What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

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What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by Rob Kovach on Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:31 am

After seeing ChrisD42's post about what to use instead of reloaded ammo, and being that I just started reloading, I wanted to make a post to encourage people to start reloading by taking some of the mystery out of what you NEED to get started reloading--as inexpensively as possible...

#1--the reloader. If I had to do it over again, I would buy a Lee 1000 pro. It comes with dies, case loader, primer loader...Just pull and push the handle, and set a bullet on the case. The reloader does the rest. Joe Fobes has been using one of these and he likes it. https://fsreloading.com/lee-pro-1000-45-acp-90638.html ONLY $170 with shipping!!

#2--a powder scale. I have a manual boom scale--but it's a pain in the butt. If I had it to do over again I'd buy this: http://www.fedtacticaldirect.com/Hornady-Electronic-Scale-1500-GS-50107_p_26598.html Digital Hornady scale shipped for only $30 You need to have a scale to set up and double check the amount of powder your reloader is putting into the cases.

#3--A Caliper to measure your Crimp and Overall length. I recommend the Harbor Freight Tools #47257 http://www.harborfreight.com/6-inch-digital-caliper-47257.html which is $19.99 online right now. They have a plastic one that is satisfactory for $7.99. There are always coupons for HFT in most sportsman, American Legion, and NRA magazines, and I've seen these for less than $15 on the coupons, or use one of the 20% off coupons to get a discount on HFT items.

#4--a Brass tumbler. I used some of those coupons to buy Harbor Freight Tools model #67617. http://www.harborfreight.com/5-lb-metal-vibrator-tumbler-67617.html Though the reviews say it's poor quality, I actually like some of the design features over some of the brand name ones, and it has been working great for me. Currently $54.99 (-20%off coupon = $43.99) Because of the reviews, I have been making sure I don't overload this thing. It has a 5 lb capacity which is full to the halfway mark (where the nut and washer are) with media, and about 200 .45ACP cases. (about 1 quart ziplock bagful). The only thing that some of the "made for reloading" vibratory cleaners have that this one doesn't is a sifter to get the media out of the cases. I use 2 kitty litter scoops and an old cake pan. It works great.

#5--Ok, this isn't a "need" but it works great as a reloading bench...and it kept me from drilling reloader mounting holes in my wife's kitchen table. I'm using Harbor Freight Tools model #93454 workbench.
http://www.harborfreight.com/60-inch-workbench-93454.html I paid $127.99. It has 4 felt lined drawers, and a wood jaw vice. A nice shelf for all of your supplies. It works great, and is of respectable quality. This item is frequently on sale, and again, I used a 20% off coupon.

Now Consumables:
Bullets: Zero 185 LSWCs=$55ish/500 Zero JHPs=$65/500
Primers: $30ish/1000
Cases: You should be picking these up for free
Powder: Bullseye for $25ish/lb
Case Cleaning Media $25 for enough to last a LOOONG time.

In summary, It looks like you can get all of the bits you need to get started reloading for under $600. And that includes the components to make your first 1000 rounds! If you are buying storebought ammo at $30 for a box of 50, you will spend that on the ammo alone! If that doesn't convince you to "bite the bullet" then nothing will!

Once you get this far, if you have any questions, just get on the forum--we'll be happy to answer them so you can get started reloading too!


Last edited by Rob Kovach on Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:36 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by BE Mike on Wed Oct 10, 2012 10:25 am

Of course I'd use some different equipment! Very Happy I'd replace the press with a Dillon (SDB, 550, 650) or Hornady.

I wouldn't spend my money on a Harbor Freight tumbler. Although I use and recommend Lortone barrel tumblers, any name brand will do.

Like they say, "Buy once and cry once".

