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If you were to start over now knowing what you do about reloading...


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I've picked shooting back up after a several year hiatus. I never had the space to reload previously, but now I do and I'm interested in reloading so I can shoot more for the same amount of money (especially when prices/availability get to the point that they are right now) and getting more consistency and accuracy.

 

My question though: if you were to start fresh knowing what you do, what equipment would you get? After I master the basics, I was thinking I would like to get an RL1100 until I stumbled across the M7 Evolution. I don't think progressive presses are the right place to start though. Everything I've read says to start with a single stage press. But what single stage press, dies, and other equipment would still be useful down the road, even once you have an M7 Evolution with toolheads for each caliber you want to reload? The only thing I have so far is a bunch of dirty brass and a Frankford Arsenal Rotary Tumbler Lite which I also plan to use for cleaning some cans once they're out of jail.

 

I'm fortunate that I can invest in quality stuff, and that's usually how I approach any hobby: I don't mind buying quality products that are a good value and will serve me well for a long time. I just don't want to buy equipment, particularly expensive equipment, if it's only useful when getting started. I don't get the feeling that's the case with reloading equipment, but I'm sure there are things that will be replaced once you upgrade and I'd like to know what those are so I can put more money into the equipment that I'll get longer-term use out of.

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I would've gone immediately to a Dillon 650/750 since I primarily shoot pistol and have a basic understanding of mechanics. I can treat it like a turret press that I don't have to touch as much. I currently have a 550 (that I won from a random draw) which suits me fine that I upgraded to a C model and a single stage from a garage sale, but looking back I would've saved a lot of heartbreak if I had just gone to a semi-auto progressive. At my current financial situation and understanding of progressive presses, I would be frustrated with automation which I may plan on getting sometime in the distant future.

 

I would also prefer wet tumbling so there's no dust to aggravate my allergies.

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If your going to shoot allot don’t even think about a single stage press.  I started with a Dillon 550 which is a great press that requires you to be more involved in the process manually loading the cases & Bullets as well as manually rotating turret.  I now run a Dillon 650.

 

So, back to your question.  I would just start with the 650 (750 now) and be done with it....

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My thoughts after starting reloading with zero experience.  I did not have a mentor I felt comfortable enough at the time to ask and get in person help to setup and start reloading.  I researched a ton.  It came down to my round count I expected to shoot and future expansion of loading different calibers that drove my final decision.

 

Evolutions were relatively new and too expensive for my budget at the time.  I settled on two presses to buy which were the 750 and the 1100/Super 1050.  1100 were brand new and essentially on back order status with a very long lead time so I opted for the 1050 for many reason but the biggest being the deswaging capability of the 1100/1050 press.  I also wanted the ability to automate the press in the future with the Mark 7 and I knew the 1050 automated Mark 7 system has been up and running for years.  At the the time I was not confident that the Mark 7 could run the 1100, without being a beta tester for Mark 7.

 

I knew there was the possibility of loading 223 and 300 blackout in the future so I wanted a press I could also process 223 and 300 Blackout brass on, and cut 223 down to 300 blackout cases.  Little did I know how nice the deswaging process helps in loading 9 mm without having to process the brass first.  You do run into occasional 9 mm primer pocket issues that prevent the primer from seating even with the deswaging in the process.  I could not imagine reloading without deswaging any cases.  This is a huge time saver in that I only have to clean and lube the 9 mm brass before loading it.  And yes lubricate anything you put through progressive presses. It makes life way easier and the press runs way smoother.  

 

I am in the process of gathering the required equipment to process and load 223, and I am glad I have already purchased most the equipment to perform these functions, looking at the prices for 223 ammo.  I am so thankful for buying the 1050, in the fact it will save so much more time.  If I bought a 750 the time investment in all of these processes would have been considerably more.  The price of tool heads for the 1050 will washout in the long-term due the time saved versus using a 750 for all of these processes.  

 

If in the budget I would have bought the evolution initially if I had to do it all over again.  I might have saved the extra funds or figured out how to purchase the Evolution due the fact it has more stations, and the biggest reason is the new primer loading system available that will can be directly attached to the press and only costs around $500.  You will pay $200-$400 for any sort of primer loading system that loads them quickly and reliably and those cannot be attached to the press.  Possibly something to think about.  I think most reloaders would agree that loading primers is pretty low on their list of fun things to do.

