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The Essence of Reloading – Flexibility
Oct 4th, 2014 by RoundsReloaded

The Essence of Reloading – Flexibility

The great thing about reloading is the ability to build a round to meet the situation. A .45 Colt can become a perfect plinking revolver with a light load. The same gun can halt a rouge bear if the powder and bullet weight are pumped up. Photo courtesy Massaro Media Group and JNJphotographics.

As a reloader, you are able to control the ballistic parameters of the ammunition for your firearm. Whether it is a pistol or rifle, the ability to vary the bullet weight and velocity of your firearm makes each and every one of them much more flexible than most people would think.

There are oodles of great factory loadings available today, and it is better than it has ever been, but we handloaders have the wide world of bullet choices and powder selections at our fingertips.

Take a long look at your favorite rifle, and odds are that you can find a pretty wide choice of projectiles, that can serve in a multitude of different hunting situations. Let’s look at a few examples.

The classic .300 Winchester Magnum can use a selection of .308” diameter bullets that weigh between 110 and 250 grains. That’s quite a wide range, and each weight has its place in the hunting field.

Winchester’s .300 has earned a very good reputation with 180 grain bullets moving along at around 2,950 feet per second and that load is one I use often, especially when the possibility of a long shot exists, like moose across a Quebec lake, or kudu in the karoo of South Africa. Many elk hunters grab this configuration of ammunition, and with good effect.

My rifle loves the 180 grain Swift Scirocco II, handloaded with Reloder 19 to 2,960fps. But, you really don’t need that velocity or the heavy bullet all the time.

Let’s assume you have a .300 Winchester that you absolutely love (which I do!), and want to use it for pronghorn antelope on the Great Plains.

A fast, flat shooting 150 grain bullet will fit the bill perfectly. At 3,150 fps, you should be able to hit those goats out as far as you’d ethically shoot them, and a bonded core spitzer bullet will kill quickly without making a bloody mess.

If you want to take that same rifle deer hunting, a 165 grain bullet loaded to just under 3,000 fps will make a very effective whitetail load, regardless of the distance.

Sometimes, a specialty hunt will pop up that may force you to get creative; bear hunting over bait is one example that comes quickly to mind. The shot will usually be under 75 yards, yet you want something beefy because bears have claws and teeth after all. In these situations, I subscribe to the Elmer Keith “slow and heavy” school of thought.

I took a box of 220 grain Hornady round-nose bullets, and used IMR 4064 to reduce the velocity to 2,425 fps, similar to the older .30-’06 Springfield loads. Group size hangs around minute-of-angle, and these big heavy bullets will really thump a bruin.

As a matter of fact, that particular load has worked very well on whitetail deer as well. My eleven point buck from 2011 fell as if he were pole-axed. He weighed 180 pounds on the hoof.

The plains of Africa can present a diverse selection of game, from the diminutive Steenbok to the moose-sized eland, and you have to carry a load that can cover all the bases. I brought the 200 grain Swift A-Frame, loaded to 2,700 fps in my .300 Winchester and it worked out very well.

The .300 is just one example, and the same could apply to a .30-06, .280 Remington or .270 Winchester. Learn about the different types of bullets available in your favorite caliber, and utilize the different weights and construction available.

Pistols can benefit from the same mentality. My Ruger Blackhawk in .45 (Long) Colt is a very strong revolver, and that cartridge can be stoked up to bark!

The big 300 grain Hornady XTP bullets can be pushed to around 1,300 fps, which is a wonderful insurance policy while hiking in my native Adirondacks or Catskills. The same revolver likes to play cowboy with me though, and when you roll up some 250 grain hard-cast lead Falcon Bullets at a velocity of 850 fps, you can shoot all afternoon at paper hombres.

Lighter bullets like Rainier Ballistics’ 180 grain flat point, which are usually reserved for the .45ACP, can be loaded in the Colt case in either a high velocity situation or in a reduced velocity scenario, depending on the application, or your mood.

The larger caliber safari guns can be rather intimidating to a shooter who doesn’t have a ton of experience with them. The heavy recoil they produce, being a side effect of the big bullets and powder charges, can pose a problem.

