I figured this could go under equipment as well, but I feel like reloading is just as much of a skill as it is based on what you own.
I've toyed with the idea for a long time, I even have a healthy collection of spent brass I've collected over time, but never fully committed. But I am curious who here actually does it?
"Man is still the first weapon of war" - Field Marshal Montgomery
I collected the materials for reloading M2 Ball spec ammo for my M1. I have a single stage press, too, but like many things, time and commitment got in the way. I've found steady supplies of Garand safe ammo, and have installed a Schuster device, so the need is waning. So is available space in my garage.
Internet reputations may be one thing, but cold hard data is another.
I've been reloading for a little over 10 years now. My understanding of a number of aspects of it continues to evolve but it's still a very fine thing to do, whatever your reason or reasons. It's great to have options to obtain ammo other than going to the store, it is a cool hobby that will teach you a lot of things about shooting and firearms that you probably don't know, and others. Start saving your empty brass in containers, if you haven't already.
If you're thinking about it, a good thing to do whether or not you take it up, is to read a reloading manual. My local library had "The ABCs of Reloading" which is supposed to be one of the classics. Several companies make reloading manuals like Speer, Hornady etc and the first couple of chapters are a good reading thing to explain everything you'd need to know to get started i.e. the general idea, what tools you need, reloading safety, and so forth. The rest of the reloading manual is taken up with pages of data that you use as a reference for when you start producing rounds.
Reading this material will give you enough knowledge to be able to understand what you're looking at as you peruse reloading gear from places like Midway USA, Widener's, Midsouth Shooting Supply, etc. I think most folks would tell you to buy a reloading kit from someone once you've decided to make the plunge- you need to know the stuff in the manual to know whether you want to start with a single stage, a turret press, a progressive, which brand etc. A reloading kit plus a few other odds and ends will have everything you need to get started but the components. You'll end up adding other gear and tools anyway so don't sweat planning out a perfect initial order. I don't know where the hell all my stuff came from but over 10 years an order here and there, collecting brass etc has filled up several really big garage cabinets plus a bunch of bullet casting stuff (yet another down-the-rabbit hole hobby).
If you know someone near you who can show you the ropes as you start, that's ideal, but I wouldn't let that be a deal-breaker if you don't know anyone locally. I think if you can learn about and do the other activities discussed here, reloading is just another one of those activities. I would start by reloading something easy, a straight-walled pistol round like 38/357, 9mm, 40, 45 etc.
It is one of the coolest hobby things ever, the very first time you make a few rounds and then go successfully shoot them!
It might be good to talk about the reasons for reloading. Thinking about what I posted above, it comes off as talking about a hobby which isn't so much the idea of this forum. Reloading is a cool hobby and all, and it does sort of have a place among discussions of tactical gear, SHTF, Neighborhood Protective Teams etc. After taking a number of training classes, my thinking about reloading has evolved though and I think of it more as a hobby thing than as something I'd use for whatever disaster. It's still very useful, but probably not like many people think.
1) There are a number of reasons why you should NOT use reloaded ammunition for self-defense, if commercially-loaded ammo is available. The reasons why are beyond the scope of discussion here, but the serious reader should check out training such as Massad Ayoob's LFI-I and MAG-40 classes, or Andrew Branca's law of self-defense classes. Bottom line is that using reloads can create legal problems for you in the aftermath of a defensive gun use- you might be ok, but why not just use commercial ammo and not even possibly have that legal problem?
2) I've gone back and forth on using reloads for training classes, and after many years I've finally come down on the side of doing what every serious instructor has told me to do from the get-go (Mas Ayoob, Max Velocity, most others) - Don't use reloads in class! If for no other reason, bringing reloads in is a source of random malfunctions even if you're just a shit-hot experienced reloader who never makes a mistake. It could I guess be a potential safety problem, but it's mostly the random defects and malfunctions issue. I'm chagrined at how stubborn I'd been about this and it took me almost 10 years to finally "get" it but I don't bring reloads to classes anymore. Malfunctions slow down the class and are a distraction- just like you wouldn't bring cheap-ass low-end gear to a serious class, don't bring reloads. Quite a few people including me have run into various issues by being cheap and using our reloads in class- don't be That Guy.
