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Reloading FAQs

Discussion in 'Ammo & Reloading' started by NikatKimber, Nov 30, 2009.

  1. NikatKimber

    NikatKimber Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    We get a lot of threads with questions about basic reloading information, most of which is covered again and again, so I'll try to get all of it in one place and sticky it. If anyone sees something I miss, let me know. Feel free to help me write this up, or find threads/posts where it is already written.

    Thanks guys!

    ********Note*************
    I will not touch on loads for specific calibers in this FAQ.



    **********FAQs******************
    Slugging a barrel to determine the bore size
    Dealing with Crimped Primer Pockets
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2011
  2. NikatKimber

    NikatKimber Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Basic list of reloading equipment. I'll go into more details on the specifics of each later, this is just a list.

    RELOADING MANUALS
    Beg, borrow, steal... well, ok, maybe not steal, but get your hands on at least one and read it before you start loading.

    Equipment
    Reloading press
    Dies
    Powder dispenser / measure
    Scale
    Calipers

    Components
    Brass
    Primers
    Powder
    Bullets

    Convenience Accessories
    Tumbler
    Work Bench
    Reloading Ammo Blocks
    Bins / Containers
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2011
  3. NikatKimber

    NikatKimber Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Component Discussion

    Before I can go into any detail on the equipment, you need to understand the basics of the process, and the components involved.

    As I listed earlier, ammunition is made up of four basic components: brass, primer, powder, and bullet.

    The "brass" is the case which holds the round together. I will explain the basic reloading process along with explaining the component. Start with a pile of each, all separate. If the brass is fired, most reloaders resize the brass. This is due to the pressure of the round going off very slightly stretching the brass. Also, if the brass is fired, there is a spent primer in the brass which must be removed. This is "depriming." Some brass, typically military, have "crimped" primer pockets. Before repriming, this crimp must be removed. Also, with rifle brass, the case will stretch as it is fired. Thus it is necessary to measure the length, and trim if necessary. With the brass is empty, the first thing done is to press in the primer. The primer is the "lighter" or "detonator" if you will, for the round. The firing pin of your gun strikes this, and it ignites the powder. The next step is "dropping" the powder in. There are different ways of doing this, but they all accomplish the same thing. The powder, being a highly flammable substance, is what generates the power of the round. It is also very sensitive, so this must be measured very exactly. It is also sensitive to pressure differences, this will become clearer later. If you are not familiar with the weight measurement "grain" now is the time to do so. In short, 7000 grains = 1 pound. Powder measurement typically must be kept accurate to the tenth of a grain, ie for a pistol round it might be 5.2 gr (grains), or for a rifle 43.5 gr. This is measured out, and funneled ("dropped") into the case. The final step is inserting the bullet. Again, this is a sensitive step. The bullet must be seated to a very specific depth. This is where the pressure sensitivity of the powder comes in to play. If you seat the bullet too deep, the powder will burn faster, possibly causing an explosion of the round and potentially the gun too. If seated too light, the powder may not burn fast enough to generate the required pressure to function correctly. Depending on the intended use for the round, the bullet is also sometimes crimped into the round, preventing the bullet seating depth from changing. This is typically for auto loading firearms, as these are more likely to push the bullet deeper into the brass.

    To summarize:
    Resize - if applicable
    Deprime
    Trim, crimp removal, other brass prep steps if necessary
    Prime
    Measure and drop powder
    Seat bullet
    Crimp bullet - if applicable

    As I've said before, reloading is a very simple process, with a lot of chances to blow yourself up. So take care. It's not complicated, but you MUST pay attention to what you're doing.
     
    jphillipw likes this.
  4. NikatKimber

    NikatKimber Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Some more specifics on Equipment.
    What do they do? What are the choices? Which one? What is the difference and why would I need to pay more for it? Finally, where do I get one?
    I'll try to answer some of these.

