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Old 02-17-2013, 06:16 AM   #1
Anigma308's Avatar
Joined: Feb 2013
From: Arlington, Wa
Posts: 9
reloading suggestions

I am looking to get a RCBS reloading set up. Any suggestions on high quality Dies for match grade ammo.
I want to reload .223 .308 and 338 Lapua.
Also supplies: I have heard Barns or accubond Bullet, Varget or Reload 15 for power. Primers not sure. I know thimgs are hard to get but need to start looking. Thanks
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Old 02-18-2013, 05:11 AM   #2
Joined: Jan 2013
From: Corvallis OR
Posts: 72
tuff question. You can make reloading as complicated as you want to. I use RCBS and Redding dies and do't get into weighing cases and bullets or measuring cases every which way. If I can shoot my hunting rifles MOA with my loads, I don't see any reason to turn it into a science. Bullets and loads will depend on what your rifle likes.
Old 02-18-2013, 07:03 AM   #3
Anigma308's Avatar
Joined: Feb 2013
From: Arlington, Wa
Posts: 9
OK thanks just checking around getting differant ideas. I think a little trial and error will help.
Old 02-18-2013, 07:23 AM   #4
Joined: Jan 2013
From: Northwet coast, Wa
Posts: 22
Its not really about which componants are the best, but which componants work the best in your firearm. Due to variations in manufacturing and things like harmonics, what may be the best reload recipe for one gun may not be the best for another.

You also have to be precise and consistant as well. You can go a little or long way with that too. When I make pistol practice ammo, I don't mind throwing powder with a volumetric metering device. For precision rifle, I am weighing every single charge and trickling them down to the last tenth of a grain.

You can do things like weigh cases but making sure things like trim to length, flash hole size and loaded overal length are, to me anyway, more important as they can cause more variation in accuracy. I do sort cases by manufacturer though, and batch accordingly.

Like joken said, you can make it as complicated as you want.
Old 02-18-2013, 03:49 PM   #5
Joined: Jan 2013
From: Silverton, OR
Posts: 123
I been reloading since 1968-9 I started at age 11 with my dad. And my best advise is to buy a regular set of dies for the calibers you want to reload for and learn to reload. Once you've reloaded a few thousand rounds and have some clue what you are doing. And have read many books and hundreds of on line sources you will have an idea what depth you want to get into.

buying a real expensive set of competition dies without knowing all the little tricks to make something like that cost effective is a waste of money

First learn to crawl then to walk then to run then to compete then you will feel like your starting over. But trying to start out to make competition grade ammo is doomed to failure

Old 02-23-2013, 12:02 PM   #6
Joined: Feb 2013
From: Vancouver, WA
Posts: 7
As my first post I give you......

Part 1

To begin on your path to re-loading. My suggestions would be to...........

Get a hold of some books and check the Internet. Invest in a re-loading manual (or several). LEARN the processes that one must go through in order to produce a round of ammunition. Get an idea of how certain jobs are done and take notes of the choices available to do the job. Get a mentor and/or go to classes that might be held by the local gun shop or gun club.

Meanwhile, here are some good sites to learn from.......


What you’ll need…..

So you want to reload

Overview of the Handloading Ammo process…..

Handloading - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Re-Loading Pistol Ammo…..

Reloading Steps

Re-Loading Rifle Ammo…..

RIFLE-COMPANY.COM • View topic - Basic reloading for your rifle .


>KNOW THAT: Handloading comes with some RISK.

An individual needs to gauge his or her own RISK TOLERANCE LEVEL to each situation in their life.

What's acceptable to ME........may not be, to someone else.

The Manual writers/publishers and editors, decide what's their safety margin and each will have their own threshold for safety. Load data between various manuals will vary.


Each manual contains many WARNINGS.

One popular warning, is against making “any substitution” of components, as it may be dangerous.

Try reading this subject: How do changing various components affect chamber pressure and velocity?

Miscellaneous Questions 4

Then..........from SPEER..........

