Have You Considered Re-Loading Your Ammo?

There are two types of single-stage presses, “C” (left) and “O” (right). The “C” has more space to work in while the “O” is much stronger. Both of these are Lee presses, and the Lee philosophy is that most steel reloading presses are made for several times the load you rely on them for. Their presses are made of lighter and less expensive materials, and most people have no problems with them at all.

This is a Lyman T-Mag turret press. Redding and RCBS also make turret models, which still require a separate pull for every stage of the reloading process. For rifle cases that have to be trimmed, progressive presses aren’t practical and there is little disadvantage to a turret press, but if you are going to re-load a lot of straight wall handgun brass, you should go progressive if you are not going to start with a single stage. The Hornady Lock & Load single stage has little disadvantage to turret presses because the dies can be twisted in and out and left adjusted correctly.

A shellholder is the part that actually holds the case in a press that has a single-station ram.

Progressive presses are the most expensive, complicated, and tedious type of press to get up and running, but once you do, you can turn out hundreds of finished cartridges per hour. This is a Dillon 650, probably the most advanced presses on the market, and most of its bells and whistles are attached to the tune of hundreds of extra dollars over the base price of the press kit.

A shellplate is different from a shellholder. A shellplate holds many cases at once so several different die stations can be used at the same time. A shell holder holds only one case.

Your primary source for handloading information should be one of the thorough manuals from a major handloading component or equipment manufacturer. Also get secondary data sources so you have more data choices, and can confirm the range of data for given components.
Handloading manuals will show you everything you need to know about case length, case type, primer size, and usually have historical or performance information on the cartridges listed.

Data is clearly spelled out in manuals. It shows you what kind of powder to use with which bullets, how much powder, and how long the finished cartridge should be (Cartridge Overall Length, or COL).

Dies are generally sold in “sets” with all of the dies necessary to handload a given cartridge. How many dies in a set depends on the cartridge. This is a two die rifle set from Hornady and it has the shell holder there in the case with the dies.

Sizing dies also incorporate a decapping pin the punches out the spent primer. Depending on the cartridge, the decapping pin may also have an expander ball to size the inside of the neck. If you remove your primers in advance and use a priming tool before reloading, this pin can usually be unscrewed.

You’ll need a neck brush to clean and lube inside case necks. For a neck brush, you can simply use bore brushes. The author finds that the nylon ones are cheap, effective, and last almost forever.

If using a spray lube, spray the cases from an overhead angle to get a little lube inside the necks. Use only spray lube specifically made for case sizing. This is Hornady One Shot which works fabulously.

Loading blocks hold the cartridge cases while you work on them. Having two blocks facilitates batch processing when using a single-stage press.

Whether you choose a balance beam-type or an electronic scale, it’s a good idea to have a reference weight to check the accuracy of the scale periodically. Most of the electronic scales made for reloading have at least one test weight. Most beginner kits, except notably the Hornady, come with a balance beam.

This is the scale that comes with the Hornady Lock and Load kit. The Hornady single stage also has a unique die swapping lock feature. It is probably the best of the kits.

Volumetric powder measures produce ammunition that is every bit as accurate as loads with carefully weighed out powder charges, and are a heck of a lot faster. This is also the Hornady one. It comes with a plate to mount to your bench and it also screws into a die station.

If you don’t load many cartridges, you can easily manage your case trimming needs using a simple trimmer tool with case length gauge. There are also lathe-like trimmers that are electric powered, and now there are even trim dies that have a grinder built right into the die.

After trimming, you have to chamfer and deburr the mouth of the case. Don’t sharpen the mouth to a knife-edge; just “kiss” it with the tool enough to take off the burrs.

Cases that have been loaded too many times, or that have been fired in guns with excessive headspace can experience incipient head separation indicated by a bright ring around the head of the case (left). Get rid of those cases or you may experience head separation (right) while shooting, which can be very dangerous.

A caliper is a must-have so you can load cartridges to the specified overall length and so you can keep track of case length.

Die sets for straight-wall cases include a die with a neck expander. Expand the necks just enough to let the bullet ease into the mouth. At left is a case that is sized, at center is a case that is sized and properly expanded at the mouth, at right the case is expanded too much at the mouth and will have problems later on.

If you work case mouths too much, the brass will get brittle and can split (arrow). Splits may not happen when you seat the bullet; they may happen later while the loaded ammunition is in storage. You can prevent this by annealing cases, which we’ll get to hopefully.

A primer tray is more than just a tray; it’s a functional tool that turns primers all over to the same side.

Anvils on new primers stick up just a little higher than the primer cup. Properly seating primers will push the legs of the anvil level with the inside lip of the primer cup.

By Scott Mayer

As ammo has gotten more and more expensive over the past few years, a lot of people have begun to consider re-loading, and well they should. Because when you buy loaded ammunition, part of what you are paying for is the bullet you shoot downrange and the powder and primer that burn, and part of that cost is also the brass case. Re-loading, or for the purpose of discussion here, “handloading,” allows you to reuse that brass case for more loaded rounds, thereby saving you money on re-buying the brass. Not all cases are brass of course. These days some cases are aluminum or steel, and these generally cannot be reloaded (That is why steel and brass cased ammo is cheaper). But almost all brass ammunition is capable of being re-loaded, and when you get right down to it, brass ammo was created to reload. Leaving brass on the ground is just plain old wasting, and these days who can afford that?

The mechanics of handloading are very simple. A cartridge has a primer at its rear, powder in the middle, and a bullet at the front. When you fire the cartridge, the primer goes off, the powder burns up, and the bullet chugs its way out of the muzzle. Handloading amounts to nothing more than putting in a new primer, new powder and a new bullet, into the fired brass case.

There are some really good beginner reloading kits on the market. The brands you should search for are Hornady, Lyman, RCBS and Redding on the high end, and Lee is generally going to be the least expensive. Before you rush out and buy one, however, understanding some of the tools and what choices you have might be a better way to start. Sometimes you buy a beginner kit then replace all of the stuff in it within a short time as you discover how more advanced tools are more convenient and more precise. A little bit of overview will help you wade through what you should expect to buy, and some of the options.

The Press

The most important thing you will have to decide is what type of reloading press you want to start with. Lee even has a no-press option called a Lee Loader, and it works, but veerryyy slowly, and most likely you will want a “single stage” reloading press at the very least.

A single stage press holds one “die,” which is the tool that you force the brass shell into in order to make it shootable again. Handloading most often involves three dies, but can be two, three, four, or even five of these dies to make the loaded shell. On a single stage press, you have to insert and adjust the die, then process one “stage” of your ammo, then take out that die, put in the next die, do a round of the same shells with that die, then do the next one, and in between there you drop the powder in and position a new bullet.

Most people start with a single stage press because it is the simplest, and down the road, as you get into more precision handloading with long range rifle rounds, many would argue that a single stage press is the most consistent, but if you are making a lot of handgun rounds, a single stage press may not be your best option. If reloading was something you could do casually while you catch up your DVR watching, spending 3 hours on 500 rounds of 9mm would be fine, but it isn’t. If you don’t want to double charge gun powder and make a bunch of mistakes, you have to focus on what you are doing while you handload, and quicker is usually better.

The next step up from single stage is what is called the “Turret” press. It has four or five die stations built into it so you can build a lot of ammo without having to swap out dies. Lyman, RCBS and Redding all make manually indexing turret presses, and Lee makes a unique turret press that has a rotating tool head, so you pull the handle one, two, three, four (including powder) times, and the press indexes the dies for you. This may sound like a no brainer with the Lee, but some people prefer the sturdiness of the big heavy options, especially when building precision long range rifle ammo.

The next step up is the “progressive” press. Generally they don’t make a beginner kit with progressive presses. You have to buy the other stuff, covered below, separately. This can be a good thing. For example, the RCBS single stage kit comes with a balance beam scale. Today this is nothing short of a doorstop and a complete waste of money. The single stage Hornady kit comes with a proper high quality electronic scale, but not the nicest one Hornady makes. Options are what makes handloading fun, not just about saving money.

With a progressive press, every pull of the handle produces a new loaded round. The press has a “shell plate” that revolves under the die and powder stations, and all the stations get filled as the plate turns itself through the loading process. Progressive presses are more money than single stage and turret presses, but the time savings can pay you back in droves.

Hornady, Dillon and RCBS are the biggest names in progressive presses, and once you start looking into the technology you will see that they are quite elaborate. The basic press requires you to feed a case and bullet by hand for every pull, but all three companies make a bullet and case feeder attachment that will do even that for you.

Lee, again, is a much less expensive option in a progressive press, but if you plan to be a handloading snob don’t bother. Lee uses aluminum and some plastic in place of steel on their press designs, and though all the Lee stuff works great, many hardcore handloaders opt for the more expensive brands. Eventually we’ll get to some actual overviews of some of these presses, but for now just Google around and you’ll find plenty to help you make an informed purchasing decision.

Why Handload?

Before moving on to the rest of the stuff you’ll need, any conversion about handloading should include a little history of what is correctly called, “precision, ” as opposed to “accuracy.” When you handload, most of the time you will end up with more precise ammunition, loaded round compared to loaded round compared to loaded round. Commercial ammunition is manufactured on automated equipment flying at thousands of rounds per hour. When you slow down and do it by hand, one at a time, or even on a progressive press at one per pull, you are generally going to produce more consistent and precise ammunition than can the factory.

As we have discussed here before, Hornady ammo has definitely pioneered genuinely precise and consistent factory ammo. Some of the testing we have done with our resident US Army Sniper Ben Becker has been truly amazing. But you will note that Hornady makes not only some of the most advanced handloading equipment, they are also the largest producer of packed bullets for handloading, and they have worked with Hodgdon Powder to bring even their exclusive “Superformance” and “LeverEvolution” brands to the handloader. Even Hornady, the pioneer in precise factory ammo, recognizes that handloading is an enormous asset to shooting sports, and if anyone knows the difference, they do.

Can you save money? Yes, you actually can. If you take just simple 9mm rounds, a box of the cheapest factory ammo you can find is amost $20 per 50 rounds these days. In comparison to handloading, assuming you have the spent brass cartridges, a box of 500 Hornady 124 grain bullets on Midsouth is $53. One thousand (1000!) primers are under $30, and a pound of Hodgdon Titegroup, enough for approximately 1500 rounds, is $15. Conservatively that is under $150 per thousand. I was unable to find 9mm even in bulk surplus crates at under $250 per thousand delivered. You definitely will save money.

Should you handload? Safety is a big deal. If you can exercise common sense and follow directions, then yes, please keep reading. If you have attention issues or think that it is ok to “half way” the safety issues of reloading, let me tell you right now that there is a whole world of difference, and a ton of hurt, between 2.7 grains and 7.2 grains of Bullseye, and both measurements fit in a .45ACP case. This is not something you want to experience. You will need to be extra careful when handloading. If you’re someone who thinks a maximum recommended load is merely a suggestion or think loading manuals have “lawyered down” data, please don’t handload.

A Brief Laundry List of Stuff You Need

  1. A manual with data – Handloading manuals are not like manuals that come with, for example, computers. Instead, handloading manuals really do have good instructions. Often they have whole chapters devoted to tools and how to set them up, cartridge components and their differences, and every step to handloading. The data sections of manuals contain the recipes you’ll follow to handload safely. Usually the data tells you everything–what brand case, what brand and size primer, what brand and type of bullet, how much of the right powder to use, and how long to make the finished cartridge. All you have to do is follow the recipe and put the parts together.
  2. A secondary data source – In 30 years of handloading I think I’ve seen only one typo in printed data published by a manufacturer. Errors are more common in magazines and online, but a secondary data source isn’t necessarily so much for double-checking as it is for knowing more about the data range for a combination of components. They can’t put every powder in the book, and you may have a powder you bought for another caliber that could be used for the one you want to load next, but for which there is no data in the manual.

    I often find that given the same combination of components, the loads in one manual are different from the loads in another manual. Data varies because even “identical” components vary and it’s all but impossible for different ballistic labs to all use the exact same lot of every component when developing data. For example, one lot of a bullet you want to use may be slightly harder than the next, so the ballistic results may differ. In all instances, I err on the side of caution and between my primary and secondary data sources consider the more conservative maximum load as my maximum. The Hodgdon website has a data generator for all of the Hodgdon, IMR and Winchester powders.

  3. Shellholders/shellplates – Shellholders and shellplates are the parts that hold the cartridge cases in the press. If your press has a single station ram, as on a single-stage press, then you need a shellholder that holds one case. On a progressive, you need a shellplate that holds a case at each station. Both holders and plates come sized for different case rims, and since many cartridges share the same rim dimensions, a single holder or plate works for many calibers. For example, a holder or plate made for the .30-’06 also works for the .308 Win., and any other case made off of those such as the .25-’06 or 7mm-08. It also works for the .45 ACP, a host of Mauser cartridges, and more.
  4. Dies – Dies are generally sold as a “set” for a given caliber, and the number of dies in a set depends on the cartridge. Bottleneck rifle cases are reloaded with as few as two dies—one that resizes the case and one that seats the bullet. Die sets for straight-walled cases typically consist of a sizing die, neck-expanding die, bullet-seating die, and sometimes a crimping die. There are other specialty dies including ones that lubricate, universally deprime, or are used for trimming, but if you’re a beginning handloader stick with a basic 2- 3- or 4-die set, and follow the set up instructions that come with the dies.

