DeSantis Gunhide Question of the Day: Roll You Own Ammo?

Jon Wayne Taylor loads his own ammo. “Every gun has a load it prefers,” he opines. Well, good for him! And good for those of you who fire hand loads to maximize your gun’s accuracy. I don’t have the personality for the job. I’m not exactly ADD, but I find it difficult to concentrate enough to safely handle the precision that reloading or handloading requires — especially with the constant, often unpredictable demands of single fatherhood posing an ever-present threat of interruption. A man’s gotta know his limitations and all that. Do you roll your own? If so, how did your early experiments go? And do custom loads really make that much of a difference?

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comments

  1. avatar Milsurp Collector says:

    No, but I’ve been intending to start for years, damn procrastination.

    1. avatar FlaResident says:

      And I though it was just me

    2. avatar Mark N. says:

      The start up costs and the space requirements (even though minimal, must be well lit and draft free), to say nothing of the time commitment, have always held me back. But I would dearly love to reload .45 Colt with black powder. Those would be fun to shoot!

      So the only “reloading” I do is on cap and ball pistols and muzzle loaders. And yes, those loads need to be set for the gun.

      1. avatar Volunteer says:

        If you shoot 45 Colt you should have been loading years ago.

  2. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Yup, for every center fire I own. It does make a difference in accuracy. I’m still tweaking loads for my RPR, but for all the others, I’ve got them dialed in.
    For accuracy or the medium to large bore, I use a single stage press and weigh the powder charges.
    For plinking ammo, I use the Dillon 650. It’s very easy to crank out 1K rounds in just a few hours.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Cost benefit too. Reusing brass, I’m less than $200 per thousand for 5.56 ammo.
      The real savings is in the .416 and the .470 NE. That is spendy ammo to buy, but to reload? Huge savings. And I can customize with bullet weight and speed combinations.

  3. avatar Priest of the center mass says:

    This has always been interesting to me, biggest concern is storage of equipment and space to work?
    Any “best resources to read” out there so i don’t waste time over poor info?

    1. avatar Carl says:

      Yup – read the Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading.

      That’s all you need

      1. avatar Jim in Conroe says:

        Good advice!!!

    2. avatar JmbCollector says:

      Most reputable reloading manuals have an intro section full of good info. Nothing beats tribal knowledge of seasoned & safe reloaders. Find a respected local and pick their brain…it can save you lots of $$$ and time.

      1. avatar Jim in Conroe says:

        Finding someone who reloads to give you advice is quite valuable, whether it is hands on or by email. Other sources are YouTube (avoid videos by guys named Bubba wearing camo – one i like is Hornady Loader at https://m.youtube.com/?#/channel/UCfkNE-q6cj7Vstb-TVBygsg) and forums for your particular firearm.

    3. avatar Mr. 308 says:

      Rex is your man.

  4. avatar Carl says:

    Those bereft of the basic focus and attention needed to safely reload are also lacking the basic focus and attention needed to safely own firearms.

    1. avatar Heretical Politik says:

      This. Yes, it can be dangerous. But it certainly isn’t as delicate as open heart surgery.

    2. avatar MSgtB says:

      Heretic, one can safely own a firearm without having the time, patience, and OCD to reload. Such sweeping condemnation of all who aren’t as awesome as thou really irks me. Give a smidgen of proof for your bombastic claim, oh Great One.

  5. avatar Mr. 308 says:

    Yes, and I only wish I had more time to get out to use it.

    “difficult to concentrate enough to safely handle the precision that reloading or handloading requires”

    Yes you do have to take great care. And using a single stage press and weighing each load – and double checking myself at each step I do believe this is a manageable thing.

    Just keep your loading room separate from anything else, you don’t do it while watching TV or visiting with friends… keep your mind on the task. It’s a little laboratory, think safety second all the time.

    I have had great luck with it so far, and it saves money. Oh and UPS will deliver your components to you here in NY while they will not do for ammo.

  6. avatar Michael says:

    Yes.. allows me to shoot more in 45acp, 38 spec, and 357 mag, 10MM.

    Funny thing. .I have a Savage 110 that is sub moa with Remington greenbox…took quite some time to do a hand roll that was better and I only persisted because I am stubborn. Made a big difference to hand roll .243 (thought I had a mediocre rifle until I started loading for it).

  7. avatar Mr. 308 says:

    I don’t know about you but drilling the flash port out like the guy in vid does looks awfully dangerous to me.

    1. avatar Pascal says:

      agree, and there are tools available that will do the same thing in safer way

  8. avatar rdsii64 says:

    Quality factory ammo will do everything I need it to do. The problem is that “QUALITY” is out of my price range.
    By hand loading, I can shoot quality consistent loads for about the price of milsurp. I look for sales and buy in bulk when I can.

    1. avatar Tile floor says:

      That’s the only reason I would want to do it, for the savings. I’m not really interested in making my own loads, just saving money.

      I’m afraid of blowing myself or a gun up, so I refrain for now. Maybe in 30 years when I retire..

      1. avatar Phil LA says:

        Its really not a big deal. If you can follow directions to make cupcakes, you can handload. Follow the book and start low.

        1. avatar Timmy! says:

          That’s me out then. I’m such a bad cook, I burn the water when I try to make ice!

  9. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I do not generally load my own ammunition … in my world the amount of time involved to manufacture is not worth the increase in accuracy or the reduced price.

  10. avatar Jim in Conroe says:

    I reload to save money, but it takes a while to payoff the investment in reloading equipment.

    The one time I wanted to reload for accuracy for an elk hunt, I was unable to match the performance of a commercially available round, which is what I ended up using.

  11. avatar Clay says:

    Don’t have the patience. Too many other cool things to do. Although I would like to design the equipment…

  12. avatar Carl says:

    Oh – By the way – Don’t click on SumoMe unless you want even more Farrago Spam

  13. avatar Pascal says:

    Dillon XL650 and never looked back. Yes, it took some learning. But, I never had an issue and far more accurate than factory loads and still lower priced than match ammo. Plus, it is fun.

