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Question 1 Why should I reload?

Answer 1 Because it’s a fun hobby, because it will increase your shooting by making shooting cheaper, and because it can provide you with consistent ammunition that is reliable and tailored for your gun. Shotgunners reload primarily for quality of ammuntion. They can produce high quality ammo that patterns well out of their gun for less than what quality buffered shot targets loads cost them. Shotgunners who shoot a lot of clays in competition often turn to reloading. Handgunners can really reduce the price of ammunition by reloading and by bullet casting. Rifle shooters can optimise for power and accuracy and utilized some high quality hunting bullets that are not available in factory ammunition. Rifle ammunition is also significantly less in cost than is factory.

Question 2 How much can I save by reloading?

Answer 2 That depends. Shotgun reloading is not really that much of a savings over purchase of factory loaded. A box of quality ammunition, though, can be loaded for about what you’d give for a box of bargain priced promotional loads at Walmart. It’s not worth it to me, since I don’t shoot a lot of clays, am just a hunter. I buy Winchester AA (a quality off the shelf load) for about 2 dollars more than I can reload a box. Just for dove hunting, I don’t mess with reloading.

Rifles can offer a significant savings. For instance, you can load something around 100 rounds of 7mm Magnum ammuntion per pound of powder. Figure 100 rounds of primers is around $2.50, a pound of powder is around $20, a box of 100 bullets is around $12, the math says you can load a box of tailored hand loads for roughly $35 a hundred. That’s about $7 a box of twenty. Ordinary off the shelf Remington or Winchester factory ammuntion will set you back around $20 a box and Federal Premium is closer to $30. It doesn’t take much shooting to pay for your reloading equipment at that rate.

Now, consider the .45 ACP handgun. A box of 100 bullets can be had for from 7-15 dollars depending on lead or jacketed, powder lasts many hundreds of rounds at 5.0 grains of bullseye per round.. Same price for primers, so if you calculate everything, you will come out with from 6-9 dollars a box of 50 to reload. However, if you buy cast bullets in bulk, you can get that cost down to between 4 and 5 dollars a box and if you cast range scrap, free lead source, you can load a box of .45ACP for around $2.00! A box of cheap .45ACP will rund $15.00 or so, so you can save a LOT by casting and hand loading hangun ammuntion. It takes no time at all to justify the cost of a press.

What reloading does cost is your time. Only you can judge whether the time it takes to reload is worth it to you. I load handgun ammunition on a progressive and I can knock out a box in about 10 minutes on my equipment even while checking all steps and taking my time. A single stage press will take up to an hour to load the same box of ammo.

Question 3 Is reloading safe?

Answer 3 First of all, always start out with the lightest loads in your manual. If you are working from a magazine article suggestion, reduce loads by 10 percent and work up from there checking for pressure signs. You should learn what to look for as to pressure signs, case head expansion, primer cratering, etc. These procedures will be covered in any manual on reloading and you should be familiar with them before attempting to reach any maximum load listed. Reloading is safe IF you understand the process and use safe procedures and practices in your reloading. You should have your reloading equipment secluded from the television, the wife, the kids. You should not have your consentration interrupted when you are reloading. And, you should use steps to check yourself as a matter of procedure. For instance, on a single stage press, do each prcedure separate. Don’t attempt to reload each round all the way through every step, round at a time, even if you are using a turret press. First comes the decapping/sizing step. Resize each round and turn it neck down, rim up in the holder as I decap.

Next is the priming step. I will prime each case, feel the primer to make sure it’s even with or below the case head. A high primer can cause problems in a revolver or an auto. I set each primed case neck down, primer up, in the case holder. At this point, I know that no case in that holder has powder as it is neck down.

Then comes the case flaring, powder charge steps which I combine with my Lee powder through expanding dies and a Lee auto disc powder measure. If you are just flaring the case, turn the case neck down, head up, then when you charge the case with powder, you leave it neck up. If the neck of the case is up in the holder, you know it’s been charged.

Now, at completion of powder charging, you should check all cases and look for a case which looks like it has more powder than the others. If there I a case with what looks like too much powder, dump it and check the case for possible dirt or something else taking up space in the case, then recharge. The object is to make SURE you have the proper powder charge. A double charge of fast burning, dense powder such as is used in many target loads can be catastrophic. Similarly, a case with no powder can cause big problems.

