“Reloading For Success”


This Week’s Tips or Tricks…




Q:  I am a beginner at reloading and I want to know how to properly go about selecting the proper components for my reloading project…where do I start???


A:  First…we need you to throw everything your mamma taught you about crawling before you walk out the window!  The most EFFICIENT and best practice of reloading is to start at the end and work your way backward.  Now if you’re wondering WTH…is this guy for real…please hang on and keep reading!


Note: this does NOT include ALL the steps (that's what your Manual is for!), this just discusses the overview of the entire process and how to reload from start to finish assuming you already have all the pre/post-processing steps completed in between.




The FIRST mistake for many beginning reloaders or even some intermediate reloaders is properly “marrying” your components selection to your firearm, but what does this mean???


Step #1: START by establishing the PURPOSE of the firearm or the loads. Are we reloading to hunt, shoot targets, we want a hybrid hunting/target performance capability, competition shooting, or are you reloading for self-defense?


Step #2A: If you are looking at changing calibers for a NEW gun…don’t buy the gun first…you have some homework to do WAY before you fill out that background check!


Step #2B: If you already have the gun you will be reloading for…you too have some homework to do before we just start going and buying powder, primers, and bullets!


Step #3: Once you have established a purpose for your rifle/shotgun/handgun…now you need to look around and see what bullet(s) are BEST suited for this firearms selected purpose(s). Make sure to pick a few choices here, because the process of elimination will start to weed a few of your choices out later down the line here!


Step #4: Once you have a few bullets selected, now for the $1 Million dollar question...can I even get the powder for it!?!? We personally recommend using either the Berger or Lyman Reloading Manuals as these manuals provide “variety” loading data for not just one manufacturer’s bullets! While the Hornady, Speer, and many other manuals are very good in their content and specific reloading to THEIR particular bullets…remember that the manuals are also an effective sales tool designed for them to sell YOU their bullets! Take a peek at which all Powder variants are recommended for your bullets and start a “list”…because you are going to have to check this one twice!


Step #5: Once you have a few potential bullets and powders picked out…now it’s time for primers. We highly recommend CCI because they are the foremost experts when it comes to this area and they are the top choice of competition shooters far-and-wide because of their consistency when detonating. If you’re not a fan of CCI…do your homework and surf the online forums to see what others have used and either succeeded and/or failed with for your particular bullet and powder selections.

Note: online forums are GREAT resources for “face value” talk about what did or did NOT work when reloading certain calibers. Hands down one of the BEST resources that we recommend for this is www.reloadersnest.com.


Step #6: Now we will bring “the gun” into the equation. In order to $ave yourself a ton of time, money, and headache…we need to determine if we have the right bullet and grain weight selected for our guns Rate of Twist. Berger Bullets has a great online Twist Rate Calculator that can help you in achieving this analysis at http://www.bergerbullets.com/twist-rate-calculator/.


Step #7: Once you have determined whether the bullet(s) you have on that “list” are a good idea and match the firearms Rate of Twist and have a good stability factor…now it’s time to start gathering all the pieces, but DON’T go into doomsday prepper mode just yet!!! We suggest you start with ONLY the following to work up some loads in order to determine your results…remember once it’s open, you definitely can’t return it!


Getting Started Components List:


-(1) 1# of our selected reloading powder…don’t worry, if this one doesn’t work we will likely be able to use this powder when reloading something else!


-(1) box of primers…again don’t worry, if these don’t work we will likely be able to use these when reloading something else!


-(50-100) Qty. of the Top 3 bullets narrowed down from “the list”. In order to properly “test” our firearms results and see what it will or won’t do, we are going to need to test a number of factors including seating depth, powder charge grains, COAL (aka. OAL or C.O.A.L), and head spacing variance effects…this takes a few bullets and when testing loads you do NOT want to be testing loads using various Lots of the same bullets because this can have some performance/accuracy consequences if you do.


