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Thread: Beginner's Reloading Questions

  1. #1

    Beginner's Reloading Questions

    Ok chaps, some more questions for you today.

    As some of you will be aware, I'm currently jumping through the hoops required to apply for my FAC. I got my GP on-side this morning, leaving one referee to meet up with and the jobs a good'un. Don't expect any problems with the grant and - just to annoy the wife () - I've decided I'm going to reload for .308 when it gets granted (fingers crossed). I've been dithering about whether to do so for 28 gauge / .410 for some time, but since I've got a bit of money to spend on getting set up for stalking, I'm going to try and get some reloading kit out of that budget too.

    I'm pretty clear on what I want to try, why and how I want to achieve it. However, if anyone could answer the following for me, I'd very much appreciate it:

    1. I've put down 500 rounds to keep, 200 to buy on my application form. I've also said in my covering letter that I want the police to interpret the 500 number as "200 loaded rounds, 300 expanding bullets". I figure this will allow me to buy a handful of factory ammo, three or four types of bullets for loading and to keep a stock of hand-loads as well. Does this sound reasonable, too low, or too high?

    2. My wife wants to buy me a birthday present - always nice. I've told her she can buy me a reloading manual or two, if I get my ticket signed off. I'll probably be using Lee kit, coming from a friend at a heavy discount, so I figure the Lee manual ought to be a good buy. I've also seen the Lyman manual recommended a lot here and elsewhere. If I buy both of those books, am I buying the same thing twice, or will they both give different takes on how to go about loading?

    3. I'm not in a position to do anything yet as I don't have my ticket. If it gets granted though, I'm thinking of using Sierra bullets in PPU cases. I realise that these are cheaper makes - will they do for hunting purposes? I don't need sub-½MOA loads, just "hunting" accuracy.

    4. I'll be reloading both because I want to make ammo cheaper and also because I find ballistics fascinating. This probably means I'll do some reasonably eccentric experiments like putting 110gr heads in .308 cases and trying them - once perfected / checked for legality - on muntjac.

    Whilst I'm not particularly looking for criticism / praise as to my ideas, I'm thinking of running Hodgdon H4895 as a slow powder for reasonably ordinary loads and CFE223 as a faster powder for harder-hitting and lighter rounds. (One of the reloading data sheets I've picked up lists a load or two with the latter that touches 3000ftlbs - a fair punch for a .308, and I bet it'll wear the barrel out fast too.)

    So, do those two powders seem like a reasonable pair to run for slow/fast?

    5. Further to the above, I've heard you can run H4895 down to 60% of maximum and make a .308 with a 100gr bullet shoot like a .243. That sounds interesting, if only from a theoretical point of view. Does anyone do this and - if so - for any particular reason other than curiosity?

    I think that's everything I've got for now. I'm really enjoying doing my reading about this subject. I've seen reloading referred to as the "dark art" here and elsewhere, but it's just the thing for an under-stimulated mind

    Thanks for any answers / opinions you can give,

    Adam.
    Last edited by neutron619; 06-09-2013 at 14:19.

  2. #2
    That all sound quite reasonable to me Adam, although it's while since I loaded for .308's so can't really advise on those loads you have suggested. I have no problem with Lee reloading kit in general, I use a fair bit myself. I would suggest the single stage Classic cast iron press is the one you need and I would recommend that you invest in a reasonable scale. The Lee scale works alright but it's quite fiddly to set up, you will be far better off with an RCBS 502/505 or a Redding No 2 scale. Although they might not have much street cred, the Lee perfect powder measure, Lee length trimmer, Lee primer pocket cleaner and Lee chamfer tool all work well and cheap as chips.

  3. #3
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    My only comment is H 4895 is in short supply, hopefully not for much longer!

  4. #4
    Sounds like you've got it covered. I use 4895 a lot, it is a very versatile powder. The cfe223 is an excellent powder, but at the moment is unavailable here. From what I've gathered off of this site, the powder availability problem is even worse over there.Other than that, your good to go.

    Good luck and welcome to the club! AB

  5. #5
    Thanks guys - good to know the research is telling me the right stuff. Just to re-ask one important bit, see question 2.:

    "If I buy both of those books, am I buying the same thing twice, or will they both give different takes on how to go about loading?"

    Can anyone give me a thought on that - i.e. buying lots of manuals, helpful or not?

    Thanks,

    Adam.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by neutron619 View Post
    Thanks guys - good to know the research is telling me the right stuff. Just to re-ask one important bit, see question 2.:

    "If I buy both of those books, am I buying the same thing twice, or will they both give different takes on how to go about loading?"

    Can anyone give me a thought on that - i.e. buying lots of manuals, helpful or not?

    Thanks,

    Adam.
    Personally I would start with just the Lee book, It covers the ground pretty well, although of course there is a Lee slant to it, however, as you're not Leephobic that's not a problem.

    A lot about reloading is "feel" when you've loaded a few hundred rounds you'll feel when a primer pocket is a bit slack or when a bullet seats a little easier than normal - a careful inspection might reveal a hairline crack in the neck that was missed first time round etc. You'll need to serve a bit of an apprenticeship, it's a steep learning curve when you start. I've been loading for 40 years or so and always learning new tricks and methods - every new calibre is a challenge and every rifle in that calibre is different. There's an infinite number of possible combinations but you get the basics sorted out first.

