It is worth remembering that everything in shooting sport is a compromise, and cartridge manufacturers have spent a lot of years plus a heap of dollars determing the best 'all around' loading for each of their cartridges.
It follows that it is not hard to create a 'specialist' cartridge for your particular firearm - but..... It will take a lot of patience, experimenting, and testing, and it will no longer be the 'best all around loading'. . . . . .
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Reloading your own ammunition can be as simple as you want it to be - or as complicated as you want it to be.
The information here is a basic and simple guide for people considering loading their own ammo but have little idea of how to start, or what equipment they need.
Just think of an old muzzle-loading gun - after each shot the user had to reload it for the next firing - and that was done in this way.
(a) pour a measured charge of powder down the muzzle
(b) push the bullet down on top of the powder
(c) push a primer (cap) onto the nipple - and the gun was ready to fire.
Loading you own ammunition is just as simple but there is one basic rule to follow. . . . . . . . .
Get an instruction book published by a current component maker - and follow the loading tables.
The illustration above shows - from the left - a complete .308Win cartridge, the 'cartridge case', the 'projectile' (top) 'powder' (middle) and on the bottom RH the 'primer'......
Basic Reloading involves the following simple steps and basic equipment. (Equipment listed in the next panel)
(A) use a "resizing die" and squeeze the fired and lubricated cartridge case back to its original size
This die will also remove the fired primer.
(B) check the length of the sized case and use a "case trimmer" if necessary. (Not required for all calibres)
(C) use a "priming tool" and insert a new primer into the case
(D) use a "powder measure" to put a carefully measured quantity of the selected powder into the case
(E) place a new 'bullet' (projectile) into the mouth of the cartridge case and using a "bullet seating" die, seat the
projectile to the correct depth - that die will also 'crimp' the neck of the case onto the bullet and hold the
reloaded cartridge together. (Back)
What equipment will I need??
Setting aside some uncomplicated "hand tools" you will need the following equipment
(A) a reloading press which could be a basic "C" frame press, an "O" frame press, a "turret" press or even a
(B) a set of "dies" which could be a simple "2 die" set, or a more sophisticated "3 die" or "4 die" set
(C) a tool or measure to ensure resized cases have not stretched and to trim them if necessary
(D) a basic powder "dipper" or a powder "thrower" AND a set of "Powder Scales"
(E) a simple "priming tool" for your press OR a modern magazine fed tool which could be hand or press operated (Back)
Can I save money by reloading?
A question with many possible answers, and those answers range from Yes to No! In short it depends on a very wide range of situations including; The amount of ammunition you use, the current cost of that ammunition, what you outlay for reloading equipment and cartridge components, what you will get for your equipment and partly used stock of components when you eventually give up reloading, what you do in your leisure and work time, how much it will cost to work-up and test a variety of loads (traveling back and forth to the range involves vehicle costs) what is the capital cost of your equipment and components ($1000 off your mortgage will save enough to buy 3 packets of ammo a year - a lot of meat!)
All that said a lot of people enjoy reloading - crafting their own ammunition - which is a hobby in itself and a hobby that complements the overall enjoyment and satisfaction many get from shooting sport . . . . . . (Back) OR - go here for further information on possible costs RELOADING COSTS - COMPONENTS
Can I reload cartridges that are more powerful and/or accurate than factory ammo?
The simple answer to that question is "Yes" but there are some very big qualifications to go with that.
Everything in shooting sport is either extremely specialised or a compromise. As an example; the firearms and ammunition used in competitive long range shooting are specialised and very different from those used in hunting. Joining the NRA, or just attending one of their competitions will provide an idea of those differences, and a quick study of the scores shot by top competitors should bring a realisation that much of the 'skill' talked about and claimed by people using hunting equipment is somewhat exaggerated. Some refer to these exceptional shots and groups as "Ten thousand dollar results" in a refenence to the cost of the equipment, and the experience, used to achieve them. . . .
Factory ammunition has been designed around the parameters of calibre, pressure, velocity, rifling twist, projectile weight, shape, and internal design (e.g. thickness of jacket, taper, expansion) advertising, and selling prices. Every factory loading gives more or less weight to each of those parameters and the major manufacturers have spent a lot of research and much money determining exactly what their loads will be. Some makers create several loadings - each for a different purpose.
Very few home reloaders have the equipment, time, or facilities to properly test many of the variables that exist in ammunition design and manufacture. However there is no harm in trying and a lot of home loaders have created loadings that are better for their purpose than some factory offerings. (Back)