The best way to save money, have plenty of ammo close at hand and shoot more is reloading. By reusing the cartridge case or shotgun shell, in each case the most expensive ammunition component, the savings is nearly 60% compared to factory ammo.
Reloading also allows shooters to customize loads for individual firearms and maintain control of each bullet for ultimate precision, according to Neal Emery, Hornady's communications manager.
Ammo scarce? Make your own
Hornady, known for its bullets, has been manufacturing reloading supplies since 1971. Their 9th Edition Reloading Manual is a best seller among serious reloaders. "More recently, people are reloading so they can make their own ammunition when they can't find it on the shelves," Emery adds.
RCBS, another company that makes reloading supplies, has been in business for 70 years. If you'd like to brush up on reloading tools and procedures, check out their informative Guide To Reloading at rcbs.com. It covers step-by-step reloading, handloading basics, reloading necessities, reloader's language, reference tables and more. This is a superb resource for the reloader.
Single-stage or progressive press
The first choice to make is between single-stage and progressive reloading presses. The single-stage press performs one function at a time. Once you finish one step with a batch of bullets, say, resizing the brass, you switch dies and move to the next step and so on.
Precision shooters that strive for perfectly matched bullets prefer a single-stage press. It gives them precise control at each step with each bullet. Beginners on a budget often start with a single stage press because it is less costly than a progressive press.
A progressive press has a rotating base and pumps out a quality bullet or shotgun shell every time the lever is pressed. Some of them will knock out 500 rounds an hour. Trap and skeet shooters, those who compete in 3-gun competitions and anyone else who burns through a pile of ammo won't be happy with anything but a progressive press.
Start out for less than $300
"Many non-reloaders think it takes several hundred dollars to get into handloading properly," says Kent Sakamoto, product marketing manager for RCBS. "The truth is that you can get all the equipment you need to start out with for less than $300."
The RCBS 9286 Explorer Reloading Kit meets this price point. Another slightly more expensive single-stage press starter kit is Hornady's popular Lock-N-Load Classic Kit. Both kits have everything needed to load high-quality ammunition, except the dies for whatever caliber you shoot.
We carry dies for the most popular calibers
A set of dies is required for each caliber to be reloaded. Straight wall cases, such as the 9mm pistol round, require two dies. Bottleneck cases, such as the .308 Winchester, require three dies. We carry dies for the most popular calibers and will be glad to order the dies for the caliber of your choice.
Primers, the "spark plugs" that set off the charge, are less involved because a few sizes will work with a wide variety of calibers. For example, a small pistol primer works with 9mm, .38 Special and .40 S&W cases. We are proud to carry many of the most popular primer brands, including CCI, Federal, Remington and Winchester.
Favorite powders in demand
We offer a variety of gunpowder brands because we have found shooters tend to favor some brands over others. This is especially true with riflemen that handload precision ammo. We recommend gunpowder from Accurate, Alliant, Hodgdon, Hornady IMR, Ramshot, Winchester and Vihtavuori.
"As with factory loads, the demand for reloading components exceeds demand," says Sakamoto of RCBS. "All the manufacturers are scrambling to keep up. Many gunpowder makers have gone mainly to 1-pound canisters to spread out what they have to more customers."
Organize, store, save and shoot more!
Beginning reloaders will find that shell holders are invaluable. They keep the reloading process organized and prevent brass cases from being knocked over like dominos and spilling what was once a precise powder charge. Ammo boxes are a great way to store and transport your prized creations after the reloading process is finished.
Keep in mind you can easily recoup your investment in a reloading system in the first year alone. From then on, you'll be saving loads of cash. And we've found that gun enthusiasts who reload their own ammo tend to shoot more than those who don't. What could be a better incentive than more time shooting?