Jul 26, 2010


My reloading setup is simple. A small table, tucked into a corner of a cluttered room; the catch-all of "where should this go?" items. Bookshelves and cabinets line the far wall, an eloquently mute commentary on who lives here. The top shelf holds the drinks; remnants of college days dusty in the back row - testament to consumption on a budget - standing sentry over the more refined liquors in the front.

On the far end lies the whiskey, my one luxury vice. A dozen or more different bottles, labeled with distilleries and ages. Some were acquired on a whim, others for a reason. The oldest up there were secreted away in oak before I was born; others in the short time since I walked away from the brick and ivy world of education to seek my fortunes. Some hold memories good and bad; a shared drink with a close friend to celebrate or commiserate life's joys and tribulations.

Below the liquors lie the books, row on row, hardcover and dog-eared paperbacks. Roughly grouped by author but with little semblance of order, there are titles to appeal to most folks. Shakespeare. Grimm. Heinlein. Clancy. Tolkien. Jordan. Supica/Nahas. Rand. Orwell. Textbooks and manuals, references and resources. A slightly tattered copy of Webster's Collegiate pairs with Roget's Thesaurus - a high school graduation gift in the finest tradition. Hornady and Nosler have their place as well, side-by-side with a few photography books. In a corner lies a slightly battered copy of the Holy Bible.

A row of cabinets lie beneath the shelves. The shelves within sagged when we arrived, and only sag more with the load they now support. Carefully sorted into separate cabinets are boxes of barely contained fury. A thin shell of brass around a bit of powder and a lump of lead. Each one is a flash, a bit of noise, and a moment in time. Each one is a hole; a hole in the air, a hole in paper, a hole in dinner. A few grams to an ounce or two, but each one is sound and fury and focus, concentrated in my palm.

The last cabinet holds the reloading supplies. A few plastic jars of powder, boxes and bags of bullets, trays of primers. I can lose myself in what that cabinet holds.

The window open next to me, the radio soft in the background, the time I spend at my reloading table is my own. Adjusting powder weights, a quarter-turn at a time until the scale shows me the number I expect. Pouring a handful of cast lead into my hand, always surprisingly heavy for the small pieces I hold.

I lose myself in the rhythm of reloading; the steady and repeated motions.

Brass from the bag to the press.
*kachunk* and the primer pops out.
A quick flick to dispense a primer.
A steady press and the primer is seated.
Pull the brass and set it aside.
Over and over, a hundred at a time.

Primed brass into the press.
Swing the lever and bell the mouth.
Flip the powder measure.
Pour the powder into the case.
Swing the lever down, with that extra thump to shake out any bridged powder.
Pull the brass and set it in the tray.
Fifty at a time.

Pour out a handful of bullets and set them on the cases, one by one.
Put the topped case into the press.
Swing the lever, down then up.
Pull the cartridge and check the seating, check the length.
Toss in a bin.
A pile at a time ... fifty, a hundred, three hundred...

Put the seated cartridge in the press.
Run the ram up and back down.
Nice tight roll crimp.
Pull the cartridge and toss it in an ammo can, or set it in a box.

Thinly held fury, from the zen of the press...

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