Possible metalworking content!
Ammo's difficult to find and usually expensive so any thoughts on taking a
progressive press and making it as automatic as practical?
I saw some interesting videos online of presses, some homemade case feeders,
bullet feeders, etc. Some you only had to pull the handle, some had the
handle attached to a gear motor crank.
Any thoughts on suitable presses to start with?
I've been looking at Lee load masters, they are cheaper but maybe fore a
reason. Can you use a better quality powder measure with the Lee load
Or would I be better off starting with the Hornady Lock N Load or a Dillon?
My goal is to reload for now and further automate (case & bullet
No point to automating really, a standard progressive press is plenty
fast (~30 rds/min, 1,800 rds/hr) unless you are reloading many thousands
of rounds at a time at which point you really need a completely
different type of progressive press.
"RogerN" fired this volley in news:3I-
The only thing I've ever reloaded was shotgun shells, and that wasn't for
the cost, but because we were loading special flare inserts for the
But based upon what I've seen of progressive loading equipment, they
don't look too conducive to being extensively modified and automated.
Personally, I think it would be better to use commercial dies, and build
an automatic press from the ground up.
I have built two machines almost exactly like that for making pyrotechnic
gerbs (fountains). They feed "cartridges" (paper tubes) from bulk, size-
check each one, orient the mouths the correct way, place empty tubes for
loading, measure powder to within 0.15 grain, pour it in multiple
increments into the tubes, consolidate each increment, check the final
powder height, seal the tubes, eject the finished product from the
loader, and store the loaded tubes in containers.
I do not think I could have adapted manual loaders to do that... they
didn't build them with accommodating all the necessary "satellite"
mechanisms in mind.
NOTHING is available on line, of course.
But there is ammo in the gun shops.
At least there was 30.30 every store I checked today.
Not a lot, but everybody had cartridges on the shelf.
So I bought 100 rounds (5 boxes) of 30.30 today for $20 a box.
That's about 2x what it was 30 years ago.
It IS an interesting question for any shooter, tho.
I have my new cowboy assault rifle to feed. (Eddie Likes!)
So I'm interested in rifle rounds (of the 30.30 Winchester flavor)
How does one get started reloading?
What is the basic equipment requirement?
Obvious mistakes not to make?
Assuming a minimum cost startup.
Buy bullets vs cast?
Metal work on brass?
All that stuff?
Dillon is the gold standard of progressive reloading units.
I'd suggest the 650 with a case feeder. You still pull the handle and
place the bullet. It easily runs at 30 rounds a minute once you're all
set up. No problem running 2K rounds after supper. Changeover to
another caliber is significant. For quicker changeovers and smaller
runs go to the 550 press - no case feeder, no auto rotation, less
if you want to REALLY crank them out, go to the 1050 press. This is
the one to use if you'd like to add a servo motor to run the crank and
sensors, PLC etc. then sit back and watch it run. other folks have
done this if you'd care to investigate. A fair bit of coin here, way
to much IMHO.
My son runs a 650 and does our 9mm, .223, and .308. I have a 550 and
do .50AE, .270, .3030, .45 ; need more dies for other calibers.
I'm watching for a .50 BMG press. Prices and availablity nuts right
now, I'm waiting a bit for bama scare #2 to subside.
I guess it is assumed that you know what you are doing when you start
shopping for tools.
But there is a bit more involved, isn't there, Karl?
Getting all the adapters for a certain round in the forst place.
Resizing brass, and for rim headspaced brass for tube magazines, I see
that crimping (and doing it right!) is important.
Also, a personal question, how do you keep track of how many times a
case has been reloaded?
Take it from the perspective of an interested party who has no
experience at all with the subject...
Obviously it's an equipment sport, but
Where to start?
I think that first I'd have a look at then several "progressive"
loading machines that once loaded turn out one completed cartridge per
pull on the handle.
I used one for several years to turn out 12 ga. loads for trap
shooting and as the only "problem" was in changing loads. The machine
I had a sliding bar to meter the powder and shot so changing loads
involved new bars, bushing in metering holes, etc. But for something
like trap or target loading where you intend on turning put several
thousand rounds they are a good solution.
I loaded brass mostly target loads for pistol bulls eye shooting and
used to measure the case length only. Never annealed or kept track of
loading. I did re-load some 44 magnum stuff for a couple of Mdl. 92's
that I had converted from 44-40 but in those days long guns were
generally used for hunting so likely most of the brass was once fired
You mention "cowboy shooting". Do you use cast bullets for that. If so
then you also need to get into bullet making, the various alloys,
hardening cast lead bullets, and, and, and.
don't go with the basic, get the 550 package. then you're all set for
one caliber. it comes with a great HOW TO video.
You'll end up buying a bunch of other stuff. The need for better toys
never ends. But the basic 550 unit will still be in great shape for
How many rounds a month do you use and how much money is your budget?