    All of the manufacturers mentioned previously use a standardized thread design, so dies are interchangeable between different makes of presses (except for some old Dillons). We will get to some specialty types of dies from Redding, Lyman, Hornady and RCBS as we go down the road with this series, but to start all you need is the basic caliber specific set. and FYI the Lee sets also come with the shellholder. All die sets for a given caliber will have generally the same function in the dies, except Lee that works an optional powder station into their expander dies.

    These are the basic function of the dies:

    • Sizing dies return fired cases to near-factory dimensions. When you fire a cartridge, the brass case expands to seal the chamber. There is some spring-back once the pressure inside the chamber drops, but the case never goes back to the original dimensions. The expanded case might not fit the chamber of a different gun, might not feed reliably in any gun, and probably won’t grip a new bullet tightly in the neck, so you have to resize it. There are advanced sizing options such as neck sizing, but for now, follow the directions that come with your die to set it up to full-length resize. Full-length sizing returns the entire case to near-factory dimensions. If you load straight-walled cases, such as 9mm, it’s worth the extra few bucks to get carbide or nitride dies. Those dies are inherently “slick” inside so you won’t have to lubricate your cases when you size them (more on that later).

      Sizing dies usually also have a decapping pin that pushes out the spent primer and, depending on the cartridge you’re loading, the decapping pin may incorporate an expander ball that changes the dimension of the case neck from the inside so it properly grips a new bullet.

    • Neck-expanding dies are used on straight-walled cases to open the case mouth slightly to help it receive the new bullet without crumpling the case when you seat the bullet. You want to set these dies so that they bell the mouth just enough to easily start a bullet. If you bell the mouth too much, you might have trouble getting the case to go into the bullet-seating die, and you’ll unnecessarily work the case mouth. Brass work-hardens, meaning the more you bend it the more brittle it becomes. If you over-work the case mouth, the case can split. I’ve even seen over-worked but loaded cases split while in storage.
    • As its name implies, the bullet-seating die seats the bullet. Inside the die is a stem that you thread in or out to adjust how deeply a bullet seats. Bullet seating depth is something you can experiment with as an advanced handloader, but for now, seat bullets so that the finished cartridge is the overall length specified in the loading data you’re using, or so the case mouth is just below the top of the bullet’s crimping groove or cannelure if it has one. Don’t go deeper as that can cause increased chamber pressure and depending on the cartridge, could increase pressure to dangerous levels. By seating to just below the top of the crimping groove, the crimp rolls neatly into the groove.

      Many seating dies are also adjustable to put a little roll crimp on the case mouth. The instructions that come with your die will say whether or not it has that feature and how to adjust it. Light-recoiling cartridges fired in bolt-action rifles generally don’t need much, if any, crimp because there’s nothing to push the bullet deeper into the case, and recoil isn’t heavy enough to pull bullets out or smash them against the inside of the magazine. Cartridges destined for tubular magazines need crimps so the magazine spring doesn’t push the bullets deeper into the cases. Revolver loads need crimps so the bullets don’t telescope out of their cases under recoil. Auto pistol cartridges should be crimped, preferably with a taper crimp. By design, many auto pistol cartridges are supposed to headspace via the case mouth against the front of the chamber and a taper crimp makes that more positive. As a practical matter, though, these auto pistol cartridges are more likely headspacing on the rim against the extractor so the crimp wouldn’t matter. Regardless, for whatever reason I’ve found that taper crimped cases cycle more reliably through semi-autos than rolled crimped. Don’t ask me why.

  5. Case neck brush – I overlooked this tool for many years, and then I got a decapping pin with expander ball stuck in a .30-’06 case. A case neck brush loosens any burnt on carbon from inside the case neck, and if you put a little case lube on the brush, it makes it easier for the expander ball to pass through the neck of the case. It’s amazing how big a difference this little step makes on the effort it takes to operate your press. You can buy a special brush to use inside of case necks, but I use a nylon bore brush of the same caliber as the case.
  6. Case lubricant – Unless you’re using a carbide or nitride die for straight-walled cases, you need to lubricate cases for the sizing operation. If you don’t, you put added wear and tear on your die and press, and you will get a case stuck in the die. Then, when you put a little extra muscle behind the press handle to try and get the stuck case out, you’ll tear the rim off of the case and then it will be really stuck in the die.

    For basic handloading, all of the case lubes on the market will work equally well differing mainly in how they’re applied. The most common applicator is a case lube pad. You basically wet the pad with lubricant, and roll your cases across the pad just before sizing. A drawback to using a pad is that it’s easy to get too much lube on a case and when you run it into the sizing die, the lube hydraulically presses a dent into the case. Pads are also messy; your hands get covered in lube and the pad gets dirty from carbon and tumbling media. Some handloaders dispense with the pad and simply use their bare hand to apply the case lube. That’s fine if you’re batch processing on a single-stage press, but things get messy if you’re using a turret or progressive press and need to turn the turret head or add powder manually to the case. More recently spray lubes have come on the market and, pardon the pun, they’re pretty slick. I think the best way to apply spray is to stand your cases in a loading block and spray at a downward angle from two corners of the block. All of the cases get a light coating, and you’ll also get a little lube into the case necks for your expander ball. If you go the spray route, just be sure to use spray lube specifically for handloading and not something like WD-40. Sprays for handloading evaporate away and leave nothing behind that can contaminate the powder.

  7. Primer tray – Yes, it’s a tray to hold the primers—but it’s actually a functional tool. Primer trays have ridges on the inside of one side. You dump your primers onto the ridges, shake the tray gently, and the primers all jump over anvil side up. Depending on how your priming tool is loaded, you’ll either need all of your primers anvil side up, or cup side up. If you need them cup side up, simply put the lid on the primer tray and flip it over.
  8. Powder scale – When you look at your handloading data, it will indicate how many grains (not grams) of powder to use. Weighing a powder charge on a scale is the only way to insure you’re putting the right amount of powder in a case. We used to have to use balance beam scales and they worked, but it was and sometimes frustrating process. These days we have electronic and for the most part they work well. Electronic scales are like anything else electronic—sometimes they have a mind of their own—and there are reports of static electricity causing reading errors. Most scales come with reference weights, or you can simply take a bullet, weigh it, record the weight, and keep THAT bullet as a reference. It won’t be as accurate as true reference weights, but will keep you from weighing out grossly off charges.
  9. Adjustable powder measure or scoops, and a funnel – A powder measure “scoops” a consistent volume of powder from a powder reservoir and dumps it in your case. Some come with inserts for different size case mouths and some require you to use a plastic funnel. Lee sells scoops for powder and many of their die sets come with a scoop that is designed for that cartridge and a given type of powder. Other than the Lee system (their progressive press has a similar volumetric system), you will use your scale to figure out where to set your powder measure so that it drops the correct charge. Precision handloading will benefit from something called a powder trickler, to get it right to the perfect tenth of a gram, but for most bulk reloading tasks a regular adjustable powder measure and electronic scale are all you need. Make sure to tighten up the lock collars on the measure so it stays adjusted for your charge, and every 5th or so charge you should throw one into the scale pan to check, just to make sure. You can never be too careful with making sure your charge is correct. And watch the volume of powder in the measure. It can go dry or close to dry and give you empty cases or part full cases, and these “poof” rounds can be as dangerous or more dangerous than overcharges.

    These days there are automatic powder drops from Hornady and others that measure the charge and weigh it as the same time. They are of course more expensive, but they work great and make your bench look really professional as well.

  10. Loading blocks Loading blocks are simply trays with either square or circular recesses in which you stand up cartridge cases while you’re working on them. You can get by with one block, but I think you’re better off having two—especially if you’re batch processing. By using two, you can have one on each side of the tool you’re using and as you process your batch, you move the cases from one block to the other. It’s a particularly effective method to avoiding double-charging a case. If you are using a Lee turret press or any progressive press you don’t need these, but most beginner kits will come with them.
  11. Caliper – There are lots of important measurements in handloading and you will need a caliper that measures to 0.001-inch. Maybe it’s my positively electric personality, but electronic tools frequently frap out on me, so I go with a dial caliper over an electronic one. I have a friend who swears by his electronic caliper, so who knows. Measurements you’ll need to take include the overall length of the finished cartridge, which is listed in your loading data. You’ll also want to keep track of the length of your cartridge cases so you know when and how much to trim them.
  12. Case trimmer – This only applies to bottleneck rifle cases, and bottleneck pistol cases like the .357 Sig and 44-40. Shooting and then re-sizing cartridge cases causes the brass to “flow,” and they get longer. Case length needs to be kept in check, because eventually they don’t fit into your chamber anymore. The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute publishes specifications on cartridge case and gun chamber dimensions with tolerances that ensure cartridges and guns from different manufacturers are safe and compatible. Your handloading manual will have case length information in the data section that includes the maximum case length and the trim-to length. You may or may not have to trim each time you reload a case–it all depends on how much your case stretches during firing and sizing—but you do have to trim when cases reach the maximum length or if you’re using a load that calls for a crimp.

    As an aside, if you’re loading a cartridge that needs a crimp, then cases with slightly different lengths results in cartridges with more or less crimp, depending on the length of the case. That may cost you in accuracy, but I’d be more concerned about inconsistent crimps simply failing and causing a bullet to be pushed down into the case (which can increase pressure to dangerous levels), or cause bullets to telescope out (which can cause a revolver cylinder to lock up). Another important consideration about case length is that if the case is too long, when you chamber the cartridge the mouth of the case may enter the throat of the chamber. When that happens, the case mouth can’t expand properly to release the bullet and you’ll get high pressure.

    There are several types of trimmers on the market. The simplest is the hand crank kind that will be in most beginner case prep kits. It has a clamp to hold the fired case and a set of collets to guide a rotating cutter that trims the end. There are electric versions of the same thing basically, and now there are even trimmer dies that file the top of the case when you raise it up into the die station.

    Regardless of which type of trimmer you use, five trims is about the limit you should consider before you throw the case away. By the fifth trimming, the case has likely stretched so much near the head that its integrity is questionable and you could start having cartridge case failures when you shoot. Regardless of the number of trimmings, if you notice a visible “ring” at the case head, smash the case and throw it away. That’s a sign of incipient separation. It indicates that your cases are already stretched too thin. The reason for smashing the necks is so that later on if you’re feeling really cheap, you won’t be able to use those cases again.

  13. Deburring tool – Freshly trimmed cases have very square, sharp mouths with little “burrs” of metal inside and out. If left like that, they can shave the sides of bullets as you seat them, and I’ve even had the little burrs stab into my hands. You remove those burrs with a deburring tool, which is a little suppository-looking thing with cutters on both ends. One end is pointed so the cutters go into the mouth of the case and on the other end the cutters are like little “fingers” that take care of the outside of the mouth. When you use a deburrer, you use it just enough to smooth things out; you don’t want to thin the mouth down to a knife-edge. Usually you can use a deburring tool immediately after trimming without even removing the case from the trimmer. Most beginner kits will have a hand deburring tool, and Hornady and others make electric ones. Hornady now even makes a complete case prep station we will be reviewing here soon that trims deburs and polishes for you. It is a great time to be a handloader.
  14. Bullet Puller – This is a surprisingly indispensable tool sometimes. There are always going to be times when you are reloading where you wake up and realize you were on autopilot, daydreaming. If when that happens, you find that your powder measure went dry, you have to go back through your loaded rounds and pull the bullets to figure out if they have powder in them. Busting a round in your firearm that has no powder and only a primer and bullet will usually lodge the bullet in the barrel. If you subsequently fire another round without clearing the jammed bullet, the top of the gun could get blown off, harming you and/or bystanders in the process, and at the very least you have bulged and weakened your firearm, turning it into a doorstop. Don’t be squeamish about pulling bullets if you are not 100% sure that you dumped powder. Hornady makes a “Powder Cop” die for their progressive press, and Dillon even has an alarm system, but if you aren’t using one of these and you are using a proegressive press, assume you will eventually need a bullet puller. Many beginner kits come with them now.
  15. Vibratory or Ultrasonic Cleaner – Dull and stained brass is perfectly safe to reload, but after a couple firings you will notice that it has collected a considerable amount of burnt powder deposits on the inside. Most people invest in some kind of case cleaning system when they reload regularly. There are two types, vibratory and ultrasonic. A vibratory tumbler has a big bin on the top of it that you fill with some sort of media, usually made from either ground corncobs or walnuts. You can leave hundreds of rounds of pistol brass in the tumbler overnight and in the morning it will be bright and shiny, outside, and even mostly inside. If you de-prime before you tumble, even the primer pocket will lose some of its carbon deposits.

    An ultrasonic tumbler works with water and some kind of solution that you add to the water, a subtle acid usually. They are quicker, in the several minutes range quick, but they leave you with wet brass that needs to dry. It is thought that if you de-prime before you use an ultrasonic tumbler, it will remove more carbon from the primer pocket than a vibratory will, but we are still in the middle of in-house testing on that, so stay tuned. Ultimately the choice is up to you. Millions of handloaders have used vibratory tumblers for decades, but the rage is all about ultrasonic these days. Nike vs. Reebok.

  16. Priming tool – Clearly, since you’re removing the spent primers with the sizing die, you have to replace them with new primers, but I’m calling a dedicated priming tool optional. Progressive presses prime as an operation and most single-stage and turret presses these days have priming capabilities and with practice you’ll develop the “feel” for seating a primer perfectly. On some press-mounted priming systems you’ll have to manually place each primer on the primer ram, but many presses also have a tube or tray feeder so you never have to handle a primer. I’ve read that oil from your fingers can contaminate primers, but I think that’s stretching things a bit. The one thing I will note about using your press to seat primers is realize you have a lot of leverage and it’s easy to overdo it when seating a primer. There’s a little anvil inside of each primer and the gun’s firing pin smashes the priming pellet between that anvil and the primer cup to get it to go off.

