Chicken or the Egg


January 7, 2013, 09:42 AM
Which comes first for you? Do you reload so that you can shoot more or do you shoot so that you can load more? Do you reload or do you handload and do you discern a difference in the terminology?

I started loading so I could afford to shoot more. Then discovered that the nuances of loading were more interesting than merely busting caps. Knew had gone over the edge when invested $8,000 (1980's dollars) in a custom rifle just to have a consistent platform to see how far could tweak a load combination.

My opinion... Reloaders do it to save money so they can shoot more. Handloaders invest tens of thousands of dollars in equipment so they can shrink a 100 yard group a quarter inch. If I had invested my loading equipment money in factory bulk ammo may could have actually shot more considering additional investment in time. Bought a $60,000 lathe just to turn my own copper solid bullets when they were not commercially available. That would buy lots of ammunition. Of course also do some of my own custom smith work with it then figured out it was nice to have around for other hobby of restoring antique motorcycles.

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January 7, 2013, 09:46 AM
For me, I began reloading when I started shooting USPSA to obtain more accurate match loads than factory ammunition and to save money. I was shooting Winchester/Federal/S&B/PMC primarily and my shot groups shrank by like 50%+ with reloads and cost savings was like 50-75%.

For me handloading is assembling rounds for ultimate precision and reloading is assembling rounds using used brass cases.

Additional benefit of shooting reloads is that you can shoot reduced target loads that produce less recoil than full-power loads for more pleasant/comfortable range experience. For me, reloading went from a necessary process to reduce stage times to a hobby that provides relaxation and quality time with family (reloading/shooting).

January 7, 2013, 09:51 AM
I have found that by handloading loads are taylored to the rifle and what I'm shooting at.
A game load is much more powerful than range loads. Why should I take full house loads just to punch a hole in a target 100 yds. distant? That range practice lets me refine shooting skills without having to deal with excessive recoil or muzzle blast.

January 7, 2013, 09:58 AM
I started reloading to save money. Naturally I just shot more. All good. Then I came to enjoy reloading. Sometimes I go fiddle with stuff in the reloading room just to get away and have some quiet time. Surely I have some brass that needs sizing or priming or trimming or something, right?

Derek Zeanah
January 7, 2013, 10:05 AM
I'm at the "almost ready to load my first rounds" point.

For me, the thing that finally got me interested enough to start was buying a caliber that's not readily available at a good price. $2 per round for quality ammo? I'm reloading.

January 7, 2013, 10:14 AM
I found boxes of my dads old loading equipment one day,(God rest his soul) and started learning about it and I was hooked. Can't beat free equipment. And the saving money part is nice too.

January 7, 2013, 10:16 AM

As you have described your processes, you are a handloader. You seem to be exploring realms of accuracy and consistency that most of us would never explore and could never experience given the firearms we own.

I operate about 75-80% as what you would term a reloader. I build rounds for handguns that are as consistent as they can be without extensive case prep ad sorting and weighing of brass and bullets; i.e., as good as or slightly better than factory in terms of QC and tweaked for recoil and velocity based on their intended purpose. I don't shoot huge volumes, so I don't save a lot of money, but I do enjoy the hobby.

My rifle rounds are closer to what you call handloading; I sort by headstamp and prep the brass extensively, I hand weigh every charge, I play with OAL to get close to the lands, but (so far) I stop short of neck turning and weighing each case and bullet. I buy moderately priced components and load on a single stage press so I have complete control over the process. I don't shoot rifles very often, so I probably don't save much money over shooting factory ammo, but I enjoy both the building and the shooting. There's a great deal of satisfaction in shooting subMOA groups with rounds I built myself.

My rifles are off-the-rack mid-price pieces and have had little or no custom work, and I'm a proficient but not stellar shooter. I doubt that any further tweaking of brass and bullets would net me any tighter groups. I'm at the point where practice will make more difference.

January 7, 2013, 10:21 AM
I started reloading as a cost saving measure. That very quickly turned into shooting about 4 times what I normally did, because the ammo was so inexpensive. Then I began casting to actually save some money.....not I shoot about 10 times the amount that I used to!

Totally worth it though. Not only do I have a nearly endless supply of ammo, but if I want to take the kids shooting with me I can make loads catered to them, so they can enjoy shooting lower powered ammo.

Also, during the winter months when shooting can be unpleasant, there is still the satisfaction of reloading for the warmer months.

January 7, 2013, 11:02 AM
I started reloading to save money and shoot more. Then I got into casting to save even more money and shoot even more.