IMPORTANT NOTE: Reloading data published by SPEER are for SPEER bullets. Many of our bullets are of unique construction; there is no such thing as "generic loading data" any more. Other bullet makes may produce significantly different pressures and velocities. We make no warranty that our published loads are safe with another make of bullet. You, the reloader, bear the ultimate responsibility for knowing your firearm, loading equipment, and techniques.
So, what do you do, if you don’t have the exact re-loading components as mention in the book?

IF you have a low risk tolerance level......perhaps, you’ll wait until you have the exact components?

But, doing that isn’t always practical.

For ME………..I'd take into consideration my RISK TOLERANCE LEVEL and maybe EXPERIMENT a little or not.

I'd search my available resources and various internet web sites. I'd attempt to figure out a SAFE (acceptable to ME) plan of action, using the available data. And/or perhaps, I might even contact the manufacturer.

ALWAYS REMEMBERING TO: Start low and work your way up.


Good re-loaders will not just "pick one" from the book or reproduce someone else’s load and expect to see the exact same results. Conditions, equipment, components, lot#s and specs, can vary.



WARNING: My way of doing things may not be suitable to some of the other folks out, take it for what it's worth.......this is/was, only my advice, which you got for FREE, so it's only worth that much (if anything at all).

Aloha, Mark


As a "first press," IMHO get a bench mounted single station press. LEARN the techniques and "problem solving" of re-loading. Later, IF/WHEN, you want more production......consider a progressive press.

Forgive me for saying and please, "SOME OF YOU OUT THERE," don't take offense.

But, for some folks it's best that they: "Learn to crawl before you walk, learn to walk before you run, learn to run before you drive or fly."

Some, are smart enough to start with a progressive press and be happy. Some, come running to this forum, asking for help with their progressive press problems. Maybe, IF they had learned on a single station press, they would KNOW HOW to fix the problem. And, I'm not saying that it's BAD TO ASK for help. It’s just that, “YOU GOT TO KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS.”


Your list should be individual to you. Buy the equipment needed to accomplish the job, at a price that YOU can afford. More than likely, there will be some amount of compromise involved.

Say, you're re-loading military 5.56mm brass cases for your AR with a single station press........consider your choice(s) for:

A re-loading manual (or several manuals).
A Press.
F/L Sizer Two Die set (or 3 die set).
Shell holder.
A way to clean dirty cases (liquid cleaner or tumbler/vibratory machine w/ media or a wipe down w/rag).
A way to de-prime military cases (regular die or universal de-capper or hammer and anvil method).
A way to de-crimp military cases (swage or ream).
A way to prime cases (on press or off press).
A way to lube cases (what lube and applied w/fingers or pad & lube or spray lube).
A way to test your re-sized cases (case gauge or actual rifle chamber).
Caliper (though, not absolutely needed if you use a case gauge).
A way to trim cases (hand powered or motorized).
A case de-bur/chamfer tool, if your trimmer didn't do it all in one pass.
A way to measure and dispense powder (dippers or disk measure or hopper/dispenser).
A way to weigh the powder (electronic or balance beam scale)

And cartridge cases.

I feel that these basic tools and components will do, for simple ammunition production.

Note that: The list above can be shortened or lengthened.

Remember, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

There are many other tools that one can purchase to do other specific jobs. It's up to YOU to choose which tools you need and which tools you want. Some tools are there to make a job simpler and some are there to hopefully make you "better" ammunition..........though, was the purchase absolutely necessary?

Choose wisely.

IF you're looking to go cheap (not a bad "cheap")..........IMHO, consider, "LEE."

For dies.......use any brand (from a major mfn) that you like. They are basically, all of high quality. The differences are in the, "features and small parts."

LEE makes good dies (and they give you a bonus: a shell holder and powder dipper w/load data chart).

