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Reloading 101: What You Need to Know

by janeausten

Recreational shooting can be rewarding and productive, but the downside is the expense. Burning through hundreds if not thousands of rounds per month can quickly rack up quite a cost.

Moreover, some shooters cannot find factory loads that meet their exact specifications.

So, to many shooters, reloading is very attractive. Here’s a very basic overview of what you need to know.

What You’ll Need

In order to reload, you’ll need:

  • Reloading manual with detailed load data
  • High-quality brass (either virgin brass or fired brass from high-quality American Eagle or Lawman ammo that can be reloaded)
  • Bullets
  • Primers
  • Propellant
  • Reloading press
  • Deburring tool
  • Scale
  • Powder measure and funnel
  • Priming tool
  • Lubrication accessories (brushes, etc.)
  • Wrenches
  • Reloading block

You’ll also need a dedicated, clean, well-lit workspace.

Steps to Reloading (Basic Overview)

The steps to reloading are (generally) as follows:

  • Clean each case. Inspect for damage, such as cracks, bulges, or split case mouths. Discard any damaged brass.

  • Lubricate cases before sizing. This prevents cases from getting stuck in case sizer dies.

  • Clean and lubricate the case neck with lubricant and a case neck brush.

  • Install an appropriately sized shell holder and sizer die into your reloading press.

  • Insert the case into the press.

  • Lower the press lever; this will extract the fired primer and resize the fired case.

  • Chamfer and deburr the case mouth.

  • (If reloading a straight-walled case, such as handgun ammo, expand the case mouth using the reloading press.)

  • Prime the case, either manually or using the reloading press.

  • Measure and dispense an appropriate powder charge; charge the primed case.

  • Install a seater die into the reloading press. Crimp the case using the die if necessary.

  • Position a bullet over the case mouth, then push down on the press lever to seat the bullet over the charge.

  • (Adjust the seating depth using the die and press in accordance with the data in the loading manual.)

  • Remove the reloaded cartridge and repeat the process.

Why Reload?

There is a wide range of reasons that shooters choose to reload ammo, including but not limited to the following:

  • Affordability: Rising costs of ammo make it competitive to reload.

  • Scarcity: Some cartridges are hard to come by, whereas bullets may not be.

  • Precision performance: Some shooters require specifically tailored loads for their competitive or sporting needs.

  • Knowledge: Learning to reload gets you closer to your sport and enhances your understanding of ballistic performance.

Stop: You Need to Start with High-Quality, Reloadable Brass Cases

As attractive as reloading can be, it is important to recognize that not all cases can be reloaded. Stay away from steel and aluminum-cased cartridges (such as Blazer aluminum or TulAmmo steel cartridges) if you plan on reloading, as these cannot be reused. Instead, use high-quality brass-cased ammo, like Federal American Eagle, Remington UMC, Blazer Brass, or Speer Lawman ammo, which use reloadable casings.

(You can find high-quality ammo online at BuckingHorseOutpost.com. See their website for details.)

For More Information, Consult a Reloading Handbook

When reloading, especially if you’re just starting out, it is important to follow the instructions in a reloading manual to the letter. Reloading is a very precise science and the omission of even the most seemingly negligible detail can compromise not only your safety but also the ballistic performance of your loads.

Use the information in this guide only as an introduction. Be sure to consult a reloading manual before attempting to reload any casing and follow the instructions literatim.

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