Ammo Reloading Guide

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Page 1: Ammo Reloading Guide

FREE Special Insert!

Learn Howto Reload!• Easy-to-Use


• Load Pistoland RifleAmmunition

• Save Money

• CreateCustomLoads



Page 2: Ammo Reloading Guide

Introduction to Reloading Ammunition

The fun factor in handloading is my favorite. First,I believe everyone needs a hobby, and the reloadingof ammunition is a great place to start. You can re-view the history of ballistics, see how propellantshave changed over the last 100 years and dig intothe past with reference to firearms and how theyevolved into modern state-of-the-art handguns andrifles. Choosing a cartridge from times gone by andfiguring out how to make it fit into modern times isa personal passion, and since I enjoy varmint hunt-ing, I like to resurrect older .22-caliber wildcats likethe .219 Donaldson Wasp, .220 Weatherby Rocketor the .22 K-Hornet. Going along with that also in-

Stan Trzoniec

Ihear it all the time: “Why hand-load your own ammunitionwhen commercial ammunitiontoday is just as accurate?” Nat-

urally, there is no easy answer, butif you could condense it all into afew words, they might be fun, sav-ing money and the ability to turnout custom ammunition that willperform well for whatever purpose– small game, big game, targetshooting, plinking, etc. with loadsthat produce best accuracy in yourrifle or handgun.

Introduction toReloadingAmmunition

A CompleteStep-By-Step


A Redding starter kit includes a press, case trimmer,powder trickler, lube pad, case neck brush, chamfer-ing tool, funnel, scale and powder measure.I

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and you don’t have to spend tonsof money to pursue it. Sure, theinitial investment is moderate,but if you shop wisely, it’s possi-ble to find a reloading “kit” thatincludes all the tools and a pressto get you started in a very smartand efficient way. Bullets, primersand powders are part of the ex-pense, but as you move along,they start to gather on your shelfas “stock,” and the cost processis less painful. Brass cases aregood for sometimes hundreds ofreloads, and a press, dies andrelated tools will last manylifetimes. If you are a novice toshooting and reloading, sooneror later you will develop an inter-est in a special part of hunting or

competition, and when you needa lot of ammunition in a shortperiod of time, handloading startsto pay off.

Finally, the tuning of a rifle toshoot groups under .5 inch at 100yards or more is a bit of a chal-lenge, which most of us can han-dle with aplomb. Small gamehunting demands small groups torid the farmer’s north forty ofannoying woodchucks, and it isyour job as a hunter to take suchgame in a quick, efficient man-ner. Accurate rifles not onlyget the job done, but go a longway in instilling pride of owner-ship and confidence in the fieldas well.

volves the process of perhaps re-fitting a barrel to an existing rifleto chamber the new round orscouring the countryside for avintage rifle already made toorder, just waiting to be taken inthe game fields again. Better yet,if time and money permit, havinga custom rifle built to your speci-fications – fit, finish and cham-bering – all topped off with ascope of your choice is yet an-other alternative.

Saving money is a good deal formost folks in these times when ahobby is an enjoyable pastime,

4 Introduction to Reloading

Pistol Ammuntion

1. Using new brass, visually checkall the cases for grit, packaging orbrass chips before lubing, for steeldies, or running them into acarbide-sizing die.

3. Insert the sizing (first of three)die into the press. Die sets areadjustable and allow the hand-loader to set the base of the dieso it just touches the shellholderon the up or downstroke of thehandle, depending on howthe press is set up.

4. Insert the cartridge case (weare using the .38 Special through-out this sequence) in the shell-holder that you installed onthe press.

5. Run all the cases all the wayup and into the sizing die. If afired case is used, the primer willbe expelled at this time also.

2. Lubricate all cases if you are using standard dies, but eliminate thisstep if carbide dies are employed. The latter are getting more popularfor loading handgun ammunition, as they are cleaner and eliminatethe need for cleaning all the cases after lubing.


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GETTING STARTEDSince most aspiring handload-ers will be using a press that gen-erates sufficient force to resizecases, a corner of a basement is agood place to start; a walled in“gun” room is even better. Makethe bench sturdy by employing2x4 bench work, covered witha pine, oak or, better yet, aFormica top. Bolting the table toboth the wall and floor is a goodidea, as a compound press devel-ops a lot of force, and the lastthing you need is to have thebench moving around as youwork.

