Greetings fellow bikers! If you are like me, you feel a bit cheated this fall. Autumn is my favorite time of the year to ride. After riding all summer, fall usually provides a welcome relief from the heat with beautiful colors and mild temperatures. But this year, after having perhaps the hottest September and early October in history, we dropped into a deep freeze more like January than November. Fall literally lasted less than a week! But that will not keep your Grey Beard Biker from riding. It will just require full leathers, heated grips and heated seats.
Currently, we are living in a relatively quiet time with regards to threats against our Second Amendment rights – rights which we know are given by God – not the government. Because I used to shoot pistols competitively, I started reloading my own ammunition about ten years ago. This actually helped reduce the cost of shooting (which is very expensive when you shoot 7,500-10,000 rounds per year) and provided more consistent ammunition than store bought ammo. It also insured that when Obama and the Democrats in congress threatened punitive gun laws and restrictions after Sandy Hook, causing ammunition shortages, I had plenty of ammunition to continue shooting regularly.
This is a 3-part series:
Part 1: Reloading Basics – Part 1
Part 2: Reloading Basics – Part 2 – Brass, Primers & Powder
Part 3: Reloading Basics – Part 3 – Loading Ammunition
There are many things to keep in mind when you are considering reloading ammunition. The number one consideration is the cost. With ammo costs down, and plenty on the shelves of your local gun store, big box retailer and sporting goods stores, cost will be a major consideration. If you are going to start hand loading your own ammo, you will have to shoot a lot to get a return on your investment – think in terms of 10s of thousands of rounds. If you are going to reload rifle cartridges and handgun ammo, it will be easier to recover the costs of your equipment as rifle ammunition can be very expensive. Also, if you only shoot 9mm or .380 ACP, the time it will take to get a return on your investment is going to be VERY long.
The type of press you purchase will also be something to consider. If you are only going to reload rifle ammunition, you do not need a progressive reloading press. You can easily get by with a single stage press. With this type of press, you will de-cap the spent primers and install new primers outside the press. This is done with a hand primer tool. You also measure your powder outside the press. While you can reload handgun ammunition with a single stage press, it is VERY time consuming. A major benefit for a single stage press is cost: it is much less expensive to get started with the basic equipment to reload.
Grey Beard recommends a progressive press if you are going to reload a lot of ammunition. There are many very good presses on the market today. I use a Hornady Lock-n-Load press which has five separate stations. These stations are:
- Brass sizing and de-capping
- Brass flaring
- Case activated powder drop
- Bullet seating
- Brass crimping (not always used)
While you do not necessarily use all of these stages for every caliber cartridge, it is nice that you can do so. It literally creates an assembly line. Besides Hornady, other very good progressive presses are manufactured by RCBS, Redding, Lee, Dillon Precision and Lyman.
Another consideration will be how many calibers you reload. For each caliber you plan on reloading, you will need a die set and shell plate. I reload over two dozen calibers of rifle and pistol ammunition, so I have made a significant investment in just the dies and shell plates.
Lastly, you will need to consider where you will set up your reloading equipment. I have mine set up on an eight-foot workbench and I wish I had double the space. The area needs to be clean and well lit. You will also need plenty of storage as your reloading equipment and supplies take up a lot of space. I store brass in plastic containers on my table. I have an eight-drawer rolling tool box for my dies, shell plates, new brass, bullets, primers and other tools I use. My finished ammunition is stored in 50 or 100 count plastic cases in a locked storage cabinet. This is also where I store all of my powder – which numbers at least 30 different types.
Minimum Initial Investment for Progressive Reloading
|Progressive reloading press||$450|
|Dies (for each caliber)||$50|
|Shell plates (for each caliber)||$35|
|Loading manual (for reloading recipes)||$30|
|Dial caliper (to measure overall cartridge length)||$40|
|Electronic powder scale||$40|
|Brass sonic cleaner||$125|
|Case trimmer (if reloading rifle ammo)||$90|
|Supplies (powder, primers, bullets)||$175|
|Approximate Total Cost||$1,135|
Based on your initial investment, reloading may not be something which provides you a return on investment. Having shot at least 45,000 rounds over the past 10 years, I have recovered the cost of my investment many times over. But cost should not be the only thing you consider before reloading. If you enjoy working with your hands, you may get a lot of enjoyment sitting at your press rolling your own ammo. It is something your ever-lovable Grey Beard Biker enjoys immensely.
Check out Grey Beard Biker’s YouTube video on reloading: