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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Ok so I just got my first reloading press in, its a Lee Anniversary kit. I'm looking at getting the Lee pacesetter dies. Do they come with everything I need or is there something else I would have to buy? What do Y'all think of them? So far I have the press, hopper, scale and case trimmer. Basically, what came in the kit and a trimmer. Other than the Dies what else would I need to get started? (Not counting consumables.)
 

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" I'm looking at getting the Lee pacesetter dies. Do they come with everything I need or is there something else I would have to buy? What do Y'all think of them?"

Well, fact is, dies is dies, they all work good or they wouldn't last a week in the market. If you mean do you need any other (added die) to reload with, no.

The reloading manual that should have come with your kit will explain everything you will need and give a pretty good explaination of how to use it all....check it out!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I read everything that came with my kit. It just didn't say if anything besides the dies and case trimmer were needed. I went ahead and ordered the dies. I just didn't know if these were good or bad or if it doesn't matter.
 

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Wolfen,
The Pacesetter dies are nice dies. They're the same as the "Deluxe", except that the Deluxe dies come with a Collet Neck sizer. I bought either the Deluxe or, when I couldn;t get a Deluxe set in the caliber I wanted, at least the Collet neck sizer and Pacesetters for every caliber I load for.

Some of the things that didn;t come with the Kit, that you might need or want:

- some acetone or other cleaner to clean your new dies with, both inside and out;
- caliber specific brushes for cleaning inside the case necks;
- some loading trays (I make them with 3/4" MDF and a Forstner drill bit);
- calipers for measuring case length and other things;
- a trickler (RCBS wins for me between the Lyman and RCBS);
- a tumbler maybe;
- a Universal Decapping die;
- a primer pocket cleaner (didn;t that come with the Kit?);
- a small digi-scale for quick-checking each load thrown from the powder measure. For complete accuracy, use the Lee scale but pay close attention when setting your target weight. For digi-scale I use the Hornady GS1500, a $30 scale.
- a bullet puller!! I thought I could get away without one. 2 months into my "career", I had to go to the gun shop and get one. I think I have a Franford Arsenal - an inertia puller with the collets for different calibers. In a pinch, you can remove any dies from the press, put your cartridge into the shellholder, raise the ram, and grasp the bullet with some channel locks. It mars the bullet, but works if you have nothing else.
 

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I would use mineral spirits or naphtha to clean the dies. These evaporate more slowly than acetone or alcohol, but that means the don't cool the metal and cause condensation as easily. The fumes are little easier to handle, too. Especially if you get odorless mineral spirits. Have some light oil to prevent rust and apply it llightly inside and out afterward.

You didn't mention case lube, but that's a consumable, I suppose, and I believe it comes with the kit?

You said you had a "hopper", but a hopper is the powder reservoir in a powder measure, so I assume you got the rest of the measure, too? The Lee scale will check the measure, and then you can use the measure. That's more than adequate if you aren't shooting very, very near your gun's maximum.

All the other stuff NM mentioned is stuff you will want, as are some kind of bullet and case comparator adapter for the calipers, but not having them won't stop you from making your first loads with what you have. I would put all the other stuff on a list that will grow and acquire it over time. I would get the calipers first (Harbor Freight 6" are good enough), as they will help you with COL right away unless you buy bullets with cannelures that are in the right place for your chambering.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
By hopper I meant the Powder measure. The kit came with case lube, and primer pocket cleaner. As far as Acetone, I'm in the construction business so I have more than I can deal with. Thanks for the tip about the MDF, I hadn't thought about that. I have brushes and I believe I have a caliper that will work. How would y'all suggest cleaning the cases without a tumbler?
 

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Cleaning is not necessary with smokeless powder unless you have cases that were ejected into the dirt. Then you want to get the grit off before they go into your sizing die. Wipe them off with a rag dampened with some of the mineral spirits.

Some people don't clean until after sizing because the case should be decapped for that, especially for liquid cleaning, or they will still be wet in the primer pocket when you knock the primer out. But to my mind the main point in cleaning to get the grit off, so that sequence makes no sense to me. Board member Humpy has made a good argument that getting hard carbon out increases barrel life, but that requires either ultrasonic cleaning or tumbling with stainless wire media, so until you are ready to go to that extreme, grit removal and polishing for appearance are all you can do.

I bought the $10 Lee universal decapper, and I use that to decap cases for liquid cleaning prior to sizing. The decapping pin in the sizer then does nothing. You can also usually adjust the decapper on your sizing die down far enough to decap without sizing, but if you do that, you'll have to move it back up for sizing. The separate die just saves having to make the adjustment. It's no big deal, though.

The old NRA liquid cleaning formula is white vinegar and salt. Depending how many cases you have, put a quart or two of the vinegar into a an empty plastic milk jug. Add two tablespoons of salt for each quart. Cap and shake until the salt dissolves. Drop the cases in. They should be covered by the solution. Tap the jug to dislodge air bubbles. then let it sit about 20 minutes. Shake it up well and tap it for bubbles again about 5 minutes in and again about 5 minutes before the time is up. Pour off the vinegar and salt. Rinse and dry.

The above method will leave cases tarnished after they dry, so it's not the best thing for appearance, but it does get dirt off and loosens a good bit of carbon, and the acid reacts with carbonates in the primer residue, which fizz in the acid, helping break the residue up a little, so this does help.

