Reloading Tips, Techniques, & Helpful Hints

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by kusterleXD, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. kusterleXD

    kusterleXD New Member

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    I've read the Hornady Handbook and want to start reloading my own ammo. Does anyone have any info they have learned about reloading that is NOT covered in the books? Any info would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. TXnorton

    TXnorton New Member

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    Go slow. Do not be in a rush.

    Start low (not max loads)

    Quality Check your work (Did I load powder in that case?).
     

  3. kusterleXD

    kusterleXD New Member

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    This thread is intended for anyone who wants to stat loading their ammo. Spitty gave me some good advice in keeping batch numbers low until you find what works. He said there is nothing more tedious than to pull a bunch of bulets if the round isn't satisfactory.
     
  4. ChuckD

    ChuckD New Member

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    What TXnorton said...

    I would also measure alot to ensure the bullet depth is correct, no high primers.

    Make sure you have the correct components. Example are 45ACP which is usually large pistol primers, I 've seen some with small primer holes.

    Above all read, go slow, measure abunch, and see if there is anyone local that will let you load a couple of rounds or let you watch them.

    Chuck D
     
  5. Silvertip 44

    Silvertip 44 New Member

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    Just take it slow. you will learn a lot simply from trial and error. Your best source of information is going to be from the handbooks and right from the get-go they all stress safety. Never, never deviate and or compromise safety. A tremendous rush of psi ignites right in front of you nose so don't ever let that slip from your mind.
    You can learn quite a lot from experienced reloaders, but again never take anyone elses word until you go back and check the handbook.
    Hornady is a great book especially if you load for service rifles but probably one of the best is the Lyman Reloading Manual.
    My manuals reside on my loading bench and they get a lot of use even though I seldom change my loads once I find the right one.
     
  6. 1hole

    1hole New Member

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    No matter how slow you go, if you don't try to understand each step and why it's being done you can mess up and learn nothing. Few "mess ups" are deadly but they affect the overall quality and accuracy of your reloads.

    First, understand that all 'directions' about equipment use and adjustment are no more than starting points, it will remain up to you to adjust for the final results. Such as, adjusting a sizer so it actually allows you to rechamber the round can't be assured by turning the die down just so far and just so much further. Nor can adjusting for bullet seating, nor adjusting for crimping nor for OAL. Each requires understanding and that requires thought, not rule following.

    Understand from the first that your initial ammo will only be "plinking grade", you will not be driving tacks right out of the gate. And calling your first ammo plinking grade is not a denegration, it's just a recognition that few manuals observe about early efforts but it's true anyway. After a few hundred, or thousand, rounds you will have the fundamentals down well enough to begin serious pursuit of more refined methods that can eventually do better.

    Don't get obsessed with trivia. Make ammo, shoot it and have fun. Such things as trimming cases within .001", weighting to .1 gr. for pistol charges and rifle for non-long range ammo, passed maybe 400 yards, etc., is a waste. Nor does sweating to get OAL consistant to better than maybe 10 thou. Nor does tumble polishing brass 'til it glitters, clean brass is all you will ever need. None of that stuff HURTS anything but it accomplishes nothing on target.

    It is not necessary nor even helpful to lock dies into a press with a wrench, finger tight is all you need.

    Don't agonize too much over which brand of press, dies, scales, etc, or bullet or cases or primer or powder is "best". None of it's magic, technique is much more important than brand. All of the tools are very good or they would not have survived in the market; some of it is vastly over priced tho. (We don't always "get what we pay for!") No matter what tools you start with, they WILL do you a very good job IF you use them properly so don't sweat over that.

    Lubricate bottleneck cases lightly but completely, especially the lower third. It's thicker there and that's where they will get stuck in the sizer if not properly lubed. And do get both an intertia bullet puller and stuck case puller as part of your intial package, you WILL need both eventually and having them handy will relieve much irritation when the need arises.

    Your bench is perhaps the single most important reloading 'tool' you will ever have but it's stength and design is rarely mentioned. Make your bench about 20" wide and as long as you can. Most benches are wood, you don't need massive 4x4" legs, 2x4" legs are plenty strong enough for strength.

