You know Marshall I started out with one of these in the early 60's. It was in .357 so I could shoot my pistol more and has led to a lifetime of reloading and shooting.
Now some 40 odd years later my two granddaughters sit at my reloading bench using Lee equipment and loading for the several calibres and shotguns they, my son and I shoot on a regular basis. My son is 32 and the girls are 10 and 11.
What a great article and what a great way for novices to get into reloading. Thanks and God Bless
I have never reloaded my own ammo, and as the article states, have been intimidated by the expense that seems to be required to get started. Most of the reading I have done on reloading is almost intimidating in its complexity. This article makes the process much more "doable" than any other information I have read thus far. Can reloading ones own cartridges really be this simple?
Thanks for the well written and inspirational article.
Indeed, it is just that simple! Sure, you can finesse, and progress in handloading, but the basics, the mechanics and the process remains the same. Don't let the simplicity and low entry price fool you, I posted the actual first six-shot target fired with the ammo you saw loaded step-by-step in the article. No other equipment was used, and the results speak for themselves.
Dive on in, the savings are great, it's a fine extension of your shooting passtime and is very rewarding. Just a warning.... you'll never look at shooting the same, ever again!
Given the appropriate Lee Kit, some empty brass, how easy would it be to reload 30-30 ammo? Is a necked case much more difficult to reload than straight walled pistol ammo? I've got a 1940's or 1950's vintage Winchester 94 in my closet that is gathering cobwebs. Although, this is a very common caliber, I'm sure I'd get more use out of it if I could keep the ammo expense down. Plus, taking a white-tail with ammo I loaded myself would certainly add to the experience.
Would a cast bullet be a wise choice for this rifle, and for a beginning reloader? Or, would a jacketed bullet be better?
Loading for the 30-30 is one of the easiest cartridges to begin learning on! It is an easy cartridge to load, and economical as well.
As far as bullet selection, there are a number of possibilities including both cast and jacketed. For pure plinking fun you could load just some 0 size buckshot over about 4 grains of Red Dot for a really, really cheap plinker, or some 110-115g FP cast bullets with around 7.0 grains of Unique for a great small-game/target load, or of course move on up and load factory equivilent loads, all of which can be done with your simple Lee Loader, and done relatively quickly, I might add.
Too, buy one of the Lee Powder Measure sets with the little yellow dippers and the slide-rule powder conversion calculator. It will make you about 100 times more versatile with your loading set, and selection of component combinations will be virtually endless.
If looking for full-snort ammo bring down a whitetail, while cast do a great job, I would probably recommend getting one of the great 170g jacketed bullets for beginning this trek of handloading.
There's lots of help here on the forums just for the asking! Several users of the Lee Loaders here as well, so if you have questions, just ask, you'll get help!
Yeah, Hbennett - the thought of using a hammer to load ammo is a little unsettling! Had the same apprehension many years ago when using the Lee Loader on both rifle bottlenecked and handgun straight walled cases.
The instructions with the kits are very understandable and the powder chart that comes with it gives you safe margins to load with the supplied dipper. As Marshall says, the box with the large selection of dippers will expand your loading abilities. I use both the digital scale and a powder measure on my loads, yet still have the dipper selection to assist in scale measured loads.
Only time I had difficulty with the Lee Loader was while loading .44 Rem Mag cases and seating the primers. About every 10th case, the primer would go off. No damage to anything except a little powder burn to the hand holding the tapping rod. Began using an old golf glove on that hand when loading and was never bothered by it again. Don't know why this particular set had that problem - everything checked out as far as smoothness and flatness of the tools. Maybe the primer pockets of that lot of brass were smaller or more shallow than the others.
Marshall, you may not recall, but I actually called Beartooth a couple weeks ago and spoke to you ... I was lookin' for help finding particular .45colt loads.
Anyhow, you mentioned you were working on the article and a few days later I found it and read it.
It inspired me to buy all the stuff needed for .45colt ... just like in your article. It sounds like everyone who already knows a thing or two about handloading really liked your article. Perhaps you'll entertain some comments from someone who didn't have much of a clue to start with.
First off, I wasn't exactly sure which things were usable for other calibers ... as I was buying the stuff, I did my best to eyeball your pics to make sure I had the right Lee item#. It would've been a little reassuring to have those listed in your price list ... but, I managed.
