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Cartridge Reloading in the Twenty-First Century: Tools, Tips, and Comprehensive Information

Cartridge Reloading in the Twenty-First Century: Tools, Tips, and Comprehensive Information

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Cartridge Reloading in the Twenty-First Century: Tools, Tips, and Comprehensive Information

282 pages
1 heure
Oct 8, 2013


A comprehensive guide to modern cartridge reloading, Cartridge Reloading in the Twenty-First Century provides detailed information about getting started in reloading, selecting the basic tools needed, and choosing your components as well as step-by-step instructions for reloading rifle and handgun cartridges and how to test your loads at the range. The text is supplemented by more than one hundred detailed photographs that illustrate the various types of reloading equipment available and provide guidance in performing the actions that result in a handloaded cartridge.

Cartridge Reloading in the Twenty-First Century covers many common problems the handloader may experience, provides unique information about reloading the .50 caliber BMG, and highlights the changes between reloading in the twenty-first century and reloading in the mid-twentieth century.

Not only for beginners, Cartridge Reloading in the Twenty-First Century offers advanced reloading information that describes special reloading tools as well as techniques for improving the accuracy of your handloads. The content of Cartridge Reloading in the Twenty-First Century will appeal to both someone considering reloading rifle or handgun cartridges as well as a person who already has acquired some experience in cartridge reloading.
Oct 8, 2013

À propos de l'auteur

Charles T. Richards began varmint hunting in 1950 at the age of fifteen. Recently retired, he was a technical writer for more than thirty years, mostly in the telecommunications industry. He now enjoys writing for pleasure rather than business and, when not writing, enjoys trips to the local gun range to punch holes in paper. Richards resides in Parsippany, New Jersey, with his wife, Marilyn.

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Cartridge Reloading in the Twenty-First Century - Charles T. Richards



I began to reload at the age of fifteen. At that time, I purchased a Model 43 Winchester bolt–action rifle chambered for the .218 Bee. This was the cartridge that introduced me to reloading. My equipment consisted of the handheld Lyman 310 Tong Tool and the Pacific Powder Scale. This powder scale was a balance–beam type and not magnetically dampened. It used the substitution method, in which you first balanced the scale with weights equaling the powder charge you wanted. Then you removed the weights and added powder to bring the scale back to balance. I think the 310 tool sold for about fifteen dollars and the scale cost about ten dollars. That was a serious outlay for a young teenager back then.

After a stint in the Navy, followed by a ten-year hiatus during my early years of marriage, I began once more to reload. By this time, in addition to the .218 Bee, I had acquired a custom .257 Roberts built on a commercial FN Mauser action and a Pre-’64 Model 70 Winchester Featherweight in .30-06 Springfield, and I had upgraded to a Lyman Tru-Line Junior Press. This setup served me well until I began reloading for my father’s Remington Model 760 in .308 Winchester in the early ’70s. Because I needed to full-length resize the cases for Dad’s .308 Winchester, I purchased an RCBS Rock Chucker Press and migrated from the 5/8-inch Lyman Dies to the standard 7/8-inch-14 dies.

As time progressed, so did my involvement in reloading. I acquired a number of rifles in various calibers ranging from the .204 Ruger through the .30-06 Springfield (yes, I still have that Model 70 Featherweight), as well as some handguns. I still use the old faithful Rock Chucker Press but have long ago graduated from the little Pacific Scale to a Lyman-Ohaus Magnetically Dampened M-5 Scale. I have also added an RCBS Uniflow Powder Measure for my handgun reloading needs and, more recently, I acquired an RCBS ChargeMaster Combo to speed up the powder weighing and charging process.

Today, all of my shooting is at paper targets at the local range and I get my satisfaction from shooting small groups with my handloaded ammo. I still experiment with different bullet and powder types, but I have settled on a few good loads for each caliber I shoot.

This book provides information that guides beginners through reloading metallic rifle or handgun ammunition and includes tips to aid you in selecting the equipment necessary to start enjoying this hobby. I also share some of the methods and opinions I have formed over the years. My hope for non-reloaders is that, after reading this book, you join our handloading fraternity and start enjoying the hobby of crafting your ammunition. If you already are a handloader, I hope you benefit in some small way from my experience.

With major advances in science and technology, we reloaders and potential reloaders of the twenty-first century have access to an abundance of tools and accessories that take some of the labor out of the reloading labor of love.

Also, with the improvements in smokeless powder and bullets, we are able to craft more reliable and accurate ammunition. There has never been a better time to enjoy the hobby of reloading!


Chapter 1

Anyone contemplating reloading his own ammunition today is in a much better position than someone pondering the same decision back in the ’50s. Never has there been such a wide selection of reloading tools and accessories, or such a variety of reloading components. In fact, one of the aims of this book is to help you decide what to select from this vast array of reloading equipment if you are seriously thinking of reloading.

Significant improvements have also been made in all areas of reloading equipment since that time. Thanks to microcircuitry, we now have reasonably priced electronic powder scales, digital calipers, and affordable chronographs. Also, a great many accessories are now available that enhance the reloading process, such as power case trimmers, ultrasonic case cleaners, precision die sets, and programmable powder dispenser and electronic scale combinations.

Is Reloading for You?

If you enjoy guns and shooting and would like to increase your enjoyment, a natural extension of this pastime is to start reloading your own ammo. Reloading, however, is probably not for someone who only takes Old Betsy out just before hunting season and fires a handful of rounds to prepare. Also, reloading is not for the person who won’t read directions carefully or learn the proper techniques and safety precautions to produce quality ammunition that, in most cases, surpasses what is available from the factory. If your interest goes beyond an occasional trip to the range and you enjoy target shooting or hunting varmints during the off-season, then you are definitely a candidate for reloading.