    If you look at a new primer, you’ll see that the legs of the anvil sit just above the edge of the primer cup. A properly seated primer will be just deep enough to push the legs of the anvil down even with the inside edge of the primer cup. Seat a primer too deeply, and you risk over sensitizing the pellet, possibly cracking the pellet, which can cause misfires, or setting the primer off in your press, which is always a lively occurrence. If you don’t seat the primer deep enough, the strike of the firing pin can actually seat the primer instead of set it off and you’ll get a misfire. Never seat primers high; if you do, you risk at worst a slam-fire as you’re chambering the round before the bolt is locked.

    The advantage of a dedicated priming tool is that you can de-prime your cases sitting around watching Idol on Wednesday night (Lee makes a hand press and Lyman makes a universal de-capping die), then clean your cases with no primers so the pockets get clean overnight, then use the priming tool for Idol on Thursday night. By the weekend you’ll be ready to reload (which you can ‘t do watching TV) and you have removed the trickiest part of smooth progressive reloading, which is always re-priming the cases. You simply remove the de-priming pin from your sizing die and you are good to go.

A Never Ending Quest

In my experience, the above are the mostly must-have tools to start handloading. It’s not a bare minimalist list so you can kinda-sorta get handloading, but there’s nothing extravagant or superfluous listed either. If you really get into handloading, at some point you’ll start adding more tools that are “niceties” or just make handloading faster or easier. You don’t need things like cartridge case gauges, but they do make handloading faster and more satisfying when you can simply drop a loaded cartridge into one knowing that if it fits the gauge, it will fit your chamber. You don’t need a primer pocket cleaner, but with a clean primer pocket it’s sure easier to seat primers precisely when going for the best possible accuracy. There’s an almost endless list of other tools that are nice to have for handloading, but the ones above are the ones you simply pretty much can’t do without. As time goes on with this column we’ll go over some very specific handloading tools and how to use them.

Enthusiasts use the term handloading instead of re-loading because though most of us get started re-loading, to save money on shooting, it can quickly turn into a labor of love and learning. There are so many variables that effect long range rifle accuracy that it would take a book to cover them. Over the years, ingenuity has bred some interesting products to solve problems that are thought to cause a lack of precision in handloads, and one company especially, Redding Reloading, has dedicated their entire company to the needs of the thoughtful handloader. There is also Dillon that has take the progressive reloader concept and turned it into a thousand dollar plus commercial grade machine, for consumers. Handloading can end up costing you a lot more than you initially saved on ammo. What these days that is much if any fun isn’t expensive? Handloading is fun! Testing handloads is even funner, and there are a lot of side things, (like bullet casting we have already started to cover), that bring whole new aspects to this really great hobby.

Many people think that the era of the gun nerd and voracious handloader is over, or in the process of ending. This is anything but true. The previous generation is indeed aging out of the active reloading years, but it will only be a matter of time before all of these new shooters discover what the previous generation discovered decades ago. Few hobbies are as fun and rewarding as shooting sports, and handloading brings a rich dimension to shooting that you have to experience in order to understand. Stay tuned for more articles in this column on specific choices within all of these tools above. We have a lot of ground to cover, but don’t let that stop you from going out and buying a press and getting started. Most of us are self taught when it comes to handloading, and other than getting sloppy with unsafe practices, there isn’t a lot you can do wrong.

{ 191 comments… add one }
  • Karson January 31, 2021, 6:33 pm

    I’ve been having one h*ll of a time finding ammo lately and I have a feeling it’s going to do nothing but get worse. I finally decided to do something about it and bought my first reloading kit. I picked up the Hornady Lock n Load and I’m excited to try it out. I’m sure it will be a learning curve but at least I won’t have to rely on stores to carry ammo anymore.

  • Scoper April 5, 2020, 8:57 am

    this is what i was looking for… now I think I have enough info to get started

  • Malcolm Rivas June 29, 2019, 1:21 pm

    As a hunter, I believe Reloading my own ammo is very important. Because only I know which recipe I need for my ammo. And obviously Thank you so much for such a great article.

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  • John Clark November 24, 2016, 1:45 pm

    Great article. Just one word for this article, if you are looking for a good source of reloading components then this one is for you. 🙂

  • Roger Nichols November 13, 2016, 8:35 pm

    On the verge of not reloading .380ACPs. 5 to-10% of finished reloads will not completely fit into either of my two chamber gauges The majority do pass the gauge test. I have tried separating by manufacturer which seems to not make any difference. I use Hornaby dies. Any guidance will be appreciated.
    Uintah, UT

  • ECRS November 13, 2016, 12:02 am

    Great article. If anyone is looking to get into reloading and needs a good source of components (brass, projectiles, etc.) check out http://www.EastCoastReloading.com

  • Thomas August 16, 2016, 2:25 pm

    Great and thorough article on a bunch of reloading equipment. I would like to second the thought that in the long run money is saved in buying a progressive press. For me time is money so if I want to shoot any decent amount using a progressive press keeps reloading fun and makes it so I do not have to spend so much time doing it. I get to have more fun and spend more time shooting this way. If your time is worth $20 per hour it will not take many hours saved to make up the cost for a progressive press. I would suggest learning how to use both of the other press types, maybe playing around with friends or in stores and then taking the leap to the more efficient progressive press.

  • Otis Kirby January 30, 2016, 7:39 pm

    Wow. A handloading bullet machine! I saw one on Jack Reacher movie before. Great one to have especially if you have your own gun. Mr. Obama is thinking in forbidding gun uses though. But it is great. I would be careful with that certainly. Needs to be very precise handloading machine there.


  • Raymond Russelburg November 21, 2015, 6:40 am

    If you don’t shoot a LOT then reloading probably won’t be worth your while to get into. In the past year I have only shot 150 rounds of 9mm ammo. At the rate that I shoot the cost of the equipment outweighs my savings on the reloading, so for me it is more cost effective to just simply buy virgin ammo.

  • Frederic Bartel November 14, 2015, 9:54 am

    221601 675826What others have stated and in some uncommon cases, suicide may occur. 252614

  • Paris Stone July 18, 2015, 9:20 pm

    For case trimming, I stumbled on the World’s Finest Trimmer http://www.littlecrowgunworks.com/wft.html and I gotta say it looks absolutely awesome. Haven’t had a chance to purchase one yet, and I am in no way affiliated with the company, but this tool to me looks like a must have.

  • Ryan June 28, 2015, 3:09 pm

    Hey I’m interested in getting started and I had no clue where to start so I’m sure glad I found this place. I need 5.56/.223 and I’m about to get a 9mm ccw. Any one have any ideas on what would be a good starting rig and equipment for like 300. I might could throw another bill on that if it’s really worth it. How much would primers powder brass etc be to start. I don’t know where to look and is do these two calipers even save money over time. Any one that has ideas on equipment or can help me out especially of you live in the Dallas area email me at texasrangers4444@Gmail.com. THANKS ALOT EVERYBODY.

    • Allison Supply February 26, 2016, 10:02 pm


      If you’re looking for brass, we’d invite you to check out our website: http://www.AllisonSupply.com We have a large selection of once fired brass for reloading in both pistol and rifle calibers.

      Best Regards,
      Allison Supply

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  • Russ hall January 4, 2015, 12:09 am

    Hi all i’m a nube to the reloading i have a dillon 650 that i just got for christmas and so far i’ve run off 30 rounds of 45 amo. Love the machine its simple to set up and run, the only draw back is the price. I have a lot of people in the family so the price isn’t an issue. I know a few people that reload so that helps to. I’m a gunsmith so i need to run off the rounds in order the shoot all the guns that i work on. The nice part of the dillon is that it will accept most of the dies on the market. Also once you set up your die set pull two pins remove the plate put in a new plate set up a new caliber i feel it will save time over the old single stagin the long run. Just my two cents on the progressive press can’t wait to try some rifle cases have fun. Russ

  • Jim Wilt 12/21/14 December 21, 2014, 5:43 pm

    I have used brass in 45 acp & 45 colt which after tumbling shows considerable tarnishing, apparently from powder
    residue. The cases cleaned up nicely, no pitting . Does this tarnishing pose a problem?

  • dennis taylor December 3, 2014, 10:32 am

    Some of the most peaceful times of my life have been at my reloading press.

  • GaryDon October 14, 2014, 11:34 am

    I have used Lee loading equipment for sale. Cabinet, powder, caps, brass, bullets, scales, calipers, etc. Probably $2500 worth of equipment would love to sell it all for $1500. Must sell because of Medical conditions….

  • George October 6, 2014, 3:30 pm

    I use an old rock polishing tumbler (rubber drum) with stainless steel media and get my deprimed brass spotless inside and out. I then place the wet brass on a towel on the sweater tray in my dryer no dings drys quick. I also drilled and tapped (a machine shop can do it for a fee) my old rcbs jr. to accept the hornady LnL bushing gives new life to an old press.

  • Ben Scoutara September 12, 2014, 4:00 pm

    This is about as comprehensive a list of essentials as I’ve seen. Reloading isn’t for everyone and probably is more of a hobby activity for shooters that have time to manufacture their own ammo. Truth be told, ammo is getting more expensive and the budget-minded will take on reloading if it means saving money. This is an industry where you know what you’re going to get from the top brands, and many stay loyal to them over the years as they are durable and reliable equipment for dozens and dozens of years.

  • Le Snelson August 18, 2014, 1:49 pm

    All good information. I have a somewhat unique situation. I have essential tremor.
    Where are the key steps where having shaky hands would be a problem and what devices would reduce spillage and errors? The obvious ones I can think of are powder handling and priming.

    I want to light load a 358 (Norma mag or 35 Whelen, maybe 358 Win) with pistol bullets. Then a few hunting loads.

  • bimmerland July 22, 2014, 7:25 am

    If you’re considering reloading make sure you have enough supplies to get a good return on investment. With the current shortages I would not invest in a quality reloader until the hoarding madness ceases. In many cases it will take several thousand rounds to break even do make sure you have sufficient quantities of all your components on hand.

    • cheap ammo online September 28, 2014, 9:02 pm

      Solid advice. I’m curious to how many of these you have to reload in order for it to be cost effective. And is it worth the time and effort at all or do many people just see it as an enjoyable activity.

  • Alain Reanoud July 19, 2014, 10:49 am

    This is for those people that reload small caliber shotgun shells,I have made a big mistake and purchased a 3 in.and 2 1/2 in. 410 loaders made by a poor small company by the name of LANES’S HAND LOADER’S this will be i waste of money as if you looked it up on ebay you woill see he has a 100 percent rating ,how he fudged this i have no idea because i know of five people that have been ripped off by this guy as it say money back gaurantee,witch is a lie as i have tried several times to get my money back and he only responded one time to insult me and tell me i did not know what i was doing and out of the five of us the were suckers into buying the junk that Jonathan Lane sells,We have a total of 138 years of experience reloading as Lane Reloaders do not work ,they are hand made aluminum round stock that Jonathan drilled holes in and called the loaders as he copyied Lee loader manuals to send with his paper weights as that is all these things are good for.He will tell you how good these pieces of junk are ,and he must have some computer hacker get on ebay to change his ratings as all five of us have left feedbacks and they do not show up on his feed back so for those of you that reload 410s do not buy LANE’S HAND LOADER’S you will have much better lock buying .375 round ball’s and use waa red winchester wads with 15 grains Alliant Unique powder and take a wodder dowel that is the same diameter as the ball and just touch the end of the dowel with a drill as to put a divet in the end as this dowel will be able to seat the primer and push the wad and ball in the hull by tapping it in with a soft rubber hammer while the hull is setting on a piece of wood,for a total cost of .50 cents for a one foof piece of dowel that you can make 3 loading tools out of because all they need to be is 4 inches long,AND I REPEAT DO NOT BUT LANE”S HAND RELOADER”S 410 3 21/2 INCH or any of his tools as it is a very poor copy of the Lee hand reloaders and i repeat a very,very,very bad attempt at reproducing a good reloader by Lee,I only wish Lee would sue him for using there reloading owners manual as that is what comes with it as the manual says Lee rite on it and he is trying to copy Lees hand loaders.NOTHING BUT JUNK<JUNK<JUNK<JUNK I am just trying to save people the hard erned money and if you want a hand loader just keep an eye on ebay the 410 loaders are on there all the time and i did buy a 410 hand loader by Lee and it works like a charm as Lee made there hand loaders the correct way,and Lane's Hand Loader's are made in a garage without anf type of measuring ,just taking a piece of aluminum and drilling a hole in it and putting it in a sandwich bag and calling it a good tool.I REPEAT SAVE YOU MONEY AND DO NOT BUY FROM LANE'S HAND LOADER'S AS JONATHAN LANE MAKES LOADERS FOR ALL SHOTGUN GAUGES SO I CAN'T BELIEVE THE OTHE CALBERS ARE ANY BETTER THAN THE 410 LOADER'S

    • Thomas December 30, 2015, 3:33 pm

      Someone should pay them a visit and tell them what for if they are that bad!, and that dangerous! Too many much

  • Tom Petrocik July 15, 2014, 9:58 pm

    You guys dropped the ball on this. I’ve been reloading for over 30 years and casting my own bullets (mainly pistol but some rifle also) for over 10 years. Also NRA certified instructor.
    You first get a GOOD reloading manual, I would recommend a Lee, which you should spend some time reading and re-reading. Then try to link up with someone who’s been reloading for some time. If they’re for real they will love to talk your arm off about reloading and will happily spend time with some show and tell also. With the knowledge you’ve gained from the manual and you new friend you’ll be reloading correctly and safely.