Some folk now use a 5% (by weight) solution of citric acid instead of vinegar. This shines a lot better. Some also put in a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid (Humpy likes Ivory brand, especially, though I've used baby shampoo and it seemed OK). Some use the detergent but not the salt. So you have a number of variants to try here.

If you eventually get a tumbler, it will clean the grit and polish the outside without first decapping, which is how most progressive press owners do it. I prefer to clean primer pockets in rifle ammo and don't worry about it in pistol ammo unless I am getting a lot of high primers coming off the press.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok, so it is possible to clean without a tumbler, that's a relief. I'm not too concerned about the tarnishing. I can polish the case if I decide to. Now I got to looking at my calipers and I don't have one that would work, but I did get a Lee case trimmer in my kit. I just received the case length gauge and shell holder. Would that work until I get a caliper?
 

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You can also clean the cases by washing in dishwashing liquid (inside a towel or t-shirt, massaged vigourously for about a minute). That will get the dirt off as well as some of the carbon. You just need to make sure that the cases are dry inside, which takes a bit of time with bottlenecked cases unless you have forced air heating vents to put them on.
 

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Wolfen, if you have no caliper, then the case length guage with trimmer attached will "work" - not as an excuse not to get calipers, just in the absence of.

Here's what I was doing before getting a tumbler. I would decap the cases, clean the primer pockets and brush inside the case neck. Then, I'd bring the cases to boil in water with a couple of drops of dish soap. Pour the solution off, and rinse using a collender and hot tap water, the hotter the better. Then stand in some loading trays to drain for about 20 minutes - several hours if you rinsed with cold water. Then blow out with compressed air.

I did the vinegar & salt solution, the baking soda solution, and maybe another I can;t think of now. Eventually, I turned to the soapy water boil. Then, after trimming, I would polish each case with 0000 steel wool, using a cordless drill and the Lee lockstud with shellholder. The tumbler does it all now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I'll be getting a good caliper as soon as I get the chance, does it have to be one made by a reloading manufacturer or can it be something I get at lowes or home depot? After that I'll probably get a tumbler. What would y'all suggest as a good inexpensive tumbler?
 

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Did the Kit come with a priming tool or does the press have priming ability built in? If not you will need something to prime cases . My Lee kit came with the Lee autoprime but that was 20 years ago now :)
Kim
 

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I believe his kit came with the Lee Safety Prime, which is a press mounted priming tool. One at a time, but works fine for the rate at which one loads for rifle.

Any caliper will work for reloading. The only thing you can't do with a cheap caliper, you won't be able to do adequately with an expensive one, either, and that is measure slugs put through a bore or a chamber to determine its exact diameter. You want an OD thimble micrometer with a Vernier scale for ten thousandths to do that. They can be found at Enco for about $20. Enco also has the $20 electronic calipers. They have replaced the dial caliper as the defacto standard and are now often cheaper than dial calipers.

I would avoid the super cheap Vernier calipers at Lowe's (General brand). They are calibrated in cm and in 128ths of an inch, IIRC? Unless you want to do a lot of converting, these will try your patience. If you have only one caliber to load, though, and just want to set them once to the SAAMI maximum, screw the set screw in to lock them in place, then leave them alone, then they are good enough for COL determination.

The Lee case gauge is just what sets their case trimmer's trim length. If you trim every time you load, it will keep your cases safe. If you want to wait until they exceed the SAAMI limit before trimming, you'll need a caliper for checking that. You still need a way to measure COL, which the calipers will do, too.

The Berry's Bullets vibratory tumbler is currently about $61. Cheaper than Lyman or other name brands, but I hear it works twice as fast as the Frankford Arsenal unit sold by Midway for $8 less and is more durable. It is still $20 cheaper than getting a Lyman or other name brand one, unless you luck into a sale.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Andy, thanks for the tip. I didn't know if the reloading manufacturer's calipers were better than the cheap ones. I be looking for the Harbor Freight one, the next time I go into town.
Kim, the kit came with the Lee Saftey prime. It appears a bit more complicated than the Auto prime. It's a press mounted dispenser and uses the press itself to seat the primer, but it looks easy enough to use. And I don't have to buy the shell holders.
What tumbler would y'all suggest? Just something cheap would be fine with me. I don't suppose that Harbor Freight sell them, do they?
 

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What tumbler would y'all suggest? Just something cheap would be fine with me. I don't suppose that Harbor Freight sell them, do they?

Actually, they do, or they used to at any rate.

I have a Lyman tumbler, but I have no idea if one is better than another (I got the Lyman not too long ago.)

Andy
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Sorry Nick I think I posted at the same time. I have some very precise machinist micrometers and a few calipers but none that are the right calibration. Mine are a bit too precise for my tastes, I usually don't use them unless I have to. As far as the tumbler goes, I'll probably be ordering it when I get some spending cash. Christmas tapped me out. But thanks for showing me the Berry's Bullets vibratory tumbler, I maybe getting that one soon.
 

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Sorry Nick I think I posted at the same time. I have some very precise machinist micrometers and a few calipers but none that are the right calibration. Mine are a bit too precise for my tastes, I usually don't use them unless I have to. As far as the tumbler goes, I'll probably be ordering it when I get some spending cash. Christmas tapped me out. But thanks for showing me the Berry's Bullets vibratory tumbler, I maybe getting that one soon.
That tumbler looks like the same one I have except Cabela's has their name on it and they ask $47.99 for it. They have it in kit form for $62.99. It has served me well for many years now of case cleaning.

http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/t...at20853&parentType=index&indexId=cat20853&rid=
Cary
 
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