View Full Version : Reloading Equipment Recommendations

03-17-2006, 12:27 AM
I am new to reloading and basically know nothing about it. I currently have a Five-seveN and I have a PS90 on order, so I want to get into reloading the 5.7x28.

What is the best press to get? I have heard good things about the Dillion RL550B, and I understand there is an aftermarket conversion kit available for ther 5.7x28. I have also heard good things about the RCBS Pro2000. Will the Hornady dies work with either press? What other kinds of equipment do I need to get into this? I have read the threads and while there is a lot of good info, frankly I am a bit bewildered by all the components and options.

I would appreciate any help.


03-17-2006, 06:23 AM
Welcome aboard. I'm sure some of the reloaders will jump in and help you out.

03-17-2006, 01:14 PM
Reloading is part science, part religion and part voodoo--you're going to get more opinions than you may want--some will have no other reason other than "That's what I like..." which frankly, is a good enough reason for some things....

That being said--I have RCBS dies on order to go with my RockChucker Reloading Press that I got used in as new condition for $35 10 yrs ago....I keep wanting to get a Dillon, or some progressive type of press, but got away from reloading pistol ammo as it's usually cheaper to buy surplus/GECO,etc, than to sit and reload on a single-stage press. If I were looking at stuff today, I'd look at Dillon for a set-up.

Most of my other reloading stuff, scale, powder trickler, powder dispenser, etc. are a mix of RCBS and Lee, as I have acquired everything piecemeal over the past few years.

A good basic reloading manual (again, I've RCBS) is a must and a good thing to get first to help decide what you'd like to do. Also getting info from the guys here--Medula Oblongata and Rnelson11 and others is helpful to separtate the wheat from the chaff.

Hope this helps.

03-17-2006, 01:31 PM
A good article about the Hornady vs. Dillon presses: http://www.cs.odu.edu/~rtompkin/hornady/blue.php

I plan on getting a LNL AP. Dillon has no plans to ever support 5.7x28..so screw 'em! Why mess around with third party conversions when you don't have to.

After the press, it's all about getting the small stuff...scale, dial calipers, dies, supplies, etc. I haven't really read anything that would promote one product over the other, so get whatever is available to you.

RCBS has a good rep for 5.7 dies here. Hornady is also making some as well. A search will turn up a few discussions on the merits of each. I haven't decided which I'm going to go with just yet.

03-18-2006, 05:39 AM
I like to shoot but I also enjoy reloading. Even if you just want to reload so you can shoot more I would suggest starting out with a single stage press just to learn the basics. I started out with the RCBS Partner Press Kit. It came with a reload manual, beam scale, funnel (which doesn't work with the 5.7x28, you need a 17 cal funnel), reloading block, case lube kit and several other small pieces. All I had to buy to start reloading was a caliper, case trimmer, die set and shell holder. That doesn't count the bullets, primers and powder. Once you start reloading you'll realize you need a neck brush, deburing tool, primer pocket cleaner, military crimp remover and powder trickler. With an inexpensive single stage press you'lll still spend about $ 300.00. Oh, I forgot about the case tumbler. I don't think a case tumbler is absolutely necessary with the 5.7x28 because the medium doesn't get into the case well and I find that most of the time it just fills the case and sits there. Using Mean Green as Medula Oblongata suggests to wash them works the best. I do use mine for 44 mag, 45 and 9mm, it makes them shine like new money. By the time you get the 5.7x28s to shine the necks will be split and they will be in the dump pile.

The ideal reload seems to be one that matches a factory load. It's a fact that you can match factory speeds with the 5.7x28 but with most of the powders used here when you do this the neck gets pushed out a lot further than what you get with factory loads. This shortens the case life considerably. In the past few months this is what I try to match (neck push). The bullets are a bit slower than factory, you can't buy a 28 grain bullet, but the cases last longer and they are still fun to shoot.

Medula Oblongata
03-19-2006, 12:25 PM
The most important think to do when reloading for the first time is to ensure you know what you are doing. This means getting a real reloading manual. Lee has their "modern reloading, third edition" manual that is exceptional in its depth. It explains not only what to do, but why you are doing it. Lyman, RCBS, Sierra, Speer, Hornady, etc. all make good reloading manuals as well. The Lee is simply less expensive, has better instructions and information, the largest selection of load data I have ever seen, and costs less than 1/2 of the rest.

I will recommend NOT getting a progressive press for you first reloader. I have honestly seen nearly a hundred guns over the years, utterly destroyed from newbie handloaders using progressive presses. I recommend getting a CHEAP single stage press (you can find a usable one for less than $35 NEW from Lee and RCBS) balance beam scale, Lee perfect powder measure, MTM case guard reloading blocks (brass sits in the block during reloading), Lee case length gauge and trimmer, chamfer/deburr tool, one shot case lube, and a bunch of plastic boxes to put your brass in (I also put all my loaded ammo in MTM case guard 100rd plastic boxes for storage).

