A lot of recreational shooters reload their own ammunition. The reason they do so is simple: Guns are expensive and the cost of ammunition, if you shoot on a regular basis, approaches that of the mortgage on your house every month. I kid you not. For example, if you shoot a .44 magnum, factory ammunition will run around 40 cents per shot. A serious recreational shooter can go through $100 of ammo in a single target shooting session. Reloading can reduce the cost factor significantly, to around 12¢ per shot.
Reloading or handloading is the hobby of recycling or manufacturing your own ammo for your firearms. And reloading entails reloading supplies. The reloading process begins with an empty brass case, which is then re-primed, followed by the addition of powder and a bullet. Specialized tools are necessary to carry out the process. Which brings up a few questions: What tools are required? Is it safe?
Reloading is just like anything else. When done properly, it is safe. If done improperly, it can be unsafe, just like driving a car or riding a bike or going hiking. Safe handloading is really quite simple. Pay attention to what you are doing, and follow the instructions. That’s all there is to it.
Regarding equipment, there is a vast array on the market. Using the KISS rule (keep it simple, Sam), equipment fits three categories: absolutely necessary, luxuries, and super luxuries. Because of space limitations, only the absolutely necessary items will be discussed.
The most important piece of equipment is a press. Presses come in two basic styles: the single stage press and progressive presses. The primary difference is speed. Single stage presses are slow, while progressive stages are three or four times faster; they are also equivalently more expensive. If you shoot a lot, you’ll probably want the progressive press. If you don’t shoot very much, then the single stage press will be adequate.
Another necessary item is a set of dies, which are cartridge specific. Die sets come with either two or three dies, and are made of steel, carbide or titanium. The best die sets are the three die sets. And if you can afford it, spring for the carbide or titanium models, because they can be used without lube.
The next necessity is a shellholder or shellplate, which holds the cartridge in position on the press. Shellplates cost more than shellholders. Single stage presses often come with universal shellholders, while progressive presses use proprietary shellplates. So be sure you get what your press requires.
A device to measure and dispense powder is also mandatory. Different types exist. Whichever type you opt for, be sure it is adjustable for any charge weight.
The final absolutely necessary item is information or data. Reloading data provides the recipe for the cartridge, and how much of each ingredient is needed. This data is found in reloading manuals that are published by various manufacturers. Do not deviate from the data.
The aforementioned items are those needed to begin reloading. Remember: Pay attention, follow the instructions (the data), and have fun.