Second, and this is gonna sound really idiotic to you, but keep in mind, I've never even seen reloading equipment before ... despite the fact that you had a pic of the contents of the reloading kit, I didn't pick up on the fact that it included a dipper. The fact that you included the Powder Measure Kit as part of the "bare bones" package, only reinforced this to me. Further down in the article, you make reference to the "included volumetric powder measure" ... I had failed to make the connection to "dipper". Anyhow, I'd've found it helpful to know that the reloader kit comes with one dipper, 0.7cc for .45colt, and the listed recipes, included with the loader, all use the 0.7cc dipper and afford about as much fine-tuning as a 20lbs sledge. If you don't recall, I was looking for a load basically in-between the commonly found cowboy-action and .44mag-like stuff.
Regardless, I didn't know any better and I bought the Powder Measure kit ... I never even questioned it as it was part of the "bare bones" package. All the while I'm thinking, I can use the dippers to really fine-tune the load.
I couldn't have been more wrong. At this point, I'll have to apologize if I'm missing something, but I have absolutely no clue why the Powder Measure kit would be necessary for any reloading. As it is, I'll be lucky if I can make use of the 1.0cc dipper ... AND THAT'S IT! Granted, it was only $7 ... but, I would've preferred to know that I was paying $7 for one dipper instead of 15. The price of the reloader being what it is, I'd be interested in seeing a list of loader kits which come with the 1.0cc dipper and maybe just buy that instead ... if one of 'em is a caliber I already use ... if the .44 kit comes with the 1.0cc dipper, don't tell me ... 'cause I almost bought the .44 kit as well regardless ... and I just couldn't handle that sorta thing right now.
Again, if I'm missing something, please let me know. Otherwise, I think it's only fair to any other newbie, like myself, to know that 1. the Powder Measure kit is NOT required for "bare bones"; 2. for .45colt, the included 0.7cc dipper and corresponding load chart offer no more "tuning" than a busted piano; 3. the gaps in volume between the dippers in the Powder Measure kit are so vast that, for most powders (if not all), for .45colt, I can't make use of any except 0.7cc (which was included with the loading kit anyhow ... so now I have two of those) and 1.0cc (which, with some powders, depending on your gun, might cause severe problems); 4. this is the part I find particularly amusing ... included in the Powder Measure kit is a HUGE slide card which shows you which dipper to use for varying measures of varying powders (except HS-7 ... same as HS-6?) ... get ready ... on the back of this card ... taking up the WHOLE thing, is an advertisement for the Lee Safety Powder Scale ... why? ... 'cause the kit's so useless, unless you're gonna load one of the loads listed on the load chart supplied with the loader (all utilizing the 0.7cc dipper also included with the loader), none of the dippers matches with the recommended start or max charges (not even close in most cases) for the various powders available;
At first I had an extremely tough time figuring out what I was figuring wrong 'cause nothing seemed to add-up. But now I see no other possibility. Bottom line is, for .45colt, you can find a powder whose start charge is close to the 0.7cc dipper ... and you can find a powder (usually not the same) whose max charge is close to the 1.0cc dipper, but, when they're not the same, you really don't have a clue where you're at with the other dipper ... and there ain't no other dippers to choose from. Despite all the words of caution, as it is, without resorting to buying the Lee Safety Powder Scale and measuring every charge (I knew the going was gonna be slow without a press ... but one part of the article that inspired me was that all I had to do was use the dipper and scrape off the top), I'm probably going to try American Select as the 0.7cc dipper is just a hair under the start charge and the 1.0cc dipper, in relation to other powder burn rates and other powder max charges utilizing the 1.0cc dipper, seems to be in the general realm of "acceptable". Thankfully, I have a Vacquero to test with ... if it blows that up, I won't bother testing it in my Taurus 450.
Before I bought the Powder Measure kit, this is the part where I figured I could do some "fine tuning". Now it appears if I'm going to do any "fine-tuning", it'll be with trying different bullets. Which begs the question, Marshall, I don't see any 250gr, 260gr, or 275gr bullets on your website. However, if I can round up 250gr, 255gr, 260gr, 265gr, 275gr, and 280gr bullets (I really don't care to go heavier than that or I'll probably end up jumping the crimp again), maybe I'll be able to do the tuning I need to. Anyone try 0.7cc of American Select or Green Dot with 280gr? Then again, I suppose anyone reading this has the automatic charging bottle thingy.