Reloading need not be expensive. If you don't want to buy new, you can find great deals on presses on EBAY. I do not recommend relying on a used powder scale unless you have calibrated check weights to ensure the scale's accuracy. I have also seen several guns that became "spontaneously disasembled" because of a faulty powder measure. I also DO NOT recommend electronic scales. My experience has been quite varied while using them. I had a Lyman digital scale/powder dispensor that would not zero. I had an RCBS that was so insinsitive that it took more than 1.5 grains on the pan before it would make a reading, and then it was only accurate to about 2/10ths grn. A good balance beam scale (Lyman/Ohaus M-5, RCBS 10-10, Dillon Eliminator scale) is sensitive to 1/10th grn (a single piece of paper measuring 5/8" square) from the get-go. I personally have TWO Lyman/Ohaus M-5 scales and a series of check weights.

Another MUST is an ACCURATE dial or electronic caliper. You MUST know the EXACT length of the brass, bullet, and the combined OAL of both when assembled. I have more than a dozen calipers, some dial, some digital. Why so many? because I have set a couple at specific length to use as "go/no-go" gauges for determining, at a glance, whether or not to trim a piece of brass. There is NO real difference in calipers as long as they are accurate. You MUST NOT attempt to use a vernier caliper. They are not capable of being read easily and accurately. This is why they are so cheap. A good dial or electronic caliper measures 1,000ths (a couple of mine measure 10,000ths), whereas a vernier is limited to 64ths of an inch on average.

Anyways, if you are a little confused now, that is OK. A simple solution is to buy either a Lee aniversary reloading kit or an RCBS all in one kit. They have everything you need to start reloading. At this time, the only usable dies that I have found (Ive tried 3) are the RCBS, and even they require some tweaking, on occaision, to work properly.

I also HIGHLY recommend you DO NOT begin reloading with the 5.7x28. It is a faily difficult and finicky round. I would start with an easy caliber like .45ACP, 9mm, .38, .223, .308, etc. The larger cases are easy to work with, hard to damage, and they have been around so long that components are easy to find and quite inexpensive. There is also a plethora of information, where there is extremely little on 5.7x28mm. In fact, the only place to find info on the 5.7 is here, on this site.

Best of luck, and feel free to ask questions, although if you look long enough in the older posts, you will most likely find the answer on your own. In fact, everything I just wrote is posted in other threads.

03-19-2006, 03:20 PM
Thanks MO--lots of good info in that post!

03-19-2006, 06:26 PM
Another MUST is an ACCURATE dial or electronic caliper. You MUST know the EXACT length of the brass, bullet, and the combined OAL of both when assembled.

Excellent post!

To expand a bit on the dial caliper issue; As a machinist, I have found that there are no truly accurate digital dial calipers. They tend to bend a bit at the beam which will throw off your measurements. Get a good analog set of calipers. Starrett is what we use in the shop.

Medula Oblongata
03-19-2006, 07:25 PM
Excellent post!

To expand a bit on the dial caliper issue; As a machinist, I have found that there are no truly accurate digital dial calipers. They tend to bend a bit at the beam which will throw off your measurements. Get a good analog set of calipers. Starrett is what we use in the shop.

I agree wholehartedly. I use Starett analogue calipers for all my critical measurements, and RCBS branded electronic calipers for go/no-go gauging. I have noticed that my digital calipers are about 1,000th off from my Starett analogue dials, and can vary slightly when pressure is applied in the right place. Also good to have is a few micrometers (I also use them for go/no-go measuring) on the bench. One can spend a lot of money on measuring tools quite easily. All in all though, a $30 dillon analogue caliper is good enough for everything on the reloading bench, and One need not spend the $150 on a Starett just for simple reloading.

Another thing I forgot to mention is this, basic safety rules.

1. NO SMOKING NOR OPEN FLAME IN THE RELOADING ROOM. Nitrocellulose fires are IMPOSSIBLE to extinguish until all the powder is burned. Nitrocellulose flames are near 2500 farenheight and can cause fire-retardant materials to spontaneously combust.


3. NO ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE BEFORE OR DURING RELOADING. This includes over-the-counter anti-histamines, etc. A simple mistake while reloading can cause DEATH.

4. ALWAYS ZERO YOUR SCALE WITH CHECK-WEIGHTS. Never trust the scale to zero its-self. Your life is not worth playing with.



