Welcome to the challenging and rewarding hobby of handloading, also called reloading, or sometimes just called loading. Whatever you call it, we think you’ll find handloading to be a fun, safe and economical addition to your shooting sports. A lot has been written about handloading, but for too many it is still a subject of mystery. So let’s take a minute to answer a few questions about handloading. The more you know about handloading, the more you’ll understand why more than five million hunters and shooters are enjoying this exciting hobby.
1 – How Safe is Handloading?
In a word, very—because today’s smokeless gun powders are a lot different than the old black powders. In fact, modern smokeless powders are classified as propellants, not explosives, meaning when properly used, these powders only burn when ignited. So, while common sense and certain precautions should NOT be ignored, handloading is by no means a high risk hobby.
2 – How Good is Handloaded Ammo?
The truth is, carefully handloaded ammunition is usually better than factory loaded, because it can be fine-tuned to fit a specific gun and a certain type of shooting. The result is far greater accuracy.
3 – How Complicated is Handloading?
It’s simple. There are only four components to a rifle or pistol cartridge: The primer, the powder, the bullet and the brass case. When a cartridge is fired, the primer ignites the powder, the powder then propels the bullet out of the barrel. All that’s left is the brass case and the spent primer. This is where handloading comes in. The brass case can be reloaded over and over.
4 – How Much Money Does Reloading Save?
A lot. Take 300 win mag factory ammo for instance. At today’s prices, each round cost about $2 each. Of that, the primer, powder and bullet account for about .70¢. So about $1.30 of every factory round is chalked up to the brass case plus the expense of loading it. Since you will be using the case over again, you save nearly 65% over factory ammo or about $26 per box of 20! That’s why hand loaders generally make better shooters, because they can afford to practice more. Now with Idealload.com you save even more money because you don’t have to buy full box quantities while determining which bullet will give you the best shot group.
5 – How Much Equipment Does it Take?
Surprisingly little. The truth is you can get all the equipment you need to start out with for about $400 or even less. If you do much shooting at all, this amount can be saved in your first year alone (we will be covering all of the basic reloading equipment in future posts).
6 – How Many Types of Cartridges can be Reloaded?
Almost any cartage can be reloaded except rimfire type, like .22’s . Most brass cases can be reloaded 5 to 20 times, depending upon the cartridge and powder charges used. Besides the standard cartridge, many die manufacturers can custom make dies for any caliber cartage, so there really isn’t a limit as to what can be hand loaded.
7 – How Should I Collect Load Data?
This is a very important topic. As the reloader develops and shoots more loads it is important to have some way of looking back to see which loads worked the best and which ones to avoid. Taking notes on the performance of a particular load while at the range after firing a few rounds is one of the easiest ways to do this. These notes don’t have to be complicated and full of information or even written in a fancy book; simple things like group size can be all the information that is wanted. All that is needed to be written down is what the reloader feels is important. These books can be as simple as a three ring binder, a folder or small note book. For reloaders that would rather purchase a pre-made data book, these are available also and have pre-printed pages full of very useful information like the bullet type, powder type, primer type, case type, firearm used, velocity, conditions and other valuable information. Most reloading manuals have a section of pages for the reloader to write down notes.
8 – Should I Use Reloading Manuals?
The answer is YES. This is the most critical source of information for reloading. Not only is the reloading manual the reference that will be used each time a load is being developed, they also contain important information on the reloading process and offer tips and ideas to make the reloading process more efficient. Every manufacturer has their own reloading manual covering a wide range of topics and load data. It is important to note that each manual provides different information on the reloading process so it can be beneficial to reference more than one manual. Additionally, some of the manuals only give multiple loads for a given cartridge covering only bullets or powders that are made by that manufacturer.
WE HOPE THIS INFORMATION HAS BEEN HELPFUL AND REMEMBER, HANDLOADING IS NOT ONLY A REWARDING AND ENJOYABLE HOBBY, IT MAKES ECONOMICAL SENSE AND ALLOWS YOU TO PRODUCE THE MOST RELIABLE AND ACCURATE AMMUNITION. HAVE FUN RELOADING AND ALWAYS BE SAFE.