Reloading and the very beginner

American Revival Apparel Company


Jun 8, 2012
Southeast Wisconsin
Zip code
davevabch said:
Ok Skip. I see now that you are right about the hand press. Where I live there are a few local gun shops and they carry most of the LEE kits. Which one would you advise or would you not get the kit and just buy other components separately? (I only plan to load Pistol ammo).
Dave - in order to start out with the lowest practical budget and still be able to produce quality ammunition, I would suggest the following for a minimum starter kit:
  • A standard single station press such as the RCBS Partner Single Stage Press. I chose this one to recommend over the Lee unit because you need to buy adapters for each die with the Lee system.
  • A set of dies for each caliber. I highly recommend a set with a carbide sizing die so that you don't need to mess with lubricating the cases.
  • A hand-powered priming tool. My choice is the Lee Auto Prime Hand Priming Tool
  • A quality powder scale such as the Lyman Pro 500 Magnetic Powder Scale. A good digital scale would be more expensive but would be much more user-friendly.
  • A good powder measure. For pistol cartridges there's nothing better than the Redding Competition 10X measure, but for starters you could use the Lee powder dipper kit as long as you measure every charge weight.
  • You will need a good powder funnel. I like the RCBS funnels.
  • You should get a loading tray. I like one that holds at least 50 cartridges. If you have the resources, you could make one out of wood.
  • A decent caliper to measure the length of your empty cartidge cases, overall length of your loaded cartridges, and other measurements you may need to make from time to time.
You will also want some sort of case cleaning system. I prefer a vibrating or rotary tumbler using crushed walnut hulls, but you can get away with liquid cleaners for starting out.

The list goes on, of course, but this is the very basic stuff that you will need along with the expendables - primers, powder, and bullets. For powder, I've gone through a variety of types but have settled on Alliant's Power Pistol for smaller pistol cartridges. I have pretty much settled on CCI for primers. Hornady makes great bullets. I've found other bullets, such as Winchester, to be much lower quality than Hornady. Of course, you could invest in equipment to cast your own lead bullets.


Jun 20, 2012
northwest wi.
if you go with copper plated lead bullets [i use berry's ] your cost per box of 50 is less than $7. compare that to buying factory and you can see how quick you can pay for your equipment with the .380. a single stage press can be about as fast as a turret if you do one operation on a hundred cases at a time before changing dies. i have never run into a problem reloading .380 cases although they are comparably more ''fragile'' than larger cases. anyway, last 500 rounds i made zero problems with deformity, wrinkled cases etc.
do it!
bob noffs


Jun 9, 2012
Ok, I wanted to start slow and easy and did purchase a Lee hand press. Any regrets? No, For me this has turned out a great cost effective way to start reloading. Will I get another press? Yes, I will probably get a turret. But I will still keep and use the hand press. The hand press is so simple to use. It is a lot easier than it looks on the net. the new press with bushings can now change dies without any adjustment. Doing reloading in batches is easy. Last Sunday I deprimed and sized about a 500 cases while just sitting in my chair watching a movie. No big deal. I prime with a hand primer which is a breeze and you can do a lot of priming in no time. I wake up earl in the morning and like to enjoy the sun coming up while sitting on my back porch. I just take the hand press and will do a little work just sitting there. I mostly will do batches of primary work up until I get to the powder. Trying to find the right load for a particular pistol makes the hand press very easy. I can load about 10 rds, then another 10 rds with a different charge and so on. I have been learning along the way, and have no regrets at all with the hand press. like I said I will eventually get a turret press when I decide where I will set up a station. I do not have a lot of room so the hand press will do for not.

One of the biggest advantages I personally see for reloading besides the savings, is the ability to get a load designed specifically for each pistol. I Think this if very important for folks that like to shoot the small pocket pistols. like most shooters, i would shoot factory ammo like UNC and WWhites. It never dawned on me before how they are really a "ONE SIZE FITS ALL". regardless of the pistol size, barrel etc. For instance, I have a Ruger SR9C and a LC9. The SR9C is a great pistol, and no matter what ammo, it shoots almost as smooth as a However, the pistol is harder to rack than the smaller LC9 and requires a larger charge than the LC9 to cycle.
Now the LC9 is the pistol I wanted to focus on. I have become very proficient shooting that gun, but the gun does have a fair amount of recoil. So why was I shooting a UMC Winchester white etc, a cartridge designed for any SIZE 9mm? What if I could design a load that would tame down the lC9 to make it more appropriate for handling and consequently more accurate?
I took the LC9 out yesterday with a new load. What a total Pleasure the pistol was to shoot with a reduced load. No more harsh recoil, and the accuracy was the very best I have ever shot the gun. I really believe that a lot of folks that carry now and purchasing the smaller guns, just do not realize how easy they could eliminate all the complaints that many have on these small pistols, by just doing reloading to a cartridge designed for that specific pistol. Another benefit of a specific tailored load is that the gun will not suffer as much wear and tear as a "ONE SIZE FITS ALL CARTRIDGE"!
These are just my thought brought to you by "THE VERY BEGINNER"


