I posted the below in another thread ( www.abovetopsecret.com...
), but then I realized it was a bit off-topic
there. Still, I think the information is valid and needed, so I am moving the post (and hopefully the discussion) here:
I learned what I know about reloading from simply asking questions in a gun shop (some pawn shops have reloading sections as well) and doing it. A few
things you will need:
- A press. You don't need anything fancy, but get something that uses replaceable dies (I think most of them do).
- Dies for every caliber you plan on reloading. .38 and .357 use the same die, as do .380 and 9mm, but pretty much every new caliber will require a
- LUBE! That press puts a huge amount of pressure on the shells, and they will freeze in the dies if not properly lubed. Make sure you get
plenty of reloading lube, and use it generously (just don't get it inside the shell or it could degrade the powder).
- A reloading handbook. I actually don't remember which one I use (I'm in my shop right now), but you want something that will list all the
available calibers and muzzle velocity / muzzle energy / bullet weight / and type/amount of powder for each load.
- Reloading scoops. These are like little plastic replicas of kitchen measuring scoops, used to measure out powder.
- Scales. The ones I use are balance scales from the gun shop. You have to make absolutely sure you have the correct amount of powder to get
consistent results. Myself, I use the scoops to load the scales. That way I get dependable loads every time.
- Primer press. Most reloading presses have a primer press built in, but I have found the few bucks to get a dedicated one was a major good deal. The
primer press on my bench works, but it is slow and awkward. The dedicated primer press is easier to work and loads ten times as fast.
- A bowl to hold powder. This doesn't have to be very big, as a matter of fact I use a small ashtray I dedicated to the task. You'll need to pour
some powder out of the cans to be able to use the scoops. The way I have it set up, the ashtray with the powder is on the right, and the one for my
cigarettes is on the left. Er, or is it the other way around? I never can quite remember.
- A reamer if you plan on doing anything with military brass (see procedure below).
- A good stiff bench to mount it on. I used a piece of 2x10 about three foot long that I had lying around, and braced it with 2x4's to the wall.
- You will of course need primers (There are only two kinds, big bore and small bore if memory serves... maybe four?... both kinds in pistol and
rifle sizes? Anyone?), powder (smokeless, do not use black powder until you are familiar with loading!), and bullets. But I would suggest getting
these after you have time to thoroughly read the reloading manual as well as the sites Zindo pointed out. You have a wide, wide range to choose from
on both powder and bullets, and you'll be in a lot better position to know what you want this way.
That'll get you started good enough to actually be loading your own rounds. To do it, assuming you have the same type press I do already mounted and
ready, you first screw in the sizing die. Take your old brass casings and lube each one thoroughly. Slide them into the slot and lower the arm. The
press will re-size the brass for re-use and pop out the spent primer.
Once all your brass is sized, set a new primer into the brass with the primer press. If you are re-using military ammo (I shoot a lot of .223),
you'll need a reamer. Just spin the reamer in the top of the casing. You can
reload military ammo, but you have to follow this step since the
military creases the top of the casing when they load them.
Pour out some powder and measure the amount you are going to use with the scoops. Double-check the weight of the powder with the scales, then pour the
powder into the casing (the tray on my scales is made to let you simply lift it off for this, and has a nice little pour spout). Set the casing back
in the press with the loading die in place, set a bullet atop the casing, and lower the arm. Presto! A loaded shell, ready to be fired!
If the powder gets degraded, it is possible it will not make it out of the barrel of the gun when you fire it. Instead of the normal "BANG!
you will hear a "pop". You must get that bullet out of the barrel before you try to fire another shell if this happens!
If you try to
fire another shell on top of a stuck bullet, you will
blow up your gun!
This actually happened to me once when I tried to re-use some questionable powder. Just do what I did: take a rod and push the bullet out of the
barrel carefully (toward the chamber), and throw away the rest of that batch of rounds. And throw the powder out as well, unless you are absolutely
sure it wasn't the problem.