95% of what I do is re-loading.... though I am attempting to make uber accurate hand loads for a 7mm-08 bolt gun as well.

But I'm a terminally gear headed engineering geek, and for me, reloading (along with kitchen table gun smithing) immerses me into the technical details of how firearms really work.

So for me reloading and gun smithing are the perfect complimentary hobbies to the shooting sports and the pinnacle accomplishment would be to wildcat a new cartridge or to design a new rifle for an existing cartridge. And I already have one in mind :^)

January 7, 2013, 11:30 AM
I started reloading because I had a new rifle I was itching to shoot but could get find enough ammo for it. Of course that was just the tipping point, as I had been looking for an excuse to take it up. Bought a Lee anniversary kit and within a couple of months I had dies for almost everything cartridge I shoot.

January 7, 2013, 11:31 AM
I go into loading my own ammunition to save money (a reloaded round always cost less than factory ammunition, what you do with the savings is up to you, shooting more is just one way to consume the savings).

I found that I liked reloading and it is a hobby unto itself. There are all sorts of new firearms, cartridges, skills and equipment to work with that are part of the reloading hobby. Besides just stuffing bullet and powder into cases, I have built some tools and stands that I consider part of the hobby and make the hobby more enjoyable for me.

January 7, 2013, 11:42 AM
In my case I started reloading to save money. Of course I never did save a dime but I did shoot a lot more for the same money I would have spent on factory ammo. Then reloading became a hobby unto itself. I get to shoot quality ammo at a fraction of the cost of factory ammo and I keep busy all Winter long when it's too cold to go shooting. Not a bad deal in any way.

January 7, 2013, 11:58 AM
I handload to be able to shoot more. It is a chore for me but one I embrace to be able to do the volume of shooting I want to do. By your definition, I am a handloader who finds joy in the shooting, not the loading.

January 7, 2013, 12:40 PM
I started to save money. I shot a lot more for awhile. But now that I've learned the ins and outs of reloading and found "the load" for each of my firearms, I no longer find reloading to be as novel or fun. Instead of feeling anxiety when I run out of empty cases, prompting me to shoot more, I find more cases collecting more dust, in various stages of processing/loading.

I'm pretty close to my pre-reloading levels of shooting. So now I'm actually saving some money. Actually, I stand to save a lot of money with the current price of 223. I think of reloading as buying bulk ammo at a really good price, some assembly required.

January 7, 2013, 12:52 PM
I started reloading in '69, out of curiosity. I purchased some .38 Spec. ammo at Weatherby's in So. Gate and wondered if I could make some of those. Read up as much as I could, bought a Lee Loader and went to town. I haven't talleyed my costs vs factory ammo costs 'cause it's just too much fun to reload whatever the cost. I guess I'm a "handloader" 'cause I only have a few "pet" loads and still experiment with different powders/bullets/lubes/etc. for my .44s that I've been reloading for since 1986 (I don't reload for quantity). I do think I shoot to reload/handload more 'cause I usually have 200-300 handloads waiting to be "tested"....

January 7, 2013, 12:55 PM
I started reloading so I can afford to shoot as much as I like. I can make perfectly serviceable 9mm plinking ammo for less than half the price of even the cheapest bulk factory stuff. And I can reuse the cases ad infinitum, unlike steel or aluminum cased or berdan primed ammo.

And I enjoy the actual process of creating life. Well, live ammo anyway. Quite rewarding.

January 7, 2013, 01:31 PM
I first got into reloading to save money on my 7mm RM and .223 rounds. Now, its all about the researching and contemplating different recipes and wondering if results would be better or worse.

I look forward to the shooting, so I can see how they do, just so I can get home and reload something different.

January 7, 2013, 02:06 PM
I started reloading because I wanted usable medium game loads in 8x57 that weren't the anemic domestic loads and were still affordable. I've since started loading for 7x57, 30-06, and 7.62x54R. And 12 gauge.

I have lots of spare brass now and I use it as a chance to escape as much as for shooting. I don't shoot nearly as much as I should, but hopefully that will change when I finish with the transmission in my truck. A minivan doesn't lend itself well to getting off-road, especially at this time of year.


January 7, 2013, 03:03 PM
This is a very true story about the good ol days...

Luckily for me I got very interested in both shooting and loading at a young age. The local game warden introduced me to reloading at the age of 13. My Mom would drive me to his house where he taught me the basics then he turned me loose. Also he was a patient man and I never seemed to wear out my welcome. After I made my "bullets" we went out in his front yard where I sent them down range with his service revolver. I would also make lots of rounds for my Marlin .35 lever action. That poor rifle got shot like it was an M1a instead of a lever action brush gun. Trips to town were all about spending the few dollars I earned helping dad on primers, powder and the local tire shop gave me all the wheel weights I could melt.

