This is an excellent thread, and especially helpful to rookies and newbies wanting to get in to hand loading.
I've been shooting, competing, hand loading, and casting my own bullets for over 40 years. I've experimented with all kinds of stuff, and still do. My main reason for reloading is so that I can shoot more economically. I have a shooting range on my property and recycle my lead from my home built sand trap for re-casting. As my only recurring cost are for powder and primers, I can reload pistol ammo for $2.00 a box. Don't load much hot stuff now, just milder plinking loads. I have gas checks, if I need them, for 44 mag and 357 mag. But I generally don't need them.
Just finished loading 2000 rounds of 40S&W for my new Ruger SR40C. I use a Dillon 550B press. They claim it can reload 500 rounds an hour, but I'm kind of slow, and very deliberate, so I can only do around 300 per hour. I don't go for speed. I just like to enjoy it. It takes a lot of time to cast and reload, but the rewards are many. And now that I retied, I've got the time to really enjoy it. I'll shoot 200 rounds on most nice days for 8 bucks. It's a nice way to spend an afternoon in the outdoors. I figure I shoot somewhere around 40,000 rounds a year. In the winter I shoot from my living room in to my sand trap. My neighbor always kids me about not being married cause his wife wouldn't let him do that. I have 10 acres in Northern Wisconsin, God's country. I'm right next to the Nicolet National Forest. My neighbor is 1/2 mile away and only comes up on some week-ends.
I stared with an old Lyman single stage press many years ago. Have gone through many different presses. Still have some and sold others. I really like my current set-up.
A couple of things for a rookie re-loader to consider.
Don't load up 1000 rounds only to find out that, for what ever reason, they don't work in your gun. Load maybe 20 and try them. If everything seems to work, no signs of high pressure, they feed OK, etc, then load up another 20 and try them. Do this 3 or 4 times before you load those 1000 rounds.
When loading for an auto, be aware that once-fired brass, or range brass, may have been fired in a Glock pistol. The chamber in a Glock barrel is unsupported, and this causes a slight bulge near the rim. This bulge can not be removed during the normal sizing operation as the case can not be pushed far enough in to the sizing die. Lee Precision sells a "Bulge Buster" to remove this slight bulge. This "Bulge Buster" is used in conjunction with the Lee Factory Crimp Die. Some shooters never have a problem with these "Glocked" cases, and some do. I use the Bulge Buster on all of my cases. They only have to be run through it one time. You don't need to debulge every time you reload cases which you have already fired in your gun (unless you shoot a Glock). Again, some shooters never have a problem with this, and pay no attention to it. But if you're having failure to chamber issues, this may be the problem.
If you're loading for an auto, take the barrel out and use it as a go-no go gauge on your finished rounds. Cull out any round that won't just slide in to the chamber. These may still be able to be shot if you can get them in to the chamber. Go/No-Go gauges are available for this and I have them for all of the calibers I reload for. Revolver shooters should insert each round in to the cylinder to function test it. Rifle shooters should test each round to make sure it feeds and chambers properly. Do this in a safe place as you're chambering a live round and there is always the possibility of a malfunction. BANG! I spot check my reloads, during the reloading operation, to insure they feed and chamber correctly. I don't check each and every round, unless they will be used in competition.
If you use an auto powder measure to throw your charges, rather than calibrating it with just 1 charge, throw 10 charges in to the scale pan and get an average. I throw 20 charges, so I'm averaging 20 charges to calibrate. Actually, I throw 3 or 4 charges in to an empty case until I get to 20 charges. Depending on what your reloading, you may only get 1 charge in a case. Dump that one charge in the powder scale and do 19 more. Then average the 20 charges.
I cast and shoot Lee tumble lube bullets. They're meant to be shot "as cast". They're not meant to be, and shouldn't be, sized. The lube is tumbled on. This is a very fast and efficient way to make bullets.
I use straight wheel weights for my casting operation, so I kinda keep my velocities down to under 1000 FPS with good accuracy and no leading. I have some straight lino-type for casting harder bullets for higher velocities, and then I use gas checks.
You can find once-fired brass on the internet. I just recently purchased 2000 40S&W cases for $87 delivered from http://topbrassreloading.com/
. It was all cleaned and polished. Very good stuff. I'll be doing business with them again.
Buy your primers in bulk. I buy 10,000 at a time, locally, and get a better price. If you buy primers or powder on the internet, you will have to pay a haz-mat fee on top of the regular shipping charges.
When seating primers, make sure they are flush or slightly below flush. A high primer can cause a revolver to jam. (Happened to me in a match once.)
There are lots of good books on hand loading and bullet casting. The internet is also just full of useful info and "how to's". Go to youtube and do a search on reloading, or hand loading, or bullet casting, or case bulge, and you'll gain a wealth of knowledge. Go to any of the powder company web sites for load data. For me, the internet has overtaken the printed word. But I'm a retired computer instructor at a technical college, so it's natural for me.
I could go on and on, but I'm sure others will chime in with their useful tips.
Just be sure to always be safe, and when in doubt, ASK!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Happy hand loading, and Semper Fi.
Watch the below video on basic hand loading considerations.