Reloading metallic cartridges requires a variety of specialized equipment. Looking in the reloading section of any catalog will reveal a mind-boggling array of various tools and accessories. At first, the number and variety of items required seems overwhelming, but it is important to realize that many of the tools and accessories aren’t really necessary for reloading safe and effective cartridges. Later on as one develops as a reloader, they will become interested in performing the extra steps that these specialized tools are made for, but just reloading basic cartridges to fire in your guns only requires a handful of tools.
If you think you want to get into reloading, but aren’t quite sure you are ready to make the investment to get totally set up; it is possible to just dip your toe into the vast sea that is the world of reloading.
Perhaps the easiest and cheapest way to get started is to buy one of the reloading kits available from all of the major equipment manufacturers. These kits come pre-packaged with all of the tools you need to start basic reloading. Kits are usually priced much lower than if you purchased all of the items separately. Typically, all that you need to add are dies and components. Reloading kits are great as they have everything you need and nothing that you don’t. The only tool they lack that is a necessity is a set of calipers. Calipers are absolutely essential for measuring case lengths and cartridge overall length. You really can’t reload safe ammunition without a set of calipers. Calipers are relatively inexpensive, but they get a lot of use, so invest in a good quality set that will last a long time.
A nice thing about the tools in a kit is that if you do decide to get more into reloading, you will still use your basic tools that you first purchased. Even if you go on to buy more equipment and larger presses, you will still find uses for the basic equipment that you first bought.
If you don’t want to buy a kit, it is possible to assemble your own; it will just take a little more time and effort. If you want to get started for the bare minimum, you will need to limit yourself to only loading one caliber at first. You can always add more die sets later, but to start with, focus on one caliber that you already shoot. Hopefully, you have been saving your brass, so you won’t have to buy any to get started.
At the bare minimum you will need: (Notice that aside from dies and calipers, this list is what is included in most kits.)
A loading manual
A full length, two die set
A way to measure powder (this can either be a scale or a set of the graduated powder dippers which measure powder by volume)
A powder funnel
A priming tool (many presses have a priming arm built in)
Components (brass, bullets, primers, and powder)
Reloading equipment doesn’t really wear out, so it holds its value very well. If you do buy equipment and then decide reloading isn’t for you, it should be fairly easy to sell your equipment. Many gun stores buy and sell used reloading equipment. Most serious reloaders become equipment collectors, so they are always on the lookout for a good deal on more tools. You won’t be able to get all of your money back, but you should be able to get at least half back.