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Reloading Brass For Handguns-Part 2


In part one of this two-part series, we looked at starting with a single-stage press when reloading brass for handguns. In this part, we will continue looking at handgun reloading, as well as dabble a little into rifle cartridges.

A single stage press does not have a powder hopper, so powder charging is almost always done by means of a separate powder measure, and priming is best done by a hand operated tool, although it can be accomplished on most single stage presses. (It's just easier and faster to use a separate priming tool.) There is also no bullet hopper; bullets are removed from their box one at a time by hand and fed into the cases, then seated using the press and the bullet seating die.

For reloading rifle cartridges, a few accessories are indispensable. Among these are one or more reloading manuals (At a minimum I like to have the manual for every brand of bullets to be used. Another is an accurate powder scale, necessary to set up and check the powder charges being dispensed. A lube pad and lubricant are necessary so the cases will slip into the steel resizing die (unless a carbide resizing die is used--a great convenience), as is one or more loading blocks to hold the cases.

While not, strictly speaking, absolutely required for reloading, a solid and dedicated reloading bench is a practical necessity. Presses can be clamped to breadboards or kitchen tables, but these temporary set-ups are rarely completely satisfactory.

The experienced reloader usually acquires numerous other accessories that make the job easier, faster, or more precise. Among these are case trimmers, deburring tools, case neck brushes, case gauges, primer flippers, primer pocket brushes, powder tricklers, powder funnels, bullet pullers, dial calipers, and other gadgets. None of them are absolutely necessary to begin reloading, but most are useful. My advice is to buy a "starter set" that includes a press and the basic necessities required to begin reloading, and then acquire additional accessories as you need them.

The RCBS Partner Press Reloading Kit and Reloader Special-5 Starter Kit includes a case loading block, case lube kit, primer tray, powder funnel, powder scale, deburring tool, and the latest edition of the Speer Reloading Manual. The former also includes a light duty RCBS Partner Press and a basic RC-130 powder scale (maximum capacity 130 grains), and the latter includes a more powerful Special-5 press and 5-0-2 scale (maximum capacity 500 grains). For either you will want to add at least a powder measure and probably a hand priming tool. Also required will be a set of reloading dies and a shell holder for each caliber you intend to reload.

The deluxe RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Kit adds a Uniflow powder measure, automatic primer feed, and hex key set. This kit comes with a heavy duty, case iron Rock Chucker press and a better 5-0-5 powder scale (maximum capacity 505 grains) and includes basically everything you actually need to at least get started reloading except a set of reloading dies and a shell holder. Since it includes an outstanding press and a powder measure as well as a primer feed, it is actually the best deal of the three RCBS starter sets.

Everything comes with instructions for set-up and use. If you read them carefully and follow them exactly you will have no problem learning how to reload handgun cartridges. There are also detailed instructions, including tips to make the process faster and easier, in most reloading manuals.

Today, it is rare to find a serious shooter who does not reload. Many shooters enjoy reloading as a hobby in itself; to others it is merely a necessary chore that they must finish before the next shoot. Regardless of the motivation, the cost of factory loaded cartridges is at a level where few handgunners can afford to do much shooting without reloading.