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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by JLK on Wed Oct 10, 2012 10:57 am

+1 on the Hornady Lock n Load progressive.
I sold my 550B this summer and bought one.
Have nothing but great things to say about the press and Hornady's
customer service.
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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by Rob Kovach on Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:11 am

I have the Dillon 500b. and It's just fine, but for less that half the price I could have had a Lee 1000 pro. It reloads just fine, Joe Fobes has reloaded thousands of rounds on his, and if his breaks, he can buy another complete press and still not have spent as much as I did for the Dillon.

Same goes for the tumbler. I can wear out 3 harbor freight tumblers before I start losing money. It works fine and it's probably made in the same plant in china that most of the brand name ones are. When I wear out number 2, I will buy the HFT extended lifetime warranty, and the whole point will be moot. Whenever I wear one out, I just exchange it for a new one. I actually like the design of this tumbler.

Remember that the point of this post is that you canget set up to reload 1000 rounds for less than you can buy 1000 rounds of bullseye match ammo. If everybody chimes in that they should order a ferrari this and a bentley that--just because they heard the cheap thing is junk, it doesn't really fit what my post is about.

Now if you have a lee 1000 pro, and it's caused you problems, please share it here. If a HFT tumbler set your reloading room on fire, please share it here. If you have a product that you use that's just as inexpensive but I didn't mention it, Please share it here.

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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by DavidR on Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:20 am

The OP listed a very modest list and this will work as a starter if your concern is mostly just getting in the game. However if you are looking to get the most accuracy from your loads then i would forget the 20 dollar scale, i have one and its a pos and not very accurate. You would be better off with a good beam scale, the lee press will load rounds fine but their dies are not the best as to accuracy, any other brand is better, lyman,hornady,rcbs or dillon, so if i wanted to go the lee route i would invest in better dies. tumblers, more expensive is not always better, i have a very expensive dillon and a cheap one from frankford arsenal and the cheap one cleans brass better and faster than the dillon. My suggestion is if your goal is to get the most accuracy you can then buy the best you can afford from the start.

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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by JLK on Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:24 am

Rob,
Please forgive me if I offended you.
That was not my intention.
Someone mentioned the Hornady, which isn't mentioned very often, and I thought I'd add that
I've had good luck with mine.
I meant it only as "an addition" to your list not a contradiction.
There is no doubt Lee is one of the best dollar values on the market.
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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by Rob Kovach on Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:35 am

No offense taken, and I hope neither you or Mike were offended by my response.

When I tell people that I started reloading, and they ask me what reloader I have, and I say Dillon, the say oooooh, like it's something special, or luxurious. I don't need luxurious. I just need to make ammo cheap enough to practice with, so I can suck less.

Our fellow shooters who don't reload yet need to start. Just like most of us started in this sport with the bare minimum that we needed to compete, my list is here to get those shooters a baseline, and to take the mystery out of "what you need"

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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by eskinner on Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:07 pm

Great thread, especially the starting post.

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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by Rob Kovach on Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:22 pm

David,

Thanks for the feedback on the scale. I only picked that one because it was the cheapest one with a reloading brand name...I am using an Ohaus beam scale, but it's a pain in the butt. Hard to get the exact same needle swing twice.
There are tons of beam scales on ebay for $10 free shipping. It's hard to mess one up, so you can be fairly confident in a used one.

Can you clarify what lead you to say Lee dies aren't going to produce accurate ammo?

Does anyone else on the forum use lee dies, and had any problems with consistency?

I guess I don't understand how one die can be inconsistant from one round to the next, and I don't want to spread a false rumor about lee dies. Heck, a .468 crimp is a .468 crimp whether on a Lee die or a Dillon die. Same thing with OAL, and we all know that OAL isn't that important with .45 ACP.

Joe Fobes has already told me that he is very happy with the accuracy of the Lee 1000 pro powder measure. He has said that it was better for bar powder (clays) than the dillon is.

The other thing is, since the new reloader is going to be using the caliper to double check their crimps and OAL, unless there is something really wrong, the ammo will be consistent.

