Reloading Tips, Do and Don't

●Before you start to actually reload, read the front sections of several reloading manuals. Until you have read and understand this material, ignore any of the actual load data contained therein. At a minimum read two manuals; one manual, printed by a company that sells reloading equipment and bullets. The other one should be by a company that sells only powder, for example; Hornady then Hodgdon. After reading and understanding the ‘how to’ sections in those manuals, if possible, find someone who already loads and ask them to show you how and talk/walk you through at least the reloading of one box of cartridges.

●Get the Ackley handbooks for reloaders, volume one and two and read the sections on the process in both, up to the point that the loading data starts. Ignore all the loading data in the back pages of Mr. Ackley’s books at this time. As you gain experience, you may well find there is better, and perhaps safer, data to be found in loading books other than the ones produced by Mr. Ackley.

●Do you thoroughly understand what goes on inside a cartridge when you pull the trigger? 

●Are you mechanically inclined? In other words can you understand and follow instructions exactly, to make any needed adjustments to equipment?

●Do you know how to use measuring tools such as calipers and micrometers? If not you really need to learn.

●Do you have a secure area that can be dedicated strictly to a loading bench?

●Do you have the patience and opportunity to do this very detailed work away from distractions, (TV, Children, guests)?

●Contrary to what some believe, book maximum loads are maximum loads; those loads produced an average of the company's maximum working pressure for that round. Maximum loads in a manual therefore really are maximum loads, so if you use the same powder, the same bullet, case, primer, and OAL, and then add more powder, your loads will result in at least an overpressure (perhaps dangerous) load for the firearms referred to in the book!

●To start with, stay in the mid-range of the suggested loads for medium power levels found in the manuals. Save development of maximum loads for when you have more experience. Do not be fooled into thinking that because a load is published in a reputable manual it will necessarily be safe to fire in your firearm. Remember that each firearm is an individual in its own right and accordingly, requires its own carefully developed load(s).

●Cast bullet load information is often hard to find, or non-existent in most reloading manuals. You can use published data for jacked loads BUT use the starting load for the next higher bullet weight (and work up). For example, use published starting loads for one hundred ninety grain jacketed bullets to get a starting load for a one hundred eighty grain cast bullet.

●Buy the best equipment you can afford. It will last a lifetime; the cheap stuff will break or wear out and need replacing.

●Buy a single stage press to start out with; they are much less likely to foster mistakes. The progressives are neat and useful when doing large quantities of ammunition but it is very easy to overlook mistakes. Even after you have progressed to the point that you are comfortable using a progressive press, you will always have uses for the single stage press for special loads.

●Stay with the basics at first. The tools for neck turning, flash hole uniforming, primer pocket uniforming and checking concentricity may be useful after you get some experience, are more comfortable and wish to become more sophisticated in your reloading processes.

●For the first year or more, never exceed the medium loads given; always start at the lowest published charge. Never start lower than the lowest charge.

●Maintain a log of all useable loads developed along with notes of the test results. While there is really no advantage in keeping records of what does not work, being able to look back and see where you went wrong is sometimes useful. Label all boxes with the load data and the date the load was assembled.

●As a new reloader, do not experiment. When your level of expertise has developed past these warnings, do as you will, but a new reloader should never do anything not specifically set out in the book. There is no safe ‘go to’ formula for substituting a powder, or primer, or for making a lever gun into a bench gun.

●Never ever take reloading data ‘from the internet’ without cross checking against a published manual.

●Do not under any circumstances smoke, eat or drink, especially alcoholic beverages. The reasons are obvious, but remember; smokeless powder needs only a spark to set it off, it burns at a very high temperature; and it makes a dandy accelerant to start a fire. Drinking causes loss of motor skills and judgment. All three can be conveyors of particulate lead residue into your system.

●Wash your hands thoroughly when you are through. You are dealing with lead in many forms particularly when handling cast bullets, cases and primers.

