What Equipment Do I Need to Start Reloading?
If you're new to reloading, DON'T BUY ANYTHING YET! A great mistake many of us make when we start something new is we immediately go out and start buying equipment before we know what we really need. I get a lot of questions from people who decided to start reloading, did research and went out and bought $1000-$2000 worth of machines that are way more complex than the beginner reloader needs to produce safe and consistent ammunition. In my classes I teach the basics with single stage reloading equipment and the most complex reloading machine we use is a Turret Press, where a single shell stays stationary and the dies rotate above it. As you'll notice on this page, I have no real brand loyalty. Most of the equipment is interchangeable with dies from many manufactures ( ex: Hornady, RCBS, LEE, Lyman dies will fit on any of these presses), For decades now the manufacturers have standardized these parts. There was a time where this wasn't the case, so caution should be used when purchasing older equipment. I've grouped the equipment by category, If you purchase after clicking on the links I will get a commission on the sale, so that would be appreciated. However, If you want to purchase from another supplier (Cabelas, Bass Pro, Midway USA) you can just copy the descriptions and search for them on the other sites.
- 1st -
Make sure you have a good caliper. I encourage students to learn how to work with non-electronic equipment as much as possible so they can be accustomed to knowing how to read the various instruments in a non-digital format. I've used many calipers over the years and when I started reloading I bought the Lyman Stainless Caliper and have been very happy with it.
- 2nd -
For the beginner, the quickest and most inexpensive way to get most of what you need to start reloading is to buy a kit. It's recommended that you start with a single stage reloading press. Even as you continue reloading, you will always have a need for a single stage. Each of the kits to the right will provide you with the bare basics of what you need to start. It's recommended if you buy the RCBS kit, also buy the additional powder stand.
After buying your first kit, you can cheaply expand your loading bench with the addition of the LEE 'C' Press. Putting these presses in sequence allows you to preset your dies and move the shell across the reloading process. The hand press is an inexpensive way to take reloading on the go, this kit comes with the adapter for priming cases. When your ready, the addition of a LEE turret press will allow you to reload quicker while being able to monitor the progress of your reloading.
- 3rd -
DIES. For the beginning reloader I think the way LEE packages their dies works the best. With Lee dies each function (resizing, expanding(pistol), bullet seating and bullet crimping are kept as separate functions. Plus, you get the shell holder with the set (other brands you have to buy this separate), and you get instructions on how to use as well as reload data with each set. It's recommended to buy the Carbide sets for pistol (you don't have to lubricate cases with this) but remember if you don't have carbide dies, you must lubricate your cases prior to resizing. After following the link, use the description to find the caliber you want.
- 4th -
Load Data Books: The reloader will consult many reputable sources for their load data. Along with load data, these books also provide valuable information on how to reload. While your working up a load it is recommended that you consult as many of these books as possible to ensure you are safely working up loads.
- 5th -
Essential Accessories & Consumables:
The Lyman case prep tool may give you an extra primer pocket cleaner & debur tool, but you'll also get primer pocket reamers which are essential for prepping military brass for reuse.
You should also get a set of bore brushes that you'll use exclusively for brushing out your cases.
Make sure to also have case lube as well as a lube pad to work with.
Essential to the reloader is also to have a means to safely disassemble ammunition. For this the easiest method is to use an inertia hammer.
If you're working with military brass. It's recommended to get a dedicated decapping die.
- 6th -
There are many ways to trim your cases, two great ways I've found are by using the lee precision case trimmer where you'll need to buy the cutter and lock stud and then you can buy the specific gauge and holder set.
The other trimmer I use is the Lee Deluxe Quick Trim, where you'll need to purchase 1 quick trim cutter and then you can purchase your quick trim die specific to the caliber your reloading.
- 7th -
There are a few methods to clean cases. My preference is to use a vibratory tumbler with corn cob media.