I load .45acp so far about 6K rounds since march
here is what I have learned
I ordered a Lee Pro 1000 from Midway for about $120
comes with the dies, Got a little scale and some calipers also
Scale was $20 buck for a digital, same for bar scale, I use them both. one to check the other, They both seem accurate. I check the powder load whenever I change the amount, I check the first 10 or so until It loads the correct amount then check 1/20 as I am loading to confirm its correct
At first I had alot of problem with the Lee, timing was off and it was tipping primers, I had a friend with several Lee Pro 1000s and he quickly got everything running smooth
I also purchased a single press for $17 and use a factory crimp dies for the competition rounds. This gets out any bulge from seating the bullet
I get primers and powder locally . Brass I had kept from the past and Bullets I buy online
Powder $17/14oz or $70 for 4lbs
Bullet were about $50/1000 for 200gr lead or about $170/2000 hardball. This is ordered online...
basically the cost is 1/2 that of factory, plus I have loads that shoot much better for my type of shooting
I load 3.9-4.0grs of Hodgdon Clay using either northeast bullets or montana gold CMJ or Zero FMJ/JHP
So far every thing is going smooth. One squib, and 2 light loads that made it to the target but didn't cycle the 1911
Everyone recommends Dillon, I haven't loaded with one, but the Lee seems to be doing great for 1/5 the price
Thing you have to be aware of
1. how much powder to use... different amounts depending on the type and manufacturer of powder
2. bullet seat dept. different shapes with have different OAL overall Length
3. Make sure powder gets loaded to prevent squibs. I check each case before the bullet is seated, it also prevents double loads.
Get a good bench to mount the press to, don't have any distraction when you load
I do, been doing it for a couple of years now, so I'm still kind of a n00b- I just stick to proven recipies and don't experiment much.
I have a Dillon 550RL progressive press on the bench.
Reloading can be done any number of ways to suit your lifestyle, and it breaks down into wether you have more time than money, or vice-versa.
If I were advising a single person without much money, I'd say go with a Lee or a less expensive press, maybe even single stage. For me, with small kids and not much time, I decided to sink the $500 into the Dillon setup so I could do more loading in less time, but then again I could spare the $500.00.
It's best to start as early as you can- your equipment will last you a lifetime, more or less, so the more you load, and the less you pay per round, then it breaks even earlier in your shooting career and gets more and more cost efficient.
If you want to get into it, do this: before buying anything, buy at lesat two, but preferebaly three reloading books. Speer reloading Manual, Lyman's reloading handbook, and Hogden's relaoding manual. Also buy one of the basic Handloading books by George C Nonte. Jr. Read these. The more reading you do, the better off you are.
Nonte's books are old, but the basics haven't changed any. This book is to give you the basic "how-to's" on reloading. They give info on reloading steps, types of reloaders, pressures, etc. The Reloading manuals give specifics, and DO change, and are updated every so often, so you want to grab the latest ones- they reflect new powders, bullets and primers on the market.
Personally I have Nonte's book, and Speer Reloading #13, and Lyman's 48th edition. The reason that you want more than one book is that two books will give two different maximum pressure recipes for the same bullet, powder and primer combination, depending on the book's safety margin.
Reloading is just like shooting- it's very rewarding and safe but if you don't know what you are doing, or ignore common safety measures, you can hurt yourself badly. Don't let the initial apparent complexity scare you off, it's not that bad once you start reading.
Don't be afraid to look at newspapers, Ebay, gunbroker or gunsamerica etc. for used reloading equip. When I started; many moons ago; I bought a used set up, RCBS single stage press, tumbler, case trimmer, bar scale and trickler for 100$ from a newspaper classified ad. The press has to be 20yrs old now and still works great, I use it for all my high quality loads, load building and tinkering.
I added a Dillion a few years ago ant the progressives are great for mass production. They'll also better for smaller caliber handgun rounds; 9mm is a bitch to load on a single stage with big clumsy fingers.
Like Jamz said, it depends on your budget and time.
I attended a family gathering yesterday and two of my uncles are avid reloaders. Who knew? One of them says he has like 5 presses and would be willing to part with one and offer ample advice. He also held a Class B rank in IPSC for a few years and wants me to go shooting with him
I suppose I should talk to my extended family more often, maybe someone owns a dozen Ferraris...