Below is a list of equipment toget you started in either the pis-tol or rifle reloading process.Items with an asterisk (*) can bepurchased in a reloading kit, sav-ing money over the purchase ofindividual pieces. Double marked(**) products are those you needwith the kit, and unmarked itemscan be purchased as you movealong. Individual reloading diesare needed for each cartridgeyou load, but like anything else,there are exceptions. For in-stance, in pistol calibers, thesame die works for the .38 Spe-cial and .357 Magnum; the samefor the .44 Special and .44 Mag-num. Get yourself a good loadingmanual or subscribe online A manual (and/orthe website) is the bible for allyour work, and for the mostpart, one will last for manyyears. Manuals are published byBarnes, Hornady, Lyman, Sierra,Swift and a host of other inde-pendents, including the powdermanufacturers, like Hodgdon,Accurate Arms and Ramshot.( offers onlineover 200,000 loads for a widevariety of cartridges.) In addi-tion, most if not all will give youa complete rundown on load-ing practices, bullet types andweights and primers, helping tofill in the blanks and answerquestions on items not coveredin this insert.

Introduction to Reloading Ammunition

6. After cleaning (if a case lubewas used), check each case forthe proper overall length. This iseasily done on a dial micrometeror the inexpensive plastic gaugessold by many of the loading man-ufacturers.

9. Replace the sizer die with theneck expander (second die in theset) setting the case flare to ac-commodate the bullet base. Donot over flare the case mouth.

10. Theamount offlare (orbelling) ofthe casemouth isshownhere. Inseating thebullet,make sureit goes instraightly.

11. Pick the appropriate primerfrom the listing in any loadingmanual. In this case, CCI 500Small Pistol primers are correctfor the .38 Special cartridge.

7. If any of the cases exceedrecommended length, trim themto ensure proper chambering anda uniform crimp on all rounds.

8. After trimming, where neces-sary, a deburring tool is used toclean up the case mouth. Usingthe pointed end creates a slightchamfer in the case mouth; theopposite end is for the outsideedge.

12. Seat primers carefully. Onemethod is on the press, asshown, with the attached primerarm. Another is to use a hand-priming tool, and a third wouldbe a special automatic primingtool. Make sure the primer isfully seated to the bottom ofthe pocket.








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1. a good, high-quality bench pressin either a C or O configurationwith provisions for a primer feedand a spent primer catcher*

2. one set of appropriate dies –carbide for pistols, standard forrifle calibers*

3. shellholder to match the caliber*4. powder scale*5. powder measure*6. case trimmer with the appropriate

pilot*7. deburring tool*8. case lube kit*9. powder funnel*10. primer flipper**11. loading block**12. case neck brushes*13. primer pocket cleaners*14. reliable handloading manual**15. powder trickler*16. dial calipers**17. cartridge storage boxes**18. bullet puller19. notebook – for record keeping*20. case tumbler

You’ll also need unprimed brasscases, bullets, powder andprimers for the cartridge you areloading.


Reloading hand-gun ammunitionamounts to noth-ing more thantaking a cartridgecase and runningit through a num-ber of predeter-mined steps. Assimple as it maysound, there are a few items tobe considered as you progressthrough any loading session.

The first is loading data. Re-search all your work from this in-

6 Introduction to Reloading

Pistol Ammuntion

15. The next step is set up the scaleand zero it. With faster-burningpowders like Bullseye, attentionto details is mandatory, as over-charging could result in damageto the firearm and the user.

17. Now is the time to set upthe powder measure on a rigidsurface or use the screw clampssome companies offer.

18. Adjust the powder measureto drop your load choice – fromthe loading manual. Adjust themeasure until you get the exactweight, as confirmed on thepowder scale.

13. On the left is an unprimedcase. On the right is the primedcase flared and ready for apowder charge.

16. With all the various weightson the scale zeroed out, the farend of the scale must balanceat zero.

14. Consult a manual or other re-liable loading data to ensure youare using the right powder andcharge for the cartridge. In thisexample, we are using a Barnes110-grain bullet and a startingload of 4.9 grains of RamshotZip pistol powder for a velocityof 918 feet per second (fps).Also, note the overall cartridgelength is 1.435 inches with thebullet seated, which will allow itto function properly in any .38Special revolver.







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21. Follow all the instructions forthe seating die. Stan finds it easyto adjust the die to stop when thecase mouth contacts the crimping

shoulder inthe die. Theninsert thebullet seater(top part),adjusting itfor overalllength as thebullet ispushed intothe case.Insert thebullet byhand intothe chargedcase mouthas shown,making sureit is straightand true withthe sides ofthe case.

