Technique & Skills
Reloading 101 | Perfecting The Basics
Even the most massive stockpile of ammo could evaporate during a long-term disaster. Enjoying shooting sports and taking target practice to hone your skills is expensive enough with the ever-increasing cost of ammunition – just imagine the price of a single bullet if World War 3 arrives on America’s shores or another SHTF disaster occurs. Learning how to reload ammunition is a money-saver that increases your self-reliance skills in the process. While the reloading has many steps you must follow exactly, it is not a difficult or dangerous process when done correctly.
Before buying the equipment and supplies necessary to set up a home reloading station you first must create a safe workplace. Reloading should never, ever be done inside your home. The work station does not have to be large – a corner of a garage will work.
Ideally, the work space should be a housed inside a detached garage or shed. It must have good lighting, good ventilation, and not be damp. You will need enough spaced to set up a table for workspace and shelving units to store all of the reloading supplies.
A 6-foot-long table is recommended. A table this size will give you ample space to work and still have enough space to keep the tools and supplies needed to accomplish while keeping all essential tasks handy.
Essential Reloading Equipment
The primary reasons most gun owners get into reloading is to save money. While reloading your own ammunition will definitely save countless thousands over time, the initial investment in equipment and supplies will likely cost about $500.
Thankfully, most of the tools and equipment you will need will last for many decades to come.
- Single Stage Die Press – one that can be mounted to a work table is highly recommended
- Dies in various calibers
- Powder Measure
- Hammer Pull
- Vernier Calipers
- Screw drivers
- Allen wrenches
- Lube Pad
- Reloading Manual
- Case Trimmer – for reloading rifle rounds
The single stage die press is the simplest type of press for beginners to use. Some physical effort is required working with the dies that process the ammo – especially when working rifle rounds. The simple table mount press allows the reloader to easily apply necessary pressure when cases need to be resized.
Reloading presses are made by a variety of manufacturers, with Hornady, Lee, Lyman, Redding, and RCBS being the most popular and durable. Presses are sold in an array of sized. Choosing the heavy duty model will permit you to easily reload both handgun and rifle ammunition.
All dies are caliber specific. The amount of money you can expect to spend purchasing dies will depend solely upon the number of different caliber weapons owned or to be reloaded for yourself and others. Carbide dies are often a favorite among reloaders. These dies make sizing a far easier task and are built to last. When using carbide dies lubing up the ammo cases is not required.
Powder Measure and Scales
Both of these tools are necessary to get exactly the right amount of powder inside the ammo cases. Failing to do this step properly could prove deadly. It is vital to the shooter’s safety and for the reliability of the weapon to make sure you know exactly how much powder should go in each casing and to measure it properly – hence the need for at least one reloading manual.
The manual will permit you to easily reference the proper powder amounts for the type of caliber being used. The details in reloading manuals is developed by experts in the reloading field, with their steps being laboratory tested. Most reloading reference manuals even offer a hotline number to call for help.
The calipers are used to measure length. The reloading will instruct the reader about the proper length for each caliber.
The trimmer is used when reloading rifle cases because they will stretch when fired.
When reloading rifle rounds lubing inside the casing is necessary. If the cases are not lubed they will get stuck in the die. Any reloader who has forgotten to lube the die one time when working with rifle cases will never forget this important step EVER again. Keeping a brush handy, a regular tooth brush or gun cleaning brush, to reach all the way inside the casing, is handy to keep in at the reloading station as well.
- Clean the Casings using good lighting, check inside each and every single brass casing for any sign of defects or multiple bulges or dents. Throw away any cases which have deformed primers because they have likely endured extensive pressure when being fired.
- Rub the inside of the casing with a brush or soft cloth to rid the inside of any dirt or powder residue.
- Lubricate the casings to avoid them getting lodged inside their sizing die. Squirt a dab of the lubricant across the lube pad and roll the casings across the pad several times to thoroughly coat them.
- Insert the casing (or casings if using a reloading press with a rotating tray that does multiple cases at one time) and lower the handle.
- Pressing on the handle to resize the case and push the spent primer out.
- Remove the case and repeat this step for each prepared casing.
- Raise the handle as high as it will go and put a new primer into the cup of on the primer arm. Place a casing into the shell holder and then push the arm into the ram slot and firmly lower the casing into the primer.
- Remove the casing and inspect both it and the primer. The primer should sit either flush or slightly below the case base.
- Referencing the reloading book, fill the casing with the proper power weight using a funnel. Pour an unused powder back into its container. The powder will likely damage the scale if any residue is not thoroughly remove. The entire reloading area should be cleaned free of powder residue for safety reasons.
- Seat the bullet to the proper depth dictated by the reloading manual. The bullet should be housed in the neck of the brass casing – it crimps the shell. To accomplish this step but a primed casing into the shell holder, hold the bullet over the open casing then lower and press the handle to crimp the casing to secure the bullet.
- Clean the dies, ram, and other moving parts of the reloading press with gun oil and allow to air dry.