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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by DavidR on Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:53 pm

I started with a lee 1000, using lee dies and found they will make adequate shooting ammo. But my point was drawn from my own experiences with many ransome rest tests. My rounds loaded with my lee dies using the same components were not as accurate as my buddy's rounds loaded on a dillon 650.Now were not talking feet here but my 3-4 inch groups were 2-3 inch groups with his ammo. Once i upgraded to a rcbs 2000 press with rcbs dies i could match his accuracy. Ive since moved to using dillon dies because they load accurate ammo and are easier to clean than other brands. Now I know you will have people say that they can load just as accurate ammo using Lee dies but in my testing i never found that to be the case. To me it was worth the extra bucks to get the most accuracy i could. Some find loading a chore and just want to throw rounds together and get to shooting, I on the other hand love to reload and the quest for the best most accurate ammo i can load is ongoing. When i pull the trigger i dont worry about my bullet, i know if i do everything right it will go right thru the X ring. My problem is I dont get everything right enough times! But im working on it lol!


Last edited by DavidR on Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:59 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by BE Mike on Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:55 pm

I started reloading using a Lee Loader in about 1970, you know the one where you hammer the cases in and out of a die, etc. I thought I was in high cotton when I bought a Lyman Spartan reloading kit. When the Dillon 450 came out (I couldn't afford a $1,000 Star or Phelps), I bought one of those, through the mail from Gil Hebard, and could really make more rounds in less time than the single-stage press. After the 550 came out, I got the upgrade kit for my 450 as a Christmas present. I was really cooking now. I still have the 450 converted to 550 and added a used Dillon 650 to the mix. The 650 with case feeder is the cat's meow. I've had the Lortone QT-12 tumbler since the mid eighties and it is still going strong.

One thing about top notch equipment is that it has great backing from the manufacturers and retains a lot of value because of its' popularity.

There is nothing wrong with starting out will a single-stage press (I still have one on my reloading bench) and adding a progressive later. I stick by my guns though when I say save up and buy quality equipment.

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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by rfmiller on Wed Oct 10, 2012 2:07 pm

I use a Lee Turret press with good luck. Maybe it is obsessive, but I like seeing the primer go in and looking at the powder in the case before the bullet goes in. A progressive would be great, but this is soooo much faster than my single stage press. I check every round with a Wilson gauge and the Lee dies have worked well. If there seems to be a weak link it would be the powder measure which works better with some powders better than others. However, within its tolerance, it is very consistent. Great for the money. Will probably start weighing charges for the 50 yard line as my shooting improves.

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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by Rob Kovach on Wed Oct 10, 2012 6:52 pm

David R,

How did the rounds test when you loaded with the Lee 1000 with Dillon or RCBS Dies in it?

Try to remember the context of the original post: this list of stuff is what someone needs to get started reloading .45ACP, and maybe thought it was too expensive to buy the equipment.

I want to emphasize the fact that some of us can enjoy shooting bullseye without spending a ton of money. Just like a new shooter can get started with a stock Springfield RO for $800. Sure they might be able to shoot better with a $5000 Cabbot--but you don't want to scare people away from bullseye making them think that they can't go to a match and compete in thier class if they don't.

Same with reloading. For people to just get started in reloading means taking a new step into bullseye at the next level. It's better to get those shooters into reloading and joining us at 1800's and 2700's than to leave them on the outside looking in.

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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by Founder on Wed Oct 10, 2012 10:54 pm

I do load my 45 rounds with a Lee Pro 1000 and after some modifications to my process I am loading the best (and with best I mean most consistent OAL, powder drop, crimp and velocity) ammo I have ever produced and the most consistent velocities I have ever tested, 11FPS standard deviation. I will touch on this in a bit.