Two things that the manufacturers can do to help out the newbie ... in case anyone cares. One, for .45colt, for each powder, specify the start charge for cowboy-action and the max-charge for "Ruger" and, at what point, to switch primers, if need be, and at what point it's "Ruger"-only. It's a REAL pain to try to match the two different charts up to come up with one powder that'll allow someone to load somewhere in between the powder-puff and the grizzly-killer ... for that matter, include the **** primers on the load data. Two, manufacture, and sell in 1.0cc ranges, overlapping 0.5cc, sets of 20 dippers which vary by only 0.05cc ... IOW, .45colt set might include 0.50cc, 0.55cc, 0.60cc, 0.65cc ... 1.35cc, 1.40cc, 1.45cc, and 1.50cc ... that affords 1.0cc of range with 0.05cc increments for "fine-tuning". Maybe that seems a little unreasonable to some ... but measuring every **** load with a scale seems pretty unreasonable to me. And, the only reason I bought into any of this was 'cause I thought I could reload a couple hundred "custom" .45colt loads with a less-than $50 investment. Anyhow, short of offering something close to 0.05cc increments, I really don't see much use for the dippers ... unless you only want to load what you can buy off the shelf ... in which case, wouldn't you just invest in a progressive?
Anyhow, I realize I'm not coming off as Mr. Sunshine here ... and I mean no offense. But I don't think it's any great secret that I'm not entirely pleased with my progress as of yet ... and I'm just not a politically-correct kinda guy. So I'm hoping no one around here has particularly thin skin.
Sorry for the long post.
Marshall, unless you've got a miracle for me, I REALLY am wondering about those other bullets.
And if anyone else has got some useful information, I'd be glad to consider it.
Oh, and if ColdFingers and Nitro are out there, THANK YOU! You helped me quite a bit! No Blue Dot for me.
1. Yeah, if you're gonna really make any headway into reloading, you DO need a scale. Or - maybe you can borrow one for a short time. Yes, it's a fair criticism that more dippers in smaller increments would help the novice. At some point, though, more dippers would be more confusing.
2. You *did* (and I'm sure quite unknowingly) pick one of the red-headed stepchildren of reloading, the .45 colt. Great useful cartridge.... I'm a fan.... BUT.... it's been around a LONG time as you know so there's a huge jump in the load data for different guns. Honestly.... stick to the SAA-type loads (SAAMI spec) for your .45 Colts, even Rugers, if you don't have a scale.... my advice!
3. With a scale, ALL things are possible. First - get some more dippers or start making them out of things like small auto cartridge case (.25, .32, .380 ACP, etc.). Make a wire handle that goes around the extractor groove. Now - get some powder, and find out what your custom dipper gives you. If it's not enough, get a bigger case. If it's too much, good, get a file and go to work on the case mouth. File and measure, file and measure, till you have made a custom-sized dipper.
4. Last... don't take this the wrong way - but - dippers are set up to be as simple and fail-safe as possible. Does this keep you away from max loads... YES.... and for good reason. The point is to make ammo that goes 'bang' not BOOM, for slaying tin cans not grizzly bears.
I have no doubt with an inquisitive mind and your ability to see how the process works, you'll soon master the simple 'bang' reloads and with only a very small addition to your reloading equipment, be ready to move up to the BOOM loads.
Thanks for the tip Mike ... that cartridge case thing sounds pretty good. I think one of my friends has got some welding stuff ... or can't you weld brass? Then again, I can always pick up a Wolf case at the range.
It's the reason that dippers are so simple and fail-safe that I WANT more of 'em ... so, hopefully, I didn't take that the wrong way. My whole deal is, if it takes me an hour to load 50rds with this classic loader, that's fine ... but if it takes me 4hrs 'cause I've gotta measure each charge with a scale ... well, I'll just use the CorBon JHP's.