    • jilas February 4, 2016, 2:15 am

      I’m a newbie to. I have it out there to find someone I can get together with that would show me actual cost, equipment and how to reload properly. Then after I learn, pay it forward.

    • Dennis Mitchell March 31, 2016, 1:09 pm

      I bought my first press the other day. A fellow shopper spent an hour and a half walking me threw every tool and product I would need. Then another shopper spent an hour going over the same thing. Yes both started with a book. Wore me plum out!

      • Michael hurley October 24, 2016, 10:22 pm

        I love to get in to reloading. Not just for practicing. But to build up ammo. I not rich,so my question is where do I start? Price range to start with is $400.00……

  • June Garrels July 15, 2014, 1:08 pm

    sorry just updated to SB4M 3.5 (3505)

  • Scott July 8, 2014, 10:24 pm

    I am knew to hand loading, what would I need to start reloading for a mosin nagant 91/30 7.62x54r EVERYTHING I would need

  • Carl June 2, 2014, 11:34 am

    Do I need to use Magnum pistol Primers in my 357 mag loads, or can I use the same primers I use in my 38 special loads?

    • Administrator June 2, 2014, 1:58 pm

      regular will work but the load data will probably call for magnum.

  • Jason May 8, 2014, 11:08 pm

    This is great for those of you who have access to ammo components seems Canada can get them fine, HERE in America the last couple years it has been almost impossible for me to find primers. I have been reloading for over 20 years now and I have never seen anything like this. Does anybody have an answer why they aren’t available. I have emailed all the major companies and they give me no answer as to where they are going they just say they should be in my area in a month or so and never seem to make that happen. I have been going to the range for 20+ years too, and seems the ammo shortage they claim to be happening must be from sales in big cities or to undisclosed recipients, everyone I know has the same problem, and no one is buying more than they ever did in the past.

    • jason June 29, 2014, 5:52 pm

      Funny how no one will say a word about this one…. Where are all our primers going? Looking for several thousand of each gm210m’s and gm205m’s if someone knows where I can get these please let me know.

  • Mike April 7, 2014, 11:45 am

    A few re-loader tricks: ONE>After de-priming and before tumbling, use a bath of water and cream of tartar(cooking spice from the spice isle of any grocery store). The acidity of the cream of tarter will remove most powder residue, lube, etc. from the case. Just put your brass into a large bowl or similar and let them soak overnight. When drying, place on a cookie sheet and run in the oven at 200 for an hour or so. They will be clean as a whistle before the tumbler shines them up. TWO>Never buy used 5.53 NATO military brass. The primers are crimped in to keep them from sliding out when firing on automatic. They are extremely hard on de-priming pins and will bend them. You will then have to ‘de-burr’ the crimp out of the primer pocket. It’s a pain in the rear and not worth the money vs time spent.

  • DrG March 23, 2014, 11:43 am

    Thanks for the wonderful article! I’m a novice shooter at best, but my husband is a big time shooter who’s favorite pastime has been curtailed by the cost and availability of ammo these days. He’s always talked about reloading and I figured some equipment would make a great birthday present! This article has by far the most thorough info I’ve found in my searching–even the comments section has been helpful–and I can shop with confidence knowing exactly what we need to get started.

  • Bama_Slim February 12, 2014, 10:37 am

    Thanks for the great article! The comments are very informative, also. I’m just starting to investigate reloading to support my 9mm and 45 ACP habit.

  • GaryH January 21, 2014, 7:14 pm

    What might the pressures become with seating a bullet .010-.015 inch variation. I cannot cause my dies to seat any closer.

  • james January 10, 2014, 3:29 am

    Got a question would a. Lee press a good. Press to. Start out with?
    Only plan on loading acouple hundred rounds a year

    • Administrator January 10, 2014, 6:23 pm

      Yes Lee equipment is great.

  • Rich Parks November 2, 2013, 12:02 am

    Am looking for a handloader that will handle my 45-70 and 30-30 needs as well as standard handgun loads. What can you recommend? Thanks.

    • Administrator November 2, 2013, 8:09 pm

      Any of the single stage presses, but I don’t know if the Lee is tall enough for the 45-70. You might want to just get the Hornady.

  • AAnderson September 27, 2013, 11:00 pm

    With ammo shortages and rising costs, I recommend everyone start reloading their own ammo. It’ll save money in time and ammo reloaded can be even better than factory if you use the right components. I know a lot of people do, but I never use scrap metal to make softer lead bullets that can dirty up a barrel and maybe even cause a kaboom. I buy from http://www.qualitybullets.com because they pay shipping and insurance, no surprise price increase as I’m checking out, and the bullets are top of the line. I didn’t want to buy a melting pot or work with molten metals or worry about toxic fumes. I love reloading and seeing a new completed round come out of my progressive press with every handle pull.

  • Andrew September 22, 2013, 1:30 pm

    I have been wanting to get into reloading for sometime but haven’t because I didn’t know much about it and didn’t have the money to spend on a kit. I still don’t have much money but my wife is working at Sportsman’s Warehouse so I would get a decent discount and think I want to make the jump finally. I am looking at the four different kits that are posted below but am still not sure which way to go. They all seem to be pretty good quality and have a digital scale, something I think I want in my kit. I was wondering if anyone has a suggestion as to which one and why? I know it is important to know what I am reloading so here it is….I have 5 guns that I would like to be able to reload for: 30-06, .22 long, 300 WSM, 9mm lugar, and 380 ACP. Keeping that in mind here are the options for kits that I am looking at:
    Any suggestions would be helpful

  • RudeJon September 17, 2013, 10:14 am

    Drinking from a fire hose … you went far over and above what someone needs to get started hand loading. You downplay Lee Loaders, but I would strongly disagree. Are you pushing the other brands for some reason? The one thing that beginning reloaders should do is work slowly for safety sake and be certain they’re not loading squibs. If you want to work at production speeds out of the box … you don’t want to reload … go buy your ammo, save your brass, and calm down long enough to set some reloading expectations. Start with a goal over the next year or two to perhaps be able to reload all the calibers in your gun collection in any way shape matter or form, in any event be reasonable. A Lee Loader with a Lee Powder scale, soft face mallet, and fine steel wool will have you reloading up to two calibers with less than $40 or $50 (eBay & HarborFrieght), minus the bullets, powder, and primers. e.g. .38SPL/.357Mag or .44SPL/.44Mag. I understand you’re trying to fill up web space, but you seem to be better at writing than preparing someone for the patience it ought to take to reload. Sheesh … make me live up to my name.

    • Paleophlatus July 7, 2014, 5:27 pm

      No problem justifying your ‘name’.
      Sometimes it takes a well written, complete (as you can get without the technology) article such as this to get some folks out of the house. Dedicated reloaders know the Lee Loaders. Noobies with Lee stuff fail to see the value to Lee as an economic portal to loading a lighter, less used caliber, such as the Hornet or Bee.
      And, saving money? The cost of your time, at a nickle an hour, is a ‘non factor’, but cost of brass is about all you can save, not to forget that it is NOT a one time expense… Might be a sales point to the little lady, unless she starts keeping track…

  • chuck helle September 5, 2013, 10:16 am

    if I trim to much off the case can I still use it?

  • Jerome Gabrovic August 29, 2013, 10:03 pm

    Yeah, there is really something that smells bad about the current ammo shortage.

    Even in reloading, a friend of mine waited five months for primers.

  • LOWRIE BEACHAM August 28, 2013, 2:33 pm

    Early on in this thread you made mention of a similar article covering shotgun reloading, to be published. Has that occurred yet? Great site, but I’m only shotguns.

    • Administrator August 28, 2013, 5:09 pm

      On it.

  • meeester August 27, 2013, 11:51 pm

    A friend with a Dillon press watched me using my Lee Pro 1000. It has a bullet feeder and a case feeder. He puts the bullet AND the case in place for every round!
    Altogether my Lee Pro 1000 was a little over $200. A bullet feeder or case feeder for a Dillon is a noisy nuisance that costs more than my whole setup. Dillon might have great customer service, I wouldn’t know, but you sure pay big time for it

    Don’t forget to cast!
    Reloading my 45 Colt brass with self-cast bullets brings the cost of those big beauties down to the cost of 22’s.(about 4.5cents per round) That assumes you have empty brass and scrounge lead somewhere.

  • meeester August 27, 2013, 11:47 pm

    A friend with a Dillon press watches me using my Lee Pro 1000. It has a bullet feeder and a case feeder. Altogether they were a little bit over $200. A bullet feeder or case feeder for a Dillon is a noisy nuisance that costs more than my whole setup.
    Dillon might have great customer service, I wouldn’t know, but you sure pay big time for it

    Don’t forget to cast!
    Reloading my 45 Colt brass with self-cast bullets brings the cost of those big beauties down to about the cost of 22s.(about 4.5cents per round) That assumes that you will have empty brass and scrounge lead somewhere.

  • Harmey Randolph August 27, 2013, 5:22 pm

    I’ve been reloading for over forty years, and I can actually say I have never had a miss fire with one of my reloads. I reload both pistol and rifle of many calibers, and I have five reloading presses. My first was a RCBS rock chucker kit. I believe it’s the best single stage press on the market. I now have a Lee Pro 1000, Lee load master, Two RCBS Rock chucker presses and a Dillon 550. The lee loaders are the weakest presses on the market and I only load pistol cartages with them. I don’t even try to use the primer system with the lee loaders. I hand prime them and they work great for the straight wall brass. I reload my 223 on the Dillon 550, and for my hunting rifles I use the old Rock Chucker presses, because I weight every load of powder and bullets. Reloading is very relaxing and rewarding, if you take the safety precautions and pay attention to the details.
    Keep your powder and primers dry

  • Jim August 27, 2013, 5:06 pm

    Do I have to remover “one shot” lube after sizing?

    • Administrator August 27, 2013, 6:42 pm

      As long as you do it lightly I’ve never had to.

  • Todd August 27, 2013, 2:54 pm

    Great article! Just a typo in the sentence (that’s why steel and brass are so cheap) I think you meant to say “that’s what steel and aluminum is so cheap” as you stated many times brass is made for reloading, thanks again for the great piece! Take care and shoot often, Todd

  • Riffian August 27, 2013, 2:40 pm

    I started reloading in 1971 as a “starving college student” when I got my ’03 Springfield. I continued with my first few handguns (Colt Trooper Mk III, Walther PPK/s, Dan Wesson 44VH). After several years, I had fired many hundreds of rounds from each and none of these weapons had ever fired a factory round (at least since I got them). Costs versus factory ammo depend on what you are shooting. For years I did target shooting with the Trooper Mk III using lead wad cutters and 3 gr Bullseye for a cost of only 50% more than 22 long rifle ammo (the cases last a long time with these light loads).

  • petru sova August 27, 2013, 9:53 am

    I take issue with the statement that hand-loading will save you money. It won’t, you will end up spending 10 times the money you would normally spend if you were not hand-loader simply because factory ammo being so expensive few people can afford to shoot much of it, that is why they take up hand-loading.

    Buy the best hand-loading equipment you can afford and if you cannot afford good equipment, buy it anyway, because buying cheap loading equipment is a loose, loose situation. Not only will it not perform as good as high quality equipment but it will not last as long either and when you get around to buying the better equipment the price will have sky-rocketed to boot.

    I bought a new Hornady progressive press to replace my old one. It is both better and also worse than my older Hornady progressive press. The new press has quick change dies that can be yanked out individually in case you need to clean out lube build up (with Dillion you have to remove all the dies attached to a shell plate including the power measure which is a real pain in the cazuzu).

    The New Hornady priming system is actually worse than its predecessor. The older Hornady had a swinging arm priming system that worked flawlessly. The New Hornady progressive has a sliding priming arm which has never worked 100 per cent reliably for me. A call to the factory was of some help but did not make the system as good as the old one was.

  • petru sova August 27, 2013, 9:53 am

    I take issue with the statement that hand-loading will save you money. It won’t, you will end up spending 10 times the money you would normally spend if you were not hand-loader simply because factory ammo being so expensive few people can afford to shoot much of it, that is why they take up hand-loading.

    Buy the best hand-loading equipment you can afford and if you cannot afford good equipment, buy it anyway, because buying cheap loading equipment is a loose, loose situation. Not only will it not perform as good as high quality equipment but it will not last as long either and when you get around to buying the better equipment the price will have sky-rocketed to boot.

    I bought a new Hornady progressive press to replace my old one. It is both better and also worse than my older Hornady progressive press. The new press has quick change dies that can be yanked out individually in case you need to clean out lube build up (with Dillion you have to remove all the dies attached to a shell plate including the power measure which is a real pain in the cazuzu).

    The New Hornady priming system is actually worse than its predecessor. The older Hornady had a swinging arm priming system that worked flawlessly. The New Hornady progressive has a sliding priming arm which has never worked 100 per cent reliably for me. A call to the factory was of some help but did not make the system as good as the old one was.

