Mar 15, 2010

Reloading

Some folks will tell you that reloading your own ammo will save you money.

These people are lying through their teeth.

What reloading WILL do is allow you to shoot more for the same amount of money, and a time investment. It will also allow you to tune loads for specific guns, if you so desire.

Reloading isn't for everyone. It requires 100% concentration, and close attention to detail. Steps should be done the same way every time. It can be dangerous. Think about it: you're putting together components that will generate 25,000-60,000psi about four inches from your eyes. Do you REALLY want to do this when you're not all there?

It requires a capital investment. Not a tremendous one, but enough to buy a case of good ammo.

It requires patience and a willingness to learn. Plan on lots of reading and note-taking.

It requires a little bit of space to work. Not a lot (my reloading table is 2'x2') but something sturdy that can be dedicated just to reloading. And a little space to store parts and pieces.

What do you need? A reloading press, a set of dies, a scale or balance, a manual, powder, primers, bullets, and brass. There are lots of other things out there that will make reloading more precise or easier, but these are the bare minimum. The capital items can be collected for well under $200. Plan on another $20 for a pound of powder and $30-40 for a thousand primers. Brass may be range pickups or once-fired from your own gun, but you should be able to find it cheap or free. Bullets vary tremendously in price, but for cast lead (my preference for reloading pistols), plan on $40-75/1000. All told, you should be able to load 1,000 rounds of a pistol caliber for about $120. (The cheapest manufactured ammo I know of is from Georgia Arms, who is currently listing 1,000 rounds of .38Spl 158gr LSWC for $210 in previously-enjoyed brass.)

One of these days I keep telling myself I'll make a nice little YouTube how-to for reloading - but that would require effort that I would much rather put into actually reloading. Maybe a few pictures as I work on the next batch. I've knocked out about 500 rounds in the past couple mornings, mostly of .38Spl, and a bit of .45ACP.

My secret? Do things in stages whenever possible. I'll clean and sort brass one day, then size/deprime/prime the next day, then charge/seat the following, then crimp all at one go on the last day. A standard batch for me to size and prime is 300-500 pieces of brass, then I may powder and seat bullets on 100-200 at a time, and do one big batch crimp after I've run out of primed brass to fill.

I will size/prime, or crimp, when I'm tired - at slight risk to my fingers. I pinched one rather badly the other morning, between the mouth of a .38 case and the die. No blood, but it did hurt like heck. Sizing and priming doesn't tend to be a super detail-oriented process, just monotonous labor. I will not work with powder when I'm tired, or distracted, or have had a drink. I'm sure some folks do, but I have to set SOME standards for myself. No TV - but I'll put the radio on in the background.

So why reload? It's just one more step in the shooting process for me. Instead of spending two hours in front of the TV at night, I'll spend an hour or two reloading and making sure I've got plenty of ammo for the range and the IDPA season. MrsZ can often be found in the same area of the house, working on her own projects, whether that's gardening or sewing or classwork. It's inexpensive quality time doing something I enjoy... can't beat that.

1 comment:

mhaithaca said...

When you're ready to do the video, I'll come with the HD camcorder. As you say, you need to focus on reloading.