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I was about to pull the trigger on 3000 rounds of ammo for my M1A Scout. I'm one of the freaks that thinks that not only are we looking at severe limitations on our 2nd Amendments rights, but that this is the beginning of the end of our freedoms in general, and I'm looking to relocate to a remote area and EXPECT that the availability of most firearms/ammunition will shortly cease...possibly for the duration of my lifetime...for various reasons.

The problem is the that 1) I don't think that 3000 rounds is enough to last me, even if I never encounter serious numbers of human opposition and 2) just buying 3000 rounds is expensive to buy it and just be out of ammo when it runs out.

I know nothing about reloading, but just running some basic numbers, it doesn't seem cost-effective for me to buy new brass and reload it. However, once-fired brass seems to be extremely cheap comparatively speaking. I'd like to pick up about 3-5,000 once-fired brass and about 10,000 bullets and primers. Of course I'd need to pick up the "bare essentials" as far as reloading tools and equipment go as well.

I do realize that there is quite a science to reloading and I'm probably oversimplifying here to the extreme, but I am looking for the simplest, cheapest and most easily duplicatable process to accomplish what I have stated above. Is this feasible? I would appreciate any advice on how to get there.

Respect,
-cp-
 

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Reload Yes! sooner the Better. I have New Factory ammunition, and as I fire those I save and prep cases for remanufacturing. I just ordered another 30-50 cal. Ammo Cans for proper storage. I am buying mostly affordable bullets like the Winchester 147gr. and I stock other essentials as well. I too feel the need! I bought another Case of Factory 168 NATO stuff as well. It will go nicely with my AT&T calling plan!
 

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Components:
Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) or Soft Points (SP) or Hollow Points (HP)
Primers: Winchester Large Rifle
Cases: Military once fired
Powder: IMR 4895 or IMR 4064
Call Dillon Precision for their "Blue Press" monthly magazine and get the RL 550 and other things youwill need. Get the electronic scale ($130). Dillon will treat you like family, with their NO BS warrantee, 1-800 service, and expert technicians.
 

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+1 on the reloading. The hardest and most time-consuming part is the case prep. You don't want to shortcut on that part. Size, clean (and ream/swage if necessary) the primer pocket, chamfer, anneal (maybe every 2-3 firings) and prime. The actual loading of the case is the easy part.

I wouldn't wait. Lay in a stock of components now before they become scarce also.

Not counting your time, you can reload 7.62x51 for about 27¢ a round for plain FMJ. That's a "free" case with just your time invested, about 11-14¢ for the bullet, 2-3¢ for the primer and anywhere from 10-12¢ for the powder each round. With even surplus running at 45-50¢ a pop (when you can find it) you can save about 50%.

Widener's reloading (www.wideners.com) is a good place to start. I've used their FMJ bullets before (they're made by Prvi) and they're great plinking bullets. They also have powder and primers, but they're running low or out of things at the moment. Most of my ammo $ has been going towards components ever since I found out that the election was going to be a contest between two socialists, just varying by degree.

Powder Valley (www.powdervalleyinc.com) is also good, but a little more expensive than wideners (about 5-10%) but they seem to have more in stock right now.

I second recommending the Dillon people. They are absolutely the best when it comes to customer service and they're pro-RKBA all the way.

For 10,000 primers, you're looking at about $300 and a like number of bullets will run you about $1100-1200 and the powder to fill them will be around $1K, assuming about 165 rounds per pound. To get a Dillon setup to load all this is going to be around another $1K (maybe a little less), so for around $3500, you've got 10K rounds of ammo, which is 35¢ a pop, or still a lot cheaper than surplus.

The only sticking point is that once-fired 7.62x51 brass is getting scarce, but it can still be found.

The components listed are great. CCI34 mil-spec primers are also good. Varget and H4895 work well for powders.
 

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I don't have CCI 34 but I do have thousands of CCI 200, I'm reloading 168gr. Speer Match HPBT in new Winchester brass probably with H4895 because I do have two bottles of that where the IMR 4895 is not available, so to play it safe get the CCI 34 primers to get better consistency? My goal is basically to have good reliable 200-400 yd. shots not NM quality.
 

