New reloaders


December 7, 2013, 10:33 AM
I have had two people approach me for training for reloading. I got to thinking it would be great to have a page of do's and don't s for them to refer to. Would greatly appreciate any suggestions for the list.

Thanks in advance.


NEVER- have more than one
1-powder on the bench.
2- primer size and brand on the bench
3- cal of brass on the bench

Never shoot loads that you are unsure what they are.
Never force anything.

When in doubt, stop, step back and think it through.

1- keep bench clean.
2- inspect brass
3- consult more than one reloading manual
4- double check everything
5- throw powder and primers away if not 100% sure what it is.
6- put a sticker on powder measure with powder brand and charge weight.
7- load a few rounds then check for fit and function.
8- label ammo boxes and keep log of loads.
9- visually inspect powder charge before seating bullet.
10 walk away when getting exasperated.
11-Approach max loads slowly.

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December 7, 2013, 11:07 AM
Well I can personally attest to how important it is to visually check powder levels before seating the bullet...

December 7, 2013, 11:18 AM
READ the manual
NEVER force anything
When in doubt - STOP

December 7, 2013, 11:37 AM
Well I can personally attest to how important it is to visually check powder levels before seating the bullet...
Yes. I have 400 rounds of 223 69g SMKs sitting on my shelf. I had n140 hang up in the powder funnel in my 550 press. Didn't notice it and the next round overflowed with powder. So now I will pull every one to make sure. Not worth losing half my face.

December 7, 2013, 11:50 AM
I know it should be obvious, but:

No Booze before or during reloading. Booze and reloading don't mix. Just like shooting.

December 7, 2013, 11:53 AM
Thanks for the input so far. I am guilty of a few of these. My worst is walking away from the bench without taking care of everything. Go back a couple of weeks later and are these rounds 55g or 69g? What primers are these?

Things to work on.

December 7, 2013, 12:12 PM
I came across a new to me situation recently, and I've been reloading for several decades.

I've pretty much always sorted my brass by head stamp for high powered rifle, mostly because I don't like inconsistent pressures, it makes reading pressures far more difficult. But recently I threw together some loads for the 7 mag using mixed brass. Most of it was WW, but there were several old Frontier in the bag. I really didn't give it much thought, but when I fired them, all the Frontier had spiked some very high pressures. No catastrophic failures, but they were producing excessively high pressures. So I would add sorting brass to the list for loading high powered rifle, and weighing it wouldn't be a bad idea either.


December 7, 2013, 12:14 PM
Pay attention to the feel of the handle. The feel should be consistent from pull to pull. If you're priming on a progressive press the seating step should feel almost identical for all cases. If it is not something is different; find out why it is different.

Listen to the sounds being made. Sizing, the sound of the powder measure, seating and crimping and the movement of the handle combine to make set of sounds that should be regular and repeated.

December 7, 2013, 12:21 PM
Point them to the library of wisdom sticky at the top of the page. You can't read too much when starting out on a new en-devour.

December 7, 2013, 12:35 PM
No TV or radio. No conversation. If you want to talk do that, reload later. Full concentration is required.

December 7, 2013, 01:24 PM
Definitely the no booze rule. And also the double checking, I always double/triple check. Caught once I missed a charge, and now I use double shell holders and that had removed that error. But I still double/triple check. Twice with the flashlight and once when getting read to seat the lead.

December 7, 2013, 01:29 PM
I think for developing loads chrono is necessary. I know I bought it after 2 reloading sessions. How would you develop consistent load otherwise??

With number of different bullets available, with powder shortage it is often hard to get solid load data (cross-referenced from many places).

You often need to get to certain Power Factor. And it will depend on gun, barrel, OAL.

So. Start low and have chrono!!

December 7, 2013, 09:51 PM
1, Learn the "plunk" test

2, Always weigh and measure at least a few bullets from a new box

December 7, 2013, 10:06 PM
If loading for a semi-auto pistol, afeter the plunk test, do a magazine test.

1st batch of .40 I ever did, they all passed the plink test in the barrel so I kept going and made 200 for my 1st batch. Got out to the range and couldn't get more than 3 in the mag.
Was easy lessin on this occurance as I just re-adjusted the seat die (RL550b) and squezed them down a smidge. But I was definately torqued that I made the35 minute drive to the desert and couldn't use those rounds.

Arkansas Paul
December 7, 2013, 11:07 PM
1- keep bench clean.

You're funny.

Comrade Mike
December 7, 2013, 11:23 PM
Ask for advice before you buy your first pound of powder. My first pound of powder was one of the most finicky you could pick for the caliber.

