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Learning to Reload

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by skt239, Jun 25, 2012.

  1. skt239

    skt239 Member

    Dec 19, 2007
    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.

  2. dab102999

    dab102999 Member

    May 4, 2012
    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.
  3. 7mmb

    7mmb Member

    Apr 18, 2011
    Salt Lake City, UT
    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.
  4. MrCountyCop

    MrCountyCop New Member

    Sep 10, 2011
    Central, Kansas
    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.
  5. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Senior Member

    Aug 11, 2005
    Elbert County, CO
    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.
  6. RustyFN

    RustyFN Senior Member

    Jul 5, 2006
    West Virginia
    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.
  7. griff383

    griff383 Member

    Jan 20, 2010
    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.
  8. GP100man

    GP100man Senior Member

    Mar 16, 2007
    Tabor City, NC.
    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 :)
  9. jef2015

    jef2015 Member

    Jun 17, 2011
    SW La
    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.
  10. marksg
    • Contributing Member

    marksg Member

    Mar 16, 2012
    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.
  11. Josh45

    Josh45 Senior Member

    Jan 22, 2011
    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.
  12. Snag

    Snag Member

    May 27, 2012
    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)
  13. J_McLeod

    J_McLeod Senior Member

    Nov 21, 2010
    Homestead, FL
    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.
  14. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Senior Member

    Aug 16, 2009
    Welcome to reloading

    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
  15. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Senior Member

    Sep 15, 2007
    S.E. Minnesota
    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.
  16. medalguy
    • Contributing Member

    medalguy Senior Member

    Mar 20, 2009
    New Mexico
    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.
  17. pic1083

    pic1083 New Member

    Mar 18, 2012
  18. bubbacrabb

    bubbacrabb Member

    Dec 3, 2010
    in the rain... OR
    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.
  19. skt239

    skt239 Member

    Dec 19, 2007
    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.
  20. Legion489

    Legion489 member

    Jun 8, 2012
    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

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