How did you start??

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by kalielkslayer, Apr 7, 2021.

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  1. kalielkslayer

    kalielkslayer Member

    Feb 6, 2021

    Did you have a mentor, Dad, Granddad, friend, neighbor?

    Or did you just read a manual and go from there?

    Or if you started reloading in the last 15 years, maybe it was Internet forums?

    My shotgun reloading started in the 70s and although my Dad was an old paper hull reloader from his trap/skeet days, he may have answered a few questions, he never sat down and showed me anything. It was just me and an old Lyman manual.

    Rifle in the 80s was because a couple of friends convinced me that was the way to milk the most accuracy out of my rifles. And I was impressed with both of their shooting skills. Each of them ran a few bullets off of their respective setups for me, but my actual reloading was just me, a RCBS Rockchucker and an old P O Ackley manual.

    Pistol, just started in 2020 although I started buying dies and components every since the Clinton shortages, just in case. This time it was a combination of internet input, articles, searches,(many of which came back to THR) and a couple of manuals.

    Interested to hear other’s stories, especially ones where a parent or grandparent got ya started.
    memtb, Hondo 60, koni and 2 others like this.
  2. Mr_Flintstone

    Mr_Flintstone Member

    Apr 9, 2016
    Eastern KY
    I got started a few years back. The reason was that I found myself in possession of several guns that used less than popular ammunition. I had trouble finding any locally, and the shipping prices were usually more than I wanted to pay online.

    Since I had a .38 Special and a .357 magnum rifle, I decided to start with .38 special. It seemed the easiest to learn on, and the least likely to mess up. Components were plentiful then, so I bought several kinds of bullets and powders, and ordered a Lee single stage press with .357/.38 dies, and another set for .38 Long Colt.

    While I was waiting for everything to arrive, I downloaded the Lee #1 manual from, and read through it thoroughly. Even so, it was nerve racking the first time I dropped powder into a case. I decided to make six 158 gr LRN .38 Special cartridges with a minimum Win 231 charge. Since I was doing this on my own, and nervous and overly cautious, it took me a good hour to make those six rounds. Then came the time to try them out. I loaded them in my S&W model 19 just in case I did something wrong, and headed to the back yard. Just to have something to aim at, I threw a Mountain Dew can out in the yard, pulled the hammer back, winced when I squeezed the trigger, and ... Bang. I still had all my fingers, and I hit the can square in the middle. (I’m not bragging. It was only about 7 feet away). After that, I was hooked.

    When I had questions I couldn’t answer, I took to gun forums. Some were friendly, others treated me like I was a spy there to steal their information, but I eventually got better and quicker. Now I load for all those oddball cartridges, and couldn’t be happier (well except for the current lack of available components.)

    I have continued adding manuals and components, and I am pretty well stocked for now.
    memtb, koni, earlthegoat2 and 2 others like this.
  3. Dunross

    Dunross Member

    Aug 22, 2018
    So far as I am aware no one in my family ever loaded their own ammo. I got my start in the early nineties when I joined the local Sportsman Association and quickly discovered I could not afford to shoot much if I had to buy factory ammo so learned to reload to "save money" (laughing)

    Well, I suppose in the sense I was paying less per round relative to store-bought I was saving money, but of course ended up spending as much or more because I could shoot more!

    No Internet then so it was a good old Lyman manual with advice from fellow club members who reloaded as well.
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  4. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    My Dad started me on shotgun at about 7. By eleven he was walking me through reading the manual, setting up the scales and going through the process.
    I got into milking as much accuracy as I could in my early 20s.
    memtb and koni like this.
  5. Bartojc

    Bartojc Member

    Feb 6, 2014
    I had and uncle that reloaded shotgun when I was a youngster. When I made my first trip deer hunting in my early 20's a couple of my dad's friends reloaded rifle as they shot Weatherby Magnums. I've always been interested but no one real close loaded much anymore. Fast forward 20 more years and a couple ammo crisis and I decided to start myself. Been doing it for 7 or 8 years now and its a fun hobby. I enjoy having "ammo freedom" :)

  6. Mn Fats

    Mn Fats Member

    Jan 23, 2017
    I started with a single stage LEE and a manual because I was sick of underpowered 8mm Mauser rounds. Self taught but also had the guidance of....The High Road.

