Questions from a new reloader


September 11, 2011, 04:49 PM
Figured I'd try a new aspect of my guns and start reloading my own. Not really in it for the cost savings since I don't shoot too much (time, not lack of willingness) but, I figured that it would be something to learn. My father used to shoot A LOT and reloaded his own and he said that he'd help me through it at first.

I'm just starting to put everything together (just bought a LEE Challenger press kit) and I was wondering about a few things.

1). I've been saving my brass for a while, figuring that I'd eventually get a press and start reloading. I have several different brands of brass (Remington, Winchester, Magtech, etc.) and wondered if it mattered to mix them up? I'll probably throw them in a tumbler and clean them but, if there is a reason to keep them separate, I'll be sure to keep them separate as they go into the tumbler so I don't have to hand-sort them afterward.

2). My understanding on cleaning cases is so that they feed correctly into the dies and such. I had thought of removing the primers so that all areas could get cleaned but, that would mean that they'd already have passed through the first die, correct? And, if I remember correctly, that first die is the sizing/de-primer die- a pretty important process.

Just in the very beginning stages of re-loading and I've still got plenty of shells to shoot, so I'm not pressed to rush through anything. Just trying to learn as I go, rather than as I need to re-do. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks


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September 11, 2011, 06:13 PM
I just started spilling powder this year so what ever its worth...

Your situation/procedure is similar to the one I chose; I took each step one at a time and I am learning.

I started with .45LC; I posted a similar question on removing the primers and I got an understandable either/or on opinions; most people seem to just run the pistol cases through after tumbling them. I prefer to lube and de-prime the cases, then tumble em, as I don't mind the extra steps (making sure the media isn't stuck in the flash hole)

Rifle cases (I'm only into 7.62X39 so far) are a bit more complicated so I lube and de-prime them before tumbling too. The brass types apply to the thickness IMO. So, some would fit tighter in the dies and some wouldn't. The thickness effects the crimp as well.

I check and trim the cases as needed after they come out of the tumbler and before (obviously) I install the primers.

My big learning point on new X39 Winchester brass is the .310 Midway FMJ bullets I buy fit real tight in the new cases (I think are .308 dia) so I run a bit of lube on the inside of the neck(?) with a cutip, I let it dry before I add powder and gently guide the bullet into the die as I raise the ram.

I collect a lot of brass from the litter-bugs and some of it is too bad to use. The .45ACP seems to have different primers (L & SM). The .380s always seem to get mixed up with my 9MM. They all seem to get stuck inside of the each other when tumbling so I try to separate the ones that will marry.

Hope this helps and I hope I didn't ramble on too long.:D

September 11, 2011, 06:36 PM
1. The bench rest folks separate their cases by manufacturer, but pistol shooters typically don't.

2. I reload on a progressive press, and tumble my cases with the spent primers in. You won't get media stuck in the flash hole if you use the right size media; try 2040 grade walnut shells, available from Grainger et al. The flash hole will be cleaned anyway when you deprime.

The reloader that trims pistol cases to length is a rare bird. I haven't trimmed a pistol case in 18 years of reloading.

If you're reloading .45 ACP, you'll find some cases with small primers; separate those from the cases with large primers and run one kind at a time, with the correct primer size (DUH!).

September 11, 2011, 07:38 PM
Different cases by different manufacturers can and do tend to have varying wall thicknesses, this in turn can and will increase or decrease pressures. Its best to stick to a specific brass manufacture and work up loads accordingly in lots.

I tumble my cases first with primers in, then lube and size and deprime. Next, I stick the whole lot into a ultrasonic cleaner which cleans the primer pockets and lube residue off. I then prime, charge and seat bullets all as a seperate operation...(rifle cases)

September 11, 2011, 08:49 PM
Excellent information. I wondered about the wall thicknesses being different. I'll just keep them organized as groups then.

Thanks guys! I'll be off to dig me up some bulwits and sizzle-crystals and let you all know how the reloading goes.

BUT, before I do...

