Are you interested in starting to reload your own ammunition? The art of reloading is a rewarding hobby. Reloading allows the reloader to control and monitor all aspects of the ammunition building process. This leads to more precise ammunition than factory purchased ammunition that is meant for the masses and must function in a large array of firearms. Precision hand loaded cartridges with perfected recipes that are built for a specific firearm can result in extreme accuracy. To most reloaders, this is part of the fun in hand loading.
This article will serve as a list of items needed in order to get started. Many of the items on this list can be purchased individually or as part of a reloading kit. Hornady, Lee Precision, and RCBS offer reloading kits designed for the beginning reloader.
Once you decide which cartridges that you wish to reload, you will need to purchase the cartridge components; powder, primers, cases, and bullets.
Reloading Bench - Work Bench:
A work bench with plenty of work space will work best for a reloading bench. Weight and strength is a key component of a reloading bench setup to help keep the bench from moving around during the resizing process.
One of the most important purchases required for reloading is the reloading manual. The reloading manual contains reloading data (recipes) across a range of calibers. There reloading manuals available on the market from many manufacturers, Hornady, Lyman, Nosler, Sierra, and many more. we suggest purchasing a couple from different manufactures to add to your library. Reading and understanding the reloading manual is key to safe reloading practices.
The reloading press is the heart of the reloading process. A good single stage press is the best to start with as a beginning reloader as they are much simpler to setup.
Dies are required for each caliber that you intend to reload. Most reloading dies are interchangeable with whatever manufacturer or type of press you select.
Case Sizing Lubricant:
Sizing lubricant is used during the resizing process to lubricate the case when resizing with the sizing dies, hand helps prolong the life of the sizing die. The lubrication makes the sizing process easier and helps eliminate stuck cases. Case sizing lubricant is not required when using carbide dies.
Most modern presses have a mechanism to prime cases directly on the press. A hand priming tool allows the reloader to prime cases independent of the press. Which method used to prime is an individual’s decision. It is common for a reloader to have both a press that can prime cases as well as a hand priming tool.
An accurate scale is required to measure powder charge weights and to verify charges dropped by the powder drop/thrower. Scales can be either the mechanical beam type or digital. Powder charges in reloading books are referenced in “grains”, so ensure to get an accurate scale the measure is grains. Powder charge accuracy is extremely important to ensure cartridge consistency, reliability, and safety. Inaccurate powder charges can have catastrophic results.
A powder funnel can be used instead of a powder drop when dropping a powder charge into a cartridge.
Because brass cases can stretch after firing and resizing, trimming is sometimes necessary to ensure proper case length. There are many different types and styles of case trimmers. They are typically manually operated or motorized. Most trimmers require a shell holder and pilot specific to the caliber being trimmed.
A tool used to deburr and chamfer the case mouth after case trimming. These are typically universal, designed to work on all cases.
A caliper is a tool used to measure the empty case length after resizing and the trimming operations. Calipers are also used to check the case overall length (COL). These can be either a dial caliper or digital.
Most reloading kits include a powder drop or powder thrower. A powder drop/thrower repeatedly drops a specific powder charge to allow the reloader to create consistent reloads.
Loading blocks are used to hold the cartridge case on the workbench during the reloading process. Blocks come in different sizes dependent upon the caliber(s) that you wish to reload.
Primer Pocket Cleaner:
A primer pocket cleaner us a specially designed tool or brush used to clean the burnt power and carbon out of the primer pocket so that new primers can be fully seated. The primer pocket cleaner comes in two sizes to fit both large and small primer pockets.
Once all of the reloading equipment is acquired, make sure to read and understand the equipment and reloading manuals. Understand the setup and use of each piece of equipment. Before beginning, make sure to be familiar with each step to the reloading process and the precautions associated with each step in the reloading process.