Firearms, such as the .300 Winchester, are eminently flexible. Given the sheer amount of components that can be used with the caliber, reloaders can tailor the cartridge to nearly any need. Photo courtesy Massaro Media Group and JNJphotographics.

Reducing their velocity for practice is a wise idea. Drop the velocity by 150 or 200 fps and that recoil drops off quite a bit, making the rifle much more manageable. The classic .416 Rigby launches its 400 grain bullets at 2,400fps, with rather severe recoil. Drop the muzzle velocity to 2,200 fps and you can immediately feel the recoil drop off, yet you still have a potent big game loading.

The most popular chambering in safari rifles is undoubtedly the .375 Holland and Holland Magnum. The 300 grain bullets that made the cartridge so popular are loaded to 2,550 fps in most factory loadings. These bullets are wonderful for buffalo, elephant and brown bear, but that .375 can be used for much more than the big nasties.

Barnes makes a great 235 grain TSX bullet; it’s a solid copper hollowpoint that can be pushed over 2,800 fps. This makes a great long range elk and moose load. It also works well on black bear, and gives you more time afield with your favorite .375.

So, look at the possibilities for your favorite rifle, and don’t be afraid to use you reloading bench to make sure you have the perfect load for the hunting trip you’re planning. There are tons of great bullets and powders out there, and that’s something we reloaders should be very grateful for.

Long Range Load Development
Jul 9th, 2014 by RoundsReloaded

This article was posted on Sierra’s Facebook page. We found it to be very interesting; so much so that we thought it was worth to be posted in our blog as well. To all the precision long range loaders and the aspiring ones as well, enjoy it. We know that some of us will try this method out.

Long Range Load Development

Written by Sierra Bullets Product Development Manager Mark Walker

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Since I just put a new barrel on my F-class rifle this spring, I figured it might be a good time to discuss load tuning for long range shooting. Getting the most accuracy out of your rifle is one of the most important aspects of load tuning. For long range shooting in particular, using a load that produces the least amount of vertical variation is vital. There are several steps to the process that I use, so I will go through the basics of each. When I first get a new barrel installed, I like to determine what the loaded cartridge “jam” length is. I do this by taking an empty case (no powder or primer) that has been neck sized with the proper bushing (I like to shoot for 0.002 smaller than the loaded cartridge neck diameter) and seat a bullet long in it so that the throat of the rifle will move the bullet back into the case when I close the bolt. I close the bolt several times until the bullet stops moving back into the case at which point I use a comparator with my calipers and get a length measurement on the cartridge. This is what I consider to be the “jam length” for this barrel and chamber. I came up with 3.477 as the “jam length” for this particular barrel. Next, I will fire form some brass using a starting load of powder and bullets seated to “jam” while breaking in the barrel. My barrel break in process is not very technical; it’s mostly just to get the brass formed and the rifle sighted in. I do clean every 5 rounds or so just because I feel like I have to. Once I have the brass formed, I use them to load for a “ladder “ test to see what powder charge the rifle likes. With a ladder test, you take your starting load and load one round each with a slightly increasing amount of powder until you reach your max load for that cartridge. You then fire each round using the same aiming point to see where the bullets start to form a group. For this barrel and cartridge, I started at 53.3 grains of H4831SC powder and increased the load by 0.3 grains until I reached 55.7 grains. I always seat my bullets to “jam” when doing a ladder test. We will determine the final seating depth in another test later. It’s usually best to shoot this test at a minimum of 200 yards because at closer ranges the bullets will impact too close together making it hard to determine which load works best. I shot this test at 300 yards.

