Reloading - things I wish I knew before.

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Reloading - things I wish I knew before.

Post by emclean » Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:25 pm

I have reloaded my first batch of ammo this weekend, and I learned a couple of things. to those of you how have done it before, it might be a no brainer, but were not to me.
first, and going to be the most time consuming to undo, clean your brass BEFORE de-priming. It made sense to me, you clean the brass, wouldn't you want to clean the primer pocket too. NO, YOU DON"T you get the media stuck in the priming pocket and or the flash hole. I ma going to have to manually clean out about 1/3 of the brass that I cleaned.

Second, have a trusted source to ask odd questions. I turned to the hive mind of my facebook friends (ones I know are reloaders) to ask if it was normal to leave most of the case empty. I was worried that somehow the book, and the internet were off cause I was filling a third or a 38 sp case with powder. It just doesn't seam like enough. But the hive mind, and others reassure me that it is not unusual.

I also learned that it is easy to do, clean, de-prime, prime, powder, seat bullet, ready to go (there are also several steps of doublchecking in there too), that's it. all off a rolling toolbox in my family room.
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Re: Reloading - things I wish I knew before.

Post by majorhavoc » Mon Nov 09, 2015 6:36 pm

This is a great idea for a thread.

I wish I knew just what a time-saver it is to work with carbide versus steel dies. I chuckle at myself that I ever thought that lubing cases would somehow be a pleasant thing to do. Being able to completely dispense with that cumbersome step in case prep is a huge advantage.

I guess the only good thing about starting off with steel dies is discovering just how much better carbide is to work with. If you go straight to carbide dies, you'll never fully appreciate the difference.

When I think about how I originally thought that carbide dies might not be worth the price premium, I just laugh.

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Re: Reloading - things I wish I knew before.

Post by minengr » Mon Nov 09, 2015 8:09 pm

Wet tumbler with steel media. It cures the digging corn cob bits out of the primer pockets, cleans the brass inside and out, and does a much better job IMO.

Digital calipers with several extra batteries.

Bushing dies for rifle cartridges.

Load rifle rounds to kiss the lands whenever possible.
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Re: Reloading - things I wish I knew before.

Post by chills1994 » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:21 pm

I got back into rifle reloading about a month ago (because there is a local guy who processes once fired Lake City government surplus brass. He tumbles in SS pins, resizes, trims, and swages out the primer crimp).

So flipping open the reloading manual a while ago, I saw the min loads and the max loads. I went with something smack dab in the middle.

Anyway, I finally made it to the range yesterday to shoot some of my reloads.

This was my best group:
http://i603.photobucket.com/albums/tt11 ... gvntcl.jpg

EDIT: 5 shots at 100 yards
Last edited by chills1994 on Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Reloading - things I wish I knew before.

Post by chills1994 » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:47 pm

From about 2006 to 2012, I was shooting at least one Steel Challenge, or one IDPA, or one USPSA match a week. So I reloaded a lot of pistol ammo. I eventually worked my way up to a casefeeder equipped Dillon 650.

That is where I wish I had started. Yeah, the learning curve is steep, but nowadays with all the YouTube videos and various internet forums, if you ran into a problem, you could probably find somebody else on the internet who had the same problem. Then you can find out what their solution was.

Anyway...the two biggest doodads that I think are a must have are:

1. Case gauges (these are caliber specific and are basically like the equivalent of your gun's chamber

2. This Hornady case comparator tool:

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It measures how far back you bump the shoulders on bottlenecked rifle cases when you resize them.
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Re: Reloading - things I wish I knew before.

Post by Brotherbadger » Sat Nov 14, 2015 3:40 am

This is more for Single Stage guys, but it applies to almost everybody.

Keep Brass in various stages of prep. I find it a lot less overwhelming when i have brass available for whatever step i feel like doing that particular day, as opposed to having to do 50 or 100 from scratch all the way up to the finished product. If i feel like priming, i can sit down and prime a bunch of brass. If I'm out of primers, I can still clean and deprime/resize a hundred or so. Some days, i just want to load up some bullets. With always having some prepped, i can do that easily.

I completely agree on the waiting to deprime until after you clean the brass. Trying to punch out all the little stuck pieces really slows you down.

Case Gauges for every caliber. They are worth the extra money.

Hornady's LnL bushings are worth every penny. Not having to reset your dies every time you change calibers is so much easier.
Doc Torr wrote:You forgot to add that birdshot only hurts badguys, so you can bounce it off the floor, walls, or even yourself for nonlethal takedowns. Load some beanbags and dragon's Breath too, because you shouldn't stop shooting until they're on fire.

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Re: Reloading - things I wish I knew before.

