Author Topic: Baldrage's reloading log  (Read 8440 times)

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Offline baldrage

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Baldrage's reloading log
« on: September 19, 2016, 09:22:57 AM »
I started a training/range log over in the “Day at the Range” category that I have found to be very useful for me, both as a means of record keeping and collecting my thoughts, holding myself publicly accountable, and soliciting some feedback.  Thought I would start a similar log here on the Ammo board as a place to consolidate my newbie questions and record my efforts, rather than peppering the forum with dozens of different threads.

Thanks in advance to all who read this log and especially to anyone who provides a comment.  Thanks as well to everyone who has contributed to this forum, as I have spent the last several months poring over the questions, answers, comments, links, and humor you have provided in the past.  It was a lot to digest, but in total, represents an awesome collection of knowledge and wisdom, far superior to any reloading manual I have seen.  So special thanks to Wobbly, Armoredman, 1SOW, ReloaderFred, Mr. Sasquatch, painter Cesar and other experienced reloaders who took the time to share technical tips and tribal knowledge, as well as all of the many other newbs who came before me  and asked valuable questions.  Any success I have in this endeavor will be due to all of you, but any mis-steps will be solely my own fault!

Offline baldrage

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Re: Baldrage's reloading log
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2016, 09:25:16 AM »
Call me a “(p)re-loader!”  I have purchased all of the essential equipment and components, and will produce my first reloads in the next couple of weeks.  I have lurked on this forum for months – I read through all of the stickies multiple times, along with all 130+ pages of threads in this forum (twice).  I have read “ABCs of reloading”, Lyman’s #49 manual, and watched countless hours of you-tube videos. 

Background:  I have a 9 mm SP01 Shadow Custom with Kadet Kit.  My shooting centers on weekly range practice and monthly IDPA and bowling pin matches.  I currently shoot 400 – 500 rounds 9mm/month, along with 500-600 rounds of .22 (I hit the range three times a month on average, and typically shoot 100-150 9mm and 100-150 .22 on each trip).  I work full-time, have two small, very active children, and a wife who is active in volunteer work with girl scouts, PTA, etc. so my free time is at a premium!  I don’t consider myself especially mechanically adept, but I do assemble my own PCs, so I am capable of researching components, following complex directions, and trouble-shooting issues.  In the computer area, I am a “bang for the buck” kind of guy who likes to find the sweet spot in equipment that delivers 80% of the performance of the latest-and-greatest gear at 50% of the cost.  When it comes to vehicles, I prefer boring reliability and utility over tinkering and style – I drive a 10 year-old Chevy Equinox.

Intent:  My primary interest in reloading is:  1.a) reducing cost (yes, I know that reloaders don’t save money, they “just shoot more for the same amount” but to me that equates to the same thing); and 1.b) assuring a steady supply of ammo at a reasonable cost during cycles of gun control panic.  The only firearms I own are the SP01 Shadow, and a Browning 12 gauge semi-auto that I use for occasional skeet shooting.  Since I am not worried about 12 gauge ammo drying up in a gun control panic (and I have a friend that reloads shotgun ammo if it were to happen) I am only interested in reloading 9 mm for the foreseeable future.  A secondary interest would be as an extension of the shooting hobby to tweak/experiment with new loads, but that is not the primary driver for me at this time. 

I am currently shooting 124 gr RN Blazer Brass for $.22/round, and based on the numbers I have seen here and run myself, I would able to shoot reloads for < 2/3 of that cost, and it would be much easier and more economical to stockpile a sufficient amount (say, a year’s supply) of powders/primers/bullets to see me through the next panic than stockpiling factory ammo.  I am not a “hoarder,” and I hate to give in to panic buying, but there’s also no point in taking up reloading if I am going to be unable to buy components (or if cost of components escalates drastically) over the next year. 

Equipment

Having read hundreds of threads on this and other forums, I initially decided that the Lee Classic Turret Press would be the best place to start, since it seemed like good compromise between the simplicity of a single-stage press, and the volume of a progressive.  However, after reflecting on it over the last three months, I decided to go with a Dillon Square Deal B, and got a lightly-used SDB on Ebay that was set up for .38 super (only requires two additional dies to convert to 9 mm).
I understand the merits of starting with a single-stage press to keep things as simple as possible, but couldn’t justify spending the money on a single-stage press and set of dies just to practice with it for a few months, then have to go out and purchase another turret or progressive press a few months later. 