  • Pete Hallock August 27, 2013, 8:56 am

    Well, it seems being old has an advantage…bragging about how old we are..Lol. At 84 1//2 years old, I have beginners experience reloading. When I bought my Winchester Model 70 in the new Win.243 caliber,( $157.00 ) had to reload simply as a fun thing. Making $350 dollars a month with Mobil Oil company in Los Angeles, that was good money in the 50’s. Only had my BA, a friend with his Masters was making $460. Wow ! Anyway, I bought a Lyman 310 tool, dies, RCBS beam scale and had at it. Loaded IMR 4350 ( 43 gr.) and 100 gr. bullets. Amazing I survived ! For fun, get a Lee Reloader kit, and go at it. Read instructions and labels. I only had one powder, so could not screw up.
    Pete in California

  • mach37 August 4, 2013, 5:44 pm

    Reloading 30-36 for the same rifle it was shot in, can a 308 Win neck-resizing and bullet-seater work for a safe cartridge? A friend shoots the 30-36, but not enough to warrant buying the complete 30-06 die set.

    • Administrator August 4, 2013, 5:56 pm

      Generally you would use different sets for the two calibers.

  • Big Mike Cannon June 5, 2013, 6:12 pm

    Howdy Boys!!
    I bought a bunch of reloading supplies from a guy who bought a unit from a Mini-Storage auction,,,,
    he had no interest in reloading…..
    All the equip was “Pacific” brand stuff…it this equip any good??
    Can you still get parts for it??
    Any comments would be greatly appreciated…just E-Mail me at my addy!!

    Thanks Big Mike

  • Lisa researching hydraulic tools May 29, 2013, 12:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I love learning about anything involving power. I wonder how hydraulics and the science behind reloading ammunition can affect the overall difference between equipment.

  • Koolhed May 11, 2013, 12:47 am

    QUOTE: “…the RCBS single stage kit comes with a balance beam scale. Today this is nothing short of a doorstop and a complete waste of money.”

    Not true.
    I have used both and the balance beam is the one I came back to. I’ve read that others have done the exact same thing.

  • Muhjesbude May 10, 2013, 7:46 am

    Yes, Administrator…a great article that is par for the course of this ‘government golf game’ with our Liberty. Could almost make it a regular series. I know we usually get carried away with debating the politics of gun ownership and use, and often get distracted from basices, but we should never relax too much even after a victory. The enemy never rests in war. Keeping up and staying tuned up on a steady methodology of resources is imperative for the largest standing Freedom Fighter Army IN THE WORLD–The well Armed American Citizenry. I recently heard somewhere in an unrelated investment or some such metals comments that Lead will become scarce at the source in the near future? So perhaps everything we need to know about alternative bullet casting would also be helpful?

  • Bill Lott May 2, 2013, 6:37 pm

    Question: Can I reload 40 S & W cases with .41 cal. bullets?

    Bill Lott

    • Administrator May 6, 2013, 4:42 pm


  • Denali Dan May 1, 2013, 12:05 am

    Great article and follow-up information. Read all you can, compare load data with more than one reliable source. Don’t mix components unless there is an equal substitute, and then reduce the load again by 10%. Get the right components the first time, definitely keep powders separated and dump/burn off questionable powders.
    I started with Lyman and still use most of the tools that came with my master kit. I have since gone to the Dillon side preferring the Dillon 550B over the rest. I think the 650 could be the best all round single press for progressive work, and I love my new Redding Turret T-7. I am not sold on the ultrasonic cleaners, but would like to try another style than vibratory that I have used for more than 30 years.
    I have the Dillon 1050, (should have bought the deeper throat Super 1050), the RL550B with most of the bells and whistles. I am getting ready to buy the Auto Feed for the 550B. My Lyman Turret press, and for Shot guns I have most everything MEC builds up to the 9000G. They are a great machine and turn out quality ammo.
    Having a voracious need for shotgun shells, I decided I needed the Dillon SL900 Shotgun loader in 12 gauge and possibly 20 gauge. Both are getting too expensive over the counter, especially for waterfowl loads of non-toxic shot. I have yet to produce a single shell so I don’t have a report, but buddies love this machine.
    Another great loading system/machine is from Ponsness Warren. They are located in Rathdrum Idaho, and great to deal with. These shotgun presses are tank tough and reliable as you can get. Another quality press well worth the expense.
    Most of what I have from Hornady are dies and some tools. I use lots of their components as well as Sierra Bullets and Starline Brass for straight wall cases. I like Hornady Rifle Brass when I can get it, and Joyce Hornady is the primary reason I continue to shoot my Winchester Hi-Wall converted to a varmint rifle many years ago in .225 Winchester. Performance wise it is equal to the 22-250. Just a heck of a lot harder to obtain components for.
    Keep logs of each box of ammo, and inventory your components so they can be rotated to keep things fresh as possible.
    The NRA has reloading classes and instructors available in most areas, so give them a call or NRA.org and go to education and training for more information in your area.
    Enjoy one of the most practical and fun hobbies that will keep you shooting and improve your marksmanship.

    • Dennis Droege September 22, 2013, 10:58 am

      I just want to throw my two cents’ worth into this discussion. I use two Dillon 900S reloaders–one set up permanently for 12 gauge, and one with 20 and 28 gauge tool heads. I’ve been running 20-25 thousand shells through each of them for the last ten years. Stuff breaks, you call Dillon, they send you what you need. I only wish all my suppliers had this kind of integrity and dedication.

  • joe April 26, 2013, 12:57 pm

    on my xdm it says using reload ammo will void warranty

    • Bryan July 18, 2013, 6:58 pm

      My Glock doesn’t. 😉

  • George Hilman April 24, 2013, 8:10 am

    Caption from the article: “Cases that have been loaded too many times, or that have been fired in guns with excessive headspace can experience incipient head separation indicated by a bright ring around the head of the case (left). Get rid of those cases or you may experience head separation (right) while shooting, which can be very dangerous.”

    If you have excessive headspace, better get that fixed or retire the weapon.

    If you are reloading for a gas-actuated semi-auto rifle and are experiencing head separations, it may be from a variety of reasons. One, the ammo may be corrosive and the corrosive salts are not good for the cartridge cases. Two, the gas pressure at the gas piston of the action may be too high and may be jerking the cartridge case out before the gas pressure in the case has lowered sufficiently; the gas pressure should be adjusted down. Third, the rifle’s chamber dimensions may be generously large (to ease loading with reduced malfunctions) and accordingly the cases are expanding too much, making for poor case life. Not much can be done about that. Reloading for autoloaders generally sucks.

  • Nick April 23, 2013, 2:49 pm

    I started reloading back around 1992 and am still using my single stage Lee Kit I bought for under hundred bucks, I do not think they have gone up much since then. Sure I have added other stuff like a Dillon large brass tumbler, laymen lathe style brass trimmer and a digital scale and of course dies all RCBS but have yet to upgrade to a nice progressive Dillon press maybe someday but the old Lee one works fine for me. I always ask my friends who shoot to look into reloading and they always ask me how much money I save on ammo and once I tell them, they are amazed and start looking around for a set up that will fit their needs.

  • steve April 23, 2013, 12:13 pm

    Great article and very worthwhile endeavor except for 1 thing. You can’t get components, and if you do they are priced off the map !

  • nick brainiac April 23, 2013, 12:24 am

    An advise; do not make to much noise or Obama is going to look this way.

    • Administrator April 23, 2013, 10:17 am

      Don’t worry he already knows us very well.

  • Stan April 22, 2013, 9:30 pm

    Good luck finding reloading components!

    • Nick April 23, 2013, 2:58 pm

      Wells there’s that, on the up side most reloaders usually have a good supply of components on hand at all times. Just hang in there things will get back to normal it just may take another six months or so. Than new reloaders can get set up and will be sitting pretty the next time a shortage or panic run hits.

  • DSS April 22, 2013, 4:38 pm

    I own two Dillon reloading machines and you can not go wrong starting with a Dillon. They have a great company and I hope they stay in business for years to come. I started reloading back in the mid 70’s and would recommend it to anyone that wants to target practice. I almost always shoot around 300 rounds every time I go to the range.
    At todays prices that some of the people tell me they are paying for a single box of factory ammo I could not afford to keep shooting very long. Reloading will pay for itself if you go to the range a couple of times a month.

  • Craig April 22, 2013, 3:22 pm

    I have read most of the great debate about different reloading presses and the cost. I have two sons and split up most all of my equipment between them. I had more then a little bit of stuff and the wife was on me to clear a few things out. I gave most of my stuff to my boys so I could visit my stuff and reload with my grandchildren from time to time. I did keep two rifles and reload for them and a pistol. I had to get a new press so I got a Forster this time around. It produces some fine reloads. The bullets are lined up better with the case. I use a Hornady concentricity tool to achieve a better reload. I have seen that this press does a better job of aligning the bullet to the case the either one of my other brand name presses did. I also use their dies. But use Hornady, RCBS, Sinclair and Reading equipment also for different reasons. I have found that there is no cheap way to get value and quality. I do think however it is hard to beat Hornady over all for what we could say high quality beginners equipment that is worth while buying, selling or passing on. The point being that many of us no doubt have bought equipment that we wished we had considered a bit more closely before we laid down the money.

  • Charley April 22, 2013, 2:39 pm

    What if four of six of my handguns are big Glocks? Glock “screams” NEVER USE RELOADS IN A GLOCK! Your comment to confirm or to set me straight will be gratefully received.

    • Old Shooter April 23, 2013, 2:08 am

      If you were to ever go to an IDPA match (International Defensive Pistol Association) where they have competitive defensive shooting competition on the clock and points down for misses, ALL of the Glock shooters are using reloads! Who can afford, or even find 100 to 150 rounds of new ammo for the match on the first Saturday of every month?
      Hope this helps.

  • Steve April 22, 2013, 11:50 am

    In Iowa, no powder, no bullets, no primers seem to be available for popular cartridges ( did get couple hundred fmj from Brownell’s after three weeks tho). It is worth mentioning that a $27 dollar hazmat fee makes even 1000 primers pretty expensive mail order.I found some 25 year old supplies on my back shelf, and have reloaded and fired about 600 9mm with no FTF or FTE, I was quite pleasently suprised. I have some rifle powder however that was in paper bags ( kinda like those coffee bags in the supermarket) that I used for my .270 ackely improved. I may load up a couple rnds to see if they go bang but rifle powder seems easier to come by than pistol. Reminds me of another good reason to reload: maybe nobody makes ammo for your gun!

    • Gary August 28, 2013, 6:20 am

      No joke… it’s just as bad here in Oregon. I’m starting to see powder and primers SLOWLY start to appear on the shelves again, but still very difficult to come by. As you say too, that hazmat fee makes ordering online a poor proposition unless the people in question are willing to put in a really large order (group order perhaps?), and since doing that is going to leave a paper trail, that presents issues of its own.

      As for the rest of it, if a person wants to get into reloading on the cheap and is shooting a “common” caliber or military surplus weapon, consider getting a Lee Precision loader to get their feet wet. The process is about as slow as it gets, but for a casual shooter, n00b, or as a way to keep reloading equipment in a bug out bag, it’s worth looking at. The plus side is that it is also really cheap to get started into reloading… those kits only cost $25 or so and are a completely self-contained system for a single caliber. Like said though, the disadvantage is that it is about the slowest possible way to reload.

      I personally have an RCBS Rockchucker. It gets the job done, and if I do each stage in batches of 100 or so, it isn’t too tedious. Since I’m not a “high volume” shooter, it isn’t that big of a deal. The advantage is that changing calibers is really easy, low maintenance, lower in cost, and there are those that would argue that a single stage loader is more precise. The disadvantage of course is that it is slower and more tedious than a progressive loader.

      If I had to do it over again though and I were a high volume shooter and/or serious about getting into reloading, I feel that Dillon is the only way to fly. Good friend of mine has one, and he’ll pump out ammo by the hundreds while watching TV.

  • Rick April 22, 2013, 11:43 am

    Believe it or not I had this idea several years ago, but when I try to buy powder now, I can’t find any. Anywhere! Local or internet. I would appreciate any leads

  • Richard Gibson April 22, 2013, 11:35 am

    I’ve been reloading for many years now. Thought I would help set up a friend to reload his own. Can’t find primers anywhere! Does anybody know a site that isn’t sold out? (pistol primers)

  • William Stewart ETC USN Retired April 22, 2013, 11:16 am

    Good article, I am looking forward to seeing what you will cover in coming articles on powder choice, etc.
    One subject that I am interested in is loading for ‘unconventional’ uses, such as 25ACP in a rifle with barrel over 20 inches. How does the individual select suitable powder and charge for something such as this use with safety? I have seen little information on such subjects.
    Again, I enjoy reading articles such as this and look forward to the next one in the series.
    Best Regards,
    William J. Stewart ETC USN Retired.

  • ermest April 22, 2013, 10:08 am

    great information, I had not reloaded since ’96 an had run low on ammo, so, got out my “stuff” took inventory an started to purchase what I needed to get my inventory up to begin. I had some powder, several boxes of bullets, but, not a lot of brass . I found all in short supply an in the new 30.06 I had put together, it was most difficult to obtain brass so settled on once fired . I finally got enough to begin, I re read my manuals, bought the new Lee reload manual, went to my “shed” to work in complete privacy an without distractions. When I reload, I do a few, fire an check them out, etc…then, do several boxes an put in storage military boxes which will last for years properly sealed with primer seal an the boxes stored properly too. I have yet to run into a mis fire from my old loads in ’96..but, only had a few left. I am just finishing up with the new loads which I have duplicated the loads from ’96 best I can. More powder needed to finish up, trying to locate that…that has been a bit of a problem due to the rush to obtain because of all the gun ban talk. I enjoy the peace an quiet time doing this, an for sure, I have done this before an found that in ALL instances, my handloads would out perform any factory loads, it is a slow process, I use sgl stage old rock chucker with lee dies. I have developed a varmit load with the 30.06 which I like an will have to reload these more often, still picking up used brass for that….I look forward to the shotgun hand loading as I do shoot a 20 ga sometimes for deer hunting an sabot loads…like the looks of the SST sabot that hornady has put out…may try that…but, not sure, no more than I use, may not be cost effective….but, reloading is self satisfying an interesting, money saving in most instances once you get set up..in all instances, be awake, read instructions an follow. that is the key..if tired an in a hurry, I would advise to do another day….thanks for the great article….good loading an great shooting….