    And, should we have another ammunition shortage post November, I have plenty of powder, primers and brass to last me a while.

  14. Unfortunately I don’t have time for it, but sometimes a few of my range friends roll ammo for me – kind of a compromise – a bit more expensive than rolling my own, but still cheaper than brand new.

  15. avatar Ralph says:

    “Do you roll your own?”

    Are we still talking about ammunition?

    1. avatar Bernard says:

      No, we’re talking about tube amps. What are you smoking?

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        What are you smoking?

        Tube amps of course.

  16. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    Yep, the only way to have reasonable cost 300 Blackout. It is a slippery slope though, my loading bench now has 2 progressive reloaders, a single stage, and a shotgun shell loader.

  17. avatar kenneth says:

    Been reloading since 15 YO. Started not for accuracy, but to be able to afford to shoot my first centerfire handgun, a 6″ Dan Wesson .357, more. One could load many more rounds for the same cost, esp. when I later started casting my own 148 grain wadcutters.
    Only later did I start loading for accuracy in bolt-action rifles. I did find that I could make all of my rifles shoot better, if I could find the correct load. All barrels do, indeed, have certain combinations that they prefer, as stated above. They can also be lousy, and so can factory loads.
    In general, I found that I could make most guns shoot better with handloads, but only slightly. Sometimes groups half the size, but a decent boltgun will print sub 2″ groups unless the factory made some mistake or other, which does happen. So even a halving is still not likely to make much difference for the average shooter.
    For the long distance shooter it’s mandatory. Even the varmint hunter reloads, sometimes right in the field. All benchresters do, also. I think the best reason for reloading is the broader choice of loads. Many times the amount of choices, over the shooter limited only to factory ammo. Plus squib loads, shot, frangibles, super light(or super heavy) weight bullets, and on and on…

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “All barrels do, indeed, have certain combinations that they prefer, as stated above. They can also be lousy, and so can factory loads.”

      That’s what I’m beginning to realize, each barrel has a specific mechanical resonance, a literal metallic ‘ring’ it makes when struck by the charge of powder and the slug moving through it.

      If it hasn’t already, I hope TTAG does an article on the specifics of working up handloads for accuracy.

      1. avatar Mr. 308 says:

        If you haven’t seen TiborasaurusRex’s Sniper 101 series on Youtube you really need to.

        It’s like a college level course on long range shooting and covers handloads – and rifle harmonics, and a whole lot of other things in great detail.

        Seriously, if you haven’t seen them yet, check it out. You’ll thank me later.

      2. avatar Wilson says:

        “That’s what I’m beginning to realize, each barrel has a specific mechanical resonance, a literal metallic ‘ring’ it makes…”

        All you need to do to prove this to yourself is get a few 4-pronged flash hiders and listen to the different sounds they make.

        Something like this: https://www.hkparts.net/shop/pc/4-Prong-Pistol-Flash-Hider-578-X-28-RH-200p2188.htm

  18. avatar PPGMD says:

    I am just getting into pistol reloading.

    On the pistol side it is less about accuracy than cost savings. Competition pistol loads are expensive running $250-400 per a case of 1,000 rounds. Where as you can often reload the same thing for 10-20 cents a round.

    And there is also the benefit of tuning the load to your gun. Shooting a compensated rifle or pistol then you use a slow burning powder that produces more gas for your comp to work with (like autocomp). Perhaps you gun has a copper, and leading issue then you can use CFE Pistol. But I think these are minor benefits compared to the cost saving.

    Now if you are buying cheap reloads, or Wally World ammo you might not see the benefit. But those of us buying Atlanta Arms, ASYM, and other more expensive options will see cost saving as one of the primary benefits.

  19. avatar Missouri Mule says:

    Started reloading after Sandy Hook in 2012.

    You bet! It was the only way my wife and I had ammunition to practice with during “the great shortage,” especially .380.

  20. avatar RCC says:

    I reload for accuracy mostly now. Aiming for 0.5 Moa or less in my centre fires.

    Started for both cost saving and accuracy. Had to change loads over the years as projectiles and powder were not available. Disadvantage of living in remote part of Australia for a while where local hardware stocked Chinese ammo at high prices.

    Began in college (1980’s) to save money on 12 guage when I used to shot clays competition weekly. These days I buy 12 guage as the cost is fairly low

  21. avatar Justin says:

    For some of my calibers is just makes sense to roll my own. I do find I can tune my rounds to almost exactly what I want them to do but it may or may not be better than an off the shelf ammo, however it is almost always cheaper.

    I’ve generally played it safe and followed the recipes in the books and stayed in the ranges set by them, I’ve pushed the pressure limits a bit from time to time but still have all my fingers and no kaboom yet. that actually is the one area I have always felt is part science part voodoo, pressure, sometimes there are signs sometimes there are not and I can’t seem to find any good answer other than lab equipment to measure it.

    I’m not a single parent but I do know how much the little carpet sharks can destroy any semblance of focus. what worked for me was to set up a second reloading setup with junk components, spent primers (washed with lead removing soap) and fine sand as the powder and had my kids load up with me.
    couple words of advice, get some range brass in a caliber you do not shoot for the kids to work with, and wash everything (brass, bullets, spent primers) My kids have a habit of not washing their hands as often as they should.
    I first started having the kids work with 308 and junk components…. well I had an interesting range session and later pulled a round that was full of sand and not powder. After that I picked up a few bags of 22-250 brass and few bags of fmj seconds and now the kids have their own setup.

    Respectfully Submitted

    1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

      Actually that’s a great time to get them in the habit of washing hands after handling ammo of any sort especially reloading.

  22. avatar B says:

    I’ve got the equipment to reload the main calibers, though I only bother with 38, 357, and 300BLK. Ammo is so cheap right now it’s kind of pointless except for those. Plus they all use H110 which is convenient.

  23. avatar Wilson says:

    Yes I do, and as others have said, yes it makes a difference with accuracy. If you can pay enough attention you can make your handloads much more uniform in terms of load than you get get from factory ammo. This is why a lot of serious competition shooters roll their own.