I knew .45colt had the whole Ruger-only thing goin'. I imagine the same problem exists between .44spl and .44mag. Honestly, I've always wanted a nice trail gun. Not to get into any big debate about which is best, I've tried a few lightweight S&W .357's and I just can't hit with those J-frames. Then I saw this Taurus and figured I'd give 'er a shot. I went to the range, loaded up my Winchester cowboy loads, took aim, and expected this HUGE sharp recoil ... not even close. Without getting into all the particulars of what's best, my take on a trail gun ... a 5-shot anyhow ... I figure shotshells for the first 2-3 holes and heavy flat-nose pills for the rest ... I figure maybe shoot a snake with the shot being the most likely scenario and/or scare a black who might think I'm too close to her cubs ... here in MN, I just can't rationalize worrying about a bear before a snake ... although, I've never even seen anything bigger than a garder (sp?) and I've actually shot over a black's head in a campground before ... go figure. Then again, better to waste the shotshells on the warning. Anyhow, as I've got some recoil room ... and I think I've got some breathing room as far as what the Taurus, itself, can handle, I wanted to load up some more effective "pills". Long story short, here I am.
I appreciate the warnings ... honestly, from what I've seen, I have high confidence in trying the 1.0cc of American Select in my Vaquero ... it's a very pretty gun and I wouldn't risk blowing it up.
Think solder, not weld, with the brass cases. Welding steel that thin is real tough.... Dig back through the tech notes; Marshall did one on homemade dippers.
I honestly don't believe there's the same problem with data for the .44s; there's magnum guns and 'special' guns and you don't have the odd catagory of 'both' like you do with the Ruger & the .45 colt. By the way, even the manuals don't agree on the 'top' for Ruger loads. Take some advice, if you really want to go to 30,000CUP, what you need is a chronograph more than anything else.
Anyway.... make some dippers.... then you don't have to weigh each charge, and yes, your Vaquero gives you a bit more latitude than the SAA, there's a big range of loads between the SAAMI spec and what people put in the Rugers.
Next stop.... keep an eye out for a scale, and then I'd say you may wish to eventually get an adjustable powder measure, check e-bay and of course garage sales and the like.
Oh and for shotshells - personal opinion - neat but mostly useless. If you're close enough to kill a snake (I've patterned them), you can hit the darn thing in the head with a regular bullet. My two snake kills have been with a .22 and a .45. Both work
I also started reloading with a Lee Loader, and it was great. I now have a fully progressive, two single stage presses, a shotshell press, and I still have my original 4 Lee Loaders. I too had a little aggrevation with the cups, but I soon learned a way around them, by using small cases like mentioned above. I think it is also noteworthy that a Guiness World record for accuracy was set with loads from a Lee Loader and it stood for seven yeas before being broken. I have shot loads in my 6.5X55 that came from my Lee Loader that measured .655" center to center at 100yds. Have fun, be careful, and be warned that you will soon become obsessesd with your new hobby.
You can also use sandpaper to "adjust" the Lee dippers to a desired charge. Of course you will need to borrow a scale to help make the adjustment. If you haven't messed up any of the individual dippers, couldn't you return the Lee Powder Measure Kit?
To provide a bit of mental relief... the 44 Mag uses the 1.6 cc powder measure. Through Lee Factory Sales, the individual dippers can be ordered for .85 each. The part number start with 1400 for the .3 cc dipper and work up through 1415 for the 4.3 cc dipper. Just for the record, the dippers included in the kit are: .3, .5, .7, 1.0, 1.3, 1.6, 1.9, 2.2, 2.5, 2.8, 3.1, 3.4, 3.7, 4.0, and 4.3 cc.
As a matter of trivia, Lee also has a .17cc dipper (#PM1829) that isn't included with the kit but comes with the 25 ACP dies. It is a .7 cc dipper with an aluminum .17cc cavity insert (see image).
I'll agree with MnDeuce, the dippers (Powder Measure Kit) is not needed for the barebones setup or working with any of the kits as the best dipper is supplied. It would be nice to have a dipper each side of the one supplied. You can look at the parts list for the Loader to see what these would be and add them at the time of purchase for $1.70 if you are buying from Lee Factory Sales.
Along with Lee's Modern Reloading II, you would be set to go with a single caliber as the information from the sliding charge table is included in that text. I would also recommend the Lee Resizing Lube (#90006) for a $1.79 to keep this at a minimum cost. The lube can be used as a spray lube by mixing the tube with a bottle of isopropyl alcohol and it will treat thousands of cases.
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