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Discussion Starter #1
I'm interested in getting into reloading. I'd like to reload .45 Auto for my 1911, .223 Rem. for an AR-15, and .308 Win. for a M1A. How much would it cost me to get a good quality starter setup, and what other goodies would I want/need to get into loading? Can I safely reload for the M1A (Springfield says not to, but is that just their lawyers talking)? I've heard that it's the softer commercial primers as opposed to the hard military primers that make reloaded ammo dangerous in an M14. CCI sells military 5.56 and 7.62 primers, are they suitable for AR-15 and M1A/M-14 use respectively? And how many times should I reasonably expect to reload the same brass? Not sure where to start...
 

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For less than $300.00, you can get an RCBS reloading setup. To this you would have to add in the cost of dies, shellholders and components. Almost every manufacturer will tell you that shooting reloaded ammunition will void the warantee. This is because they have no control on what you reload. The fear on the M1A type rifles, is that you could conceivably have it fire out of battery- this is not good. What generally causes this is a high primer- i.e. a primer that is not seated deep enough. Some believe also that soft primers contribute to this also. The best advise I can offer is to get a reloading manual e.g. Lyman #48, and read it cover to cover. If you still want to reload after that go for it. You may be able to buy used equipment at about half price. If not take a look at http://www.grafs.com. If nothing else you'll have learned what makes ammunition tick and appreciate what is involved.
 

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That is excellant advice. How many reloads to a case? That depends on the loads, type of resizing, type of case and sometimes even the brand. It can range anywhere from 2 to 102! Caliber is also a major factor.
 

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I would buy every reloading manual I could find. Sierra, Hornandy, Speer, Lyman, Accurate Reloading for starters. Thousands of people reload for their M1A/M1 Garand without any problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Do the manuals cover how to determine when brass has been used to the point where it should not be reloaded? The calibers I would be most likely to load are .45 Auto and .223 Rem. What number of reloads per case do you guys see out of your loads in these calibers? Just standard loads, nothing hot or "match."
 

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I reload .45 ACP until it splits or I loose it. The stuff lasts forever.

With ammo for bolt action rifles, you can neck size only and for a typical highpower rifle (not talking magnums or wildcats) you might get upwards of a dozen reloads.

For gas guns, the general consensus is that you should full length resize (for function and also from a safety point of view it's not a bad idea). FL resizing will work harden the brass faster and they will get thin in the case head (a little above the rim) and eventually, they will separate. A case head separation can be seriously bad. I toss my gas gun ammo after 5 firings. Some folks get more out of theirs. Use a paperclip to feel the inside of the case head to see if it's thin. When in doubt, toss it in the circular file.

I highly recommend getting a cartridge gage for any rifle caliber you plan on reloading for. They're cheap and will help you set your sizing die more accurately.

Lotsa opinions on what primers to use for the M1A. I use WLR and and have never had a problem, but I also take measures to ensure that each primer is not protruding (I uniform my primer pockets initially, clean them out after each firing and also feel each and every primer after it's been seated).

You can safely reload for the M1A, M1 etc. Read up--there's plenty written on the aspects of reloading unique to these types of rifles.

http://www.zediker.com/downloads/m14.html Two good articles here. I don't agree with him 100%, but it's a good starting point.

Ty
 

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30 Cal is correct.....I re-load for my match 308 M-1 and '06 M-1. I also reload for my 45's, 38's 357's, bolt guns 06, 300 H&H and a 30-30 lever.

You can get going for about $300.00 less dies. I own mostly RCBS equipment with some pieces from about everyone else.

I would pick up a reloading manuel available at most Wal-Marts and start reading the "how to" sections. This will answer most of your questions. I would also find a local reloader to be your mentor. I would look for a guy who thinks group size is more important than being the baddest guy on the block. Service rifes are powder and load sensitive and require someone who cares about that rather than just going to the top of the charts and calling it good.
 

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For firearms with large headspace gaps like the .303 Brit, two reloads are about all you can safely get. But milder loads in bolt guns that are neck sized only and annealled occasionaly, you might get 20 reloads or more. That is something you learn from experience and from talking to folks like you have here. Get and read the books. Then ask your questions. There are huge numbers of opinions and a lot of practical knowledge here. But please remember, general questions are hard to answer because of all of the possibilities. Specific questions are always easier to answer.
 

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Midway has the RCBS kit on sale now. I agree with the advise on getting the Lyman manual first. Then start getting manuals from the bullet/powder manufactures you will use the most.
The fun will just be starting.
DO NOT plan to save money by reloading. However you WILL do more shooting and have the pride of shooting your own handloads.
 