  24. avatar Tex300BLK says:

    Finally got the green light from the missus last week to convert one of the closets in our bedroom into my man cave for reloading, after years of bumming time with other people’s equipment I finally pulled the trigger and set up shop at my place. The credit card was a smoking puddle on the floor before the words even left her mouth. Haven’t shot my first batch of loads assembled in my own place ( the first thing I had to accept is that the friends I had bummed time from have nicer tools than I do), but hopefully nothing too exciting happens when I light them off.

    1. avatar rdsii64 says:

      If you have closets big enough for a man cave you should have quite the set up.

    2. avatar Mr. 308 says:

      Very cool, report back how it works out. I am kind of new to it also but I have got about a thousand rounds under my belt so far. Like I said above, I only wish I had more time to get out to the range.

  25. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Yes, and I’ve been harping on this issue to TTAG readers for years now. I shan’t rehash why here again, everyone else has already already done quite well above.

    I do want to address the original article above:

    “Every gun has a load it prefers,” he opines.

    That’s not opinion, that’s a fact. JWT is simply stating a fact. Every gun has a load it prefers, ie, that makes a rifle or pistol more accurate, or makes a semi/full auto cycle better, etc.

  26. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

    I like reloading even more than shooting. I am more of an experimenter than a shooter. I also like oddball cartridges who’s factory loads are often some combination of hard to get, expensive, not loaded to their potential, or don’t have the bullet I want. So far I have been a fairly short range shooter so maximizing accuracy has not been critical for me. Still I try figure out what works well there too, I just don’t have a long range shooters standards much less a bench rest one’s.

  27. avatar Geoff PR says:

    TTAG has been sent 200 pieces of a new ammunition case made of aluminum and nickel and the special dies for them, supposedly has a longer reuse life than brass.

    I’m eagerly awaiting the write-up.

    Who will be doing the reloading? (The pic in the Instagram feed didn’t say *who* at guntruth has the new ‘brass’)…

  28. avatar Steve says:

    I load 4 guages

    1. avatar jwm says:

      12, 16, 20, .410?

      1. avatar SouthernPhantomn says:

        If it’s for clay games, reloading 12ga makes very little sense. 28ga, perhaps? There’s massive potential for cost savings with that little oddball.

        I personally reload 12ga slugs, and will be getting into buckshot once I get the requisite molds. 12ga #7/7.5/8/9 doesn’t work out economically to reload unless you buy components in massive bulk quantities.

        1. avatar Steve says:

          12,20,28,.410

  29. avatar jwm says:

    I don’t reload. I did in my younger days. But the time involved takes away from all the other things I have to do. I’m not a competiter and I don’t shoot benchrest.

    My guns are accurate enough for my needs with factory loads. My hunting rifle is minute of deer. My shotgun(s) will get small running and flying critters. My moist nugget is minute of nazi. My handguns are minute of bad guy.

    I found out this weekend that my toyota is minute of coyote.

    That’s all I need from my guns.

    1. avatar Rusty Chains says:

      Yep, my daughter took a deer, it discovered just how much impact a heavy slow moving bullet carries. The Taurus took that deer at about 40 MPH in a 45 zone, took out the drivers door and scared the hell out of her! Deer in rut are dumb beasts.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        I don’t have the math skills to figure the muzzle energy of a 2 ton 4runner moving at 55 mph. But I do know that when that projectile hits a yote it’s DRT. Makes a crunchy noise.

        1. avatar Mr. 308 says:

          Welll there will be a lot of stored energy, but also a lot of surface area, pretty much deer size. Still we know what will win.

    2. avatar Ing says:

      “My moist nugget is minute of nazi…”

      That’s an autocorrect gem right there. Took me a minute to figure out what you were talking about. (My moist nuggets are usually minute of toilet.)

  30. avatar Milsurp Collector says:

    As an addendum: I think squeezing every bit of accuracy out of your firearms and the science behind it all is pretty cool, but I don’t see myself as enough of a marksman to want to pursue it. If I ever invest in the tools, I’ll just crank out 8mm Mauser rounds according to the WW2 load and have at it. Factory 8mm is made at piss-poor levels anyway, because once upon a time too many doofuses put a few too many Spitzer rounds in pre-’98 rifles and some bad shit happened. Everyone called their lawyers, and now to my knowledge only Serbia’s Privi Partizan and Czech Republic’s S&B manufacture the caliber at original military specs.

  31. avatar Colorado Kid says:

    Started reloading in the 2012/2013 ammo/powder shortage. Based on how long it took to get a Dillon I think a lot of shooters started reloading then. Trouble was, after waiting a few months to get my Dillon SDB I couldn’t find powder. Little by little it got better over the next year. Still using it, but like others I don’t have the time to shoot as much as I want to. SDB does my .380, 9mm, 40S&W and .45acp. Bought a Lee single stage for my .223 and .308 and have a Lee Load-All and components for 12g that I never have used yet. Have my eye on a Dillon 650 with brass and bullet feeder…but no money.

  32. avatar Spencer Ivey says:

    I ordered my press the other day. Should arrive tomorrow. Then I’ll start rolling my own. Only handgun for now. Not a big rifle shooter, but maybe someday. Hornady LNL for me. First time messing with anything like that. Wish me luck.

    1. avatar Phil LA says:

      Looks awesome. But I’d suggest walking before you run by getting a single stage press and getting comfortable with all the steps. Lee makes a good hand press for about $40, thats where I’ve started.

      1. avatar 2AMexican says:

        I just started reloading for 9mm this year. I use a Lee Classic Turret and found that it is quite adequate for my needs a good press to learn on when you are first starting out. I just ordered a Lee single stage to do all my de-priming, sizing, and case trimming on.

  33. avatar Avenue Pondster says:

    I had a California cop let me off with an illegally concealed weapon once. He told me I should reload. I never got around to it as the shifts at the prison were brutal.