    Most benches are too low. You will like having your bench top at a standing elbow level for best work. Use a swiveling bar stool when working seated. And have lots of light directly over your head to illuminate the bench well.

    You can work around obstaticals but it's better to place the tools properly for efficent work. No manual I know of suggests how to best arrange bench mounted tools. In fact, most of the photos I've seen have things positioned for photography, not working, and that's rarely very good.

    For a right hander, put the press on the right end of the bench with at least 8" of free space to the right and 16" to the left of the press so you will have sufficent space to place cases, bullets, lube pads, etc.

    Most presses get mounted too low. No matter the bench height, raise your press enough so you can fully depess the lever without having to bend over and your back will thank you!

    Reloaders need a lot of (sturdy) storage. Make a strong 5-6" wide 'book shelf' rack and mount it on the wall above the bench, leaving maybe 12-14" of clear space between it and the bench top so it doesn't eat bench space. Have one lower and wider shelf (maybe 10" wide) at nose to chin level, and place your beam scale/trickler there so each can be easily seen and reached. (Poor beam scale location is, IMHO, the main reason some people think they are "slow" to use; they really ain't so slow but a lot of users are! :D )

    Do NOT mount your powder measure on the press (unless you have a progressive or an auto-indexing turret) or on the front edge of your bench, both are very poor positions for quick, smooth work practice. Place your powder measure's bench stand about the middle of the top, well away from the bench edge, and just to the left of the press. Pivot the stand before bolting it down so you can easily reach the measure from the press position without moving. Then place your scale and trickler on the shelf pre-positioned for them, and just to the left of the measure. With powder tools placed this way you can easily drop charges, weigh and trickle them up and drop into cases standng in a loading tray then quickly move to the next OR just drop charges directly into the cases in a tray. Done this way, no digital powder weighing system is much, if any, faster than a beamscale/manual measure, over all. And, no matter what I said above, you WILL want/need to acccurately weigh individual charges at times, especially when you do intial development work and eventually get around to accuracy development. (I really meant just not to .1 gr. ALL the time!)

    Lots more ol' hand's thoughts to share with newbs but I'm getting carpal tunnel. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2010
  7. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    Don't touch your primers.
     
  8. Silvertip 44

    Silvertip 44 New Member

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    Now 1hole certainly laid it out for you and he is absolutely correct. I like my scale and trickler on the right of my powder measure, don't know why, but I'd spill too much powder the other way.
    As far as the loading bench goes, I have a hard non porous top on mine sort of like formica. That makes it easy to clean and pick up those little powder granules that sometimes have a way of jumping out of the pan.
    In the beginning, most of your loading will be building plinkers, but as you approach senior life, you may be shooting in service rifle and other matches or searching for that elusive one hole multiple shot group. That's when you will be investing all those other little gadgets---headspace guages, neck guages, etc. and learning more technical aspects of loading super accurate ammo. Then you'll be spending more money getting your rifles accurized and tuned so as to extract their full potential. But for the time being just get started and have fun.
     
  9. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    Determine the best OAL for a given load and make up a dummy round w/o powder or primer to use next time you set up your press in that caliber. Keep the dummy in the box with those dies for easy access.

    WASH YOUR HANDS prior to and immediately after loading. This will minimize the chance of fouling a component (like a primer) or fouling your system with lead. If you exercise proper precautions with lead handling, you will likely never have an issue. The next time you get a physical, ask your doctor to run lead levels on your blood. This will give you a base line for future reference. At each anual physical, re-do the lead level test to monitor your exposure.

    Read materials available from each bullet/powder/component maker. Read "The Cast Bullet Handbook" even if you do not entend to shoot cast bullets. It will give you insight into a broader range of knowledge. Read about gun powder and understand the difference between single, double and triple base powders.

    Large rifle primers are dimensionally different than large pistol primers. Small rifle primers are dimensionally the same as small pistol primers. The difference is generally the thickness of the cup (the part you see on a loaded round) and the intensity of the priming compound. In a pinch you can use small rifle primers in pistol cases, BUT you MUST reduce your load and work up a new load as the intensity will affect the pressure. NEVER use small pistol primers in rifle cases. You will have issues with blown primers, pierced primers and dangerous gas leaks.