A number of reasons for reloading have been cited in numerous books and magazine articles. One of the more popular choices is to save money. In truth, you only save money if you discount your own labor. For most, reloading is a labor of love and the money saved is typically spent on purchasing additional components so you can reload more—and shoot more!

Other benefits of reloading your own ammunition are:

Reloading adds another dimension to your interest in firearms. Reloading your own ammunition helps you develop a deeper interest in the performance of your firearms.

You gain personal satisfaction from assembling your own ammunition. By using components you have personally selected, you will, in essence, produce your own custom ammo.

You get a greater selection of bullet and powder combinations than are available from factory ammunition. Many factory cartridges are only available in a few bullet weights and types. By reloading, you have a much greater bullet selection.

You’re able to develop more accurate ammunition for your rifle or handgun. By handloading, you can determine which combination of components works best in your rifle or handgun. In many instances, you will improve on the accuracy and performance of factory ammunition, which must be manufactured to perform safely in all firearms of a given caliber.

In the photo below, both five-shot groups were fired from a bench rest at one hundred yards. The rifle was a Ruger M77 Mark II Target model in .22-250 Remington. The group on the left (0.980 inch) was from Remington Express Rifle Factory Ammo (55-grain PSP), while the group on the right (0.690 inch) was from handloaded ammo. Factory ammunition is getting harder and harder to beat for accuracy with handloads, but it can still be done!

Cost of Factory Ammunition Versus Reloads

Without a doubt, you can save a substantial amount when you reload your own ammunition if you only compare the material cost and not your labor. The most expensive component in a cartridge is the case, which is recycled in the reloading process. You will, however, need to invest in the basic reloading equipment first. Depending on how often you reload, this initial investment will be amortized over a period of time.

For example, the average cost of a box of twenty .243 Winchester Cartridges is currently $25. The cost of the components needed to reload those same twenty fired cases is about $8. If you purchased five boxes of factory cartridges, the cost would be approximately $125. If you reload those original twenty cartridges four times, it would only cost an additional $32.

Another example is reloading the popular .38 Special handgun cartridge. The average cost of a box of fifty factory cartridges is $20. The cost of the components required to reload these same fifty cases is about $12. Five boxes of factory cartridges would cost about $100. To reload those same original fifty cartridges four times would cost an additional $48.

How Safe is reloading?

As long as the basic rules of safety are obeyed, reloading ammunition is a safe endeavor. In the same way the use and handling of a firearm requires you to be thoroughly familiar with the rules of gun safety (and to practice these rules 100 percent of the time), so it is with reloading ammunition.

Following are basic safety rules for handloading published by the National Reloading Manufacturers Association (NRMA).


1. Modern ammunition uses smokeless powder as its energy source. Smokeless powder is much more powerful than or Pyrodex. Never substitute smokeless powder for, or mix it, with either.

2. Follow loading recommendations exactly. Don’t substitute components for those listed. Start loading with the minimum powder charge in the loads shown.

3. Never exceed manufacturers’ reloading data. Excess pressures caused by overloading could damage firearms and cause serious injury or death.

4. Understand what you are doing and why it must be done in a specific way.

5. Stay alert when reloading. Don’t reload when distracted, disturbed, or tired.

6. Set up a loading procedure and follow it. Don’t vary your sequence or operations.

7. Set up your reloading bench where powder and primers will not be exposed to heat, sparks, or flame.

8. DO NOT smoke while reloading.

9. ALWAYS wear safety glasses while reloading.

10. Keep everything out of the reach of children.

11. Keep your reloading bench clean and uncluttered. Label components and reloads for ready identification.

12. Do not eat while handling lead.

13. NEVER try to dislodge a loaded cartridge that has become stuck in the chamber by impacting it with a cleaning rod. Have a competent gunsmith remove the round.

SMOKELESS POWDER • All smokeless powders have to burn quickly, but handgun and shotgun powders must burn faster than rifle powders. You will readily note the differences in the physical size and shape of various powders, but you cannot see differences in chemical composition that help control the rate of burning. Burn rate is also affected by pressure. Hot primers, seating the bullet too deeply, over-crimping the case on the bullet, tight gun chambers, oversized bullets, use of heavy shot loads, and anything that increases friction or confinement of the powder will increase the pressure. This hobby requires attention to detail, patience, and meticulousness to ensure the safety and quality of loads produced.


1. NEVER mix powders of different kinds.

2. Use the powder ONLY as recommended in manufacturer reloading manuals.

3. Store powder in a cool, dry place.

4. If you throw or measure powder charges by volume, check the charges by reweighing EVERY time you begin loading, occasionally during loading, and when you finish.

5. Pour out only enough powder for the immediate work.

6. NEVER substitute smokeless powder for black powder or Pyrodex.

7. Don’t carry powder in your clothing. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling it.

8. Store powders only in original packaging. Don’t repackage.

9. Keep powder containers tightly closed when not in use.

10. Specific powders are designed for specific uses. Don’t use them for other purposes.

11. Smokeless powder is EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE. To dispose of smokeless powders, follow recommendations in The Properties and Storage of Smokeless Powder SAAMI Reprint #376-2500, which is published in some reloading guides or available from the NRMA.

12. Empty the powder measure back into the original powder container when through with reloading session. DO NOT

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