Reloading on a budget/limited space

Folks,

Did a search but didn't come up with a ton of info, sooo.........

Anyone offer some guidance for a newbie looking to start reloading?  I've gotten the time lately to shoot more and I'm killing my ammo budget with the amount of 223/556 and 308 I'm shooting.  I live in a townhouse and don't have a workbench, so best I can do is a folding field desk table that I move outside when I'm working.

I'm looking to be able to reload at stock quality 223/5.56 and specifically 150-168gr 308 hunting loads.  Cost is a factor as well, so I'm looking at an affordable setup.

Anyone have some solid, smaller setups that work for them?  I've been doing due diligence reading and watching youtube videos but I don't have direct access to anyone locally reloading yet.

Thanks in advance.

Original Post

Following this with much interest. My difference is I have plenty of room and can keep any set up static. 

Mojo/Mark
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Joined: 9/30/09
Location: Northern Nevada (Reno/Sparks)

 If you want a bench type set up, this is what I would suggest.  You could work in batches with a single stage and do ok if you want to load a lot.  I don’t know if you save any money really but you can shoot more. 

https://www.outdoorlife.com/bl...pact-reloading-bench

 

Smaller than that:

http://www.gunsandtech.com/bal...easy-lee-hand-press/

This hand press works, I have loaded 308/45-70/500 S&W with one. 

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”
"Fuck the know it alls.They don't have to do it, and don't have the balls to do it"

Pat Rogers.

I started out back in about 1975 or so with a simple "Lee Loader" on my kitchen table. If you are not familiar, a "Lee Loader" is a really inexpensive reloading kit in a box about 4"x6"x2". Everything you need is in there. They are caliber specific, as included in the kit is a sizing die, a spoon to pour the powder in, a de-capping pin, and a bushing to set each case in whilst you work on it. Extremely slow and tedious, and smacking a round in and out of a die with a plastic mallet is usually "distressing " to your significant other and neighbors.     Not a happenin" thing.  I was doing about 50 rounds of .45 ACP a night after work.

 Next up is a single stage press. I suppose a guy could bolt it firmly to a piece of 3/4" plywood ( doubled up in thickness for rigidity) and maybe clamp it to a table---maybe---- but probably also not a happenin" thing. With a single stage, you can switch calibers, and if you plan on only maybe a 100 or so at a whack, it wouldn't be too bad.  You will need a bunch of other related items, such as a powder measure, a scale, reloading case blocks, some specific tools ( calipers, wrenches, etc), maybe a case trimmer, and a few other things I am sure I am forgetting.  A little faster, but it will occupy a considerable amount of real estate. A pain in your grommet if you will have to tear down the entire set-up every time you are NOT reloading.   

 Next might be a turret press. All it really is is a single stage press with the capability to spin a turret that already has the numerous dies you have mounted. It speeds thing up a noticeable amount.  No real difference in the amount of space required compared to a single stage. 

Then I guess the next step up would be a progressive press. A whole lot faster, a whole lot more going on at one time, a whole lot more to concentrate on at one time.  Again, not really any more space, but reloading isn't really a thing you can set-up and tear down time after time, as much as I hate to say it.

  Cost? Well, that's the big question. As expected, the more you buy in bulk the more you will save per unit, but the more you will spend outright.    I buy by the pallet load, and get stuff really cheap compared to going down to Sportsman's Whorehouse and buying components off the shelf.  Sure, I am technically "saving" money-but only compared to buying things in much smaller quantities.  I have over the years kinda figured if a guy has a source for brass, unless he really wants to get into the reloading hobby, it MIGHT be better to simply scrap the brass and use that money for buck ammo.  Which brings up another option-- in certain calibers, it is almost cheaper to buy bulk ammo rather than reload when you factor in everything!  

.308 and similar sized rounds require a goodly amount of horsepower when re-sizing, so clamping it to a kitchen table for example might put you over what the host table was designed to withstand- after sizing a few hundred. (That is the voice of experience speaking!)

I am currently sporting 4 progressives, 3 turrets, and 4 single stage presses, and have about 450,000 loaded rounds on hand.   NOTHING is more calming and relaxing than going out into the shed, crank up some Boston, and load a couple thousand rounds. 

Am I saving money?

Post Car posted:
Linz posted:

Do you have a garage & what type of vehicle do you drive?

