Reloading Tips and Tricks (pic heavy) - Part One

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Reloading Tips and Tricks (pic heavy) - Part One

Postby HogLeg » Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:57 am

Part One

I submit this “review” because I know lots of guys who don’t shoot as much as they want due to the cost of ammo. It includes some comments on equipment and methods that I have found over the years.

I started reloading back in the early 80’s when I shot IPSC. Back in those days, I could not afford to practice enough to stay competitive. I thought about pimping out my girlfriend for cash, but she was a skinny gal and wore out easy. Thus, I started reloading. I bought a press, dies and a book and proceeded to get in even less practice due to jams sourced to reloads. It takes a while, but like everything else, reloading is actually very simple and very safe.

We shoot between 8,000-10,000 rounds a month, so reloading is essential for us.

I reload 3 calibers (.45, 5.56 and .308) and that’s it. If you are into Wildcatting or custom work, you can move onto the next topic cause I am not going to help you much here.

I reload 3 ‘levels’ of ammo:
1. Fighting – Factory, or new brass only, digital powder weight, match grade bullets
2. Target – chamber sized, once fired Fighting rounds, digital powder weight, match grade bullets
3. Training – older brass, lighter powder, cheap bullets I can find

casebucket.jpg
Cat litter comes in great buckets!
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Case Prep – Most of the work in reloading is case prep. We recently did a 15,000 round, 4 day weekend and you end up with buckets of brass. Every single piece has to be tumbled. We tumble so much brass the electric bill probably looks like a pot grower. It would not shock me at all to see a Blackhawk with ropes coming out the sides over my house one of these days.

Tumblers.jpg
This is a tumbler and the Hornady Sonic Cleaner.
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After tumbling, we size each case and then measure them for length. About 45% will need trimmed, which is THE WORST part of reloading in my book. We have an electric RCBS case trimmer and also run a manual one to boot. I pay my kids to trim brass. I think the older ones spend the money on internet porn, but I end up with cat’s ass brass.

caseprep.jpg
Notice the 3-way Trimming head on the RCBS unit.
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Tip: I don’t sort brass for Training rounds. I have never found it made THAT much difference. I do keep the Fighting and Target rounds separate by weapon and batch. Nothing sizes brass like being fired through a weapon, so if you track which gun was used, you can have very accurate brass for the next reload.

Tip: RCBS makes something called a 3-way trimmer. IT IS WORTH THE MONEY! It will trim, de-chafe and de-bur the brass all at the same time. I used to date a gal who could do all of that with her…..errrrr….anyway……
Why do you carry a .45?

'cause they don't make a 46.
HogLeg
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Reloading Tips and Tricks (pic heavy) - Part Two

Postby HogLeg » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:10 am

Part Two

Tip: I don’t wash training rounds. It’s not worth the time/trouble. I do wash Target rounds and use a Hornady Sonic cleaner. It’s worth the money as well.

We still run a lot cases through a trim, de-bur, de-chafe process and make sure the primer pocket is sized and clean.

caseprep2.jpg
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We run both a single stage press and a multi-stage press. Right now the multi-stage press is a Hornady, but I have used Dillon and Lee presses as well. You can’t go wrong with a Hornady or a Dillon. Our single stage is a RCBS.

presses.jpg
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Tip: I use “Narrow Base Case Dies” for .223 (5.56) and .308 rounds. I think most of the major manufactures make them, but I use RCBS. A narrow case die feeds an autoloader better than the normal dies.

We prime all rounds and for Training rounds, perform the initial powder load first. For Fighting and Target loads, I use a digital scale from Lyman. While slower than the multi-stage powder drop, it is so consistent that I find it worth the time.

Tip: I have found ZERO difference in primer quality and I have used just about every brand out there including Wolf (yes, Russian primers). I know some folks think the brand of primer impacts accuracy, but I have never seen it. I buy what is cheap.

Tip: I reload training rounds with cheap bullets, normally purchased in bulk from the ads in Shotgun News or my local reloading store gets a deal on those little 1,000 round boxes.

