Posts Tagged ‘ dies ’

My reloading gear

I started off with some real basic reloading equipment that I trade for from a guy who tried it and just didn’t enjoy it.  After some time spent reloading and gaining experience I found some things I thought could work better and even found some of the equipment just didn’t work as good as I wanted.  I’ll go through my setup and let you know what I liked, didn’t like and what I replaced and why.

The press I started with is the LEE Breech Lock Challenger Press that comes in the LEE 50th Anniversary Reloading Kit.  It has a feature that uses these quick change bushings so that you can keep your dies adjusted when you switch them out.  I thought this was really neat at first but now I just keep one of the bushings locked in the press and change the dies like normal.  It really doesn’t take that long and I didn’t want to by the bushings for all my dies.  The press comes setup to use the LEE Safety Prime which works fairly well.  It usually doesn’t want to feed the last couple of primers and sometimes the primer arm on the press likes to stick or fall out.  These are minor issues but they do get annoying after a while.  My solution was to order a LEE hand priming tool from Midway USA for 11 bucks.  I figure eleven dollars for an easier time priming sounded like a good deal.  One thing I do really like about the press is the tube it has that catches spent primers when you are depriming once fired brass.  It comes with a removable cap on it so you can route the tube to a trashcan or bucket of some sort or just leave the cap on and let the primers fill up the tube which is what I do.  It will hold several hundred before it needs to be emptied and works just fine.

When it comes to dies all I use right now is the RCBS carbide three die sets, not because they are better than anyone else’s but because that’s what the local purveyor of reloading gear has on the shelf.  Not much to report about them, they work and I don’t have anything to compare them to as of yet.  I do have a LEE 4 die set inbound that comes with the LEE factory crimp die so look for a report on that in the future.

Next let’s move on to the powder measurer.  I started with the Lee Perfect Powder measure and honestly found it to be anything but perfect.  It has some nice features like the fact that you can shut off the hopper and even remove it to pour extra powder back into its original container.  On the downside I found it’s mount to be flimsy and didn’t like how it would flex when I measured powder.  My biggest complaint was the fact that it didn’t measure powder consistently.  The charges were always close and I loaded pretty conservative loads so it wasn’t really a safety issue for me but the key to accuracy is consistency and the Lee Perfect Powder Measure wasn’t consistent.  To solve this I replaced it with a RCBS Uniflow, something smaller like the RCBS Little Dandy would have worked fine but I found a great deal locally on a lightly used Uniflow so I ended up going that route.  It is amazing how much more accurate and consistent the Uniflow is compared to the Lee unit.  I still put every tenth load on the scale to make sure everything is still working right but so far it has always been right on.  It is also made out of metal as compared to plastic and is much sturdier.

The only other piece of equipment I replaced was the Lee Safety Scale.  It did work, it would measure powder accurately.  It was just finicky, everything had to be just right for it to work.  I felt like I was constantly fighting with the scale to make it work.  I replaced it with a RCBS 502 reloading scale.  It just seems better made and easier to use.  The ironic part is now that I have a better powder measurer I don’t have to rely on the scale as much but it is still an important tool to have around and will come in much more handy when I start trying to load up some precision rifle rounds and want to weigh every charge.

The last piece of equipment I’m going to talk about is arguably the most important.  You NEED to have a good reloading manual (or three).  This is where you will find all the load data you need, it also acts as your speed limit sign when you wonder if you should add another grain of powder or not.  I really like the Lyman manual because they include components from a variety of other companies and don’t just focus on one.  As I’ve mentioned before if you are just getting started I would also pick up “The ABC’s of Reloading” it explain everything step by step and with pictures.  If you are on the fence about reloading just pick up the ABC’s or any of the reloading manuals to read through it and give you a better idea of what is involved.

My setup is fairly simple but effective, I’m not loading 500 rounds an hour but I can manage ~150 right now.  It’s hard to measure because I do everything in batches.  One of these days I will probably step up to a progressive press to really crank the ammo out but right now I kind of like taking it slow.  Reloading really becomes a separate hobby instead of just an addition to shooting.  I find sitting down in my reloading cave working the lever and concentrating on doing simple things really well to be very therapeutic.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures and maybe learned something from me rambling.  If you have any questions about reloading feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email and I will do my best to answer you.

Keep up the good fight
-Rob