When re-loading bottle neck cases (.223/5.56mm) to be used in a semi auto, IMHO, buy the FULL LENGTH re-sizer, two die set. Generally, you don't need a SB die set (unless you run into trouble). IF, you want the LEE FCD they also have a three die set that includes it, for a little extra.

When re-loading for straight walled pistol cases (9mm, 45 ACP, .38 Special, etc...), IMHO, buy the carbide, three die set. The carbide re-sizer will eliminate the need to lube cases. And, IF you want the LEE FCD, I believe that LEE has a four die set, for most of the popular calibers.

ASSUMING, that you purchase a single stage press.

Basically (For non-crimped primer pocket, rifle brass like .223 Rem., say a batch "lot" of a 100 cases):

1) Inspect and clean the cases- a liquid bath in hot water, a squirt of dish soap and some wht vinegar, will get them clean. Though, not shiny.

Or, you could just wipe the cases off with a solvent dampened rag.

IF you want, clean with a bit of shine……Birchwood Casey Case Cleaning Solution (#33845 CCI) is a fast and cheap way. Mix with water (follow the directions on the package) soak the brass, drain and dry. Save the solution as it can be re-used.

2) Set up your press with the shell holder and de-capper/FL re-sizer die.

3) Lube the cases. LEE lube (#90006) can be applied with fingers. Or, buy a spray on lube from one of the "other brands."

4) Then, run some test cases through the die, it'll de-cap/re-size the brass in one pass.

5) Next, using a case gauge, check the brass to ensure that the proper re-size, has been achieved. Insert a case into the case gauge. The headstamped end of the case, needs to be at or between the high and low cuts on the gauge, to pass. This checks the headspace. While the other end, is used to check if the case will need to be trimmed (a job for later on). IF, it’s not the “correct size,” your die setting will need adjustment. Lower the ram and simply screw the die in or out a little. Don’t forget about the lock nut. Then, re-size another couple of test cases and check your work again. Repeat the test and adjustments, as needed.

*IMHO…………"the secret" to re-loading a bottle neck cartridge is a case gauge. There are many different brands and ways to gauge your re-loads. I use a Forster Products case gauge (the Wilson or Dillon case gauges are also popular choices).

Examples of various gauges……..

6) When you're satisfied that your test cases are properly re-sized, do the entire lot. Also, do some random tests throughout the run.

7) Trimming brass. Remember the case gauge? Well, if your brass failed the gauge test, you will need to trim the brass. Or check the brass length with a caliper.

The cheapest way to trim brass, is with the LEE case trimmer. You'll need the cutter & lock stub and shell holder & case length gauge tools. The assembled trimmer runs on hand power or with a drill. Once the trimming is done, use a chamfer/reamer tool (LEE #90109) to "knock off the edge" on the newly cut case necks.

8) Clean the brass to take off the lube.......repeat, Step #1.

9) After the brass is thoroughly dry, re-prime the cases with a new primer.

The LEE auto prime hand tool makes fast work of this job. BTW, you'll need a special shell holder (not your reg. press shell holder) made especially for the LEE auto prime.

OR........use your press mounted primer tool.

10) After the cases have been re-primed, place the cases in a loading block.

11) Using a simple powder measure, calibrate it to throw the weight of powder charge that you want.

12) Check the thrown weight with your scale.

13) When you're satisfied that the weight is "correct." Charge each of the cases with powder. Do some random powder weight checks, throughout the run.

14) Next, remove the de-capper/re-sizer die from the press and replace it with the bullet seating die. Then, place the bullet on top of the opening of the case neck. Run the case w/bullet into the bullet seating die.

15) Inspect your rounds. You're done.

IF you’re dealing with military cases (I’ll assume the primers are crimped)……, add these steps...........