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Economic and technical considerations aside, ask yourself if you have the patience and disposition to be methodical. Do you enjoy tinkering?
Quick it ain't.
IMO, you might want to start with a single stage press. Even if you eventually go with a progressive, you will still use the single stage for some stuff. RCBS makes a strong press. Progressives are wonderful when they work, they can be a real PIA when they don't.
+1 on the excellence of Dillon.
If you decide to start with a progressive, use it like a single stage, understanding each step, before you try to do everything with each stroke.
Start with small batches and a few trips to the range to test your setup and loads before you go into mass production mode.
 

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6x6...the CCI 200s should be fine with that powder and considering what you're using them for. People recommend the CCI#34s because they're supposedly a little less sensitive to slam fires. However, if your primer is not seated right, it doesn't matter how "hard" the primer is, the bolt slamming into it will set it off sooner or later, so the point is, clean the primer pocket and always seat the primers below flush.

+1 to what stoky said. I don't use the Dillon as a progressive when loading rifle rounds. Pistol is another matter.

Everyone loading for the M14/M1A needs a case gauge.
 

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Everyone loading for the M14/M1A needs a case gauge.

Oh yeah!...

Big +1GITEN

Shhhhhhh....

Don't tell the other guys my secret.

I pick up once fired .308 every time I go to the range. It's not alot! But, it's free & it's once fired for sure! And it usually comes from a bolt gun.

Now, I gots a couple of 5 gallon Homer buckets full of it!FRG1

I use CCI #200 primers or Winchester works well for me too. (whatever I can get here, cause it ain't as easy as it is on the "mainland")
 

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+1 on reloading. I use a Hornady Pro-jector progressive press. I have found out that the primer seating on the press with military cases is a hit or jam affair a long time ago. I hand prime all of my mil cases and let the press prime all my comercial pistol and rifle brass. I use a RCBS primer pocket swager on a single stage press for nocking out the primer pocket crimp and a Lyman primer pocket reamer to finish off. I am begining to think that my Lyman primer pocket reamer is worn out after 2 decades of use.

Buy in bulk as you find it or can afford it.

Just watch out for powder and primer storage and fire regulations, especially from your insurance company. Same may also apply to loaded ammo quantities in some areas or insurance companies.
 

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If you aren't in a hurry to load, a single stage press is a good, economical way to go. Unless you are loading match ammo, you can shortcut weighing the load every time with Lee powder scoops. You weigh until you get it right(you don't have to have an electronic scale, just get a good, name brand single beam scale), and then use the scoop. Another way to save money is to find pulled bullets. I have had good luck with them, and they are less than half price of new. As stated, case prep is one of the most important parts. If your case prep isn't good, your ammo can't be good. Should you start reloading?? You should have started reloading when you started shooting.
 

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reload

Starting out I would recommend a single stage press.
I would recommend that you deprime and resize brass first.
Then use a wet wash to clean your brass, this cleans your bass and primer pocket out. Some will say that it wears the seizer die out, but I reloaded thousands of rounds this way.
One summer I loaded 25,000 7.62 this way. And I still use the die! After drying in the oven or sun. I prime them.
There you go like new brass ready to reload.
Use a powder of your choice. ball powder measures easer but has more variations than stick powder.
make sure the rounds fit your mags
ed
 

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+1 on the single stage press to start out with. Midwayusa.com sells a package from RCBS with a Rockchucker press and some accessories. I bought mine in 1974 and I'm still using it. Loaded 1000 .38spls a few months back over the course of 3/4 days with brass, powder and bullets I have had for years. They have all gone bang so far.

Bulk is the way to go, sometimes they will even offer free shipping. Was at Sportsmans Warehouse the other day and passed by some exotic rifle ammo that was marked $64 a box!! Won't take long for reloading to pay for itself at those prices.

