Community for Kel-Tec Shooters banner

1 - 12 of 12 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,794 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
First, the backstory...

Now that I have an AR, it's practical for me to use a brass catcher and so recover my brass quickly and easily so I'm beginning the process of researching the simplest and least expensive methods of INTRODUCTORY (and safe) reloading for .223/5.56.

Let me be clear, I'm looking to get my feet wet with the most basic, entry level, setup until I decide what is best for my needs. To start with I just want to be able to build range-fodder. I'm not interested (at least yet) in the "most accurate" loads or "the most powerful" or "the most <whatever>." Range fodder.

Right now, that is the classic Lee Loader 223 Rem. Yes, I know each round will take forever. I'm OK with that because it's an entry level, learning vehicle, just like the AR I selected (S&W M&P-15 Sport). I have not purchased anything yet, but this is my plan.

I currently have an effective means of cleaning small quantities of brass at a time; about 15-20 pieces. As I only have a couple hundred pieces of brass and the device was free to me, this is fine until I decide if reloading is a direction I really want to go or that the device is too limited for my needs. Remember, "entry level."

Naturally, I've been reading lots of sources and watching vids (some of which make me uncomfortable). I downloaded and read the "Complete Instructions" (self described) product manual for the Lee Loader. It is, how shall we say, somewhat "sparse" on a few details.

The questions:

1) Lube:
I've read quite a bit about the requirement for proper lube when resizing bottleneck cartridges, particularly rifle cartridges (and vast quantities of varying arguments on home-made lube's effectiveness/desirability). The "Complete Instructions" make no mention of it. In the vid (below) of Mr. Lee demonstrating his product (30-06 maybe?) he doesn't use any that I can see and certainly makes no mention of it. What's the deal? Is lube really necessary? Will cases get stuck in the die or not as various horror stories warn?

2) Powder:
Easy. The loader comes with a single dipper-style measure. I understand that a scale would give more accurate results, but I'm not ready for that yet. I need "easy to use" and "hard to screw up." So, I'm guessing that the measure is intended for some sort of large volume ball type powder that equates to about one scoop and most likely fills the case pretty well so that newbies and the foolish can't double-charge their cases (how am I doing?). Therefore what is the "easy" powder that fits this description. I understand that the "charge table" for each powder is provided by the powder manufacturer, right? So the appropriate powder selection will basically require one dipper? I've read that the loader is supposed to come with a sheet of basic recipes but I haven't found it for download yet. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right place?

3) Primers:
I understand that the "charge table" will specify the primers. I've also read any number of reloaders writing that rifle cartridges "prefer" this-or-that for reliable ignition. Magnum primers and mil-spec seem to be the most often cited. Truth or fiction?

Again, the goal here is pure "entry level." Requirements are low cost of entry, ease of use, and difficulty of screwing up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UeEl9wZyabc

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,377 Posts
Right now, that is the classic Lee Loader 223 Rem.
Won't work for an AR-15 or any other semi-auto.

You have to Full-length resize brass for an autoloader.
The Lee classic hammer-bammer only neck sizes.
At a minimum, you need a small bench press or hand press and a two-die FL die set.

Lee FL reloading dies come with a powder dipper, and a charge table telling you what powders & bullet weights are safe to use with it.

rc
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,311 Posts
All the stuck cases ive had has been while using lee lube. I'm now using the rcbs stuff for a lube pad. I use a little rag to put it on.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
327 Posts
The biggest issue with the Lee Loaders is indeed the neck size only capability. Your loads might or might not chamber in your rifle. As mentioned, neck sizing doesn't always work in semi auto rifles. Even Lee says it in their instructions for the Lee Loaders.

Lube? Nothing in the instructions. For a standard press and dies, lube is a must. Not needed for the Lee Loader, apparently.

Powder? You will be limited to the powder charges the scoop is capable of handling. Not a big deal, EXCEPT powders are sometimes hard to find in the current climate. You might not be able to easily find ones that work with the size scoop included.

Primers? For a .223 size case, any small rifle primer will work ok. Some might be more accurate than others, but for function, I wouldn't sweat it.

Not trying to direct you away from here, but for handloading information, I'd suggest http://www.handloadersbench.com/ Some very knowledgeable people there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
986 Posts
Start here:

http://www.amazon.com/ABCs-Reloading-Definitive-Novice-Expert/dp/1440213968

Get yourself a copy because you will go back to it time and time again when you have questions.

Get a single stage press. An RCBS Rockchucker, Lee Challenger, etc., whatever you can find that fits your budget. I know people who have multiple Dillon 1050s and they still have at least one single stage press on their bench.

You need a scale. A beam scale or digital, it doesn't matter. Serviceable scales can be found for $10 if you look around. You will need it even for the dippers because reloading recipes require you to know how many grains of powder is going into your case.

Get at least one if not two reloading manuals. Search Amazon, Craiglist, even the public library book sales. An old manual is better than no manual. You will need reloading data from some place other than the Internet.

IMO, I would not start reloading with a bottleneck rifle case like the .223. If you start with .38 Spl (the easiest for beginners in my opinion) or even 9mm or .40 S&W, you can learn the process without worrying about trimming and lubing.

On the subject of case lube, if you are reloading straight walled pistol cases, like .38 Spl, and you spend the extra $20 on carbide dies, you will not need to lube cases and it is highly unlikely you will have any stuck cases if you clean them before decapping and sizing. For rifle cases, paying extra for the carbide dies is not really worth it because you still need to lube cases and remove the lube after sizing. I make my own case lube and it is almost identical to the stuff Dillon sells. I mix a 10 oz. bottle of 91% rubbing alcohol with 1 oz. of liquid lanolin. I mix them in a spray bottle and my cost is about $2 for about 11 oz. of case lube which lasts me through about 5000+ cases.