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As you can see from the target, the lightest load #1 had the lowest velocity and impacted lowest on the target. Shots #2 and #3 were a little higher and in the same hole. Shots #4 thru #6 were slightly higher yet and all had the same elevation. Shots #7 and #8 were the highest on the target however pressure signs were starting to show. For some reason shot #9 went back into the group and the chronograph didn’t get a reading so I ignored that shot. When picking a load, I am looking for the most shots at the same vertical location on the target. As you can see that would be shots #4 through #6 so I would pick a powder charge from those shots which would be 54.2 grains to 54.8 grains. As a side note, shots #2 and #3 are only 0.851 lower so I wouldn’t be afraid of using one of those loads either. I settled on 54.5 grains as the load I wanted to use. It’s right in the middle of the group so if the velocity goes up or down slightly, the bullet should still hit in the same place on the target. Now that we’ve settled on a powder charge, I want to find the seating depth the rifle likes. I usually start at jam length and move the depth in 0.003 until I get to 0.015 deeper than jam. I load 3 rounds at each depth using the 54.5 grain powder charge and shoot a group with each depth at 150 yards. As you can see from the target, the first two groups are not good at all. Next one looks good and is the smallest group on the target. The next three are not quite as small but the vertical location on the target is almost the same which indicates a sweet spot which will help keep the vertical stringing to a minimum on target. I went with 3.470 which is right in the middle once again and should give some flexibility with the seating depth.

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So after all of that, my load is 54.5 grains of H4831SC and a cartridge length of 3.470. I plan on loading up enough ammo to shoot five groups of five shots and see exactly how this load works on target as well as what the extreme velocity spreads are over several groups. I sincerely hope some of this information helps you to get the best accuracy out of your rifle. I do not take credit for coming up with any of this, a whole lot of good shooters use this same method or a variant of it when working up their loads. For more information about load development, please contact the Sierra Bullets technical support team at 1-800-223-8799 or by email at sierra@sierrabullets.com.

Disclaimer: Load data represented here may not be safe in your rifle.

 

Case Trimmers, Cutting Your Brass Down to Size
Jun 23rd, 2014 by RoundsReloaded

Case Trimmers, Cutting Your Brass Down to Size

Using cases more than once means sooner or latter having to reduce their dimensions. That's when case trimmers such as this RCBS Universal Case Prep Trimmer comes into play.

In the reloading world, we are faced with a set of dimensional specifications that are prescribed by SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) and life goes much easier when we adhere to these dimensions.

The brass cartridge case that we use is the only component of the equation that is reusable, and that is because it is constructed of a malleable metal that can be resized and reshaped. Those very attributes of the brass cartridge case that make it a good choice for a reusable material see to it that we must trim that flowing, moldable material as it flows and stretches.

So, how do maintain these dimensions so that everything works well once we’ve reloaded our cartridges?

Well, there are a few tools that will make your life easier. The goal, simply stated, is to reduce our brass cases to a particular overall length, specific to each individual case. This overall length dimension is available in any good reloading manual, and you’ll need a micrometer to measure the cases. I like to trim my brass cases to the dimensions specified by SAAMI. This keeps things consistent with new brass.

You’ll need some sort of means of trimming the case, be it a hand cranked adjustable devise, or an electric motor driven machine. I use several different methods, some inexpensive (yet fully functional) and some on the expensive side of things.

Case trimmers can be as simple as this hand-operated model by Lee.

The Lee Case Trimmer uses a lock stud, shell holder, cutter and hardened length gauge; the length gauge is specific for each caliber. Depending on where you shop, you can get into this product for less than $15, and the tool can be used either by hand or chucked into a hand drill for quicker trimming. The length gauge has a pin which uses the flash hole as a guide and stops against the lock stud, so the cases are trimmed to a uniform and correct length every time. Although inexpensive, I’ve used this tool in many different calibers for decades.

Lyman, RCBS, and other companies make quality trimmers that utilize a hand crank to trim brass to length. Some are micrometer adjustable, and most come with caliber specific pilots that help hold the case in place to ensure a squarely trimmed case mouth. Once you set the depth to the desired length, all it takes is a few turns of the crank and your case is trimmed to length. The hardened steel cutters give a lifetime of service.

The Trim-It case trimmer is another neat little gadget that can deliver very accurate results. This trimmer works with a cordless drill or drill press to quickly and efficiently trim your brass. It is fully micrometer adjustable (each notch represents approximately 0.002”), and uses the case shoulder for support. The unit uses case specific dies that can quickly be mounted within the body.

My favorite tool, by far, is the RCBS Universal Case Prep Station. It is an electric motor driven trimmer (no more blisters!) unit, with adjustable rpm dial, and caliber specific collets. The length is micrometer adjustable, and the spring loaded jaws hold almost all rim sizes (although I found today that the big 50/90 Sharps is too big).