Tip: Cheap bullets (5.56) are typically 55 grain soft nose lead or SP as some call them. I use powder loads that keep these rounds down around 2950 FPS, which is EXACTLY where the heavy 69 grain fighting and target rounds push air. Since the cases are older, dirtier and receive less attention, I like a lighter load in them but still have reasonably the same zero on the rifles out to 200 or so.

Tip: I buy powder in 5 lb. cans if I can, but it is rare these days. I get about 275 training rounds per lb. of powder.

scales.jpg
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I do not allow any bullets to be seated until I inspect every single powder charge. I normally shine a flashlight into the trays, row-by-row. This pisses my boys off really bad, but F the little zit farms. They are still on my insurance and mostly shoot my weapons. When they are out of my house and can afford their own….

Tip: I don’t think you can “overcharge” a .223 round with powder to the point where it would hurt the weapon. The bullet would not seat. What is far, far more dangerous in my experience is a round WITHOUT powder. The primer is enough to start the bullet down the tube, but not all the way out. Fire the next round and….well…..I am unsure what would happen, but it can’t be good.

Tip: Another issue could be a popped primer. Nothing will lock up an M4 BCG like a primer pinched between the lower and the BCG. It makes the rifles sphincter so tight you could not drive in a straight pin with a sledge hammer. I have also had them fall down into the trigger and that sucks camel ass with a pucker. When we seat primers, if it feels loose AT ALL, it goes into the re-cycle box. (Caution, do not apply this test to females) Too much powder will pop a primer as well, but on training rounds (less charge) or new brass (new primer pocket) you have to really be asleep to accomplish this.

TIP: I tumble the rounds after reloading. I know the instructions say NEVER to do this, but I have been tumbling finished rounds for 25+ years and never had an issue. It takes any lube or oil off of the cases.
Why do you carry a .45?

'cause they don't make a 46.
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Reloading Tips and Tricks (pic heavy) - Part Three

Postby HogLeg » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:18 am

Part Three

Once we have our shite in a single, neat bag, I store the training rounds in plastic bins with those little moisture absorption packets you can buy. I once used surplus ammo cans, but I like these better because I can see the contents without opening them up.

finished1.jpg
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The Fighting and Target rounds get labeled and go into plastic cases.

finished.jpg
finished.jpg (123.8 KiB) Viewed 10704 times


I can reload the highest quality, most accurate ammo possible for about $54.00 per hundred. Hornady TAP rounds are about twice that amount and match grade rounds go up from there.

While I have no issue with steel case Russian ammo (I keep a few thousand rounds on hand) I can reload better training ammo for about $21.00 per hundred, or $4.76 per box of 20.

TIP: I keep my ammo in three different locations, with fire, theft and logistics on my mind.

For those of you who struggle with math, it looks like this:

$150.00 - basic reloading equipment

If you save 50% of the cost of factory ammo, then you would have to shoot $300.00 in ammo to break even.

At my AO, that equates to 300 medium quality .223 rounds. You still have your labor, but I think reloading is a better use of my time than watching TV or looking at gun porn on the internet.
Why do you carry a .45?

'cause they don't make a 46.
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Re: Reloading Tips and Tricks (pic heavy) - Part One

Postby skeets » Mon Dec 20, 2010 9:02 pm

Thanks hogleg for your time and info.
Swear allegiance to the flag, whatever flag they offer, and let them tell you what you really feel. Teach the children quietly, for someday sons and daughters, will rise up and fight while we stood still.-"Silent Running"
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Re: Reloading Tips and Tricks (pic heavy) - Part One

Postby Dreaded Snowmen » Mon Dec 20, 2010 9:12 pm

I use a Giraud Trimmer for brass. Fast easy and clean. Best money I have spent on reloading equipment. close seconds go to the RCBS hand primer, and the Hornady LnL press with case feeder.
"...A can of mace, a forty-five,
Is all I'd need to stay alive,
But no weapon lies within my sight..."

-Watterson
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Re: Reloading Tips and Tricks (pic heavy) - Part One

Postby rcrandall » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:21 am

Giraud all the way, best reloading investment I ever made. Good post here Hogleg.
Write drunk; edit sober - Ernest Hemingway
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Re: Reloading Tips and Tricks (pic heavy) - Part One

Postby HogLeg » Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:41 am

Now ya both went and did it.

This Giraud looks like it does everything but press yer shirts.

$425.00 ain't the end of the world and they are in Texas as well.

I wonder if Santa........
Why do you carry a .45?

'cause they don't make a 46.
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Re: Reloading Tips and Tricks (pic heavy) - Part One

Postby rcrandall » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:39 pm

I used the RCBS power trimmer with three way cutting head but it was still kind of a pain and no matter how I set it the cases were still coming out at different lengths. And depending on how long the brass stretched it would take forever to trim a case. The Giraud takes about two seconds to trim a case and because it trims off the shoulder it is very consistent, just make sure you clean the sizing lube off the cases before trimming. If you get one you will be saying the same thing I said, "why didn't I get this sooner!?" I would also get the extra cutting heads for each caliber you will load, its worth the money.
Write drunk; edit sober - Ernest Hemingway
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Re: Reloading Tips and Tricks (pic heavy) - Part One

Postby Dreaded Snowmen » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:43 pm

Trimming used to be my most hated part about reloading. It is now my favorite...with the Giraud. I don't have kids to use as contract labor, so mechanization is my solution. :D

This is what this forum is about. Sharing knowledge. The mods do a great job of keeping it that way.

Good post. I'm sure members here will benefit. :D
"...A can of mace, a forty-five,
Is all I'd need to stay alive,
But no weapon lies within my sight..."

-Watterson
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Re: Reloading Tips and Tricks (pic heavy) - Part One

Postby waptihunter » Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:46 pm

try a dillon power trimer and you will be amazed,,, how do you like the rcbs chamfer station set up
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Re: Reloading Tips and Tricks (pic heavy) - Part One

Postby HogLeg » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:24 am

The RCBS Case prep machine works well. It sure beats the hell out of doing it by hand. We use it less now with the 3-way trimmer head. It works great reaming out box primer pockets.
Why do you carry a .45?

'cause they don't make a 46.
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Re: Reloading Tips and Tricks (pic heavy) - Part One

Postby whimpy » Sun Sep 30, 2012 3:17 am

Have a question with regard to case trimming. I use a Wilson case trimmer. It requires the use of an arbor press to squeeze the case into a case holder so the brass does not budge. A slow process but it is to supposed to do a good job of uniform sizing. I have found that especially with pistol cases the trim length will vary by up to plus or minus .002 from the target length for each case. There can even be slight difference on an individual cartridge by rotating the caliper position on the case but no more than .002. I am curious if this is typical results.
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Re: Reloading Tips and Tricks (pic heavy) - Part One

Postby .Spooky. » Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:50 pm

Great post HogLeg, I don't reload but this sure as hell makes me want to go out and get the equipment! :thumbsup:
Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth.

-George Washington
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Re: Reloading Tips and Tricks (pic heavy) - Part One

Postby JonStuck » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:17 pm

Thanks!
I have always wanted to reload, but it is never in my budget.
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Re: Reloading Tips and Tricks (pic heavy) - Part Three

Postby shot » Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:55 am

HogLeg wrote:Part Three

Once we have our shite in a single, neat bag, I store the training rounds in plastic bins with those little moisture absorption packets you can buy. I once used surplus ammo cans, but I like these better because I can see the contents without opening them up.

finished1.jpg


The Fighting and Target rounds get labeled and go into plastic cases.

finished.jpg


I can reload the highest quality, most accurate ammo possible for about $54.00 per hundred. Hornady TAP rounds are about twice that amount and match grade rounds go up from there.

While I have no issue with steel case Russian ammo (I keep a few thousand rounds on hand) I can reload better training ammo for about $21.00 per hundred, or $4.76 per box of 20.

TIP: I keep my ammo in three different locations, with fire, theft and logistics on my mind.

For those of you who struggle with math, it looks like this:

$150.00 - basic reloading equipment

If you save 50% of the cost of factory ammo, then you would have to shoot $300.00 in ammo to break even.

At my AO, that equates to 300 medium quality .223 rounds. You still have your labor, but I think reloading is a better use of my time than watching TV or looking at gun porn on the internet.


So. When are you going to start selling me (us) some target/fighting rounds? Could be good side business. You just wont get brass back.
"Getting shot sucks balls." - Mike L. June 2013. (God speed on the recovery)

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