By Butch Mackay
If you are a weekend shooter and want to save some money on ammunition expenses, you should look into shot shell reloading as a hobby. Factory loads are more expensive than reloads allowing you to shoot more for the same amount of money.
Reloading you own shot shells may seem like a very difficult and complicated process, but like anything with a little practice you will find that reloading is a simple and basically repetitive process. Paying attention detail will allow you to produce reliable and safe ammunition.
A reloading press is the device that provides the mechanical leverage to reload the ammunition. The press holds the dies that will reform, prime and reload the shells. Most reloading presses are self-contained. They normally come with all the dies, bushings, charge bars, and other accessories used to load one gauge of shot shells. Most basic reloading presses normally have powder and shot reservoirs which allow the operator to perform each step one-by-one to reload a shell.
The inexpensive reloading machines are designed to reload only one gauge of shell. If you want to reload a 12 gauge and a 20 gauge shell, then you must buy a 12 gauge and a 20 gauge press. The more expensive machines have dies which are made for the various gauges. If you do a lot of shot shell reloading using different gauge shells, then you might find it easier to just buy an inexpensive separate press for each gauge depending upon how much reloading you plan to do instead of changing the dies repeatedly.
Plastic cases are much more durable than paper hulls as paper hulls can only be reloaded once or maybe twice. In order to reload shotgun shells, you must first inspect the fired hulls to make certain the shell is totally empty. Inspect the case mouth for damage or splitting. Also, inspect the brass head for any separation or cracks. Cases that are not prefect should be thrown away.
In order to transform a loaded shell from a fired hull, it takes approximately seven press handle pulls. This re sizes the case, removes the fired primer, primes the shell, drops a powder charge, seats the wad, drops the shot, starts the new crimp and then completes the crimp. You must complete each step on each single shell prior to starting on the next shell. You usually just move from station to station on your reloading press. You will also want to be sure to purchase a reloading manual specifically for shot shells and follow the instructions to insure safe reloading guidelines.
Although not an absolute necessity, but it will certainly make the task easier, would be the purchase of an inexpensive reloading bench to hold your press. Many weekend shooters find shot shell reloading a relaxing, money-saving, hobby. For anyone who does much shotgunning or clay target sports, reloading your shot shells will definitely save money.