Preparation for Reloading

  • Always Be Safe!  The most important aspect of reloading is Safety.  Never compromise safety for any other aspect of reloading and you will have a long and satisfying reloading experience.
  • Know your micrometer!  Practice measurements on inside and outside dimensions, as well as depth.  Measure cases to find those that are out-of-spec.  Measure cases before and after sizing and all case prep operations to see the impact of your sizing die, expander case mouth belling and crimping.  Knowing your micrometer intimately will save you considerable time and frustration during the reloading process.
  • Loading manuals are your most reliable data sources.  Recipes from the Internet should be considered suspect until verified through reputable information from loading manuals.  When working with new data or maximum loads, consult multiple manuals and be sure to search for errata and updates from the manufacturers.
  • What to do when you don’t have load data?  For the beginner, this means finding a different recipe of brass, bullet, primer and powder.  The intermediate reloader must carefully measure all physical characteristics and performance aspects to determine a safe load on a combination of brass, bullet, primer and powder that does not have formal load data.  Start with a minimal representative load and work up, looking for overpressure signs and squib loads.  For any reloader –if you have an unidentified powder – don’t use it!
  • New to reloading? Consider hand-loads before reloads.  Quality new cases are easier to inspect, are built to SAAMI specification and provide a consistent starting point that can significantly ease learning how cases change throughout the loading process.  Cases that are consistent provide for more consistent neck tension, expansion belling and bullet crimping, allowing the new reloader to get the feel of these critical steps.  Measure cases to ensure they are consistently within desired variance in all dimensions.   Record the resultant changes to the cases and cartridges as you perform sizing, expanding, seating and crimping operations.  Record the differences in fired cartridges throughout their lifecycle.
  • Resist temptation - Don’t make ammo for others.  Don’t share handloads.  Don’t sell handloads.  Even those that are carefully built to SAAMI specifications may not work safely and reliably in all firearms.  Every chamber is different.  Every gun is maintained differently and exists in a different state of wear.  You don’t want to be considered liable for personal or property damages – don’t make ammo for others!
  • SAAMI is your most reliable friend.  But not necessarily your most accurate friend.  The most accurate ammo is ammo that fits your specific rifle.  Producing this ammo requires careful measurement of fired rounds and the rifle’s chamber, as well as determining recipes that are optimal for temperatures, intended usages and distances.  Beginning reloaders should adhere to SAAMI specs.  Intermediate loaders can learn more via our Intermediate Reloading Course. You won't believe how much more there is to learn about high precision reloading.
  • Learn the proper vernacular of reloading.  Bullets are a component – and the term should not casually and incorrectly reference cartridges or loaded ammo.  Cases are empty brass.  Headspace is measured differently for cartridges that headspace on the rim, shoulder or case mouth.  Be specific when referring to components and measurements.  Especially if you’re posting questions or sharing info and don’t want to be flamed!