By J Bishop
Let’s start re-loading…. start by setting up your reloading table or bench in an area with good lighting, away from distractions. Purchase reloading manuals and keep them within reach for easy reference and don’t skimp on a good powder scale; the better the scale the more accurate the powder measure. We also recommend an adjustable ergonomic chair that allows you to sit comfortably and reload for long periods of time.
Since you’re new to reloading always follow the reloading manual instructions precisely, don’t deviate. Familiarize yourself with the different types of presses, scales, and dies, we’ve included basic descriptions below to get you started. There are many reloading websites and instruction videos on the internet, watch the videos to familiarize yourself with reloading equipment, terminology and the basic steps. ALWAYS follow the safety precautions emphasized in the reloading manuals and on merchandise packaging.
Basic equipment for reloading:
PRESS – Presses come in different styles or models but can be described in two categories: single stage and progressive. Single stage presses perform one operation with each pull of the handle. The advantages of a single stage press are:
• Capable of reloading any cartridge – depending on the size of the press.
• Less expensive.
• Easy to operate.
• Requires little or no maintenance.
The disadvantage of a Single Stage press is the slow speed.
Progressive or turret presses are faster than a single stage press. Turret or progressive presses allow the user to place a single empty casing into the press and then rotate the casing through multiple stages before removing the completed cartridge. Most progressive presses are capable of 250+ rounds an hour. Progressive presses perform multiple functions on separate cartridge cases with each handle pull, depending on the type of press.
Rifle – 2 die set:
• Stage 1 – de-prime/resize
• Stage 2 – seat primer/powder drop
• Stage 3 – seat projectile or bullet
Pistol – 3 Die Set:
• Stage 1 – de-prime/resize
• Stage 2 – expand case mouth/seat primer
• Stage 3 – drop powder/seat projectile or bullet
• Stage 1 – de-prime/resize
• Stage 2 – seat primer
• Stage 3 – powder drop
• Stage 4 – insert Wad/drop shot
• Stage 5 – crimp casing
The disadvantages of progressive presses are:
• $$$ they cost much more than a single stage press.
• Movable parts wear out so maintenance and replacement costs are inevitable, depending on use.
You need to choose a press that is large enough to accommodate the tallest brass casing you plan to reload.
Dies – Dies come in sets that are caliber specific. The number of dies that come in a set are usually 2 for bottleneck cartridges and 3 for straight cartridges. In a 2 die set the first die is used to remove the used primer and resize the case. The second die in the set is used for seating the new projectile or bullet and crimping. In a two die set lube is necessary when resizing the case to prevent it from sticking in the die. In a 3 die set the first die is used to resize the case and remove the used primer. The second die in the 3 die set is used to expand the case mouth for a new bullet or projectile. The third die in the 3 die set is used to seat and crimp a new bullet. Three die sets are available in steel, carbide or titanium nitride. The carbide and titanium nitride sets are more expensive but can be used without lube; a steel die set requires lube. Most brands of dies will work in any press, but sometimes you will encounter a press that is die-brand specific.
Shell plate / Shell holder – This is the piece in your press to hold the cartridge case in place. Single stage presses use universal shell holders that work with any brand of press. Most progressive presses utilize a shell plate that is unique to the brand and type of press. Shell plates are more expensive than shell holders. Shell plates and shell holders are cartridge specific, but most can be used with multiple cartridges.
Measuring Device / Scale – This can be a calibrated set of powder scoops, or a dispenser filled rotary type that is adjustable to drop the charge weight you need. Our recommendation for either press type is a powder measure that is adjustable for any charge weight. We recommend an additional digital scale to verify the accuracy of the powder weight being dispensed by a rotary device.
Data / Reloading manuals – Reloading data is the detailed recipe for the cartridge you plan to reload. It identifies what type and how much of each ingredient you will need. The best reloading data sources are reloading manuals published by the various bullet manufacturers. Most will contain data for a number of different cartridges, history of the cartridges, and special tips for the cartridges. The second best source of data is from the powder manufacturers themselves. Most will provide the data for free on their website or via pamphlets available at your local gun shop.
Brass / Case – we recommend new brass to all new re-loaders because it is the safest way to begin reloading. When purchasing ammunition that you plan to reload, make sure it is made with brass cases. The case is generally the most expensive part of the cartridge and reloading allows it to be recycled many times.
Powder – select the powder recommended by the reloading manuals based on the ammo type and caliber you plan to reload. Gunpowder is measured by a measurement of weight known as a grain. Smokeless powders contain a lot of energy in a few grains of powder so measuring powder volume must be done with precision and accuracy. If in doubt ~ dump it out, always confirm measurement in an accurate powder scale.
Projectiles – always select the proper projectile size by weight and caliber.
Primers – select the primers recommended by the reloading manuals. Primers contain a little anvil and a small amount of explosive compound. Primers are available in large, small, rifle, and pistol sizes. Rifle primers are made a little heavier to withstand the higher pressures created in rifles. Never substitute primers, do not use rifle primers in a pistol cartridge or pistol primers in a rifle cartridge because they are slightly different and will not properly seat in the primer socket.
Good Luck and always reload with precision and caution.
**Remember; if in doubt dump it out**