testtest

To Reload Or Not To Reload, That Is The Question

SteveH

Alpha
Founding Member
Reloading/handloading is totally worth it on so many levels. The initial investment is large, but once you have the machine, they are pretty robust. I can only speak about RCBS and Dillon loaders. I realize that components are difficult to get right now, but it wont always be like that, and once you get yourself a few thousand pieces of brass, your cost goes down dramatically. So start picking up your brass if you haven't already. I would echo a previous post and say to avoid the single stage press for handgun ammo. I would recommend the Dillon in either the Square Deal B, or 550. if you will only load one caliber, the Square Deal is awesome. if you plan to load other calibers, then go to the 550. It will last forever if you take care of it.
 

LRZ

Operator
I just "finished" the same journey. Got into shooting in Jan and realized real quick I was going to h ave to reload to afford my habit. Researched Dillon and Lee pretty extensively (good use of lockdown time). Went down the Lee path as I couldn't justify the Dillon price (to my wife). Purchased a Lee Loadmaster and am loading 9 mm. Was able to buy from Midway during the approx 1 week they were available. About 3000 rounds through it in the last month. I'm happy with it but it took a while to get it going. Priming was tough at first and I suspect the Dillon primer system is better. Did some tweaking and I think it had to break in a bit...knock and burrs or sharp edges off. Lots of tipped primers at first. Runs like clock-work, almost, now. Did 300 rounds in an hour last night with 2 tipped primers and 5 missed primers. Hadn't actually had a tipped primer in several hundred. I would not recommend depriming and loading in one pass. Primers and debris seem to carry into the primer pocket and muck it up. I purchased and extra die plate and universal depriming die. At the end of every load session, I remove the priming system and deprime everything I have shot. Tear the press down and clean it. When it's time to load, I'm GTG on a clean press. I also remove the priming plunger when I deprime. I'm pretty happy with it, now and I think I'm glad I didn't dump the money into Dillon. Putting that money towards primers and bullets. Would be more than willing to share any experiences if you are interested. I'm an Engineer so I enjoyed the research (as much as I enjoy shooting AND reloading).
Would love to hear more of your experiences-any clips of you going through the process? My work schedule only allows me Tuesdays and Sundays to do non-work stuff, unless I'm up till 1 am like last night on this forum, only to have to wake up in 6hrs! To be honest, since I'm so new to this, I'm still learning a lot of the processes/terminology, but definitely enjoying it. I'm excited thinking about having that much ammo ready in an hour 😄
 

LRZ

Operator
Admittedly, a progressive has a place. A friend who took up shooting 3 Gun was reloading on a single stage for several years before finally being worn into submission. My semi's are limited to a few 1911's, a Berreta 96, and a couple 9mm's. Can't forget the M1A. Other than that, it's bolt actions or single shots. I have a system in place for loading many rounds at a time, bit it entails processing and prepping brass in stages until it's ready to load. It may take several weeks to months before I sit down for a loading session, but charging with powder and seating bullets goes by quickly when that is all that is left to do. Cleaning, sizing and priming are long finished.

Regards,
Bill
I tend to be the kind that likes to do things in stages, prepping everything before moving to the next stage. Sounds like a single stage may be the way for me. Of course I could one day turn like your friend and 'step up.'
 

LRZ

Operator
Reloading/handloading is totally worth it on so many levels. The initial investment is large, but once you have the machine, they are pretty robust. I can only speak about RCBS and Dillon loaders. I realize that components are difficult to get right now, but it wont always be like that, and once you get yourself a few thousand pieces of brass, your cost goes down dramatically. So start picking up your brass if you haven't already. I would echo a previous post and say to avoid the single stage press for handgun ammo. I would recommend the Dillon in either the Square Deal B, or 550. if you will only load one caliber, the Square Deal is awesome. if you plan to load other calibers, then go to the 550. It will last forever if you take care of it.
Wow! That Square Deal B! Seems too good to be true, or is it really that easy? When you say load only one caliber, does it mean I would never be able to load other calibers down the line? Or from watching the demo video, does it mean the process is to be used with only one caliber at a time? Eitherway, thanks so much for the recommendations.
 