My plan is to work up a suitable load in small numbers, one round at a time, using the Square Deal as a turret press.  After a suitable load has been tested and proven safe in my pistol, I will continue to load the first few hundred rounds thereafter one at a time in turret-style operation, and only then, after I am comfortable, crank up the production with progressive operations and build a ready stockpile of reloaded ammo.  I have read and seen videos that the Square Deal can produce up to 200 rounds/hour moving at a methodical, careful pace.  I know that initially I will be much slower than that, since I’ll be doubtlessly triple-and quadruple-checking everything, but even if I’m only operating at ~100 rounds/hour, then a single one hour reloading session a week would meet my current shooting needs.

Here is the complete run-down on my current equipment and components:

- Nice big, sturdy work-bench in my basement.  I already have a section set up for gun cleaning/maintenance, with one end of the bench cleared off to make room for the press and associated supplies.  I also have a wall cabinet I am using to store primers, powders, bullets, and cleaning supplies (I added a latch and padlock to keep the HAZMAT out of the reach of the kids and out of sight of any contractors or visitors that come through the basement).

- Books/manuals – I have ABCs of reloading and Lyman #49 (planning on picking up Lee’s “Modern Reloading” when I can find a good deal on a used copy).  I have also printed off load data from Hodgdon and Winchester websites.
 
- Containers – I have been saving plastic bins from Cascade dish-washer pellets.  Already using these to sort and store my dirty brass, and they work well.

- Accessories for press – I’m initially going to try to Velcro tape a small flashlight or LED light, or see how my old adjustable desk lamp works, before buying a special light for the press.  I’m going to wait on a powder measure knob and strong mount until I have tried out the press a few times.

- Notebooks/journal/spreadsheet – have plenty on-hand.

- Tumbler - I just got the rebadged Berry’s Model 400 vibratory tumbler on sale from Cabella’s.  Came with walnut-corn media and brass polish.  I also have a bottle of NuFinish auto wax from Walmart. 

- Other equipment.  I have an RCBS primer flip tray, Franklin Arsenal bullet puller, RCBS 5-0-5 balance scale ($50) and a cheap set of checkweights ($5). UPDATE: forgot to mention I also have a pair of digital calipers!

- Brass – I have been saving my brass for several months, and still have ~1000 rounds of unfired Blazer Brass that I will shoot over the next couple of months, so by the time I am ready to actually start reloading, I will have about 2000 9 mm Blazer Brass cartridges, plus another ~1500 in brass I collected at IDPA matches (mostly Winchester and Federal).  I have been saving my empty ammo boxes and trays, so I will have somewhere to put reloaded rounds, as well.

– Primers and powder - I’ve been buying a pound of powder and 1,000 primers at a time locally for the last several months, as I am convinced we will have another major run on ammo and reloading components around November.  Given the luxury of time I would rather have bought in smaller quantities to begin with, but there’s also no point in taking up reloading in the next few months if I am going to be unable to buy components (or if cost of components escalates drastically) over the next year.  Based on content in this forum, I understand that Federal SPP and Win 231/HP-38 (meters well and stays consistent with most powder measures) are good choices for beginners, and should work well in my Shadow Custom.  Therefore, I have stockpiled 2K Federal SPP, 4K Win SPP, 1K CCI SPP, along with 4 lbs Win 231 and 4 lbs HP-38, so I figure I already have at least a year’s supply of primers and powder in my possession.  I’ve been looking for WSF, since it is highly recommended by Wobbly as “the poor man’s VV N320,” but have not seen any for sale locally.

– Bullets - I’ve bought sample packs of Rocky Mountain Reloading 124 gr FMJ RN (250 bullets), Blue Bullets 125 gr LRN (250), and Extreme Bullets 124 gr plated RN (500). Will test these out for a few weeks and see which ones I prefer I for ease of reloading and function in my gun, before investing in a bulk buy.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2016, 07:05:21 PM by baldrage »

Offline Boris_LA

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Re: Baldrage's reloading log
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2016, 04:17:00 PM »
Wow! that a nice very comprehensive game plan!
You have really done your home work well. I would just suggest after you get a feel of reloading for your next bulk bullets purchase take a long look at the Precision Delta FMJ bullets at 2K quantity. Great quality and price, free shipping. Their JHP bullets even better for $1 per 1K price difference.
8lb of HP-38/W231 will last you for well over 10K-12K of 9mm rounds. No need to desperately search for WSF. Get confident and comfortable with the process first.
On your RCBS 5-0-5 balance scale add some weight to the hollow bottom of it or fasten it with the strap to the wood board for more stability. Check the zero balance before each session or after your have moved the scale on the desk. 1mm off the zero point is about 0.1gr weight difference.
You haven't mentioned set of calipers. You need a good caliper for verifying the OAL and crimp dimensions. I have both digital and dial calipers and much prefer dial type, but either will work.
Good luck with the new adventure.

