Current Load Manual Essential Reloading Tools
A current or modern load manual is an essential reloading tool as you start loading your own ammunition. A load manual is the recipe book for the reloader. You can get lots of data about the caliber you are going to reload. Cartridge overall length (COAL), maximum case length, trim to length, starting charge weight, maximum charge weight, primer size and estimated velocities is just some of the info that can be found in a good reload book. Component manufactures are consistently making improvements to their products. Every book from year to year will show some variances based on these changes. Most of the load books have a How-To section on reloading both rifle and pistol. There is some online base load data as well. Hodgdon Load Data is a good free source. A good pay site is www.loaddata.com. They have over a 1/4 million different loads for you to choose from.
The reloading press is the work horse of all of your essential reloading tools. Your press will mount to your reloading bench. The press can de-cap or remove the primer, resize the spent casing, seat a new primer, drop the powder charge, seat the bullet and crimp the bullet if needed. Single stage and progressive presses are the two most common type available. Speciality tools are also available to do all of the one off tasks you can think of.
Reloading dies are caliber specific. There is lots of different styles to choose from. Most die set will consist of a case sizing die & a bullet seating die. For each one of those dies there will be lots of options. Sizing dies come in two basic categories: full length & neck sizing. Some sizing dies also come with replaceable or adjustable neck sizing bushings. This allows you to achieve the desired amount of neck tension that works best for your specific case, bullet, chamber combination. Loading dies are the most essential reloading tool you can buy.
Shell holders are used to hold your specific caliber case in the reloading press or tool that you are using. Most presses or tools all have their own style of tool holder, so you will sometimes have multiple different style for each caliber you will be loading. Progressive presses use more of a plate system.
When sizing cases in your reloading press, you will almost always use some form of case lubricate. Lubricates come in various forms including: waxes, paste, dry graphite, liquid & aerosol. Some types are applied directly to the case, while others are transferred on a pad. When you are using case lubricate, you need to be careful to use the correct amount. Too little can cause the case to get stuck in the sizing die. If you use too much, it can grow the overall size of the case. This can cause the case to be deformed or collapse a critical area after it is re-sized.
After the case is prepped, replacing the primer is the first step. Some presses have a priming tool built in. Many precision loaders feel that it is important to seat the primer by hand. This allows them to always have a feel for the amount of pressure used while seating the primer. Either way you choose, there is lots of options to choose from.
A primer tray is two plates that allows you to easily handle primers. The tray allows you flip the primers cup side up or cup side down. Different priming tools require that the primers be loaded one way or the other. Another advantage is being able to handle the primers without contaminating them. Oils or lotions on your hands may contaminate the primers causing them to fire inconsistently.
A powder measure is how we get a specific powder charge. There is a lot of different options when it comes to powder measures. Most measures have a powder hopper to store the bulk power. Dies are sometimes used to get the desired amount of powder. Some measures use a powered auger and a scale.
The powder scale come in two basic forms. Beam scales have been around for a long time. They use a series of weights along with a fulcrum point in order to determind the desired charge weight. Digital scale are sometime easier to use. Once zeroed, they allow you to quickly measure powder, cases and bullets. Most seasoned reloader find that they use both scales, depending on the task.
The powder funnel is just that. It allows you to put the weighed powder charge in the case, without spilling it. Even if your powder measure or scale comes with a way to dump the powder in the case, The powder funnel is an essential reloading tool.
This small device allows you to add small amount of powder to a charge as it sits on your scale. Tricklers have a small powder hopper with an auger running though it. The auger has a slight angle on it. The other end of the auger has a knob that can turned with your thumb and index finger. As you turn the auger small amounts of powder are dispenced .
Another essential reloading tool is the loading tray. The obvious role of the loading tray is to hold the cases as you work. You will want to have at least two loading trays. Reloading ammo is a step by step process. As you start one step you will pull the case from one tray, and as you finish that step, you then place the case in the other tray. The trays help you manage your process.
Calipers are probably the most important of all the essential reloading tools. They is two types of calipers: manual & digital. Spent cases, overall cartridge length & bullet ogive, are just a few of the frequent things that reloaders are constantly checking. With the use of specialized tools and your calipers, there is nothing you cant measure.
As cartridges are loaded, fired and reloaded, the spent case grows in length. A case trimmer may not be the first tool you buy, but after a few firings it will be obvious that a case trimmer is an essential reloading tool. The type of loads you are building, will often determined what type of case trimmer you buy. Hand turn lathe types are the most common.
After a case has been trimmed, de-burring the neck is an essential step. For consistent velocities, having a burr free, clean neck will ensure repeatable neck tension. De-burring tools come in several different variations. Hand held versions are by far the most common. If high volume loading is goal, there are some powered case prep stations which incorporates a de-burring tool.
At the end of the day, staying organized is very critical for the reloader. Much like Loading Trays, ammo boxes are an essential reloading tool. Not only do they help you organize your finished product, but they help you manage your unloaded cases as well. As your reloading skills advance, you will soon realized that different recipes for the same caliber your help you achieve your specific shooting goals.