Buy a single stage press and learn the basics until it is second nature.
(you will ALWAYS have use for it in the future) All progressive
presses have their twittles and need constant TLC. Don't worry about
speed, worry about all the things that can kill or maim you or anybody
in the vicinity, AND ruin your firearm! I'm an NRA Certified Reloading
Instructor, I recommend you find one in your area and take the course,
the best money you'll spend in your reloading budget. The next thing
you WILL buy is a bunch of reloading manuals. I'll help you any way I can.
I think not. At least for now. I think the wise course of action would
be to get started reloading in simpler steps.
BTW, I have a bunch of reloads from my late father-in-law's collection.
Two of them today failed to go into full battery.
Close - but no cigar.
The Winchester 94 won't release the firing pin if the lever is not all
the way up. That last silly millimeter is SO important.
I haven't mikes those two rounds yet. But I will tonight.
Well, obviously the more they cost, the less I can shoot.
(I hate when that happens)
I asked at the range today about a reloading instructor.
The gentleman who owns the place said they used to have all the
equipment on site to reload and an instructor to supervise.
(not the past tense)
He referred me to "the manual".
Tom, your advice, plus being certified, carries a lot of weight.
More so than the rest of the thundering herd, any way.
Out of 18 rounds, two failed to go into full battery today.
They were two of the four reloads I shot.
I'm curious as to why, of course.
But more interested in how to avoid that situation.
Not very many rounds per month I just want to stock up on supplies since
ammo is a bit hard to find right now.
I have 3 single stage presses, well, 2-1/2 anyway, one of them is the Lee
hand press I use on 9mm sometimes. I don't load or shoot a lot but desire
to increase practice plus I have some AR-15's in the build process so I'm
adding .223 to my reloading capabilities.
I'd prefer to fiddle with a press for an hour and load for an hour than load
for 2 hours without fiddling with the press. I don't mind as much spending
time tweaking a press in, but when the adjusting is done, I'd prefer to
crank out parts in as little time as possible. Soft of like machining, I'd
prefer to fiddle with a CNC even if I could do a short run just as fast with
a manual machine because I enjoy the challenge and not so much cranking
If I get everything else right, I figure powder overcharge could be hard to
detect once the bullet is in...
At work we have a chemical weighing system, the bucket tare weight is stored
in memory and the final weight is the total weight less that buckets tare
weight. Depending on weight consistency of bullets and primers, I can
automatically weigh each empty cartridge when it goes in, store the weight,
and check how much weight is gained when it comes out. Powder weight =
final weight - bullet weight - cartridge weight - difference in primer
Anyway, the powder I bought for 223's and the bullet weight I have allows
for compressed load, so if it doubles the powder won't all fit in the case.
The most hazardous thing is the squib or ammo loaded with no powder.
The primer will give just enough pop to push the bullet down the
barrel a bit. Next round will chamber. if you pull the trigger, the
weapon will explode.
If a 30-30 round won't chamber there is really something wrong. the
head space is taken on the rim so if the case won't fully chamber the
shoulder is rather far forward.... or the bullet is protruding a lot
more then it should.
What I would do if competition shooting with a rimmed cartridge and
used brass would be to full length resize all the brass, at least the
first time, and make up a dummy cartridge as a master for how deep to
seat the bullet, unless of course you always use the same bullet.
With a tubular magazine you also need to decide how heavy a crimp you
need to keep the things together :-)
Generally speaking, unless you are going for the last FPS you can
squeeze out you aren't going to have a lot of case problems... I am
assuming that you are not trying for the last possible foot per second
in muzzle velocity for cowboy shooting ... and if you were to load a
30-30 to its original specifications you probably will never need to
worry about the cases.
For low pressure rounds like .45 ACP, you'll lose them before they
become unable to be reloaded. Guys use them until the headstamps are
pounded off and beyond. For rifle rounds, part of the process is
checking for cracks and incipient head separations, you just don't
dump high-pressure loads into rifle brass without inspecting the
empties first. I never keep track of how many times something's been
reloaded. If a case is within length specs, the neck's not too thick
and there are no cracks or stretch marks, it's loaded.
Progressives can load a lot of ammo fast. They can also load a lot of
bad and/or dangerous ammo fast as well. Too many folks think that
they just load up hoppers, pump the lever and ammo automagically
appears. It still takes a lot of process control, maybe more, since
you aren't handling the pieces with every round loaded. Can lead to
damaged guns and/or shooters.
As far as where to start, read a book FIRST. ABCs of Reloading is one
place, up to 9th or 10th edition, all that changes that I can see is
the pictures of equipment from edition to edition. Most libraries
I've been in have a copy. Then start out with a single station
press. Right now is kind of tough to get started, primers are in
short supply as is new brass.