  • Boyce April 22, 2013, 9:15 am

    The only way to come out ahead is use your old brass and cast your own bullets ! The exception is special type ammo / 308 subsonic / 300 aac which you can’t find // ect…

  • Paul Echols April 22, 2013, 8:43 am

    Great article for a introductory article on metallic cartridge reloading.
    I have been reloading for many years including shotgun and metallic. The last few years i stopped reloading anything except a few “wildcats” i still shoot and the 50BMG. The increase in ammunition cost prompted me to dig out the old dies and crank up again. Only problem in components are hard to find.
    You can absolutely wear yourself out trying to find powder, bullets and powder. Maybe with the seeming failure of the “anti-gun” politicians we will see a better supply of these components.

  • Bill Lott April 17, 2013, 5:04 pm

    I have some experience reloading but I have a question. My question is, can I reload .45 ACP ammo with .454 Cassull dies?

    • Administrator April 17, 2013, 5:19 pm

      Nope. You could reload .45 Long Colt with them though.

  • Steve Hunt April 14, 2013, 6:57 pm

    My wife was going to get me a Hornady single stage for our anniversary…then the gun/anti-gun world went nuts and consumables went through the roof if they were available at all. What it HAS done is give me time to sort through all of the volumes of reloading information out there. Since I intend to load several calibers (.22, .223, .303 Brit, .380, 9mm, and .45ACP) I want to make SURE I have the right information. All of that said thanks for a very easy to read and understand article, although the entire process still seems fairly daunting.

    • Administrator April 14, 2013, 7:47 pm

      We are hoping to follow up with another soon. It isn’t daunting at all. And I was able to order large rifle primers two days ago from Midway.

  • D April 7, 2013, 1:46 am

    Any way we can get a printer friendly link, or a PDF download? I want to print this, read it, re-read it, re-read it again, and then start on a journey. After I get a few books, and read this again, of course.

  • Rickey March 25, 2013, 4:58 pm

    Superb article. Just what I’ve been looking for to help me get started. One question: Often when I go to the local outdoor range I find tons of brass casings and spent shotgun shells on the ground. Lots of them look to be in excellent condition but of course I would not know how many times they have been fired and reloaded etc. Also they have been exposed to all sorts of weather extremes. The range operators dont care if you want to pick them up and take them. My question is would you advise one not to use these spent shells even if the appear to be in good condition? Thanks again for this outstanding article. Keep up the good work!

    • Administrator March 25, 2013, 6:50 pm

      Generally you can pick them up and use them, even if the tumbler won’t bring them back to new looking. We are trying to get our hands on a new tumbler that uses steel needles that supposedly can clean old range fodder.

      • Rickey Haling March 26, 2013, 12:36 am

        Gotcha and thanks for the quick response. You are great help!

  • William March 6, 2013, 2:02 pm

    I got this old Lee handloader a few years ago dug it out and was reading through the stuff and started to load as reading I got to little of a powder charge will this bring the pressure up or not Thanks William

  • lee February 26, 2013, 5:48 pm


  • Rick February 23, 2013, 1:07 am

    Thanks for the detailed article on reloading. I have recently jumped onto the stainless tumbling media bandwagon. I found a great deal here through this link on Facebook.‎”Anyone interested in Stainless Tumbling Media? There was a deal posted on TheHighRoad.org for Pellet Pin media.
    http://bullseyereloading.com/Special.htmlThe original post can be found herehttp://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=704125″

    • Scott Mayer April 22, 2013, 6:01 pm

      That Stainless Steel Tumbling Media is positively amazing. Couple of extra steps since you use it wet, but golly it makes even the worst brass look new again.

  • justin February 11, 2013, 10:43 pm

    what is a good reliable manual with the specs/info/ and history that was recommended in the article?
    Navy Doc

  • Uncle Phil December 11, 2012, 12:35 am

    Thank you for an excellent article. I am just starting to reload and this has proven invaluable. I’m looking forward to rereading this article many times in the coming weeks.

  • Alan Wood December 10, 2012, 6:59 pm

    Excellent piece; covers a great deal of information which only come with years of experience. I’m still learning after two years and never tire reading new pieces about the art of hand loading. Keep up the good work.

  • dave December 10, 2012, 3:26 pm

    One thing I learned over the years, there are many recipes for powder charges and no two will tell you the same
    charge weight. The BEST one to use? The reloading data from the company whose powder you are using.

  • Al December 10, 2012, 3:12 pm

    I’m going to start reloading .458 SOCOM ammo because it’s so expensive and difficult to find.

  • Boots December 10, 2012, 1:58 pm

    Nice article and informative. If any of you beginners are thinking about this, not only is it really fun, you wind up meeting like minded people, sharing information and saving $$$. Though this only applies to some of the slower rifle loads and handguns, I even have poured my own handgun and rifle loads. Years ago I came across an article on hardening the lead after sizing by baking in the oven for 4-5 hours. Allegedly the baking process alligns the molecules in the bullet and then you through them in some iced water. Though I can’t remember my hardness test I do remember that the process works and the loads slid down the barrels just fine. Even in a pinch it’s worth knowing you can do it and chasing the lead rounds with a few FMJ’s helped with the fouling. I have a Dillon 550-B among a few other toys and have totally enjoyed the process. It also helped me understand in great detail just how much importance in a homemade round vs a factory load can tremendously affect that long sought after group! Regards.

  • Jeff December 10, 2012, 12:28 pm

    im a newb. Just starting out. My range time between my son and I is quite expensive. I send him on little treasure hunts while there picking up all the shiny brass that doesnt heve dented necks. We have collected about 500 casings along with what we have shot. I saw someone mention brass casings bring a good price.Ill keep that in mind in that ill have him pick all the brass up but in 2 bags so we can recycle the messed up brass and sell it and put the money back into items I am going to need. I also saw someone mention to find a mentor to keep our asses safe. I live in a boondoggle town and no one around. So I dont know anyone from around here. Also our range isnt a typical range where you go and there are alot of people. The only way I know someones been there is there is new brass on the ground. Ide love to meet an old timer and pick his brain on re- loading but people are funny from around here and its hard to meet someone especialy if you didnt grow up here.. kinda like the good ole boys from WVA orKY. Tight lipped and clannish. So anyone with advice please feel free to e- mail me on suggestions im going to be reloading . 223, 7.62×39, 357,9mm,45acp. For starters.


  • Harry D. Akers December 10, 2012, 12:15 pm

    I’ve been reloading for quite a while now and I love my Dillon(s)!
    To clean the brass, a far superior process to vibrating and/or ultrasonic is tumbling in a rock tumbler with stainless steel rods, hot water, detergent and lemi-shine. No matter how old and weathered, the brass comes out looking new. Just go to stainlesstumblingmedia.com

    • Administrator December 10, 2012, 12:19 pm

      Thanks for the tip.

  • Lampros December 10, 2012, 10:35 am

    What a great article! I’ll be coming back for reference again and again as I start reloading. BTW: What a great blog!!! Not only you present interesting articles you guys REALLY know how to write and you know how rare this is these days. My compliments!!!

    • Administrator December 10, 2012, 10:38 am

      Thanks man. 😉

  • double d December 10, 2012, 7:58 am

    thank you for the very in depth article. If i would never loaded, i would be set to get started with this article,

  • Jubal November 27, 2012, 9:19 am

    What is the “Powder Doctor” that Frank P mentions?

  • Jubal November 27, 2012, 9:18 am

    What is the Powder Doctor that Frank P mentions?

  • Mike Rockel (Rocky) November 12, 2012, 2:43 pm

    This is the first time I’ve seen this website, and it makes me wonder why I don’t get out more often. I’m 62, been reloading since I was eight, but you’re never too young to learn…… Is there any tricks of the trade for reloading for the Garand? Obviously you must crimp and the case length would be critical. Other than a buck apiece or more for new ammo, what’s available in bulk is either beat up, or worse, corrosive. On metallic I’m equipped with all the goodies from RCBS, including the Rockchucker. Can a progressive press even handle this type/size of cartridge? All I really need to get going is a new set of dies.

    • Administrator November 12, 2012, 3:06 pm

      Yes you have to trim cases so the dillon trim die is the only option to do it in bulk

  • Lewis April 26, 2012, 11:08 am

    Reloading is one of the most fascinating hobbies you can take up, can be an all-consuming passion as well, never dull and very satisfying. There are some great videos for the beginner as well. This is the best:

  • Jack D April 11, 2012, 12:50 pm

    Wow very nice article. I don’t know anything about reloading so this makes a wonderful primer. I don’t plan on reloading because I don’t shoot that much but this is great knowledge in itself.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Bill April 3, 2012, 10:29 pm

    I Started Reloading around 1982 with a Lee loader, I have stuck with Lee since then. One of the questions was from Jay about how much would it take to start reloading, of course the price is dependent on the equiptment you started with. If you started with the Lee equiptment (Lee has a Kit) it would be $200 +/- and that would include Dies,Powder,primer, bullets,reloader kit (a single stage reloader), bullets. Of course that would depend on what powder, primers, and style/ calibre of bullets. Could even beat this price with the Lee hand press.After that, the price of course goes up. From The Lee Turrent to the Dillion, RCBS, Hornady, MEC, ect.ect. with any of the other manufactors on the list the price will go up, and of course as you get addicted to reloading there are many additions to the set. Part of what a Person might check is what distributors are close at hand.This is a great article, and with the instructions in the ” good” manuals, and of course with the equiptment, If a person want to get started, this is a good place to start. I know any of these reloader/shooters would be more than willing to answer questions. I do have a word of CAUTION, If the manual doesn’t show it DON’T try it, EVEN if another shooter tells you it is OK, follow the manual. ( I got burned in 83 and broke my new Super Blackhawk following somone saying I do it all the time!)

  • Big Mike Cannon March 27, 2012, 8:10 pm

    Howdy Boys!!
    I bought a whole lot of realoding equipment a few years back out of a mini storage auction.
    Its all PACIFIC equipment!!
    Cant seem to fine ANY info on how to use this equipment!!
    Fixin to drag it all out,and see what all iv’e got!!
    Got any ideas??

    Thanks Guys……Big Mike

    • Administrator March 27, 2012, 8:55 pm

      Pacific is the company that Hornady bought to put out their original presses. They work like any other reloading press.

  • Tim March 26, 2012, 8:04 pm

    Thanks for a great article, and good comments too. I have just begun reloading—-made 20-30.06 rounds with new casings in a one-on-one class, then made 60-30.06 rounds from my previously shot brass. I also made 26 rounds of 45ACP with once shot brass. Tried some of them out, had a blast both making and shooting them. I can’t wait to reload some 338 Lapua for my newest rifle…..

  • tigerphan March 26, 2012, 1:44 pm

    Super article…..I have been considering reloading for a couple of years, just scared to get my feet wet because I felt like I would buy the wrong stuff and then have to buy more till I got it right. This has helped me to narrow my scope and choices substantially. I have long been considering the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP and now I will also consider the Dillon as I see many fans here also. Thought I would not know what I “HAD” to have and your article made that much clearer to me by describing the function of each piece of required equipment. Thanks so much!!

    • Administrator March 26, 2012, 2:31 pm

      We have to add bullet puller to it. I think the hornady kit comes with it.

  • John March 24, 2012, 1:14 am

    I bought a Winchester Model 70 as my first rifle and the owner sold me his loader too. I never would have thought about handloading otherwise. Its been a great hobby and really makes you appreciate every round.

  • Daniel Friend March 23, 2012, 8:01 pm

    Great article on reloading, I am fairly new to reloading and do enjoy it as a hobby to get me away from the boob tube. One thing I would like to know is of all the reloading equipment you have mentioned why has there been no mention at all to Forster products? Both ends float on the press so you get a very straight press, and when you use dies they snap in and out. You can leave them preset as well since you use an aluminum lock ring for your setting. Also you dont need to buy shell holders with their equipment. I just want to give some credit to another great American made product that no one here has mentioned. Not trying to bad mouth none of the others, they are all good.

  • Frank P March 23, 2012, 6:54 pm

    If anything you do when reloading is pay attention to what you are doing. I started reloading a couple years ago. I bought a Lee 1000 for my handgun loads. I started with 9MM to get a handle on reloading. I casually made up a couple hundred loads. Thinking that this was a piece of cake. So I went to the range to shoot them off. I loaded my first mag and started to shoot. Well the 4th round went poof. I stopped and thought that it did not feel or look right. I pulled out the mag and went to the back bench and disassembled my Couger 8000. I looked into the barrel and found a round stuck about a 1/4″ inside. I had my first and last squib. I consider myself fortunate enough to realize something was wrong and not cycle and fire again. I did go out and buy the Powder Doctor to keep a better eye on what powder charge is in the case. Whether it being no charge or a double charge it has been worth the $$$ and I caught a couple mistakes since then. I’m only human and sometimes things happen that will break your concentration. In reloading it could cost you dearly.

  • The MaD HaCkER March 23, 2012, 10:42 am

    Look into Lee the price can’t be beat and the equipment is inexpensive, NOT cheap.

