Several bullet standing on end

The Shooting Enthusiast’s Introduction to Reloading

Reloading is becoming more popular as the price of bullets increases each year. Some shooting enthusiasts choose to reload their fired cases by using a press and a set of dies. Usually, they reuse shell casings because reloading cuts the price of a bullet in half, as the majority of the price comes from the shell. Following is a beginner’s introduction to reloading that will answer a few questions you may have along the way.
 
What are the benefits of reloading?
As already mentioned, reloading reduces the cost per cartridge. When you purchase premade bullets, most of the cost goes toward the casings. Casings can be made of brass, paper, and plastic. By reloading, you’ll save money on ammunition.

You also have much more control over dimensions, ballistics, consistency, and quality. For example, you can load .38 special loads in .357 magnum cases to avoid “crud rings” in the chambers. Rifle shooters can choose a particular powder, bullet, and cartridge length specified for them.
 
What equipment is needed?

There is quite a bit of equipment needed to press your own bullets. You’ll need a press, dies, case lube, calipers, a loading block, reloading manuals, powders and primers for your weapon of choice, and a cleaning and prep kit. Sounds like a lot, right? Don’t worry—much of this equipment is fairly cheap.

The largest amount you’ll spend is on a press. A high-quality press can last decades. If you’re looking for something that will work for now, you can purchase a Lee Precision 50th anniversary reloading kit. This kit can be found on Amazon for around $150 or less. The kit includes nearly everything you’ll need. The only things you’ll have to purchase outside of the kit are your powders, primers, and dies.

Depending on the type and brand of dies you want, you can purchase most for around $20–$35. The cost of primers also depends on which caliber you’re looking to reload, though they’re generally around $22 for both pistols and rifles. Powders are sold by the pound and vary depending on manufacturer and weapon.
 
Are there safety precautions?
Yes! Safety is important when it comes to reloading. First of all, you should read all manuals and instructions for the press, dies, priming tools, measure, and whatever else you use. You’re potentially making little bombs that can blow up your gun. These mini-bombs could also harm or even kill you.

You should always wear eye protection when reloading, and never rush the process. Being in a hurry or tired can cause you to make mistakes. Even small mistakes can be very harmful.

You should never smoke while reloading, and of course, don’t eat while reloading.

You should also inspect the equipment and cartridges before reloading. Finally, wash up after every session. Residue from fired cartridges and new bullets contain trace amounts of lead. While these amounts are small, they can have poisonous effects in the long run. It’s easy to wash up afterward.

What are reloading data centers?
You can obtain a complete listing of the current rifle, pistol, and shotgun shell loads at reloading data centers. These centers are designed to make reloading easy. Hodgdon Reloading is one such center. This website makes it easy to figure out your starting and maximum loads per cartridge.

To use this site, simply input which cartridge, bullet weight, manufacturer, and powder you will be using. Then it will display the data for your weapons such as case, twist, primer, barrel length, and trim length. From there, it will give you starting and maximum loads. You should always begin with the “starting” loads rather than the maximum.
 
Where can I find more information?
It’s understandable if you need a little more help with reloading. For more information and a step-by-step guide, visit a blog named “Smallest Minority.” This blog avoids using jargon that may be confusing to beginners. It also contains links to places where you can purchase all of the equipment needed for reloading. 

Last Updated: February 04, 2016