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Things Learned Reloading

Sorry for the light posting today. Too much having to earn a living going on this week, and tonight is my weekly silhouette match. I thought, though, I’d give an update on some things I’ve learned with respect to reloading:

  1. You do yourself no favors with a cheap digital scale. They don’t hold zero well enough, and tend to measure underweight if you trickle powder into one. Stick with a quality beam balance or spend the money for a decent digital scale.
  2. Case tumblers can really shine your brass up nice, to the point they look better once fired than new cases look. At first I thought a high sheen on the brass was merely aesthetic, but it actually makes your brass remarkably easy to spot and recover.
  3. Powder dispensers don’t seem to measure all that consistently if you’re thinking about loading up to the maximum recommended powder load. I’ve had best results setting the dispenser to throw a bit under and then trickling up to weight.
  4. A powder trickle is well worth the money.
  5. My Alpha Chrony is very finicky on a low light range, and often can’t see small bullets like .223 and even 6.8 SPC sometimes. It never seems to have trouble seeing .30-06.

The main thing I’ll be looking to improve is my reloading speed. It can take me a few evenings to reload as much ammo as I can shoot in an hour at the range. Nonetheless, it’s a very fun winter time distraction, much the same way brewing beer is, except reloading isn’t quite as detrimental to health, well, except for the lead exposure risk.

14 Responses to “Things Learned Reloading”

  1. Robb Allen says:

    I lucked out. The scale I bought was D-I-R-T cheap – like $7 with $10 for shipping.

    It came with some weights and measures them perfectly each and every time. Put a 110 grain bullet on there and you’re getting 110 grains in weight.

    I think it can be off by .1± grain though so it’s not something you want to use if you’re aiming for ultra precision, but I double check quite often against my beam scale and haven’t seen any discrepancies.

  2. I never got into reloading. It looks tedious, and I’m not good (to say the least) with tedious.

  3. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    What’s a “power trickle”?

  4. Sebastian says:

    A power trickle is a typo of powder trickle.

  5. Robb Allen says:

    Power Trickles lasting more than 4 hours should be seen by a doctor, I think.

  6. Question, how many times can you polish casings before the casing gets too thin to contain the pressures?

  7. Sebastian says:

    It’s not really the polishing that degrades the casing, it’s the stress of being fired repeatedly. That’s dependent on the type of cartridge, and type of gun you’re firing it out of. With a semi-automatic firearm, you might get 5 or so uses out of the brass before it’s too weak to reuse. Bolt action guns tend to have tighter chambers, so you can get more use out of a piece of brass. Before you reload, you check for signs of stress, like a bright ring around the base that would indicate potential case head separation if you were to reuse that piece of brass. Also look for things like cracks along the neck of the cartridge, or cracks in the brass itself. You’ll also have to trim the brass down, as the cases tend to lengthen with firing. The lengthening is basically brass moving from stress areas to less stress areas, like the neck. If you do this more than a few times, it means the brass is getting thin in critical places.

    My plan, since I fire my reloads out of semi-automatic rifles, is to reuse the case no more than 4 times. Brass isn’t that awfully expensive, and I figure the case has paid for itself by then.

  8. TheGunGeek says:

    I’m thinking Power Trickle is a typo of Powder Trickle which is itself a typo of Powder Trickler.

    For lead exposure, it’s a good thing to get some EDTA supplements into your system. This stuff is clinically proven to get the lead out.

    FWIW, I also take N-Acetyl Cysteine which is an anti-osidant that has been shown to significantly reduce hearing loss due to loud noises, and while it works best if taken ahead of time even works if taken up to several hours after the noise exposure. Somewhere around here I’ve got some articles on the subject in real medical journals. In fact, the military has been doing testing with it. Granted, we should all be using quality hearing protection, but I like to play it safe.

  9. Joe Huffman says:

    With the powders I used in my precision rifles +/- 0.1 grains is about +/- 3 kernels of propellant and less than 0.15% difference in powder mass. Assuming the expression that describes MV is a linear function with a zero offset (not true, this is a worst case assumption) then this variation in powder mass would make a difference of less than +/- 5 fps with my rifles.

    I have a power trickler and really like it.

    As far as the lead goes, shooting at indoor ranges with bullets that have lead exposed on the base are probably the biggest source of exposure. When handling bullets I always wear vinyl or nitrile (I have a mild allergy to latex) gloves. This protects me from the lead as well as the ammo from salts and oils from my fingers.

    Many primers have lead in them so handling the spent primers is a mild hazard and you should wear gloves when handling them. Same with the polishing media from your brass tumbler.

    I have an air cleaner running on my reloading bench to catch the dust from the tumbler media and the spent primers. Be sure to treat the air filter as toxic waste when you change it. Wear gloves and a face mask to filter your air.

    As part of my yearly physical I get my blood tested for lead. Even when I was reloading 1000 rounds a month and shooting indoors two and three times a week my lead never got out of the normal range. It is now down to the undetectable range even though I still reload some.

    My first chronograph was a second hand cheapy thing that I had problems with in low light. I bought another one a little over a year ago and bought the version that has IR lights such that I can use under any conditions.

  10. So shooting degrades the brass faster than polishing ever would.

    Good to know, thanks!

  11. Laughingdog says:

    What brand of reloader are you using? I have a Dillon Precision RL550, and I get the exact same amount of powder out every time, unless of course I’m not using the proper powder bar for the job.

    I think the number one thing I’ve learned from reloading is that 9mm is one of the best rounds to learn with. Unlike older cartridge sizes, the gunpowder for a slightly hot round already completely fills the cartridge, making it very obvious when you screw up and try to double load.

  12. Sebastian says:

    I’m using a lee powder dispenser.

  13. Chris Byrne says:

    See theres your problem right there ;-)

    Honestly, the Lees are not very repeatable.

    I have both the RCBS and Hornady manual measure; and both will throw to +/-.1gr with most powders once properly adjusted; and presuming consistent technique.

    I also have the RCBS electric measure and scale, and oh my god it’s the best thing in the world for precision reloading. It easily tripled my loading speed on precision rifle rounds.

    I have a whole bunch of stuff about this in my reloading section

    http://anarchangel.blogspot.com/search/label/reloading

  14. Firehand says:

    I think almost every powder scale, beam and electronic, says ‘accurate to +/- 0.1 grain’. Unless you go to some kind of laboratory scale, that’s about as good as it gets. And unless you’re loading WAY up at the hot end, not an amount to worry about.

    I have two problems with every powder measure I’ve tried: they don’t like to throw the stick powders like IMR4064(tend to cut grains), and they’re sticky with flake powders. Ball powders like 2400 flow through like water, easy to stay consistent.

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