There are many little nuances to reloading that I cannot put in a brief explanation to the procedures involved. For a more concise description of reloading procedures and the ins and outs of little things like overall length and how it affects case pressure, powder burn rates, and such, you should pick up a good reloading book. You will need a manual with recipies anyway, something like the Speer manual, but you should purchase a primer to reloading and read it. It also helps to have a mentor, but if you have none, just post your questions on this forum and I or someone will attempt to answer your questions. Do not reload a round until you study the subject thoroughly.

I think it is the fact that reloading is an involved hobby that makes some folks not want to get involved with it. But, it is fun, it’s economical, and it’s a great rainy day gun thing you can do when a trip to the range is out of the question.

Question 4 What equipment will I need?

Answer 4 Here again, get a book on the subject and a reloading manual and read it. You will get the idea of what you will need. I would suggest one of the starter kits. The Lee Aniversary kit is affordable and gives you most of what you will need to get started until you start ot understand the subject and begin to get preferences in procedures and equipment (http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=820810). Believe me, you will always seem to want something else. For instance, I have recently, finally, picked up a digital powder scale that I’ve been wanting for a long time. The price is coming down on them, finally. You can go to http://www.midwayusa.com , what in my humble opinion is the best supplier of reloading equipment on the web, and just browse. This will give you an idea of what is on the market, and perhaps drain your bank account. Here again, if you have questions, this board is here to help you and if I don’t have the answer, someone will.

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I have reloaded ammunition since standing in my uncle and grandpa’s reloading room 44 years ago at the age of 10 and begging to help. When my uncle died, I inherited the equipment by default since my grandpa was no longer shooting and my cousins had no interest. It has been a life long hobby for me. I like the fact that, by casting my own bullets, I always have access to tailored loads for my handguns and I can tailor rifle loads to my specific rifles and optimise accuracy and performance. There are calibers, such as my 7mm TCU, for which there is no source of factory ammunition. It is, however, a hobby for the deticated shootist. Many working guys just don’t have to time to dedicate to it, measure their time as money. That’s fine if you have that ethic. For me, though, Im cheap. Time don’t drain my wallet. Only you can say if reloading is a hobby worthy of your attention. With a proper set up and safe loading procedures, you’ll always be able to whip out a couple of boxes of ammo for a trip to the range, ammuntion that is tailored to your needs, and you’ll not have to worry about Walmart selling out or not carrying what you want. That’s important to me, particularly, as I live a ways from a gun shop. And, with calibers like the .45 Colt, I can load hot +P loads the likes of which are only offered at high price and limited locations by firms like Buffalo Bore Ammunition or I can even load wildcats like the 7mm TCU for where there is no ammo. The plusses have always out-weighed the minuses for me.
 

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Gosh, this sounds really interesting. Is there any good books to read about how to go about this safely? For I read this article, and it all sounds arabic to me (meaning I don't understand most of the terminology). I'll look online, but I really don't trust watching people reload online and attempt it myself. If there is a trustworthy manual or book regarding said subject, I'd like to read it. Thanks.
 

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Buy videos, books, magazines and such here....

http://www.midwayusa.com/browse/Bro...d=11&categoryId=15810&categoryString=10614***

If the link page doesn't come up (not coming up when I click on the link), just go to the top and click on books and videos, then on vids or books or reloading manuals from the next page. You'll find what you want on this site. Lots of good references there.

You need a good manual. All the bullet and powder companies print them and they all have getting started chapters. There's a lot to learn. Also, you might find a handloading magazine on your local magazine shelf or NRA books produces some good references. Don't just dive off into it. Read, study, and UNDERSTAND first. Safety is between the ears, as they say, and safety is paramount in handloading. You can really screw things up out of ignorance. But, there's plenty of educational material out there.
 
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When I started out reloading a couple of years ago, I bought the book ABC's of reloading, which I found very helpful at understanding the basic concepts and terminology of safe reloading.  At the same time any of the Lee, Hornady, Speer, Hodgdons, etc reloading manuals are a wealth of information. 

These days I am a big fan of the "Caliber Specific" books sold at Cabela's for $7 bucks or so.  They are a smaller format, spiral bound, collection of information gathered from multiple reloading manuals, both bullet manufacturers, and powder manufacturers.  The first one I bought was the .45 ACP of course.  And It contained all the info from at least 20 different load manuals, with plenty of space to take notes.  This is not to be used instead of a proper reloading manual, but more as a quick reference once good reloading practices have been learned.

