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New to Rifle Reloading

4237 Views 12 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  markIVbigblock
I'm having great fun becoming more serious about rifle shooting after years of just toting my Marlin 336 around for a few days in Maine every season. For my new Remington 7mm-08, I'd like to get into reloading. I used to reload shotshells, mostly to save money, but casual target shells became so cheap that I haven't bothered in awhile.

Anyway, I'm the classic newbie on this. Should I get the Lee loader anniversary kit, which claims to include everything except a set of dies? Is there a cheaper / better way to get started? Is there stuff other companies' equipment does better, or stuff the Lee kit won't do at all? At first, I'll be loading mostly to save money on cartridges. I'll shoot perhaps two boxes a week max--about 40 rounds, as I work with the rifle to become a better shot. Right now, I'd like to learn without investing a huge amount of money. Any and all advice appreciated, as always! :D
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I'm not sure what all is included in the "Anniversary Kit", but if Lee says all you need is a set of dies and you're in business, I'd believe them. The only thing to be certain of is that the press has a deep enough throat (No "Deep Throat" jokes, please) to take the OAL of the loaded cartridge. Some presses are only for pistol or very short rifle (.223, .22 Hornet, etc.) rounds. The 7mm-08, since it's derived from the .308, is a fairly short cartridge.

If you're shooting your own brass, all you need to do is neck size.. if you're shooting somebody else's brass, full-length resize it the first time, and neck size it after that. If your little red choo-choo goes chugging around the bend (as my wife claims mine has) you'll soon find yourself into bushing dies, case turning, and other sorts of obsessive behavior.

Reloading brass is slower and more meticulous than loading shotshells, except non-critical stuff like light plinking pistol loads, where you're a long way from max load, and one-hole groups aren't the primary objective; then I use a progressive press with a volumetric powder measure. On rifle stuff, each powder charge is weighed and kept +/- .02 grain.

I KNEW you'd turn up here sooner or later.
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:lol: :lol: :lol: Thanks WWB-- you were right, now that I have a rifle that's supposed to be really accurate, I want to get good performance out of it. I'm mainly after good hunting-level accuracy. Right now, I'm pretty sure that it already shoots better than my ability to aim & fire allows. So I plan tons of range time this summer--and $20 a box for cartridges is just a bit much.

I had the rifle out for break in, and I went through the procedure pretty carefully. It's only had 40 rounds through it, so I'm still cleaning often, although the Remington owner's manual/web site doesn't say anything about break-in (unless I missed something), and the guy I bought it from told me that it really doesn't need break-in because of the way the barrel is made. Nonetheless, I figured that doing the break-in couldn't hurt. It was good for me to shoot slowly and learn how the rifle feels and where all the buttons are. :)

Thanks for the advice!

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I don't have the Anneversary kit either but from what I remember of them, the only other items would be the die, a reloading manual from the bullet maker of your choice, and either a case lube kit or the case lube spray. The dies are obvious but another manual is important as a cross reference and different brands of bullets may call for different loading data even for the same bullet weight. This is due in part to the friction differences in the brands due to alloy type, different bullet shape which may increase/decrease friction due to surface contact with the bore, and to access load data from different manufacturers than the one supplied with the kit. I have also found that something explained one way was uncomprehensible but was approached differently in another form and made sense. Metallic cartridges need to be lubricated so they don't stick to the inside surface of your die. One can either use a pad where the case is rolled on the felt which is lubed or one can use an aerosol to do the same task. Bottlenecked cartridges need to use one of these methods, straight walled cartriges like pistols can use a carbide die and skip the lubes.
It is interesting to read of this task of "breaking in" a barrel. The current June-July issue of "Handloader" has an article on pressures by John Barsness that is pretty interesting. In addition to the comparisons of pressure signs to the tested pressures, he gives a brief comment on ballistics programs and his thoughts on barrel break in. In essence, he says just shoot it and clean when groups open up. This is shared by Charlie Sisk who helped Barsness with the experiment. It is an interesting magazine that I always check out on the rack.
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Thanks Uglydog:)

