool heads and powder measures.

If you've never had experience with a Dillon, you won't realize just what an advance it was in the loading hobby.
With the old Rockchucker type loader, you could have safe, accurate, high-quality loads, or you could have fast loads.

With the Dillon you have it all.
The Dillon is extremely safe.
When the handle is pumped, if there is powder in the measure, it WILL be dropped, and it WILL be an extremely accurate charge.

The Dillon loads VERY accurate ammo.
My buddy is a National Match shooter, and he loads even his 600 yard ammo on his 550.

The Dillon is FAST.
Once you get the rhythm down, it's a matter of:
Put a case in station #1.
Put a bullet in station #3.
Pump the handle.
Repeat.

Every time the handle is pumped, a high-quality loaded round is ejected.

I have one of the very first Dillon's ever made....a 350. Serial number 1980.
That's the 1980th press Dillon ever made.

It's been upgraded as much as possible but it's still slow and crude compared to the 550.

Even so, taking my time, I can load at least 200 rounds an hour with NO problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hello dfariswheel & ohiobuckeye,

Thanks for the information and I will consider the 550. The new press is a long way off for now but I like to do the detective work so when I purchase I am informed.

I remember when I loaded single stage, after awhile I got fast at it so speed, in of itself, is NOT too important for me, accurate, consistent, and safe loads are.

My reason for wanting the chronograph is to check the initial velocity and the consistency there of¬ÖI never hot load.

As I said in another post,…”I remember the “magnumizing” days, in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I saw people hand-load 9mm’s, .38 Special’s, and .45 Colt’s, so HOT that the primers flattened and the cases had extraction marks on them. Not only was this dangerous but it beat the hell out of the guns…and for what?”

I will defiantly be looking into Chrony and Pact chronographs, actually, I will check for websites in a few minutes.

Purchasing “all the bells and whistles” up front is necessary. I have learned over the years that it is cheaper and better to get the total package than to wait (and possibly never get them).

So folks, thanks again and keep those cards and letters coming in¬Ö

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Take care,
KG59 out!

"There ain't no freekin' Indians around here..."

G.A. Custer 1876
 

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Kilo, I have reloaded on a Rockchucker for almost 25 years. We finally broke down this past Christmas and got a Dillon 650 and now I can figure out what took us so long. You will find yourself shooting more than you ever did before. The 650 is a quick change machine if you have a powder measure and powder check for each shell plate. As mentioned already, standard dies will work, but the Dillon dies are much more versatile. The Dillon has safety built into it, but nothing is foolproof. Murphy's Law as always applies. You can't go wrong with a Dillon, no matter which model you choose. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hello and Thank you all.

When the time comes it WILL be a Dillon!

------------------
Take care,
KG59 out!

"There ain't no freekin' Indians around here..."

G.A. Custer 1876
 
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