Reloading – a Basic Overview

Reloading – a Basic Overview

Postby TacticalTedcom » Fri, 16 Aug 2013 20:38:10

With the advent of warmer weather many of us have cleaned, lubed and put away our guns until the next hunting season. Warm weather seems to call us to the rivers, ponds and oceans to wet a line fishing. Warm weather is also a good time to go about the business of developing the perfect hand load, and once having done that, loading enough for the next season. If you haven’t tried hand loading (also known as reloading) you might enjoy giving it a try.

Reloading, as the name implies, is taking the spent cartridge casing and replacing it's components (primer, powder and bullet) so that it can be used again. At first the idea of reloading might seem a little daunting, but it is not the complicated task some might think. It does, however, require that you reload where you are free from distractions.

The first step (after cleaning the cases) is to resize the case and remove the spent primer, this is usually done with a reloading press. A press is a mechanical device used to reload ammunition. First a resizing die is screwed into the press. The case is given a light coating of lubricant and placed in the press. When the press handle is pulled; the case is resized to it's original dimensions. At the same time the old primer is pushed out and the case neck is expanded slightly for easy insertion of the new bullet. Next you insert a new primer into the priming arm of thee press, push the arm into position and raise the press handle. This pushes the new primer into the case. After doing this to a number of cases you will want to clean off the lube, which can be done by wiping with a rag that has been wetted with a little lighter fluid or something similar.

Now you will weigh or measure the powder charge and pour the powder into the case. Then comes the last step. Take out the resizing die and replace it with the bullet seating die. Place the cartridge case back in the press, put the new bullet into the case mouth and lower the press handle. As the handle is lowered, the case with the bullet will be forced into the die and the bullet will be pushed into the case neck. At this time the case neck will tighten around the bullet in order to hold it securely in place.
You now have a new round ready to be fired. :sniper:

This is meant to be a quick overview of the reloading process for bottleneck cartridges, the procedure for reloading straight walled cases differs slightly. All details of reloading were not included in this short article. Full instructions come with the dies and press you purchase. You should also pick up a good reloading manual and read it thoroughly. As you can see the process is fairly simple.
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Re: Reloading – a Basic Overview

Postby M1A4ME » Sat, 17 Aug 2013 07:07:14

The tip/comment about avoiding distraction is very important. Another is to inspect your work at every step of the process.

I inspect the cases while sorting (I usually have multiple calories in the range can/bag.)

I inspect the cases after cleaning (to cull out cracked/split necks mostly).

When resizing, if anything "feels" funny while running the case in/out of the resizing die, take a good look at the neck/shoulder as they may crack/split in this step, too.

I actually run the cases through the polisher again to remove the resizing lube.

When priming, again "feel" for differences. Does the primer go in easier than normal? If so the primer pocket may be oversized due to pressure/previous reloadings. A loose primer pocket can result in the primer blowing out into the action of your semi auto rifle causing function issues. It can also result in gas from the fired cartridge leaking onto the bolt face and eroding it (small pits in the bolt face).

I inspect the primers after seating (visual/educated thumb slide across the primer) to make sure the primer is properly seated. This is important to prevent misfires or slamfires.

I visually inspect every case after putting powder in them. Shine a bright light into the case mouth to make sure every case has powder and none look like they have more/less than the others. If one looks different - weigh the powder on your scale to make sure it isn't and over/under charge. I still pick 5 out of 50 to weigh just to make sure the powder measure isn't wandering around for some reason. Some of the 5 may be ones that looked funny during the light check.

When seating the new bullets again, "feel" what is going on. If a bullet seats easier than normal it may mean a split neck or loose neck and that case should not be used. I've had cases split when the bullet was seated and in a quiet atmosphere you may hear a quiet "snap" noise at the same time you realize that bullet seated easier.

Inspect again when you put that completed round into a box or other container to make sure everything is right.