    Hard to believe that was almost 15 years ago. A member by the name of rcmodel was of particular help to me. May he rest in peace.
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  7. Mark_Mark
    • Contributing Member

    Mark_Mark Contributing Member

    Jan 9, 2021
    i got started when a crackhead had a box full of reloading gear... he only wanted $9.67 for everything and a ride.


    just kidding
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2021
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  8. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

    Dec 7, 2008
    Mount Desert Island Maine
    My grandfather was a "gun guy" and about 1967 he decided that if I was shooting up all the ammo then I had to make more to replace it. So under his watchful eye I learned the mysteries of reloading from getting a paper sack full of propellant from a large 30 gallon cardboard drum at the local hardware store to melting wheel weights and casting bullets. Then working up a load using mystery rifle or pistol propellant. The family was dirt poor and he thought I was wastimg if I ran through a 50 round box of .22 LR with only a few squirrels or rabbits to show for it. None of this showing off. At least he instilled the self sufficent ethic as far as firearms and reloading. Always have more than you think you need has served me well over the years!

    Mark Mark who did he steal them from?:scrutiny:
    memtb, jonas66, koni and 2 others like this.
  9. Hooda Thunkit

    Hooda Thunkit Member

    Jul 10, 2017
    Oklahoma, out in the red dirt.
    I was the only one of my family that was "into" guns. Nobody, for several generations, was a reloader, and G-pa hunted with shotgun only for food; not sport.

    I started reloading pre-internet (by several years). Just me, a set of Lee dies with the data sheet enclosed, a pound of Clays, and a Lee handpress.
    No mentor, no tumbler, no scales.

    I don't know much about a lot of things, but I do know how to read. I have always figured that if someone else can do it, so can I.
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  10. 25-5
    • Contributing Member

    25-5 Contributing Member

    Jul 29, 2015
    In the '70's I began IPSC competition. It became 5 matches per month, and keeping up with .45 ACP was difficult. So, I purchased an RCBS Rock Chucker, dies, manuals, etc. Quickly graduated to a Dillon 450 which I still use.
    Add a few decades, more pistol and rifle calibers, Dillon upgrades, and here we are.
    All the equipment paid for itself long ago.
    memtb and koni like this.
  11. WeekendReloader

    WeekendReloader Member

    Dec 3, 2020
    SE Michigan
    It seemed wasteful to toss all that brass away after going through a few boxes at the range, so I collected it. After a few years I had a decent amount of once fired brass from my pistol and a friends pistol. I then found a LEE single stage kit online on sale and jumped into the hobby. I now enjoy reloading as a hobby to feed my shooting hobby. I'll go to the range on nice days. I'll reload on rainy days or during the winter. Cool days in the spring and fall I'll melt some scrap lead and cast.
    It's a nice addition to extend the hobby.
    memtb, koni, Seymour380 and 2 others like this.
  12. CoalCrackerAl

    CoalCrackerAl Member

    Jan 29, 2021
    Shamokin/Coal twp Pa.
    My 1st loading experience was with my smoke poles. After not blowing myself up with them. I decided to go with loading smokeless.
    memtb, koni, webrx and 1 other person like this.
  13. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

    Jun 6, 2016
    SE Idaho
    I remember a couple of my teenaged buddies back in the '60s that reloaded shotgun shells, but because Mom and Dad owned and ran a country grocery store/gas station back then, and they sold shotgun shells (as well as .22 rimfire and a small selection of big game hunting ammo) I got all of my ammo for free. So I wasn't much interested in reloading. It wasn't until the last part of the '70s that I got interested in reloading, and wouldn't you know it - I got interested in it because Dad took it up about the time he and Mom closed down their country store. Dad gave me my first reloading scale - an oil-dampened job, and I think it was an Ohaus.
    At any rate, my wife and I were living in a single-wide mobile home in town at the time, and it had a tip-out closet on the back that was just wide enough for a clothes washer and dryer combo, OR a loading bench. My wife got tired of having to go to the laundromat, so we had to sell that mobile home and buy a real house - this one. There's plenty of room in the basement for the reloading bench AND a clothes washer and dryer.:D
    BTW, we had to replace the clothes washer and dryer last year, but the reloading bench is the same one that was in the tip-out closet on the back of that single-wide we lived in back in the '70s.;)
    memtb, Demi-human, Howland937 and 9 others like this.
  14. stonebuster

    stonebuster Member

    Jun 8, 2016
    When I started shooting handguns 5 years ago I started saving my 38 & 357 brass in case I started reloading..I read a couple manuals and forums like this off and on for 4 years. No one in my family did any shooting other than dad in WW2. When this ammo shortage started I decided I didn't want to be dependent on factory ammo availability/high prices again. Although it wasn't a great time to start, I bought my equipment and enough components to get started in December 2020. Since then I've not shot any factory ammo even though I've got a good bit of it. I enjoy the bench time almost as much as the shooting.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2021
  15. bihj

