Ammo, that is – not tobacco or weed.
This isn’t an instructional post, there’s way too many resources out there that can give you much better instructions than I can – any reloading manual for one, plus with the internet these days? Let me just say that I learned how to reload from Guns and Ammo magazine as well as Speer’s #9 manual (I just aged myself) and I’ve never had a misfire or squib load yet – and that’s with thousands and thousands of bullets loaded. I’m not exaggerating here. It’s a simple assembly line process that anybody with a half a brain can do. I even know Okies that can reload.
Keep in mind that I’m talking handgun cartridges here – rifle bullets are a different process but just as easy. Shotgun shells are a whole ‘nother critter but again, just as easy but that process requires a different press.
The very basic process is: Your first die punches the primer out and reshapes the case, the second bells the mouth out to accept the bullet, your next step is to prime the case, the next step is to charge the case, the third die inserts the bullet and crimps it in and you’re done. It’s that easy. If you’re loading an auto you’ll want to go an extra step and buy another die – the factory die does a roll crimp. You’ll want to seat your bullet with that but buy a taper crimp for more reliable feeding. We’re talking another 15-20 bucks.
Okay, start-up costs. I’m gonna use RCBS because that’s what I know. You can buy the entire kit, and I’m talking rifle and handgun, for $433 bucks HERE. That’s new from the manufacturer and will load anything up to 50 BMG. Shop around and you can get the same deal cheaper. It’s a single stage press so that means you have do it manually and one step at a time. Again, we’re talking handgun here so you can figure about 100 rounds per hour after you get a little practice in. How long will it last you? Well, I’m still on my original press with no signs of wear and I started reloading back in the mid 1980s. Your grandkids will be loading on it long after you’re dead and buried.
Savings – Assuming you police your brass we’re talking powder, primers and bullets. Powder? 30 bucks a pound and there’s 7000 grains per pound. My recipe calls for 5 grains of Bullseye per 45 ACP cartridge, you do the math. Primers run about 30 bucks per thousand. Stay away from the Russian primers, they suck – or they used to when they first came out, they may have improved. Bullets are about 70 bucks for 500 FMJ but lead bullets for plinking are much cheaper – shop around.
Non-magnum cases can be used until the rims are so chewed up they won’t extract anymore or until you notice a defect in the case walls. Magnum cases can be used until their 3rd trimming, after that the case walls are too thin and should be discarded.
Again guys, it’s an assembly line type process. Do 50 rounds (because that’s what your loading blocks hold) per step. De-cap and re-form 50 rounds. Bell 50 rounds, prime 50, charge 50 and cap 50. Rinse, lather, repeat.
Once you get familiar with the basics you can start to explore if you want, but if you’re doing basic reloading and that suits your purpose, stick with that.
The advantages of reloading used to be suiting your cartridge to your gun to make it more accurate but with QC being what it is in the ammo industries nowadays, you’d have to really be on your game to beat a factory load for accuracy anymore – again, I’m talking handguns. But….. you can beat the hell out of the cost and with money being as tight as it is, that’s a good a reason as any to load particularly if you shoot more than a couple boxes a month. Hell, I recouped the cost of my equipment within 3 months, but back then I was shooting a hell of a lot more than I do anymore. And to be honest with you I can’t say I actually saved money because once I started loading I started shooting more just because it was more affordable – I probably shot an average of 100-200 rounds a day then. What can I say, I was single and lived on property where gunfire wasn’t an issue. Hell, I got into loading so much I that I would go out and burn a couple hundred rounds just so I’d have brass to load.
I can honestly say though that the main advantage, other than costs, was that I began to understand my firearms and ammo so much better – it wasn’t just hitting my target where I was aiming, it was balancing velocity and accuracy and economy – sometimes faster ain’t better. Depending on the weight of the bullet and the rifling of your barrel, especially with magnum calibers and extra heavy loads you might actually want to reduce the velocity to maximize your accuracy – or you might want to pump it up. WyeReconMarine can and will verify this in the comments of this post.
Okay, this post ran a little longer than I intended so I’m going to wrap it up now. If you have any questions or if I can clarify anything, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’m not an expert at reloading but I have 30+ years experience – if I can’t answer your questions I can steer you to somebody or someplace that can and trust me, I’m more than willing to do so.