Lastly, there is a newer website out there that I have become a big fan of.  Smartflix.com . Think Net Flix for how to Videos.  They carry a pretty extensive selection of DVD's on Reloading, Firearms, Shooting, Metal Machining, Welding, Painting, Learn to play the guitar, ETC.  Some of the videos would cost up to a hundred bucks to buy, you pay a rental fee (not a monthly fee), they send you the video for a week (make a copy on your PC if you like) and send it back in the return envelope and your done.  Give them a try!  I'm hooked.

I very much agree with the above posting by Native Texan, for some people reloading will be of no interest / benefit. As I'm sure is apparent by my Screen Name, I compete in IDPA and any other shooting sport I can find around both with a Pistol and a Rifle. Not because I have a desire to beat others at something, but because it is my moment of peace, my time to refocus and rid myself of stress. The commercially available "Semi Wad Cutter" ammo that I prefer to shoot is from $20-40 a box these days. My local wal-mart hardly ever has a supply of Winchester White Box .45 . So without reloading I would never be able to afford to shoot the 3000+ plus rounds I fired last year.

Good luck, and safe reloading.
 

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im really interested in reloading. can someone post a rough cost and perhaps a list of what you would need to start out. im gonna see if there are any classes here in maine that i could take to learn how to reload. think i would feel more comfortable reloading if i learmed how to do it from a professional.

great post and info btw
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'm not sure there are any "professional" reloaders. There are a few that do it commercially. I guess you could call them "pros".

You can get set up for around 150 bucks with a Lee Aniversary kit, dies for the caliber you want to load, powder, primers, bullets, and if you don't already have some, cases.

This is my main source of hardware, good folks. I buy powder and primers locally.

http://www.midwayusa.com
 

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Thank you for the information - very useful for those of us who are looking to get more into shooting, but couldn't because of the price of ammo.

Now we can with reloading. :)
 

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Thanks for the good info on reloading. I am also looking into reloading 9mm's as I shot around 1200 rounds last year. My son and cousin also shoot 9mm so between the 3 of us that would have been around 3500 rounds last year. It's about $23 for a box of 100 so I think between the 3 of us we could split the cost of the equipment and save a lot of $$$ reloading.
 

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I've been reloading for almost 40 years. It is great fun and allows you to tune your hand loads for your particular gun. Bullet casting is an excellent way to obtain a fresh supply. Get a copy of the ABC's of Bullet Casting before you start. It is an excellent source of information about molds, alloys & technique. Lee Precision makes a very nice (and low cost) bottom-pour casting pot. Be sure to do this in a well-ventilated place, though and be sure to wash up afterward.

Pure Lead is about $1.02/pound (jeez, I remember when it was $0.10/lb and you could get it free at most tire shops) on the open market but between $2 & $4 per lb if you buy from a commercial source. Check for alloyed lead in ingot form (Lyman #2 alloy is very good and casts very well). If you want to use wheel weights, those are good too if you can get a tire shop to part with them. Watch out for the stick-on variety - those are usually pure lead or have a lot of impurities (like calcium). Linotype lead alloy is very hard but makes excellent rifle and pistol bullets but it much more expensive. Here is a source if y'all are interested: http://www.rotometals.com/Bullet-Casting-Alloys-s/5.htm.
 

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Texan- Thank you. I'm new to shooting in general. I have inherited equipment from my father-in-law. I am very interested in loading and casting. I have been watching videos and driving my wife nuts. (means I'm on the right track :) The emphasis on safety is greatly appreciated. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

Stoney- congratulations.
 

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i'm getting into reloading currently, and i'm very excited about the prospects because i shoot several thousand round per year. i look forward to the savings.
my biggest surprize so far is the large amount of "small things" i need. when i first started looking into reloading i thouught he look a big fancy reloader does it all..... nope. scales, deburring tool, case resizer, bullet puller( a must have!), books, and more books , tumblers,(dont forget the sifter too because it doesnt coe together),medium, polilsh, and i'm sure there are a dozen more i'm forgetting.

of corse there are the things you do think about but i never realized the # of options available for each. bullets, primers, and powders. seems like no end to what is out there. then, dies, and presses. and all the "stuff" that goes with them. this hobbie is expensive to get into, but unlike most other hobbies, it WILL pay you back and them some.
 

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A well done article on beginning reloading NT. I am sure that there are many newcomers and even some long time members who will be putting this information to good use.

Thank You!

What about making it a sticky in the reloading section?
 

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Vincent, you may want to consider that there are a number of things that are "nice to have" but not essential. I've been loading pistol rounds for decades, and I've never had a deburring tool, a tumbler and all its pieces, a case resizer, a powder trickler, or any number of other things that some folks like to have. Rifle rounds may be different in terms of what's essential, but give thought to what you really need.
 

