Reloading you own ammunition is safe and fun. I've been doing it for years and obtained better performance in my shooting. Before attempting this task, read all manufactures instructions, not all makers work the same.
To start with you will need a quiet little work space. Concentration and attention to detail is a very important factor. A sturdy table to mount your press and to organize your equipment will make for a better product. An updated load reference is needed as to not exceed powder charges. I will refer to this as the load manual.
After you set up you are ready to begin. I will start with the 38 special. It is a common and easy round to reload. If you are not using new brass or casings as we call it, range brass or once shot brass will have to be processed. Clean, debur, sized, deprimed and trim to length. New brass is ready for powder, primer and a bullet.
Clean brass is important. You can clean them with a tumbler filled with media. Inspect each casing for damage, at the same time debur the neck. Lightly rotate the deburing tool inside and out of the neck of the casing. Recycle the damaged ones at your recycle center. Insert the proper shell holder and sizing die. If you are using a carbide sizing die no lubrication is needed. If not roll the casings lightly across the lube pad and insert into the shell holder. Run the press once and return and you are now resized. Next, measure the length with a caliper and compare to the load manual. Trim the casing to the proper length with the case trimmer.
Resized range brass is now ready to be deprimed. At the same time most depriming dies also expand the neck or bell it out as to insert the bullet with ease. You want a slight bell, too much will cause the casing to split after fired. Make slow adjustments until you obtain the right size bell.
Set up the priming mechanism. Range brass will need clean primer pocket. Do this with a primer pocket tool, a couple of rotations and its done. Inspect the flash hole for any obstructions. Sometimes media will lodge in the flash hole. Poke a small wire or tooth pick to remove. Refer to the load manual for the proper primer. Insert your brass into the shell holder. Press firmly to seat the primer in the pocket. Run your finger across the bottom of the casing. A properly seated primer should be flush or deeper that the bottom rim.
Look in the load manual for 38 special. Find the weight of your bullet in lead or jacketed that you will be using. Next look under the type of powder you are using and cross reference the two. You will notice powder charge listed in grains. The different grains will tell you how fast the bullet will travel in FPS (feet per second). Lead bullets will lead up your barrel if you push it too fast. For target practice I recommend a medium charge. Use a powder measure to obtain the charge you want, check it with a scale or weight each charge. Pour the powder into each primed casing.
Before seating each bullet, look at the tray of charged casings. The powder level should all be the same. At the same time you are looking for missed or double charged casings. If this is done, just redo that charge. Now you are ready to seat the bullet. Install the bullet seating die. Set the bullet into the bell of the casing and slowly seat the bullet a little. Measure the total length and refer to the load manual for maximum bullet length. Make slow adjustment until the desired length is obtained.
After your tray of bullets are complete, wipe down and inspect each round. You will get faster the more you do and learn the short cuts. The main thing is to pay attention to what you are doing and you will enjoy shooting your own rounds.
- Follow all manufactures instructions and warnings.
- Use the proper primer.
- Double check your powder and charge data often.
- New brass is ready to prim, powder and seat the bullet. Neck expansion may be required to seat the bullet.
- Brass, bullets, primers and powder can be purchased in bulk saving several dollars making sport shooting affordable.
- Rifle ammo is a little different but basically the same.
- Most of the pistol ammo use this same procedure.
- Joining a shooting club will allow you to share tips and find better ways to enjoy this sport.
- Loading a hundred at a time will save set up time.
- Clean equipment after every use.
- Store powder in a cool dry place and out of reach of unauthorized personnel