2006-08-15: Finally getting into reloadingSo, I've been getting increasingly annoyed with owning guns I can't shoot. Or, guns which I could shoot but I can't get more ammo for. Specifically, I'm talking about my SKSes and my PAR-1, to say nothing of the off-list AK's and RPK's I'm working on. Why build the guns if ammunition's going to be $17/20 unless I want to shoot Wolf?
Enter Brooke's problem with his 6.8SPC AR. Ammo is pricey, and he'd very much like to have some inexpensive ammo to plink with. The problem is, that 6.8SPC ammo is all priced at the premium level, with nothing available at the plinking level. At 25 yards, you don't need the $1/shot Hornady uber-nifty tips. So, he generously offered to cover the 6.8SPC-specific parts of my reloading rig's price tag while I cover the rest of it.
I finally pulled the trigger on a Dillon 650 from BrianEnos.com. I looked around at the other presses, but pretty much everyone says the same thing: you can start elsewhere, but you'll ultimately end up on a Dillon if you're doing any decent kind of bulk loading. I'm expecting to load a fair amount of ammo, considering that I'm producing the ammunition for my entire range group to shoot in my guns - therefore, I decided to go for the most 'prosumer' oriented reloading press out there. The next step up from the 650 is the 1050, which is firmly positioned at the low end of the professional market. It's got a lot of very nice extra features, and even some things which should result in improved reliability, but I couldn't justify the $1.5k price tag on the press alone.
All in all, I spent $1,280 on my rig, including the tumbler, media seperator, scales, dies, etc. I got a neat bit of discount due to calling up Brian Enos and asking him how come I couldn't order the 650 configured in 7.62x39mm. It turns out that the database behind the website was a bit wonked out (and had been, for that specific item, for years), and I was the first guy bothered enough by it to call him.
Most folks warn reloading newbies to buy a single-stage press and not go to a progressive press until they've been at it for a while. I decided to go the opposite direction: start on a progressive press, but buy all of the available fancy electronic safety doo-dads and leave off the "speed-demon-encouraging" parts such as the automatic casefeeder. The end result is that I'll be loading much slower than the maximum rated capacity of the press, but the slower speed should be enough to ensure that I take my time and exercise caution.