So You Want to Get Into Reloading
Kevin Felts 01.25.17
Have you thought about reloading, but not sure where to start? I reloaded various calibers for a little over a decade and would like to share my experience.
In 1989 my supervisor, his name was Bill, was a firearms and reloading enthusiast. At the time I was 21 years old and was interested in reloading. Bill and I talked often about various topics on shooting sports. He told me if I wanted to get into reloading he had a bunch of spare parts he would sell me.
Before Bill would sell me anything, he made me promise to get a reloading book. It was only after I bought my first book, Speer reloading manual number 11, that Bill agreed to sell me some parts. He put together a box with a Lyman turret press, RBCS scale, lube pad, and a few other odds and ends. I bought the box and everything in it for $100.
Read the Book
The very fist thing Bill told me to do was “read the book.” At the start of just about every reloading book there are a few chapters dedicated to the fundamentals. This covers safety, equipment, and the overall process.
I was instructed that if I did not have a clear understanding of each stage of the process, to either ask him a question or read the introduction to reloading chapters again.
In all, I think I read the introduction chapters 3 or 4 times before I even mounted the press to the work bench.
There was one thing Bill emphasized more than anything, and that was safety.
- Follow the instructions in the book.
- Keep detailed logs of everything.
- Document brand name and type of primers.
- Overall length.
- Bullet brand name.
- Check case length.
- Look for signs of excessive pressure.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol.
- Buy new reloading manuals when they are released.
Those are a few of the safety precautions. I even documented the overall length of various bullet brand names.
Reloading is nothing to play around with. This is a serious hobby and it needs your full attention.
Where to Start
If someone wants to get into this expensive and time-consuming hobby, here is my advice.
Mentor – Find a local mentor. Go to their house, look at their setup, and get some hands-on experience. Having a real person that you can call, look over their shoulder, and go over every step of the process beats anything on the Internet.
Single Stage – Experienced reloaders love progressive presses. However, beginners should start with a single stage press.
- Progressive – The machine produces a loaded round with every pull of the handle.
- Single stage – A single die is threaded into the press at a time. The person operating the press has to only observe one operation with each pull of the handle. It usually takes at least three stages to reload a single round.
I liked starting at single stage because it gave me time to observe each stage of the process. Each round sent through the press was checked at every phase.