I believe that sooner or later, every shooter is going to consider reloading their own ammunition. You can go to local gun shops or many online suppliers like Brownell’s, Midsouth, Natchez Shooting Supply, or many others and they have just about anything a person would ever need to reload their own ammo. However, before you start let me tell you a story and give you a few hands that may help you to decide if that’s what you really want to do.
Over the years I have done a lot of shooting, likewise I have also done a lot of reloading. What motivated me to start loading my own ammunition goes back many years. My family gave me a Marlin Model 1895 for Christmas one year. For those who don’t know, the Marlin Model 1895 is a lever action rifle in the caliber of 45-70 Government. I have always wanted a 45-70 rifle but soon found out two things with which I wasn’t too happy. First with both 300 grain and 405 grain bullets in factory ammunition, I was unable to get what I considered an acceptable group, but keep in mind I am extremely picky. Then, on top of that it costs me one dollar every time I pulled the trigger for the ammunition, and that was more than twenty five years ago, so I thought I would try reloading to help alleviate both problems.
I soon found that reloading save me a great deal of money and increased my range time, so I began purchasing more dies in different calibers so I could reload the ammunition for the rest of my firearms. I became so involved with my 45-70 rifle that I was down at the range almost every day, fine tuning ammunition, trying different bullets and powders. It took me almost six months to develop the load I wanted but I soon was able to keep a group of three shots touching at 50 yards with open sites. At 100 yards I could easily keep all of three shots within the Bullseye.
A person who decides to reload their ammunition must realize and accept that there is no margin for error. Any sloppy, slipshod, or inattentive mindset that is allowed to enter the reloading process is dangerous, expensive, and a threat to everyone wherever you intend to load your ammo, and the range at which you shoot. I am not trying to be over dramatic, but a fact is a fact, and if one cannot accept that then do not consider loading your own ammunition.
Before you start buying equipment and creating your own personal loading environment, it’s important to establish exactly why you want to get into the time consuming hobby of reloading your own ammunition.
If searching to save money on ammunition cost is the only reason, you need to shop around and see what kind of price you can get on bulk ammunition, and compare the cost of the components to load that much ammunition, especially in 9mm and 5.56 mm. Also don’t forget it takes time to load ammunition, so if you’re just doing it for the money, consider your time invested in the end product, it may not be worth it.
Next, if you are looking for a more consistent load, a more accurate load, a better functioning load, then you need to look at many other aspects of shooting. You should consider whether or not your firearm is capable of the performance which you envision.
Now here we go with a Catch 22 situation and I am primarily addressing a semiautomatic, AR type rifle. When shooting an inexpensive centerfire rifle the best one can expect is what is deliverable by the weakest link in the system. Therefore if the finish of the moving parts is rough it is likely that you will have feed and ejection problems no matter what kind of ammo you run through. If the rifling in the barrel is rough cut with no attempt to break it in, the chances are the maximum accuracy you can expect from your rifle is mediocrity.
So let’s assume that you have a basically good rifle that functions fairly well with factory ammunition and you want better functionality and better accuracy, and you are willing to spend the time to load ammunition to get the best possible results attainable from your rifle. Let me make some general suggestions to attain your goal.
First I would suggest you smooth out and clean up all of the rough mating surfaces in your rifle. If you do not have the expertise I would suggest you take it to a gunsmith and tell him your ultimate aim and let him do it. Once that is accomplished and your rifle functions well with good quality factory ammunition, then if you are still interested in loading your own, then that is the time to start shopping for reloading equipment, components, and by all means a first class loading manual.
I can tell you from having loaded more ammunition than I can count that to me reloading is a major part of the shooting experience. It is extremely satisfying to create a load that brings you, your rifle, and the load, into a shooting unit that gives you the performance you really want for the final result.