The big joke about reloading your own ammunition is that you save money. Sure, the monetary cost of each cartridge is less if you shop smart for reloading components like powder, primers, and bullets. The reloading is really “more expensive” part comes from the fact that you’ll shoot more! And then there’s all the cool gear that you’ll want to add to your reloading workshop…
There are some great reasons to take up reloading, and certainly different folks do it for different reasons. Some people reload to save money, and you certainly can if you’re willing to allocate some of your free time to the project. Others reload their own ammunition to optimize ammunition characteristics for their specific gun. Some get satisfaction from competing or hunting with their own hand-crafted ammunition. Others reload because it’s just a fun and relaxing hobby.
Whatever the reasons for your interest in reloading, we’re going to help you get started. This article marks the first in a series on reloading for centerfire metallic cartridges. Notice I specified centerfire ammunition. That’s standard rifle and pistol ammo with brass cartridge cases. Rimfire ammunition, like .22 Long Rifle, .22 Magnum, and .17 HMR is not reloadable as it does not use a removable primer. Well, technically, you can reload it, but it’s hard and tedious, so we won’t get into that just yet. Shotgun ammunition is reloadable too, but the process is significantly different, so this series won’t address that either, although the basic principles of reforming the “case” (or shell), re-priming, and re-charging are similar.
By the end of this series, you’ll know what gear you need, what you don’t, and what’s optional. You’ll understand the process and the different types of components you need. Most importantly, we’ll share tips and tricks to make your efforts easier and safer. With that said, let’s get started.
Let’s address the cost issue first, as it seems to be the first question everyone has about reloading ammunition.
The potential to save money (at least on a per round basis) comes from two factors. First, the brass cartridge case is the most expensive part of the complete package. You can reuse this anywhere from five to ten or more times depending on the caliber and your loads, so there’s a big savings opportunity right there. You don’t have to “re-buy” the expensive brass case for every shot. Second, you’re investing your time to process and assemble a new cartridge, so you’re not paying a factory to do it for you.