    Learn to "read" primers, the look of a primer after firing and what that tells you about the pressures. Flattened primers, primer flow and pierced primers tell you things about hte load you are working up. Flattened primers (where the rounded edge becomes squared off) are normal in rifle rounds but perhaps a sign of near max pressures in a handgun round. When primers flow (under pressure metal becomes somewhat plastic and flows) and completely fill the space surrounding in the primer pocket, you are at or over max pressure and should back off the load.

    Primer pockets should be cleaned before loading, but they do not have to look new. Depending on the primer last used you may or may not need to clean them at all. If you can see some brass at the bottom of the primer pocket, it is probably OK for range/plinking use. If you see nothing but soot, clean it.

    Segregate your brass by headstamp. Winchester, Win, W-W, W-W Super etc are probably very close to the same for all intents and purposes. Remington, R-P, UMC, Rem, Rem-UMC and Peters are pretty much the same for all intents and purposes. PMC and Eldorado (ELD) are pretty much the same. F-C, Federal and Fed are the same. GFL and Fiocchi are the same. Hornaday and Frontier are the same. If you keep each batch separate and have a load for each batch you are much safer. If you are looking for exceptional accuracy (one hole groups) the brass should be segregated by, weight, exact number of times it has been fired and in which gun. Extreme accuracy nuts (affectionate term) start with a batch of new brass from one maker, weigh each case and segregate by weight, keep each individual batch separate, loading them over and over until they reach the end of their life cycle and start on the next batch, work up a new load and use that brass till it is discarded. Most people will never need to go to that extreme. Just don't mix a bunch of brass you picked up at the range and load it all to max or near max and expect it to perform well and stay in one piece.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2010
  10. Silvertip 44

    Silvertip 44 New Member

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    Don't y'all just love this stuff?????
     
  11. kusterleXD

    kusterleXD New Member

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    I'm trying to be an information sponge! This is all really good stuff.
     
  12. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    * subscription worthy *
     
  13. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    Where's BILLYBOB44 and Tangoliscious, our pixie love fairy?

    More data please!
     
  14. Silvertip 44

    Silvertip 44 New Member

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    Yeah, I just wish Al Gore would send me some of his global warning so I could go shoot some.
     
  15. cpttango30

    cpttango30 New Member

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    OK here is the low down from tango.

    Don't go nuts buying a bunch of different bullets for one load. Also don't go buying a bunch of different powder for one gun.

    Start small and work up. I can load 500 rounds of 45acp in a little over 1 hour. No big deal. It sometimes takes me days to finish up a batch of rifle ammo. go at a pace that is comfortable to you. and NEVER NEVER have distractions around you when loading. Soft music in the background is ok in my book but it should not be so loud that you can hear the sounds of your equipment.

    Start with 1 bullet ask around and what not then pick the bullet you want to shoot. buy 200 to 300 of them and find a good load for that bullet. This is where I prefer the Sierra Loading manuals over many others. (Ask cane how good the Sierra manual is I sent him one for a late christmas present) they give you a little extra info at the bottom of the load data page. One is most accurate and one is best hunting load.

    I have found that your best shooting loads are going to be withing +/- 1 to 2 gr of that accuracy load 90+% of the time. You will find that some cartridge like the same powders. 223 and 308 both use roughly the same powders so you cvan cut down on all the different powders that way.

    Every manual is different. You will see that every manual is slightly differnt. DO NOT BUY any manual over 5 to 10 years old. Over the years loads have changed a lot and powder have gotten better over the years so your granddads load may now be way over book max. Here is what I do I take and get 2 manuals 99.999999% of the time it is my Hornady and 100% of the time the other is my Sierra I look up the bullet weight in each book and I take the lowest and the highest out of the two books and make sure i work within that limit.

    Cases for normal everyday shooting, hunting, and plinking don't worry about cases other than SOMETIMES mil spec brass is thicker which lowers the volume of the case and cna cause an unsafe rise in pressure do to less room in the combustion chambers. Remington and winchester are good cases Federals are a little softer and may not last as long. Hornady is a good low end match case. Norma, Laupa, Nosler are top end brass and unless you are going for groups that will take the hair off a nats nuts at 500 yards the added expense is really not worth it. Hell I have seen guys on the F-class 1000 yard line using old RA69 mil spec 308 brass and out shooting others. Remember if you are using Milspec brass you have to swage or ream the primer pockets as the primers are crimped in. go easy if you are using the reamer a long time ago i make the flash holes way too big and ruined a bunch of brass lucky for me i have 5,000# of 308, and 30-06 brass in boxes in the reloading room. That was right next to the 10 or so 20# kegs of black powder we had as well.