    Press
    This is the most basic piece of equipment. They vary in cost and complexity from basic hand presses to commercial level progressive presses. We'll get to more of that later. The press is what does all the "work." The dies attach to it, the ammunition is held by it during the process.
    Types of presses:
    Single Stage - holds one die and one piece of brass at one time. One stroke of the press does one operation. Typically used in "stages," where all the brass will be resized/deprimed - up stroke and primed - downstroke, then the die changed, and all the brass will be charged with powder, change die, seat bullets in all brass. The single stage press requires as many strokes per loaded round as operations are performed. Usually 3-4 strokes per round.
    Turret - holds multiple dies but only one piece of brass. Can be used as a single stage, where the press is left in one die location, and the brass is loaded in stages. This saves the time of changing out the dies, as the turret is merely rotated, and the next operation can begin. Also, the turrets are typically easy to change out, so as many sets of dies can be left set into turrets as the loader desires. The other way these can be used, is to leave the brass in the press, and rotate the turret and perform all the steps on that piece of brass while in the press, then switch out brass and start over again. This press type will require the same amount of strokes as the single stage.
    Progressive - holds multiple dies, and multiple pieces of brass. The dies are typically held in a "turret" similar to that type, but instead of the dies moving, the shell plate that now holds multiple pieces of brass rotates around, and on each stroke of the press, one piece of brass is being inserted into each die set in the turret, therefore one of each operation is done with every stroke. So, there is only one stroke for each completed round. These are the most efficient when loading large amounts of any particular ammunition. They are also the most complicated, and typically the most expensive.

    The most common reloading press manufacturers (in approximate order of typical cost):
    Lee
    Lyman
    Hornady
    Redding
    RCBS
    Dillon

    Where to Get a Reloading Press:
    Here's a few places, there are many more. Also look around at local gunshops.
    MidwayUSA
    Graf & Sons
    Dillon Precision

    Some specific presses, who uses them, and some explain why.
    Which Press do you use?
    What presses you guys use??
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2012
  5. NikatKimber

    NikatKimber Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Dies
    The dies are the actual tools that come in contact with the brass. The dies are nearly always specific to one caliber. The sizing/depriming step is typically performed by one die, seating and crimping are sometimes separate steps, sometimes one die does both. Dies are typically sold in sets, that include all the steps required for basic reloading of that caliber. You may or may not need additional dies to accomplish whatever goal you are aiming for. Dies are also commonly sold in either carbon steel - needs case lubricant, or Carbide - which does not usually require case lube.

    Some examples:
    Pistol die sets usually are made up of 3 dies, sizer-deprimer, powder-belling/expander, and seating/crimping.
    Rifle die sets are usually 2 dies, sizer-deprimer, and seating/crimping.

    The same companies that make presses also make dies.
     
  6. BadgerLB

    BadgerLB Sharpshooter

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    Don't forget trimming the brass for rifle reloading...
     
  7. NikatKimber

    NikatKimber Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Badger, good catch, added to the process.
     
  8. NikatKimber

    NikatKimber Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Powder Dispenser

    This is the tool with which you will measure/meter out the powder for each individual charge. It is possible to use a scale and manually measure out each charge, but that is highly time consuming, and prone to human errors. Meters vary in function, and precision, but nearly all follow the basic idea of filling a void with powder, then dumping that powder via a funnel into the case hence the term "metering" as the powder is not actually weighed. Now, all typical meters are very precise in general terms, but for extreme accuracy, even more is required. Most meters with many powders will hold +/- 0.1 grains precision, which is good for the beginner, or for pistol or plinking rounds.

    Some meters are free standing, where the case is positioned below the meter, and filled, others can be or are installed on a press automatically functioned from the action of the press. Some can be used either way.

    Once again, the manufacturers of presses and dies also make powder dispensers, and can be purchased from the same places.
     
  9. NikatKimber

    NikatKimber Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Scale
    Measuring powder charges and other components.

    Calipers
    Necessary to measure diameter of bullets, and cartridge overall length.
    Calipers
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2012
  10. NikatKimber

    NikatKimber Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Convenience Accessories
    Tumbler
    Work Bench
    Reloading Ammo Blocks
    Bins / Containers
     

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