I resize and deprime on a single press. I prime by hand with a Lee. I do not like the Lee primer system at all! So I now modified my Pro 1000 (which I bought as a second for $134 from Lee with dies) to powder drop on the first stage (Lee said it couldn't work that way), seat on the second stage and Lee Factory Crimp Die (FCD) on the 3rd stage. I really like the FCD and feel that is has helped with the consistency of my rounds. I polished the inside of the Lee disc after modifying one of the holes for the exact amount of powder I wanted so it would drop consistently. Oh and powder scales, even a cheap one will weight powder. It may not be a perfect measurement but as long as it is consistently imperfect that will work!

I will touch on my thoughts of what makes a consistent bullet, these are my thoughts as an over analytical person. I never gave much weight to chronograph testing loads until I really thought about it one day. If a given bullet travels at a specific velocity and impacts the target at point A and the next bullet travels at a greater or less velocity how can it also hit at point A? So I dusted off the chronograph and headed to the range. I tested my loads, Gunny Zins Ammo, Atlanta Arms and Federal Match. The best I could out of any of those was 42FPS stddev. While shooting off a bench rest I could feel the difference in recoil of the higher and lower velocities. This got me thinking about recoil recovery during sustained fire and if the loads were more consistent in velocity my recovery would also be more consistent! This game we play is all about consistency! I put myself on a quest to make consistent rounds.

I have now come up with what I feel is a perfect balance of components to make that consistent bullet. 11 FPS stddev is pretty darn good in my book! My scores became more consistent, my confidence is up and I just missed making Master this past season by 7 points! It's ok I am over it now and those 7 points are long gone and I will never get them back, ever! No really I am over it!

Point is it does not take the best or most expensive tools to build anything, sometimes its the craftsman that makes the difference!

Good example of that is the high end equipment Brian invested in for his ammo, it had the most inconsistent velocities of the ones I tested.

Sorry for rambling, carry on!



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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by davekp on Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:53 am

I had a Harbor Freight tumbler. It shook itself apart after a few hours use. Took me 2 hours to get at and fix the loose fasteners. It shook itself apart again in a few hours. Took me 2 minutes to carry it to the trash, where it belonged. Replaced with a Hornady, bought on sale, trouble free.

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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by BE Mike on Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:54 am

Joe Fobes wrote:I do load my 45 rounds with a Lee Pro 1000 and after some modifications to my process I am loading the best (and with best I mean most consistent OAL, powder drop, crimp and velocity) ammo I have ever produced and the most consistent velocities I have ever tested, 11FPS standard deviation. I will touch on this in a bit.

I resize and deprime on a single press. I prime by hand with a Lee. I do not like the Lee primer system at all! So I now modified my Pro 1000 (which I bought as a second for $134 from Lee with dies) to powder drop on the first stage (Lee said it couldn't work that way), seat on the second stage and Lee Factory Crimp Die (FCD) on the 3rd stage. I really like the FCD and feel that is has helped with the consistency of my rounds. I polished the inside of the Lee disc after modifying one of the holes for the exact amount of powder I wanted so it would drop consistently. Oh and powder scales, even a cheap one will weight powder. It may not be a perfect measurement but as long as it is consistently imperfect that will work!

I will touch on my thoughts of what makes a consistent bullet, these are my thoughts as an over analytical person. I never gave much weight to chronograph testing loads until I really thought about it one day. If a given bullet travels at a specific velocity and impacts the target at point A and the next bullet travels at a greater or less velocity how can it also hit at point A? So I dusted off the chronograph and headed to the range. I tested my loads, Gunny Zins Ammo, Atlanta Arms and Federal Match. The best I could out of any of those was 42FPS stddev. While shooting off a bench rest I could feel the difference in recoil of the higher and lower velocities. This got me thinking about recoil recovery during sustained fire and if the loads were more consistent in velocity my recovery would also be more consistent! This game we play is all about consistency! I put myself on a quest to make consistent rounds.

I have now come up with what I feel is a perfect balance of components to make that consistent bullet. 11 FPS stddev is pretty darn good in my book! My scores became more consistent, my confidence is up and I just missed making Master this past season by 7 points! It's ok I am over it now and those 7 points are long gone and I will never get them back, ever! No really I am over it!

