To Reload or Not to Reload, That is the Question

By David Harris

Most in the shooting community have contemplated reloading their own ammunition at one time or another. Many seem to come up with reasons why they do not. However, equipment costs, lack of space, lack of knowledge and even safety have been addressed by the manufacturers in the last 10 years.

In these days of political uncertainty, I believe reloading is going to become a necessity. When the cost of premium rifle ammo can top $2.50 per round and shortages of pistol ammo seem to come out of the blue, reloading has become an insulator that has allowed me to practice as much as I want, without regard to the cost or availability of factory loads. Considering the increasingly onerous legislation California and other progressive/liberal/Marxist state governments are enacting to restrict the purchase of ammunition, reloading may soon be a necessity.

In addition to cost savings, ammo loaded for your specific firearm has always been a huge advantage, particularly for rifle shooters. A great example for me has been the 7.62x39mm cartridge. For plinking I, like most other enthusiasts, buy cheap European military surplus ammo. The economic advantage of reloading is secondary with this round, except when you wish to vary from the usual military formula (123 grain FMJ bullet, Berdan primer, steel case).

I have an older Ruger Mini-30 (pre-1990) that has a .308" barrel, which has only shown mediocre accuracy. It has also had problems with milsurp ammo, due to the very hard Berdan primers. Reloading for this rifle solved all the problems. With hand loaded ammo (Boxer primed and .308 rather than .311 bullets) it consistently produces 100 yard groups under 1.5" without even one failure to fire. I have also developed loads using 150 grain bullets to make this a much better Class 2 game round.

I am also a fan of big bore revolvers. The .45 Colt and .44 Special ammo is often not found on the shelves of many big box stores and local specialty gun shops ask about $1.00/round for factory loads. A two hour range session could set you back almost $200! Reloads using the "Skeeter Skelton" load for the .44 Special (7-1/2 grains of Unique powder under a 240-250 grain lead SWC bullet) cost around 20 cents, or $40.00 for that same two hour range session.

When the Ruger Single Seven revolver first came out, .327 Federal Mag. ammo was as scarce as hens' teeth. Not a problem. I ordered 500 Starline cases, a few hundred Hornady XTP bullets and I was shooting my Single Sevens on a regular basis.

Reloading has allowed me to purchase and shoot guns where ammo has become either very scarce or prohibitively expensive. If you reload, your old .25-35 or .25-20 may still have life in it.

.22 Long Rifle ammo has suffered a severe drought and terrible price increases in the last several years. My small game hunting was being severely curtailed. Enter the .32 H&R Mag. and the .32 S&W Long, both of which can be used in any .327 Magnum revolver. By reloading 90 grain lead bullets at 900 fps in either case I could shoot the .32s cheaper (6 to 15 cents per round) than .22 LRs and I have an endless supply.

Having been a reloader for over 47 years, I still find it a fascinating bonus to our shooting sports. Concocting a load for a new cartridge never fails to challenge me. Creating a load matched to a specific firearm and specific needs is gratifying.

My first recommendation to anyone entertaining the notion of "rolling your own" is to buy a good reloading manual, preferably one by Lyman or Lee that has a variety of bullets in it. These more general manuals will give you a basic reloading education. You can also ask almost any experienced reloader for advice, as most of us are more than happy to share information.

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Copyright 2017 by David Harris and/or All rights reserved.