Post by chills1994 » Sat Nov 14, 2015 10:30 pm

Yep, I still have brass left from my single stage days. I use GI surplus .30 cal ammo cans to store them. I write on the ends of them with a piece of chalk or a printed out label what they contain:

".45 ACP, cleaned, belled, re-primed"

"9mm, deprimed"

One of these days, I will have to see if they will feed into my casefeeder equipped 650 alright and flow through all the stations without any hiccups.

One of my latest purchases is a Frankford Arsenal Rotary Tumbler (aka a FART). I wish it was around in the mid 1990's when I started reloading. Here is a pic of my last batch using Armor All's wash and wax and Lemishine:
http://i603.photobucket.com/albums/tt11 ... cavmaf.jpg

Back in about 2006, I joined a local gun club/range. They have a dealer's account with Graf's of Mexico, MO for reloading supplies. I wish I had joined that club earlier.
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Re: Reloading - things I wish I knew before.

Post by Brotherbadger » Sun Nov 15, 2015 5:26 am

chills1994 wrote:Yep, I still have brass left from my single stage days. I use GI surplus .30 cal ammo cans to store them. I write on the ends of them with a piece of chalk or a printed out label what they contain:

".45 ACP, cleaned, belled, re-primed"

"9mm, deprimed"

One of these days, I will have to see if they will feed into my casefeeder equipped 650 alright and flow through all the stations without any hiccups.

One of my latest purchases is a Frankford Arsenal Rotary Tumbler (aka a FART). I wish it was around in the mid 1990's when I started reloading. Here is a pic of my last batch using Armor All's wash and wax and Lemishine:
http://i603.photobucket.com/albums/tt11 ... cavmaf.jpg

Back in about 2006, I joined a local gun club/range. They have a dealer's account with Graf's of Mexico, MO for reloading supplies. I wish I had joined that club earlier.
If you have a C&R FFL($30 for 3 years), you get dealer prices on everything at Grafs. If you have a lot of gear to buy(just getting into reloading), it's worth it. Saved me a good bit of money when I was starting out.
Doc Torr wrote:You forgot to add that birdshot only hurts badguys, so you can bounce it off the floor, walls, or even yourself for nonlethal takedowns. Load some beanbags and dragon's Breath too, because you shouldn't stop shooting until they're on fire.

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Re: Reloading - things I wish I knew before.

Post by chills1994 » Sun Nov 15, 2015 7:55 pm

I wonder if having a C&R would also get you a discount for gun parts from Brownell's???

Back in like 2007 when I was gathering parts for my first AR, my buddy had a gunsmithing discount through Brownell's (even though he didn't actually have a legit gunsmithing business). So he got 10% off. Then at SHOT show they give out the Brownell's discount code which is good til April 15th. In all, he was able get stuff for 20% off. :clap:
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Re: Reloading - things I wish I knew before.

Post by Brotherbadger » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:12 am

chills1994 wrote:I wonder if having a C&R would also get you a discount for gun parts from Brownell's???

Back in like 2007 when I was gathering parts for my first AR, my buddy had a gunsmithing discount through Brownell's (even though he didn't actually have a legit gunsmithing business). So he got 10% off. Then at SHOT show they give out the Brownell's discount code which is good til April 15th. In all, he was able get stuff for 20% off. :clap:
It does. I got discounts from Brownells, Grafs and one other store i can't seem to recall. It wasn't a massive discount at brownells, but it's better than nothing.
Doc Torr wrote:You forgot to add that birdshot only hurts badguys, so you can bounce it off the floor, walls, or even yourself for nonlethal takedowns. Load some beanbags and dragon's Breath too, because you shouldn't stop shooting until they're on fire.

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Re: Reloading - things I wish I knew before.

Post by PistolPete » Tue Nov 17, 2015 5:48 pm

Another lesson many people learn the hard way early on - Military brass sucks. Unless you have a tool built for the purpose, getting the primer crimp out is a serious pain, and you can't get a new primer in until you take care of that.

For some cases it's hard, like 45 Colt and 38 special, but I try to only use a powder charge that takes up half the case volume. That way if I inadvertently try to double charge, it'll be very obvious. For light loads in old cartridges I tend to use full cases of Trail Boss rather than a tiny bit of one of the faster pistol powders. Yes, you can load 38 special with something like 2 grains of Bullseye, but you'd never notice 4 grains instead of 2, and a double charge of a fast pistol powder like Bullseye can blow up a gun.

Oh, and trimming cases by hand sucks too, especially if you have a couple hundred .223 cases to get through. But you shouldn't skip that step in rifle cartridges, an overly long case will jam up a semi-auto rifle pretty quickly.

Good luck!
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Re: Reloading - things I wish I knew before.