 

Regardless of any press you buy run in manually for the first 10,000 rounds or so.  Get familiar with it, tune it to where you are comfortable with the way it runs.  Keep in mind and press you buy will most likely have to be tuned to get it to run reliably.  I can usually tell with the up and down stroke exactly what went wrong by how much pressure was required to cycle the press, if the handle press feels spongy at the bottom, if I drag a primer, etc.  You can usually catch issues immediately after loading for a while.  For this reason I am glad I did not automate immediately.

 

Something to keep in mind with any progressive presses is be mindful of your powder charge.  If anything upsets the operation of the progressive press immediately deal with the rounds in the vicinity of the power charge station.  People get caught up in fixing what caused the malfunction in the press and do not double and triple check how much powder or lack of powder that may have been loaded into the cases when the malfunction occurred.  This leads to squibs and double charges.  I try to watch every powder drop to verify the correct amount of powder was loaded into the case.  The one downfall of the 1100/1050s is the lack of ability to install a powder check.  It is my understanding it can be done but to accomplish this you have to set and crimp the bullet in the last station.  Something I am not interested in.  The Evolution gives you more stations, and makes it easier to install a powder check.  One pro the Evolution has the Dillons do not have.  Just to be safe,I have gotten into the habit where I just dump those cases at the powder station and the bullet drop station if there is a hiccup in the process and set those primered cases off to the side to load at the end of the loading session. 

 

After doing a rather extensive cost analysis I would have purchased the Evolution due to having more stations and the ability to add the "On board" primer loading system, if I were to start from scratch.  A few years from now and after saving some pennies (errr a couple thousand dollars), an Evolution will be purchased and become my primary loading press and my 1050 will be relegated to processing brass most likely.  Both automated of course.  At least that is the current plan.

 

Wet tumbling is the way to go in my eyes, but that opinion varies with everyone.

 

If you are detailed oriented induvial, with some amount of mechanical skills and have half a brain, there is more than enough help on line and on YouTube videos ( be careful who you watch on YouTube obviously) to purchase a progressive press for your first press.  If you are not detailed oriented and have zero mechanical skills I would not reload at all unless you have a very reliable person to lean on.  These are explosives after all and reloading is not for everyone.   Buying the 1050 has been by far the best investment I have made in any piece of equipment in my life.

 

There are tons of people on here that are more than willing to help, and many of them have far more experience in reloading than I have or possibly will ever have.  With that said I would be more than happy in helping you with any questions you may have.

 

 

Edited by Boomstick303
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Thank you everyone for the responses. They have been helpful.

 

@Boomstick303 Your response was extremely insightful. You've assuaged most of my concerns about jumping straight to the equipment that I plan to use over the long term. I've just started my Youtube and online/forum learning journey a few weeks ago, so I've still got a lot more to read through/watch. I've mostly watched Ultimate Reloader/Gavintoobe and some from Bolt Action Reloading on YouTube. Who are the good ones that you recommend? Any books I should get? I'm planning to order the Lyman reloading manual, but are there other books that would be good to read before starting?

 

Like you, I don't have any mentor I'm comfortable enough with to ask for guidance. I do consider myself moderately mechanically inclined and handy, and I tend to do a massive amount of research before diving into something. I have no plans to change that when it comes to reloading. And I too intend to reload 9mm, 223, 300BO. I would also like to do a little bit of .45, 308, and 6.5CM, but not anywhere near the volume of those first three.

 

I'm still learning about all of the steps. I've seen case prep come up often as many people's least favorite part of reloading. It seems you can often repurpose an older press to dedicate to that function. So I wasn't sure if it made sense to start on one of the smaller turret or progressives from Dillon (550, 750) because I could later convert that into a case prep machine. 

 

 

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50 minutes ago, Mancolt said:

And I too intend to reload 9mm, 223, 300BO. I would also like to do a little bit of .45, 308, and 6.5CM, but not anywhere near the volume of those first three.

 

Do your research here.  To my understanding the reason the 1100 was developed was to be able to load longer rifle cartridges.  The 1050 and Super 1050 are limited to the length of cartridge they can load.   I am not sure if the 1100 has any limitations in regards to cartridge length or not.  That will be something to look into.

 

As for using a 550 of 750 for case prep, I personally would not go that route just for the 1100 and 1050 deswaging abilities alone.  Some will argue that deswaging is completely unnecessary for pistol ammo, but for me its the piece of mind that my press will run much smoother with that functionality.  Another personal preference.

