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View Full Version : Reloading .308 .300 who's got the best reloading equip?


Team Sergeant
12-24-2014, 17:48
I've been out of the reloading business for a few years..... who's making the best dies, reloaders, tricklers, scales, etc.

I'm going to start reloading .308 and .300. All I've done before was handgun ammo. Need some ideas on what equipment to pick up.

My new year resolution, to start reloading again. ;)

Peregrino
12-24-2014, 18:27
Depends. :p

For match quality ammo I use a RCBS Rockchucker press, Redding Competition dies, and a RCBS Chargemaster powder measure. Add the tumbler, gauges, caliper, trimmer, Autoprime, etc. and it's a fairly involved process that gives me sub-MOA groups with match bullets (Sierra Matchking) and extruded powder (.308 = IMR/H4895, or Varget, 300WM = H4350).

For "range fodder" (5.56 and 7.62 only) I use a Dillon 550, RCBS or Dillon dies, the aforementioned QC tools and ball powder, usually W748 or BL-C(2). Depending on the quality of the projectile, I can still get easy MOA ammo.

I use both presses because it affords flexibility for testing and small batch while preserving production rates for volume shooting. I do have a significant investment; however, I've been accumulating it over 35 years (the stuff doesn't wear out!).

To start for rifle, I recommend the Rockchucker Supreme kit, probably from Natchez Shooters Supply; they always seem to have the best prices. Truthfully, any of the cast iron "O" frame presses will do the same thing. Stick with Redding dies for match ammo though.

If you want to do rifle and pistol "training ammo", get the Dillon and use Dillon dies. If you don't mind ball powder, it is also capable of producing excellent ammo. I just have my preferences and they work well for me.

HTH

The Reaper
12-24-2014, 20:35
Second Peregrino's assessment.

Sinclair makes some nice tools as well.

TR

greentick
12-25-2014, 01:38
Love the 550 as well. I do both of those calibers on it.

If I am doing an OCW for a new projo I will set the powder measure a little short and then put in on the scale and trickle to the desired amount. No fancy trickler, just one from Midway years ago. On the 550 you manually advance the rounds thru the stations so you can use it like a single stage, with some thought.

I am not a precision shooter but I do like turning out quality, consistant ammo that matches my rifle(s).

I have a bottom end Lee single stage for prep work (decapping, or pulling with a collet die).

Other stuff:
Some lighting from Inline Fabrication (several diffenent presses supported). Then also make a lot of organization and ergonomics widgets.

Something to pull your Oopses with, either a kinetic or collet puller.

Case trimmer, lots of options. I have an RCBS manual trimmer and a Possum Creek trimmer for 556 that goes in a drill if you want to crank through some brass. There are much higher quality trimmer out there/more expensive.

Hornady headspace gage: so you can minimize how much you resize you brass to get the most life out of it. Of course you need calipers too.

Primer hole deburring tool.

If you buy "once fired" brass with a crimp, you will need a decrimp widget. I have a motorized "prep station" with a RCBS crimp removing attachment, just takes a second or two. I also have a simple hand tool version.

Lots of places to buy overruns, seconds, and pulls for projectiles and brass: Shooters pro shop (nosler and SSA), Rocky Mountain Reloader (lots of pulls, brass) are two of my favorites. SPS does a 10% mil discount too. RMR has great prices and free shipping.

atticus finch
12-26-2014, 08:19
If for some reason you choose the RCBS small-base dies for .308 nato ?
Reloads from those dies will NOT fit into .308 winchester chambers, such as a commercial bolt-action.
If you reload with those dies and find the bolt won't close on them, it isn't your reloads, it's the dies. They don't reshape the shoulder on the brass down sufficiently to match the chamber, it ends up too long.
Just in case you were contemplating those dies. Otherwise they work very well for .308 nato chambers.

Add edit: I would suggest, based on my own experience, winchester 748 powder to start with. It is very forgiving, easy to find, and very easy to use in terms of metering through a powder measure. It also is very flexible as it'll work in a lot of different calibers. I've used it in .308 nato, .223, 8 X 57 mauser & several others. 8mm mauser really likes that powder.

mark46th
12-26-2014, 09:30
My son and I load for both calibers using the Rock Chucker. Make sure to get a powder trickler, it really helps to get the exact amount of powder in each round. Get a digital caliper to measure OAL... We also use a sonic brass cleaner, it removes any powder build up from the inside of the case. We use a regular vibrating cleaner to polish the brass.