When using a case trimmer the micrometer becomes your best friend.

Hands free trimming is a wonderful thing, and the consistency is pretty solid, within 0.002” or so. Another nice feature of this machine is the six rotating heads on the top, which hold chamfer and deburring tools, as well as large and small primer pocket cleaning brushes. Sure saves the fingers and wrists!

Some manuals recommend trimming the cases to a dimension 0.010” shorter than the SAAMI specification. This is fine if you choose, yet not necessary. If you do choose to adhere to the shorter dimension, just remember to trim any new, unfired brass before you load it, to keep things consistent.

 

Introducing IMR® 8208 XBR super powder
Jun 15th, 2014 by RoundsReloaded

At times is good to resurrect old articles and products, especially in the face of the powder situation we are traversing right now; to that effect, we thought to bring back this news release from January 2010 from  IMR when the IMR 8208 XBR Super Powder was introduced.

Introducing IMR® 8208 XBR super powder

January, 2010

For Immediate Release

Shawnee Mission Kansas– IMR® Legendary Powders introduces a new super powder, IMR 8208 XBR.IMR 8208 XBR where no target is too small is a remarkably advanced technology propellant perfected for the greatest match, varmint and sniper rounds known today—223 Remington/ 5.56mm, 308 Win./7.62 mm, 6mm PPC, 204 Ruger, 6mm BR, 22-250 Remington and similar calibers.

This short grain extruded rifle powder exhibits a previously unheard of consistency with virtually no change in velocity at temperatures ranging from -40 degrees F to 165+ degrees F. Uniformity from shot to shot translates into tack driving accuracy and this powder has passed the test:

  • Currently loaded in premium factory sniper type ammunition
  • Leading competitive bench rest shooter Mr. Lou Murdica won numerous matches with it in 2009, starting with Heavy Varmint Grand Aggregate at the Cactus Classic
  • August 2009 Mr. Jim Carmichel won the International Benchrest Shooters Association’s 40th Group National Championships, Heavy Varmint Grand Aggregate. Because temperature conditions change, bench rest shooters vary charge weights during a day’s competition.  What is significant here is that Jim shot the exact same load of IMR 8208 XBR both days to win the event.

IMR 8208 XBR are available in 1lb canisters and 8lb kegs at dealers everywhere.  For more information or complete data visit imrpowder.com and the Reloading Data Center, see the 2010 Annual Manual, phone IMR at 913-362-9455 or write to 6231 Robinson, Shawnee Mission, KS 66202.

Annealing: A process almost forgotten
Jun 4th, 2014 by RoundsReloaded

Annealing

Today relatively few handloaders take the time to anneal their case necks. Dave Campbell is one of those few.

 

As I putter around fooling with old stuff I often find myself reacquainting myself with nearly long forgotten skills. In the old days miserly handloaders—a redundant term—would often anneal the necks of their brass cartridge case hoard in order to extract an additional loading or two before reluctantly retiring the eight-cent case. Today relatively few handloaders take the time to anneal their case necks. It is a boring and tedious chore, and given the volume of shooting done by many modern shooters, annealing case necks is simply impractical.

However, as I said at the beginning, I am fooling around with the old stuff—specifically the .45-90-2.4 Sharps cartridge and black powder, along with bullets the size of your thumb. In a couple of weeks I’ll be joining The Shootists in Raton, N.M., and several of us will be going up against the 1,123-yard iron bison on the silhouette range. The batch of cases I am using have been fired once, and the sizing, expanding, bullet seating—anything that moves the brass—work-hardens the case at its neck. I was initially skeptical of this whole annealing process, so I asked some guys with a lot more experience than I have to explain the logic and necessity of annealing.