  34. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Another benefit is loading odd cartridges that are no longer manufactured or converting one cartridge case to a different one.
    Example, I’ve got a real beauty VZ52 rifle in 7.62 X 45. The ammo that still exists is corrosive and spendy, so I convert .220 swift brass for it.
    Converting 5.56 brass to .300 blackout.
    Since I’ve got a couple hundred pounds of 7.62 X 51 brass, I’m converting 500 to 6.5 CM. 6.5 brass is spendy and difficult to find right now.

    1. avatar Arkansas kurt says:

      That’s one hell of a 52 you have. Mine takes 7.62×25. I’m curious how you fit those x45s magazines into the mag well.

      1. avatar Scoutino says:

        Vz. 52 is not only a pistol. He did say rifle. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vz._52_rifle
        Still less confusing than cal. .30 M1 rifle vs. carbine.

  35. avatar Specialist38 says:

    I reload to save money. If I have the brass, 38 special costs me 6-7 dollars per 50. 44mag and 45 colt are much larger savings.
    The only ones I load for accuracy are big bores. Especially fixed sighted like vaquero. I have two loads and sight the gun in for the heavy load for hunting. Light load matters less as long as I know where it hits.
    Don’t reload rifle as I don’t shoot enough to over the PIAT bottle necked cartridge.

  36. avatar Jim says:

    Yes, I do it for controlling cost, especially with calibers like 10mm, 357 mag, 44 mag, 45 colt. I don’t get real picky about trying to work up the exact load, that would take too many trips to the range. I just need plinking ammo. Defensive ammo is factory.

    Only ongoing trouble I have had is with 44 mag crimp jump, I blame it on the plated bullets I am using.

    I started with, and still use, a Lee Classic Turret press. Dillon XL650 is just over the near horizon.

    1. avatar Dave Lewis says:

      I shoot 240 gr cast semi wadcutters as plinking rounds in .44 special and .44 mag. I’ve got a Charter Arms Bulldog in .44 special and a Ruger Super Redhawk and Henry Big Boy in .44 mag. I had some problems with the Charter so I backed off on the load a grain or three. I had some old nickel plated brass cases that actually split but when I backed off on the powder a bit everything was good. I haven’t had any problems with the Super Redhawk even with 300 grain hollow points. I load them with 19 grains of H-110 and a good tight crimp and life seems to be good.

      1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

        If you’re splitting necks that’s somewhat expected in my experience. It seems like you only get 6ish reloadings out of .357 mag brass even lightly loaded. I think it’s the working it but it typically splits necks when I use it.

  37. avatar jmmy james says:

    Reloaded pistol for 20 years when I shot a lot of USPSA. Quit shooting and reloading for a while but just when I thought I got out they pulled me back in. Started rifle reloading for LR. RCBS Chargemaster is a game changer but ultimately too slow. Redding BR powder measure is the ticket. I got rid of a half dozen rifles (mostly Rugers) that I thought would not shoot sub moa when I was shooting factory loads. Would like to have those guns back to see if they would shoot with different bullet weights, different powder and powder charges and various COL’s. Probably not as they were still Rugers and had that cockamamie 45 degree angle combination receiver screw and recoil lug. Shot ladder test today with my old Para 45, 230grn ball and WW231. 0.1grain of powder shrank a 2″ group to a 1″ group. That’s what rolling your own will do for you.

  38. avatar Sam C says:

    I have been reloading for about 3 years and it has been fun doing all of the experimentation to find the loads that my guns like. With the little experience under my belt, there are always more things to learn. I recently became aware of powder coating cast lead bullets. The powder coating is supposed to eliminate the need for lube and you can push the bullets you cast a bit faster than conventional lubes allow. My first powder coating session last night was a disaster, but there were lessons learned to make it go better next time. A good benefit of powder coating is that it allows you to shoot cast bullets out of guns that have polygonal rifling, such as a Glock. My wife’s 9mm has polygonal rifling, so hopefully her gun is about to become even cheaper to shoot!

    1. avatar Scoutino says:

      I powdercoat all my cast boolits (9 mm, .40 s&w, .38 spl. 357 mag., .44 spl and mag. , 7.62x54R and x39 (last two with gas checks) and it just WORKS.
      I have briefly tried electro static gun, but the best way for me is simple plastic container + black bbs “shake and bake” method. No mess, no flash at the bottom, saves powder and covers all sides.
      My Witness Stock also has polygonal barrel and shoots pc (powder coated, not politically correct) bullets fine. No leading in any of my guns, shiny clean bore after couple of patches.

      As to feature questions: Yes I do reload and use my own ammo exlusively in all my guns. I use cast and pc boolits in all but 5.56, these tiny guys seem to be too much hassle.
      I enjoy reloading as much as shooting and cleaning so one hobby complements other. Sometimes I think I need to go shooting to get more brass…

      For anyone out there that considers reloading I say jump in! It’s fun way to enjoy your shooting more for less. Even if you won’t save any money you can shoot much more.

  39. avatar Ned says:

    Unlike many here, I started shooting mostly for hunting and target shooting although self-defense has always been part of me being a gun guy. My dad didn’t own guns but my grand dad did on the farm. I bought my first pump shotgun at 12 and have been a shooter/hunter ever since. I started handloading at about 21 with a single stage press for my rifles (.270, .243, .308) and 16 and 12 gauge shotshells. Within a few years, I bought a Dillon 550 and have been cranking out reloads, mostly for my .357, .45, and 9mm. I cast my own bullets for practice and plinking, In that I acquired my equipment so long ago, I have more than made up for the cost of the equipment (especially casting my own). I’m still creating a 50 box of .45 cartridges for under $5.00 last time I priced everything out. Now as to the question of accuracy…factory stuff is really great these days, but I can still do a little better with my sweetest loads on my .270. Foremost, I like the independence of buying primers in the 1000’s and powder by the pound.

  40. avatar Anonymous says:

    I don’t have the personality for the job. I’m not exactly ADD, but I find it difficult to concentrate enough to safely handle the precision that reloading or handloading requires…

    To be a reloaded/handloader, you usually have to be crazy about accuracy, be a cheapskate trying to get the most out of your brass, be a survivalist kind of guy, or a guy that wants to stick it to the gov trying to control you. You are neither of those right now.