    • Chuck December 10, 2012, 12:37 pm

      I am 84 and have been using Lee equipment for probably 40 years, with complete satisfaction. You do have to know what you are doing, and pay attention, as any reloading can result in something you don’t want.

  • Catfish March 23, 2012, 12:18 am

    I also yell praises of Dillon reloaders.I have had a Dillon for over 20 years and have reloaded I don’t know how many 100’s of thousands of rounds with it.Ya I broke some parts on it and because of the time difference i was able to call Dillon that night while reloading and order the needed parts.
    I would urge anyone looking to get into relaoding to buy a Dillon and go for it.Yes they cost a little more but they are the top of the line both in performance and the lifetime warantee.
    Hey if you really find that you don’t like reloading you can sell that Dillon for darned close to what you paid for it.Try that witha RCBS or LEE .

    • Old Shooter April 23, 2013, 1:29 am

      Heh Mr. Catfish,
      You are so right. It is nice that you took the time to share with our fellow shooters. I think that the more we are, the better our chances of keeping our sport going for the future.
      Happy Dillon 650 guy.

  • deadeyejim March 22, 2012, 5:14 pm

    I enjoyed the article. It’s always good to review the process. I’ve been handloading for about 47 years and reload about 25 calibers of rifle and pistol and 12, 16, & 20 ga shotgun. I’ve used several brands of dies and they all work, but somehow I seem partial to RCBS. I still use a single-stage RCBS Junior press that I purchased in 1967 mounted on my bench, but I mostly use a Lyman T-Mag with the turrets. I have about half a dozen turrets filled with dies that are pre-set so that all I have to do is change the turret to be in business for another caliber. You really cannot have too many loading blocks. I keep most of mine filled with brass that has been processed or being worked on. I’m really sold on the RCBS Chargemaster 1500 electronic scale with automatic dispenser. It’s a little slow, but very accurate and worth the investment (about $300). I purchase most of my reloading components at gun shows, local gun stores, and on-line from MidwayUSA. I have wonderful dealings with MidwayUSA and get weekly specials from them via email. Reloading is a wonderful hobby. I suppose I like to handload ammo just about as much as shooting it, in fact, I load more than I have opportunity to shoot. If I had to pick favorites on what I like to load the most, it would be 45-70 Govt. for straight cases and 22-250 Rem for bottleneck cases. Over all the years I’ve handloaded, I’ve had 3 mistakes, all were rounds missing a powder charge. Two of these were detected and remedied, but one resulted in damage to a gun. My advice is to always be very attentive to handloading, and double-check everything, such as look again at every charged case before seating the bullet to make sure the powder fills to the uniform depth. I strongly recommend handloading since it offers so many wonderful hours of relaxing entertainment, and saves money on ammo in the process.

  • David March 22, 2012, 4:42 pm

    Nice article, and in my world very timely. I am 53 years old, had not fired a rifle for 25 years until a couple of months ago. Yet I am a kid who grew up in south Louisiana with a few thousand wooded and a hundred thousand marshland acres to enjoy as a teenager. A couple of years at work, I began to listened to a couple of friends talk about rifles and could not resist the inherant urge it brough back. So I bought a couple of rifles, a Sako 85 in .270n winchester, and a Remmington 700 22.250 varmit special. Both are synthetic and stainless, and I have been shooting only at a local range about once a month as a guest of one of the friends. He, has been shooting a new Remmington 700 action rifle in a .270 caliber, yet he reloads his ammo. For a couple of months, our shooting had been very similar, with Me shooting my Federal Premiums and He shooting his ladder Loads. Yet as He found the right load in the same weighted cases, with the proper concentricity his groupings embarassed mine. So, as any overaged teenager would do, I immediately investigated as much as I could on the subject, and what I thought was true from other sources, and spent some hard earned money! Please understand, I only wish to make really precise loads for these rifles, so I continued researching this subject. I have seen many articles and videos on subjects which are slowly coming into context, yet I have not made the first cartridge. I have new brass here from Lapua and Norma, that I am not sure what to do with it first. Do I just make a decent round with it from one of the manuals and fire form it, or should I try to find head space and correct that before making a cartridge? I am a Technician by Trade, so I may consider all more than most. Perhaps this is not the appropriate site for these questions, yet it is the one that fell into my lap at an ideal time. If you feel you can help, I am hardstone1958@yahoo.com

    • Old Shooter April 23, 2013, 1:19 am

      David, if it is not too late for you to get this message, I might suggest that you can purchase a video on reloading from Dillon. Or you can call them and ask for their advice. In my experience, every time I’ve called, I learned something.
      When I was reloading my 375 H&H for an Africa hunt, I needed 300 grain solids and 300 grain soft nose to go in the same hole, if you know what I mean. Once-fired brass in my rifle with neck sizing only, not full sizing, made the best load. And the powder charge was two grains different for the loads to end up in the same place at 150 yards.
      Hope this helps.

  • Hank March 22, 2012, 4:36 pm

    Haven’t had time to read the entire article yet but what I have read has been right on the money. We all have our opinions and here comes mine. Personally, I like to have both a progressive press (Dillon RL550B) for the more common handgun calibers like 45, 9mm, 38, 357, 40, etc; for calibers that I do not load large amounts of ammo in, I use a single stage press (Lee C type) and have had great results with both. General rule of thumb for me is NO distractions while loading and never leave unfinished rounds in the press for ANY reason. I say this because as a volunteer fiirefighter I have gotten calls while loading and it might be tempting to dash out to the call, but it only takes about 5-7 seconds to properly finish out a full plate of rounds on my 550 and that is safer than leaving unfinished rounds in place. Also, very important to keep accurate precise records of what you load. Every round I load is recorded in 50 -100 rd lots and labeled accordingly. Then if you ever have a problem you can go back and trace the round to see if there might be others to be concerned with. I have had a couple of bad primers out of several tens of thousands; very rare. It also makes it easier to duplicate a particular load if you find one that a particular gun really likes. But beware; handloading may be habit forming and addictive and like most things that are, you can spend a small fortune feeding that addiction. But, in my opinion, it is the BEST addiction you can have (and as a RN in the ER I see plenty). Dillon’s no BS warranty IS the BEST in this industry or any other.

  • NN March 22, 2012, 4:24 pm

    Glad to see your still around.

    • Scott Mayer March 22, 2012, 5:14 pm

      Good to hear from you again, NN. I never went anywhere, just moved over to a website that takes guns and shooting as a serious pastime. Let our friends over there know we’re here! (Except cpj and Buffy j/k) You know how to reach me–stay in touch!

  • Stu March 22, 2012, 3:19 pm

    thanks for the excellent intro … and the pictures are worth 1000 words…. looking forward to your further articles

  • Tony March 22, 2012, 1:03 pm

    Great article. Just wondering, but can the lock n load Hornady die collars be used on Lee or Dillon presses, or only those made by Hornady ?

    • Administrator March 22, 2012, 1:06 pm

      No they only fit the machined hole in the new Hornady presses. The same collars work on the single stage and the progressive.

      • Tom August 27, 2013, 10:32 am

        Not true, I have been using the Hornady “Lock n Load” collar system in my Lee press for 5 years now. Hornady sells the press collar that replaces the standard threaded collar on any press with a removable collar. The die collars are sold in 1, 3, and 10 packs. I currently have 8 calibers set up with the LnL system.

  • Tom Seifert March 22, 2012, 12:56 pm

    I just ordered my LEE Loadmaster from Factory Sales and it is backordered for at least 2-3 weeks more , i have been waiting 2 weeks to begin with , I cant wait to get it so I can reload my Hi Point C-9 and 4595TS which I have found to be great guns ( Made in the USA) So while I wait I am reading up on everything to do with reloading as well as watching Youtube videos ! Thanks for such a great article !!

    • Administrator March 22, 2012, 1:02 pm

      You should have gotten it from Midsouth lol they seem to be the only supplier of reloading stuff with things actually in stock.

  • Hank F March 22, 2012, 12:43 pm

    I am 78 and still reloading both rifle and pistol. Have had no trouble with RCBS dies – still using the ones I bought back around 1965 in cardboard boxes. Some of the first tungsten carbide dies available at the time. Load 38, 375, 45ACP, 45LC, 243, 270, 308, 30-06 and a few others. prefer Hodgen powders. Great way to build family activities – now three generations of my family shoot together every other Saturday – pistol, rifle and shotgun. My son is 55 and my Grandson is 19.

    Great sport and past time


  • The Texarkana Tick Picker March 22, 2012, 12:24 pm

    Great article. I started handloading in 1966 with only a Speer manual for info. Now most of my rifles are wildcats. The whole time has been a learning, growing, fun, and cost effective experience. One can never know everything about this subject and it’s great to still be learning. For the newbys, you are in for a lifetime and soon you will know that when you produce your own ammunition for your particular firearm, the accuracy can not be matched by over the counter ammo. Buy quality tools the first time and there will always be a place on your bench for them. Quality is never expensive in something you use. Lets get a whole new generation into handloading. Guys, share your experience and grow in the process. Again, Great starting article. SHOOT TO LOAD AND SHOOT MORE.

  • Peta Vegatarian March 22, 2012, 11:47 am

    Wow amazing article. Thank you so much, I’m staring to put together a set up to hand load this has increased my stoke factor a lot.

  • Gary March 22, 2012, 11:37 am

    My son’s and I cowboy action shoot. Without reloading, we couldn’t afford to do this (there are four of us, myself and three sons) I have a Dillon 650 and I load around 1000 rounds a session. We shoot that many at some regional events. That plus hunting, target shooting and trap shooting, well, suffice it to say, we burn a lot of primers. I’ve been handloading for over 40 years so I think I know a little about the practice, but I always like to try and learn more. This was a great article for the beginner and a review for those of us who do it a lot. Always a good thing, that (review)..

    • Old Shooter April 23, 2013, 1:01 am

      Lookie here! Another happy Dillon reloader….like me.

  • Carl Wilkey March 22, 2012, 11:33 am

    I would like to throw in my 2 cents. After using Lee equipment when I first started reloading, it was quickly apparent that it wasn’t as good of a deal as it seemed. The Pro 1000 presses have issues with the priming system operating properly and I had a lot of crushed or flipped primers. The plastic indexer which is also used in the Turret press seemed to wear out rather quickly. My Dad and I were reloading one day about 12 years ago and I was tearing down the press again to replace the indexer and I told him: “Dad, I’m sick of this crap! Let’s order a Dillon.” We ordered a Dillon XL 650 and have been extremely pleased with the quality and the Dillon Customer Service. Yes, it was a little pricey, but if you think of all the parts that we were having to BUY from Lee over the years, it pays for itself. Sure, we have an occasional issue, but Dillon always comes through with the replacement part. If you can, buy the spare parts kit and when you use one of the spare parts, call Dillon and get a replacement part sent to replace the one you used. That way your machine isn’t down for any length of time. I’ll tell you how awesome the Dillon Customer Service is: I bought a used Dillon Square Deal B off of Ebay a few years ago when I was working in South Carolina. The description said that the press was like new. Well, when it arrived, it was far from like new. It was missing parts and there was damage to other parts. I called Dillon and was completely honest with them on how I bought the press. I gave them the list of parts and the Customer Service Representative said that they would send the parts. I asked about cost and he said he would put it on the invoice. A few days later, I received all the parts and an invoice for $0.00. I called them back to make sure as I only paid $119.00 for the press. The Representative said “we really don’t care how you get the press or what happens to it when you own it. We warranty Dillon Reloading Presses for life. Thank you for your business.” I assured him that I would buy only Dillon equipment from then on and I would do my best to send business to them. I’m sure that many of you out there have similar stories.

    • Old Shooter April 23, 2013, 12:58 am

      Another HAPPY Dillon reloader, like me!

  • John Ciccone March 22, 2012, 10:43 am

    This is an excellent article. Again, handloading will save you a great deal of money AND allow you to tune your loads to the needs of the gun. I’ve ben handloading for more than 30 years for rifle (smokeless as well as blackpowder cartridge), pistol and shotgun.

    I have two suggestons to make:
    1. get and use a lock-out die for your progressive press. This die checks for cases that have too much powder (such as a double charge) or no powder. A double charge can blow up your gun and injure you as well. A no-powder load will result in the primer blowing the bullet into the barrel. Sometimes, shooters will assume that the cartridge was simply a dud and cycle the gun thinking the bullet and case are ejected. IF you leave the bullet obstructing the bore and then fire another round…it will blow up the gun and possibly cause serious innjury.
    So, get a lock-out die. If there is an over charge or no-charge in the case, then the die will “lock” the press (you only need to remove the case n question to continue.

    2. PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU ARE DOING. For example, don’t try to watch TV and reload at the same time. You need to be consistent and pay attention to what you are doing in the reloading process to avoid getting out of sync in the process and double charging a case. Yes, I did it once…only 1 in 30 years, and it blew the grips off of my 1911. Did not injure me of damage the gun (other than the grips), but it scared the hell out of me and I’LL NEVER FORGET IT.

    3. DON’T PUSH THE MAX LOADS. Some people want their handloads to be really very fast. It is VERY easy to get to a point where pressures exceed safe levels…so begin your load development about 10 or 15 percent BELOW the maximum charge and work up in 2-tenths increments to see how your groups look.

    4. Lead bullets and jacketed bullets generate different pressures EVEN IF THEY ARE THE SAME WEIGHT. So, make sure you use loading data for jackted bullets of you’re going to use jacketed bullets.

    5. The loading manuals by Companies like Nosler, Sierra, etc, have great information in the front sections on reloading techniques. Also, these companies also have knowldgable technical staff…don’t hesitate to call them.

