Author Topic: First Year Reloading - Issues & Insights  (Read 5118 times)

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Offline Wobbly

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First Year Reloading - Issues & Insights
« on: November 26, 2013, 06:49:27 PM »
We've been asked to host a new thread for beginner issues and insights. Several members want to add articles they've written off-line. This is not a typical question and answer thread. This will be a collection of articles about the hurdles and pitfalls encountered in the first few months of reloading, written by new reloaders and intended for new reloaders.

At some point this will become a stickie. Thanks in advance to all who contribute. Chatter will be eliminated.

Gentlemen, start your word processors!   ;)
« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 09:44:37 AM by Wobbly »
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Offline Riptide439

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Re: First Year Reloading - Issues & Insights
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2013, 07:17:35 PM »
Wobbly, I appreciate the opportunity share points I have learned over the past year from all of you here on this forum. If any newbie would like to reach out to me, please PM me even though questions are encouraged to all members. Heck it was the only way I learned!

Reloading Precautions

1.    A Clean and neat work space is critical for consistent cartridge reloading. Clutter causes confusion & distraction. Clean and organize your space before each session.

2.   Note Taking - Keep a well documented notebook, paper or electronic, on all your test loads. This data is critical to produce safe accurate loads using different powder and bullet combinations.  If you keep a paper manual, attach the test targets to the back of your load data page. If you keep electronic data, take a photo of your test targets and insert the photo into your test files.

3.   Stay Alert and avoid distractions - no interruptions. If you are forced to stop in the reloading process, make sure you have a set procedure in place to re-start where you left off. Missing a step like not seating a primer can be messy when you drop powder but dropping a double load of powder after an interruption can be catastrophic!
 
4.   Procedures - Stick to them! It may take practice but you will eventually find you perfect procedures to follow each and every time you sit at the bench. Just as you need muscle memory when practicing proper shoot techniques, you need the same muscle memory during reloading. The same pull pressure on your press arm for each stage will make for smooth reloading and consistent rounds. Remember Practice Makes Perfect!

5.   Check press before starting.  Check all connections – Set screws, nuts, links, and dies - to make sure they are secured properly. A loose link on the powder drop can result in a missed powder load which can lead to squibs. Inspect your equipment before each session!

6.   Lighting - Good lighting is critical to visually inspect cases prior to starting the reloading session and good lighting is also critical to visually inspect powder levels after you drop powder into the case. Whether you are on a single stage or a progressive press a visual inspection of powder level in your case is prudent.

7.   Case Sorting – Sorting by headstamp is not a requirement. Many reloaders prefer the consistency of one headstamp. What to look for no matter if you sort by headstamp or not:
a.   Damaged Cases – specifically look for worn, split cases
b.   Cases with Pressure signs – Flattened, missing, or extended primers or extractor grove recess
c.   Many times fired cases – Typically the headstamp is worn or hard to read
d.   Crimped Primer Pockets – typically military brass
e.   Steel Case – Get Rid Of Them
f.   9mm Reloaders, be aware of .380 cases – they WILL reload in your press!
g.   .45acp Reloaders - Primer pockets in .45acp are two different sizes. Mainly .45acp cases are Large Pistol Primers but approximately 5% of the primers are Small Pistol Primers. Also, be aware of several case head stamps have very tight primer pockets. S&B, HRTRS, and some other European case manufacturers are notorious for tight primer pockets.



   
8.   Work Flow – Single Stage and Progressive

a.   De-prime/Re-size
•   Single Stage - Working in batches on a single stage will create consistent loads. If performed in one sitting, hundreds of cases could be prepped during this step. During this process, there are attachments for some presses that will also allow you to insert and seat the primer in this stage also.