« Last Edit: September 19, 2016, 05:40:19 PM by Boris_LA »

Offline 1SOW

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Re: Baldrage's reloading log
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2016, 05:19:39 PM »
I agree with Boris except for the dial caliper for pistol.  The dial caliper is 100% reliable,  but a Harbor Freight digital caliper is extremely reliable and more than accurate enough for  9mm pistol reloading.  Rounding to the nearest five tenthoundths with +/- one thousandth accuracy is more than good enough.
On sale often at about $10-$11,  it can be replaced cheaply if it fails... Mine haven't. I will send one to check the other.

+1 on the 124 Precision Delta  JHP bullet at under 9 cents each shipped.

Offline baldrage

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Re: Baldrage's reloading log
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2016, 05:36:50 PM »
Wow, I am impressed (but not surprised) you guys read through all that verbiage and keyed right into the fact that I left out mention of a caliper. :D

Rest assured, I do own a caliper! Will update post above ASAP!

Offline Boris_LA

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Re: Baldrage's reloading log
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2016, 05:39:01 PM »
I agree with Boris except for the dial caliper for pistol.  The dial caliper is 100% reliable,  but a Harbor Freight digital caliper is extremely reliable and more than accurate enough for  9mm pistol reloading.  Rounding to the nearest five tenthoundths with +/- one thousandth accuracy is more than good enough.
On sale often at about $10-$11,  it can be replaced cheaply if it fails... Mine haven't. I will send one to check the other.

+1 on the 124 Precision Delta  JHP bullet at under 9 cents each shipped.
I replaced mine HF digital calipers 3 times. Great lifetime warranty, but great things end up here. Zero doesn't stay, and calibration on precision calibration blocks show consistent .03 off at 1" on the best one. Previous HF calipers shown 0.05-0.07" off when they worked. For my match load with JHP OAL measured at 1.069-1.070" its not acceptable difference and recalculating the correction all the time is not worth it for me. Battery is dead when you need it the most and its picky about what battery brand to use even with the same type. I am sure that expensive digital calipers sold by famous brands are much better, but i can find better use for $100+
My dial calipers are dead on on calibration and never need a battery. I trust it and confidence worth a lot for me.


Offline Boris_LA

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Re: Baldrage's reloading log
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2016, 05:52:57 PM »
Also I have forgot to mention that extra primer pickup tubes will prove a good investment. Dillon tubes with color tips are the easiest to use and not prohibitively expensive. Having few extra tubes pre-loaded with primers later on speed up the loading process. Not critical for getting started, just keep your eyes open for sale while shopping for other supplies.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2016, 05:57:37 PM by Boris_LA »

Offline baldrage

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Re: Baldrage's reloading log
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2016, 07:08:09 PM »
Wow! that a nice very comprehensive game plan!
On your RCBS 5-0-5 balance scale add some weight to the hollow bottom of it or fasten it with the strap to the wood board for more stability. Check the zero balance before each session or after your have moved the scale on the desk. 1mm off the zero point is about 0.1gr weight diffefence.

Great tip on adding some weight to the scale. Thanks!

Offline baldrage

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Re: Baldrage's reloading log
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2016, 07:59:38 PM »
Now that I've done all the research, purchased the equipment, and bought the components, next step is to get the SDB mounted to my bench, then cleaned and lubed.

Since I am new to reloading and likely to change my preferences as I gain experience, I thought it best not to mount the SDB directly to my bench, in case I ended up deciding to change the placement.  Instead, following the example of several other reloaders, I mounted the SDB to a spare piece of wood, and attached that to the bench with several C-clamps.  Seems very sturdy, but the proof will be in the pudding.

IMG_4640 by baldrage, on Flickr

IMG_4639 by baldrage, on Flickr

I do have to say this approach has already paid off in terms of maintenance, as I had to remove the whole press a couple of times to get at some of the components on the back side for cleaning and lubing - glad I did not bolt the SDB directly to the bench.

