Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tell me about reloading

As my 'collection' increases, I find that I have firearms that have no readily available and inexpensive supply of ammo.  Things like 7.5Swiss, and .303 Brit. come to mind.  I sold a very nice MAS 39/56 a while back because I could find no ammo at all.  So that has had me thinking about the reloading game.

Many years ago I used to hang out with my older cousin all the time.  We walked no telling how many miles in the woods together, hunting, fishing, shooting.  Many a time we would go to the local store and buy multiple bricks of .22 each for a days fun in the woods and down to the river.  One of the things I watched him do a few times was reloading for his varmint rifle.  All I really remember was that it seemed tedious, weighing each powder charge, measuring  each case.  Based on that, I have not wanted to get into reloading.

But looking into things a bit, I see that he was  looking for supreme accuracy.  I want bulk ammo.  Big difference as I understand it.

So, oh most knowledgeable readers, please tell me about reloading.  I'm looking at the LEE BREECH LOCK CHALLENGER PRESS KIT, or something very similar.

A few questions:
Can I use one powder for all or most rifle rounds (.308, .303. 6.5x55, 7.5Swiss)?
How much 'extra' equipment will I have to buy, in addition to the kit?

At what point is it economical to reload, and when is it better to buy factory.

I'm looking at being able to shoot, not match grade accuracy.

Looking forward to hearing about this.

Mr Fixit


Bob said...

Carteach0 did a series on reloading on his blog some months ago; you can find most of the articles down the left sidebar of his blog. Good, informative writing.

Anonymous said...

Boy, that's a big set of questions.

I've been handloading since '78 or so and I've never killed myself so maybe I know a little.

I'll address a few of the questions as best I can.

You ~can~ save money by handloading but pretty much nobody does. By that I mean that after you've amortized your capital investment, you'll likely find that you spend as much as ever. You just get a lot more bangs for the same bucks.

What handloading does give you is a chance to tailor your loads to your needs and guns. You'll also be able to load uncommon, obscure and obsolete guns.

Please understand, handloading is not for everyone. Fiddling around with a devil may care attitude is a good way to get hurt or killed.

A very good set of FAQs is available at the The High Road:

The specific thread is:

Like anything else on the web, read several sources and see how they stack up. Please don't take anything on faith. Look things up for yourself.

Some very good loading books are available, The Lyman manual, the manuals published by the NRA, Speer/RCBS, and Lee are all solid and reliable. All of these have good introductions to the subject.

I'll be happy to drop you a note with my address if you wish. Just indicate it in the thread.


Strings said...

I have a question before saying anything: do you plan on doing strictly larger rifle, or are you also planning on doing smaller rifle/pistol?

For rifle rounds, that kit looks like it'll work a treat: I use something similar for anything larger than 5.56mm. For pistol (and 5.56), I use a Lee Turret: faster, without having too much chance of mistake.

I deprime/resize all brass right after getting it home, and toss it in the tumbler. Then I'll sit in front of the TV with the clean brass and a hand primer: makes for less standing at the reloading bench...

There ARE some "standard" powders that show up a fair amount, but you'll probably end up with several different. Just the way it is... ;)

Sevesteen said...

I reload for handgun only, with a Lee Pro 1000 progressive and an older Lee turret press. Lee says these can be used for some rifle cartridges depending on length, with the turret handling longer OAL than the progressive.

The Pro 1000 is the cheapest progressive available, and in places cheapness shows. I think it is a great value, but it can be temperamental, primarily in the primer feed. I can do about 300 rounds an hour without rushing. Changing calibers where a different shell holder is needed isn't something I'd want to do regularly--I'm lucky that my two main calibers both use the same shell holder.

The turret press is a little slower loading, but a lot more flexible, and far quicker to switch calibers. Can be used as a single stage while you learn, switched to auto-index when you are comfortable.

I've been loading .40 with a Pro 1000 for a couple years. A long time ago I had a Lee Turret that I used to load .38 and .357 that I sold when I took a hiatus from shooting. I recently bought a used Turret--My plan is to switch the Pro 1000 to my most-used caliber of 9mm, use the Turret for low-volume calibers, and figure out what to do about .40 when I get low, which will be in a couple years at current rates.