EVERYTHING on this collection of pages is for information only. No warranty of fitness for use, safety, or any other matter is expressed, nor is it to be implied. The fact that I use any specific combination of components in no way suggests that you should do the same without doing your own due diligence and testing. If you cannot agree to this, you may not use the provided information!
Through the years I have run a gamut. I have used “Lee Loaders”1), “O” presses, progressive presses, and even a few semi-production systems. I've loaded everything from a .25 ACP through .45-70. I've scooped charges, “thrown” charges, and weighed charges. I've had equipment ranging from a single Lee Loader through enough to take up over half of a garage. I've also had as many as 15 different loads for a single gun.
Now I've started leaning towards minimalist. Instead of 15 different loads for a single gun2), I now have just a single load per gun – I mean – c'mon – I'm not going to hunt deer with the .375 H&H, and I doubt I'll be taking the .30-30 out after moose if I can help it.
So - I don't reload for the “black” guns. For them, I buy bulk, quality, military grade ammo as fits their function. I also don't shoot them recreationally near as much as I used to. I also don't reload for any of my current handguns except the Contender3), though I'm leaning towards doing something with the .357 Magnum in the near future, since it is more a hunting gun than a defensive gun.
I'm not one to load things “hot.” I love getting 15-20 loadings out of most of my brass, and barrel life enjoys the milder loads, too. If I need a hotter load, well, that's why I have bigger guns…
All of my equipment, with the exception of a single “O” press, fits into one medium sized tool bag. The “O” press is mounted to a bench in the garage, and is only used when I need to full-length size brass. For everything else, I am using a Lee Hand Press. This makes everything quite portable, and I can even have it with me at the range when I am working up loads. I use Lee collet dies, only neck sizing whenever possible, and finish up with the Lee “Factory Crimp Die”, when available. I scoop my charges using Lee's calibrated measuring scoops. Some out there will perhaps cringe, but I've found that to be more than sufficiently accurate for my purposes.
I do have a few odd birds6) where this is not available, so I use what I can and roll-crimp where I must… Still, everything fits into a single medium sized tool bag.
I have only recently picked up a chronograph again, so velocities will continue to be estimated until I actually get around to measuring them.
Everybody has their favorite benchmark. I use “Taylor Knock Out units”7). Calculating them are easy:
( (bullet weight in grains) x (bullet diameter in inches) x (velocity in feet per second) ) / 7000
As with any benchmark, there are also large variations in what people consider minimums or maximums. My years of experience tend to agree with the thoughts that a TKO of 10 is the minimum to be adequate for deer sized game.8)
To read more about TKO, Wikipedia has a good article on it here.
See note 9)