I do not have a garage.  I drive a Ram pickup with the crew cab (with a HEMI!!!)

Shame.

In the past, lacking a decent bench, I have bolted an O-press to the bull bar of a 4WD, put a jack under that corner of the vehicle & used that to reload.  Good for field reloading as well on long trips.

BKS posted:

http://www.gunsandtech.com/bal...easy-lee-hand-press/

This hand press works, I have loaded 308/45-70/500 S&W with one. 

The Lee hand press works pretty well if you are building less than a hundred rounds per session.  20-40 is really not bad.  It uses normal sized dies so when you actually move to a single stage or progressive press you won’t need new ones.   The Lee case trimmer works if you have a battery drill.  I’d buy an RCBS or Lyman balance beam scale and powder measure before you dip your toe into the digital stuff. 

A couple hundred dollars in equipment, components and manuals should keep you in decent hunting and semi match grade ammo.  For blasting ammo I suggest SG Ammo and working OT.  

I loaded tens of thousand of rounds with these two in a townhouse apartment. Inexpensive, good quality and takes up no space.

Partner reloading kit - http://rcbs.com/Products/Press...r-Reloading-Kit.aspx

https://www.ebay.com/itm/FRANK...c:g:bScAAOSwPzhaP99F

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It's not that life is so short, it's that you're dead for so long.

The .45-70 is the only government I trust

"I was raised in a place called America...
It's gone now, I wish you could've seen it"
- a WWII vet

 

Joined: 1/30/06 3:34 PM - Location:MA

Years ago when living in an apartment, I built a 2x2 table with some steel workbench and two layers of 3/4" plywood. I had a Lee Turret press bolted to it and loaded thousands of rounds of pistol ammo.  It fit into a walk in closet. 

Joined: 10/06/06          Location: SW OH

First, if you are looking at .308 hunting loads, buy the best precision dies you can afford.  It will maximize versatility down the road.

The single stage RCBS kits are a decent deal.  The rockchucker kits are usually a great value when on sale and rebated.

A black and decker workmate workbench thing can work well as a sturdy enough work bench.  Contractors/kitchen counter places may have some 2x2 or larger scrap that can be bolted to this to make a foldable reloading table for the sub 100$ range.

Lube lube lube lube lube.  I like the imperial sizing wax for precision loads.

Get a stuck case exctractor kit with your initial stuff.  When it happens, you will be glad you have it.

Get some Rubbermaid tubs or big acrobins.  Things that you can stack/store, and use to help keep stuff sorted.

calipers are necessary.

for 5.56/.223 in AR’s a case gauge is very useful.

Get a logbook, blue painters tape, and label things.  When you can look and see your trim lengths, powder charge, how many firings on a set of cases, coal, bullet info, primer used...  it makes life easier.

there are 7000 grains in a lb. So most loading will give you 250-300 loads per lb of powder in .223, and around 150 in .308.  Buying the 8lb jugs is usually worth it and gives you same lot consistency. 

Keep logs.  I know I said that earlier, but really it helps.

get a kinetic bullet puller.

Don’t stress out about neck thickness and consistency until you really get a good grip on things.

For 5.56 blasting ammo, price some H335 or Ramshot TAC (easy metering powders), and Hornady 55gr FMJ’s.  1000 primers, 4lbs of powder, and 1000 bullets.  Keep that in mind when comparing to loaded bulk blastin ammo.  Nosler ballistic tips when on sale in bulk give you good shooting loads at a moderate bullet prices.

The biggest savings are in hunting loads.  Premium bullets are pricey.  However you can load to where you hunt.  For me, I find myself hunting at times in places where anything past a 100 yard shot is rare.  So I can build a load for that scenario knowing I can pick light fast heavy construction bullets.

For .308 bolt gun, IMR4064 will work.  Varget will too.  If those two powders fail you either your gun is broke or your consistency is lousy.  

Holy fuck Bill, did I read that right? Half a million rounds on-hand?!!!! That's.... awesome! And here I thought I had an ok amount with a few thousand each 5.56 and 124gr 9mm ball.

Joined: 30 May 2003                  Location: SE PA

(HILE, I prop the door in my reloading shed open with more than a few thousand rounds of 5.56 and 9mm.  If you think about it, a handful of 20mm ammo cans full of .22lr adds up right quick and in a hurry.  And, technically, my total round count is a bit low, as that was as of about 5-7 years ago.  Like I said, I love to reload- it calms my nerves.)   

