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Nearing the end of an odyssey

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by James Fonteneaux, Nov 30, 2019.

  1. James Fonteneaux

    James Fonteneaux Member

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    This has been a very industrious holiday weekend around here for me. I'm pleased to report the passing of two very important milestones in reloading. Yesterday, I loaded the last of an 8lb jug of CFE 223. I suppose before I go too much further a little history is order. Sometime in 2015, I decided that I needed to get into reloading. The ammo scare was on, things weren't available like they had been, and I decided that I was going to take action... So I ordered up some once fired brass off of Etsy (Yep, the arts and crafts site) and got down to business. Well, that was the plan. At the time, I only had a single stage press, and I'd ordered about 2000 spent rounds. So, in the intervening years I have learned a LOT about reloading .223. (Mainly thanks to the people on this forum)

    1. It is cheaper and easier to buy 1000 rounds of plinking ammo
    2. Rifle case prep is more work than reloading for pistol.
    3. The RCBS three way cutting head is a Godsend.
    4. A progressive press is awesome, once you figure out how to use it.
    5. Finding a rhythm and flow to how you like to load takes time, but once you get it, you're golden.
    6. Case prep eats up most of the process time, the actual loading goes fairly quick.
    7. It is a very enjoyable way to spend your time, especially if the weather's bad.
    8. Building your own rifle and shooting ammo you've loaded is awesome!
    9. Perfecta brass is weak.

    I realize this will be old news to a lot of the people on this forum, but I still consider myself to be a newbie, and I'm pretty excited to be where I'm at. 20191130_162716.jpg

    So to date, I've loaded over 2000 rounds of practice ammo, all 55 gn FMJBT. I've shot it out of a few rifles with great results. My next project is to up my game in accuracy, so I've got to measure the chamber throat on one of my rifles and I'm going to tailor loads to that.

    I've gone from a single stage Lock 'n Load press, to a Lock 'n Load AP Progressive Press and a LEE Challenger single stage for decapping. The progressive press took a while to learn, but I think at this point I'm getting the hang of it. The key is to go slow and watch everything close, then build speed.

    20191130_161519.jpg
    So here's the dirty bits that came in the mail. That box was FULL, I never thought I'd find the end of it. It was so awesome to throw that empty box in the trash today. 20191130_165119.jpg
    And here we go, the finished product. Accuracy is good, but I'm also using these across about 5 different rifles with different twists and barrel types. Most importantly to me, they go bang every time. So now that I've finished off the CFE 223, what's in store? I'm going to explore a few different powders. I've got a pound each of BLC-2, Varget, H335, and some TAC on the way. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone here for their insight and wisdom. I lurked for a long time before I joined, but I'm glad I did. Everyone here has been awesome and there is so much information.

    20191130_162700.jpg thumbnail_20191129_122426.jpg

    Oh, and those are SPENT primers in that glass jar! :D
     
  2. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    RC would be chuckling at that.
     
  3. James Fonteneaux

    James Fonteneaux Member

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    That's a nod to him :)
     
  4. Erief0g
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    Erief0g Contributing Member

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    I too am quite fond of the sense of accomplishment when an 8 pounder is finished off. My last one was titegroup and all 9mm. Even if every load was my max load, which they weren't by far, that's 13,333 rounds.


    Good times!
     
  5. GW Staar

    GW Staar Member

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    You are officially past the point of no return.......congratulations! I do wonder what RC is doing these days.....do they reload where he is? Probably not....but it makes you wonder what he does with his time now.....I believe he's in a great place and has lots to do.....I don't believe he has taken up .... harps.....boring.... :)
     
  6. James Fonteneaux

    James Fonteneaux Member

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    Ok Showoff:D
     
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  7. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    Super!! Glad it worked out so well for you.:)
    Two things though, I think that you will like the TAC for 223 as a good all around propellant. Also I see that you crimped the bullets in. There those that will argue for and against crimping your bullet. Personally I get better accuracy from my rifles if I do not crimp the bullets in. I recommend trying it both ways when you find your accurate load and stick with whichever works best for you. I do crimp ammo for a rifle with a tubular magazine like a 30-30 to prevent setback on them but the neck tension *should* hold a bullet in place on all the others if everything is put together correctly.
     
  8. PWC

    PWC Member

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    James Fonteneaux - Great post. Good summary of the learning process. I know I've not really taken time to set down what I've learned; doing it for so long, I've discarded what doesn't work or only marginally so, and perform what works for me and the equipment I use.

    For grins and giggles, what 3 things, as a "relatively new loader", do you think are the MOST important for a person getting into reloading?

    The question comes up periodically, and I think you are at a point that your perspective would be useful to other new reloaders. Us old guys can be set in our ways and less flexible and more opinionated about what is "best" equipment and process.
     
  9. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    OP you do realise that you are presently just nibbling around the edges of this fine hobby called reloading don't you.:D Once you get to casting and buying firearms to justify reloadading odd brass you find at the range you will realise that you now have come full circle. You might then gain the title of ammo snob with regards to your reloads among your friends. You'll be in good company however.:thumbup:
     
  10. alfsauve

    alfsauve Member

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    Yes. Reloading is a gateway drug to buying new guns.

    First you collect the brass for a caliber you don't have a gun for. Then you buy bullets and dies. Then you load up some rounds of that caliber. Finally you just have to buy a gun to test that ammo.
     