One more question. When you are trying a new "recipe", do you only load up a few shells at first to see how they do? And if so, how many relgates a "trial size"? Would a box of 50 be too many or too few?

T Bran
September 11, 2011, 09:06 PM
I normally start at the minimum charge listed and load 5 cartridges then I increase the charge .2 or .3 and load 5 more continuing this till im just short of the max charge listed. When I get the best group I then go up and down in .1 grain increments to see if I can improve the group but remember if you change any component you might have to work it up again.

September 11, 2011, 09:12 PM
I don't see where you said whether you are loading pistol or rifle cartridges.

If you are shooting low-pressure handgun rounds such as .38 Spl or .45 acp, loading 50 of a reasonable, published, mid-range load would be (IMHO) fine.

If you are shooting rifle rounds, I would start with 5-ish rounds of each load and see what worked for that gun.

September 11, 2011, 09:22 PM
if you get carbide dies for your pistol calibers, you will not have to lube them when resizing

I lube every 10-15 rounds anyway just to make things go smooth but it is not necessary

all rifle cases need to be lubed so no need for carbide dies for them

September 11, 2011, 10:40 PM
As winniewawa, I also lube every 10th or so pistol case even though I use carbide dies. My preference is tumbling before sizing to minimize the possibility of something on the exterior case damaging the carbide lining. I do bottleneck cases likewise. An added benefit, for me, is if I tumble the cases first I don't have to clean corn cob pieces out of the primer pockets. I'd rather manually wipe off the lube than poke at primer pockets.

September 12, 2011, 12:23 AM
If you are going to de-prime and size before tumbling, you may as well just load them. The tumbling is to clean them so they don't have crud on them when sizing. I loaded for 50 years and never had a tumbler till just recently. Just wipe them off with a rag. Ya, they get dark, but who cares. They work just fine. This whole tumbling, and polishing game is for show.

September 12, 2011, 12:28 AM
One more question. When you are trying a new "recipe", do you only load up a few shells at first to see how they do? And if so, how many relgates a "trial size"? Would a box of 50 be too many or too few?

I have seen times when one was enough. Only load as many as you are willing to tear down if the first one doesn't work right. For rifle 5 is a good number. As has been said, "If you are shooting low-pressure handgun rounds such as .38 Spl or .45 acp, loading 50 of a reasonable, published, mid-range load would be (IMHO) fine." orionengnr I agree.

September 12, 2011, 12:33 AM
C5rider, welcome to the joys of reloading.

To better answer your questions, we need to know if you are loading for "Semi-Auto Pistol, Revolver or Rifle". What "type" of load are you looking for: target, self-defense, hunting?

Give us some info and get answers "tuned" to your needs.

September 12, 2011, 12:42 AM
Thanks again guys. I should have mentioned that I'll be starting with my .357 and 38 spl cases first. The main reason for my reloading is so that I can still get ammo for my 25Krag. Dad built it years ago using a Royal Siamese Mauser action and built his own stock for it. It uses a 30-40 Krag casing necked down to 25 caliber. I've found a bunch of brass, so I've got some to reload. Plus, I still have some ammo that my dad made back in '82! Needless to say, I've not shot it much... :D

I have the labels from when dad loaded up the shells originally so, the recipe is pretty well decided for that one. I just figured that I'd learn the process with the 38s and .357s since I also have so much brass, and I'm typically shooting handguns more often. I'll be shooting them through my Dan Wesson revolvers! I've got everything from 2.5" to 8 inch barrels for them. Was thinking about something around a 158gr JHP or similar for them. Thoughts?

Great info, again!


September 12, 2011, 01:48 AM
I usually tumble the fired cases for a half hour or so just to get the crud off of them in media with a polish added. I found that the polish eliminates the need for lube for sizing. Size and deprime. Then I tumble for a good cleaning and finish. As for cleaning media out of the primer pockets, I got one of these contraptions from midsouthshooters a few years ago for separating the media from the cases. The tumbling action has been 100% effective in knocking all of the media out of the primer pockets.

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