Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Gary Prisendorf
With the huge ammunition shortages over the last few years came a boom of new reloaders. People got tired of not being able to find the ammunition that they needed or if they were able to find it, prices had been over inflated to a point that was ridiculous.
We get a lot of phone calls from perspective new reloaders asking what equipment they should buy to get started. Many of them want to jump straight to a progressive reloading machine without knowing the first thing about reloading.
To me, this almost seems like handing a teenager the keys to a Lamborghini® on the day they pass their drivers test. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the progressive machines. They work great and can really speed up your loading process. But with that speed comes the chance that something will be missed or overlooked in the process.
When someone asks me what they should buy to get started, I always tell them to buy a good reloading manual and to read it cover to cover before attempting to reload. Sierra’s 5th Edition reloading manual is an excellent choice. The Sierra manual contains a lot of information that you just won’t find in other manuals out there.
I also tell them to talk with other reloaders and to have a fellow reloader help them to get started. Most hand loaders that I know are great people and are usually more than happy to help someone get started in a hobby that they enjoy.
The next thing I usually suggest is purchasing a good quality single stage press. Personally I started with an RCBS Rock Chucker® press about 30 years ago and that press is still going as strong as it ever has. I have literally loaded tens of thousands of rounds with that old press without any complaints at all.
Sure a single stage press is slower than the progressive machines, but I feel they give you more control of every step in the loading process. You also will see what every step in the process is doing and have less risk of skipping a step that could possibly be dangerous to the shooter. The single stage press is a great learning tool and as you learn and get more confident with the entire reloading process, you may very well end up buying a progressive machine. But trust me, you will always have a use for a good quality single stage press on your loading bench.
A quality powder scale is also a must. I feel that a good beam scale is probably best for the new reloader. I own and use two digital scales, but in all honesty, my old Redding Model #2 beam scale is more accurate and when I am loading with my best precision in mind I always go with my Redding scales.
There are many things a new reloader is going to need to get started and we could have a six hour debate over what to buy or not to buy. But in my opinion, if you buy a good loading manual, a quality single stage press and a good set of beam scales, you will be on the right path to a rewarding new hobby.