    Primer are primers some may be a little hotter flame but for the most part they are very close to the same. Take from that what you will. DISCLAIMER: Never switch components in a load. I have been using CCI, Federal, Remington, Winchester for many years and haven't seen much difference over all.

    Get the phone number of an experienced reloader that you can call and bounce questions off of when you need to. I am very willing to answer any questions one has about reloading. I may not have all the answers but I can get you going in the right direction. I spend way to much time on FTF so if you have a question that can wait for an hour or two by all means OM the tango. If it is to hard to explain in the pm I will send you my cell number and we can talk about it over the phone.

    Now I like to wear rubber gloves so the lead and grim stay off my fingers and away from my kiddos and pets. I would also tell you to get a decent pair of safety glasses. You never know when a primer is going to go off when you are seating it. It SUCKS big time ask me how I know.

    If you don't know something STOP and ask a question.

    NEVER EVER store powder in your powder measure. The chemicals in the powder will etch the plastic used in the powder hoppers.

    NEVER EVER relabel powder or primers. that is a good way to blow you head off.

    When at the stage of loading powder in to the cases I like to load five look at them in the loading block and make sure they all look good then I seat the bullets in them 5 cases and place them in the carrier.

    I don't recommend tumbling live ammo some do. I found that something was happening when I did a test.

    Become a Supporting Member here on FTF and you will have access to the powder tumbling test I did and many many other write ups done my other supporting members.
     
  16. The_Kid

    The_Kid New Member

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    I've found that the fastest and cheapest way to find an accurate load is by using the [ame="http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Audette+Ladder+Test&btnG=Search&aq=f&aql=&aqi=&oq="]Audette Ladder Test[/ame]. I can find an accurate load within 10 shots. When I load developed with other techniques, it would take 40 or more shots.

    I noticed that the loads I've developed in the summer were not viable in the winter. So If you are loading a hunting cartridge for winter, preform your ladder test in the winter.

    All my bullet seating depths are determined by functionality with my magazine. I used to seat my bullets into the lands, .01, .02, .03, etc; from the lands to achieve accuracy with VLD [very low drag] bullets. I've found that to be totally unnecessary.
     
  17. spittinfire

    spittinfire New Member Supporter

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    kusterle, I'd love to add smething but between tango and robo, they've got it covered. I've asked both of them for reloading help in the past and they have both been very helpful. Have you picked out a press yet?
     
  18. BILLYBOB44

    BILLYBOB44 New Member

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    New to hand loading...

    Most has already been said. I did not see one: NEVER have more than one powder container on your bench at one time. This can cause many problems during the load session, and down the road. I always store powder+primers in seperate locations. If you can, start with a straight wall caliber case. It is the most simple to learn on. This is found mostly in revolver loads. I have more than several load manuals, but I find the most selections in the individual "One Load" booklets, found at most of the big box stores. If you are unsure of staying with the hand load process, do not invest in the high dollar equip. But remember-you get what you pay for. I like RCBS+Dillon, but I am/have been in it for the long haul. A lot of people get good use out of Lee products. Whatever you do start with a single-stage-cast iron press. It will not let you down, and will be of use later down the road. Buy-read several hand loading books+ make up your own mind, if this is for you--or not..:)
     
  19. cpttango30

    cpttango30 New Member

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    Billy Thanks for pointing that one out.

    yes never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever have more than one powder out on the bench.
     
  20. JonM

    JonM Moderator

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    QC your ammo before declaring it done. over all length and over all weight. digital scale helps when weighing if i get a round that is drastically different it gets tossed in the bin to be pulled. really helpful when using a progressive press as sometimes the rotation of the prograssive can lose powder on loads that are nearly at case capacity or your technique is sloppy and your jerking the handle a lot. or you run out of powder and dont realize it. testing weight helps.