HansGruber

Professional
Wow! That Square Deal B! Seems too good to be true, or is it really that easy? When you say load only one caliber, does it mean I would never be able to load other calibers down the line? Or from watching the demo video, does it mean the process is to be used with only one caliber at a time? Eitherway, thanks so much for the recommendations.
No, you can—as long as they are straight-wall cartridges—basically, pistol calibers (other than say, .357 Sig). You won’t be able to do bottleneck cartridges like .223 (If you would get an AR15, for instance).

The only thing with the square deals is that their dies are proprietary, iirc...so you can only get them from Dillon if you want to start reloading another caliber.
 

LRZ

Operator
No, you can—as long as they are straight-wall cartridges—basically, pistol calibers (other than say, .357 Sig). You won’t be able to do bottleneck cartridges like .223 (If you would get an AR15, for instance).

The only thing with the square deals is that their dies are proprietary, iirc...so you can only get them from Dillon if you want to start reloading another caliber.
Aaaahhhh.... makes sense. Doesn't look like they're too much difference in price, so I'd think the 550C would be pretty good, wouldn't you think?
 

Bassbob

Custom
Hi all-
I've been searching handgun forums all day, and The Armory Life seems to be the most 'currently active' so I'm hoping to get advice/opinions.

My wife and I purchased our first handguns exactly 6 weeks ago (both 9mm). Since then, I have been to the range at least once a week, if not twice. Other than the simple joy of shooting, I want to be good at it, and can honestly say I am seeing improvement from my sessions. As much as I can, I've been watching and reading everything gun related as well. Which leads me to the big question of reloading.

Ammo is obviously very scarce right now. I live in IL where I can't even get ammo shipped to me (when I find them online), and have to have them shipped to a friends house in IN. The one store that always has ammo by me charges 5c for every round due to the county I live in. In a nutshell, to date (6 weeks), I have spent almost $1500 on ammo (have about 1200 rounds left). When I calculated cost (I included tax, shipping etc), I'm about 34c per round (those include 150 defense ammo, rest are FMJs).

Since I didn't own a gun before COVID hit, I don't know how much folks were able to get 9mm ammo then. I've read many posts saying 9mm are not worth reloading due to how cheap you can get them (doesn't seem too cheap to me, but again, maybe 9mm ammo were cheaper pre-Covid), and/or the start up cost would take a long time to make up. I enjoy learning new things, so I think I would enjoy the process of reloading. And right now, I make sure I go to the range with no more than 150-200 rounds at a time else I'd 'splurge' too much in one visit!

So all that being said, what would your thoughts be on reloading for me? If nay, why? If aye, where/how would I begin? I am brand new to this-saw a guy with a dust pan picking up his shells at the range and wondered why he was doing that. Yes, I'm THAT new to it!!I saw a thread on here for a Hornady kit for under $450 or RCBS kit for under $400. Could kits like that get me started, with minimal additions if I'm only thinking 9mm right now?

I have more questions, but I'll start there. Any and all feedback from those of you much more seasoned at this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Z


My opinion. Shooting reloads in semi automatic pistols is something I would never do and I have been handloading for revolvers for many years. If you are going to load for semi autos I would make damn sure you know what you're doing. And I would never let anyone, including my wife, shoot my loads. And you're talking about 9mm. Probably the cheapest ammo you can buy other than .22. In normal times it simply isn't cost effective to handload 9mm.

That said plenty of guys, and many here I'm sure, DO handload their own semi auto pistol ammo. Years ago I bought a box of reloads from a gun store. You know, supposedly by people that knew what they were doing. There is a lot of red tape and liability that goes along with selling reloads right? This was .380 and I was shooting one of my Makarovs. Somewhere in the first magazine I loaded was a squib. Thankfully I noticed that no hole appeared on the paper after I shot. If I would have been doing a mag dump god only knows what would have happened, I might not have any hands today. That's why I never shoot reloads out of semi auto handguns.
 

HansGruber

Professional
My opinion. Shooting reloads in semi automatic pistols is something I would never do and I have been handloading for revolvers for many years. If you are going to load for semi autos I would make damn sure you know what you're doing. And I would never let anyone, including my wife, shoot my loads. And you're talking about 9mm. Probably the cheapest ammo you can buy other than .22. In normal times it simply isn't cost effective to handload 9mm.

