Knowing how to reload ammo is a great way to save money while getting the most “bang for your buck” from your firearms. In fact, a reloaded round can often outdo factory ammo in terms of distance, power, and accuracy.
At Powder Valley, a lot of our customers are experienced reloaders who know exactly how to manufacture the ammunition they want, but every day there are more and more shooters getting into the art of reloading. Reloading your own ammo can save a lot of money, help improve accuracy and feel, and make you immune to ammunition shortages (assuming you stock up on the essential components), so it makes sense that people who are serious about shooting would want to learn the basics.
Below you’ll find a guide intended for the greenest of beginners. Read on as our experts break down the basics of reloading.
Reloading ammo is a precision task that requires a keen level of care. Failing to follow the official manuals can literally cause the whole thing to blow up in your face.
Please note: the information here is intended for introductory purposes only. We encourage you to reach out to a trained gunsmith or firearms expert in your area who can teach you the reloading basics person-to-person. Remember, as with all things related to shooting sports, safety ALWAYS comes first.
Reloading Basics for Beginners
The first step to reloading your own ammo is to acquire the right equipment. Depending on the type of gear you buy, this can be quite an investment. Of course, as time goes by, the money you’re saving on ammo will more than make up for it. These should include:
- A current reloading manual: This is an ABSOLUTE MUST for your own safety. Trying to “brew your own recipe” when it comes to reloading can lead to poor shooting results and have dangerous consequences. Follow the manual directions precisely.
- A reloading press: A classic single-stage press is a good choice for newcomers. It will allow you to reload a wide range of rifle and handgun cartridges.
- A powder measure: Important for ensuring consistency when dispensing gunpowder.
- A scale: Some reloaders use a manual scale while others prefer a digital model. Both can achieve excellent results.
- Cartridge dies: Used for decapping, resizing, and expanding each cartridge you reload.
- A primer catcher: Useful for keeping spent primers off your workspace floor.
- Hand priming tool: To insert the new primer into the cartridge.
- Primer brush: For removing spent powder from the primer cavity.
- Case tray/reloading block: A universal model will ensure the greatest versatility.
- Trimmer: For removing excess length from the neck.
- Chamfer/deburring tool: For smoothing sharp edges and imperfections.
- Primer tray: Makes primer installation quicker and easier.
- Case lube/lube pad: For lubricating the case and neck.
- Case neck brush: For removing spent powder and dirt.
- Powder funnel: Preferably with caliber-specific inserts.
- Powder trickler: Helps to ensure absolute accuracy when adding powder.
- Dial caliper: For measuring case length.
- Kinetic bullet puller: For correcting those occasional mistakes.
- Projectiles (bullets or shot): Along with reloading powder and reloading primers.
Initial Steps To Reloading
Ok, so now you’ve got the gear you need to start reloading ammunition, what exactly is the process? Here’s a brief list of the steps you need to take to produce your own ammo, assuming you’re using spent cases. If you’re using new cases, you won’t need to expel the spent primer.
- Resize your cases (they expand upon use) with the reloading press and the correct reloading die
- Eject the used primer
- Install a new primer
- Load the case with an appropriate powder charge
- Use a seating die to place a new bullet in the case at the right depth
- Inspect your work for any irregularities
For match shooting, where accuracy is of the utmost importance, many reloaders measure out their charge by hand. If you’re looking to produce a lot of ammunition quickly, progressive reloading presses can perform multiple tasks with each handle pull.
Stock Up on Quality Reloading Components
Once you get comfortable with the process, you’ll be churning out round after round quickly and efficiently. Stock up on powder, cases, bullets, and primers from Powder Valley, and make sure you always have the key components on hand.
Remember, experimenting with new projectiles and propellant is part of what makes reloading fun, but it’s of critical importance to stay within the manufacturer’s recommendations for charge type and weight. Do your research, and safely enjoy the incredible satisfaction that comes from hitting the bullseye with a round you made yourself.
We’ll discuss each of these items in more detail on other pages such as What do I need to start Reloading Ammo? For now, just know that all of these products play a key role in the reloading process.
First Steps in Learning to Reload Ammo
At this point, we want to welcome you to the reloading community. Here are some of the skills you’ll develop as you learn to reload ammo:
- How to evaluate spent casings: So you’ll know if they’re reloadable or not.
- How to ensure that a primer is installed correctly: It’s easier than you may think.
- How to read and follow a reloading guide: Again, we want to stress the absolute importance of going by the book each and every time.
- How to avoid common mistakes: Such as over-crimping a bullet or adding an incorrect amount of powder.
At Powder Valley, we have everything you need to start reloading, from the individual basics to comprehensive kits. Shop our site for the best reloading equipment & supplies at the lowest prices.
Frequently Asked Reloading Questions & Helpful Information
- Common mistakes made by reloading beginners
- How long will reloading powder last?
- Small pistol primers vs. large pistol primers
- How to read and follow a reloading guide
- How to find the right powder measure
- What is a bullet cartridge and how does it work?
- Reloading Powder Spotlight: Green Dot
- What is Powder Burn Rate?