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THANX STEVE48- deciding what is essential is very hard to do when your new. the advise i'm given,and the books i read are the only things i have to go on. so its very hard to determine what isnt a must have. maybe i need to start asking more questions before i purchase.

i guess this is a good place to do that.

1)is it a must do, to "clean" brass? do you have to tumble brass before reloading?

2) which medium is better?walnut, or corncob, or synthetic? and why or what are their different uses?

3)i'll mostly be reloading for my gp100, and my marlin 1894. so i can shoot both 357, and 38 spec. it has been suggested to me that if i am going to reload its in my best interest to only do 357. the reasoning for this is so that i do not develop a "ring" from shooting 38spec. if i want to shoot a lighter load only load my 357 to 38 special specs. DOES THIS MAKE SENSE? any thoughts on this?

4)i have always prefered 158 grain JSP. they penetrate deep, but thye also have good expansion. i see this as a good all around round. be it hunting small or large game if need be, or for personal protection. while i understand that a jacketed round is more costly, i'm not sure of my other options. would a 158 grn non jacketed round nose, or 158 grain semi wadcutter be just as effective, or perhaps more or less effective, and why?

5) i have bought the "abc's of reloading" and i have been encouraged to buy the lyman guide as well. plus i have heard good things about the caliber specific books availabe. what books/guides/manuels do you use and why?

well, i guess thats a start. any help is much appreciated.

thanx vincent
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
1)is it a must do, to "clean" brass? do you have to tumble brass before reloading?
Not a must, but a good thing to do occasionally as the brass gets really dirty.
2) which medium is better?walnut, or corncob, or synthetic? and why or what are their different uses?
I've used corn cob and walnut and can't give you an answer here. Either or suits me. But, I'm not a stickler for like new clean. I hear the polishes you add help, but I don't use one. My main concern is getting out dirt and such to protect my dies, not making it look new.

3)i'll mostly be reloading for my gp100, and my marlin 1894. so i can shoot both 357, and 38 spec. it has been suggested to me that if i am going to reload its in my best interest to only do 357. the reasoning for this is so that i do not develop a "ring" from shooting 38spec. if i want to shoot a lighter load only load my 357 to 38 special specs. DOES THIS MAKE SENSE? any thoughts on this?
I load and shoot .38 and .357 brass in my .357 revolvers and my Rossi 92. Nothing a good cleaning brush can't clean. But, you COULD just load in .357 brass, light and heavy. Might be a bit tough telling the loads apart in your pocket if using the same bullet, though. Lots is made of the "ring" from .38s, but I've never ever had problems with it. Of course, I am a stickler for cleaning my guns, even enjoy the task.

4)i have always prefered 158 grain JSP. they penetrate deep, but thye also have good expansion. i see this as a good all around round. be it hunting small or large game if need be, or for personal protection. while i understand that a jacketed round is more costly, i'm not sure of my other options. would a 158 grn non jacketed round nose, or 158 grain semi wadcutter be just as effective, or perhaps more or less effective, and why?
For small game in my rifle, I shoot a 105 grain SWC over 2.3 grains bullseye. It is light and mimics .22LR firing that bullet at 900 fps. My magnum rifle load is specialized for that gun, too, involving a powder, Li'l Gun, that will cause forcing cone erosion in revolvers. However, for years I used 2400 in both guns. The Li'l Gun gives me a little more velocity with a little less pressure, though. I like it in the rifle. The bullet is gas checked and I don't have any problems even at 1900 fps with a 165 grain Lee gas checked SWC. I'd advise to use a gas checked design bullet, though, for magnum loads, especially in the rifle. Or, just buy a jacketed bullet, but I cast my own.
5) i have bought the "abc's of reloading" and i have been encouraged to buy the lyman guide as well. plus i have heard good things about the caliber specific books availabe. what books/guides/manuels do you use and why?

well, i guess thats a start. any help is much appreciated.
I have Speer reloading manuals and an NRA handloading book that I worked most of my loads from years ago. I don't do a lot of development anymore, just load the old standbys I've worked up, but when I do get into another caliber, researching loads on the web works for me, places like www.reloadersnest.com . Of course, I am not a beginner. It's always good for the beginner to read up thoroughly on the subject before diving in. I had a mentor many years ago, my Grandpa and an Uncle. Mentors are a good thing.
 

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BTW, further questions, please start a new thread. Thanks. :D
 
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