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Handloading Basics


Welcome to the challenging and rewarding hobby of handloading, also called reloading, or sometimes just called loading. Whatever you call it, we think you’ll find handloading to be a fun, safe and economical addition to your shooting sports. A lot has been written about handloading, but to many it is still a subject of mystery. So before we get into the tools and steps involved, let’s take a minute to answer a few questions about handloading. The more you know about handloading, the more you’ll understand why more than five million hunters and shooters are enjoying this exciting hobby.

How Safe is Handloading?

In a word, very—because today’s smokeless gun powders are a lot different than the old black powders of our ancestors. In fact, modern smokeless powders are classified as propellants, not explosives, meaning when properly used, these powders only burn when ignited.

So, while common sense and certain precautions should not be ignored, handloading is by no means a high risk hobby. ALWAYS REMEMBER TO WEAR SAFETY GLASSES WHILE SHOOTING AND HANDLOADING.

How Good is Handloaded Ammo?

The truth is, carefully handloaded ammunition is usually better than factory loaded, because it can be fine-tuned to fit a specific gun and a certain type of shooting. The result is far greater accuracy.

How Complicated is Handloading?

It’s simple. There are only four components to a rifle or pistol cartridge: The primer, the powder, the bullet and the brass case. When a cartridge is fired, the primer ignites the powder, the powder then propels the bullet out of the barrel. All that’s left is the brass case and the spent primer.

This is where handloading comes in. The brass case can be reloaded over and over.

How Much Money Does Reloading Save?

A lot. Take 30-06 factory ammo for instance. At today’s prices, each round cost about $2 each. Of that, the primer, powder and bullet account for about .70¢. So about $1.30 of every factory round is chalked up to the brass case plus the expense of loading it. Since you will be using the case over again, you save nearly 65% over factory ammo or about $26 per box of 20!

That’s why handloaders generally make better shooters, because they can afford to practice more.

How Much Equipment Does it Take?

Surprisingly little. The truth is you can get all the equipment you need to start out with for $300-$500. If you do much shooting at all, this amount can be saved in your first year alone.

How Many Types of Cartridges can be Reloaded?

Most any except rimfire type, like .22 Long Rifle. Most brass cases can be reloaded 5-20 times, depending upon the cartridge and powder charge. Besides the standard cartridge, the handloader can find dies to load almost every cartridge ever made. So there is no limit to what can be handloaded.

Reloader Resources

From print publications to manufacturer websites and online social community sites, the modern reloader has more options at their fingertips then ever before. Make sure to read handbooks, manuals and guidelines from reputable sources. Talk to experienced reloaders. Write or call suppliers of components if you have questions or are in doubt. Always remember that to become or continue to be a safe reloader, you must be careful at all times.

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