 My point was looking back at it, my goal was to "save money".  Depending on how a person looks at it, maybe I have.      I started out on my kitchen table.    In retrospect, I would have by-passed the turret presses if I knew just how much better ( it terms of volume) a progressive is.  On the other hand, if all I had (or could have) a single stage, I would still concentrate on buying in as large of bulk supplies as I could afford. THAT is where the savings show the most. 

I've been reloading since 1997, and there isn't really much I can add that hasn't been said.  There is a lot of wisdom in the above posts.

Make sure you label the ammo you make.  There are labels that you can get to put on your ammo boxes.  I like to use the plastic 50 round capacity ammo boxes from Midway USA.  Put as much info on the label as possible about the load.

I know it's been said, but it is important; keep accurate notes of all your load data.  I like to keep all my notes in a three ring binder.  

Powder Valley is about the best place that I have found to buy supplies. 

Hazmat fees suck, but the more supplies you buy at once the easier it is to deal with.  If you & some friends that reload get a big bulk order going you can usually save some money.

Have fun and watch out, because reloading can become quite addictive  

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you reload to shoot rather than the other way around get yourself a Dillon...FTW. I started on a 550B and now have 2x 650’s with case feeders. I can crank out 1000 rounds of pistol ammo in an hour or so if everything is set up and running well. I don’t have a lot of free time so being able to load quickly is key for me. The savings you get reloading will pay for your total set up in about 10,000 rounds easily.

I’ve never gotten into reloading rifle ammo as I generally shoot steel case stuff for practice, inside of 100 yards it’s good enough  for the girls I go out with. Reloading would get me better quality ammo for the same $ but for that type of training the amount of time I’d need to put in doesn’t make it worth it to me. If you have the time it is definitely worth it though...I have a buddy who reloads rifle on a 550 and really likes it for that. The 550 is a very simple machine to learn and you can easily get 4-500 rounds an hour on it. 

Joined: 13AUG2010         Location: Southern Arizona 

XTCBX posted:

If you reload to shoot rather than the other way around get yourself a Dillon...FTW. I started on a 550B and now have 2x 650’s with case feeders. I can crank out 1000 rounds of pistol ammo in an hour or so if everything is set up and running well. I don’t have a lot of free time so being able to load quickly is key for me. The savings you get reloading will pay for your total set up in about 10,000 rounds easily.

I’ve never gotten into reloading rifle ammo as I generally shoot steel case stuff for practice, inside of 100 yards it’s good enough  for the girls I go out with. Reloading would get me better quality ammo for the same $ but for that type of training the amount of time I’d need to put in doesn’t make it worth it to me. If you have the time it is definitely worth it though...I have a buddy who reloads rifle on a 550 and really likes it for that. The 550 is a very simple machine to learn and you can easily get 4-500 rounds an hour on it. 

What's your opinion on used Dillon 650 & 550?  Better to start with a new one?

Dillon makes excellent stuff & they have a lifetime "No B.S." Warranty, but they aren't cheap. Dillon is like Apple is to computers. They definitely have a strong following in the reloading community. However, as an alternate viewpoint, I started with a Lee Hand Press & Lee Dies for an initial investment of less than $100 out the door. Their dies are a fraction of the cost of the other companies & since I started reloading 5-6 years ago they haven't given me any problems. They have a variety of affordable reloading presses that will get the job done at a lesser price than their competitors. I'd advise to start out with a basic single-stage press vs. a turret press or a progressive loader. A single stage press forces you to pay close attention to every step of the reloading process. Also, I highly recommend the NRA's Metallic Reloading Class if you have anyone in your area that's offering it.

"Number 7 was interesting. My third leadoff homer in three games. I had used the same bat for the first two homers. I had planned to keep using that bat until I broke it. But while I was on deck, I put it back & took out another bat. You want to know that it's you and not the bat."- Brady Anderson, Baltimore Orioles.

 

Home: Eugene, OR. USA

Linz, I bought my 550 and last 650 new but my 1st 650 was used. But like was just said Dillon has their No BS Warranty on the 550&650’s, that means anything breaks and they replace it, no questions asked. Small parts, big parts, tech support everything no matter if you bought it new or used. I would have no problem buying a 550 or 650 used, their 1050’s are considered “pro” grade and only have a 1 or 2 year full warranty but I’ve heard of them lasting for decades without issue. 