 

I asked some questions on here about getting a CP2000 for case prep and use the 1050 for strictly reloading or just automate my 1050 and preform case prep and reloading functions on just the one press.  It was brought to my attention it kind of made zero sense for purchasing the CP2000 and to automate the 1050 and here is the reason.  Instead of using the funds to buy the CP2000 I could buy the Mark 7 to automate my current 1050.  Then use maintenance cycles to dictate press function change over.  Just incorporate my maintenance cycles with changing function of the press.  Maintenance cycles with the 1100/1050 for me are about 7,500 to 10,000 rounds.  Perform maintenance anytime you switch the press from case prep to reloading or reloading a different caliber.  This thought process falls in line with case prep and loading on the same press as well.  Just incorporate the change over with a maintenance cycle.  If you have less ammo than 7, 000 or whatever round count you designate as your maintenance cycle you can always perform the maintenance during the switch over after you are done with that particular function for the press regardless of the round count.  I believe Dillon's recommended maintenance cycle is 10,000 rounds if my memory serves me correct.  You will want to do your best to maintain your press.  Like any piece of equipment it needs to be taken care of to take care of you.

 

A couple of things here.  Once you have the deswaging ability you will most likely not want to remove that ability for case prep or reloadng unprepped brass.  Also once you use a 1100/1050 I personally would have a hard time moving backwards to a smaller press.  If I felt like I needed another press for whatever reason it would be a 1050 at a minimum.  Yes it costs more, but I would save to make it happen versus buying a 660/750.  Maybe you understand or maybe not, the number designation of the press is the amount of ammo it is rated to load in an hour.  For me time is money so the more expensive press will save a lot of money over the long haul.   Just personal opinion here.  If you were to have a 750 and a 1100/1050, I would case prep on the 1100/1050 and reload on the smaller press.  I think most would do the same if they had those two presses.  In my eyes loading with prepped brass on a 750 and prepping brass on the 1050 is much more efficient than prepping on the 750 and loading on the 1050 based on deswaging, and throughput of the presses.  Maybe others can chime in here because in all honesty I do not own a 550 or 750 and my reloading experience is very limited.  I have setup and used the 750, and I am super happy that I purchased the 1100/1050. 

 

To be honest I have not found the need to prep 9 mm brass at all.  Clean, lube and reload.  I do not rule out prepping pistol brass in the future, but as of now I do not find it necessary at all.  This might be different if I shot open, or other pistol ammo with high pressure applications.  Again personal preference, and some may insist on prepping their pistol brass.  In the future when I do automate I do see the possible benefit of running prepped brass through an automated press versus un prepped, so that thought has crossed my mind.

 

I use those reloading resources as well.  I will PM you on some of the  most useful stuff I have ran across when it came to reloading research beyond what you are already using.

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I was in your same place last year, was planning on getting a 750 but after researching things here it seemed like it was worth it to jump up to the 1050 and if I reloaded multiple other calibers in lower volume to match it with a 550.

 

I was able to get a good deal on a 550 so started with that. I've only been loading 9mm so far as I wanted to focus on only 1 caliber as I started but what I learned was that I could crank out 400 rounds an hour with the 550 fairly easily. I have been collecting parts and plan to load 380, 40, 223, 300 BO and maybe 45 down the road. The conversion kits are pretty cheap on a 550 so for me I'll reload most of my calibers on it forever.

 

I do plan to add an Evo when the primer shortage calms down because frankly, I don't want to spend 4k on a setup that I can't really utilize. I thought I would hate the 550 and just have to deal with it until I got an Evo but it's not bad to use at all. I'll use that to process 223, 300 and probably either 9mm or 40 depending on what I'm shooting for USPSA.

 

Either way, I'd start trying to score primers and powder now and scrounge for brass. That way you can get started reloading on whichever machine you choose.

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Started with a 650, then added another but automated it for brass processing.  Was familiar with the 650 and got the auto drive used for cheap (as cheap as one can get an auto drive).

 

Then went whole hog with an Evo pro with all the trimmings this June.  
 

Probably ran ~15,000 blazer cases through the MA 14” case feeder into the roll sizer today. I had/still have a suped up Dillon case feeder  Jamm o matic.  Still had some issues with brass hanging up in the feed tube but didn’t have to babysit it like the Dillon.

 

going to do some loading next week for our revos and then set up for my and my wife’s auto’s when the new powder measures show up.  Like 3 months after I ordered them.  Mark7 is super backlogged.  

 

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