StartReloading.com

A Personal Reference Site To Help Others Start Reloading Revolver, Pistol,  and Rifle Metalic Cartridges (UPDATED Feb 2016)

Reloading ....It's EASY, FUN, SAFE and SAVES BIG $$$$


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Overview Of The Reloading Process

Revolver, Pistol and Rifle Cartridge Reloading

I do not want to provide you expert information. I am not an expert. I have been reloading for 20 years and am always finding out something new and refining the process I use. I get ALL my information from the experts and recommend that you do the same as you start reloading.

I therefore will not tell you how to reload or how to implement a reloading process. Locate this information in reloading manuals created by reloading equipment suppliers, bullet manufacturers and smokeless powder manufacturers. These guys are the experts and very well qualified to spread tried and true knowledge to others.

So what I will provide is a link to the RCBS site. This link shows the basic process for reloading. It will give you an idea of what steps are involved.

RCBS is a maker of fine reloading equipment. http://www.rcbs.com/guide/printsteps.html

 

50,000 foot overview of Revolvers and Pistol Cartridge Reloading

 

To get started reloading handguns there are a number of things you need to understand. First of all, there are quite a few types of handguns on the market. Some handguns may look like old west type revolvers, but others may be closer to machine pistols that are semi-automatic and use gas to eject the cartridges.

Handguns also have a relative rating across the industry as to their strength and ability to handle modern ammunition. Your gun owners manual is the KEY you use to ensure that your gun is rated for shooting modern, higher pressure ammunition.  If the gun can’t handle a stout load, the owners manual will give you guidance on what loads can be used.

I know a person at the gun range that is a collector of what I call ancient cowboy pistols from Colt manufacturing. Most of his guns were built when only low pressure black powder rounds were available. You can easily understand this by looking at the 45 caliber Long Colt cartridge these often shoot. It holds a lot of powder and was designed for black powder to fill it close to the brim. Today if you use modern, smokeless powder you are apt to only use a little pinch of powder in that big case and still get the same size push behind the bullet. I point this fact out to illustrate what might happen if you were to accidentally double or triple charge a case. The powder would fit in the cartridge, BUT the gun is very likely to explode, destroying the gun and the owner. Please use extreme caution and do your research on your gun's model.

When you load handgun ammo you must be EXTREMELY vigilant and focus on only reloading in a tried and true process. This process must include multiple steps wherein you, the loader, take extra time and care to inspect and provide quality control checks ensuring that the round is assembled exactly as per the formula in a CURRENT reloading manual.

I am a very cautious person and I load my handgun ammo at the LOW TO MID POWER RANGE. I do this so that, even if I do make a mistake, the chances of the gun exploding and getting hurt are minimized.

I also want to point out that handguns have a wider variety of bullets that can be used in both target shooting and hunting. These bullets fall into jacketed and lead types. Here's the difference between them. Jacketed bullets can be driven at higher speeds. Hard lead bullets are cheaper and are great for economical practice; they are also quite deadly when hunting. Copper jacketed bullets wear gun barrels out quickly. Lead bullets work great unless you push them at speeds designed for jacketed bullets and, then, they leave lead in the barrel. It's a pain to clean out. So don't push your lead bullets over 1200fps and use harder lead bullets (Brinell hardness rated at 15-18).

When you select bullets for your handguns you should pick the weights, sizes, and shapes recommended in your gun owner’s manual.  A friend of mine discovered the truth in this when he bought 1000 bullets with a semi wadcutter profile at a gun show. Loading the first 200 of them, he found that they would not feed properly through his Glock automatic pistol. He thought a bullet...was a bullet--apparently not.

My overview of reloading handgun cartridges is that you MUST buy components that will work with your gun as spelled out in the owners manual. Bullet diameters must be EXACT and AS RECOMMENDED in the owners manual. This is a case where "following by the book" is EXACTLY what you should be doing.

The reloading process, as well, will be strictly driven by the process identified in a book--a handgun reloading manual, to be precise. You will size the brass. You will reference a load manul for your caliber of handgun...load manuals are available from both bullet and powder manufacturers. For each bullet you will be given a low and a not-to-exceed powder charge (for specific powders)  and a bullet seating instruction to create a cartridge of a maximum overall length. YOU MUST FOLLOW THESE FORMULAS. Undercharging a cartridge is as potentially disastrous as overloading.