That said plenty of guys, and many here I'm sure, DO handload their own semi auto pistol ammo. Years ago I bought a box of reloads from a gun store. You know, supposedly by people that knew what they were doing. There is a lot of red tape and liability that goes along with selling reloads right? This was .380 and I was shooting one of my Makarovs. Somewhere in the first magazine I loaded was a squib. Thankfully I noticed that no hole appeared on the paper after I shot. If I would have been doing a mag dump god only knows what would have happened, I might not have any hands today. That's why I never shoot reloads out of semi auto handguns.
I mainly reload for semi-autos...not much 9mm, admittedly; about the only 9 I’ve loaded for the past several years are 147’s for shooting suppressed. I’ve got the components to load 124gr blasters all day long if I need to; every time I saw a good price, I’d buy a couple thousand bullets, and I’ve got buckets of 9mm brass, plenty of powder. Primers will be the only bottleneck after I go through the 25k or so I have (again, bought a couple thousand every time there was a good price/free shipping, etc...and for the past 4 years or so, there’s been a lot of those deals out there).

.45’s, though, I shoot almost exclusively handloads...it's less than half the price of commercial blasters.

I don’t reload .40. I used to, until a buddy had a Glock 23 have the classic 6:00 case rupture...blew the guts out of the mag, left a burn mark on his finger (he was wearing gloves, fortunately), but beyond that, everything else was fine. Given, this is a Glock thing and I've never owned a .40 Glock, but still, I really don't shoot enough .40 to be worth it.
 

SteveH

Alpha
Founding Member
As a competition shooter for over 30 years, they only way i can afford to practice and shoot matches is to reload. I bought my first RCBS single stage press in 1984. I bought my first Dillon 550 in 1988. I have since bought more machines and reloading has turned into a hobby in itself! I have a few "Bianchi Cup" guns, all in 9mm that have well over 50,000 rounds thru them (combined), and none of them have ever seen a factory load thru them. I have reloaded all the ammo thru them. once you learn how to load on your particular machine, it is very easy, and satisfying. Like others have suggested, buy yourself a reloading book, I suggest, Hornandy or the Lyman manual, both I use. Read them, and you will be getting into a lifelong hobby that many enjoy.

I have many Dillon machines now and a few RCBS, I load everything I shoot, from 9mm, up to .338 Lapua!

Good luck, and dont hesitate to keep asking questions.

Steve
 

RangerBill

Operator
I still have over 10,000 primers each large and small from my days of competition when they were readily available and guys used to sell them at the match for $30 per thousand so don't worry about hoarding.
Quit making me feel ancient. I started out paying $6.00 a brick for primers, maybe a steep $8.00 for a pound of IMR 4895. I think I still have an empty tray and sleeve for CCI 200 primers marked .59 cents. My first Speer manual still has the $7.95 price tag on it. Making the princely wage of $17.50 a day doing ranch work made for a slow start at reloading. Lucky my Dad bought my first kit for me! (And people wonder why I'm such a brass scrounger).

Regards,
Bill
 

Annihilator

Ronin
Founding Member
Reloading/handloading is totally worth it on so many levels. The initial investment is large, but once you have the machine, they are pretty robust. I can only speak about RCBS and Dillon loaders. I realize that components are difficult to get right now, but it wont always be like that, and once you get yourself a few thousand pieces of brass, your cost goes down dramatically. So start picking up your brass if you haven't already. I would echo a previous post and say to avoid the single stage press for handgun ammo. I would recommend the Dillon in either the Square Deal B, or 550. if you will only load one caliber, the Square Deal is awesome. if you plan to load other calibers, then go to the 550. It will last forever if you take care of it.

Saw this and thought it may help you some.
 

LRZ

Operator
I mainly reload for semi-autos...not much 9mm, admittedly; about the only 9 I’ve loaded for the past several years are 147’s for shooting suppressed. I’ve got the components to load 124gr blasters all day long if I need to; every time I saw a good price, I’d buy a couple thousand bullets, and I’ve got buckets of 9mm brass, plenty of powder. Primers will be the only bottleneck after I go through the 25k or so I have (again, bought a couple thousand every time there was a good price/free shipping, etc...and for the past 4 years or so, there’s been a lot of those deals out there).