Introduction to Reloading Ammunition

19. Tip: to determine the averagecharge, throw 10 charges intothe pan and weight them as asingle batch, then divide by 10.

22. Screwthe seatingbody downuntil it justtouches themouth of thecase. Adjustthe seatingstem down-ward byalternatelyraising andlowering the

cartridge case while adjusting thebullet seating depth.

23. To crimpthe bullet fora revolver,back off theseating screwabout aquarter-turnand tightenit finger tight.Next turnthe die bodydown aboutthree-quartersof a turn andtighten. Thisis the crimpposition, orwhere thedie will turn

the case mouth into the crimpingcannelure to ensure the bulletdoesn’t move during recoil.

24. The finished product. Make avisual inspection to ensure thecrimp is even around the casemouth, the primer is just below

flush withthe bottomof the caseand, withthe firstcartridge,the overalllength iswhat themanualspecified.Record allthe data forthe nextsession atthe loadingbench.

20. Charge all cases in an orderlyfashion by row until all are filled.Visually check all cases for adouble charge, which can happenwith light target loads. With asmall charge, it’s easy to mistak-enly put multiple charges intoone case.

sert and loading manuals avail-able at any retail sporting goodsstore or online. Never guess atany load, powder charge orprimer size, and always consult areputable and updated hand-book. To do otherwise is fool-hardy at best.

General safety precautions area must. Never smoke or indulgein alcoholic beverages in yourgun room or work area. Keep thebench clean. Only the compo-nents relative to the cartridgeyou are working with should beon the deck. Nothing else. Weareye protection, especially whenpriming cartridge cases. Accumu-lated “dust” in the filler tubes canand has led to detonation ofprimers after months of heavyloading sessions. Blow the dustout periodically or just push acloth patch from one end to theother.

If any problems crop up, stop!Don’t force any equipment. In-vestigate the situation and thenapply the corrective action.

Record all data. Labels are sup-plied with each box of bullets, souse them on your storage boxes.Use or make up printed formsthat can be installed in commonthree-ring binders, and use bothas a cross reference. Take noth-ing for granted.

Loading handgun cartridges isa serious shortcut to more shoot-ing because it saves money. Thephoto sequence that followsshows a cartridge case movingthrough the various loadingstages. Fifty or even 100 cases ata time can be done at one stationbefore moving to the next to savetime and to ensure consistencyfrom round to round. Note thatnot all the smaller steps areshown in complete detail. Aquick check of any loading man-ual, die set instructions or load-ing press literature will round outyour sources of information,leaving common sense and expe-rience to do the rest. •







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scale. It does slow things down abit, but most rifle shooters don’tmind the slightly slower (re-laxed) pace if it makes for accu-rate ammunition.

Depending on your rifle, car-tridge or load, most cases requiretrimming every fifth or sixth re-load; full-power loads, moreoften. For the .30-06 case that weare loading here, the case can beallowed to grow to no more than2.494 inches. Trimming back to2.484 inches would allow formany reloads before trimming isrequired again.

Neck tension is very importantin rifle cases. It not only holdsthe bullet in place when loaded,

but also assures more consistentpowder combustion. Therefore,pay proper attention to the ex-pander plug in the sizing die. If,when seating bullets, there islittle or no resistance, the plugshould be checked for properdiameter.

Incipient head separationcaused by improper headspacingin a rifle is reason to check yoursizing die for proper adjustment.Overall or improper bullet/car-tridge length can lead to difficultchambering. If you are gettingsmall dents in the shoulders ofyour bottleneck cases duringsizing, perhaps too much lube isthe culprit.


Good quality rifle ammunitionis loaded in virtually the samemanner as handgun ammunition.And, unless there is a dramaticchange in metallic componentsin the near future, the processwill stay essentially the same.

There are differences, minor inmost instances but different. Ba-sically, the loading of present-daybottleneck cartridges involvesfour operations: sizing/decap-ping, priming, powder chargingand bullet seating. Some stepsare similar to those followed inloading handgun ammunition;others are unique to rifle car-tridges and require complete un-derstanding before proceeding.

One obvious difference is thatpowder charges tend to be largerin rifle cases. Consequently, thepowder measure must be able todispense bulky, coarse-grainedpropellants. The powder meas-ure supplied with the Redding kitis more than adequate for allyour handgun and rifle needs.

With coarse-grained powders,some folks prefer to weigh eachindividual charge a few grainsunder the specified chargeweight, then trickle the chargeup to balance the beam on the

8 Introduction to Reloading

Rifle Ammuntion

Loading rifle ammunition is no different from handgun ammunition,and components are available on a grand scale.