•   Single Stage or Progressive - Be aware of proper adjustment depth of your sizing die. Make sure the die is adjusted down to the case head. Read the die installation instructions provided with your dies & press.

b.   Case Flair - Whether you are reloading for an automatic or a revolver, this step is required in order for the bullet to seat in the case properly. Be carefully not to overly flair the case since it may not feed into the next die. Conversely, too little case flair will cause the bullet to be tight during the seating stage and possibly damage the bullet. In the case of lead bullets, it could shave lead off the bullets and create “eyelashes”.
 
c.   Priming - Typical presses seat primers on the down stroke. Whether you hand prime or load with a primer feeder on your press, be aware of primers that get flipped in the process. Stay consistent and make sure the primer is set flush with your case. A primer that is raised can cause havoc at the range. Also, be aware of several case head stamps that have very tight primer pockets. S&B, HRTRS, and some other European case manufacturers are notorious for tight primer pockets.

d.   Powder Charge
•   Single Stage or Progressive

1.   Always double check your load data! Set your scale to the weight you plan to use as your load. Adjust your powder measure accordingly, drop test loads of powder in a clean case. Once your powder measure is dropping the correct load weight that you have measured on your scale, it is prudent to drop 10 loads of powder on that weight on your scale. Adjust the weight 10 fold on your scale to see if there is a deviation in the overall weight. If the weight is off, adjust accordingly on your scale and drop 10 more until consistent.  You are now ready to drop powder into your cases – single stage or progressive.

•   Single Stage –
1.   What is needed for this stage
a.   Powder Measure
b.   Scale (Balance Beam Preferred)
c.   Case Reloading Tray
d.   Funnel
e.   Flashlight or bright desk lamp

2.   Most case reloading trays hold 50 cases at a time. Load 50 cases on your tray. Make sure your tray is stable and does not slide as you drop your powder. Once you have carefully filled each case, take a flashlight and examine each case for powder level. Look for cases with no powder or double charged cases. Once examined and each case approved you are now ready to seat your bullets.




•   Progressive
1.    Proper lighting on a progressive is very important to ensure visual inspection after each powder drop. Some manufacturers offer Powder Cop dies for progressive presses. This is an individual choice but there are other dies options of higher value in the reloading process.


 


e.   Bullet Seating

•   Single Stage or Progressive - Calipers are a requirement for this stage. Understanding your OAL (Overall Length) for your firearm is very important for this stage. Please read the sticky regarding your plunk test here on the CZ forum. Once you know your OAL for your load, double check the load manual to make sure your OAL falls between the load manual safe points. To set up the depth on your bullet seating die, use unprimed cases that have been sized. Adjust the seating die and insert a bullet into the un-primed case. Pull the arm on your die and seat your bullet. Remove the test round from the press and check OAL with your calipers. Repeat the above process until the proper OAL is achieved.  NOTE – in place of several un-primed cases, you could use a kinetic hammer and remove the test bullet from the case as to not use many cases in this OAL testing process.

1.   Single Stage - Once you have identified the correct bullet seating depth – OAL, put one bullet on each expanded case on your reloading tray.  One at a time, place each case/bullet on your press and seat the bullet.

f.   Crimp

•   Single Stage or Progressive - Some seating dies incorporate crimp. This does save one step in the reloading process but it also is much more difficult to adjust. It is highly recommended to crimp in a separate step. Be aware that automatics and revolvers require different crimps. Automatic requires a taper crimp basically to remove the bell in the case from the expansion die. Revolvers on the other hand require a roll crimp to hold the bullet in place so the bullet does not move during recoil. Many revolver bullets have a crimp grove to roll the crimp into. Typically, revolvers are forgiving on the amount of crimp and a taper crimp could be efficient for many standard target loads. +p loads and magnum loads should have a roll crimp incorporated in this stage. Once the cartridge is complete, it would advisable to do a drop test in a case gauge but the best test would be in the barrel removed from your pistol.