The Reaper
12-26-2014, 10:41
If for some reason you choose the RCBS small-base dies for .308 nato ?
Reloads from those dies will NOT fit into .308 winchester chambers, such as a commercial bolt-action.
If you reload with those dies and find the bolt won't close on them, it isn't your reloads, it's the dies. They don't reshape the shoulder on the brass down sufficiently to match the chamber, it ends up too long.
Just in case you were contemplating those dies. Otherwise they work very well for .308 nato chambers.

Add edit: I would suggest, based on my own experience, winchester 748 powder to start with. It is very forgiving, easy to find, and very easy to use in terms of metering through a powder measure. It also is very flexible as it'll work in a lot of different calibers. I've used it in .308 nato, .223, 8 X 57 mauser & several others. 8mm mauser really likes that powder.

Just to clarify, there is no .308 NATO.

There is .308 Winchester, and there is 7.62x51 NATO.

TR

Boomer-61
12-26-2014, 12:28
What I like most about the Dillon 550 is the tool head. If you want to change calibers it is a matter of pulling two push pins and disconnecting the powder charge linkage, then slide out the tool head and insert the next one. This saves a lot of time. There is a bit of a cost when you are setting up a new caliber as you have to buy a powder measure/dispenser for each caliber but once you do, changing from one caliber to another is fast and easy as long as your primer size is the same. And finally, the customer service at Dillon is top notch. When my low primer alarm went out I tried to rebuild it. When I called Dillon for new parts, he told me not to bother and sent me a new one, free of charge, didn't even charge me for shipping.

Peregrino
12-26-2014, 12:46
Other stuff: Some lighting from Inline Fabrication (several different presses supported). They also make a lot of organization and ergonomics widgets.

Thanks for the IF head nod. I didn't know about them until you got my curiosity up. I'll be ordering the LED system for my 550.

Bushmaster
12-26-2014, 18:22
Especially considering you live in Phoenix, I would not even consider anything else but Dillon.

http://www.dillonprecision.com/retail_store.html

Currently I load for .308, .243, & 5.56, but when I was big into IPSC I loaded several thousand rounds of 38 Super, .45 & .40. All on a 550 using "quick changes" to swap calibers. I can tell you, I have made a few trips to Dillon for "emergencies" and several just to ask questions. It is hard to figure out some things by talking to someone on the phone. With Dillion you can go in and they can actually show you things on the actual equipment you would be using. I have literally walked into the showroom with my toolhead to get help with a problem.

My best Dillon customer service story is when a new puppy chewed up the power cord on my brass tumbler. When I took it in to drop it off, the guys at Dillon put on a new cord while I waited AND they covered it under their warranty. Show me another company that would do that for a customer.

Also, Bruno's Shooter Supply is right around the corner from Dillon. That would be the first place I check prices on primers, powder, bullets, etc.

http://www.brunoshooters.com/

BTW-I switched over to CFE223 powder for 5.56 and .308. I don't load for 300 WIN Mag so I don't know if that powder would be an option for that caliber. I shoot all Sierra bullets. 168 and 77 gr Matchkings to play and Gamekings for hunting.

greentick
12-26-2014, 20:25
Thanks for the IF head nod. I didn't know about them until you got my curiosity up. I'll be ordering the LED system for my 550.

Welcome. I had jerry-rigged an extra under-cabinet halogen light with a piece of coat hanger that would attach to the seater die. Lighting was great but had to watch the knuckles on the L hand. The LED is not as bright but more on target.

atticus finch
12-27-2014, 09:57
Just to clarify, there is no .308 NATO.

There is .308 Winchester, and there is 7.62x51 NATO.

TR

No doubt, albeit that being it's most common reference.

The Reaper
12-27-2014, 11:04
No doubt, albeit that being it's most common reference.

Must be a Navy thing.

Show it to me in a reference work.

TR

Brush Okie
12-27-2014, 11:19
Depending on what you are going to use your rifle for ie hunting vs long range target shooting Redding Competition dies are a good investment.

Team Sergeant
12-27-2014, 12:40
Especially considering you live in Phoenix, I would not even consider anything else but Dillon.