As for cleaning/lubing, I watched these two videos by Dillon multiple times and spent about two hours yesterday cleaning and lubing the press:
Cleaning the SDB --
Lubricating the SDB --

Time consuming, but time well spent, as I have a much better understanding of how the press fits together and operates now, and the handle pull is much smoother with some fresh grease in place.

For other prospective SDB buyers, I also highly recommend this video by the Power Factor Show, as it does a great job of demonstrating the SDB's operation, including a caliber change, and lots of small tips on maintenance/operation and changing setting son the press -- . (note: disregard his example on weighing powder and how to calculate a starting load).

Offline Wobbly

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Re: Baldrage's reloading log
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2016, 11:25:35 PM »
baldrage -

First of all...
Welcome Aboard !!

I was rolling on the floor laughing. You really DID read all the stickies, didn't you !! You may be the first person in the entire history of the Forum to do so. Even I haven't read all the stickies !!

Actually, I take that action as a compliment. We've all worked very hard to create an oasis of reloading knowledge right in the middle of the least likely place... the internet.  ;D

But I'm giving you fair warning. If you keep this up, someone in authority will make you a Moderator!  O0

All the best.
In God we trust; On 'starting load' we rely.

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Mature reloaders ask: What did I do wrong ?

Offline tcoz

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Re: Baldrage's reloading log
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2016, 11:29:29 PM »
Rather than putting your loaded rounds into empty ammo boxes buy a couple plastic 30 cal ammo boxes to store them loose in.  You can usually find them for under $5, you can fit 1000+ rounds in each of them and they have a rubber gasket around the lid that will keep moisture out.  Throw a few of the little desiccant packs in each one and you're all set for long term storage.

Offline Wobbly

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Re: Baldrage's reloading log
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2016, 11:31:26 PM »
I replaced mine HF digital calipers 3 times. Great lifetime warranty, but great things end up here. Zero doesn't stay, and calibration on precision calibration blocks show consistent .03 off at 1" on the best one. Previous HF calipers shown 0.05-0.07" off when they worked. For my match load with JHP OAL measured at 1.069-1.070" its not acceptable difference and recalculating the correction all the time is not worth it for me. Battery is dead when you need it the most and its picky about what battery brand to use even with the same type. I am sure that expensive digital calipers sold by famous brands are much better, but i can find better use for $100+
My dial calipers are dead on on calibration and never need a battery. I trust it and confidence worth a lot for me.

Boris -
Not widely known, but you must keep your calipers away from all magnets. Magnets can erase the encoder strip that allow the calipers to work (measure) in the first place.

Also, on the HB calipers... sometimes the storage case can depress the ON button. Try relieving the foam lining on the hinged cover in the area that closes down on top of the ON button.

Hope this helps !
In God we trust; On 'starting load' we rely.

Immature reloaders ask: What's wrong with this gun?
Mature reloaders ask: What did I do wrong ?

Offline Boris_LA

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Re: Baldrage's reloading log
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2016, 01:25:30 AM »
Thank you Wobbly for suggestion. No magnets around electronics of any kind and button is not pressed during the storage. Battery life is measured in months, but they quit in the most unappropriated moments in full compliance with Murphy's law. Some of them actually lasted for a few years before start flashing and throw random numbers. Inaccuracy is right from the store due less than precision grinding of surfaces and generally low instrument quality. HF store is a few block away and they replaced them quickly, but I don't trust them and prefer to use mechanical dial one.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2016, 01:36:56 PM by Boris_LA »

Offline Dan_69GTX

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Re: Baldrage's reloading log
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2016, 07:42:08 AM »
baldrage,  Something I just recently purchased and was well worth it - an anti fatigue floor mat from Costco.  Sure is nice to stand on that instead of a thin carpet when doing a bunch of reloading.  Some folks sit in front of their presses, I find that for me, that makes it difficult to do a consistent motion on the load handle.  Might be because I have the Hornady LNL and they have a different press - who knows.

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Offline baldrage

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Re: Baldrage's reloading log
« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2016, 08:11:10 AM »

You really DID read all the stickies, didn't you !! You may be the first person in the entire history of the Forum to do so. Even I haven't read all the stickies !!


I not only read the stickies, I read virtually all of the threads on ALL 138 pages of this sub-forum, going all the way back to before mr. sasquatch started reloading!

 

anything