Joined: 13AUG2010         Location: Southern Arizona 

Im currently going through this same thing. Im getting my ass kicked by the case prep part, and have turned a couple .308 cases into something of modern art. I went with a Lee single stage (as I am only intending to do .308, for my bolt gun), but then had to build a bench. So I'm probably going to be easily 500 bucks into reloading before I ever get a finished round in hand. Am I saving money? Shit, I doubt it. But (hopefully, when someone shows me what I'm doing wrong) I'll know for certain each round is as consistent as possible.

"Here I abandon peace and desecrate law. Farewell to treaties. Fortune it is you I follow... From now on, war will be my judge."

Whiskey posted:

 Am I saving money? Shit, I doubt it. But (hopefully, when someone shows me what I'm doing wrong) I'll know for certain each round is as consistent as possible.

www.handloads.com/calc/loadingCosts.asp

---------------------------------

It's not that life is so short, it's that you're dead for so long.

The .45-70 is the only government I trust

"I was raised in a place called America...
It's gone now, I wish you could've seen it"
- a WWII vet

 

Joined: 1/30/06 3:34 PM - Location:MA

Perfect timing. I've been looking at getting back to reloading myself. I have a Rockchucker from back in the 80s. I pulled my footlocker out and everything is still good. I do still have Unique powder and primers. What's the consensus that it would all still be good. I have plenty of brass from the years. I'm only looking at 9mm right now, but want to get everything set up right before I start. Also thought of buying a Dillion and going big right off!

 

Wild Bill

Whiskey posted:

Im currently going through this same thing. Im getting my ass kicked by the case prep part, and have turned a couple .308 cases into something of modern art. I went with a Lee single stage (as I am only intending to do .308, for my bolt gun), but then had to build a bench. So I'm probably going to be easily 500 bucks into reloading before I ever get a finished round in hand. Am I saving money? Shit, I doubt it. But (hopefully, when someone shows me what I'm doing wrong) I'll know for certain each round is as consistent as possible.

My log jam is case trimming- in bulk.

The fly in the progressive ointment for me is cleaning the lube from the case/cleaning primer pocket after full length resizing- then prime/load/projectile seat/crimp.

 

Wild Bill posted:

 I do still have Unique powder and primers. What's the consensus that it would all still be good.

 

Wild Bill

Only way to know is to load a few and try them***. If the powder was sealed well, it *shouldn't* be a problem. The primers will be a crap shoot based on temperature/humidity conditions and changes.

***When you shoot the test reloads, if you get a click instead of a bang, keep the gun pointed down range and count to 30 to make sure you don't get a hang fire.

---------------------------------

It's not that life is so short, it's that you're dead for so long.

The .45-70 is the only government I trust

"I was raised in a place called America...
It's gone now, I wish you could've seen it"
- a WWII vet

 

Joined: 1/30/06 3:34 PM - Location:MA

I only hand load ammo for service rifle competitions, so it’s not to save money. But this is the portable setup I made for apartment living.  Like others, I don’t have a case prep setup.  I just get new cases and have a growing stock pile of once used brass in storage that I’ll someday reload when I have space/time.

 

One change I may make is to install lips on the front and back of the bottom board.  It really sucks when you accidentally knock over an open case full of powder.

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Malpaso,

Thanks. Footlocker has been in the back of the garage where everything pretty much stays cool. Anyone else have any bench set ups? Looking at getting everything together and set up before I do anything. Or any cool ideas for a bench?

Wild Bill

Wild Bill posted:
Or any cool ideas for a bench?

 

Not sure about the "cool" part, but here's my current setup. All 4x4 frame, bolted together with numbered pieces so I can take it apart, move it and reassemble. Heavy stuff (bullets, dies, some factory ammo) goes on the bottom shelf for stability, expecially when swaging primer pockets on 5.56. Shelves on the left that you can't see have completed loads, empty brass, powder, etc.. I used to reload up to ten different calibers. I've cut back to mostly .45, .44, .357 and .223 now.

---------------------------------

It's not that life is so short, it's that you're dead for so long.

The .45-70 is the only government I trust

"I was raised in a place called America...
It's gone now, I wish you could've seen it"
- a WWII vet

 

Joined: 1/30/06 3:34 PM - Location:MA

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