December 8, 2013, 06:52 PM
Gave my first lesson last night. When I was explaining the need for several manuals, I looked up 30-06 165 SGK with IMR 4350. I used the Hodgdon load center and my Sierra reloading manual( older). Perfect choice! Hodgdon used a powder charge of 53.0 - 60.0g. Compressed. Sierra was 48.2 - 56.0g.
I told him to start in the middle of the lower recommendation, and slowly work the load up using a chronograph.

Thanks for the help guys!

December 9, 2013, 08:25 AM
Here's a couple more simple safety tips...

1, Always wear safety glasses or at least some kind of eye protection.
2, Wash hands after every reloading session.

Ranger Roberts
December 9, 2013, 04:00 PM
Going slowly in the beginning is key. Someone who is new may sit and watch one of us reload and think that they should be able to turn out reloads as quickly as an experienced guy could... they can't. It takes a longtime to get your equipment right, and to have everything you need within reach.

December 9, 2013, 04:07 PM
NEVER- have more than one
1-powder on the bench.
2- primer size and brand on the bench
3- cal of brass on the bench

Expanding on this -
Don't have any components on the bench you aren't actively loading:
One type of powder
One type of primer
One type of brass (only the brass you are actually using)
One type of bullet (brand, type, weight,....)

No other component comes onto the bench until what it is replacing is put away.

December 9, 2013, 04:09 PM
Keep meticulous records of what you're doing, especially in the early going. Taking the time to write things down in a neat and orderly way will slow you down and help get you into the correct, methodical, take-it-slow-and-get-it-right mindset. If something goes not-quite-right, you'll find it much easier to track down the problem, or at least identify the suspect rounds to pull apart.

Also, while the "don't force stuff" advice is right, some brass requires a good deal of force to get primers fully seated. No sharp or sudden force, just a good, authoritative pull on the handle. One of the first things I reloaded was some new Winchester .357 brass. And I failed to get the primer seated on every single one of them, because I was babying the handle. Slow but very firm is the way.

December 9, 2013, 04:18 PM
I know people are probably going to roll their eyes at this one but a little lead safety goes a long way. I was really sick for a few weeks by NOT taking precautions. I believe my problem was mostly from #1.

1) Don't tumble casings in the house. Lead stearate from the primers gets into the media and will become airborne when separating. De-priming PRIOR to tumbling will significantly cut down on lead accumulation in the media.

2) Don't eat or drink or smoke anything while reloading or casting bullets.

3) Do not handle any solvents with lead on your hands and do not clean lead bullets with solvents. Some solvents can make the lead water soluble and absorb-able through the skin.

4) Either wear gloves while handling lead or wash your hands immediately after reloading.

December 9, 2013, 04:22 PM
I am not sure if this has been mentioned but when I help set up a new reloader, I develop a step-by-step checklist (like a pre-flight checklist for pilots) that is specific to the equipment and post it right above/behind the press.

This way, the new reloader can follow the checklist for each reloading session and refer to it readily.

Also, depending on the reloader/type of press used, I do a step-by-step troubleshooting guide they can use to resolve problems when they run into them.

Foto Joe
December 10, 2013, 12:50 PM
Other than "only 1 powder" on the bench at a time I think that "write stuff down" is about one of the most important tips out there. It's not like any of us have ever asked ourselves "I wonder what those loads with the 3/8" group were?"

Personally I think I've spent almost as much time on the computer with Excel logging load specifics and chronograph numbers as I have on the press sometimes.

December 10, 2013, 01:28 PM
Yea, my Excel spreadsheet is out of control. I have a new column heading on that thing every time I open it. Wouldn't be surprised if "Which Way The Wind Was Blowing When I Bought This Brass" is on there somewhere.

December 10, 2013, 01:34 PM
My work and life is IT, that's why I can't spend time at computer unless it's work :)

I keep all records in big notepad. Organize each load and label with number.
Then at the range I chrono each load and reference by those numbers.

I also record notes as to feel, how i like this, etc. Highlight final loads I like with given powder/bullet and move on.

To keep it simple I don't play with OAL. Go with published largest and see if it works in a gun. After than I don't change crimp and OAL. Only bullet and powder.

December 10, 2013, 01:38 PM
Not a bad idea. I could probably use some simplification. There's so many darned variables to keep up with.

Foto Joe
December 10, 2013, 02:00 PM
I just finished re-doing my Excel to automatically calculate Standard Deviation and Extreme Spread and enter those numbers on my main sheet which holds my load information. Excel actually has a cell formula to calculate SD but I wasn't able to make it work. Instead I wound up writing out the formula in open cells instead.

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