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How do I get started reloading so I can get into 6.8 or 6.5?

3931 Views 33 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  aziator
I've been pondering getting the 6.8 or 6.5 upgrade for my XCR but see the cost of ammo being a big barrier.

So I'm thinking it might be time to start reloading.

Any pointers on how to get started? I want to get started slow and just concentrate on the basics.

Right now I really only shoot .223. I shoot some 308, but that is out of a PTR 91, and if I can find the brass it usually is damaged.
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It really depends what your budget is. Since you only shoot .223 I am going to assume that you are shooting a good bit of it. Some people will encourage you to start out with a single stage press, me I will tell you to start out with the best progressive reloader you can afford so you don't have to upgrade later. There are more things going on when reloading with a progressive but it is not difficult to set up if you follow directions.

I think the first thing you should do is pick up a reloading manual, like the new Lyman one. It will take you through all the different steps and gives pretty good instruction. There are many reloading setups out there, all of them work, some are just more efficient than others. I load on a Dillon 650 and can crank out about 700 rounds an hour at a normal careful pace. I can't even imagine loading .223 on a single stage at the rate I shoot it.

Here is a link to another forum that has a good discussion going on the different progressive loaders. Hopefully it will have some good advice for you.

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I started reloading about 28 years ago & started out with a RCBS single stage press. I bought the startup kit whitch had everything + manual to start reloading. As aziator said read manual carefuly you do not want to mess this up, it can be dangerous! I now have a Dillon 550 manual indexing progressive, it is a little more to it than the single stage press. With that said, you can set up a manual indexing progressive press as a single stage press untill you get comterfull with each step of the process. I still use the RCBS single stage press to resize my cases before finishing off the rounds with the Dillon 550 (because of my cleaning process of the brass, I like to clean my brass after resizing). Getting started slow is a good idea & doing that would be a single stage press or a manual indexing progressive set up as single stage.
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I have 4 Dillions and a Lee Turret. Started out with the Lee Turret.... and then went ape shit on Dillons. I would start out with the Lee (maybe from Midway's) Turret and go from there if I DIDN'T have the bread. You can buy a complete set up (press, dies, scales, etc.) from www.midway.com including manuals, bullets, etc. If you have the bread go with Dillion as you can't miss with a Dillion press. When I bought my Dillion(s) they had a payment plan so thats how I went. You will need to have a tumbler or some way to clean your brass too. Good Luck P.S. You may find what you need DIRECTLY from the Lee website in their sale area where they offer specials. ;D ;D ;D
My take, Lee presses are only good as boat anchors.

Buy a Dillon 650, the 550 is a pain in the ass and having a pregressive press means there is one less thing for you to forget to do. If you go Dillon think about buying used. their lifetime guarantee is really good. Get a set of dies, cleaner, tumbler, scales, calipers and go party.

Use once fired brass as it's much cheaper and can still be used 3-5 times depending on how high you run pressures. I find Hodgdon H335 to be a good powder as is Varget. for bullets, Dillon do good deals on 55grain FMJ and Midway does basically everything else. Dillon service guys are also really helpful to get you started.

I run two 650s, one for larger primers and one for small, and a forrester Co-Ax for .303 and .338 Lapua. For me the Dillons have loaded .308 that shoots a 0.25" group, so it will do almost anything you ask of it.
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Mickey, I won SEVERAL rifle and pistol matches with loads produced by my Lee. This was before I could afford the best. Sure IT'S NOT a Dillion, but for someone WITHOUT the bucks it will produce ammo that shoots just as good as a Dillion. And it sure the hell beats the hell out of a single stage. ???

I would be the first to recommend the Dillion as superior, BUT some folks just don't have the bucks to spend. My son won a Three Gun match, at the Knob Creek Nationals, with Lee reloads in Rifle, Handgun, and Subgun. I took Classic with my reloads. :fencing:
Thanks for the great information. I think I'll start by reading a reloading manual and see if that make it all seem a little less intimidating!
I've never reloaded a single round, but I intend to start very soon (.223 and .308 first), and I've been doing a good bit of research, and have my list of intended equipment to purchase just about finalized. I haven't picked out a brand of dies yet, but thats about it.

I can tell you why I picked whatever piece of equipment I did, and maybe then some others can weigh in on whether they think it is good or not.

The equipment you will want will depend a lot on what your goals for your reloading operation will be.

I would also like to start shooting 6.8 or 6.5 from the XCR one day, and I also do consider it a handloading-only proposition.
Go th M.D. Smiths reloading pages at www.reloadammo.com for one hell of a head start on getting into reloading.... :tomcat:
Hard to lose with Dillon. They have some very nifty stuff for dealing with mil brass as well. I"ve been reloading for, ohh, about 22 years now and it's always been on Dillon equipment. Just ordered yet another conversion kit today for a new .357. Their dies are some of the best designs out there from a maintenance point of view.