    If you’re concerned about focus and being attentive, there are lots of things you can do to improve your safety. For example, buy two different colored reloading trays. When you load one, move it to the other tray. Never put your loaded rounds back in the same tray. You don’t want to accidentally load it twice. Etc. There are lots of little policies you can come up with that when you follow them to the letter, ensure you don’t blow yourself up. Keep your powders and primers away from your annealing area. Don’t load hundreds of primers into your priming tool at one time. Check the calibration of your scales before your loading session. Verify the reading of one scale with another or a known standard. Don’t drink when you are reloading. Definitely don’t smoke when you are reloading. Don’t watch tv when you are loading powder. Remove distractions during this step. Etc etc.

    1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

      Single stage batch reloading is where it’s at for consistency. I tend to do the “non focus” items (basically cleaning to priming” when I can in short jaunts then charging and seating at less distracting times. I have tubs of brass all ready to go for a run, just gotta throw some dies in and crank a box out. It lets you do things like visually inspect the level of powder before seating a bullet on to it.

      Some powders and calibers are way more tolerant than others. As an example, if you download H110 you can over pressure but Unique is very tolerant of downloading. This leads to lots of opportunity in tailoring loads especially for revolvers that don’t have to worry about cycling.

      1. avatar Phil LA says:

        Here here

  41. avatar GP1935 says:

    I started when I got a Walther PP Super (actually a really sweet, though not commercially successful police gun) in 9mm Ultra. Fiocchi only makes it once a year. Pastime was reinforced when I received my grandfather’s model 71. Cost me $80 to get a box of 348 Winchester!

    I like reloading, my job as a laboratory technician taught me to work with unhurried precision with quite dangerous materials, reloading is pretty relaxing by comparison.

  42. avatar bob in IN says:

    My Mosin Nagant reloads are twice as accurate at 1/3 the cost using Hornady 174gr bullets. My Cast bullets are similar to surplus in accuracy and cheaper still.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Try 180 grain round nosed soft points with that MN. I’ve owned dozens, and every single one of them shot better with this bullet than anything else.

  43. avatar Dave Lewis says:

    I bought a single stage Lee outfit many years back because I couldn’t find hot commercial 8mm Mauser loads at a reasonable price. I built a hundred rounds or so and sold the gun and the remaining ammo a year later. The purchaser took a nice six point that year with my old Yugoslav Mauser. The press sat on my bench until 2008 when I decided that it would be a good idea to get back into an ammunition supply that was a little harder to track.

    I picked up a turret press and a bunch of dies. Today I reload .45, .44 mag and special, .357 and .38, 9mm and .380 for pistols and pistol caliber carbines.. In rifle calibers I do .30-06 for my Garand and .308 for my Mossie. The Garand loads are a big deal because surplus military 06 ammunition is getting hard to find and most commercial .30-06 rounds do bad things to a Garand.

    I reload mostly for economy. I usually pick loads that are halfway between the low and high published numbers. I have put together a few very hot (but still within recommended specs) loads for my Ruger Super Redhawk but in general I don’t like to abuse my guns or my over 60 arthritic body. With recycled or range pickup brass I find that I can reload for about half the cost of factory ammunition.

    I recall the supply choke points that occurred after Sandy Hook and I’m working to build up a supply of primers and powder just in case. I have .38 and .44 bullet molds so I can do cast bullets but I really don’t want to go the home made black powder and match head primer route unless I have to.

    To stir the pot about “law enforcement privileges” the year after Sandy Hook when ammunition just couldn’t be had at any price most of our reserve officers at the sheriff’s office qualified with my 9mm,, .40 and .45 reloads. We supply our own ammunition and use of reloads is technically a violation of policy, but the range master said that he knew my ammo was good (I’d given him a couple of boxes of .357 for his 686) and that was the only way we were going to get through quals. That cost me some rounds but all of the range brass is mine and that’s an okay trade.

    I reload for fun. I reload because I’m cheap. I reload because cash purchases and range pickup brass leaves a smaller footprint. And I reload because I can.

  44. avatar Southern Cross says:

    Downunder reloading is a necessity. We pay anything from $1 to $2.50 per round for most commercial ammunition. And MUCH more for specialized and rare cartridges. Bulk mil-surplus is rare to nonexistent. So it’s time to DIY.

    I’ve been reloading for over 16 years. I was taught by a friend and he says I’m one of the very few people whose loads he would use. My reloading equipment paid for itself in the first year of use. It allows me to have the quality and quantity I need at a price I can afford. In .223 Remington, I can make an accurate enough load for less than 20c per round (20 cents Australian, about 14 cent US) and it is good enough out to 300 metres. I make a match load for about 40-50 cents, depending on the projectile. I typically load about 100 rounds at a time which can take a few months to use.

    You would be surprised how little space is needed. For more than a decade I lived in an apartment. My reloading gear was set up using a third of a table in one room. So space is not that much of an issue.

    Reloading is often the only way you can use guns in obsolete calibers. .303 British is getting very hard to find at decent prices. I have enough 8mm Mauser to last beyond my lifetime but I still have reloadable cases and dies. I reload all calibers except for 7.62x54r, which I will look into at some point. .223 is my most reloaded caliber simply because it is the round I use the most. Using about half the powder of most .30 cals, it is much cheaper to shoot.

    Equipment:
    – Hornady Lock’n’Load O-frame press
    – Full-length and Lee Collet neck sizing dies
    – Lee hand priming tools (2, one set for small primers, the other for large primers)
    – Powder thrower
    – Scales
    – Powder trickler (for precise match loads)
    – Loading block
    – Hornady Unique case lube
    – Powder funnel
    – Case tumbler (used with white rice media)
    – Case trimmer (still in the box unused)

    1. avatar PPGMD says:

      The weird part for me, is that quite a lot of the powder we use is/was made in Australia (I am not sure if they reopened the plant yet). But my Kiwi, and even some of my Aussie friends have a hard time actually buying said powders.

