By Frank Semeraro AKA “Big Gun”
Ammo is very scarce and expensive right now and I have had a lot of people ask me about reloading their own ammo. Before taking the plunge into the world of reloading there are a few things to keep in mind. Reloading is a very expensive hobby and when ammo is scarce, so are the reloading components. Reloading isn’t about saving money, it’s about having ammo when you need it and loading the cartridges to suit your needs.
To start off you will need the following minimum equipment that is a one time purchase:
- Reloading Press – The prices of a reloading press run between 150.00 and $1,000 dollars. I would recommend a single stage press for beginners. I personally use and recommend the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme. This is an excellent press and will last longer than you do. You can pick up one of these for around $200.00
- Reloading Dies – You will need a set of reloading dies for each caliber you plan on reloading. I recommend the Lee Precision Carbide Dies. These dies fit almost every reloading press and when using carbide dies you don’t need to lube the cases. These dies will also last a lifetime.
The Die set will run you about $85.00 per caliber set and gives you all the dies to de-prime the cases, size the cases, seat the bullet and crimp the cases.
- Powder Measure – You will need an accurate powder measure to accurately throw a charge of gun powder into the case. I recommend the RCBS Uniflow Powder Measure and you will also want to purchase a stand for it so you can mount it to your reloading bench and a funnel. This will cost you around $200.00
- Powder Scale – You will need an accurate powder scale to weigh your loads. It is critical that your charges fall into the acceptable range. I weigh every 10 loaded cartridges to make sure the amount of powder on the cases are safe to shoot. I recommend the Frankford Arsenal Digital Scale Model DS-750. This scale is very accurate and easy to use and can be found for about $35.00
- Calipers – You will need a good set of calipers to make sure the Minimum and Maximum overall case lengths are in spec. I use the Hornady Digital Caliper which cost around $40.00
- Priming Tool – You will find it much easier to prime your cases with a hand tool instead of using the press. I recommend the Lyman E-ZEE Prime. This is very easy to use and make priming the cases go very quickly. This will cost you around $100.00
- Reloading Bench – You can use a table or workbench for reloading. I made my own reloading bench from 2×4’s and a plywood top for under $100.00
So far you can see that this is not a cheap hobby and this is just the bare-bone minimum setup. Fortunately, this is only a one time purchase. The next part are the consumables which will be an on-going expense.
Consumables – These are the components you will need to start reloading your cartridges.
- Cases – You will need Brass or Nickle Cases for each caliber you will reload for.
- Bullets – You will need to decide the weight and type of bullets for each caliber. Lead, Lead Coated, Copper Plated, Hollow Point, etc. The average cost of bullets are about $100.00 for 500 rounds.
- Primers – You will need primers for your cases depending on if they are Large or Small Rifle or Large or Small pistol. Your cases will determine if you will need large or small primers. For safety reasons only use Rifle primers for Rifle Cases and Pistol Primers for Pistol Cases.
- Gun Powder – You will need multiple powders depending on the types of cartridges. There is no “One Size Fits All”
I would also recommend a reloading manual that contains the load data for each caliber cartridge based on the weight of the bullet. This is very critical since you can cause damage to your firearm or yourself if you don’t follow the reloading data specs. This is the manual I use.
Reloading is actually a very simple process as long as you follow the instructions. It is an expensive hobby but you will always have ammo when you need it. I usually have 50,000 rounds of ammo in my safe at any given time.
This is also a very time consuming process, so don’t think you will go to the garage and crank out a few thousand rounds on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
I hope you now have enough information to make the decision to Reload or Not to Reload.
If you have any questions you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also visit my youtube channel, I have reviewed many of the products mentioned.