    bihj Member

    Jul 17, 2015
    Deep East Texas
    Around 1970 a fellow that rented our barn and pastures tutored me in reloading 303 Brit for a No 5 I had. I really didn't do anything except pull the handle. About a dozen years later, I got the itch to get my own press (Dillon 550) and never looked back.
  16. alfsauve

    alfsauve Member

    Jan 30, 2008
    N. GA
    USAF first permanent station, Charleston, SC. A buddy in my shop was an avid reloader and hunter from TN. George Sloan. He was a real evangelist for reloading and as soon as I showed some interest in shooting he loaned me his Lee whack-a-mole set and a Speer manual. He was an early adopter and reloader for .243 Win.
    I need to find George and thank him for getting me started. That was after all, 52 years ago.
    memtb, MauriceSam, jonas66 and 4 others like this.
  17. Reinz

    Reinz Member

    Aug 4, 2008
    Taught myself to load shot shells when I was 14 because I couldn’t afford to shoot otherwise. Then learned metallic loading on my own a few years later.

    Over 50 years later, I can afford factory ammo, but just can’t justify the expense for as much as I shoot. 95% of my centerfire shooting is with my reloads.
    memtb, MauriceSam, alfsauve and 2 others like this.
  18. GBExpat

    GBExpat Member

    Nov 5, 2007
    Rural, far beyond the beltway, Northern Virginia,
    A few times every year, we would visit the farm where my mom grew up. Her dad kept his long guns in an alcove behind the front door. In the mid-60s I noticed that one looked different. Interesting. It was a bringback K98k that "uncle" somebody brought back from the ETO for "Dad".

    Later that summer we went to visit my dad's mother in August, GA. While there, Dad & I stopped at a BIG milsurp place (they even sold USGI motor vehicles :)) Great place!

    While we slowly wandered thru the building, I noticed a few 15rd boxes of vintage ammo on a shelf and realized that they contained the ammunition that GrandPop's "Mauser" fired. We bought them and used them in the K98k next time we went for a visit to the farm. Wow!

    At home, Dad ordered an "8mm Mauser" from a magazine advertisement and discovered the hard way that something listed as being "NRA Condition Grade: Very Good" can actually mean horrible-condition, eroded-bore, painted-black-to-hide-the-external-pitting, bastardized-stock-with-a-wired-on-chopped-handguard, "POS". <sigh> What a disappointment!

    That summer, when we arrived at the farm, GrandPop gifted me the K98k (no doubt at Mom's suggestion). :what::D One of the best presents that I have ever received!

    One of the boys at work had a side-business that included hand-/re-loading components & hardware (Dad always referred to his co-workers at NACA/NASA as "boys" ... confused me for years ;)). He ordered a reloading manual. We both read it cover-to-cover and he started it all by ordering a Lee Loader Whack-a-Mole kit for 7.92x57 ... and we were off ...

    In short order we were also ordering for .38spc/.357mag ... :D

    EDIT: Here is a pic from a couple of years ago of that original Lee Loader that Dad purchased 50+ years ago. Yes, he (and Mom) taught me to take care of things ... perhaps a leftover from growing up during the Great Depression. ;)

    Last edited: Apr 7, 2021
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  19. Trent

    Trent Member

    Dec 6, 2010
    LOL, this is almost kind of funny in a way, "how I started"

    I was young, and just started buying guns. I wanted a heavy hitting rifle so I bought a 300 win mag.

    As they were getting it boxed up at the local gun shop, I figured I'd need some ammunition, so I inquired about it.

    it was at that precise moment that the guy behind the counter gave me prices on such ammo, that the conversation changed and I ended up going home with the 300 win mag, reloading books, primers, powder, and an RCBS single stage reloading kit. I shot a few boxes of that factory ammo and that was the last 300 win mag factory the rifle ever saw.

    This was closing on 3 decades ago and the ammunition at that time was nearly $2 a round, if I recall.

    Once I had reloading gear another guy I knew who was in to milsurp hooked me up with 20 something pounds of H1000 and a huge amount of 30 call pulldowns at a ridiculously low price (such things were abundant, way back then). I was reloading those cases for 28 cents, instead of 2 dollars a round.

