The Reloading/Handloading Process – Putting It All Together

by Chuck (Onehorse) Tarinelli

Once you begin handloading, you’ll find yourself becoming more and more concerned with saving, and perhaps “babying” your brass. After verifying that their game is down for good, lots of handloaders start looking around to see if they can retrieve the spent case from the ground. After all, that’s where your savings lie and, since you are trying to reuse your cases, it’s probably wise not get them scuffed up or dented any more than necessary whether you are in the field or at the range.

Inspect fired cases for damage or signs of high pressure before they are reloaded. In fact, it is a good idea to inspect brand new cases as well. Rarely, a new case will be found to have some sort of defect, but it does happen. Any case that looks defective should be discarded. Don’t just put it to the side. I had a close call once when a case that I had intended to get rid of mysteriously worked its way back into my loading tray, got loaded and fired by mistake. (Trust me. A bursting case when a rifle is fired is not a pleasant experience.) Before you even put the suspicious case down, grab a pair of pliers with your other hand and crush the bad case to avoid any problems down the road.

Clean and Lubricate the fired , inspected cases. Cleaning prevents dirt and burned powder residue from getting into your resizing die, and lubricating keeps the cases from getting stuck in the die. Cleaning can be done by hand or in a tumbler especially made for this purpose. A variety of lubricating techniques are available, the most common and least expensive being a simple pad on which the lubrication is spread and the cases rolled. Lubrication can also be sprayed on the cases.

Resize the inspected, cleaned and lubricated cases. This is done when the case is pushed up and into the caliber-specific die in the press. This die also pushes the old primer from the case. I suggest lubricating and pushing brand new cases through the resizing die as well as fired cases. This will ensure that the mouth of the case neck is round and not misshapen as might occur during the shipping and handling of the cases.

Clean the resized case. It’s wise to do this once again to avoid the possibility of any residual lubrication (that may have gotten into the cases) of contaminating the powder charge.

Prime the case. Using your primer seating tool, push the appropriate primer, as indicated in the load data, into the primer pocket of the case.

Charge the case with the exact amount of powder indicated in the load data. Start with the lowest weight charge given. This information is calculated by the load developers and tested as a complete package including specific powder, bullet weight, brass and primer brands that are listed in the data. Do NOT assume that the components listed in the recipes can be interchanged with components that are not shown. For example, if the data calls for 57.5 grains of a particular powder, DO NOT EVER think you can use 57.5 grains of any other powder in its place. These are not cake recipes, but if they are not followed precisely, you CAN “cook” yourself!

Seat the bullet. The last step in the handloading process is the seating of the bullet. This is done by placing a bullet on top of the charged case and gently, and smoothly raising the case into the seating die.

Record your work in a handloading log. List such things as bullet brand and weight, powder and weight, and primer brand.

Handloading Log
Keeping good records will help you to determine which loads work best in your rifle.
Handloading Log
Handloading Log page that was designed by the author to record load data.

Next, we’ll take a look at safety, safety, safety!

Chuck TarinelliChuck Tarinelli
The first real hunting Chuck did as a young man was with his English setter for the pheasants and ruffed grouse of New England. Later, he started pursuing deer and bear in the Green Mountains of Vermont.
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