      1. avatar Southern Cross says:

        Australian Mulwex powders are often repackaged by other companies. Hogden is one US company using ADI propellants. The demand from Hogden was so high ADI discontinued the very popular AR2206 in favour of a slightly slower version being used by Hogden: AR2206H.

        The Finnish(?) powder maker Vihta Voutori also repackages ADI powder. ADI powders also are insensitive to temperature variations which makes winter loads safe to use in summer.

        The availability issue was caused by a change in transport regulations regarding the movement of explosive materials (ironic as petrol/gasoline is FAR more explosive than propellants) which made it uneconomical to move small amounts. I buy most powders from my range because they can order and supply large quantities. But even then there are occasional shortages. Which is why I buy in 4kg canisters when possible.

    2. avatar Mr. 308 says:

      White rice huh, that’s a good idea. Have to try that one.

  45. avatar Chris Morton says:

    I’ve been reloading since I started in my friend’s college dorm room in the ’70s.

    I couldn’t afford to shoot if I didn’t reload, certainly not in the quantity I’d like.

    My exclusive .30-06 target load of a 200gr. Sierra Matchking over IMR 4350 simply doesn’t exist in commercial form, and probably never has. If somebody in the Cleveland area sells 200gr. LSWC .45acp bullseye loads, I’m unaware of it. There MIGHT be somebody here selling 148gr. DEWC .38 Special bullseye loads, but I don’t know of anybody.

  46. avatar Chris in SC says:

    I started reloading three years ago due to financial pressures. I started reloading .223 and added 9 mm. Not sure I’ll ever recoup my costs but what a lot of people fail to realize is that reloading is a hobby unto itself. I’ve had a blast experimenting with different bullet weights, primer types, powders etc. Testing groupings, chrono readings — a lot of mad scientist stuff going on there. I find I shoot my 9mm more often and it’s very satisfying to shoot a match using your ammo.

  47. avatar Phil LA says:

    I stated last year. So far its 45LC, 45ACP and 223. I’ve really been experimenting with the 223 and its become a fun hobby. Now testing my accuracy loads is another excuse to go to the range.

  48. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    Huge believer in reloading. Here’s some opinions on it. First off, DISCLAIMER:Reloading is potentially dangerous, blah blah blah you need to do your own research to substantiate a lot of what I’m saying here. You can blow a gun, your self or something else up reloading. Your mileage may vary, if in doubt contact a physician, mortician or hair dresser.

    First off, I will break up reloading into 2 categories:Pistol and rifle. Unshouldered/shouldered cases may be more appropriate as there are spots these would blur together such as .357 Sig or .30 Mauser which are more rifle like and 45-70 gov, 30 carbine and 450 Bushmaster which can bleed more into the pistol category.

    Gear:
    Keep in mind this is an ENTRY LEVEL reloading setup. While it’s not the cheapest possible setup and you can get cheaper, there are some “luxury items” included that make it easier in my opinion.
    -Spending a few extra dollars on Titanium Nitride, Carbide etc. resizing dies are well worth the money. You don’t have to lubricate straight walled cases when you do which is a huge benefit.

    I tested out my first set of Lee dies for 9mm this weekend, and although they work fine I was not a fan of the seat/crimp die because it was designed for progressives with a bullet seater and was a pain to feed the cartridge into. See right die in picture. I would definitely be looking to add a chamfer if I was using such a die without the bullet feeder.

    http://leeprecision.com/images/P/80100.jpg

    -Powder measuring wise, the Lee Scale sucks don’t waste your time. The measurements on the one I used didn’t hold. I have a Dillon made by Ohaus and the quality is excellent and I think they may make at least some RCBS scales too but don’t hold me to that.. The Hornady digital scale is $30-35ish and rocks. I could see a lot of other digitals being just as good though, they tend to be a lot quicker to weigh on, not to mention cheaper.

    Measures, well I wish I had an easy answer for measures. Some powders tend to meter well in near everything (Bullseye comes to mind off the top of my head) while some tend to be notorious for causing issues. Unique comes to mind. This is something I would do some research on before buying. My buddy’s Dillon does great on AR-Comp while my Lee seems to do terribly varying by about .4-.5 grains (I seem to be in the minority on this, maybe future tweaking is in order.) Some powders tend to also do very well with just a cheapie set of dippers. Unique is very consistent for me using dippers. If going for precision this matters way less.

    -Press:You’re going to be hard pressed (perhaps a pun intended) to beat the Lee Reloader. It’s under $40, and I have probably 5,000ish rounds on mine so far with little more than a cleaning. You can certainly go with more but this is a very acceptable press in my opinion.

    -Priming:I have the classic Lee Auto Prime not the Ergo Prime or the Auto Prime II. They tend to disrupt the “feel” of priming and the lids suck so I’m not a fan. Find a used Auto Prime or a similar one like the RCBS tool. Press mounted priming’s fine too, especially if using say a turret vs a single stage.

    This stuff is more rifle focused:

    Trimmer:
    The Lee trimmers are the most economical overall. Not sure how they do for production trimming. If you’re not looking for precision revolvers seem to have a lot of tolerance with length. I haven’t gotten that far with 9mm yet. Your mileage may vary though, and length is something to keep track of especially with rifle rounds. Expect to have a hand drill in my opinion, I have a hand cranked lathe unit and after using a drill operated one the choice is obvious unless you’re doing very small quantities.

    -Lube/pad:You don’t need this for straight walled pistol cases (I advise you to start with such calibers, they are easier to load) but look up Liquid Lanolin/Iso-HEET blends as they will save you a fortune over commercial product. Absolutely essential for shouldered ammo.

    -Reloading book:Always good to have, some of the info may be available off manufacturers web sites or forums as well. Naturally with forums be very careful of the sanity of such data. Some people do not publish their data for liability reasons and that’s something to keep in mind. Crafting one’s own load can be rewarding but it comes with its own risks. If in doubt use a load that’s for a heavier bullet and work your way up in most cases.