One Country Gent (his online moniker), of Ohio, stated the reasoning succinctly, “Case neck annealing helps maintain consistent neck tension on a loaded round. As cases are sized and fired they are constantly flexing and work hardening. (similar to bending a wire back and forth till it breaks) This also affects how well the cases seal to the chamber.” He further stated that I could verify the effectiveness of annealing by taking 20 cases from the same lot; annealing 10 and loading the other 10 without annealing, Shoot all 20 at one sitting, recording accuracy and characteristics (like effectiveness of sealing the bore based upon how dirty the exterior of the case is); repeat the process until the cases begin to fail—split or head separation. That would take quite a while, so I’ll defer to his experience in the matter.

There are several methods used to anneal case necks, differing primarily in productivity and, to a lesser degree, uniformity. One can buy or build a jig the only allows the first half-inch or so of the case neck to be heated. The time honored one—and what I am using for now because I don’t have the time to build a jig and am too stingy to buy one—is to place several empty cases with the spent primers removed into a cake pan about half filled with water. It should be obvious as to why one would not anneal cases that are live primed. I removed the primers in order to allow the water to fill the bottom of the case and keep it from bobbing around in the water. Heat the top 1/2 inch of the cases with a torch as evenly as possible; when it glows orange, remove the heat and tip the case into the water to cool. The purpose of the water is two-fold: It prevents the heat from crawling to the head area of the case and ruining it, and cools the neck so that it can be handled—removed and set to dry while replenishing the pan with fresh cases—with bare hands. There is more to learn about this annealing thing—mostly as to how to increase productivity—and I think I’ll see if the powers that be here will allow me to further explore it in a full-length article.

Annealing isn’t just for old charcoal burners. Many ammo manufacturers anneal virgin case necks to reduce the scrapping of new cases with split necks during the loading process. Too, I am hearing rumbling of accuracy buffs using case annealing to maintain uniformity of bullet tension and sealing of the bore and chamber in modern ultra-high-velocity cartridges. When your passion in life is the zero-inch group, nothing is too tedious or over-the-top to achieve that objective.


 

 

3 Responses to Annealing

Wayne the Shrink wrote:
May 29, 2014

I agree with Tom. I anneal mine in my lead pot. Do not deprime your cases. Get your lead to 750 degrees, hold one case by the base. Dip the neck in the lead and do a slow count until you can’t hold the base any more. Drop the case, use a pair of pliers or other utensil to hold the other cases to the same count. You have annealed your cases. If you leave a little of the sizing lube on the necks you won’t get any lead soldered on, either.
 

NHshtr wrote:
May 28, 2014

I’ve been meaning to try this with my .270 WSM cases. Anyone have a guide as to how often this should be done on a given case? e.g. every reloading or after a few?
 

Tom Myers wrote:
May 28, 2014

If you have heated the brass to the point where it ‘glows orange’ you have essentially ruined the case. The brass is then so soft that it lost the ability to provide neck tension to the bullet. The brass should only be heated to where it just starts to change color, a light tan or irridesent blue is just about right


 

You can find this article in the Hunting Blogs of the American Hunter online magazine an NRA publication, http://www.americanhunter.org/bloggers.php

Why do we reload?
May 17th, 2014 by RoundsReloaded

We went in search of the answer to this question…Here is an article from AmmoLand.com…Oldie but goodie!

Setting Up To Reload Your Own Ammo

Published on Tuesday, September 04, 2012

First Reloads
By Roy Hill, Brownells Copywriter

Reload Your Own Ammo

Des Moines, Iowa – -(Ammoland.com)- I remember what it was like to be a rookie reloader.
In a lot of ways, it’s like being a rookie shooter, or maybe driving a car for the very first time. The first time I sat down at my bench to prime and charge cases, I had the same tight feeling in my chest, the same heightened awareness of every move I made, as I did the first time my grandfather showed me how to operate a shotgun, or the first time I got behind the wheel of my family’s Matador station wagon when I was only 15.
I was very concerned about doing everything exactly right, and I was very excited to see if I could actually make my own ammunition that would work in my gun. I was so anxious to test my first batch of .38 Special reloads, that I grabbed the first six cartridges I produced along with a revolver and some ear muffs and almost jogged out to my backyard pistol range. Six loud, satisfying bangs later, I ejected the empties, and then quickly went back inside so I could reload them again.
Just like acquiring any other skill that involves potentially dangerous machinery – like operating a chainsaw – reloading requires attention to detail, the right equipment, and concentration. And learning that you can do it well brings the same satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. Of course, you’ll hear other reasons for getting into reloading: it saves you money, you can make super-accurate ammo tailored to your specific gun, you can make ammo in hard-to-find calibers or even in calibers that are no longer commercially manufactured at all.