Jun 8, 2012
how much $$ to get a Lee running with a single die set? how much space is needed?


Jun 9, 2012
I pretty much started real slow and ended up buying equipment as I went. I bought the Hand Press for about $50 and a lee scale for about $25.00 and the die set for about $40.00. Since I just wanted to learn, I just scarfed up 9mm brass at the range. I later got a caliper for about $25.00 and a bullet puller for roughly the same price and a Lee Hand Primer for about $25.00 and a lee perfect powder measure for $25.00. If you do not care for the hand press, then a Lee turret kit would be a nice way too go.
During my first month, I spent more time learning about reloading than reloading. I checked out books at the library, went on the net, listened to forums etc. Just thumbing through a Midway catalog helps to learn. Reloading seems like a daunting task when first starting, but the learning curve for the basics is very fast and all the info will mesh in you mind fairly easily.
I keep a large black bag for all my gear. If you have a TV tray, then you have space. I figured if I did not like reloading than I have not have lost much money. I could easily sell the package and move on in life. Obviously I now have the bug. I really do not want to shoot factory ammo any longer especially in my small pocket guns. 9mm seems to be a great caliber to start with. Brass is free for the most part and small mistakes will not cost much. I use the Clorox all natural to clean brass. It works great. I swear is the same cleaner that Lyman sells for about 5 times the cost. I did buy a tumbler but other than really shiny brass, I do not see it cleaning any better than the Clorax.
Since this is a 380 forum, then if 380 is a pistol you like to shoot, then by all means get a hand press. You can really same a bundle and tailor a load that will not have the heavy recoil of some of these smaller guns are known for. I am getting a new die set for 380.
I have later bought a digital scale (not really necessary). And I am thinking about a turret press to find a place in my office. Like I said, the Hand press will always be used.
Hope this helps and remember I'm the VERY BEGINNER AND THESE ARE JUST MY INITIAL IMPRESSIONS WHILE OTHERS ON THIS FORUM HAVE A WEALTH OF MORE EXPERIENCE THAN I DO. I'm just hoping a true beginner sharing info will help others get the feel from a rookies stand point.


What Would Paladin Do?
Dave, I think your posts are an immense help in demystifying reloading and letting us see what it is like to get started.

I reloaded years ago for my Smith .41 and used a Lee hand loader. Inexpensive but very effective. I think for the average shooter that is the way to go. I only bought a Lee hand deprimer tool as a replacement for the method used by the basic tool. I shot a lot of cheap ammo through that gun.

Your posts have gotten me interested again. If I do start reloading again, Lee will be my choice too.


iPad & Tapatalk


I would like to chime in, I'm a beginner too. If you don't have a bench or don't want to use a bench, the Lee tri-pod press stand works great and is very sturdy. $90-$100. It uses a brick for ballast and you can take it anywhere. Also I use Hornady lock-n-load products. When you change dies they stay adjusted just like the last time they were used. I still check every time and I am amazed how well they work and how fast you can change them. I'm saving up for a progressive and it's going to be a Hornady or Dillon. Its hard to keep up with feeding my pistols. I can see myself at the range working up loads for my rifles at the back of my Jeep with my Lee tri-pod. Den


May 28, 2016
Zip code
Garage sales, estate sales, pawn shops are your friends. I have a RCBS Rock Chucker that is 40 yrs old, loaded 1000s of rounds, still like new.
A Pacific shotshell press, bought at garage sale, 30 yrs ago, it is over 50 yrs old.

Go looking, the buys are out there. A single stage press; RCBS, Redding, Lee, etc. Will load about any pistol and rifle round, just add the dies.