At age 15 I snuck down to the big city of Atlanta in my little Volkswagen Beetle bought a Lee turret press, dies in .357, 2 pounds of Bullseye powder and 1,000 primers. Added to my huge purchase was a RCBS reloading manual, Lyman lead ladle and a single cavity Lee bullet mold. On the way home I stopped at the local hardware store and picked up the 4" barrel Smith and Wesson Model 19 Combat Master .357 magnum I had put on layaway a couple of months before. Paid the last 50 bucks with rolled up pennies, nickels and dimes. The owner of the hardware store told me that one of my parents needed to stop by and sign some kind of "yellow" piece of paper when they were in town. Don't think that ever happened...

I carefully drove back to the farm before I got caught driving by "the man" driving on only a learners permit. The hardware man had thrown in a box of CCI "Lawman Pentapoint" .357 magnum cartridges. I took 12 rounds out of the box to save as carry rounds and the rest went down range in blazing fashion. I was probably the happiest 15 year old on the planet that day. That pistol was better than my first girlfriend.

Before the brass cooled I was already repriming it. That night I spent hours at my Mothers stove melting wheel weights and casting bullets with my ladle and little single cavity mould. Before I went to bed my 38 cases were ready for the next day and I had enough bullets to load them many times over. My parents were really patient folk and always supported my facination with the shooting sports early on. At 11 I got my first .22 rifle and at 13 I was given a Ruger Mk1 Standard .22 pistol. Marlin .35 lever action and my Volkswagen Beetle. The rules were if I screwed up with any of it they got taken away. I was very careful to at least not get caught and believe my parents looked the other way on occasion. Guess teaching kids humanity and responsibility is such a thing of the past that those days are gone forever.

January 7, 2013, 03:09 PM
great story and I love both shooting and reloading equally :D:D:D:D:D:D

tightgroup tiger
January 7, 2013, 03:43 PM
I had to learn to reload because Dad wouldn't buy factory ammo. If I wanted to shoot I had to load them.

I also don't buy factory ammo now, unless I have to. I've found in a lot of cases, mine to be more accurate.

January 7, 2013, 03:59 PM
One aspect that I do find enjoyable is to be able to shoot cartridges you cannot otherwise buy, or that are prohibitively expensive.

January 7, 2013, 05:32 PM
i started loading for the cost savings. then i came to really love reloading as a hobby. it is nice to have two hobbies that go together so well. the more i reload, the more i shoot, and the more i shoot, the more i get to reload. these days, i almost enjoy reloading more than i do shooting.

January 7, 2013, 09:25 PM
I started relaoding some 30 yrs. ago as a means of improving accuracy and killing power for hunting applications. I quickly found that this lead to spending more time punching holes in paper. It seemed, at least for me, that reloading has inspired me to buy more tools of the trade also, chrono, shooting bench, tripods and spotting scope, range finder, and just about anything else that applies to shooting sports.


January 7, 2013, 09:51 PM
Gamestalker, it is an ugly beast once it sucks you in. Chronagraph then a Ballistics Lab. Neck turners, forming dies, tons of little gadgets that cost as much as the big stuff. Soon you realize your bench costs what a new truck does. Always something new needed or a gun just because you read an interesting article on handloads in an odd caliber. Spotting scopes, wind flags, wind speed meters, laptop or smartphone for configuring the dope on a difficult shot. Trips out of state just to shoot a well reviewed range. Drives to Kolo"rad"o just to shoot little rats that the altitude made the locals goofy and they call them dogs. Just to test that load under the most difficult conditions you can find. It never ends. A crack habit may have been cheaper.

January 7, 2013, 11:25 PM
Started so I could afford to shoot more. I found I enjoy time at the reloading bench, especially in developing new pistol loads for my guns.
Instead of just shooting more, I shoot A LOT more now that I'm fully retired.I've developed a liking for doing my own minor gunsmithing, so the feeling of MY gun, My load and MY shooting is satisfying---most of the time.:D

Hondo 60
January 8, 2013, 12:38 AM
Do you reload so that you can shoot more or do you shoot so that you can load more?

well, I started reloading so I could shoot more.
But I have had a set or two of dies foller me home for which I had no gun.
(the guns were purchased very quickly) :D
I think I like reloading as much as I like shooting.

I do not handload - not enough patience I guess.

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