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Subject:  Re: What I had in Mind Date:  2/14/2002  10:20 AM
Author:  voelkels Number:  27 of 131

Where did you learn to reload? By what measure do you say "Better"? Is it time intensive?

Really know nothing about the process, but I have to admit it sounds interesting. Especially that 1/3 to 1/2 off bit.

Tim, I learned to reload by buying a reloading manual (actually 3 or 4). If you are only slightly interested, get your hands on the July 2001 issue of the American Rifleman” put out by the NRA. That issue had a series of articles on “Getting Started in Handloading”. If you are still interested, buy one of the reloading manuals. If you are interested mainly in reloading pistol cartridges, I would recommend Sierra's 50th Anniversary (4th Edition) reloading manual for handgun ammo. It costs about $17.50 The manual for rifle is about $21.50. The Lyman reloading handbook (about $18.00) is also good. After reading the introductory information (and safety precautions 4 or 3 times) you can decide if you want to invest more time and money in reloading.

I shoot a fair amount of rifle ammunition. When I started loading my own in 1967, I took a custom built 22-250 out to a local range in New Jersey and fired off a box of factory loads. I printed a group that measured about 2 inches at 100 yards firing from the bench. I proceeded to develop a load for that rifle by varying the powder charges in ½ grain steps. I would load 10 rounds using a 55 grain bullet and a charge of say 33.5 gains of IMR 4320 powder, 10 rounds using the same bullet and 34.0 grains of IMR 4320, 10 rounds using 34.5 grains powder , etc., etc., until I was just below the maximum load of 36.5 grains of IMR 4320 powder. I fired at a target (allowing 5 to 10 minutes between shots) and recorded the two most accurate loads. The powder in each cartridge was weighed out on a balance to +/- .05 grain. From there I varied the powder charges in 0.1 grain steps until I found the “best” load using that powder and bullet combination. I was able to shoot a 10 shot group of .47 inch, outside of hole to outside of the hole. After that I started using 52 grain hollow point match bullets and did the same thing. You don't get results like that from factory ammo.

Another advantage of loading your own is that you can get a greater number of bullets for a special application such as hunting or target shooting than if you buy factory loads. I shoot a fair amount of .44 magnum bullets. When I was in Alaska, I would carry it loaded with 265 grain bullets for protection from bears. Recently I have been using up the old ammo and loading with 180 grain hollow cavity bullets for a protection load at the house. Loaded up with 19.0 grains of blue dot powder in that S&W 629 with the 3 inch barrel it sounds like the gates of hell slamming shut when I light it off at the range. With that short a barrel it throws a tongue of flame 15 or 10 feet out the muzzle. If I ever have to shoot at someone, I don't have to hit him, I'll burn him to death and the muzzle blast will probably knock him off his feet.

The way that I load it is very time intensive. I'll clean the fired cases, check for cracks, neck splits, etc. I then lubricate a bunch of cases and resize them. At that point, I'll clean off the lube and check the case length (important for rifle, not so for pistol). I'll then clean the residue from the primer pocket and reprime the cases. I'll measure each powder charge into the pan of my scale and trickle in enough powder to bring the weight up to the proper charge. Yes, I even do it for pistol ammo. I can use a measure and only check every 5th or 10th charge but I like to be exact, me. At that Point I'll charge up 50 or 20 cases and start seating the bullets. I'll seat the first one high and keep adjusting the screw on the seating die until the bullet is at the proper depth. I'll set the die high in the press so that it doesn't crimp the case on the bullet. After all the bullets are seated, I'll use a separate “taper crimp” die to give me the crimp that I want. It is slower this way but IMHO it gives me more accurate results. I usually buy my cases in batches of 500 (its cheaper that way) or once fired brass in lots of 1000 (9 mm, 30-06 government and .223) and do a batch at a time. Since I'm retired, I have time to spare.


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