1. The first thing you want to dois inspect all the new cases forfactory defects, such as mouthsplits or irregular-shaped casemouths as shown here. The sizingdie will take care of this problem.

2. Lube all the cases sparingly be-fore they go into the sizing die.Take a half-dozen or so, roll themon the lube pad, then one by oneinsert them into the sizing die.

3. Lubricate the inside of the casenecks for an easy return out of thedie. Another possibility would beto use carbide expander plugs(not the dies), thus eliminatingthis step.

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percent below the maximum,working up from there by firingthe rifle at each advance in pow-der charge weight. If you seeproblems, stop shooting, take theloads home and by using a bulletpuller (inertia or mechanical de-sign – or pliers), empty the sus-pect cases and start again.

Keep a record of what you havejust loaded. I mark the storage

boxes with the loads to be tested.Stick-on labels work just as well.Maintain a three-ring binder forrecords and see how the firearmreacts to various powders and/orcharge weights.

Keep in mind accidents nevertake a holiday. Attention toall phases of the reloading op-eration will assure a safe andmore than satisfying hobby. •

Finally, double-check every-thing you do, every step of theway. At the bench, monitor pro-cedures; at the range check forsigns of abnormal pressure. Flat-tened primers, hard extraction orejector markings on the base ofthe case are a cause for concern,and never start charging caseswith the maximum loads in themanuals. Always start at least 10

Introduction to Reloading Ammunition

4. Insert the sizing/decapperdie (first one) into the press andadjust it according to the diemaker’s instructions. The usualprocedure is to screw this dieinto the press until it touchesthe shellholder when the ram(with the shellholder) is in theup position.

7. Clean all the cases with a sol-vent or by tumbling in a mediapowder before going on.

8. After sizing (new case out ofthe box) or resizing a case (afterfiring), check it for overall length.

9. If your cases are over length,you have to trim them back tofactory specifications. Likehandguns, you can use either atrim die or a case trimmer, asillustrated here. A case trimmerutilizes a pilot in different diame-ters to fit most popular riflecartridges.

5. Slide a cartridge case into theshellholder, making sure it istouching the rear of the holderand enters the sizing diestraightly.

6. Raise the cartridge case into thedie by running it up completelyfor full-length resizing. If it’s apreviously fired case, the primerwill be expelled at this time. Cleanthe primer pocket with a few turnsof the cleaning tool.

10. Aftertrimming,chamfer theinside ofthe casemouth.

11. Turn thetool aroundand do theoutside ofthe casemouth toremoveburrs.









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20. Lowerthe caseback downand installthe bullet,making sureit is straight.

10 Introduction to Reloading Ammunition

Rifle Ammuntion

13. Priming is done using theprimer feed included with theRedding press.

16. Working if possible at eyelevel, zero the powder scale,then use the powder trickler tobring the charge up to thecorrect weight.

14. Thepowdermeasureshould bemounted ona solid shelf.The onlypowder thatshould be onthe bench isthe one youare workingwith.

17. Load each case with thecorrect powder charge, asverified on the scale. Move downthe line until all the cases arecharged, then visually checkthem for the proper volume.

18. The nextstep is bul-let seating,so installthe seating/crimpingdie (seconddie in the set).

15. After fillingthe powderreservoir, set upthe powdermeasure tothrow a chargea couple ofgrains below thechosen load.

12. Beforeloading, goback tothe loadingmanual topick a pow-der chargeand thevelocitydesired.Barnes bul-lets wereused atop astarting loadof 49.7 grainsof Ramshot Big Game for a veloc-ity of 2,625 fps.

22. Turndown thedie assemblyuntil theproper crimpis achieved.The bullet onthe left isuncrimped.The bullet onthe right has amediumcrimp for a

rifle with a magazine. The crimpensures the bullet will not shiftin the case during recoil.

21. Raise thecase againand adjustthe bulletseater stemuntil thecorrect bul-let depth isattained aslisted for“overalllength withbullet” inthe loadingmanual. Ver-ify this withyour dialcalipers.Now is agood time tomake a

dummy round (with no powderor primer) and check it forfunctioning in your rifle. If it’sa hunting round, make threeor four, load the magazine andcycle each round through theaction. This will guaranteeflawless operation in the field.

19. Afterplacing aprimed andcharged caseinto thepress, raisethe case andinstall theseater dieuntil thecrimping ringtouches the

case mouth. Unscrew the dieabout a quarter turn, then tightenthe lock ring by hand.












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