The Mysteries of Reloading Ammo

There is a large amount of confusion about reloading your own ammunition. The plain and simple fact is it is nothing more than putting powder in a shell casing pressing a bullet in the casing and you have a cartridge ready to shoot. Sounds easy right? Well it is as long as you follow the safety rules of reloading.

One of the major rules is NEVER mix powders. Never use a rifle powder in a pistol round or use pistol powder in a rifle or you could encounter catastrophic consequences. Use the proper powder for the proper cartridge and bullet you want to use. You don’t need a chemistry degree for this as all the powder manufactures have reloading data that you can get on line free of charge. You find the caliber you want to reload and the chart will give you all the bullet sizes and powders you can use and the proper charge for the cartridge and bullet.  

You will need a powder scale to weigh out each powder charge so you know you have the right weight. This is a critical part of reloading. Over charging a cartridge can be as bad as under charging one. If it is over charged the firearm may not be able to take the pressures and could cause a catastrophic failure of the firearm. I simple terms it could blow up in your hands. Under charging can lead to a round not having enough charge to push the bullet all the way out of the barrel thereby causing what’s called a squib. This would be like sticking your barrel in the mud and firing it without clearing the obstruction, the same effect as overcharging. This is what the scale is for.

I have solved the problems of mixing powders by finding one powder that I can use in all my long guns and one powder to use in all the handguns. This eliminates any confusion as to what powder is used in what and to add further safety I write on each one RIFLE or PISTOL. I also use what they call bullet trays. These are plastic trays that hold the cartridges after they have been primed upright so you can put the powder charge in them. I use two trays so as I charge a cartridge I move it from one tray to another to eliminate the chance of a double charge. When finished even after thirty years I still look in each cartridge to make sure they have the right charge amount. Most rifle cartridges are hard to double charge as the powder usually fills the case and if you do you’ll have a holy crap moment as you will have powder everywhere.

The last part is putting a bullet in the cartridge. There is an overall cartridge and bullet length that must be obtained so the bullet will fit in the chamber correctly. Most reloading manuals will give you the proper length for the caliber you are reloading. Press the bullet in the cartridge and you have a reloaded cartridge ready to fire. Some need to be crimped and there is a die for that and it will take practice to get the hang of crimping.

I won’t get into all the different presses you can buy as each to his own. Find one that you are comfortable with and go for it. You can (or used to) find used presses at yard sales that are cheap and in good condition but I would suggest you look at new ones to see what they should look and function like before you buy a used one if it’s your first press. It can be fun and rewarding to reload as you can reload custom rounds that fit your needs. This is the basic idea of how to reload and is nothing that anyone should be afraid to try. Always remember SAFETY first.

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