My first reloading experience was in Dad’s basement shop, watching, then helping him reload .38s and .30-06. I was about ten, and I still have the trophy he won at a local DCM (Department of Civilian Marksmanship) match with his handloads. Later, during my toolmaking apprenticeship, I moonlighted for a gentleman who made bullet-making dies for the benchrest competition elite. Most top shooters used Bob Simonson’s dies, including the founder of one of today’s premium bullet companies. I learned a ton about accuracy from Bob.
When I began reloading in 1976, my department used .38 Special/.357 Magnum revolvers. Naturally, this was the first cartridge I reloaded. After a few hundred rounds, I started seeing scratch marks on my cases. I sent the die to RCBS, which sent a replacement die with a note asking how long I tumbled my brass to get them clean before resizing them.
For years, many people have said it is unwise to carry handloaded ammo for defensive purposes. This is based on two elements, both of which I believe are mostly myths. The first point of contention is that handloaded (reloaded) ammunition is unreliable.
Bullseye is one of the oldest smokeless pistol powders and still one of the most popular. Since it hit the market 103 years ago, it has been a staple for most handloaders and the backbone of most “accuracy” loads in the popular calibers. In my area, Bullseye is one of the first powders to disappear from shelves, lasting about a heartbeat longer than an econo bulk box of .22 Long Rifle ammunition.
I have studied ballistics for a while, my middle-school science fair project on bullet weight and trajectory during the Reagan Administration as an example. But until a few months ago I had never reloaded a single cartridge. I’ve been on the taxpayer subsidized skills development and ammo program for a long time, and it was
The .38 Special enjoys a well-deserved reputation as an accurate and pleasant-shooting cartridge. It’s just about perfect for building and maintaining skill without punishing your extremities or your guns. Reloading .38s is an economically sound endeavor—it has permitted me to keep shooting steadily upon retirement even after my stash of issued ammo dried up. It
Suppressors have become extremely popular, and more folks are reaping the benefits of suppressed shooting. They are so popular a push has begun to take them off the NFA list of regulated weapons. In my opinion, they never should have been put on that list to begin with. I know—they were put there to keep
Basically three components account for an accurate shot from a rifle: the rifle itself, the shooter, and the ammunition used. Buying good equipment takes care of the first, while experience and training are the prerequisites for the second. For most people, quality ammo, often “match ammo,” means loads from a major manufacturer and the ammo
Only a small percentage of the millions of shooters across the country reload their own ammunition. Among those who do reload, not many cast or swage their own bullets. Comparatively speaking, folks who reload shotshells are few and far between. I’m one of the rare birds who fall into all three categories: loading metallic shells, casting/swaging my own projectiles, and loading shotgun shells.
In reloading, a number of factors bear on the accuracy and safety of your ammo. As you reuse your cases, they wear and stretch. At some point they will fail. All things that get used will, and cases are subject to various stresses that ultimately result in failure.