2) With once fired military brass, this next step only has to be done once. You could de-cap primers with the standard de-cap/re-sizer die. Though due to the primer crimp, there is a high incidence of parts breakage. IMHO, de-cap the once fired military brass using either, a “universal” de-capper die or with a skinny nail/punch and anvil (with a hole in it, large enough for the old primer to fall out of, but still support the case rim). Or, buy the LEE military primer de-capper set (#90102-.30 cal., #90103-.22 cal.). Simply, run the nail/punch down through the case neck. The nail will enter the flash hole and rest against the old primer. Put the case on the anvil (old primer centered over the anvil’s hole). Then, with a hammer knock out the old primer, letting the old primer fall through the hole in the anvil. Yes, the military crimp is sometimes that stubborn.

3) Again, since we’re using once fired military brass, this next step has to be done only once. The primer crimp will need to be removed. The crimp gets either swaged or reamed/cut. My friend has a Dillon swage and I use a Lyman hand reamer/cutting tool. Both can do the is cheaper. Lyman hand reamer (#7777785 Large, #7777784 Small). I do the crimp removal while watching TV. It's as simple as: pick up a case, insert the tool into the primer pocket and twist, remove case, next.....

*Commercial cases, usually don't have a primer crimp to bother with. So, steps 2 and 3 can be omitted. Likewise, for the next time you load these “already treated” military cases.

To adjust dies correctly.......see the link…….

How to Adjust Reloading Dies

There are many LEE single station presses to choose from.

If you're in the market for a "kit." I like this one.

IMHO, a good compromise between a single station and a progressive is a Turret Press........

NOTE: There are many ways to skin a cat. I tried to write this, keeping in mind a CHEAP WAY to do things. Thus, the choice of LEE products. Shop for your best prices. LEE products are frequently discounted.

That being said, a good press will last a lifetime and then some. Be it a LEE or RCBS or whatever other brand.

I bought a lot of my starter equipment, USED. And, I still have a lot of it.

My first press was a used RCBS Jr. and I later traded it for a used RCBS Rock Chucker. My friend wanted a smaller press and it was a straight across trade. So, how could I refuse?

Anyway, after a long time of using a single station press…………I up-graded.

I bought a Dillon. Then later, three LEE M1000 presses (just for pistol calibers).

Even after I got the progressive presses........well, just say that for ME, there will always be a job for the single station press on my bench.

And, even IF (and/or WHEN) you get a progressive........with bottle necked cases, depending on how you like to do things, you may not really gain all that much speed. BECAUSE, of the case prep steps involved (case lube, military primer crimps and trimming cases).

However, for straight walled commercial pistol cases, using carbide dies with a progressive press will really speed things up.

How much $$ will I save??

To help you with your math on your cost per round.........just plug in your cost of components.

Handloading Cost Calculator

**Oh shucks, my links are not hot. Try this link and look for my post

Good luck.**

Aloha, Mark

Last edited by ma96782; 02-23-2013 at 12:12 PM.
Old 03-15-2013, 08:32 PM   #7
Unknown Soldier's Avatar
Joined: Mar 2013
From: Rottenchester WA
Posts: 33
Before you blow the poogies out of ones self.
Take time to learn everything you can.
Barrel twist determines how heavy or light your projectile can be.

Some will work well, some will not. You can spend mondo duckettes on trying this and that, OR you can get an idea by what your firearm was designed to shoot.

You can always settle for SAMMI spec loads (what you buy in a store). Copying those will save you money, and you can adjust the OAL to your rifle.

Firearms are tools, and you need to feed your tool with the proper ammo.
For semi-auto always go with SAMMI spec, bolt guns you can run amuck with until the cows come home.

Next decide what you tool is used for. Long, medium, short range. Each has different attributes.

I reload for precision long range, and short range. Different firearms.
All my long range use the same powder & primers. Similar projectiles, due to two different calibers. 30-06 & 7.62x54r.

Mid range is covered by 30-06 as well, but a lighter projectile, and SAMMI spec for semi-auto.

Short range is lever guns with large meplats for energy transfer maximized.
I use only cast boolits, in two calibers, (1 for Me, 1 for Mrs).

For each rifle, there are at least two different projectiles, and several powders. So you have to know what your going to be doing before you go blindly wasting money.

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