Not really big on Dillon, especially since I think their magazine photographer is lying about being assigned to 5th Special Forces Group. If I knew his real name I'd get his real military records. I even had a chat with the owners of Dillon a while back and they said they'd look into it, yeah, never happened.


That said who's using a Forster Press? I've read a lot of good things about that press!

koz
12-27-2014, 17:25
Pretty much all things Forster are good. Their Co-Ax press is really nice and has some great features. It's a bit more expensive.

Also look at the Forster dies. I've used Redding for a long time but have been converting over to Forster.

If you want a progressive other than the Dillon, take a look at the Hornady Lock and Load A&P.


Also, if you go with the Chargemaster (which is a great product) - look at the "straw mod" to aid in accurate trickling. For what it's worth, I had a very expensive accurate scale (I could measure a 1/2 kernel of power) but I saw no real difference using it vs the Chargemaster.

Peregrino
12-28-2014, 08:54
Pretty much all things Forster are good. Their Co-Ax press is really nice and has some great features. It's a bit more expensive.

Also look at the Forster dies. I've used Redding for a long time but have been converting over to Forster.

If you want a progressive other than the Dillon, take a look at the Hornady Lock and Load A&P.


Also, if you go with the Chargemaster (which is a great product) - look at the "straw mod" to aid in accurate trickling. For what it's worth, I had a very expensive accurate scale (I could measure a 1/2 kernel of power) but I saw no real difference using it vs the Chargemaster.

The gunsmith TR and I depend on uses a Forster Co-Ax press and the older (pre-L&L) Hornady progressive presses. He inherited them from his father who most likely bought them when they first came out. He has the trophy case and records to prove the quality of the ammo they reload. Good equipment is a life-time investment.

Side note: Between koz and GT I've learned two worthwhile things from this thread that will improve my own setup. I've had my CM1500 for almost two years and I have never heard of the "straw mod". A quick Google and I find that and two other "tweaks" to improve accuracy and production rates. Thanks for the input.

WRMETTLER
12-28-2014, 10:55
TS
Iíve had a Foster press set up for at least 20 years. I use it for all single stage reloading from 223 through 300 WM. I really love it. No shell holders to set up, and it hasnít broken yet.

I do use the Dillon 550 (older than the Foster) for some .308 and .223, and all pistol loadings. If you find the right powder, it throws a very accurate charge. I use Unique or Bullseye for .45 and 9mm and TAC for .223, and have found that with 10 throws the total weight for all 10 throws doesnít vary more than 1/10 of a grain.

For more accurate 223, 308, 300 WM and 6.5xí06, I weigh each charge using a beam scale and a powder trickler. I can achieve a very low standard deviation with reloads that are probably very accurate Ė if only I was a good enough shot to find out.

I trade with Dillons because they have good stuff (if you know what to buy) and have a very good return, repair policy. Also, they are close by. I buy all my dies and other components from Brunoís by Deer Valley Airport. They are expensive but they are convenient as well. Hard to find components I buy off the auction websites. Buying good powder right now is difficult.

My only suggestions: buy a micrometer cartridge headspace tool to confirm the set-back for the sizing die. It takes the guess work out of setting up the sizing die. I use this one and it works. http://www.sinclairintl.com/reloading-equipment/measuring-tools/case-gauges-headspace-tools/rcbs-precision-mic-cartridge-headspace-tool-prod33476.aspx

Also the competition dies with micrometer-adjustments are easier to adjust for accurate resizing and bullet seating.

Reloading is fun and relaxing for me. Problem is you canít drink beer while reloading.

Team Sergeant
12-28-2014, 11:20
TS

My only suggestions: buy a micrometer cartridge headspace tool to confirm the set-back for the sizing die. It takes the guess work out of setting up the sizing die. I use this one and it works. http://www.sinclairintl.com/reloading-equipment/measuring-tools/case-gauges-headspace-tools/rcbs-precision-mic-cartridge-headspace-tool-prod33476.aspx

Also the competition dies with micrometer-adjustments are easier to adjust for accurate resizing and bullet seating.

Reloading is fun and relaxing for me. Problem is you canít drink beer while reloading.

I like that idea!

(No problem with the beer, I only drink whiskey when I reload.)

blue02hd
12-30-2016, 13:32
For match quality ammo I use a RCBS Rockchucker press, Redding Competition dies, and a RCBS Chargemaster powder measure. Add the tumbler, gauges, caliper, trimmer, Autoprime, etc. and it's a fairly involved process that gives me sub-MOA groups with match bullets (Sierra Matchking) and extruded powder (.308 = IMR/H4895, or Varget, 300WM = H4350).

