I second the comment above. Lots of folks end up spending a small fortune on reloading equipment only to find that it was not for them.
For large batches of pistol ammo a progressive press is nice.
I like to load my rifle ammo on a single stage press, which allows me to pay more attention to details on individual rounds.
I think that in addition to the press, for 9MM I would get a set of dies that has a carbide resizing die, a good powder scale, a powder measure (if not included with the press) and some type of case cleaning equipment.
If you do not spend the extra money for carbide dies, you will want some means to lube the cases before resizing.
I would base my equipment on how much I want to load. No need to purchase an expensive progressive press to load a few hundred rounds each year.
I am sure I have forgotten something, but others will come along to add or modify this.
Are you loading to save money, as hobby or to develope a better load? With the cost of 9mm ammo, it will take a very long time to break even on the investment. Even then the cost savings will be marginal. If you start adding in other calibers your savings will appreciate faster. Keep in mind, ammo prices are expected to fall headed into the summer.
If it's just for fun then have a ball! I suggest joining one of the reloading forums out there and getting a first rate education.
MCs advice is sage, per usual. My uncle is an old reloading expert having loaded all his hunting ammo for over 30 years. He's promised me all his equipment and has given me his manuals, which is the best place to start. Reading up on it, then getting the equipment you'll need for it, tinkering (preferably with an experienced loader) and gain experience through doing. That's pretty much what my uncle has told me to do.
An experienced loader will greatly increase the learning curve.
Figure reloading costs almost 1/2 what cheap brass ammo you can buy in bulk on sale.
You can be all-in with a Hornady LocknLoad AP for $450-$475 with 9mm dies/plate. How much you shoot is the question as to when - if ever - it pays itself off. My two presses have paid themselves off within a few months.
The best advice so far, and can't be beat, is at least one loading manual if not several. Lyman is a good one and so is the Lee. If you decide on Lee equipment, then you will want the Lee manual.
Yes, a single stage press is good for a precision reloader, but I would recommend a turret press. With a 4 stage turret press, you can load for increased quantity and also use it in the beginning very much like a single stage.
To truly save with reloading, you need to order components like primers, bullets and powder in bulk. Order bullets by the thousand(s), primers by the thousands, and powder in 4 to 8 lb. containers. I will often order once fired brass when starting out on a new round for reloading. It is less expensive than new brass. Hopefully you will have some you have fired and kept for reloading.
Powder Valley is a great source for powders and primers. They also sell other items. Search the internet for once fired brass and bullets or search various forums for recommendations.
Up here in Communist Massachusetts there's a gentleman who teaches Reloading. His class includes ALL equipment and books needed...plus instruction. I know your not close. Ur perhaps there's something in your area.
Thanks, everyone for the replies so far. They have helped identify the questions I should be considering:
My overall goals are:
1. Just to simply have the satisfaction in knowing how and being able to make my own ammo
2. Experiment with different bullet weights and muzzle velocities.
3. Expand into other calibers when necessary. Right now, 9mm Luger is all I need.
I will second/third previous comments. My thoughts:
1. Get a good load manual for accurate, safe recipes
2. Do not start out with a progressive press. I recommend the turret press (Lee has a good one, and has carbide dies). I have used a single stage, and it is a lot of work changing out the dies. I have loaded 100-200 rds of 9mm a month using the turret press and it works fine.
3. You will also need a set of calipers for checking overall length (OAL) of your loaded cartridges, and an accurate scale that measures grains. You need to check OAL and powder load weights about every 10 rounds you load to make sure everything is metering and setting bullet depth correctly.
4. Save your brass casings, and collect brass casings at ranges for reloading. Look them over good for cracks or signs of overpressure.
5. You will need a vibratory tumbler for cleaning the brass, and can get ground walnut shells at pet stores.
6. Try to find powder and primers locally vs ordering online. There is a high hazmat fee in addition to shipping charges. Bullets are fine to order online; I like copper plated/copper jackets, either JHP or flat-nose FMJ since I practice for self-defense shooting (I carry only factory ammo, not hand-loaded).
You can save money over time reloading.
Good luck, and have fun!
In all reality what you need to do is this (it's not trivial but methodically simple)...
Pick a progressive press. Yes there is a learning curve but buy factory ammo as you learn. I use Hornady LnL AP. I don't like Lee Turret (friend has one). Other choice is Dillon 550 or (gulp) 650XL pricier & a lot more complicated. Any others and good luck getting help especially locally.
Crescent wrench you'll need and you'll want some basic tools. Also a place to dispose of bad ammo if you can't pull the bullet (not easy to pull apart always).
Case lube spray very handy spray in bag of cases & shake helps station 1 especially (spray occasionally in the dies).
From there with all the ingredients on hand you work up a load just use the mfg site for the amount of powder for the given bullet weight (3.7grains Titegroup for 124gr hi-tek coated at COL 28.8mm).
Then you setup the press itself and primer feed system and powder drop
Then you setup each die station (for me 1. deprime/size, 2. powder drop/expand, 3. lockout, 4. seating, 5. taper.
then you create a few dummy rounds to check COL and taper. Leave out the powder and primer. Make sure they feed the magazine & chamber. Then you load ~10-20 rounds at the safest minimal load formula and make sure they cycle the slide. Then you make more if all is OK.
Double-charges almost spill over but under/no charge creates squibs both of which are dangerous and can ruin a handgun. Any fail to eject should be considered a squib (drop mag, make safe, clear then chamber check with rod/flag).
YOU WILL SCREW UP A ROUND IDENDIFYING THE SCREW UP IS PARAMOUNT OF IMPORTANCE.
If you go with the LNL i can post exact part # for dies and parts needed like PTX. I've put together spreadsheets with info and considered posting a "getting started" blog for local club members who have difficulty getting started but time is a limiting factor. Few younger shooters around here reload for lack of time and "no interruption" work area (young kids).
I started by first reading the abc's of reloading then bought a couple of reloading manuals. My first press was one of the lee turret press packages. The turret press is a good compromise between a single stage and a progressive. The lee turret press can be used as a single stage by removing the index rod, which I do for most rifle rounds.
Once you find a load you like, buy everything in bulk. Right now i shoot a lot of 9mm and reload it for about $5.50 a box of 50. For 9mm it will take longer to recoup the cost of your initial investment, but there is savings to be had. For me satisfaction of making your own accurate inexpensive ammunition is part of the enjoyment of it.
To me, another benefit of reloading is that you can make ammunition that is not available commercially. I shoot quite a bit of 30/30 using cast bullets.
This is a lot to take in but I think I am getting it.
I am leaning toward the progressive style: either the AP or the 550. Please comment if you think I am way off or not considering something.
1. I feel it is okay to stretch the budget in this case. It seems that reloading equipment (at least Dillon and Hornaday) holds its value well enough that if I don't get into reloading, I can sell for little or even no loss - even years later.
2. chinch's dummy round idea for testing sounds like something I would do and would not work so well on a single stage because you loose the benefits of such testing after changing your setup between stages.
3. Turret presses seem to make it easy for switching between single stage and progressive. In my experience, things that try to do two things, don't do either very well. My favorite example of this, is the Futon - a great idea but does not make the best couch or the best bed.
4. I can use a progressive press like a single stage but not as easily as with a turret.
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