Reloading For Beginners: A Complete Guide

Reloading For Beginners: A Complete Guide

New To Reloading Your Own Ammo? Here’s What You Need To Know

Are you a beginner who is still on the fence regarding whether you should be reloading your own ammo? While there are plenty of reasons why people choose to reload their own ammo, you should think about why you want to. Some of the reasons people choose to do it is because it is economical, will improve your shooting, and is fun hobby. But there is also an up front cost associated with reloading your own ammo. So if you decide to pull the trigger on reloading your own ammo, there are a few things you will need to decide.  The first and most important is what kind of equipment you’re going to buy. The second is the amount of time you want to spend doing it. Finally, the third is why do you want to do it. Reloading equipment will be your biggest upfront cost, so it’s good to decide how much you would like to spend. Reloading can be a tedious task but most people really enjoy it as a hobby. You will save some money reloading but it also costs more in time compared to going to the sporting goods store and buying ammo. Everyone has their own reason why they reload. Some want improved accuracy. Some want to save money. Some want a productive hobby they can do in their free time. All these are great reasons to start realoading.

Here we are going to help you determine if learning to reloading your own ammo will be beneficial to you or not.  So lets get started.

Pilstol ammo

Why Reload Your Own Ammo

It Is Economical

When it comes to reloading, the first question that most people ask is, “Can it save money?” Well, the answer is, Of course! You can save money by reloading your ammo, and there are several reasons for it. Firstly, the brass casing tends to be ammunition’s most expensive part. You can reuse it several times, ideally between five to ten. You will not need to buy a new brass casing for every shot, which itself will be your saving.  You will need to shoot a lot though in order to make up the difference in reloading ammo yourself vs. buying it.  

How Much Can Reloading Your Own Ammo Save You

The caliber that you are reloading is a massive determinant of the amount of money you will save. You will be saving the most if you reload unusual or large rifle cartridges. That’s because those calibers tend to be the most expensive. However, if you load traditional handgun ammo like the 9mm, the savings will be no higher than ten or twenty percent. That is because most ammo manufacturers produce these calibers in bulk which makes them less expensive.  

So the short answer is yes, you will be saving money for every round.  As we mentioned above though, there is an upfront cost associated with reloading your own ammo. So even though you will save per round if you start reloading your own, you will have to make up the money you spent up front in order to save money overall.

Maximum Accuracy and Customized Loads

If you are new to reloading, you might be surprised to find out that this activity lets you make customized rounds for your guns. You can get excellent accuracy from your shots in a variety of ways. There is a term for the way your gun’s barrel contorts, torques, and whips – it is known as barrel harmonics. It plays a significant part in your shooting accuracy. Your barrel should have minimum movement while you are taking a shot.

Reducing or adding the quantity of gunpowder to your ammo loads can help adjust bullet speed while it escapes your barrel. This will allow you to experiment with your load in order to get the best and most consistent shot every time you pull the trigger.

Rifle reloads, in particular, can help you make some adjustments to your loads, letting you determine the ideal combination of charge, primer, powder, and bullet that significantly improves your rifle’s performance. As we discussed earlier, reloading helps you create customized loads for your firearms. Some people prefer loading some training or practice rounds that are slightly lighter. It minimizes recoil, helping you pay attention to your technique.  Then once you have your technique down and don’t flinch when you pull the trigger, you can start increasing the powder in your loads.   

This can be an ideal method to introduce newbies to large caliber rifles. A considerable quantity of recoil can be quite scary for some people. Therefore, it can be best to create a few light loads for first-time shooters to help them feel comfortable.  If they are brand new to shooting, I would recommend starting them off on a smaller caliber rifle such as a .22 long rifle, .223 (AR-15) or a 22-250.

Regular Supply Of Ammo

One of the best things about learning how to reload your gun is that you will have regular ammo supply. You will not need to be dependent on a gun shop for ammo.

Furthermore, ammunition can be quite expensive when governments enforce gun restrictions. Thousands of people rush to gun shops to stock up with ammo. In cases like these, some shop owners increase prices too because there will be an ammo shortage like the one of 2008-2016. Luckily, you can avoid hoarding, shortages, and price gouging by learning to reload yourself.

Reloading Ammo Can Be Fun

As strange as it sounds, reloading is quite fun. Sure, it may seem like a tedious task initially, but you will love upgrading the capability of your firearm once you understand how to do it. As we discussed earlier, it can drastically improve your shot accuracy. Any DIY enthusiast will enjoy tinkering around with their guns. It will make you feel self-sufficient, and most importantly, reduce dependency on sporting good stores. 

Basics Of Reloading Ammo

Now that you know all about the advantages associated with learning to reload your gun. Let us talk about the methods. While most manufacturers provide an extensive list of reloading instructions to their customers with reloading manuals, it would be best to go through the steps again to ensure that you completely understand the process.

Understanding the Cartridge

Have you ever been to the range? If yes, you may have heard shooters asking for more bullets. In most cases, people do not know that the thing they want is only a part of what they require. Contrary to what several people believe, bullets and casings are entirely different things. The bullet is what exits the muzzle or barrel, whereas, the casing is what the bullet comes out of and the casing stays inside your barrel until it is ejected. 

The cartridge is what the ammunition used for rifles and handguns are called. You will find two main gun cartridge types in shops: Centerfire and rimfire.

Rimfire Cartridge

In this cartridge type, the primer is present in the rim. You cannot reload these cartridges.

Centerfire Cartridge

The centerfire cartridge is arguably the most popular cartridge type available today. The primer in this one is at the ammunition’s center. Centerfire cartridges are reloadable.