    • Scott Mayer March 22, 2012, 11:46 am

      Thanks for the kind words. I especially like your #3. My attitude on max loads is that if you’re trying to make your .30-’06 into a .300 Win. Mag., sell the .30-’06 and buy the .300 Win. Mag.

    • Craig Ramsey April 22, 2013, 10:55 am

      I’ve been reloading for about 40 years. Some comments to your comments.
      1. I would say that it is much safer to start with rifle reloading. You can’t double charge any load. I also find you can improve accuracy by finding the right power and charge combination for a caliber and bullet. I can’t say that for any pistol bullets I have reloaded.
      2. TV? About the worst thing you can do is drink beer while doing this.
      3. I have found the max loads to be 10-15% higher that what is printed in the manuals. If you pay attention to your fired cases you will notice the primer being pushed out, then the actual firing pin mark will become a nipple and then the primer is pierced by the firing pin and gas is blown back in your face.
      4. Totally agree. Also a 100 and 105 gr bullet don’t look much different but that is how I experienced #3.

    • Old Shooter April 23, 2013, 12:52 am

      Three things,
      !.Why are so many posts ignoring the fact that you can load down in power for a possibly easier experience vs. always talking about the maximum loads. You may experience better accuracy, less wear and tear on your gun, use less powder thus a cheaper trip to the range, less damage to your hearing, etc. Try taking that 44mag out that you havn’t shot for awhile, and load it like a 44 special on the light side, and maybe you will actually get better with it, and have a little fun!
      2.Dillon, Dillon, Dillon. How old are you, and how much longer do you think that you will enjoy our shooting sport? Every dollar that you spend on something else you will regret when you finally step up to a Dillon. If you will shoot and load for 20,30,40 years like I have, it’s pennies a day.You don’t have to buy all of the good stuff on your first order. Call them on their 800 number,or go to their website, and tell them how much you can afford, get a quote, and get the good stuff from the start. Support is 110% from this American Company.Mine is now the 650 with auto case feeder, primer feeder with alarm, powder alarm, used primer trap, bullet tray, etc., and I will never regret it. It’s wonderful, and I wish I had it years ago.I can load 45acp about 250-350 rounds per hour easy.
      3.Deburring. I also use my cordless drill with a countersink bit to “skin” off any burr on the inside of the neck after sizing. I use the same setup to hone out the primer pocket of military brass that has been double crimped.
      4. Cleaning: De-prime first is best, but if you use a tumbler to polish, you need to check the primer pocket for media before priming. It’s very possible that liquid cleaning could be better, so if you are just starting out, try “washing” your brass before investing in a tumbler would be my advise.
      Hope this works for you.
      Be safe, and take a little time to help a new shooter to our sport. Our numbers can make a difference.

      • Administrator April 23, 2013, 10:17 am

        We are going to talk about a specific download powder.

  • BulldogJimGa March 22, 2012, 10:41 am

    I sold my reloading stuff years ago…..dumb!!! Reading this article kind of stirred up my interest again. All I have to do now is restructure my SSI and my pension to see if my budget to handle new equipment.

  • Jasper March 22, 2012, 10:41 am

    Great article. Get over the initial cost quickly and get into reloading. 40 years and counting of shooting my own ammo has been a pleasure that has well overcome any of my costs.

  • AndyHaynes March 22, 2012, 10:27 am

    I’m looking to reload 7.62×39 Could you give me a quote for everything I need to do that? Machine, deprimer, primer, primers, shaper, etc. I have brass.

    • Administrator March 22, 2012, 11:06 am

      That Hornady single stage kit is pretty much everything you need.

    • TomB March 22, 2012, 1:02 pm

      Make sure that AK brass is boxer primed. Berdan primed cases are much more difficult to reload. Boxer primed cases have 1 flash hole in the center of the primer pocket. Berdan primed cases have 2 flash holes that are offset. Boxer primers push out with a decapping tool. Berdan primers have to be dug out from the outside, and Ive seen on you tube the water method which requires you to cut the pin off the end of the decapper, fill the case with water and slam the press handle with some force. The water pressure pushes out the berdan primer and makes a mess. Almost all, if not all, brass cased 7.62×39 ammo from the eastern European soviet block is berdan primed and usually corrosive. Look inside the case with a light. 2 holes = berdan, 1 hole in the center is boxer. If your brass is berdan I’d recycle it. Rifle brass brings a descent price these days.

  • Scott March 22, 2012, 10:23 am

    SUPER Great article!
    A few words of advice from a guy who reloads for everything I shoot (from the .22’s to .458’s, .410 to 10 ga.)… Learn to walk before you run. Begin small and work up. Your investment will be minimal, your appetite for more and bigger will become voracious. MAKE SURE you follow Scott Mayer’s informative article! Seek out a good mentor. He’ll be your seeing eye dog to keep you from getting bit by something you aren’t expecting, or worse. An overload can ruin many days following… avoid a widowmaker! Most of all… Have fun building your own loads from a printed manual library of data from known masters, but don’t experiment until you have earned your ‘Masters’ in the art. I’ve been loading for almost 50 years and still rely on the real ‘Masters’ like Vernon Speer, Joyce Hornady, William Lyman and other names like Lee, Hodgdon, Sierra, et al.
    Have a GREAT Time but remember… Leave time to eat, sleep and enjoy your family too. Reloading can be an addiction!

    • Spencer Edwards September 30, 2013, 6:27 pm

      How did u reload the .22?

      • Spencer Edwards September 30, 2013, 6:32 pm

        I have been trying to find a way to load .22 by hand or maybe even reload them, and there isn’t much on that. Do u have any pointers or anything I could use to start this?

        • Pete Bennett October 20, 2014, 6:44 pm

          In reloader language, .22 caliber often (usually?) refers to the class of cartridges that use .22 or .223 caliber jacketed bullets and a host of historical .22 cal. wildcat cartridges.
          .22 rimfire lacks one of the attractions to reloading, namely the savings on reusing your previously fired brass. I suspect making your own rimfire brass would be both prohibitively expensive, and potentially fatal. Thus, the lack if information on this cartridge?

  • roger ritchey March 22, 2012, 10:19 am

    This was a very good article on reloading basics. I myself wood recommend a Lyman T Mag turret press as the basic press. I have both a single stage and Lyman turret press and find the turret press is just as easy to acclimate to as the single stage and you’ll get much more production for the time spent. Caution! Reloading is habit forming and fun!

  • Cecil Dame March 22, 2012, 10:14 am

    Whatever happened to part 2 of the bullet casting article or did I just miss it somehow?

    • Administrator March 22, 2012, 11:08 am

      It is coming hopefully this week.

  • Jim Schmitt March 22, 2012, 9:31 am

    Been reloading for several years. All straight walled cases. I have a Rock Chucker Master kit and a pretty complete LEE outfit. Both good quality equipment. Both engineered with completely different philosophies. For folks on a tight budget consider the LEE equipment very seriously. Richard Lee would have done well as an aeronautical engineer. His equipment gets the job done without over doing it. A minimum of over design here. I’m one of those that shoot to reload and enjoy it. The other shooter, reloads to shoot!. Great sport either way.

  • Heyward March 22, 2012, 9:30 am

    Thanks for this. I have been accumulating equip and supplies to reload handgun ammo as well as shotgun shells. I appreciate the info on exactly what is needed. Please keep it up as a newbie I need all the info I can get my hands on.
    Thanks again

    • LOWRIE BEACHAM August 27, 2013, 12:15 pm

      A fun article; my son-in-law is big into this; I myself have been reloading shotgun shells since…1968. Other’s mileage may differ, but in the past two decades, I haven’t been able to save any money doing it, over buying the promotional shells at Wally World. I continue to reload because (1) I hate to see all those hulls going to waste in the dove fields; the farmers appreciate them being removed, the more so since paper hulls are nearly extinct and plastic lasts a long time; and (2) it’s cheaper than a psychiatrist: There’s something very therapeutic about sitting there, pulling the lever, watching perfect shells roll out from a mass of otherwise unrelated components.
      I look forward to a similar article on shotgun shell reloading.

  • leo daurizio March 22, 2012, 8:32 am

    I would like to reload sabot shotgun slugs 12&20ga can you help me out ????

    • Administrator March 22, 2012, 8:36 am

      Yes, I shotgun reloading article is coming.

  • Tom March 22, 2012, 8:28 am

    Good article !!

  • Terry March 22, 2012, 8:27 am

    I started casting round balls (Dixie mold, $3.95) about 1961 and added .38 Spl. in 1981. Still going strong now. My biggest regret: I should have started cartridge reloading in high school! I could have shot my old .45-70 Trapdoor A LOT MORE, and I’d have learned a lot about reloading in the process. START NOW! Plenty of good reloading equipment available new and used. Tip: a beginner’s press (simple Lee or used press is OK. But for dies, buy the best you can afford when you start. You won’t regret it.

    • Max Dolan April 27, 2015, 11:03 am

      Terry…you sound like me! I bought a “Dixie Target Pistol” in about 1962, and then a Model 10 S&W .38 Spl in about 1966. Started reloading and never quit!

  • Brother_COM March 22, 2012, 8:25 am

    OK, here goes the start to a reloading equipment war. IMHO The RCBS press and kit far excell the Hornady set. If you’re going to spend $300, do some research. Reloading is fun and empowing! YOU can do it!

    Happy reloading,

    • Administrator March 22, 2012, 8:48 am

      I think you are saying that because you haven’t seen the new Hornady stuff Glen. One of the benefits of having them as a former advertiser was they sent us one of everything in their reloading tools (and there will be articles coming about most of them in the future). the new Hornady single stage press has that lock n load feature. It is a collar that you screw the die into and it twist locks into the press. So you can leave your dies all set up and swap them out, and if you spend the $15 or so for another set of rings, you can swap between calibers effortlessly. You can even put your measure in a collar and have to mount it separately on the bench. Plus the RCBS kit comes with a balance beam scale, not a good thing for a newbie who will be totally turned off by it. Keep in mind that although many of us have a rockchucker, RCBS has been bought and sold a half a dozen times in the last 20 years and is currently owned by a multinational conglomerate defense contractor. Hornady is still a family owned and run company and everyone who works there is an avid shooter and handloader. It is just a whole other world. Oh and I didn’t mention that ridiculous lube pad with the RCBS. What is this 1965? I’ve used One Shot for 20 years and won’t even consider another case lube.

      • Riffian August 27, 2013, 2:31 pm

        I believe the Lyman dies used to come with the locking collar also (at least mine have them).

  • Pete March 22, 2012, 7:32 am

    I guess I am of the previous generation that should be aging out of handloading, Sorry, but at 73 I am still going strong. Started re-loading in 1960 and haven’t quit yet. I really enjoy working up my own loads, I do mostly handgun loads now. I do use the RCBS for rifle loads and the Dillon for handgun works real well.
    Thanks for a great article.

  • Paul Smith March 22, 2012, 7:13 am

    Don’t get the impression that the Dillon is expensive. It’s actually cheaper in the long run. You will find that with a single stage press, reloading loses a lot of its charm after the first thousand rounds or so. With a progressive press, you’re spitting out a precision-loaded round every time you pull the handle. It’s fun to use, too. With that in mind, you can shoot more often, you will become more proficient, and for less money overall.

    What makes Dillon better than any other progressive is their no nonsense approach to customer service. They don’t want to know why you need a new pin or part, they just send you a new one. Period. I have loaded many thousands of rounds on my 550 and as with any machine, parts wear out. A quick call to their 800 number and I’ve got a brand new part on the way.

    The Hornady one shot spray lube is the best IMO. Spray it on, let it dry and get to work. I have used the lathe type case trimmers and to save my wrist, I attach my cordless drill to the shaft and it works beautifully. Keep them oiled.

    • Jon Reid March 22, 2012, 11:24 am

      I thought that I might caveat this Dillon entry by mentioning their Lifetime warranty. I purchased a used Dillon online from a gun shop in Illinois, that would not load the primer correctly. My reloading mentor spent several ours trying to fix it but I ended up calling Dillon the next day. They welcomed me to the Dillon family with a new customer service number and a routing number to send my reloader in for a complete rebuild and update and the only expense to me was the shipping cost “one way” to them. 3 weeks later FEDEX delivered a Dillon box to me with a reloader that has works flawlessly. I am a Dillon customer for life.

  • Carl Cook March 22, 2012, 6:35 am

    I have been doing it for several years. I do it for all but my shotguns and my .22 rifle. But I plan on sooner or later doing it for the 12g and the 410. It’s a great way to get the right load for your guns and it’s fun to work the loads up.

  • Jay March 22, 2012, 4:53 am

    This is a great article. I’m considering handloading this article covers starting out pretty well. I’m just wondering what the initial investment would be.

    • Administrator March 22, 2012, 6:48 am

      It is pretty easy to go to Midsouth shooter’s supply and check the prices on them. There is a huge gap between Lee and the other brands, especially Dillon. If you just want a simple beginners kit that has tools you will use later and won’t outgrow, the Hornady kit is the best one. It is $315 on Midsouth: http://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/item.asp?sku=00005085003

  • Mark Wynn March 22, 2012, 3:11 am

    Was stationed at Vance AFB, Enid Ok in the 70’s. Not a lot to do. Bought a Gold Cup and a Rockchucker in Oklahoma City, and got permission to open the Vance range myself. Without any experience or instruction, easily reloaded many .45s with cast lead bullets and a forgiving powder (believe it was Unique.) Lotsa’ fun shooting. If I could do it, believe me, anyone can.

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