Home / Reloading / My Budget Reloading Setup:

My Budget Reloading Setup:

I’ve been interested in getting started in reloading for a while, but the up front investment was keeping me from jumping in. Ben would tell me how nice it was to learn on a turret press, and other people would tell me to dive in head first and buy a progressive. Don’t even get me started on the blue hoard who answer any question about reloading with “Buy a Dillon!” I’d like to, but it’s just not in the cards right now.

So, Saturday morning I made a cup of coffee, and sat down to browse the forums over at Carolina Shooters Club. Low and behold a Lee 4 Hole turret press had been listed for sale just a few minutes before for $50. I jumped on it.

[table caption=”Budget Reloading Setup” colalign=”left|left|”] Item, Price
Used Lee Value Turret, $50
Lee Carbide 9mm 3 Die Set, $31.99
Noslers 7th Reloading Manual, $29.99
Lee Scale, Free with Press
Total, $111.98

I still need to get the following stuff:

[table caption=”Stuff I Still Need:” colalign=”left|left|”] Item, Price
Lee Auto Disk Powder Drop, $24.99
Lee Safety Prime, $24.99
Lee 9mm Factory Crimp Die, $15
Frankford Arsenal Bullet Puller, $15.49
Tumbler, Possible DIY
Total, $120ish?

All told, I should be up and running for just under $250 not including components, depending on which route I go with the tumbler.

Any bullet puller recommendations? I tossed in the Frankford Arsenal model because it’s priced reasonably, and looks just about like all the other ones out there. Does it really matter, or are they all the same?

I’m also thinking I’ll upgrade to a digital scale before long, but I plan to get started with the Lee scale, just to see how it works. It’ll be slow, but it’s supposed to be pretty precise.

About Lucas

Editor/Head Honcho at Triangle Tactical. Lucas is a life long shooter and outdoorsman, avid concealed carrier and competitive shooter, and a lover of pork fat.


  1. I’ve never used anything but Dillon presses here, so can’t comment on Lee. Obviously Lee’s been around a long time, folks must like them.

    If by bullet pullers you mean the “hammer” type, pretty much all the same. The key to using them is getting a little “flip” in your wrist at the point of impact, much like a golf swing (I know, I know). You want a sharp peak in velocity as it hits to break the bullet loose from the case. If you just hammer way like a blunt instrument you’ll just bend the aluminum arm (don’t ask me how I know).

    If your scale is a triple-balance scale, it’s more than accurate enough for your purposes. A bit slow, which will be a pain as you work up your first load, but once you have your “formula” (assuming you’re of a temperament to settle on one formula) you’ll only use the scale to double-check the charge throw at the start of each reloading session.

    One thing I don’t see on your list is a chronograph. I assume you either have one or have access to one. It’s ESSENTIAL in order to check your velocities and make sure you’re not overloading the rounds for use in your particular platform configuration. I consider it a piece of vital safety equipment for reloading.

    Also, lots of experienced reloaders lube up even their straight-wall pistol dies. Lube is essential for bottleneck cartridges in any kind of die, and even pistol cartridges in non-carbide dies. In carbide dies lube is not essential for straight wall pistol calibers–I don’t use it for reloading 9mm or 45ACP in my Dillon carbide dies–but it does make the physical work of cycling the reloader easier.

    Of course, if lube is used there’s the extra step of getting off the lube, which most folks do just by running the finished rounds through the tumbler for a few minutes (but JUST a few minutes–if too long run risk of breaking the powder into finer components inside the rounds, which would could lead to faster combustion–a bad thing).

    In turns of lube, I know some folks use commercial stuff, others some home-made mixtures (a mix of water and olive oil comes to mind, but again I don’t use the stuff so don’t hold me to it–Google is your friend).

    Finally, it should go without saying, start at the low end of manufacturer recommended powder charges and work your way up. We don’t want any kabooms. 🙂

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    • Hey Andrew,
      Planning on only loading 9mm and maybe some .45 in the distant future. We’ve got a range around here that rents chronographs, so I can just use theirs when needed.

      Definitely don’t want kabooms…

  2. If you want to stay with the Lee equipment then check out fsreloading.com – that is the Lee factory sales site and you can get some stuff a lot cheaper than anywhere else.

  3. If you want to tumble wet with stainless, there is an easy DIY 5 gallon tumbler on youtube using a 5 gal bucket, gamma lid, used inline skate wheels, an electric motor and some 2x4s. Stainless pins are the bomb. You’ll still need a dry tumbler, but those aren’t too expensive.

    I also drink the blue koolaid, but learned on a lock n load.

    digital scale is much faster IMO and similar pricing. Don’t forget a good digital caliper for measuring OAL.

    I’ve found using the bullet puller on concrete floor or a 15 lb weight on the counter works best. Agree, it’s all in the wrist. Just save up all the rounds that need pulling and do them at one time, a couiple of times a year.

    call me if you have any questions or need anything.

  4. Harbor Freight sells a $55 dual drum rock tumbler that works great for about. Once I switched to wet tumbling I could never go back to vibratory cleaners.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.