The Basics of Reloading and Handloading

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What is reloading and handloading?

This method allows a shooter to reload spent ammunition, saving approximately 50-percent over commercial ammunition expenses. Additionally, this is a very cost effective means for shooters to target practice. With the cost of ammunition rising, this enables hunters to cost-effectively practice and hunt.


What should a shooter know before attempting to reload ammunition? Understanding the basic terminology is a must-have foundation.

·         Cartridge – This is considered the finished product and consists of the bullet, powder, primer and the casing.

·         Bullet – Technically the bullet is a portion of the cartridge that is then fired from the rifle.

·         Powder – This provides the “fuel” that propels the bullet through the barrel and ultimately from the rifle’s muzzle.

·         Casing – The casing, or case, is the component that houses the cartridge. It contains both primer and powder and the bullet is located at the top of the casing. Sometimes this is also referred to as the brass or shell.

·         Primer – This pill-shaped structure is located at the bottom of the casing. When fired, the rifle’s firing pin strikes the primer, thus causing a small charge that detonates and thus ignites the main powder reserve in the casing.

·         Grain – This is the unit of measure used in ammunition. One grain equates to 1/7000th of a pound.


There are a number of tools needed for shooters to accurately reload their spent ammunition. These include dies, handloading presses, primer seating tools, powder scares, case length gauges, case trimmers, chamfering/deburring tools, powder funnels, loading trays and a detailed handbook and instructions.

A Basic How To Guide

There are a number of steps that must be accurately followed when reloading ammunition. These includes:

·         Inspection – Shooters should always inspect the casing for signs of damage. Any defective casings should be immediately discarded.

·         Cleaning – Removing dirt and powder residue ensures the casing will be safe to use again.

·         Resizing – The casing is inserted into a caliber-specific press (or die). This helps ensure the mouth of the casing is round.

·         Priming – A primer seating tool helps push the appropriate amount of primer into the pocket of the casing.

·         Charging – Shooters should always follow the manufacturers instructions for powder type, bullet weight, brass and primer brands. No assumptions or estimations should ever be made!

·         Seating – The bullet must be seated on top of the charged case, ensuring the case is smoothly raised into the seating die.

·         Recording – Shooters should always keep a handloading log that lists the date, brass brand, times fired/trimmed, bullet brand, bullet type, bullet weight, primer, powder type, power weight and accuracy.

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