Point is it does not take the best or most expensive tools to build anything, sometimes its the craftsman that makes the difference!

Good example of that is the high end equipment Brian invested in for his ammo, it had the most inconsistent velocities of the ones I tested.

Sorry for rambling, carry on!


I don't own a chronograph, but have used one. They are good if you are shooting (pardon the pun) for a certain velocity when working up a new load. The topic of standard deviation came up many years ago (I believe the late 90's) on the old bullseye list. People like Doc Young, Larry Carter and Dave Salyer concluded that there wasn't a direct relationship between small standard velocity deviations and the accuracy of their loads. They felt like the only way to determine accuracy was to test the loads at 50 yards from the machine rest, or using sandbags from a bench (usually with a high powered scope attached). That probably explains why Brian's load with a large standard deviation wouldn't necessarily mean that the load isn't accurate. As for your striving for consistent recoil to help your sustained fire, that is a new idea AFAIK. It may indeed be worth the extra effort. If you think it is...then it probably is!

As to your reloading procedure, if it works for you, then that's all that counts. From your description of your reloading, I don't see the advantage of using the equipment you use, in the manner that you do, over loading on a single stage press. Over the decades (man I'm old), I have loaded very accurate ammo out of a progressive press, utilizing all the features including priming. Dropping a consistent powder charge is necessary, but one doesn't have to weigh each charge. IMHO, the quality of the bullet is the biggest factor in getting acceptable accuracy. In handgun shooting, the vast majority of points are lost by human error as opposed to bench rest rifle shooting where the equipment (including ammo) makes all the difference.

I don't intend to knock your reloading procedure. Like I said, it works for you. I'm just saying, it might not be the best approach for a newbie. I'm thinking that they might load as high quality of ammo, in the same time, with a single-stage press, at less initial cost. If getting out good ammo in the shortest time possible is the big factor, I still would recommend a Dillon Square Deal, 550 or 650, as well as, the Hornady progressive.

One other factor for a new bullseye shooter to consider, besides personal finances, is just how deeply they are dedicated to the sport. If they, for example, bowl, golf, fish and hunt and they just want to shoot bullseye once in a while as a diversion to change things up or improve their basic pistol marksmanship fundamentals or aren't sure that they will be in the sport for very long, they may not want to invest much into reloading gear. OTOH, if bullseye shooting is their main sport, really caught the bug and know that they want to be a 2600 shooter, they may indeed want the fastest reloading outfit they can get that will produce good ammo. I'm still a believer in getting name brand, quality equipment.


Last edited by BE Mike on Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:47 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by DavidR on Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:07 am

I was just musing over my results using Lee products which we all know are the least expensive on the market. as with anything that sells for much less that its competitors products concessions must be made, Like lee's crappy prime and powder drop systems, but if you are anal enough to the details and modify things to work better your results may be better than mine. I choose to simply buy better made equipment and load accurate rounds without the hassle. Thats not to say my way is better for you it just works for me.

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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

Post by Al on Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:42 am

Just a quick confirmation of BE Mike's note about chronographing.

My other passion is long range (500-1100 yds) live varminting (Pasture rats). I do own a chronograph (to confirm long range trajectory tables) and when I began my load development years ago I used it in conjunction with my Ransom testing of my pistol loads.

In my tests, in my guns I could not find any correlation with low deviation and group size. Some of my best groups also had the highest deviations. This was about 10 years ago and I haven't used the chronograph in conjunction with testing my BE loads since. As we only shoot a maximum of 50 yards, its possible it does not come into being a factor, I only know it didn't for my pistols. I honestly couldn't tell you what speed my 45 loads are moving at, its been so long. And in my mind it really doesn't matter, I just want as small a group as I can produce for my hole punchers.

Now, for finessing a load for 1000 yard shots at prairie dogs, it's a whole different story.

FWIW

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Re: What you need to start reloading.45 ACP

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