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I'm pretty much a newbie to reloading, but a co-worker of mine recently cleaned out a storage unit he had and dug out a Dillon RL550 press with other accessories (brass tumbler, 5 lbs walnut shell media, Hornady powder scale) and just gave them to me, saying he hadn't used them in 15 years or so, doesn't have any guns anymore. Tried paying him but he wouldn't take it. So that sparked my interest in reloading... I've been researching practically endlessly, picked up a couple die sets, couple books and manuals. My girlfriend even got me a gift card to Gander Mountain to help get me started with reloading. I'll probably be loading for .308 (my SOCOM), .45 ACP (the 1911's), .40 S&W (brothers gun), and 6.5x55 Swedish (my Mauser). I know I'll need to get caliber conversions for the press, as well as materials (powder, bullets, etc.), micrometer, case trimmer... anything else I'm overlooking?
 

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Sounds like you've got just about everything. For the handgun dies you don't already have I'd spend a little bit extra and get Dillon dies.They've got some features that make progressive loading easier. For 308 I'd probably use a single stage press. I know people progressive load bottle necked rifle cases but it's still a pain in the neck even with a carbide sizer ball because you still need to case lube and you still need to get the lube off once it's sized. There are all kinds of miracle short cuts and miracle lubes out there and.......it's still a pain in the neck.....to me anyway.GI2The 550B is a great press and you're covered by Dillons warranty to boot. Enjoy!
 

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If you have the $ get a single stage press, Use it for your rifles and save the progressive for the pistol.
Get more brass. Load them a little light. and toss them after 5 or 6 shots.
Also get a bunch of those plastic containers 4qt work fine to sort your brass.
Buy a gun safe. As large as you can afford. It's a nice feeling when whatever you put in there is still there when you open it.
One more thing that extra room.. the one she calls the sewing room.. Start calling it the GUN room.GITEN
 

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When I learned (way pre-internet), all I had to go by was a Lyman and a Speer manual. Read one of those and it will tell you what tools you need and why. You'll need a powder measure - they all make a volume dispenser like the RBCS Uniflow. Just don't get one that has the inserts - limits your ability to get exactly what you want. You'll also need a dial micrometer to measure stuff. You could go electronic, but a dial is cheaper and will do just fine until/if you want to upgrade. You also need a trimmer and a chamfer/deburring tool. The manuals will tell you how and why.

Lots of guys go with Lee tools because they are cheaper. Many of them are perfectly happy. My personal 2 cents is to not go that route. You get what you pay for with tools, IMO. You don't have to buy the most expensive stuff out there, but you probably don't want the cheapest stuff made, either.

+1 on going single stage for rifle ammo. Something like an RBCS Rock Chucker press will last a life time. You might even start on that for the pistol ammo. A progressive press has its own dangers and starting on one of those without being familiar with exactly what you're doing first can be a recipe for trouble. Take it slow. It's nor hard, but mistakes can be real trouble.

Once-fired military brass (LC mainly) is cheaper than factory stuff, but it has a primer crimp you have to remove before you can put in a new primer. That takes another tool and makes it a pain to fool with unless the brass is really cheap. Lots of that military stuff you find on the internet has been fired in machine guns, which makes it hard to resize and takes some of the life out of the brass.

Join the forum at handloads.com. Lots of experienced advice and it's newb-friendly.

On rifle brass, be sure and get them lubed properly. One stuck case will teach you why - and cost you another tool.
 

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Get the Lee case lube, it comes in tube like a tooth paste. It's about $3.50 for a small tube and it can do about 2000 cases.

Been using it for 30 years and I have not had a stuck case yet.

Get some reloading manuals, not just one get two or three for reference. I like using the caliber specific manual.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all the info! Currently waiting on payday to come around so I can figure out what I can afford for this month's installment of "Journey to the Gun Shop". I know there are still a few tools to pick up and I'll start shopping around for a single stage press, and probably another reloading manual while I'm at it too. I ordered the Sierra 5th Edition manual yesterday, just waiting on it to get here. If there's anything left to play with I'll start getting some materials built up. Maybe if I'm lucky I'll find some time to get to the range and get a little trigger time in too. Only time will tell... Thanks again!
 

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Wilson Gauge

+1 on the Wilson Case Gauge. I also have a Lyman gauge & it works well also. Case gauge is a must have.

I bought the Dillon Superswage & it is one of the best investments you will ever make if you process lots of military brass.

+1 on single stage press. I've got an RCBS Rock Chucker & love it.

Case lube - I bought 4 ounces of pure lanolin and mixed it with about 24 ounces of 99% isopropyl alcohol. I now have more case lube than I will ever use before I do my "dirt nap".

Ole Silver
 

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The Dillon 550 is an great press and I can't belive I lived without one for as long as I did.

BUT.. to echo the thoughts above, its not a press to learn on.

I would also recomend a single stage press to learn on and for your rifle rounds. Save the 550 for straight cases.
You can get used single stage presses on Ebay all day long.

Enjoy reloading, its addictive like anything else about guns.

HD
 

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You can learn on a progressive press as well; If a dolt like me can, so could anyone. Just go SLOW and watch everything you are doing. Be methodical, and break it down into 4 processes. Resize, trim, load......, then shoot. Repeat.
 

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I bought the Hornady #8 and it does have a Service Rifle section, listing loads for our favorite rifle. I did a quick check of the table of contents of the other books, Speer, Lyman and Barnes, I did not see any mention of a Service Rifle section, The Lyman book did have one sentence saying use IMR 4895 for your Garand and M1a.
Im still looking for another book that has a Service Rifle section.
 

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From memory cause my manual is at work, the Speer loads for .308 use what they consider "heavy or military cases" IVI, described in the .308 heading page.
Then go to the 168 grain section, and look for the funny asterisk.
These loads are described as suitable for semi auto service rifles. Maybe they call them semi auto match rifles. Asterisk looks like a square.
 
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