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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I live in an apartment, with a roommate. Space is at a premium. I'd love to start reloading, but I simply don't have anywhere to set up. What I do have, however, is a decent sized off-site storage unit which I rent and which has quite a bit of space currently empty.

How practical would it be to set up a bench and equipment in the storage unit, and just head over there for an occasional afternoon when the weather is favorable to crank out a few hundred rounds? The place is basically just a bunch of concrete garages next to the rail tracks, with a gate and individual locking doors.

I believe the storage unit has rules against storage of hazardous materials, so I probably wouldn't leave the powder there when I wasn't actively using it. Also it's probably not well temperature controlled, so that would be another argument against using it for storing powder or finished ammo. But to just spend a couple hours pulling a lever? Might work.

Part of me thinks it's probably not a great idea. The owners might freak out if they came around and saw an "ammunition factory" operating on their premises maybe? I'm not sure.

I have also wondered whether I might be able to actually rent space in a real "workshop" area for something like this, but at the point of renting space specifically for the task it would probably kill any savings I might make over just buying factory ammo.

Thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Interesting. I didn't even realize there were such beasties. Thanks for the heads-up.

I'd mostly want to do .45ACP and .223 Rem really, and given the amount I shoot I always assumed I'd need a progressive setup of some kind just for volume's sake. But with the .308 coming, the hand press might work well for developing my own target loads in smaller batches. Nice idea.

I wonder whether I could use a hand press for .480 Ruger? That would also save a buck or two, and again, it's not a cartridge I shoot in near the volume I consume for .223 and .45.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
markinalpine said:
Here is the start of a thread that started in 2007 over at the CastBoolits forum: http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?12392-Loading-bench-pics
Right now it runs for 41 pages at 40 messages per page, and 1600++ comments. You might try scanning through it for ideas. Some guys setups are quite elaborate, even separate, garage sized buildings, but there are a few "Man-Cave-In-A-Closet" setups too.
Good luck,
Mark :lol:
Wow. Quite a collection of different setups there. Lots to digest. :)

Been working on clearing out some junk and organizing stuff today, and I'm increasingly feeling like I might be able to pull off something on a small scale at least. Maybe hand load some specialty stuff for myself, and work up a brass trading deal with someone who reloads locally for the high-volume stuff. Can't hurt to ask around.

Anything you guys wish you'd known when you started out? I already got the message about buying a couple of the more reputable loading manuals and such like, but tips and tricks are very welcome. Maybe we should start a separate thread for that - I'll post up more if I decide to take the plunge, anyways.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That sounds like excellent advice. The Lyman, Speer and Nosler reloading handbooks are on their way from Amazon, and the Hornady one is sitting on my Kindle now ready to be browsed over lunch. Wanted to get Hornady's one specifically, because they're the only folks I know who make a factory load in the .480, and I like those loads very much. Might as well see what they've got to say about it.

Coming from Lee, we have the breech-lock hand press, carbide dies in .480 Ruger, a set of collet dies in .380 (since I can fire form for the bolt gun), rings for them, and the balance beam powder scale you mentioned.

I didn't think of bullet pullers, that's a great point. Will add those too. Definitely going to be measuring twice and cutting once for a while, as the old saying goes.

Thanks again! I'm almost more excited to start playing with this stuff than I am about the new gun. That probably says a whole bunch right there. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So I took out the new Sig on Sunday. Had to re-mount the scope for better eye relief, but fortunately I had my bubble level and torque wrench with me at the range so that wasn't a problem.

First impressions are excellent. The trigger is really, really nice right out of the box. About a 3.5 lb pull, 2-stage, breaks like glass. Lovely. It shoves as hard as one might expect from a .308, but the weight of the gun keeps felt recoil very comfortable. And it's definitely a shooter. I'll make a proper write-up some time soon and post up in the firearms subforum.

Back on the topic of reloading though, an old friend just moved back to California from Oregon, and she came to the range with me. Went to dinner with her family afterwards and got talking to her dad - turns out he's been reloading for over 40 years, and has a garage full of presses and all the necessary gear. He and a few friends have "reloading parties" some Tuesday nights, so I think I might be getting a very thorough hands-on introduction to the hobby some time soon. :)

I added the other dies sets per your suggestion, also. I probably won't be able to cater to my full volume using the hand press, but I guess you're right that any savings is probably worthwhile, and the experience and equipment will carry forward nicely. Now it's just time to sit and wait for the brown truck of happiness...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
That sounds like a very efficient way to work up some new loads. Good idea.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Might have one of those kicking around from my paintball days. I'll see whether a) I can find it, b) it still works, and c) whether it measures up to high enough speeds for rifle rounds. Worth a shot! (So to speak.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well, here they are. The first products of a new hobby. :)



.308 Winchester brass from Magtech factory loads, CCI large rifle primers, Hornady A-Max 168 grain bullets over 39.6 grains of Alliant Reloader 15. Measured COL 2.79 inches.

Thanks again for all the advice! I shall be trying these out in the next couple days.

Things I learned:

The little plastic powder dippers that come with Lee dies are quite useful, and relatively consistent if you use them right. But they do hold a static charge if you're not careful, that can make pouring a little wonky.

The Lee beam scale is super easy and very sensitive. Nice recommendation. I used it to confirm every pour this time around, just for the sake of caution and practice.

Very glad I got the breech lock kit version of the hand press, and a bunch more breech lock rings. Made swapping dies much easier, and I shouldn't have to re-adjust them next time.

This didn't really require much space at all. Just a relatively clean desktop and a little organization. I should be able to fit everything into an old toolbox in the bottom of a closet. Perfect for apartment dwellers.

To paraphrase O_P: Reloading stuff is fun! :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Per round cost using off-the-shelf components from my local gun store right now is just a shade over 64 cents. If I can work up a load that shoots as well as the Black Hills or Federal Gold Medal rounds I would normally use for high accuracy purposes, that will work out to be a heck of a saving. Best price online I've found for a similar match load is about $1.15 a round in a 500 case.

So at the "worst case" for the most expensive reloading cost and the cheapest factory ammo cost I'm looking at saving almost 51 cents per round.

Those numbers only get better if I compare to buying factory loads off the shelf (which I do occasionally) or ordering reloading supplies online.

I'll dig out all my receipts for this little escapade later, and calculate my worst case break-even. Looks like it shouldn't take too terribly long - almost certainly under a thousand rounds.
 
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