  11. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    that’s where I’m at. I don’t typically load blasting ammo, I save my limited reloading time and effort for ammos that matter, same with .308.
     
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  12. James Fonteneaux

    James Fonteneaux Member

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    The most important thing is having the time or the willingness to spend the time to reload. Especially all of the case prep work. It's not sexy like spitting out new rounds, but still needs to be done. After that, I'd say having a clean, well organized place to work. I'm fortunate to have a dedicated room set up for this purpose and work hard to keep it clean and orderly. Finally, read everything you can, then read it again. Take your time, don't rush things. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. This site is a wealth of information, from basic things to articles that will make your eyes glaze over. :D Concerning equipment, I'd say buy what you like. I use Hornady stuff because I like the idea of the Lock n Load bushings and the original press I bought was on sale. Plus the bullet rebates are cool. I've been flirting with the idea of getting a Dillon, but if I'm being honest I don't know that I really NEED one.

    As to the aspect of this hobby being a gateway drug, I now own 2 300 Blackout uppers and a 450 Bushmaster upper...:thumbup:
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
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  13. lightman

    lightman Member

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    The description of your journey was interesting. I can't disagree with anything that you said. But, like the others have said its just the beginning. You may never go any further and be well served by what you are doing now. Or you may branch out to other areas. The world of precision rifle or Benchrest is one direction. Casting is another. Both are interesting and either will increase the amount of money that you have invested. So will buying tools that make some jobs easier, or faster. (or both) Things like my RCBS Chargemaster and my Giraud Power Trimmer speed up the process but each doubled the cost of my first initial set-up.
     
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  14. 94045

    94045 Member

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    Once you attempt to load a practice load that shoots acceptably in 5 different rifles you start to understand just how good some of the commercial stuff is.
     
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  15. Phlier

    Phlier Member

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    Great read, James, and welcome to the addiction!

    You need to get yourself an 18 year old son. ;) I have two dedicated tool heads for 5.56 for my Dillon 1050... one for case prep, one for loading. And an 18 year old son to handle all of that for me. I just place an order for ammo with him, and poof... a few days later, it's filled. Both cheap and easy. :D

    And when I want to handle the actual loading myself, he keeps a few thousand rounds of brass prepped and ready for the loading process at all times.

    Best part? He's not the stereotypical 18 year old. He's dedicated, responsible, has good judgment, listens to his "old man," is respectful to his mother, and the best older brother a little sister could ever ask for. And the only other person in the world (besides my Father) that I would ever trust to reload ammo that I would personally shoot without hesitation. Ever.

    So my advice is to get yourself a good 18 year old son. The fact that they keep blasting ammo cheap is just one of the side benefits.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
  16. horsemen61

    horsemen61 Member

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    I have fun with it lol I enjoy my reloading

    I bet RC has found a way to load some ammo

    RIP
     
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  17. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    Probably more like a percussion setup where various ammunition loads produce different sounds and he is directing that with undeniable skill, tact, and knowledge.
     
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  18. GW Staar

    GW Staar Member

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    Best part? (If you continue to treat him well) He just may take care of you when you get old and need it. ;)
     
  19. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    Congrats. You've passed a huge milestone. I've been at if for 20 years and still use a single stage. It's my quiet time.
    If you are trying for excellent accuracy, h4895 with a 55 gr is the best in my AR and handi rifle. I weigh my charges though.
     
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  20. Dudedog
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    Dudedog Contributing Member

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    I like all of the three of the powders you ordered for .223 BLC(2), H335 and TAC, all good choices.
    TAC is probably my favorite of the three. I think you will be happy with all of them, all three meter well.
     
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  21. 7mmsavage

    7mmsavage Member

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    Other than the comment about Perfecta brass, your analysis of handloading sounds a lot like mine. I’ve never used Perfecta so I can’t comment. It’s definitely easier to buy blasting ammo, but it’s far more satisfying to make it yourself and you’re guaranteed to always get the same ammo that way. H335 is my powder of choice for .223.

    I love reloading. I can’t say I’ve ever bought a firearm just because I had brass, but I won’t be scared away of an old milsurp gun because of limited ammo availability.

    I’ve heard a few guys say they don’t have time to reload. Neither do I, but I find a way to do what I can an hour or so at a time if that’s all I’ve got. Whatever step I’m on, I try to do in batches of 100. I keep little note cards in with each bag of brass so I know they are in the process. The only time I won’t stop is if I’m actually filling the cases. That’s not a place I want to stop and come back to later.

    Good work. Keep cranking them out!!
     
  22. James Fonteneaux

    James Fonteneaux Member

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    I don't normally do more than 200 of anything at a time. I do a lot of the prep work during the week before I go to work. I didn't get into reloading to save money, I mainly wanted to learn a new skill and have the ability to load my own. It's been fun and rewarding learning, and thanks to everyone for the kind responses!
     
  23. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    I joke with myself sometimes that I like to handload more than the actual shooting, that may not be absolutely true, but it ranks right up there in the Top 2.

    Have I saved money over the years from handloading... absolutely, but in reality, I don't even consider it a factor.
     
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  24. Toprudder

    Toprudder Member

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    Shooting used to be my hobby, then I got into Reloading, and it became my hobby.

    Then I started wet tumbling. Now, taking dirty brass and making it shine again is my hobby. Shooting and Reloading are just the means to that end. :D
     
  25. Phlier

    Phlier Member

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    This post hits waaay too close to home. :)
     
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