My Outdoors Online
Picking up where the road ends!
Reloading our own ammunition is something most of us consider as a way to save money, shoot more, improve accuracy or simply gain satisfaction by doing something ourselves. Whatever your reason for reloading your own ammunition, do your research to insure reloading dosen't become a money pit that takes away from your enjoyment of the great outdoors.
Reloading falls into two main categories, shotgun shells and centerfire cartridges.
Shotgun shells have 5 components, the hull, primer, powder, wad and the shot. The hull is the only component you'll reuse and each hull should be inspected inside and out for cracks, holes or other damage before it's reloaded. If you find any damage mark the hull as damaged with a permanent marker and throw it away! To determine the remainder of your components, refer to a good reloading manual published by component manufacturers (available online) and follow their recommendations exactly.
When the reloading idea begins to run through your head, you should start saving hulls from the factory ammunition you're shooting so you'll have plenty of hulls available. If you decide to start reloading before you've built a stash of empties, you can almost always find new or once fired hulls for a reasonable price.
Rifle and pistol centerfire cartridges have 4 components. The case, primer, powder and bullet. Again, the case is the only part you'll reuse and you should give each case a through inspection and cleaning before it's reloaded. As with shotgun shells, the remainder of your reloading components will be obtained from the component manufacturers published reloading data based on your shooting requirements.
While reloading shotgun shells is a quick process where you'll knock out 200 perfect shotgun shells in very short order, reloading centerfire ammunition is a much slower precision process that requires special attention to each and every cartridge, every step of the reloading process.
The major hurdle for the beginning reloader is the cost of entry. For both shotgun and centerfire ammunition you'll need a reloading press and a set of dies for each cartridge you will reload.
A shotgun press like the MEC 600 JR MARK V, can be purchased for around $200 and comes ready to start loading if you have the components on hand.
To reload centerfire cartridges RCBS has a kit that has almost everything you need to get started (RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit) for a bit over $300. You'll also need a set of dies and a cartridge holder for each caliber you'll be reloading. The dies are necessary to do everything from knocking the old primer out and resizing the brass to seating the bullet properly. Good dies cost $30 to $40 per set and are caliber specific (30-06, 270, 44 mag...). The shell holder holds the cartridge in the press and costs around $10. As you get more advanced you'll probably add a micrometer and a case trimmer.
Now that you've had a quick over view of reloading, we encourage you to learn more. In addition to many other blogs on reloading, the RCBS and MEC websites are treasure troves of information useful to the beginning reloader.