HTH

I asked Mrs. Claus for a RCBS Chargemaster 1500, and now I cannot believe I waited over ten years to get one. This is an amazing addition to my reloading bench. Highly recommend!

Peregrino
12-30-2016, 20:14
I asked Mrs. Claus for a RCBS Chargemaster 1500, and now I cannot believe I waited over ten years to get one. This is an amazing addition to my reloading bench. Highly recommend!

Now add the "McDonald's Straw" modification and reprogram the steps for the motor. The first improves the accuracy, the second speeds it up significantly. Enjoy.

Quietus
01-05-2017, 17:51
So far nobody has touched on "what equipment to make."

If you plan to recover and reuse your rifle brass, you will want to avoid overworking it during resizing. Dedicating particular brass to a particular rifle is a helpful thing to some. 7.62 NATO chambers and .308 chambers will yield different size cases when the case is extracted. A one-size-fits-all approach will cause earlier case separation failures in those cases fired from a M14/M1A-type, or even more grossly, an Ishy 2A1, than those cases fired from your nicely-built .308 bolt rifle.

You want to use a cartridge headspace gauge in order to set the resizing die to make the brass small enough that it chambers in whatever rifle you want it to. A Hornady gauge was mentioned by greentick. I use Wilson gauges. They tell, by visual and by feel, overall length, shoulder setback, and will tell you of a goober in bullet seating. This gauge is used more than once during the process, last time used is the assurance that finished round that you're putting to storage, will fit any chamber you want it to.

The gauge is a cylindrical machined slug, hand-held, that you insert cases into. Its steps front and back are go/no-go lengths for what protrudes of the brass. Lore, is that an educated fingertip can detect a .001" shortness or proudness. I can't vouch for that.

Bottom line on using a case headspace gauge, is that it can help you avoid over-resizing your cases, which will help you avoid case failure from overstretching the case. Example: So what if my fingertip says that shoulder-to-boltface is a tad long, it's to be fired in a long chamber, and my die setting preserved the life of the case.

Cases are going to fail due to repeated resizing. So the tool that you want to make, is what could be called an interior-of-case rake. Case head separations happen maybe a quarter inch or less above the rim. The rake that you use to find case weakness before it goes bad, is made out of common tie-wire.

Cut a five inch piece of wire. Sharpen one end real nice and remove any burrs. With pliers, turn the sharpened end back 90 degrees. Make the length of that turn short, a quarter inch, it must go down the case neck. To finish, twirl a loop on the other end so you can hang it in a place handy on your bench.

To use, this rake is extension of your mind. When resizing rifle brass, material gets sucked from the area just in front of the rim. Your rake and its sharp point goes down there and feels for a lesser amount of brass. When the rake finds an irregularity, don't ponder, just pitch that case.

greentick also mentioned buying a bullet puller for your ooppses, and gave a choice between kinetic and collet types. I prefer collet to kinetic. They are less work for a few rounds, and are the only rational choice if you need to pull a few hundred. My brand is C&H, bought the first collet in '88 and my latest from them last year.

People here may remember Paragon, from a generation ago. I bought a K of .303 British from them, MEN 84 headstamp (sort of a curious thing that the West Germans would be ressurecting .303 ball ammo during that timeframe, no? No it really wasn't curious.). It was pretty hot for my Enfields. Real hard bolt lift. I pulled about 800 bullets and reloaded them back with 10% less powder. A collet-type bullet puller is your friend for big fubars.

Badger52
01-06-2017, 12:32
^ Nice post. Remember seeing that "raker" regarded as a matter-of-fact tool to have in some old school reloading guides - have one in soft-cover (like the old Shooter's Bible) on the bench shelf around here somewhere. Much to be said for reliability vs. over-pandering to the chamber. I scrutinize my meat gun 7-08 cases & the kid's 30-06 the same way even though dedicated to the individual rifles, disliking argument when a pair of big does jumps up.

OT: Speaking of ammo & reliability, didn't realize till latest Blue Press got here of the passing of Mike Dillon who, among many other deserved kudos, is an Honorary Night Stalker. His contribution to that community here. (http://dillonprecision.net/mike-becomes-an-honorary-night-stalker/)