Post by minengr » Wed Nov 18, 2015 10:33 pm

PistolPete wrote:Oh, and trimming cases by hand sucks too, especially if you have a couple hundred .223 cases to get through. But you shouldn't skip that step in rifle cartridges, an overly long case will jam up a semi-auto rifle pretty quickly.
It is yet another purchase, but if you happen to already have a table top drill press Forrester makes a nice three-way trimmer and base. You'll have to scrap a piece or three of brass, but once you get the OAL dialed in you can trim a 100 pretty quick. Just be sure to wear safety glasses (always a good idea) and be prepared to make a mess. It throws shavings everywhere, but is waaaay faster than another method I've use.
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Re: Reloading - things I wish I knew before.

Post by chills1994 » Wed Nov 25, 2015 11:38 am

PistolPete wrote:Another lesson many people learn the hard way early on - Military brass sucks. Unless you have a tool built for the purpose, getting the primer crimp out is a serious pain, and you can't get a new primer in until you take care of that.

For some cases it's hard, like 45 Colt and 38 special, but I try to only use a powder charge that takes up half the case volume. That way if I inadvertently try to double charge, it'll be very obvious. For light loads in old cartridges I tend to use full cases of Trail Boss rather than a tiny bit of one of the faster pistol powders. Yes, you can load 38 special with something like 2 grains of Bullseye, but you'd never notice 4 grains instead of 2, and a double charge of a fast pistol powder like Bullseye can blow up a gun.

Oh, and trimming cases by hand sucks too, especially if you have a couple hundred .223 cases to get through. But you shouldn't skip that step in rifle cartridges, an overly long case will jam up a semi-auto rifle pretty quickly.

Good luck!
A local guy does all my case prep:

fastandfriendlybrass.com

A friend I used to shoot USPSA matches with turned me onto the Possum Hollow Cutter:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i42nDelSKf8

Or

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4_QaEusPFg

It chucks into a drill.

The way I used to do it was clamp the drill in a vise on my bench. My drill...I have two now, a Porter-Cable and a Milwaukee...kind of higher ended corded drills...came equipped with trigger locks, so they would stay on running or spinning.

Then I would put my MP3 player in my shirt pocket. Put ear buds in my ears and then put muffs over that. Turn the drill own with the PHC chucked into the drill, and commence to trimming. Once each piece of brass was done getting trimmed, I would drop it into a 5 gallon bucket at my feet.

And then the other thing I would do was get the RCBS X-sizer die. I would trim to 1.74" and then use the RCBS X sizer die for every firing after that. That die contains a special mandrel which keeps the brass from growing after every firing/every resizing.

So you do NOT have to trim every time.
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Re: Reloading - things I wish I knew before.

Post by mattnall » Tue Apr 05, 2016 6:37 am

De-capping after tumbling will not get the primer pocket clean. But does that matter? I doubt it for 99% of users or uses. However I do resize before I clean as part of the process or routine I stick to.

Wet tumbling with SS pins doesn't stop the flash hole getting clogged, it doesn't happen as much as with corncob or other vibro-media but on .223 brass I occasionally get two pins stuck. Part of my case prep it to check the flash hole.

On a single stage you have to prime a batch, then fill the batch with powder, then seat bullets.
I prefer a progressive or turret set up where each pull (or at most 3 or 4 pulls) of the handle gives a finished round. This way if the wife shouts, phone rings or something else comes up where I have to leave the reloading station I am only at most 4 pulls of the handle away from having complete rounds and empties - no half finished rounds waiting around.

Everyone will have their own case prep routine but for what it's worth here's mine;
  • 1. Check for major fouling or damage, spray with some home-made case lube (if required)
  • 2. Decap/resize
  • 3. Trim to size
  • 4. SS tumble (or vibratory tumble if pistol calibre, small quantity of my less used calibres)
  • 5. Check cleaned brass for splits or dings (and primer pocket clear). It's easier to see damage on clean brass
  • 6. Load
I like to trim before I clean, that way the cleaning removes any burr on the case mouth left by the trimmer. But the trim length in most cases is taken from the neck so to trim I have to size first and that involves de-capping. It's a vicious cycle but one I'm happy to live with.

ETA. Get a Dillon swager if you have access to military brass. I used to throw away the old military brass I came across but then I got several thousand LC rounds. They were too good to throw away once I'd shot them so they sat in the reloading room for a while until a visit to Dillon's and I now have a load of great brass with the pocket swaged. You only have to do it once. I wish I had one before I trashed so much good brass.

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Re: Reloading - things I wish I knew before.

Post by eugene » Tue Apr 05, 2016 5:02 pm

I dry clean in the tumbler with walnut before depriming as I shoot on my farm so most of it has been in the dirt. Then I'll went clean afterward.
I try to clean/deprime/clean/measure/trim after each trip. Then I have about half my brass primed and ready so I can just load quick if I want and about half not primed yet.
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Re: Reloading - things I wish I knew before.

Post by SRO1911 » Tue Apr 05, 2016 5:51 pm

viewtopic.php?f=107&t=99340

Just so you know, there's a pretty good resource already handy.

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