After a long discussion on the ammunition forum about 25-20 Winchester, I decided to finally take my first steps into the world of reloading. Despite the discussion that gave me the final kick in the pants, I don't actually own the 25-20 rifle in question, but decided to start loading just plinking ammo for my AR.
From what I have gathered, 223 is not the best possible way to start, but I don't really own any of the "easy" calibers to reload, and it seemed a bit more forgiving than 9mm given what little I've learned so far about powder charges.
Of course, this is the absolute worst possible time to start this particular new hobby, given the state of the supply chain. I have a Lee Challenger kit coming from Brownells along with the bare minimum of parts to get started on decapping and case prep, and a little rock tumbler for cleaning (~100 cases at a time).
I've watched a ton of YouTube videos and read the ABCs of Reloading. Before I even buy powder or primers I plan to read the Lyman and Hornady manuals as well. From what I've gathered that should give me enough of a grounding to work up some loads assuming I can find any components ever again. :-)
I don't expect to save any money on this, especially when counting the opportunity cost of my time, but it's been on my mind as a possibility for years now, and everything kind of just clicked at once.
I may have some stupid questions along the way for the experienced reloaders on here, but am excited (and a bit apprehensive) to give this a try.
|Son of a son |
of a Sailor
I've been reloading since the early 90's and really enjoy it. Please ask away with any questions. I'm sure the brain trust can help. Primers are the weak link right now. Bullets and powder are a little scarce, but available for the most part. It's heartening to see you are reading some of the best manuals. Too many new reloaders don't.
I would not limit myself to plinking ammo for the AR. You can easily build some solid defensive rounds too. You might need it!
Floridian by birth, Seminole by the grace of God
Buy bulk, stack deep. Thank us later.
The 9mm isn’t bad. With the 223 just be careful about getting a round stuck in the chamber(semi-auto), not resized properly. A case gauge helps.
It sounds like you’re off to a great start. I’d look around, get powder, primers & bullets as able. You may have to drop to option C in some areas.
Don’t go all out with a load until you test it some, maybe 10-20 rounds to test.
Maybe 25 or 30 years back I had RCBS Cowboy dies for both the 25-20 and 32-20. RCBS blued the steel dies and assembled them with knurled brass lock rings. They even recreated the original card board boxes which were frail so I handled them with care. While I've shot both the 25-20 WCF and the 25-20 Single Shot, I never loaded either. The boxed 25-20 Single Shot ammo and brass are collectable. You can still get new 25-20 brass from Roberson Cartridge Company but looks like $4.50 per case..ouch. Grab the loaded ammo whenever you see it in old stocked gun shops or shows. I dont currently know a source for the little half jacket bullets but cast lead are most likely available. Such sweet little cartridges.
What I bought is the Lee Pacesetter set for 223. I have a mix of 223 and 5.56mm once fired brass, and I know I’ll have to decrimp all of the primer pockets on the military stuff, but haven’t bought the tool for that yet.
Do you think I have what I need with the Lee set, or will I need a separate small base resizing die for them to chamber reliability?
I guess maybe I should look for bullets first and do some dummy rounds (no primer or powder) to test that aspect.
I’m very much looking forward to getting the press and starting to experiment. But for the moment, lots of reading, some videos, and the occasional dumb question on the forum will have to suffice.
A small base die is a handy tool and your military brass is softer to work with. What kind of case lube have you chosen. Spray or lube pad? If a pad, learn to load the pad evenly and a super thin film is all that's needed on each case. Too much liquid lube will collapse the case side walls inside the die. Very thin film only. A quality rolled primer pocket edge is much nicer than cutting away the crimp. I had Dillion Super Swadge which makes them perfect. You can get good results from a press mounted tool also.
I don't think the Pacesetter kit comes with a small base die, but I'll have a better idea of some of this when the kit arrives tomorrow. That might have to be one of my next purchases...
Right now I am getting the most barebones kit I could find, so for lube for the first few cases at least I'll just use the stuff that comes in the Lee Challenger kit. From what I've read and seen on YouTube, that's not great stuff, and my leaning was to go with a spray lube as soon as that gets annoying.
As for crimp removal, I was going to get the RCBS cutter that you can chuck into a drill as a starting point. I knew about the Dillon Super Swage, but haven't actually looked into how it works yet. I also hand't realized until today that headstamps matter, and it seems like I need to further sort my brass that way. The loading guides I've been reading seem to ignore the idea of cheap range ammo for an AR, so it's unclear to me if the difference between two headstamps or between 223 and 5.56 brass at starting loads will be an accuracy loss or a kaboom. At least while starting, it seems like taking the most conservative approach is best.
I figure there's little damage I can do learning to resize, trim, and chamfer with the stuff I have coming, and at worst I throw out some once-fired brass that was destined for the scrap bin anyway. I fully realize this is a hobby that could easily eat up any savings on additional "nice to have" tools, but my goal is still to at least start off in low-cost mode as long as I can do that safely.
Unless you're loading for some really horrendous quality rifle, you shouldn't have to worry about small base dies. For a caliber as popular as .223/5.56, die manufacturers have got things pretty well worked-out.
I prefer the Dillon over "cutters", but if you're not loading a large quantity, the RCBS should be fine as long as you can control the cut... cuz primer pocket uniformity is a good thing. I've got buckets of military brass, so the Dillon has been a godsend.
Google "5.56 versus .223" or something similar and you'll come up with enough info to make you want to look for another hobby. Sorting brass is boring, but it helps you to eliminate a variable, which is important if you're looking for the best accuracy. My AR's get fed a variety of military and commercial brass, but they all have Wylde chambers. The bolt guns get good stuff (Lapua), but I don't think I've ever fired a factory load in them.
Discussion of ‘small base’ dies often covers the gamut. Sorta like the ‘factory crimp die’, you’ll develop processes that work for you. Oftentimes that doesn’t mean all or nothing, you may adjust for various applications & loads. At least start off with awareness, you may never have use for one.
I often use the Redding, SB 223 die, am I working brass more than need be? Maybe. I have over 10 223 rifles, much of my loads can go in most of them. One custom 223 ‘Wylde’ chamber gets special treatment. I have oodles of 223 cases, once fired from a range. I really don’t like a stuck case when out & away from supplies to remove it, reliability is important.
To be clear, for the first few hundred rounds, I'm aiming for "won't blow up my rifle" before I even start thinking about accuracy improvements. All of the reading I've done is extremely conservative when it comes to things like case differences between headstamps and while I THINK that has a lot more to do with accuracy and/or dangers if you are riding the bleeding edge of max loads, until I understand this process a lot better, I figure being conservative is probably my best option.This message has been edited. Last edited by: tp1l,
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