Posted on January 12, 2016
Reloading ammo (aka hand loading) is a great hobby to practice for many reasons. Apart from acquiring an invaluable life skill, reloading ammo can save you money too. Sure, the price of materials (metals and gunpowder) continue to go up, but so too do the prices of factory manufactured ammo. If you become quite skilled, you will even be able to get the type of performance you'd get out of premium-grade ammo for a fraction of the price. Some people become so skilled they are even able to customize their loads to the "sweet spot" of their rifles.
Many people ask us what is needed to get started reloading your own ammo. While there certainly can be some upfront costs, reloading ammo can be an extremely cost-effective and satisfying hobby. It is also a great tradition that can be taught by parents to their children, educating them about the mechanics of firearms all while spending some quality time together. Many families have passed down the tradition of reloading ammo generation after generation.
Here's what you need to get started, which will fall into either the tools and equipment that you will use repeatedly, or the bulk reloading supplies that you will consume and need to replace.
The first thing you should do is purchase a reputable reloading manual. If you will only be reloading a specific cartridge, you can purchase a reloading manual made by the manufacturer. Most people elect to purchase a reloading manual that covers a variety of ammo types. The three most common reloading manuals are made by Lyman’s, Lee's, and Hornady. These days, there is plenty of information available on the web, but it's much easier to have a book handy that has all the info you need. Plus, you don't have to worry about the credibility of the information like you would on a website when it's coming from a reputable reloading manual.
You don't need the most sophisticated bench in the world, but you're going to need a large, flat surface to set your reloading press on. The bench will be where the majority of you reloading tasks will take place.
Single stage presses are the most inexpensive and common but can work just fine for many reloaders. Although a tried and true piece of reloading equipment, one drawback of the single stage reloading press is that single stage presses are only capable of holding one die at a time, which means you can only do one thing at a time. When it comes to reloading presses, there are a ton of varieties depending on your preferences, and more importantly your budget. Reloading presses range from portable single stage presses to gigantic high-torque presses for larger cartridges. You can spend hundreds on a quality reloading press, but we wouldn't recommend spending any less than $50. You'd rather invest in something that you won't want to upgrade in the near future.
You will need to purchase a dedicated set of reloading dies for each caliber you plan on reloading. These dies are used in conjunction with your reloading press and are responsible for a number of tasks, including de-priming, resizing, flaring and crimping. Reloading die sets for rifles usually come with at least two reloading dies, whereas handgun sets usually come with at least four. There are also a lot of specialized and more expensive dies for the serious reloader, such as match-grade or carbide handgun die. Different companies will call their dies by different names, but essentially these are the main types of dies that you will run into, and their general use in the reloading process:
Also used in conjunction with your reloading press, the shell holder will hold your shells in place while you are using the press to run your casings through the dies. Shell holders are sized specifically by case size. However, you may be able to use the same shell holder on a variety of different cartridges if they share the same case size.
A reloading caliper is used to precisely measure all sorts of important dimensions on the case and bullet, including length, diameter, depth, etc. Some models use a dial to display measurements where others rely on a digital display. If you're on a budget, you will likely want to acquire a dial caliper, as they are more accurate for less money. An accurate and dependable digital caliper, while nice, will cost a lot more than an accurate dial caliper.
Reloading Supplies (consumables)
What would your reloaded bullets do without gun powder???
One of the most important components of your reloaded ammo of course is the primer. Primers are responsible to produce the heat needed to ignite the powder which in turn fires the projectiles out of your gun's barrel. Keep in mind when ordering primers online that you must pay a federally mandated Hazardous Material fee. View our selection of bulk primers for sale.
What would your reloaded ammo be without a projectile? The bullet is obviously a critical component to your reloaded ammunition. Browse our selection of bulk bullets for reloading and save!
If you are still not interested in saving money by reloading, purchasing bulk ammo online is another great way to save money.