Lee is ok for starter gear..but it wont hold up to thousands of rounds
Cast steel...RCBS, Lyman, Pacific etc etc are what will hold up over a
couple million rounds
Tuesday I received my Lee LoadMaster progressive press for .223 Remington.
Adjusted and tested, weighed several powder charges, etc. I reloaded a few
cartridges last night and ran a small batch tonight, now I have 126 reloaded
cartridges plus 80 purchased. The 126 was the number of brass I had ready
Some of my brass has crimped primers, I need to ream or swage them to the
correct shape. I have some other brass that has the Berdan <sp> primers. I
saw some info on the internet about drilling Berdan primers out to accept
Potential for further automation includes an escapement for case feeding and
a bullet feeder.
You should try running some of your reloads through your semi-auto
before going any farther. Story...
Years ago when I was ambitious I loaded up some .223 ammo with a
recommended recipe. They didn't work so well in a Mini-14. You would
get off one shot and then a jam. What was happening was the shell was
being extracted while the powder was still burning, leaving powder
debris in the chamber. The next shell would jam in this debris. I'm
sure that same recipe would work okay in anything but an auto-loader but
I learned this the hard way...
Auto-loaders can be pretty picky on what you feed them :(
Watch your crimps too, auto-loaders really man-handle their ammo...
Id STRONGLY suggest you do NOT drill berdan primers and attempt to
reform them unless its a "last resort". There are some issues that
can cause a weapon to frankly..blow up ...when doing this.
I you need .223 brass...its available on the net cheap enough (still)
or I could send you several hundred.
As for crimped primer pockets..there are two methods that work well
enough. The first is simply using a case mouth deburring tool and with
a turn or 3..cut off the burrs. The best way..is to buy a
RCBS/hornady/wlson etc "primer pocket swage" and use that.
Or make your own out of 7/8-14 all thread and machine one as an
Ive used the reamers on drill press..and have used industrial cutting
tools with better results on the drill press.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
I hear that.
For what it's worth, this ammo came from my late father-in-law's
I went through all of that last night.
Factory loads (Winchester and Remington) were exactly 50 mm long.
Some of the handloads were 1 to 1.5 mm longer. So maybe...
But the real difference, and I'm guessing the reason these rounds (six
of then) wouldn't load is that the necks were bigger; fatter.
4 or 5 thousanths? Could that make such a difference?
I need to go back to school reading inch micrometers.
My large frame ones are all metric, but he small ones are inch.
I confuse easily these days...
You need to determine the design sizes for your ammo - in the case of
30-30 it is 2.0395 long (51.80 mm) but in addition you need to have
the shoulder in the right place - it starts 1.4405 from the base - but
this is hard to measure so most people initially full length resize
the case. than when fired the case expands (fire forms) to fit your
chamber and from then on you just measure the length of the case and
trim if necessary.
Generally speaking you can figure that any factory chamber will be
safe with any "standard" cartridge case.
AS for mixed measuring instruments, it can be a problem. I recently
had the use of a fellow's shop in Singapore for a week. His lathe and
milling machine were both metric and his measuring tools were imperial
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
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.
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