●Wear eye protection during all phases of the reloading process, especially when you are trimming or performing other ‘machining’ of the brass (either by hand or when using power tools it makes no difference), or when working with primers or gunpowder.

●Keep an extra set of safety glasses in your loading room for use by visitors.

●Remember, the only stupid question is one that does not get asked. If you’re not sure, ask somebody. Use common sense too; logic is a great tool.

●No ceiling fan on, no music, no people, no distractions, no phones. Have or do nothing that can distract you while you are reloading. Weigh everything twice after all it is your life that could be at stake. There is also the real possibility of injury to a third party.

●Check the powder levels in all cases after you have weighed and put the powder in the cases, before seating a bullet, every time. Not checking powder levels can result in double or no charges, resulting in death, injury and damage, or in the best case scenario, (no powder) a stuck bullet in your bore.

●It is imperative that you have only the type of bullets, powder, primers and empty brass on the bench that you are loading at that time. Only one powder out on the bench at one time, never have several cans of powder out. Never assume you have the right powder. Read the can every time. Put everything away as soon as you are done.
●Never mix two (or more) different powders together!

●If powders become mixed accidently, throw it all out. Spread it on your lawn, the grass will love it!

●Primers are important so do not change from one kind to the other without restarting your load process. This is critical and can be deadly, especially if you are working at or close to maximum level loads.

●Clean out primer feed tubes before each use. Primer dust builds up and it is explosive.

●Use clean brass with clean primer pockets.

●Never be in a hurry, if you only have time to load ten rounds accurately, then only load ten, trying to cram twenty into the same time frame sooner or later will result in errors.

●Weights, lots, and OAL mean everything. If you want to shoot a rifle accurately, OAL, for rifles, while not particularly critical from a safety point of view, must be consistent; shortening OAL for loading in a handgun on the other hand can raise pressure to the point of disaster!

●Concentrate on accuracy rather than speed, no animal on the planet knows the difference between 2900fps and 3100fps. If your rifle shoots better at 2900fps you will hit more accurately.

●If in doubt, stop loading until you have identified and addressed any problem that presents itself!

●Reject all suspicious ammunition and if you are not sure about something, then disassemble it!

●Make sure you have good lighting.

●Use a good case lube such as Imperial Sizing die wax.

●Be very leery of shooting someone else’s reloads! In fact it is best to never shoot these loads!

●Every Step is an inspection point.

●The last thing you do before the bullet goes in is to look in every case to verify the powder charge.

●Periodically perform a reloading process work session assessment. Go through all of the steps in your loading ritual to see if they can be improved.

●No matter what level of expertise you develop, it is never a good idea to reload for anyone else, even good and trusted friends, unless you have met any local licensing requirements and have lots of liability insurance. Reloading for others carries a significant inherent risk from a liability perspective.

●When sighting a rifle using cast bullets, remember that a heavy slow bullet even in the micro second it is in the barrel allows the gun to recoil more than a lighter bullet will before the bullet leaves the muzzle, so the gun will shoot higher than you would expect.

●When setting out to load cast bullets, put a slight ‘bell’ or flare on the mouth of the case prior to seating the bullet. About three quarters of the gas check should enter the case mouth freely. If you don't have that amount of flare on the case, you need it.

●Brass should be prepared, reloaded and sealed in plastic bags long before you are ready to go hunting.

●Once you have developed a load, load your tried and tested load in a batch sufficient to your needs.

●Use one brand of brass (from one lot if possible).

●Check each completed round for powder by shaking it.

●In a safe area, cycle each load through the rifle.

●Check scope and stock screws.

●Check zero under ambient weather conditions that are as close to the intended operating temperature/pressure as possible.

●Clean the barrel (if your load workup has determined there is no first round point of impact difference).

●Scotch-tape your zeroing target to the rifle case.

●Once you have decided on a load and made up sufficient rounds to meet your needs, do not fiddle with anything again prior to your hunt! If you do you run the risk of throwing your carefully developed load combination off by a significant amount. There must be absolutely no last minute ‘I’ll just check this screw’, etcetera.

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