Progressive Press with 5 Stages



g.   Proper Cartridge Box Identification
•   After you have completed your reloading, it is highly recommended to keep your cartridge boxes well marked. Here is the recommended data to have on the outside of each box

1.   Caliber
2.   Date Loaded
3.   Powder
4.   Powder Charge Weight
5.   Bullet Manufacturer
6.   Bullet Type & Weight
7.   OAL
« Last Edit: November 26, 2013, 08:06:12 PM by Riptide439 »
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Online SMaster

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Re: First Year Reloading - Issues & Insights
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2013, 07:22:41 AM »
I won't go into why I purchased the equipment I did. There are a thousand
threads on different equipment. Just wanted to get to the cost because that's
what kept me from getting started in the first place.

I had a bunch of brass to clean so I headed to the gun store;

Franklin Arsenal Tumbler Kit                      79.95
State Tax                                                   5.60
                                                Total:       85.55

I cleaned all my brass and it sat for a couple of weeks.

Had a day off decided it was the day to get started. I wanted to reload this afternoon.

I gathered up my buddy who has been reloading for about a year and I
headed to a place that had the stuff in stock. Here's what I started with
and trips I made after my first initial batch of 9mm.


Lee Classic Cast Turret Press Kit             255.00
Lee 9mm four die set                              52.73
1k Silver Creek 9mm 115g lead bullets     84.26
1k Winchester Small Pistol Primers           34.53
1lb Hodgdon HP-38 Pistol Powder             24.93
State Tax                                               31.60
                                              Total:     483.05

Total of first visit with enough equipment and supplies to
start reloading 9mm cartridges for my pistols. I was in
business that afternoon.

A few days later I wanted to do .45 ACP. Back to the gun shop.

Lee quick change Turret 4 hole                  12.73
Lee .45 ACP Deluxe die set                        52.73
500 Silver Creek 200g .45 ACP LSWC         59.53
Winchester Large Pistol Primers                 34.83
State Tax                                                 11.19
                                               Total:      171.01

About a week after getting this far I had a few rounds I wanted
to take back apart and needed something to put my loaded bullets
in so I could keep track of them. I also wanted a quicker way to
weigh my powder, bullets or assembled rounds so a digital scale
was on this list.

Sudden Impact Bullet Puller                       19.95
MTM Digital Scale                                      39.95
1lb Hodgdon Pistol Powder                         24.95
7 Flip top cases                                         27.65
State Tax                                                   7.88
                                             Total:        120.38

Equipment                                               546.29
Supplies                                                  263.03
State Tax                                                  50.67

                                                Total:      859.99

So, I've got 859.99 in equipment and supplies so far. I've reloaded 500 9mm
and 200 .45ACP.

I've got supplies to load 500 more 9mm and 300 more .45ACP.

The cost savings will be looking better when I do my next batch provided I quit
reading the reloading threads and deciding I need this, or that... or some
of those. I'm just itching to get a bucket of .223 sitting in the closet reloaded
I'll let you know how the cost of that goes. Case trimmer, new die set, etc.





_____________
Steve

Offline painter

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Re: First Year Reloading - Issues & Insights
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2013, 06:44:11 PM »
I'll offer some insight because I really haven't had any issues. Things have gone really well and I'll try to explain why.

I jumped in to reloading about two years ago, before the current shortages. Rip has loaded far more rounds than I have, so I'm more of a newbie than he. To get started I read every stickied thread. There is some great information in those. One of them led to my decision to buy a case of particular ammo for the brass. Then I followed all the threads regarding buying equipment, and the one point that struck me was there was savings in buying equipment from someone getting out of reloading. I scoured all the Craigslist ads in my state and the three neighboring states. Sure enough before too long a deal came up that included everything I needed except for a pair of calipers, which I already owned. I could have come home and started reloading that night because along with all the tools there was also enough components to get started. I've since added dies for rifle, and bought a used tumbler for roughly half the cost of a new one. As ammo becomes more available there will be more deals to be had in the near future. I strongly recommend people look at this option to get started.

I personally believe that new reloaders should start with a single stage press. It will give them a feel for each step of the process. With a true progressive press there is so much going on I think it would be too easy to get discouraged if things don't go well. It's pretty easy to do things in batches. You can sit down and deprime/size/prime. Then you can concentrate on charging your cases and make sure everyone is charged, and none overcharged. If you do have to stop it's very easy to pick back up where you left off.  A quality single stage press will also allow the reloading of most rifle cartridges which was important to me. It also works great for small batches like when you are working up a load. As always...YMMV.