.45’s, though, I shoot almost exclusively handloads...it's less than half the price of commercial blasters.

I don’t reload .40. I used to, until a buddy had a Glock 23 have the classic 6:00 case rupture...blew the guts out of the mag, left a burn mark on his finger (he was wearing gloves, fortunately), but beyond that, everything else was fine. Given, this is a Glock thing and I've never owned a .40 Glock, but still, I really don't shoot enough .40 to be worth it.
Might I ask why just 147s? While the majority of what I've been able to get are 115s, I got my hands on a couple Winchester 147s, and hard to explain, but I loved shooting them over the 115s. I've been trying to figure why I liked them better, but can't seem to pin point, nor find any concrete explanation. But if I'm able to load 147s at home....boy, another reason I really want to get into reloading!!!
 

LRZ

Operator
As a competition shooter for over 30 years, they only way i can afford to practice and shoot matches is to reload. I bought my first RCBS single stage press in 1984. I bought my first Dillon 550 in 1988. I have since bought more machines and reloading has turned into a hobby in itself! I have a few "Bianchi Cup" guns, all in 9mm that have well over 50,000 rounds thru them (combined), and none of them have ever seen a factory load thru them. I have reloaded all the ammo thru them. once you learn how to load on your particular machine, it is very easy, and satisfying. Like others have suggested, buy yourself a reloading book, I suggest, Hornandy or the Lyman manual, both I use. Read them, and you will be getting into a lifelong hobby that many enjoy.

I have many Dillon machines now and a few RCBS, I load everything I shoot, from 9mm, up to .338 Lapua!

Good luck, and dont hesitate to keep asking questions.

Steve
While I don't think I'll get to the competition level, I'm excited to get into this field. Thanks for the suggestions on the manuals; others had recommended it too, so I just ordered the Lyman and looking forward to getting into it! More and more I look into them, I find myself leaning towards to the Dillion 550 as well. Very excited about my new hobby
(y)
 

LRZ

Operator
Quit making me feel ancient. I started out paying $6.00 a brick for primers, maybe a steep $8.00 for a pound of IMR 4895. I think I still have an empty tray and sleeve for CCI 200 primers marked .59 cents. My first Speer manual still has the $7.95 price tag on it. Making the princely wage of $17.50 a day doing ranch work made for a slow start at reloading. Lucky my Dad bought my first kit for me! (And people wonder why I'm such a brass scrounger).

Regards,
Bill
Don't quite know how much everything runs for these days, but something tells me I'm going to wish I could get those prices when I start getting into it :eek::rolleyes:
 

HansGruber

Professional
Might I ask why just 147s? While the majority of what I've been able to get are 115s, I got my hands on a couple Winchester 147s, and hard to explain, but I loved shooting them over the 115s. I've been trying to figure why I liked them better, but can't seem to pin point, nor find any concrete explanation. But if I'm able to load 147s at home....boy, another reason I really want to get into reloading!!!
Standard pressure 147’s won’t break 1050fps (lower threshold of sound barrier, under normal conditions), even out of a 10” barrel...so no sonic crack when shooting suppressed...very quiet.

147’s often feel “softer” shooting...the recoil impulse is more of a push than a snap..that may be why you like them. I’ve often found they also have better accuracy than 115’s.

My preferred defensive bullet weight in my 9mm's is 147 for those reasons.
 

BooVuc

Operator
I reloaded for rifles and 44 mag up until May of this year. I'm reloading 9mm now and will continue to do so. 9mm has always been cheap and they will stay that way when things catch up again but after seeing the mess that is 2020 so far, I made sure I had what I needed to reload small pistols. I saved thousands of my spent 9mm brass through the years which is a huge plus. I never reloaded to save money. For quite some time it's just been a satisfying hobby. For some rifle calibers, it increased the accuracy of my shooting verses factory offerings in calibers not considered mainstream. For those just getting into it, getting supplies are tough now and there is a learning curve and a lot to take in to make the effort both rewarding and safe! You read. You watch. You ask for advice. You always use established load information and don't push the limits of the SAAMI specs. I think reloading helped establish a deeper respect for the shooting sports overall for me anyway and I would never dissuade anyone from trying it. :)
 
Top