Shot a bull elk (.270) and a buffalo (.30-06) with one shot with rounds I reloaded. Can't get no better than that.
 

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From a durability and versatility point of view I would go with a single-stage press. I have a small RCBS RS5 that I still use to prep and load my rifle rounds. I'm never in a hurry when I load rifle rounds so the single stage is fine. I use my Hornady Pro-Jector progressive to load all my handgun brass and I will use is occasionally to assemble .30-06 and 7.62 rounds after they have been prepped on the RCBS.

I hand prime all my rifle brass.

Knowing now I would have bought once-fired mil brass, not new RP brass but it is what it is. I also have 32# of IMR4895 for my rifle rounds and 10# of Unique for my handguns, plus some others and about 50K primers. I have to find some WST for my shotgun...

I get my .30 bullets from Wiedner's, too. GI1
 

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Look at "Hornadys Get Loaded Again" promo good deal with a thousand free bullets. www.hornady.com/get_loaded.php
no limit as to how many "free" bullets you can get.
 

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Seems us 'old farts' recommend Dillon/Progressive, and the 'new guys' recommend 'we are almost as good as Dillon' semi progressive, and single stage machines. Is there a correlation here?
 
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Getting started.........

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.......

Safety…..

http://hunting.about.com/library/weekly/aareloadsafetya.htm

What you’ll need…..

http://www.handloads.com/articles/default.asp?id=33

Overview of the Handloading Ammo process…..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handloading

Re-Loading Pistol Ammo…..

http://www.reloadammo.com/relsteps.htm

Re-Loading Rifle Ammo…..

http://rifle-company.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=911

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>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.

>KNOW THAT: Handloading is PART EXPERIMENTATION.

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?

www.frfrogspad.com/miscelld.htm#components

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. Perhaps I’d even contact the manufacturer. I'd attempt to figure out a SAFE (acceptable to ME) plan of action, using the available data.

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

>LASTLY……..KNOW THAT: YMWV.

Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t. 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. YMWV.

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WARNING: My way of doing things may not be suitable to some of the other folks out there........so, 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
 

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PART 2


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.
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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.”
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The BUY LIST………

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.
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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)

Powder.
Primers.
Bullets.
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.
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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.
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ASSUMING, that you purchase a single stage press.

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

1) Inspect and clean the cases- a liquid bath in hot water and dish soap, 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 some 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……..

www.sinclairintl.com/cgi-bin/category.cgi?category=REMTHT&type=store

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) Then, 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.

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)……..so, 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 job......one 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.
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To adjust dies correctly.......see the link…….

www.chuckhawks.com/adjust_reloading_dies.htm
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There are many LEE single station presses to choose from.

www.leeprecision.com/cgi/catalog/browse.cgi?1217810820.1709=/html/catalog/classic.html

www.leeprecision.com/cgi/catalog/browse.cgi?1217810820.1709=/html/catalog/rlpress1.html

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

www.leeprecision.com/cgi/catalog/browse.cgi?1217810820.1709=/html/catalog/rlpress2.html#breech
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IMHO, a good compromise between a single station and a progressive is a Turret Press........

www.leeprecision.com/cgi/catalog/browse.cgi?1217810820.1709=/html/catalog/turretpress.html
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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.


http://www.handloads.com/calc/loadingCosts.asp


Aloha, Mark
 

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Mark's advice is very helpful, thanks for reposting it. I have followed that advice, and I can say I have not had any problems yet. YMWV

The biggest thing to take from it, I think, is to educate yourself, and start slowly. It is boring at the range firing 5 round strings of reduced loads, but it is necessary.
 

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Seems us 'old farts' recommend Dillon/Progressive, and the 'new guys' recommend 'we are almost as good as Dillon' semi progressive, and single stage machines. Is there a correlation here?
What's wrong with using a single stage press? I've been using my RCBS single stage for 20 years so that makes me a 'new guy?' There is nothing wrong with starting on a single stage press. When you learn to fly they don't put you in a King Air or a Gulfstream you kind of have to work up to it.... well, at least the 'new guys' do.
 
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