Always keep a reloading log book you can refer back to later. I record, date, caliber, powder type, amount of powder, primer brand/type/number, bullet brand/type/weight. Some people measure overall length and record it as well. So far that has only been important for a couple of my guns with tight chambers/short leade (bullet space where the chamber meets the rifling in the barrel.) For most of my rifles if it is as long as possible (fits in the magazine and still feeds into the chamber) they are good to go. Every gun can be different so check yours to be sure.

Sounds like lots of inspecting but you have to handle/look at the pieces/parts at every steps so learn what to look for and how to recognize issues and its just part of the reloading process.

Oh, buy more than one reloading manual. Just like car repair manuals - some contain information that the next one will not have,


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Re: Reloading – a Basic Overview

Postby GeneFrenkle » Sat, 17 Aug 2013 07:32:35

>(I usually have multiple calories in the range can/bag.)

I don't think you're supposed to eat on the range.

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Re: Reloading – a Basic Overview

Postby docapos » Sat, 17 Aug 2013 10:20:34

Thanks for the overview

I have been looking to start to reloading what would you say are the basic pieces of equipment needed for straight case?


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Re: Reloading – a Basic Overview

Postby TacticalTedcom » Sun, 18 Aug 2013 09:13:06

Really no difference for straight walled cases except the die set you will be using will consist of 3 dies rather than two. To start you can get by with a press, set of dies ,shell holder (fits in the press to hold the specific case you are reloading,powder scale ( ether balance beam or electronic), case lube,of course powder, primers, and bullets. If you want, you can get a case tumbler (various types) to clean the cases, but doing it by hand does save money at the beginning. There are other things you can add later, but to start you can go "bare bones".
As for presses you have single stage, turret and progressive, each is progressively more complicated. With the single stage you run all the cases you are reloading through the press using the same die to perform the same operation, then switch the die to the next and run the cases through the next operation. In the last step you will be seating the bullet for the completed round.
There are two types of single stage presses - the C-frame which allows greater working room and access to the cartridge, and the O-frame which is inherently stronger (though both types work fine).
With a turret press the top of the press has a plate that holds all the dies needed to load the cartridge. After using one die and you are ready for the next, you simply turn the plate to move the old die and bring the new one into place.
The progressive press is set up so that each pull of the handle does all the steps necessary to produce a loaded round. You have multiple cartridge cases in the press and pulling the handle will resize and deprime one case, prime another, add powder to another, and seat a bullet in another. Each time you pull the handle a finished round is produced. The progressive press is, generally, only used when you will be turning out large amounts of ammo. of one type example: 9mm, 223 etc.
Almost forgot, get yourself at least one reloading manual. These manuals are produced by the various bullet manufactures and powder companies.
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Re: Reloading – a Basic Overview

Postby docapos » Sun, 18 Aug 2013 10:56:51

A lot of great info, thank you.


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Re: Reloading – a Basic Overview

Postby NovaHunter » Thu, 22 Aug 2013 12:00:23

Start with a single stage kit, the RCBS Rockchucker starter kit comes with all the basics that you would need to get into re loading. You can easily learn what each function and step is, and see pretty easily what each die does. After loading on one of those for a while with the starter kit, you can starting thinking what parts you would want to upgrade that would help you load more efficiently.

I started on one Rockchucker press. Currently have two of them now. I still use a 5.0.5 triple beam balance scale for all my loading. It's simple, strong, and doesn't need batteries (a consideration if you are prepping). I learned how to load 45 ACP on the single stange, and then got a little tired of spending 2 hours on the bench to reload 40 rounds. Now, I use a Dillon Square deal B for my 45 ACP and can do 200rds an hour with very little effort. I still check my powder throws from the Dillon on my 505 scale. I have one Single stage dedicated only to 308, and another single stage is switched between a few cartridges though it might become a dedicated .223 press soon. I still measure out 308 loads by hand, and my next upgrade will probably be a Hornady Lock n Load auto charge scale.

Taking the time to do things the manual way in the beginning really lets you learn all the components and the small minute changes that can affect quality, accuracy, and safety. Learn slow, then step up to the progressive presses.
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