Step #8: Let’s go back to our “Bible”. Look at the minimum, median, and maximum charge weights recommended for your bullet and we are going to reload (5) rounds at each of the listed grain weights for your selected bullet. Why (5)…because we need (3) bullets to determine a good shot grouping and (2) spares for YOU because you flinched! When making up these initial loads…if you are a beginner to reloading, LOAD THE CARTRIDGES TO THE COAL RECOMMENDED BY THE MANUAL FOR YOUR SAFETY!!! Now if you are a seasoned reloading veteran or you are a beginner and have a buddy who is a seasoned reloading veteran that is willing to help show you the ropes, you are going to need to use a COAL Gauge (Hornady makes a great one!) to determine your maximum seating depth. Use the COAL Gauge to run the bullet into the throat of the bore until you feel the bullet just touch the rifling…do this process VERY SLOWLY and ONLY PUSH GENTLY on the COAL Gauge in order to get an accurate reading. Now measure the COAL and do it again 2x more in order to “check your work”.


Step #9:  Now we can take the COAL measurement of the COAL Gauge test and subtract the recommended COAL from the manual to get our "seating depth free-play" or "bullet jump" measurement to begin adjusting for our desired COAL.  We then are going to seat a dummy round (without primer and powder) because this is going to serve as our “jig” for setting our seating dies depth properly for future reloads if it turns out to be a good “recipe”.  Once you have your “jig” round and you have everything dialed in and setup, before we start reloading make sure that your “jig” round will properly seat, feed, and extract from your firearms magazine, magazine well, or feed tube.  If it doesn’t feed properly…we get to start all over on our COAL measurements and repeat the process until the “Jig” round will successfully seat, feed, extract, and eject from your firearm…we don’t want to find this out at the range because now your day is SHOT!!!  If everything cycled properly, now confirm the COAL of the “jig” round has not changed to ensure there is not an over-compression or "nosing" issue that may exist when cycling the round throughout the entire process with the COAL.  If the re-measure results in the COAL still being exactly what it was before…now it’s time to begin reloading.  Start by reloading (5) rounds for each of the powder charge weights shown in your manual.  Double check time…if we have (5) different loads that we will be testing, we should have (25) rounds in total in your bullet case when we are done, and be sure to inspect EVERY round to ensure proper powder charge, COAL, and that a primer is in the primer pocket and sitting either flush or just slightly recessed below the base of the cartridge.  If your primer didn’t seat all the way, you will need to use a bullet puller to remove the bullet, then remove the powder from the casing in order to safely attempt re-seating the primer into the primer pocket.  If a primer isn't properly seated into the pocket all the way, this could result in excess pressure being placed on the primer while cycling the firearm resulting in a catastrophic failure due to an out-of-battery detonation...AND YOU DON'T WANT THIS!!!!


WARNING!!!  NEVER attempt re-seating primers while a bullet and powder charge are still in the casing as attempting to re-seat a primer may cause it to detonate and this will lead to a catastrophic failure which may result in serious injury or even death if performed on a live round!!!! 


After finishing each of the (5) rounds of the test load, be sure to clearly mark the "Lot" and keep these separated from your next (5) rounds "Lot" so that we know which recipe baked the cake the best or if you’re lucky, baked it just right!


Step #10: Head out to the range and shoot a (3-5) shot grouping with each "Lot" starting with the lowest recommended powder charge and working your way up.  Now why do we do this?  Do you like your firearm and fingers just the way they are?...if so it is MUCH easier to get a squib load removed from your bore than it is to replace your firearm post-stitches and/or surgery from it over-pressuring and the firearm failing!  Pay attention to what your brass is telling you on EVERY shot and analyze each piece of brass VERY closely looking for signs of stress and failure…if your brass starts to show these STOP and don’t go any farther…as you have already reached and/or gone past the maximum SAFE reloading charge weights for your particular firearm.  Once you have fired each 3-5 shot grouping, measure your results and write them on the target with a Sharpie marker what each shot grouping was (date, caliber, COAL, powder charge, powder type, primer type, grouping size, etc.) and put the target in your vehicle or range bag to take back home because we may want to analyze the results when we get home…and we can’t do that if we threw the target away at the range!


Now you have successfully conducted the 10 Step process of "Reloading for Success" successfully and safely to reload your first or even 5,000th reload!  Always remember…reloading is a lot like fishing…if you don’t have patience and don’t take your time…IT’S NOT FOR YOU DUDE!!!




Do you have a Tip or Trick regarding reloading that you would like to see posted?  Please send us your Tip(s) or Trick(s) and we will see about getting them posted!





Written By:  Kyle R. CEO of Broken Box R LLC


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