Both of these cartridges have four essential parts:

Bullets: The projectile that hits your target.

Powder: The powder creates an explosion and a gas that forces the bullet out of the casing and through the gun’s muzzle or barrel.

Primer: The bullets primer will explode once a firing pin strikes it and ignites the powder.

Case: Also known as casing, the case holds the bullet, powder, and primer.

Case Prep

The first thing you must do is inspect every case thoroughly. Carefully check the casings for corrosion, cracks, and dents. Anything that damages the case may create pressure problems in your firearm’s chamber. Once you are sure that everything is alright, clean each case until they are shiny. Firing your gun frequently can form residue outside the casings. Cleaning them is quite simple, and there are several methods for it.

If you have a large batch of casings, it would be best to utilize a case tumbler. They are relatively uncomplicated and work quite well. Once you get back from the range, drop your casings inside the bullet tumbler. Insert some polish and let the device tumble for a bit. Make sure that you add a medium inside your tumbler before activating it. Most experts use rice and ground walnut shells.

Also, it would be best if you did this inside a garage or any other secluded place as the process is a bit loud and also has some contamination risks. If you’re not a fan of this method, you can always clean your casings with a chemical. Drop all of your casings inside a mesh bag and leave it inside a high-quality chemical casing cleaner. Soak the cases for a while, and after that, rinse them using hot water.

If you are old-fashioned, you can clean your cases with your hand. If you choose to do so, you can examine and clean your casings at the same time but this will be very time consuming.

Resizing Your Casing

You must resize the casings after cleansing them. The brass can stretch each time you fire a shot. It alters the shape of the case, and you must ensure that it returns to its initial specifications. You will require a loading press and a sizing die for this task. Choose a high-quality product that offers a complete precision reloading kit.  There are plenty of quality reloading presses on the market that can do this easily.

After the resizing is complete, use calipers to measure the casings and analyze if they are back to their original shape. If the length is excessively long, use a trimmer and trim it to its initial size. After cutting is over, you will arrive at the final preparation stage. The first thing you will need to do here is deburring the flash hole and case mouth. Chamfer the case’s neck and clean its primer pocket— deburring and chamfering help create a slant that allows you to seat bullets with ease.

Priming and Depriming

Prepare yourself for priming after prepping the casings. Make sure you don’t contaminate your firearm’s primer with liquids or oils. You can either use hand priming tools or auto priming systems to do this job. The goal is to seat the primer inside the pocket, ensuring that the depth is correct.  Most reloading presses on the market will make this task fairly simple. 

Adding And Measuring Powder

Inserting the gunpowder is arguably the most crucial step when reloading ammo. There are several ways to dump the powder inside the primed, prepped case.  After the powder is weighed, you can do this manually or a progressive reloading press will do this as well. The powder is often available in the following forms:

–    Flattened ball

–    Roundball

–    Cut sheet flakes

–    Round flakes

–    Tubular kernels (extruded)

Manufacturers often modify gunpowder formulas. Therefore, it would be best to utilize the load information on your reloading manual. You can also read the online data provided by the powder manufacturer. The powder’s density and shape directly impact how it packs and flows from the reservoir. You must preserve a consistent pack or fill in your powder measure’s repository to make sure that every charge weighs the same. In most cases, experts refill their firearm’s powder measure after it gets to the three-quarter mark, particularly when they are using cut sheet flakes or round flakes.

Bullet Seating

Lastly, you have to insert the bullet by pressing it inside the case. A seating die will come quite handy as it helps seat the shot at the accurate depth. Thoroughly read your reloading manual as it will have the right measurements for your ammo’s cartridge.

Some Of The Things You Will Need When Reloading Ammo

As we mentioned above, there will be some things you need to buy up front. Here we will discuss some of those things as well as some others that you may not have thought of.

Work or Disposable Gloves

Lead exposure can be quite harmful to your health. Therefore, buy a pair of disposable gloves to prevent getting it on your hands. Also, do not drink or eat anything while reloading. Dirty shells have loads of lead residue that can enter your food.

Casing Tumbler

As discussed earlier, Tumblers are a simple and effective way to clean the brass within hours thoroughly. It’s a relatively inexpensive item considering how useful it is.

Reloading Press

There are several types of reloading presses.  Single stage, turret and progressive press.  These will save you a lot of time and energy when reloading your own ammo and are worth every penny.  

Reloading Bench

A reloading bench is a solid workspace for you to reload.  Having one is essential because it allows you to have your reloading space set up for maximum efficiency and keep it that way. This will also give you a place to keep all your reloading store your reloading scales.

Reloading Dies

Reloading dies are essential to reloading.  You will need to buy a different set for each caliber you are planning on reloading.  They are what resize your brass casing and also seat the bullet to the proper depth.

Shooting the Reloaded Rounds

man shooting a rifle

There is no shame in being nervous when you are shooting your reloaded ammo for the first time. If you followed the manual and paid attention to what you were doing, you have nothing to worry about. Shoot your first shot and get it out of the way. It will give you confidence and help you get down to seeing how your reloads perform. 

Bottom Line

Reloading allows you to create ammo to suit your particular specifications. However, you should only do it if you enjoy the entire process. As discussed earlier, slacking off and not paying attention to tiny details will ruin your whole experience and lead to subpar reloaded ammo.  But if you do decide to pull the trigger on buying some reloading equipment and get started, you won’t regret it.  There are plenty of high quality reloading kits on the market which will give you most of what you need to get started.  

Happy reloading!


Hey I'm Karson. I've been hunting since I was 8 and shed hunting even before that. If you have any questions for me, fill out a form on the contact page, send me an email at or leave a comment on the below. Thanks