Learning to Reload


June 25, 2012, 10:04 PM
Hello all.

For the longest time I've wanted to start reloading handgun ammo but always had space issues. Up until getting married, I've always shared a house with friends and now live in a one bedroom apartment with my wife. Well, we can finally afford to buy a house and should be moved out by years end. That means I'll finally have room for a reloading bench.

I've saved up about 500 .357's, over 1000 .38 specials and I've even begun to consider slowing buying all parts and pieces over the next 7 months. However, as it becomes more of a reality, I'm stating to get a bit nervous. I'll be the first to admit, I'm not the most handy guy in the room and reloading seems a bit intimidating to me.

So my question is, how did you learn to reload? Did someone teach you? Did you read a book? I learn a lot better from hands on instruction but don't know anyone local who reloads and have never heard of a reloading class. So, any suggestions on the best way to learn the basics?

* Sorry if this has been discussed, my tapatalk search came up with nothing.


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June 25, 2012, 10:14 PM
I was lucky enough to have family that did it. But from what you say you seem like a bright person so i wouldnt be scared. Buy a couple books and start reading. Dont make it complicated and dont try and start out going for the best hot load. Keep it simple and work up as you get confidence. Ask lots of questions on sites like these. And you got a great plan going on. With a time line like that you can spend a couple hundred here and a couple there and have a really nice set up by the time you get a house.

June 25, 2012, 10:15 PM
I bought the RCBS master reloading kit which comes with the Speer manual. It has a trove of information on components and step by step instructions. The RCBS dies also have instructions on how to set them up. That's how I learned. If you get the kit also get the hand priming tool which is not included. The primer tubes and on press priming adapter never worked well for me. I started with 357 too but never bothered loading 38s. If I want that power level I just load them in magnum cases and never have to worry about fouling my guns' chambers.

June 25, 2012, 10:18 PM
I read a lot of reloading manuals and watched a lot of you tube videos. it didn't take long to figure out what in those videos was a "don't try this at home" kinda thing. also did a lot of reloading without powder and primers.

June 25, 2012, 10:20 PM
So my question is, how did you learn to reload?

A little bit of instruction from a friend when I was 17, then bought a Rockchucker kit at 20 and learned by trial and error from there. I used books for load data, of course, but for the most part, just figured things out as I went, picking up hints and tips from others whenever I could. Certainly don't know everything about the game, but I consider myself pretty advanced at this stage, 10 years later.

Just go for it. Learn what you can reading here and elsewhere, but ultimately, it will be hands-on experience that improves your skills.

June 25, 2012, 10:21 PM
Reloading is not hard but it does require you to pay close attention to detail. I learned by reading a reloading manual and asking questions here and other forums. There are a lot of good people here happy to help. If you give your location there is a good chance somebody here lives close enough and would be willing to help. I would recommend reading a manual like Speer, Lyman, Hornady ect. Also start with and easy press like a single stage or Lee classic turret. The Lee classic turret can be used as a single stage press and the an auto indexing turret when you are ready to speed up production.

June 25, 2012, 10:23 PM
I asked everyone I came into contact with that was into firearms, read 3 manuals, watched numerous videos online, and took my time. It really is as easy as some have suggested, buy a simple setup and go from there. What you learn on your own will teach you more than anyone or anything else can.

June 25, 2012, 10:28 PM
I started by reading the Lyman 46th edition & reread it , finally bought the lee whack-a-mole loader & made some good ammo but saw a press was enevitable .

The Lyman manual is as good as they come it has basic/advanced reloading techniques as well as a casting section(which got me started in that obsession)

I`d start with a good press & dies .Most used stuff is ok & ask for pics of products that are for sale !! NO pics NO buy;)

A good single stage press will always be needed for some reason or other & is as fast as ya need until ya understand exactly what needs to happen in the reloading steps.

Don`t scrimp on a good set of balance beam scales ,accurate,reliable scales are a must!!!

The rest is stuff to speed up the process.

Most don`t trim the revolver straight walled cases but if ya shoot any full magnum loads a roll crimp is a must & to get a consistent crimp case length is important.

Just go slow ,use the search option ,& ask questions ,none are crazy or stupid ,just repeated :)

June 25, 2012, 10:32 PM
This site is great for a beginner. I learned more here than I did reading books, although I did the book work also. Read the "ABC's of Reloading" while you are accumulating your equipment to learn the basics. Ask questions here if anything isn't clear.

Youtube has also been helpful.

