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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.


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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