I was nervous the first time I fired my own ammo. I remember Mr. W telling me my accuracy would improve if I opened my eyes. :P Reloading is not rocket science other than the pointy end goes away from you. Don't over think it. Reloading is process. All the information you need to work up a load for your particular use is in the manuals and load data. Just follow the process. Without a doubt there is some science involved in load development for unlisted bullets or adjustment of loads to suit a particular pistol, and I enjoy that aspect, but when you come right down to it reloading is the repetition of a bunch of steps that when followed correctly will yield superior ammunition to what you can purchase off the shelf. If you are careless, or can't devote enough time to the task, then maybe reloading isn't for you.

Regarding components...Just because your buddy loads x bullet over y powder for his whatever he shoots doesn't mean it'll work as well in our CZ's. Ask before you go out and buy a thousand bullets because they were  cheap, or available. Buying in bulk is not a bad thing. I resisted buying in bulk at first on tried and tested components because my volume didn't seem to warrant investing in 5 or 10 thousand primers or bullets. Hindsight has been a cruel teacher.

The last point I'd like to touch on is the members of this forum. Listen to them. They won't steer you wrong. They have been a wealth of knowledge and freely share with us new guys. Whether it's been leads on materials, components even sending components to try free of charge, or load advice, I thank each and every one of them for making my experience a safe and enjoyable one.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2013, 09:08:49 AM by painter »
I had the right to remain silent...

but not the ability.

Offline IDescribe

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Re: First Year Reloading - Issues & Insights
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2015, 10:56:57 AM »
And when you're sorting that valuable pistol brass that non-reloaders have left behind at the range, here's a nifty trick that will help you sort quite a bit faster than checking one case at a time:





It works as advertised.   ;)

Offline J Lee

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Re: First Year Reloading - Issues & Insights
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2015, 08:56:23 AM »
Distractions, Distractions

Started handloading January 2014.  I have had 3 squibs in that time period, all occurring because I have allowed a distraction interfere in my process.  Thankfully, I knew what had happened the moment I pulled the trigger, that distinctly sounding "pop".  The most recent was my Mom calling over and over while I was loading.  Fearing that maybe something was wrong, I stopped and took the call after her 3rd attempt in 10 minutes trying to get a hold of me.  She just wanted to say hello.  15 miniutes later I looked down to see a powder charge sitting on my Dillon scale.  Crap! Knew there was naked round amongst the 200 loaded rounds. 

Lesson learned.  Call Mom before I start loading.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2016, 07:54:36 AM by Wobbly »
James

Offline 357MAGNOLE

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Re: First Year Reloading - Issues & Insights
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2015, 11:06:43 PM »
Distractions, Distractions

  15 miniutes later I looked down to see a powder charge sitting on my Dillon scale.  Crap! Knew there was naked round amongst the 200 loaded rounds.  Lesson learned.  Call Mom before I start loading.

Possible way around this issue, and I did this for the first 200 rounds I reloaded because I was petrified of blowing up my CZ or my fingers... I took my powder scale and individually weighed each finished bullet. I found about 15 out of the 200 that had double charges. I know EXACTLY how it happened and it wont happen again, my problem was with the Dillon press I have, when I was putting the new case in the lube was causing the case to stick to my finger so as I pulled away the case would slightly come out of the seating die area and was not properly aligned. I would pull the handle down and it would jam up a bit but when I was doing this my second station was dropping a charge, well I would lower the handle slightly and fix the case and then send the handle back down again and this was dropping a second charge. I started loading the cases and pushing them in with my finger nail, and also aligned the light on my bench to shine into the cases on the left side where the 2nd and 3rd stages are.  The 3rd stage is where I get my bullet seated, before I put the bullet in I visually check the powder drop every time.  I also randomly dump a case and check the powder drop.  Its been consistently between 2.9-3.0 for the past few hundred rounds and I have had zero more issues.
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Offline bubbadoc