7. WEIGH EVERY 10TH POWDER CHARGE AFTER YOUR MEASURE IS CALIBRATED TO THE CORRECT VOLUME. Failure to check weights regularly may result in overcharges of powder which may cause death or serious injury. Equally as dangerous are under charged cases which could lead to a bullet being stuck in the barrel.

8. REMEMBER THAT EVEN THE SMALLEST DEVIATION FROM THE RELOADING MANUAL CAN CASUE DEATH OR SERIOUS INJURY/DISMEMBERMENT OF YOURSELF OR AN INNOCENT BYSTANDER. The manufacturers know the limits of the caliber through destructive testing. Exceed charge weights, min OAL lengths, and primer type at your own peril.

9. KEEP A LOG OF ALL AMMUNITION RELOADED. This ensures that in the event of faulty ammo all can be collected and destroyed.

10. NEVER RELOAD FOR PISTOLS WITH INFILTRATED (PARTIALLY UNSUPPORTED) CHAMBERS. Glock and several other weapons have feed ramps that infiltrate part of the chamber thus removing support from part of the case. Reloading brass from a Glock and re-firing it in a Glock (or any pistol with a partially unsupported chamber) will result in the case rupturing AND sending many thousands PSI of extremely hot gas into the pistol frame (and in my friends case, the face, permanently scarring him).

This post is too long and I am late for supper. I will post more of my thoughts on safety later.

03-20-2006, 11:31 AM
Thanks guys, all good posts with excellent information.


03-20-2006, 12:11 PM
Must... resist urge... to start... reloading -- uughnn!

Noooo :MM

But seriously, I have several .45's to shoot reloads through if I need to start off with an "easy" caliber, and considering that I'm close to getting into lots of 5.7x28mm & 10mm shooting, it may just make sense financially. (What with Wolf .45 working fine in my pistols & the price of Blazer Brass .45 ACP on Natchez recently [for those times shooting indoors at a place that bans steel/alum], there wasn't much use in starting to reload.)

Medula Oblongata
03-20-2006, 02:01 PM
I learned this lesson the hard way. Managed to blow up a G23C (40S&W) a few years ago. Got a pretty good dose of hot gas in the face.

Im glad you weren't seriously hurt. I have seen some REALLY bad injuries such as: missing hands, fingers, blindness, deafness, mutilation of face and neck, and even once a dead bystander; from firing reloads through a Glock and similiar pistols. A good rule of thumb is if you are unsure about the chamber, ask your local REPUTABLE gunsmith, preferably one who reloads.

Another good way to check (if you don't know what you are looking for) is by asking one of the major barrel manufacturers like Bar-Sto or Jarvis Custom. They make a killing every year selling replacement barrels for guns with partialloy unsupported chambers.

Another thing I forgot to mention earlier is the need for primer pocket cleaners and neck brushes. The primer pocket cleaner is necessary for brass that has been reloaded multiple times. It removes built up garbage in the pocket ensuring uniform seating depth and lessens the possibility of gunk blocking the flash hole which can lead to inconsistant ignition. A neck brush is also necessary to ensure that debris do not hinder the seating of the new bullet and that the soot does not fall into the top of the flash hole which can also lead to inconsitant ignition. Inconsistant ignition, with some powders, can lead to powder detonation which tends to destroy the gun and whatever hand is holding it.

A major danger when reloading is seriously undercharged cartriges with certain types of extruded powders like IMR 700X, 800X, 4198, AA powders, and some Vihtavouri powders. When there is insuffecient powder it also tends to detonate and destroy the weapon. I have seen it happen in person to an AR-15 HBAR that the guy was shooting reduced loads through (5.5 IMR 700X). The powder did not completely cover the flash hole so it began to burn on top, which created a shock wave, that detonated the powder underneath completely destroying the upper reciever and launching the bolt rearward, through the stock, and into the daughter of the guy shooting (sitting on his lap) killing her.

Reloading is a VERY dangerous sport that should be practiced with the utmost care. A very simple innocous mistake can, and often does, result in serious injuries and death. Reloading should only be attempted by persons who are aware of the dangers and who take every step to mitigate them.

I am not trying to scare anyone, Im just laying it all out on the table so that someone who is thinking of getting into the sport knows beforehand what he is getting into.

That being said, feel free to PM with any questions. I am pleased to offer advice so that bad things do not happen.

03-20-2006, 05:37 PM
M.O.: honesty is the best policy. It's nice (in a way) to hear all of this before attempting to reload. Thanks.

I'm sure I'll end up mentioning it on here if I ever dive in; I think I'll have my father as a second -- he's been researching reloading equipment for years! Always said he'd start around the time he retires.