All of them are 100 percent true. But the main reason I reload is the kick I get from shooting ammo that I made, myself.

If you shoot much at all, you’ve probably already got some spent brass laying around. You’ll need the correct powder, primers, and bullets for the caliber you want to reload – plus some basic reloading tools.

Education, Education, Education
Reloading is one of those activities that really must be done by the book. A good load manual published by a reliable source is a must for every reloader. Most people who reload wind up owning several load manuals . Do NOT trust load data published on an Internet site or forum unless you consult a quality load manual first. And if you’re ever in doubt about a specific load, just follow what a good manual says. One of the terms you’ll come across on the Internet that’s sometimes connected to load recipes not published in reputable manuals is “KABOOM.” To avoid getting acquainted with Mr.“KABOOM” on a very personal level, follow a manual, every single time.

Get good manuals and study them, often.

RCBS Rockchucker Supreme Press: The Rock Chucker Supreme Press has been one of the most popular single stage reloading presses in the world for many years. The current Supreme model has been lengthened to more easily accommodate some of today’s longer cartridges, and the press handle will switch in the mount for right or left handed users.

Reloading Press – Single Stage or Progressive?
Lots of folks will say that rookie reloaders should start with single-stage presses. I’m one of the odd-ducks who ran out and got one of the big expensive progressive presses to start with. I’ve reloaded with both single-stage and progressives, and think that both types have their good points and limitations.

First off, a single-stage press is just what it sounds like: a press with a single stage. Every step of the reloading process, from removing the spent primer and resizing the cartridge case, to repriming and charging with powder, to seating and crimping the bullet properly, is done on the same single stage.

You just have to change dies for every step. Typically, folks do the steps in batches. Deprime and resize 50 cases. Then swap dies and prime and charge 50 cases, swap dies and seat 50 bullets, and so on.

A progressive press does several reloading steps simultaneously. It takes longer to set up a progressive press, but once it is, you can really crank out the reloads quickly, since the press will simultaneously perform several reloading steps on several cartridge cases – so long as you remember to rotate the cartridge cases to the next step!

If you don’t pay attention to while operating a progressive press, it’s easy to make a mistake like not putting any powder into the cases.

Do your research. Think about what types of ammo you specifically intend to reload, for what purposes, and how comfortable you are with machines, following directions, and staying focused on one task. For example, if you plan to reload 20 to 50 rifle cartridges a few times a year for hunting and sighting-in, a simple, single-stage press would be perfectly fine.

However, if you want to reload hundreds of pistol rounds a week so you can economically practice for 3-gun or action pistol matches, a progressive press might be a better choice.

Hornady Lock-N-Load Auto Progressive Press

Hornady Lock-N-Load Auto Progressive Press

Again, choosing what kind of press you need is a very personal choice, and one that you need to think about and research.

The purpose of the press, of course, is to hold the cartridge cases to be reloaded and the reloading dies…

Do Or Dies
New reloaders can be stunned by the sheer variety of dies available. There are dies that push out spent primers and reshape only the neck of a rifle cartridge case. There are dies that resize the entire length of the case. There are dies that slightly bell the mouth of a case and fill it with powder.

There are dies that seat bullets, and dies that crimp cases mouths around those bullets. There are dies to form and trim one type of cartridge case into a completely different cartridge case. There are almost endless variations of all these types of dies, with several choices for each caliber, and sometimes in calibers you’ve never even heard of.

If you are a rookie reloader, don’t get caught up in all the types of dies. Stay narrow and focused. Choose one specific caliber to reload at first and get a die set from a reputable maker to start with. Learn that set of dies first, and only after you’ve reloaded with it for a while and start to really understand it, then branch out into other types of dies if you want. But start simple at first.

Think of it as similar to learning the rifle shooting fundamentals of proper position, breath control, trigger control and follow through before you start worrying about wind formulas, mil-dot ranging formulas or spin drift. Crawl first; then walk.