    -A Chronograph is a great tool for load development and accuracy development. The goal should be to have the least FPS variance between rounds. This shows up as drop variance. As an example, a 9mm with 1100 vs 1150fps at 75 foot will be almost an inch different. There are tons of variables that can change this. Also worth noting is that this is NOT a way to determine excess pressure. Velocity and pressure can be functions of one another, but there’s tons of other variables too. As an example a cast bullet will have lower pressures than a jacketed one because it lubricates better in the barrel.

    -A bench. Due to reloading in my multi purpose office, my setup is simply a 2X8 which my press is bolted onto along with my measure. A C-Clamp lets me move it around when I want to take it with me to a buddy’s or when I want to do something in the living room. You don’t need a huge bench to get started, cleanliness is important though.

    -Tubs:This one sounds stupid but you’ll never throw another butter dish, lunch meat gladware package or similar out again. I use these extensively to keep brass, bullets etc. stored and ready to go in various stages. Some people use ammo cans, bags etc as well. Whatever system works for you have a system.

    -Primer pocket reamer, if using military crimped brass. Your mileage may once again vary my favorite way of using mine was sticking it in a drill and then doing cases that way.

    Here is some component info:

    -Powder:There are dozens of common powders on the market today. Good data (see above) is CRITICAL. Some powders can have features like reduced flash, position insensitivity (better for light, non case filling ammo) increased velocity and increased temperature tolerances. Some powders can also have quirks about them (H110 actually goes UP in pressure when under loaded due to burn characteristics.) Understand your powder before loading, and preferably before buying to optimize it. As an example I may look to a powder like Blue Dot in a .357 Magnum vs H110 just because it uses a 2.5″ length barrel which means I’ll have less powder burning out side the muzzle where as with a carbine or 6″ revolver. This kind of thing can require testing. A chronograph is a good thing here.

    Bullets are another key component, and should be picked based on what you’re looking to do. Blasting ammo means either casting your own or getting commercial bullets. Don’t ignore seconds if you can find them or bulk bullets, they are a great way to drive costs down. One of the huge benefits of reloading is the ability to get economical reloading of non standard bullet weights. As an example 55gr 223 is cheap, but what happens when you want 69 or 77gr bullets? The economics of reloading go up quite a bit after that.

    I home cast my own bullets, I tend to by scrap from a recycling center near me at $1/lb. Don’t get ripped off on some generic lead on Armslist or wherever because it is “for bullets.” Look into powder coating instead of traditional lube. After messing around with this some, it is the way of the future. You can get magnum velocities with dead soft lead.

    Barring making your own bullets, consider commercial cast bullets. Understand their limitations in velocity and pressure, but they are excellent for target pistol and even some rifle loadings. Gas Checks can help considerably here. They can also be a lot more economical than jacketed bullets for practice, and even superior in some hunting applications.

    Brass is something that most of us can get plenty of. I just pick mine up at the range, I get a couple odd looks now and again but no one gives me any grief over it. I am fortunate most of my calibers are fairly standard, the exception being the .32 ACP which I need to get more brass for before reloading. Never seen any of it at the ranges here, ever. The 9mms I have now are largely due to the fact I can pick a few hundred cases up each time I hit the range.

    Primers are their own beast. They do have variances (some are tighter in the pocket than others, some are harder than others. As an example Federal primers are among the softest while CCIs are generally considered among the hardest. There are also standard vs magnum primers. Any more Magnum is typically only needed for certain powders that are harder to ignite in magnum style loadings. Consult your loading book.

    Lastly, I’ll get into a few reasons why I reaload. I tend to do pistol for value and rifle for accuracy and value. This is far from saying that my pistol loads are inaccurate. My “basic” .38 Special 158 SWC loads are more accurate than a factory Remington 130GR FMJ load by about 50%ish in double blind testing I did with a friend. Not scientific but it’s consistent with what I was doing.

    With pistol, I can reload at $3.00ish/box How I get to that is:
    -free range pick up .38/.357/9mm brass.
    -Each of the Lee 105gr SWCs I cast is around 1.5 cents in lead with a tiny amount of powder coat. It’s under 2 cents though.
    -The last batch of Sellier and Bellot Primers I picked up at Cabelas was $25/1000 which is about 2.75 cents each post tax.
    -A cent or so of Bullseye/Titegroup powder. Not ground shattering in terms of power, but even loading 7gr of Titegroup in a .357 mag case gets me 1,000 or so rounds from a pound which I paid under $20/lb for at the last gun show. 3-4gr is more typical which is 1500-2,000ish rounds a pound.

    These loads are fun to shoot and accurate. Even if I use commercial cast bullets (~.10 each) I am still at about $7/box. Not a huge difference for commercial 9mm, but indeed a huge difference for .38 Special which the cheapest I’ve seen recently was $18ish a box and tends to be $24ish more commonly.

    Rifle wise, there’s a lot of advantages of reloading. First is that you can have a piece of brass that’s fit to your chamber if using a bolt gun. The second is that you can tailor your bullet’s seating depth to be where it is going to be nearly engaged to the rifling. These 2 things alone will make huge differences in accuracy in many guns. Reloading also lets you choose a bullet weight optimized to your gun vs one that’s economical (Look at 223 example above.) You can also combine powders and bullets in ways that you may not be able to buy from the factory or that are prohibitively expensive. With what I have now I’m at the following price point with 223 ammo which is what I typically load:

    -Jacketed 55gr bullets for .10 each, I’ve picked Nozzler 69gr blems up for .15/bullet and 62gr for .10 each.
    -Primers at $.03 each
    -Powder for rifle is expensive. You need quite a bit more than non magnum pistol. 23ish grains of AR-Comp doesn’t go near as far. You’re talking say .11/round perhaps less when using powders like IMR 4198 which is at 19ish grains. I may end up trying a ball powder and seeing if it measures easier than these 2 in the future, I just haven’t yet.
    -Free brass, once fired or range pickups.