    Anyway, that kind of hooked me on reloading, right from the get go!
    memtb, MauriceSam, alfsauve and 6 others like this.
  20. Mark_Mark
    • Contributing Member

    Mark_Mark Contributing Member

    Jan 9, 2021
    I was just kidding, my story was as typical as everyone... odd calibers, learn to reload

    was trying to spice it up
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  21. Obturation

    Obturation Member

    Dec 24, 2018
    Northern illinois

    I started to recognize that the guns I liked weren't "normal". At least by modern mainstream standards. It started with 357 magnum, I like full power ammunition generally and I had to buy it from Underwood or buffalo bore ect. At the time I was looking at almost $1 per round and the hassle of internet ordering (the hassle is that my wife reviews the bill:what:).

    So mid 2017 I started looking into making my own, I've always saved brass. A press and a few odds and ends got me up and running, kinda.
    I knew I'd need to load for my 45-70, 454 casull , 44 magnum and 338 lapua eventually but took time to get acquainted with 357 magnum reloading. I knew no reloaders , actually I know very few shooters in general.a Lyman manual was enough for me to start out. As I got confused I resorted to internet searches , that led me to the high road. Most searches resulted in answers from this site, so I joined at the end of 2018.

    As I gained understanding and confidence I progressed to the other cartridges. I found out that the more I learned , the more questions I had. Funny how that works. Nuance reared its ugly head, little things I'd never considered . by that time I was active on this forum and all my questions were answered and new questions arose from those answers. Things that the guy who buys ammo retail never considers or doesn't care about.

    I haven't changed my goal throughout the process, make ammo I can't afford to buy retail. It's resulted in ammo better than I can buy, tailored to my guns and my needs. I don't reload anything that's affordable (before the current mess), I'm not trying to reload quantity. Quantity still doesn't interest me, I may take on the 10mm auto just due to the current situation but there's a not much chance you'll find me trying to reload 5.56 or 45 acp . it just isn't worth my time if it's available locally for under 50 cents per round.

    Currently I'm loading 357/38, 45 colt/454 casull, 30-30, 45-70 and 338 lapua (very rarely). That's held me pretty well. Even before 2020 , you wouldn't find me shooting much 5.56, 380acp, 45 acp or 10mm. Bottom feeders just aren't really my thing but I do own them for specific uses and I only shoot them enough to remain proficient .

    Now in the current shortages the looks I get when I haul out 500-1000 rds and proceed to shoot all of are hilarious. The indoor range I use is populated mostly by weekend warriors who head in with their 50 round box and leave 20 minutes later, I stay until I'm done. That's what it's all about, shoot more. You'll never save a penny but you'll always have ammo. Good enough for me!

    No doubt I'll always make my own recreational ammo, defensive ammo I prefer to buy for multiple reasons . the only exception being the 454 casull, when Things are good it's $2-5 per round. It's a easy thing to fill a case with h110 and put a 360 grain wfn over it for woods protection- it is truly a reloaders cartridge .

    Thanks for everything folks of the high road, wouldn't be where I am today without you!!!!
    memtb, Demi-human, koni and 3 others like this.
  22. KS Plinker

    KS Plinker Member

    May 14, 2019
    I bought an LCT a couple years ago along with the Lyman manual and read it all the way through. Did a bunch of reading on the inter web then jumped in to making my own...boy was I nervous when I pulled that trigger for the first time. :)
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  23. Blackrock

    Blackrock Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    SE Arizona
    1967 I was a senior in high school. I would work weekends for a local rancher who was the kind of guy that was into a little of everything. He had a reloading/gun room in his basement garage close to where we washed up before lunch. He could tell I was curious about it so after lunch one day showed me the basics. Our high school library had a big selection of shooting related books including a Lyman reloading manual. I did a lot of reading and purchased a Lee whack a mole loader, powder, primers and bullets at my local hardware store. No scale just the dipper that came with the kit. I started loading for my .270 that way. Next purchase was a RCBS scale, trimmer, press and a bunch of other stuff. It's been a journey all the way since then.
    memtb, MauriceSam, koni and 1 other person like this.
  24. swg1

    swg1 Member

    Feb 15, 2020
    Got a Remington 870 Wingmaster for high school graduation. A week later we picked up a Lee-Loader for 12ga. Read the manual. Good to go. A few years later I picked up a Lyman T-Mag and a manual and started reloading for metallic cartridges. After all that, I taught my dad to reload as well.
  25. reloaded_in_pa

    reloaded_in_pa Member

    Dec 6, 2020
    Central Pennsylvania
    I started in the late 70s, helping my grandfather. He taught me much of what I know. I still think of those evenings sitting at his bench with a Phillies game on the radio.
    memtb, koni, 1976B.L.Johns. and 4 others like this.
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