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Re: First Year Reloading - Issues & Insights
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2015, 11:04:11 AM »
Use blue painters tape on the powder measure and record the powder brand in it and the charge throw it is set for

If you walk away for more than a few minutes, always throw some charges out of the powder measure to assure that packing has not set in and the measure is throwing properly

Keep only 1 type of powder, bullet and primer easily accesable/ within reach when reloading

On a progressive if there is any stoppage of routine (hung primer, timing off or kids/ critters) I always pull all cases out of the shell plate, verify the condition of each and put back in the shellplate at the appropriate location.  Keeps unprimed cases from dripping powder and no charged cases from getting a bullet.  A pain but it emphasizes keeping control of the reloading space

Offline offrover2000

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Re: First Year Reloading - Issues & Insights
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2015, 07:32:21 PM »
And when you're sorting that valuable pistol brass that non-reloaders have left behind at the range, here's a nifty trick that will help you sort quite a bit faster than checking one case at a time:


That is an awesome way to sort brass. Way faster than any other method I have thought of. Thank you for sharing.

I've been reloading for about 10 months now. Still learning a lot. Speeding up this part of the process is a great help.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2015, 07:36:30 PM by Wobbly »

Offline Dan_69GTX

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Re: First Year Reloading - Issues & Insights
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2016, 11:13:18 AM »
I've been reloading for just over 3 months now.  My Dad and I split the costs.  We bought the Hornady LNL press and have been happy with it.  It did require a few tweaks to get it happy, but just minor stuff.  I did a bunch of spreadsheets to look at various costs - initial cost, how much to add another caliber, spare parts, etc.  If you want to get into reloading and eventually want to have all the bells and whistles (case feeder, various calibers, etc) the price difference between the LNL and the 650XL isn't that great. For the press, to do 3 calibers (pistol), case feeder was about $1030 for the LNL and around $1240 for the XL650.  But you can't buy a stripped down XL650 so it is cheaper to start with the LNL.  I can't speak of quality between the 2 since I've only ever seen and operated the one we bought - plenty of other threads deal with that.

Several things to keep in mind for reloading:
- Initially you will NOT save money.  When buying components in small quantities to test loads for your gun(s) the cost will be about the same as buying bulk factory ammo from some online place.
- It will take time and patience to work through several variables to get a load (bullet type, bullet weight, powder type, powder charge) that your gun(s) really like - unless you don't care and just want it to go "bang".  Multiply this times the quantity of calibers you want to reload.  I personally found this fun and rewarding.
- Once you know the load data from your testing you will have a significant outlay of cash for materials so that you can save money.  This is due to the fact that buying in bulk is the only way to save the most money.  Example - spread the hazmat fee (and possibly shipping fee) over 10000-20000 primers AND 16 lb powder.  Bullets will need to be bought in the quantity of at least 1000 or more at a time to save the most money.

Hope this helps some.
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Offline met_mel

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Re: First Year Reloading - Issues & Insights
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2016, 01:14:55 AM »
I have been reloading for about one year.  A couple of quick notes that beginners might want to incorporate into their set up.  This applies to my LNL progressive and might not to others - when initially setting bullet depth (OAL/COL) place brass in the sizing position as well as in the seating position.  The sizing operation stresses the system more than any other position and can cause slack take up or even some elastic deformation.  This step prevents fooling around once you start loading and discover that the OAL you set initially isn't being repeated during actual loading. 
Secondly, I am a bit picky about these things, so I have gotten in the habit of measuring the length of all bullets I load.  I have found that a brief spritz of Hornady One Shot Case Lube has reduced the standard deviation in OAL from 0.003 or 0.004 to, typically, 0.001.  With the lube there is a noticeable reduction in variation of effort from case to case while loading.  Note I only load pistol cartridges at this time - 380ACP, 9mm, and 45ACP. 
Hope this might help some one.

 

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