3) So what the hell good is reloading if you can't use it for training classes or self-defense? Well, it's still good for training and general range use. In fact it's damn good for that use. When the stakes aren't your life and liberty, or a class that you paid for, reloads are fine. If it's a serious situation, use factory ammo though just like you'd probably use a factory parachute if you ever had to use one for real. For handgun matches about all I shoot are my reloads.
Rifle reloaded ammo is a special case just because it's more involved to make rifle reloads than pistol cartridge reloads, that is, it's more steps time and trouble in the process. I'm fine shooting my rifle reloads in matches but it takes me so long to produce say 100 rifle reloads that I tend to not do that very often for say 223 which isn't all that expensive.
4) For rifle reloaded ammo, there is one thing that reloading will let you do really well - optimizing accuracy for your specific rifle. This is a for-real no-shit benefit that I had to see to believe, but it's true. It takes time and some work to vary things like bullet seating depth, charge weight for a particular bullet etc but if you do a little systematic investigating and record all your data, you can make some really good ammo for the same cost as practice ammo. "Accuracy ammo" isn't something that you necessarily make case-lots of, but it's really good to be able to make your own. The benefit of cost (match-grade rifle ammo for less than half the cost of commercial match grade) is cool but that's not really the reason to do it, being able to have control over your ammo supply yourself is the benefit.
If your defensive gun use happens after the meteor hits or whatever extreme WROL situation might come up, the possible legal pitfalls of using reloads probably become a negligible issue in that case.
Have been reloading now for 2 years solid. Reload .223 and .30-06 First year I did all manual loading (no auto drum) in order to get very familiar with accurate powder measure and nail down quality control so as not to overcharge ammo. It is an addicting hobby to be sure and surely a good skill to acquire. Load a ton of 55 grain Hornady using 25 grain H4895 and 24.5 grains of Benchmark powder; 77 grain and 69 grain SMK backed by 23.3 grains of Varget; Brass: PPU, IMI and Lake City Brass and CCI primers. For M1 Garand I load a good amount of 155 grain Nosler with 48 grain of H4895 and this year have been shooting 110 Varmageddon with 48 grain H4895 it's really a nice shooting round at the short distance 100 yard Service Rifle match. You get in the reloading game you'll definitely tend to shoot more. Some of you men are raising a family so finding the time to reload might be a challenge. None the less with limited investment you can start out really inexpensive with a simple Lee Classic press. Lee puts out a lot of solid product at lower price point where you do not have a spend a ton to get into reloading.
I actually have a copy of the ABC's of Reloading on the shelf. I picked it up years and years ago when I started considering getting into it. But I never committed due to the amount I was moving around for the military, lack of space to set up, and lack of supplies (this was back in 2013 when it was nigh impossible to find primers for a while).
I think the main reason I would do it now is for precision shooting at longer ranges, but I don't have regular access to a facility for that.
"Man is still the first weapon of war" - Field Marshal Montgomery
So I do a little bit of reloading for fun. I do a mixture of 30-06, 243 WIN, 45 LC, and 38 special mainly (I want to toy with some 223 but when my rifle shoots great groups with Federal's American Eagle 55gr I haven't gotten around to it). I will say right off the bat you are not going to save any money...becuse you are going to shoot more 🙂 I kinda like reloading...but my powder measure tool has been inaccurate which makes things slower...I thereby don't want to reload as much.... Anyway, getting back on topic, there is an amazing feeling when you can tune a load with a rifle and see the results! As stated before, it will take some time to do though.
“While people laugh at me because I’m different, I laugh at them because they’re all the same.”
Thank you for coming by The Everyday Marksman. This site and its community are a labor of love. I hope you stick around for a while, and maybe even join us.
We can't Wait to Show You More