June 25, 2012, 10:45 PM
A guy were i work reloads, so i kept bouncing questions off him.Read a couple of books,modern reloading and ABC's of reloading.
Finally went ahead and got the Lee Anniversary kit and started "playing" with it, mainly just to see how it worked.I got the single stage at my friends suggestion,"so you can see each step as you do it".He's never came over to "hands on" show me anything, but if i got stuck i would call him or google it, which is how i found this site(google always sent me here). A lot of the guys on here are very knowledgeably(rcmodel may be a reloading guru) and have helped me a bunch.
It's a lot of fun and i haven't blown me or my guns up yet and it's been almost two years now.

June 25, 2012, 10:56 PM
Read the ABC of Reloading.
Watch YouTube videos and asked a lot of questions.
That is how I learned because I knew no one who knew how to do it.
I was lucky enough to find THR in regards to this and have been reloading since the past year.

Don't worry, Everyone is afraid and nervous the first time around. After the first few loads, You will understand what your doing and how your doing it and you will be O.K.

June 25, 2012, 10:58 PM
So my question is, how did you learn to reload? Did someone teach you? Did you read a book?

I learned by reading. ABC's of Reloading and the Lyman Manual were the first books I read. Any specific questions you have as you learn on your own you can find at places like here.

Being observant with a very high attention to detail is something to strive for. To start, or not to start, with a progressive is a whole other subject.

YouTube can also be a great resource. Especially when it comes to picking out equipment. One of my favorite general reloading videos is from Hickok45.

Reloading Basics (Decisions To Make) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irC3NuIKDm4)

June 25, 2012, 11:36 PM
I bought a copy of Lyman's 49th Edition and read it. Then I bought a Lee Single Stage (don't get one, get a Lee Turret instead) read the instructions and came here with any questions I had.

If you add your location to your profile you may find someone willing to teach you. I would be if you're in or near Tucson, AZ.

Lost Sheep
June 26, 2012, 12:12 AM
When I bought my first gun (.357 Magnum Dan Wesson revolver), I bought, at the same time, a reloading setup because I knew I could not afford to shoot if I did not reload my own ammo.

There is no equivalent substitute for someone watching you load a few cartridges and critiquing your technigue BEFORE you develop bad habits or make a dangerous mistake. (A mistake that might not have consequences right away, but maybe only after you have escaped trouble a hundred times until one day you get bit, for instance having case lube on your fingers when you handle primers 99 times, no problem because primers are coated with a sealant, but the hundredth primer may not be perfectly sealed and now winds up "dead")

I started loading with the guy who sold me my press watching over my shoulder as I loaded my first 6 rounds to make sure I did not blow myself up, load a powderless cartridge or set off a primer in the press. There is nothing like a tutor, or better yet, a mentor. A longer mentoring period might have changed my reloading style, but I learned a lot in those first 6 rounds, as he explained each step. Then I educated myself after that.

Very carefully.

There are videos and web threads that were not availlable in the mid-seventies when I started. You have much better resouces not than I had then, but going carefully, picking forgiving powders (like Trail Boss) and not pushing any performance envelopes until (at least) you have the mechanical operations down pat is my first advice.

Thanks for asking our advice.

Lost Sheep

June 26, 2012, 12:23 AM
I bought a copy of Lyman's 48th and read it cover to cover, then went back and read the first couple of chapters again. Then I got on eBay (back when you could get decent deals on reloading stuff) and bought an older really good single stage press (C&H Model 333) and an old Herter's beam scale, and some new Lee dies from Midway. Then went back and read Lyman 48 again ;)

The NRA has reloading classes. You might see if there's an instructor near where you live. It's gotta be easier to learn with a knowledgeable teacher rather than going solo.

June 26, 2012, 12:34 AM
I've been reloading nearly 50 years. Start with a good informative book like The ABC's of Reloading plus a couple of reloading manuals. Buy a single stage press and make simple loads, jacketed bullets and new brass to start off to minimize the problems you might have with cast bullets or range brass. Start slow, load just a few rounds at a time until you get the hang of it, watch what you're doing carefully. Reloading can be dangerous but if you follow the recommendations in your manuals, start with low loads and work up, you'll be fine.

Check with any local shop that sells reloading supplies, and ask them questions. They may also be able to help you find a mentor, or they may be able to show you how to do it. That's one good reason to patronize your local shop. If you have a local range, try putting up a poster asking for help for a mentor. Good luck and welcome aboard.

June 26, 2012, 02:12 AM
I agree with others.
I too recommend the NRA Reloading Class, it is a basic or introduction to type
of class.
check here for one in your area.
Good luck

June 26, 2012, 12:39 PM
YouTube was pretty good. I went to Dillon, bought a 550, went to cabelas and got some unique, primers, and berrys bullets and loaded some up. First round I fired with a coat on and leather gloves, a motorcycle helmet, and praying I wouldn't die, this was when I lived in Phoenix and it was 115 that day. All went well! I've learned the only way for me to learn is dive in and learn myself. I only use published data and work up. It's not rocket science.