All That Other Stuff                                                                                                                                                                                                             Of course, there is a lot of other stuff you’ll need. To keep from getting overwhelmed with choices, rookie reloaders should focus on one specific caliber, and get only the accessories for that one caliber. Depending on the type and brand of press you bought, you will need a shellplate or shellholder to hold cases in the press. Typically, single-stage presses use shellholders, while progressive presses use shellplates. The instructions that come with your press will tell you how to identify the shellholder or ’plate you need.

You must also have some way of accurately measuring powder. Some die sets come with pre-calibrated scoops that tell you how much of which type powder to use. There are powder hoppers that mount directly onto your bench, or mount onto progressive presses and can be adjusted to throw different sized powder charges. There are even more expensive automatic powder measuring systems available. Again, think carefully about your specific goals and needs when deciding on how to measure powder. Do you want to carefully handcraft a few rounds of highly-accurate ammo for a specific rifle? Or crank out mass quantities of practice or plinking ammo?

Lyman 1200 Pro Tumblers: Lyman’s best-selling tumbler, the 1200 Pro is a great entry-level tumbler at an entry-level price, with an added bonus. It also features a built-in sifter lid for quick and easy media separation, so it saves you the cost of buying a separate sifter. Read more: http://www.ammoland.com/2012/09/reload-your-own-ammo/#ixzz31ysrIjUy  Under Creative Commons License: Attribution  Follow us: @Ammoland on Twitter | Ammoland on Facebook

Lyman 1200 Pro Tumblers: Lyman’s best-selling tumbler, the 1200 Pro is a great entry-level tumbler at an entry-level price, with an added bonus. It also features a built-in sifter lid for quick and easy media separation, so it saves you the cost of buying a separate sifter.

A reloading scale of some sort is a must. Reloading scales are available in traditional balance beam or electronic models, and are calibrated in grains, the standard unit of measure used in the United States for reloading. The scale will help you set powder charges, weigh bullets, and verify that your powder measure is consistently throwing the correct-weight charge. You will also need a precision measuring tool accurate to within .001″, like a standard dial or electronic caliper. Especially if you are reloading for a semi-automatic, your rounds need to be kept to the correct overall length to ensure proper feeding from the magazine. If you plan on reloading rifle cartridges, you absolutely need a case trimmer. Lots of handgun cartridges can be reloaded without trimming, but most rifle cartridges produce pressures high enough to make the brass “flow” when fired, increasing the length of the case. If you really get into reloading, you will eventually have to buy a case trimmer anyway, along with a tool to deburr trimmed cases so bullets seat smoothly.

Optional, But Nice To Have
Most people like to clean off their brass before they reload, and a case cleaner is a good purchase. There are vibratory case cleaners, tumblers , even sonic cleaners that use liquid solutions and high-frequency sound waves to get all the grit and grime off cartridge cases. Think about which method of cleaning cases works for you. How much room do you have in your reloading area? What part of the house is it in? Some of these cleaners can be quite loud when they’re operating.

And while you don’t have to purchase one, a chronograph is the best way to find out how well your reloads are performing. A chronograph helps you measure bullet velocities to determine how consistent your reloads are; the more consistent and repeatable, the more it helps accuracy. Especially if you want to work up a load customized for your specific firearm, a chronograph is a very good purchase.

As with golf, duck hunting, homebrewing, or any hobby you get into seriously, you may eventually wind up accumulating quite a bit of reloading equipment. But you don’t need it all at once to get started successfully. Choose one caliber to begin with, and then at the bare minimum, buy a press, set of dies, the correct shellplate or shellholder, powder measuring tools, a reloading scale and calipers. If you’re reloading rifle cartridges, add a case trimmer and associated tools. If you plan on getting serious about reloading, invest in a case cleaner and a chronograph. And above all else, find some good, quality reloading manuals and read them, read them, read them. Did I mention reading the manual? The manual keeps you from meeting Mr. KABOOM.

Once you do finally get your reloading gear set up, you too can experience the thrill and satisfaction of shooting targets with ammo that you made, all by yourself.

 

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B
A
R
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