How to Reload Ammo: 101

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How to Reload Ammo: 101

It’s no secret that ammunition is getting harder to come by. It makes sense, then, that you should try to get as much use from your rounds as you possibly can. Many gun owners reload ammo as a way to save money, extend the life of their casings, or both.

Here at Printed Kicks, we’re all about informing our customers. If you’re new to this concept and are interested in learning how to reload ammo, you’re going to want to stick around. We’ll walk you through each step to ensure that it’s done correctly. Of course, you should always consult your loading guide and manufacturer for specific details regarding your own reloads. This guide is a general 101, so you should check on any specifics that you may be dealing with. With patience and dedication, you will soon be able to enjoy the benefits of reloading your own ammo. 

Why Should I Reload My Ammo?

One shooter’s reasoning for reloading their ammo might be different from yours. Let’s take a moment to explore some of the most common reasons gun owners choose to reload ammo, so you’ll have a better understanding of its implications.

You’ll Save Money

It’s important to understand that if you choose to reload your ammo, you’ll likely end up spending roughly the same amount of money. With that said, you will be able to shoot more for around the same price.

As such, you will ultimately save money on a per-round basis. This is due to the fact that each round’s brass casing is largely responsible for ammunition’s overall cost. You would therefore do well to hang on to your spent casings and reload them.

How much you’ll actually save depends on your ammo’s caliber. In the context of 9mm rounds, you’re already shooting something that’s relatively inexpensive. Not considering the time you’ll expend reloading your 9mm shells, your total savings might be in the ballpark of 15%. 

If you’re regularly shooting pricier rounds, such as .308, you could potentially see savings in excess of 50%. Numbers like that can’t be ignored and are all the more reason to start reloading your own ammo. Let’s assume for a moment that you regularly buy 20 rounds of Freedom Munitions’ .308 Winchester 175 GR. The current going price is $1.70 per round.

You can reload your .308 ammo for about $0.70 per round, giving you $1 in savings per round. As you can see, these kinds of savings can add up quickly. 

Customization

When you choose to reload your own ammunition, you are essentially creating custom rounds for all of your firearms. Why is this important? In short, it can help to improve your firing accuracy. This is due to the nature of shooting ammunition in general.

By adding or taking away gun powder as you see fit, you can effectively adjust the speed and velocity at which your ammo travels through your gun’s barrel. 

What’s more, reloading your own ammo allows you to extend the length of each round. This would effectively reduce the force required for the bullet to leave its casing, thereby improving overall performance.

You Can Avoid Ammo Shortages

As we mentioned previously, it’s becoming rather challenging to find ammunition. And when you factor in the restrictive gun laws being passed in some states, it’s getting harder just to buy ammo. It’s also not a secret that many gun owners are stocking up on as much ammunition as they possibly can. 

While it’s understandable why this might prove to be a necessity, it also greatly limits what’s available in stores and online. Fortunately, reloading ammo gets around this issue to a degree. The only thing you’ll have to worry about is having enough reloading supplies.

But if you are able to stay stocked on the necessary components, you can effectively avoid price gouging, ammunition shortages, and widespread hoarding.

It’s a Hobby

If you enjoy DIY projects and gunsmithing, there’s a good chance that you’ll love reloading your ammo. Not only does it serve as a fun pastime, but you’ll learn a lot, as well. Plus, you get to tinker around with unique machinery that’s used in the ammo reloading process.

How to Reload Ammo

Now that you know the benefits that reloading your own ammo provides, it’s time to discuss the steps you’ll need to take to make it a reality. The first thing we need to do is go over the different components that make up ammunition.

A standard bullet cartridge consist of the following:

  • Gun powder
  • Brass casing
  • Primer
  • Bullet

Whenever a round is fired, it goes through a series of actions needed to complete the process. First, your firearm’s hammer/striker makes contact with the round’s primer. This causes a small explosion to occur that results in the igniting of the gun powder. 

Once the gun powder is ignited, the bullet is propelled from the casing at a high rate of speed. When you reload ammo, your job will be to put all of these components together via a reloading press. This brings us to the first step.

Cleaning Your Casings

Since there is a small explosion taking place inside each fired round, you can probably imagine the effect that this has on the casing. As such, you will need to get the casing back to its original size and shape if you plan on reusing it.

The first order of business is to thoroughly clean the casing. As with any explosion, there are residuals left behind. The cleaning process isn’t very romantic, as it involves running your spent casings through a brass tumbler. It’s loud, messy, and time-consuming.

But when this step is complete, your brass casings will look as bright as the day you bought them. You don’t need anything fancy to tumble your casings clean. In fact, other than brass polish, many reloaders use ground-up walnut shells or corncobs to serve as the cleaning medium.

Be prepared to give yourself a few hours for this step to run its course. For safety reasons, it’s best to do this outside. There’s always the potential for lead contamination, so you’ll want to clean your casings in an open-air environment.

Resizing

As we discussed a moment ago, spent casings are going to be slightly irregular in shape. As such, you will need to restore each casing to its original dimensions. Doing this serves a couple of purposes. First of all, it’s needed to ensure safe and proper firing. And secondly, it enables you to reload each case reliably.

The first part of this step is to remove the primer using your reloading press. You will then be able to restore the portion of the casing where the primer went using a reamer. You might find that it’s easier if you remove the primer prior to tumbling.

Now it’s time to resize the rest of the brass casing. This entails running the spent casing through a resizing die, which will, in turn, restore the casing to its original shape. If there are any dents or irregularities elsewhere in the case, they will be fixed, as well.

Priming

Since you can’t reuse your old primers, you’ll need to put new ones in your cleaned casings. There are multiple ways to do this, from hand tools to integrated reloading presses. Regardless of which method you use, the process is fairly simple.

Adding Powder

With your case primed and prepped, you’re ready to add gunpowder to it. Some methods include standalone units, while others are part of the reloading press. You will first need to determine what kind of powder to use with your firearm.

A reloading manual will help you find the correct type to use in your ammunition, as well as the recommended amount.

Adding Powder

Your casing is cleaned, resized, primed, and powered up. All that’s left is to add a bullet. If there are no sizing issues, adding the bullet is generally quick and easy. However, you could discover that the casing is too narrow to accept the bullet.

Fortunately, this is an easy fix that involves flaring the top of the casing. It’s important that you don’t over-flare your casing. If done correctly, the rest of this step is a walk in the park.

Using a bullet seating die, either with a reloading press or standalone unit, you’ll place your bullet on top of your case and run it through. If necessary, you can crimp the casing to hold the bullet more securely. And with that, your ammo is successfully reloaded and ready to be fired.

Summary

As you can see, reloading ammo takes time and patience. You’ll likely need to do it several times before you’re comfortable with the process. But once you’ve mastered it, you can effectively turn out a respectable amount of ammunition.

How much largely depends on what you’re willing to spend on a reloading press. Some cheaper units use a single die at a time, while pricier presses can produce 1,000 rounds per hour. 

If you find that you really enjoy reloading your own ammo, you will do well to invest in plenty of supplies. This will ensure that you are able to continue making ammo, even when it’s sold old everywhere else. You can always pair your newfound skills with a cool t-shirt or hat, too, so that you can show the world what really matters to you. 

 

Sources

308 Win 175 gr HPBT Match New | Freedom Munitions

Basics of Priming Brass Ammo | Ammoland

Dillon XL650 ammunition Reloader bullet reloading | Dillon Precision 


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