June 26, 2012, 01:02 PM
Thanks for all the great info guys. I guess before I order components I'll get a couple books. It turns out my wife's uncle is an avid reloader and will give me a crash course this weekend when we head up to MD. He mainly reloads rifle rounds but used to do a lot of pistol. That should be a big help.

June 26, 2012, 01:40 PM
Before buying or doing ANYTHING, go to the local library and get LYMAN #49 (new) or #48 (old), DBI METALLIC CARTRIDGE RELOADING 3ed ed, Lee MODERN RELOADING 2nd ed. If they don't have them, get them through the inter-library loan system. NOW READ ALL THREE! All three look at reloading differently and you WILL learn a LOT! Naturally Lyman thinks all Lyman stuff is great, which I won't disagree with. Lee conciders all Lee stuff to be great:barf::what:, and while much of their stuff is good (dies for example), the pot metal presses are, shall we say, less than worth buying in MY experience, and I've owned all of them, but then I actually USE my reloading equipment. DBI MCR #3 tells you what is good and what is junk, as they don't sell anything.

Now get as many other reloading books/manuals as you can, and read them. When you decide what bullet you like, get (or look up on line) the BULLET maker's manual and check their data. Not all bullets are made the same. Read as many other reloading books as you can as well, HANDLOADERS DIGEST, ABCs OF RELOADING, etc.

If your wife's uncle will teach you, learn all you can from him!

There is no truth of which I a afraid. - Thomas Jefferson
Say you are an idiot. Now say you oppose Legion, but I repeat myself. - Mark Twain (paraphrased)
Read the Legion Five Report at LegionFiveReportblogspot.blog

June 26, 2012, 02:10 PM
I have to agree with the rest of the group. I am 55 and have been reloading for over 30 years. First purchase some books and manuals, next it's always a help to sit next to someone who is seasoned in reloading, setting up your dies can be tricky for a beginner. My own piece of advise try the Lee dippers and powder through the expander die. I started using the dippers years ago for my handgun reloading and I love it.

June 26, 2012, 05:37 PM
I was one of the lucky ones, my grandfather and uncle reloaded about everything that could be. Mostly they were safe-----some days not so much.:eek: But nobody ever got hurt and we (me and all my cousins) all learned how to reload well made ammo. Now there is the internet and books to read that help you. Still that uncle will be a super resource for you. And don't forget that we here at THR will help if we can. One thing to remember is any question is worth asking and is NOT considered stupid by those of us that are serious about safety and reloading safely.:)

June 26, 2012, 06:12 PM
I started in 89 there was no internet back then Al Gore didnt invent it then. It's easy not that hard to pick up bye a few books and read up.

June 26, 2012, 08:33 PM
Thanks again for all the great advise... Before I do anything else I'm going to read the ABC's and Lyman's books.

So, reloading classes do exist, eh? I live about 20 mins away from the NRA headquarters so I'll certainly look into that.

June 26, 2012, 08:44 PM
YouTube was pretty good. I went to Dillon, bought a 550, went to cabelas and got some unique, primers, and berrys bullets and loaded some up. First round I fired with a coat on and leather gloves, a motorcycle helmet, and praying I wouldn't die, this was when I lived in Phoenix and it was 115 that day. All went well! I've learned the only way for me to learn is dive in and learn myself. I only use published data and work up. It's not rocket science.
LOL! I remember having the same fears with my first pistol rounds. I didn't wear the helmet, but if one had been available, I might have used it.

June 26, 2012, 08:57 PM
I read the ABCs and the Lyman manual. I am like you and work better with seeing what is going on, I got the RCBS reloading DVD hosted by Jim Scouten and got a lot of good info there. It was only $10.00. Good luck.

June 26, 2012, 09:11 PM
1st Get a copy of ABCs of Reloading and read it.
2nd Read it again.
3rd Ask lots of Questions
4th Be aware there are lots of Youtube videos showing the incorrect way to reload....

Also you may want to post your location here as someone might be closer than you think. I have only been reloading for 2 years but I have already mentored 2 family members into it! I am sure many here would be happy to show you the ropes myself included.

June 27, 2012, 11:02 PM

Thanks for the offer, that's very kind of you.

I'm in the great Commonwealth of Virginia, just outside DC.

June 28, 2012, 11:39 AM
I learned 100% from a Lee reloading manual and youtube videos. I bought my first press and setup based on which system had the most number of videos showing you how to set it up, troubleshoot, etc

June 28, 2012, 11:46 AM
Reloading is pretty easy. Understand what you are going to do at each step and why and then do it.

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