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I might suggest the Sierra 5th Edition, it has an excellent section devoted to gas gun reloading... 8)
 

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deltaheavy1,

The firearms you mentioned you'll be reloading for eats up a lot of ammo. At least mine does. If you shoot a lot and get into reloading, you'll eventually want to speed things up. I am fortunate in having acquired over the years a lot of reloading equipment. One of the best accessories I have and used the most often is one of my electronic scales. When using stick powder, I often use a single stage press instead of one my progressives and weigh each powder charge. The electronic scales really speeds things up. I'll simply dump inconsistant powder charges and throw another or I'll set the measure slightly under and trickle up.

As mentioned in other replies, get some good reloading manuals.

Joe A.
 

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One of the most important things to buy is a good caliper. When reloading you will need it to check case length and over-all-length. I haven't seen a starter kit yet that includes one. If you don't check the cases and cartridges with a good caliper the results can be catastrophic.
 

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I use mostly Lee equipment, from presses, dies, scales, and case trimmers. I have had excellent luck with all equipment. I have 15 sets of Lee dies, and a couple from Lyman and RCBS, but Lee is a better deal. You get loading data and a shell holder, and with rifle calibers, the factory crimp die. You will love this crimp die in your 308 and 223. You cannot buckle the case as with other brands of dies. The case trimmer set up is way cheaper than other brands, but a cordless drill makes it faster, if you have one. I have found RCBS stuff good, but way pricey. After reloading 50,000 rounds on my Lee stuff, you couldn't talk me out of it. I have zero experience with Dillon, but have heard many good things. The only problem is with dies, you have to use Dillon dies. I reload for some obsolete calibers and I can use an standard 7/8-14 die in my Lee presses.

Mike
 

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"...Springfield says not to, but is that just their lawyers talking..." Yep. Liability CYA. They have no control over what ammo is used in the fireams they sell. If some bonehead ignores the manuals and load ammo the way you add spices to chili, they don't want him saying they sold him a dangerous rifle.
"...Do the manuals cover how to determine when brass has been used to the point..." Nope. Too many different makers. Military brass being one of the variables. It's a bit thicker so you have to reduce the manual's loads by 10%. My rule of thumb is when, not if, you get a cracked neck, pitch it. Plus, if you have any doubts at all, pitch it. Brass is cheap.
The number of loads you get out of a case depends entirely on the load, just like it says in your manual. Hot loads mean shorter case life. Match loads are generally far less violent than you think. They're actually the best loads for long case life. Mind you, a match load to me is a target load. IPSC/IDPA loads are a bit hotter, but still the cost of the case means nothing. Accuracy is the only thing to consider.
"...For firearms with large headspace gaps like the .303 Brit, two reloads are about all you can safely get..." Nonsense. If the headspace on your Enfield is bad you to fix it. Check the head space with proper guages and change bolt heads if it's bad. It isn't reloading the brass or the rifle. It's the headspace on your rifle. No. 4 and No. 1 MkIII Lee-Enfields are notorious for bad head space because of places like Century who assemble them without any regard to whether or not the rifle is safe to shoot.
 

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USE YOUR SEARCH ENGINE- there's loads and reloading information on the net as well- just don't believe any extreme loads or strange powder that you're not familiar with- usually checking 3 or 4 different sources will give you a pretty good idea as to what's safe- and then you can work from there- and most if not all of the major ammo manufacturers list their loadings on the net- also a lot of newer manuals have a case of lawyeritus- their loadings are a lot milder than what used to be for no reason- your best guage is your own experience- i got my calipers at a tool store not a gun shop for about half the price and they're the same tool- dial is dial,as long as they're precsion made- same thing with a lot of other stuff- a soft face mallet goes the same way
 

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be sure to buy a caliper that measures to .001", as they do make them that only read to .01". Stay away from the plastic ones too. I have one from Central Tool that I bought for measuring shims for setting up differential gears in tractors, have had it for 9 years, works great. The newer digital ones would be cool too. Also, buy a inertia bullet puller. Great for salvaging screw ups (I use for pulling bullets on duds from surplus ammo too, I then measure the powder, drop a couple grains off the charge weight, prime a new case and reassemble) Before you know it your whole basement (or wherever you reload) will be full of brass, dies, presses, brass tumblers, bullet molds, and on and on.

Mike
 

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I have a dillon 550B,... It works great, I am using the hornady dies on it, and they work fine. I have also had my RCBS dies in it for my 30.06,... not a problem, just didn't like the 'feel'. So, I use the dillon for the straight wall stuff and my Rockchucker for the 30.06 and my 30-30. The dillon 550B will load large rifle with no problems, and with the .223, it would definately speed up things since you will be going through alot of that ammo.
I get most all my data that I use, from the powder manufacturers websites. I purchased the RCBS master reloading kit from Cabelas, and added a powder trickler, a powder baffle for the powder measure. I later purchased the case trimmer, and the case prep center.
Definately don't plan on saving money,... just plan on enjoying what you are doing...
Shop around, there are good deals to be had on all the equipment, you just have to find them.
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