Finally, I want to emphasize that these reloading formulas change over time. Safe charge for a given powder and bullet today may be unsafe tomorrow. You should plan to replace your load manuals regularly or do as I do and rely on the internet powder and bullet manufacturer sites for the latest reloading formulas.

Reloading Space Requirements

I started reloading at a table in my home. I progressed over the course of a couple of years to design and build a small, yet practical workbench from plans I found in a reloading article in a GUNS AND AMMO magazine.

Reloading Strategies and Acquiring Equiupment

I want to get you off to a good start without assuming how much money you have to spend,  or what level of ammo production and ammo quality you wish to pursue.

So I want to start by detailing good technical reference materials and manuals. These are your real KEYS TO THE KINGDOM. They tell you the process and the riules that must be followed. They also spell out the reloading formulas you will use to assemble safe and high quality ammunition.

Then I will walk you through selecting a reloading strategy. I will detail four separate reloading strategies that range from CHEAP to Expensive. I will provide example equipment lists of each style of reloading that should help you identify the special equipment required at each step of the way. The example equipment listed is just an example.  You will have to do your own research and choose brands of equipment. I have my favorites…..everyone does…..but I won’t layer that onto the discussion. 


50,000 foot overview of the Rifle Cartridge Reloading Process

To get started reloading rifle cartridges there are a number of things you need to understand. First of all, there are quite a few types of rifles on the market. Traditional bolt action rifles are the strongest of actions. Gas operated rifles that spit out the spent brass after firing are also available (they look like many modern military rifles).

I am not going to discuss or provide examples of old model rifle reloading or black powder cartridge reloading. I know from experience that reloading these rifles is a art form and am keeping my discussions here aimed at aiding someone who is new to reloading.

All rifles, like handguns, have a relative rating of their strength and ability to handle modern ammunition. Your gun owners manual is the key you use to ensure that your rifle is rated for using modern, higher pressure ammunition.  If the gun isn’t designed to handle a load then the owners manual will tell you so.

You will also find on your gun shop shelf past military rifles. Many of these are very good, accurate, and fun to shoot.

I started shooting 30 caliber rifles. To this day, I love their ability to push a big 150grain bullet out to several hundred yards with great accuracy.

Regardless of the rifle you use, you will be able to easily create ammunition that far exceed the accuracy of factory ammo. Factory ammo usually boast about 1-1.5” accuracy at 100 yards. I have a 300 Winchester magnum that (using my reloads) routinely shoots ¾” groups. This is from a factory Ruger rifle.

As with any reloading, rifle cartridge reloading requires extreme vigilance and you must focus on only reloading in a tried and true process.This process must include multiple steps wherein you, the loader, take extra time and care to inspect and provide quality control checks ensuring that the round is assembled exactly as per the formula in a CURRENT reloading manual.

Rifle cartridge loading uses quite a bit of powder per shell. It is important to be CONSISTANT. The nice thing is that (unlike handgun loading) it will be very easy to identify overloading--it will probably overflow the case. Visual inspections are a proven step to eliminate not charging a cartridge with powder.

Rifle bullets come in wide variety of target and hunting configurations. Mostly all of the bullets you will find are copper jacketed. You might want to stay away from hard lead bullets unless you have a rifle specifically made for them.

When you select bullets for your rifle you should pick weights, sizes and shapes recommended in your gun owner’s manual.  You will find a variety of target bullets made for accuracy against paper targets and a number of hollow point or specially pointed bullets designed to expand when humanely killing an animal target.

My overview of reloading rifle cartridges is that you MUST buy components that will work with your gun as spelled out in the owners manual. Bullet diameters must be EXACT and AS RECOMMENDED in the owners manual.

The reloading process will be strictly driven by the process identified in a rifle reloading manual. You will size the brass. Then, you will reference a load manual for your caliber of rifle...load manuals are available from both bullet and powder manufacturers. For each bullet you will be given a low and a not-to-exceed powder charge and a bullet seating instruction to create a cartridge of a maximum overall length. YOU MUST FOLLOW THESE FORMULAS. Undercharging a cartridge is as potentially disastrous as overloading.

Finally, I want to emphasize that these reloading formulas change over time. Safe charge for a given powder and bullet today may be unsafe tomorrow. You should plan to replace your load manuals regularly or do as I do and rely on the internet powder and bullet manufacturer sites for the latest reloading formulas.