If you are set on reloading .223 and any of your cases are Lake City brass or IMI, or any other military and some types of commercial cases, you will need to cut or swage the primer crimps before repriming. Most rifle reloaders will tell you, case prep sucks. It can be very time consuming. Many of the expensive tools and devices for case prep are available because time equals money. You spend whichever you have more of, I guess.

Components like primers, powder and bullets comes down to, what you can find, what you can afford, and personal preferences. My current .223 loads are CCI #400 primers, in mixed brass cases, 25 gr of 2230 with a Montana Gold 55 gr FMJ bullet. Based on my current costs, I reload at $.19 per round. Many would consider this plinking ammunition, however, I would put the accuracy of my reloads up against any non-match grade commercial or surplus ammunition. Finding components right now will be one of your most difficult hurdles to overcome today in reloading. Saving your money so that you have it when the right deal comes along becomes a task in itself.

I started reloading to make shooting more affordable. Now I reload because it is a hobby all by itself.

Ask questions. Find reloaders near you, and always Be safe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,492 Posts
I no longer reload, but I would agree with the advice of starting with reloading for straight walled pistol/revolver. You will learn about handling components, seating primers, measuring powder, applying crimp, cleaning brass. Carbide dies are more forgiving but not foolproof.

Get a scale. Measure by volume is really subject to variation of all kinds. You would also then have the means to quickly measure your loaded rounds to spot a double charge or empty squib. A quick and dirty way of doing this is to measure in 5/10/whatever round lots. Shouldn't be much variation between lots and if you find any, you know one of the rounds in that batch is bad (unless you are so bad that you double-charge one and squib another, but then you have to make TWO mistakes to cancel each other out).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,062 Posts
I'm learning now too and gathering equipment and components.

Get the Lyman reloading book ad read it. Very well written.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
17,775 Posts
I started off with a kit like this. It came with everything except the ammo components and dies. Like you I wanted to try it before I went whole hog into it. I can usually load 100 rounds in an evening with this setup. These can sometimes be found in caliber specific kits, including the dies. If you buy carbide dies you do not necessarily need to lube the casings. I do mostly load handgun, but have done 2 different rifle calibers. And I do use the dippers more often than the scales when loading for the handguns. They work fine once you find which size dipper you need.

http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Precision...qid=1367348262&sr=8-4&keywords=lee+loader+223
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Won't work for an AR-15 or any other semi-auto.

You have to Full-length resize brass for an autoloader.
The Lee classic hammer-bammer only neck sizes.
At a minimum, you need a small bench press or hand press and a two-die FL die set.

Lee FL reloading dies come with a powder dipper, and a charge table telling you what powders & bullet weights are safe to use with it.

rc
You need a small base die set.
I made the mistake of buying an FL die set only to learn this....
For an auto load cartridge you need a small base die set.
I called RCBS and yep! They make an AR specific .223/5.56 die set. Apperantly a Full Length (FL) die kit does not reshape the shoulder and body of the case enough for auto load rifles. They require something more.
Wanna buy my FL dies? Hahahaha
I own both now.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,794 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
You need a small base die set.
I made the mistake of buying an FL die set only to learn this....
For an auto load cartridge you need a small base die set.
I called RCBS and yep! They make an AR specific .223/5.56 die set. Apperantly a Full Length (FL) die kit does not reshape the shoulder and body of the case enough for auto load rifles. They require something more.
Wanna buy my FL dies? Hahahaha
I own both now.
Well, first you should know that this thread is from 2013, making it 8 years old. :)

Second, I eventually purchased the Lee Anniversary single stage press kit and Lee .223 dies for it. The Lee equipment has made reliably functioning range fodder ammo for 8 years now. The Lee full length sizing dies work perfectly and I do not hesitate to recommend them (and the brand itself) to anyone interested in value priced equipment. I don't know about your RCBS .223 die set but the Lee one works perfectly.

I ended up starting with Hodgdon H4895 powder because the shop had it in stock and my dipper listed it on its chart, although it turns out it is a powderpuff charge weight. Naturally, I have since moved to scales and use a Lyman digital scale, a classic RCBS beam, and I still have my old Lee scale which came with the Anniversary kit.

I got my answer for primers too and pretty much just use any brand SRP that the store has (particularly now) for loading .223 range fodder, though I like CCI best with Winchester being a close second.

I have also purchased a Lee brand 4-hole turret press which I intend to host my dies for .223, 9mm, and 300AAC. The 30-30, .308, and other stuff that I load will stay on the single stage.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 
  • Like
Reactions: RAT76

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,916 Posts
Just found out tonight that is true. 🥴 🥴 🥴 I started to load for my AR-15. Once fired brass. Cleaned , sized, trimmed and primed. Tried a couple of sized brass and they chambered. Loaded 50 rounds and thought I would try a few more to see if they feed. First one chambered by dropping the bolt. It was hard to extract by hand. Next 10 worked fine. Then one chambered but did not want to extract by hand. Had to apply a little external force to the operating rod to get it out. Could not find any marks on the round but it was just to tight to eject by hand. Going now to find a small base die somewhere and then pull down about 50 rounds of 5.56 😖😖😖. YMMV
Steve

P.S. I just bought a DPMS LR-308. The only thing I could find for it was a Redding full body die. It said that it would size the entire body back to tight factory specks. I hope it will work. I will have to neck size the brass after using it because it does not size the neck. :mad::mad::mad:
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
Top