Buy Dillon. Buy once.
Gunner69, my appologies, I didn't mean to offend. I haven't used a Lee progressive, only a couple of their single stages and I really didn't like them, for me there were too many issues. Yes, they are cheap, but there is such as thing as too cheap. Perhaps I'm jaded by the whole single stage thing anyway as it takes so long. I load Lapua that way and 100 rounds takes over two hours, whereas it takes me two hours on a fully equiped Dillon 650 to do 1000 .308 which shoots 0.25".

I'll take your word on their progressives though as I have no experieince there. I also agree that Dillons are expensive, but used can make it more afordable.
Mickey, We both agree on one thing...... the Dillion is best. I load all my .45 ACP on a 1050. I like my 650's a lot too. But I have to admit, it all started with a Lee Turret. It's like shaking hands with an old friend. Now let me clarify one thing, given limited (scrunch :()funds, I would not even CONSIDER the Lee with all the automatic goodies hooked up. What an abortion!

Best, as you mentioned, save your money and JUSY BUY A DILLION. It's bang that will last.

That being said, if your a Cheap Fucker ;D with NO Money, buy the LEE Turret without all the chains and auto turret & shit. >:D
I'd start with a turret press. If you start off doing things less than perfect (which most novices do), you'll only be screwing up at higher speed with a progressive and it will be tougher to diagnose why. Once I loaded enough to be confident that I could maintain consistent results in a safe manner, I purchased a progressive. I still leave the turret setup for less common cartridges like my 38-55 Winchester. Hook up with someone who knows how to reload and buy some reloading books. There also also lots of good websites - seek out the reloading companies and powder makers. Good luck!

I'm about to buy my first XCR and it's going to be in one of these chamberings as I've never been a big fan of th 5.56. This looks like a great site - I hope to learn as much as I can prior to my purchase!
The reason I went for the Dillons was because the automation works and it left little for me to screw up. I even bought two 650s so I didn't have to change the primer setup. They paid for themselves in less than a year as the price of ammo went up.

It does make sense though to go for a turret set up first to see if you even like reloading. You can always use it for the oddities if and when you step up. You'll like it either way as you can really taior ammo to your rifle.

This image is a three shot group form a rifle that's supposed to shoot an inch. It was shot off a sandbag at 100M. It shows you what's possible and right now you can load ammo for less than it costs for milsurp.

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I would agree that if you have never reloaded you probably shouldn't go out and drop 1K on a setup to find out you don't like it (unless you want to sell it to me at a huge discount). Try and find someone that has a setup you can try and give it a shot, especially the case prep part. I found that the dillon 650 wasn't too much for me as a first time metallic reloader (been doing shotgun for years) as even though it is a progressive you don't have to use it as such. If you want when you are just starting out you can load just one at a time until you get the hang of it. The great thing about the dillon is that you don't have to buy all the little goodies right away, you can add most of them later. If there is one thing I can recommend it would be the powder checker at station 3. I have loaded about 7K in the past 6 months and have yet to have a powder throw that was incorrect (over or under and I am knocking on wood). I read all the time about somebody that had a squib load and almost shot a second round down the barrel into the first bullet sitting there. When you are loading 500-1000 rounds an hour it is nice to have that little checker that beeps if your powder level is off. It has saved my butt more than once on a low powder charge.
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man, so many shooting related goodies, so little time and money :'(

could anyone give me some price ranges for simple/intermediate/sweet reloading setups that could reload .308/.223/.45/.40/9mm and maybe 12 guage?

I've been trying to determine whether I should commit to all this gear and time investment...

all the talk about tumblers, cleaners, deburrers, progressive presses, powder checkers etc seems pretty daunting to a beginner ???
A single stage kit or turret kit will run in the $250.00 range for one calliber. For 12 gauge you need a different press (you can't use a rifle/pistol press on shotgun shells). After you get started you'll find a lot of other stuff, that you will want to make life easier.
man, so many shooting related goodies, so little time and money :'(

could anyone give me some price ranges for simple/intermediate/sweet reloading setups that could reload .308/.223/.45/.40/9mm and maybe 12 guage?

I've been trying to determine whether I should commit to all this gear and time investment...

all the talk about tumblers, cleaners, deburrers, progressive presses, powder checkers etc seems pretty daunting to a beginner ???
It is daunting, I bought my dillon 650 last year with EVERYTHING I needed to reload .223, .45 and 9mm. With all the bells and wistles it ended up costing around $1400. I already had a lot of the case prep stuff. It was a large investment but it has paid for itself in the year I have had it. I would have paid triple that for all the ammo I shot.
There are lots of good videos on youtube that can give you an idea of how the basic process goes.

The total cost of the stuff on my shopping list right now is about $650, and that is for just about all the basic stuff as far as I can tell to load .223 and .308. I'm getting a Redding T7 turret press. I don't have any desire to be a "high volume" loader right now, and don't really want a progressive.
Call Dillon and talk to their support guys. Then work out what you really need. For example a 550 is non progressive, handles almost any caliber and is easy to use and adapt. The Dillon guys will help you out.
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