    This comes out to .24 for 55gr which is okay, but IMO the 69gr for .29 a round is excellent priced. You’d have a very hard time getting those economics with factory ammo, and chances are the ammo you make will be better quality than the Tula or Wolf you’re getting for that kind of spend. Nothing against Tula, just the truth of it. If you take your time and pay attention to detail (seating depth, testing powder charges etc.) You’re almost certain to wring accuracy out of the firearm you are shooting in even compared to a lot of factory match ammo.

    The great thing is that if you have components for a common caliber then you can load ammo at economics just as cheap as expensive ammo. For example, the .222 Remington ammo costs .58 cents/round on Lucky Gunner, while .223 costs 22 cents/round or .30/round for Brass case PMC Bronze. The components are nearly the same in terms of cost, so my expensive components in .223 become cheap components in .222.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Good stuff Andrew. Had to chuckle at one thing. Butter dishes and lunch meat Tupperware type tubs.
      Give yourself time, you’ll be to the 5 gallon bucket storage system soon enough.
      A guy I do horse trading with buys brass by the 55 gallon drum.

  49. avatar Joe R. says:

    I even roll for others, and factory rounds (high speed/mass produced) are not really even comparable. Plus, you have to take into consideration that there is not an absolute-spec factory manufacturer of an individualized component, much less a whole cartridge, and it’s amazing the amount of variation in even “match grade” rounds that you may find out there.
    I would still recommend a cautious course of patience to anyone contemplating starting, as it’s very easy to battle into a solid tie for first, with ‘factory ammo’ dependability, much less accuracy, especially when talking about something as mildly exotic as “sub-sonic” rounds as, careful or not, your results will definitely vary [by weapon/weapon condition/user/ambient conditions/muzzle device (if any)]. Anything worth doing is worth leaving for someone else, if it’s not worth doing properly by you, even in an ammo shortage. Be careful, and be great competition to others to be their best.

  50. avatar Will Drider says:

    The straight scoop! For quantity you can build better rounds below the cost of cheap range Factory and import ammo. For Quality=Accuracy, very spendy top shelf factory ammo has great components and pretty consistant velocity but thats all your money buys.

    Reloaders can build better rounds taylored to deliver the most accuracy. Better accuracy is normally found below maximum velocity. You can weight and group bulk bullets as they will vary. Primers and powder selection do matter and you can weigh each as desired. You control bullet seating depth and in turn bullet jump. There are dozens of tricks within the craft that will put you in the XX Ring.

    You can also reload those hard to find older cartridges. Even if you don’t reload: save your brass cases, you may start laterr or end up with barter material. If the World goes to hell, you can make powder, rebuild primers, mold bullets; but I don’t know a single person that can make cases!

    You can even help your old .22. Use your electronic scale and weigh and group .22 within the same lot. The variance you find shows component differences. We won’t know whats different but we can shoot groups that are the same and check accuracy. If you find a group/weight that a tac drive, put them aside for winning bets later!

    Start slow and learn the skills and safety aspects. DON’T RELOAD when you can’t give it 100% attention. I’ve been using the same RockChucker press for 25 years.

  51. avatar SouthernPhantom says:

    I reload because I’m cash-poor and time-rich. There’s something fantastic about loading up two twenty-five-round boxes of slugs for ten bucks. Accuracy is minute-of-paint-can to at least forty yards, and would be trustworthy for deer (Missouri woods sometimes said to rival Vietnam; you aren’t getting a clean shot over fifty yards) if I tweaked my alloy and quenching to deliver expansion. As-is, I’ve miked an average of 95% mass retention on slugs shot into and recovered from muddy gravel- these things are stupidly hard and put inch-deep dents in half-inch mild steel. Think of it as a poor man’s Brenneke slug! I load to about 1450fps. They’re my preferred rounds for protection against animals over too-soft factory Foster slugs that dump all their energy and fail to penetrate to vitals- unacceptable on a hog or bear.

    I do a fair bit of run-and-gun drills involving fire-and-movement, use of cover, and slug changeovers, so having an affordable source of slugs is quite important. Combat shotguns are difficult weapons to master; I like to give myself the advantage of frequent training and drills.

    My girlfriend and I cast our own 1oz Lee Drive Key slugs (scored ~150lbs of wheel weights for $25); up until recently my loading table was set up in a dorm room closet. Total footprint of the setup is about two by four feet, including large bags of components. Hulls and wads take up a lot of space compared to metallic cartridge components!

  52. avatar jwtaylor says:

    Wanna hear a real level of crazy? I reload on a single stage press, with all manual equipment, on everything. Including pistol ammunition. That’s often 500 rounds in a week, never less than 200. All on a single stage press. And it doesn’t matter if it’s .45ACP practice ammunition or 7mm magnum hunting rounds. I reload them all with the same care and consistency. I weight every charge, I clean every case, inside and out, by hand. I can afford other equipment, and I’ve bought it, and then sold it. It’s something I do with my kids. My 3 year old lives to sort brass. But more than that, it just calms me, and if my head is busy, it puts me right back where I should be. It should also be said that I don’t own a TV or have internet in the house other than my mobile phone. So that saves a whole lot of time. Kill you TV, buy a reloading set. Be happy.

  53. avatar bdk nh says:

    I started reloading 308 with a basic single stage Lee press after the second to last ammo crunch that coincided with a new interest in precision shooting. Then came the 300 BLK obsession a few years back and then 6.5 Creedmoor this year. I can load all three at less cost and more accuracy than factory rounds. I am still trying to sort out the best loads from my RPR in 6.5C with an LRI barrel.

    I still use a single stage press and do everything in batches by hand so that I can reload on demand for what I (or my kids) want to shoot. I reload 300 BLK subs at probably a 3 to 1 ratio to everything else. 556 is the only ammunition that I use in volume that I do not reload. It is hard to justify at a pennies per round for plinking or training. Also, the only issues I have ever had reloading have been trying to replicate high performance 556 ammo.
    Reloading isn’t rocket science but it does require knowledge, skill and patience. It combines a lot of things that appeal to my nature. Simple machines, working with my hands, note taking, data collection, and interpretation are all things I enjoy. It is also pretty cool to take a deer with a round that you “made”.

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