Reloading Ammo in This Modern Age

For some reason, I am up to my elbows in brass, primers, powder and bullets lately. I’m dealing with new and used brass, and a variety of powders and bullet weights, types and calibers, for four different rifles. It seems that son-in-law Chris, son Edward, and I have all shot up enough ammo that it is time to roll some more.

Each of us, and each of DSCF0143our rifles, has a preference for bullet weight and shape and the type and amount of powder it takes to get the bullet out of the barrel and to the point of aim downrange. The barrel of the rifle itself will have a lot to do with all of this, as well. Each barrel has a “twist” in its rifling (the rifling spins the bullet so that it flies straight – like a football). Twist varies from one turn in nine inches to 1:20 or whatever, and will change the consistency and accuracy with which a given bullet flies.

This “preference” is based on other things, as well. First, after a hundred or more rounds are fired at paper, it becomes obvious that certain bullet shapes and weights more consistently strike the same spot on a target than others. Somewhere in that conversation will be the amount and type of gunpowder which burns in the brass case, forming the gases which push the bullet down the barrel at some velocity (there are fast- and slow-burning powders designed for case size, bullet weight and so on). Second, field experience over the years, in hunting deer, elk, antelope and other game informs the preference for a particular cartridge combination. The ongoing quest for more accuracy and maximum effectiveness on game is quite fascinating, really.

Then, of course, one company or another is always coming out with a more accurate or efficient bullet design or a more consistent powder. Add to this various studies about the effects of lead in the environment or in meat, and the rising cost of certain key metals used in bullets, and a given rifle’s preference can be, so to speak, a moving target.

And all of the above – along with significant savings on the cost of our shooting – makes hand loading ammo as relaxing, rewarding and fun today as it was when I started. There is just something about the sheer pleasure of being responsible for everything that happens when you pull the trigger and watch bullet after bullet hit the target where you want it to hit.

I got the reloading bug five decades ago this summer. I finally brought my shiny new Savage 110 Premiere Grade 7mm Remington magnum home from layaway and went target shooting. Somewhere in the middle of my second box of factory ammo, it dawned on me that, at my salary, I’d never be able to shoot as much as I wanted.

I picked up a press and dies and powder and bullets and instruction manuals. Over a couple years of squeezing off thousands of rounds of handloads, I learned about accuracy – and what my rifle needed to shoot the way I intended. When bullets didn’t go exactly where I wanted, I knew why, and made adjustments.

I began to really know my rifle, and myself. Brother-in-law Claude picked up a 7×64 Sharpe & Hart, and we loaded for it, too. We became skilled enough that our shooting – through bets at the old Aurora Gun Club – paid for our reloading supplies and tools.

Over time, reloading helps in developing a strong relationship with the tools we take afield. I came to understand my part and the rifle’s part of our hunting agreement. I the rifle become, as the Old Man used to say, “an extension of yourself and a guarantee of meat in the pot.”

So, these days, I load for my 7mm and .270 and a couple rifles my boys use. Each of them has had time with me rolling their own, and each pays a lot of attention to his own rifle’s preferences.

If I had my way, all hunters would have to go through the process of learning to roll their own ammo. It ain’t gonna happen soon, I’m sure. Still, there are quite a few handloaders in the valley, and plenty of all the supplies and tools you will ever need. Bill Essman is an NRA certified reloader, and one day he might be convinced to start a class. In the meantime, Three Forks Ammo & Reloading in Cle Elum has everything you need, and Chris teaches hand loading classes on a regular basis. He’ll answer all your questions at 509-674-2295.

It’s simple, wise and moral; the more you know about your firearms, the more skill you will develop in their use. Rolling and shooting your own ammo will help you master hunting and ensure the future of our enterprise.

Next week, we’ll talk about bullets and lead.

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized

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Comments (5)

  • November 11, 2015 at 9:47 am |

    Hello Jim,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. I think as a hunter reloading own ammo is a big responsibility for a hunter. Because Every hunter has to know how to make his ammo for hunting.

    • Jim Huckabay
      November 12, 2015 at 3:19 am |

      Couldn’t agree more, Thomas. Thanks for reading and writing – and straight shooting with your own hand-crafted ammo!

  • November 23, 2016 at 2:44 pm |

    Nice Post .
    I Love to read your article.Because you shared your experience,it’s helped me to know Reloading Ammo.
    Thanks for the good article.

  • December 2, 2018 at 1:37 pm |

    It’s a long and informative article thank you for your information.

    • Jim Huckabay
      December 3, 2018 at 8:22 pm |

      Thanks. I so enjoy reloading and shooting my home rolled ammo…

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