Here's what's in the kit: ... hasJS=true

That's interesting about the break-in procedure--yet another person who says it's not really necessary. I guess I took out the bolt and ran a patch w/ shooter's choice bore solvent after about the first five or six shots, then after five shots. The barrel got warm but never hot. According to the salesman, remington rifling is made by some process that eliminates the need for bore lapping. He's an experienced hunter and shooter--I know him personally somewhat. Too, I'd alread bought the rifle when I asked him about break-in.
Jeff23 -

I'd get a decent dial caliper, too. The digital ones are not necessary, and they're more expensive.
How could I have forgotten a caliper??? It goes to show how often one overlooks an oft used item!!! I would also rank a case tumbler kind of high. I like shiny brass and this is an easy way of doing it. Clean brass allows one to find flaws easier and allows easier chambering and fitting in the die. I would also suggest a chronograph. Pressure can be estimated somewhat by velocity and a chronograph will help to reduce the chances of one ending up with a dangerous load. Cartridge headspace guages would be another nice to have item. It isn't necessary for start up but is a good stocking stuffer. uglydog
Lets see, how else can we spend YOUR money....
Also being a newbie and looking to get started, can any one fill me in on some of the most likely mistakes a rookie is likely to make and how to avoid them. I want to go slow and make sure I understand what I am doing before I even start to think about loading a single round.

Some of the particular things I am concerned about, other than too much or too little powder, is:
1) what warning signs to look for that a cartridge is not properly loaded?
2) how to ensure that OAL is correct, neither too long or too short. i.e. what are typical tolerances on the loaded cartridge length?

Another handy item is a pair of loading trays to hold the cases while loading. What i did is fill one with empties and move them over to the second as I deprimed and primed them. I moved the cases back tothe original as I charged them with powder, and moved them again after the bullet was seated. Doing this helps prevent a double charge or, more likely, missing a powder drop in a case.

I can't think of how to prevent mistakes, it seems if they aren't made early then they come along a little later. Just go slow, double check, and follow listed loads. To answer your questions,
1) Before firing: see the bullet is sitting straight, not crooked; if crimp is used, make sure bullet has cannelure for such use; crimp only as much as needed, most don't need much of a crimp; do not use cases with dings, dents, cracks in them nor ones that you don't know the history of until you have a bit of experience evaluating cases.
After firing: Toss any cases that show signs of high pressure, these should be listed in any major reloading manual; toss any cases that have any sort of bulge or other deformity, these are signs of flaws in the case.
2) Overall cartridge length should be listed in the manual as it can depend on the bullet weight and shape. There are guages available for this but I m cheap and use a micrometer. I take a flawed case and seat a bullet in it and then measure. I then adjust and repeat until I have the proper length. I'll check again before actual loading with a fresh case and bullet to verify the final adjustment. There are many other ways of doing so (likely easier and quicker) but this is what has worked for me. uglydog
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I'm going to get into reloading so I've been looking at the gear avalible in the gunshops here, was a bit shocked at the price of the lee kit on the link above as it's $350 au :shock: for the same kit here :evil: , my one will be coming straight from the USA (gotta love the internet :D ).

I could write a book on what you just asked! Fact is, there have been several good books written on just that. Get a Hornady or Speer or Hodgdon loading book and study it, not the data, the step by step by the numbers descriptions of how to do just what you asked. Then if you still have questions, lay it on me! Been doing it since about '64. Made almost every mistake possible and still live since that time :roll: ! Got some idea what to do, and not to do! First get the book and read it. Maybe go to a local library and look for some books. Modern handloading is one, not the Richard Lee thing. I forget who is the author, but I have one burried in my stash somewhere..Very informative!! Not rocket science, but attention to details is required along with a little common sense!

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Im looking into getting into reloading and im looking at the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit any opinions ? and any advice for a beginner ill prolly b loading for mostly .270 some .220 swift, 25-20, 338 win mag, 300 win mag and hopefully .204 ruger if santa claus comes through :wink: thanx

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