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Reloading Ammunition


THESE PAGES ARE NOT INTENDED TO BE A COMPLETE INSTRUCTION COURSE ON RELOADING. THE AUTHOR'S INTENTION IS SIMPLY TO ILLUSTRATE THE PROCESS FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING BY THOSE WHO MAY BE CONSIDERING LOADING THEIR OWN AMMUNITION.

WARNING! AUTHOR REJECTS ALL LIABILITY FOR THE USE OF THIS LOAD DATA OR ANY OTHER INFORMATION FOUND ON THIS SITE! ALWAYS RELOAD USING ONLY PUBLISHED LOAD DATA AND PROCEDURES FROM RELIABLE INDUSTRY SOURCES! EMULATE AT YOUR OWN RISK!


See my YouTube Channel for tutorial videos as they become available.


My Handloads
(These pages will be constantly tinkered with and added to.)

I've received a lot of charity, some of it shockingly spontaneous, from the Gun Culture. I therefore felt motivated to give something back, so I created these pages, showing how (and why) I reload ammunition.

See also.

The main reason to load your own, especially for rifle cartridges, is to save money; when I first started shooting competitively in 2003, I was using either Berdan- (and corrosive-) primed surplus ammunition in my Mosin M44 carbine, or expensive factory ammunition in my VZ24 Mauser. In a match in February 2004, I won a gift certificate for a set of Hornady reloading dies at a Vancouver-area gun shop; I chose 7.92x57mm ("8mm Mauser") for what was at that time my best rifle, the VZ24. At the time I calculated that, ignoring the capital cost of equipment, tools, and used cases, and counting only the cost of consumables (bullets, primers, powder), I was paying about 30 per reloaded cartridge, vs. 75 for factory rounds. So there's your motivation.

Other reasons to load your own are to control the precision of the end product, for better accuracy than the factories produce; and, to make a load that the factories don't offer, like the superlight 12 gauge shotshells I make for my antique side-by-side shotgun, to vastly reduce both chamber pressure and recoil (which are not necessarily connected to each other).

Two books I found particularly useful when I first learned to reload were The ABCs of Reloading, by Dean Grinell from DBI Books, 5th edition, 1993; and the Lyman Reloading Handbook, 45th edition, 1970. These books give detailed, illustrated, step-by-step instructions of the entire reloading process. My local public library happens to have a copy of The ABCs of Reloading, and any gun show should have an old Lyman manual on someone's table for a couple bucks:

I strongly advise carefully studying either or both of these books (or different editions thereof, or similar books) before starting to reload ammunition. You'll also need some load data books. Powder makers generally offer theirs free; many can be downloaded as .PDFs (links here). The bullet makers sell the big expensive books, like the Sierra 5th edition (2003) shown here, but one of these at $30-odd will serve for many years. Older manuals, like the Speer 10th edition (1979) below the Sierra, can be found cheap at shows. You can't have too much load data.

Load data manuals

You'll need many tools: a press obviously, dies for each cartridge of course, a scale absolutely, a case trimmer for nearly any rifle cartridge, and you will find a use for one of these bullet-pullers - you place the cartridge's rim or extractor groove in the universal collet and screw it onto the reservoir, then strike it a few times on something solid. This allows you to recover the components from the incorrectly-loaded cartridges you will make:

There are also die-style pullers that fit in presses, but the RCBS pictured here is inexpensive and handles nearly all common cartridges.

Things you need, in approximately the order you will need them:

  • Empty cases (duh)
  • Boxes, bins, buckets & bowls to sort brass in (different cartridges, and different stages of processing)
  • Load data books (downloadable from most powder makers)
  • Press (single-stage recommended for beginners)
  • Dies (cartridge-specific): Sizing/decapping, Seating, Expander (for most handgun cartridges, usually not required for rifles), Crimp (optional depending on cartridge and weapon type, i.e. usually required for revolvers, recommended for autoloading rifles)
  • Shellholder (cartridge-specific but interchangeable among most single-stage presses - progressive presses use shell carriers, turntables, etc., specific to the brand & model of the press)
  • Case lube (not required for straight-wall cases with carbide dies) (Hornady One Shot spray lube is highly recommended)
  • Calipers (accurate to .001" or better; typical 6" spread is sufficient but you usually need at least 4")
  • Case trimmer or file-trim die (for rifle cartridges after sizing - usually not required for straight-wall handgun cases)
  • Case-mouth deburr/chamfer tool (for rifle cartridges after trimming - usually not required for straight-wall handgun cases)
  • Priming attachment for press, or separate priming tool (use correct size punch, Large or Small)
  • Powder scale (accurate to 0.1 grain - there are 7,000 grains in a pound)
  • Powder funnel (probably not required if you have a powder measure)
  • Primers (determined by published load data)
  • Powder (determined by published load data)
  • Bullets (determined by published load data)
  • Bullet-puller (to disassemble and salvage inevitable errors)

    Things you want:

  • Loading block
  • Powder measure
  • Case tumbler & tumbling media
  • Tumbling media separator
  • Primer-pocket brush (Large/Small)
  • Chronograph

    So! Here's how I do it. Different people will have different tricks and techniques to save time, effort, and/or money; I'm still learning something new every time I open a reloading manual or sit down at my dangerously-disorganized reloading table, and I'm sure my readers will have lots of suggestions for improving these pages.

    1: Rifle Cartridges

    2: Handgun Cartridges/Progressive Reloading

    3: Shotshells


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