My Reloading Process: How I Develop a Load
Ron Gunner 06.20.17
When I sit down to start a new load, my reloading process is more detailed than most of my reloading friends. Now I said MOST of MY friends. I am sure there are people out there who do much more than I and some that don’t go as far.
Reloading is an art if you really think about it; it’s all part of the shooting experience. I know some people just go and buy ammo and that is all they do and use. That’s fine; it ends up being more brass for us reloaders! Reloading is part of shooting; there is nothing that is like the feeling of winning your first match with your own reloads, I don’t care if it’s just a small club match between a few friends or a full blown national match. Knowing you out shot everyone and won with ammo that you reloaded is just the cherry on the top!
So I start by taking 3 different bullet weights and working up 4 different loads per the books for each one. I load 10 of each and label them with caliber, date, power type, powder charge, bullet brand & type, bullet weight, prime, case & times loaded OAL (Over All Length) I even print out my own labels for this, on white paper means it is a trusted load that I have used in the past, on a hot pink paper, it’s a new load developed load that has never been tried before.
Then ALL the info goes into my reloading record book. I also use my chrony unit and printer as I stated in another article. Print results and staple them to the page. I always start out around the lower middle of the reloading manuals. Then work up from there firing the guns through either a rifle rest that is locked down and has shocks to absorb the recoil and pistol go through my friends Ransom Rest. That is the best why because it removes the human element/factor from the final results.
I make sure the powder measure is set; I check every other round for the first 50. Then I check one of every ten for the next 50, and then it is one of 25 for 50 rounds then if it all is the same or extremely close, I will then run batches of 100. I will randomly pull a few out of each 100 to check. If there is a problem I know what batch of 100 it is. Now also understand I reloaded 1000 to 2000 at a time on my Dillon XL650.
The test rounds of 10 are the rounds that have the changes, charge weights, bullet weights and seating depth. They are all fired from the gun until I find the one that give the best group, consistently. Then I sight the red dot of rifle scope to those loads and fine tune from there. With my rounds I have set club records and won matches and I can tell you from experience it really does put the cherry on top of the win!
The more prep time you take on the reloading bench the less time you will spend sighting in your gun. You have to make sure you have the right case length, no burrs, primer pocket cleaned and flash hole cleaned for proper ignition. This is for rifle rounds, pistol rounds you do not have to go into this much detail.
A friend of mine did bench rest rifle shooting for years, never shot pistols. He got out of the rifle shooting and all shooting for almost 20 years. One day decided to buy a STI 1911 to shoot steel plate matches locally here in our area. He only knew how to reload for bench rest so he was doing way too much for his pistol brass and doing it single stage it took him days to load 100 rounds.
So one day while at the range I was shooting with him and told him he is putting too much into the pistol loads they are not like what you would do for bench rest rifle loads. He was wasting more time then he needed. I talked to him until I was blue in the face, so one day while we were there and shooting, I handed him a box of 100 reloads. Told him, go ahead give these a try. He shot 15 of them, 7 he put in the same hole. He was all excited closed the box and said, “I’m not wasting these; I will use these for the next week’s match!”
I called him that night and asked him again how do you like those? He couldn’t say enough good stuff about them; I asked him if he had looked at them in the box. He said no not really, I shot 15 and stopped to save them. I said look at them tell me what you see. He was shocked to see that it was all mixed brass and it was once fired, but to prove a point they were un-cleaned.
Where he was making sure they all had the same length, weight and brand for his 9mm’s, which is useless to do. And that box is what it took for me to finally show him! So for rifle brass, yes there is a lot more prep for reloading them but for pistol reloading, you do not have to go that deep into it.
Now I will say to clean your brass after every shoot, it will save wear and tear on the reloading dies. I personally use a sonic cleaner; it cleans the brass all the way inside and out. This cleaner often makes it look like brand new brass when it is done. So clean brass will increase the life of your press and dies. I just did this one box of 100 to prove a point to him that he was making it harder than it had to be for his pistol brass.
But read the reloading manuals. Get at least two. Three is better. Look up the components you are using and pick a load from the lower middle and work it from there. It takes time to get it and understand shooting the same load through a different gun will change the hits on targets. Even if you load the same load in the same gun and just change the primer brand, it will make it hit differently. I use Hodgdon powders, Rainier Ballistics bullets and Winchester primers. I am working with Starline brass at this time trying out their products and so far I like them!
Stay safe and see you out there!