  7. #7
    Sounds like you have done a lot of thinking on this and as above mostly covered
    I would only add:
    Quote Originally Posted by neutron619 View Post

    1. I want the police to interpret the 500 number as "200 loaded rounds, 300 expanding bullets".

    2. If I buy both of those books, am I buying the same thing twice, or will they both give different takes on how to go about loading?

    3. Sierra bullets in PPU cases. I realise that these are cheaper makes - will they do for hunting purposes? I don't need sub-½MOA loads, just "hunting" accuracy.

    4. This probably means I'll do some reasonably eccentric experiments like putting 110gr heads in .308 cases and trying them - once perfected / checked for legality - on muntjac.
    I'm thinking of running Hodgdon H4895 and CFE223
    5. I've heard you can run H4895 down to 60% of maximum and make a .308 with a 100gr bullet shoot like a .243.

    1) all expanding ammunition whether made up or just bullets will count to your allowance. all target ammunition (made and complete rounds) will count, loose target bullets will not.
    you will find a mix of RFD's opinion on whether to add this or that to your FAC on purchase. irrelevant. Its the count in your cupboard that counts!

    2) I was disappointed with the Lee Manual, but you can never have too many books! be aware load data from the same manufacturer will change from year to year. I tend to use load data from the powder manufacturer rather than anyone else

    3) both tried and tested. proof will be in the pudding if your rifle likes them, try PPU factory ammo and you may be surprised...or you may have found a moderately accurate plinking round and a source of once fired/fire formed brass!

    4) start with one powder. one bullet, less chance of cocks ups a 150gr .308 will kill anything on the planet at anything from 1-1000yds+ and won't blow holes in a muntjac any more than a red with a quality constructed bullet. Testing the limits of velocity with light for calibre bullets is fun for a while but I suspect you will come full circle back to a tried and tested formula....and be left with a pound of powder you no longer need

    good luck plenty of info and opinion on which way to do what and many ways to skin a cat/deer!

  8. #8
    One comment - reloading isn't cheaper!...

    take into account the fact that you have to pay out for all the gear, components, and load development and it actually works out lots more expensive! Then add the ball ache of short supply components and discontinued components!

    PPU factory work out 60p a shot and will group ok for hunting

    p.s. I should add that I'm a keen hand loader - it gives me the extra confidence when taking a shot, and gives me something to do when I can't get out shooting!
    Last edited by BunnyDoom; 07-09-2013 at 10:32.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by BunnyDoom View Post
    One comment - reloading isn't cheaper!... take into account the fact that you have to pay out for all the gear, components, and load development and it actually works out lots more expensive! Then add the ball ache of short supply components and discontinued components! PPU factory work out 60p a shot and will group ok for hunting
    +1
    Reloading is only cheaper for the exotic or hard to get catridges!
    Alot of 1"+ groups is more likely the result of the shooter moving instead of the ammo!
    You should never expect bench rest accuracy from a in field set up.
    Altho some rifle/rifleman combos can get very close!

  10. #10
    One does not need to spend a fortune on gear to get reloading. When I started it was for pistol and I shot a lot of ammunition. The monthly range session at Stone Lodge ranges could see 500 lead bullets down range through the various pistols I had. Due to shooting the .41AE a progressive was out for practical reasons, cases for the .41AE don't feed through them, and they were too expensive so I bought a Lee Turret press and whilst fine for my pistol reloading it was not really suitable IMHO for rifle cartridges..

    When I got into loading for the rifles I picked up a second hand Lee Challenger press whcih cost me £15 back then, I also paid £20 for a RCBS Uniflow powder measure.A little while later I picked up a Lyman Spar-T cast iron press and passed the Lee Challenger onto a chap in Scotland whom was just starting up hand loading. At first I used the Lee beam scales I bought for the pistol loading then a chance meeting with an old school boy I acquired a set of CH beam scales so passed on the Lee scales to a fellow in the club to help him out. The Lee worked fine but I found the little setting tabs fiddly.

    If one looks about there are some good deals to be found on used reloading gear.

    To start one only needs a way of sizing the case, prime the case, to measure the powder charge, seat the bullet and measure the Cartridge Overall Length.

    The other stuff can come later if one wishes but it's not vital. Cases can be cleaned in several ways and a case cleaner is not really required until one is dealing with larger quantities. I bought a tumbler as I was dealing with lots of pistol cases and the .41AE threw the empties into the dirt so they all required cleaning.

    Used dies are not the dreadful risk some on these forums seem to think. I have bought used and new over the decades and the only problems were with a new set that were returned and exchanged. In my die collection I have die sets from :-

    Lee
    RCBS
    Lyman
    Redding

    The majority are of Lee manufacture I will admit as their pricing has always been good and I have their RGB dies, deluxe and Collet dies. In fact I modified a set of their 8x57 Collet dies to load the 9.3x57 Mauser cartridge. I do not believe that one needs neck sizing with interchangeable bushings and micrometer bullet seating adjustment for stalking ammunition and avoiding such dies will vastly reduce the cost to the reloader.

    When I acquired the P-H 1200C in 25-06 I bought the dies for that off e-bay USA used. They are RBS and even with postage and import fees paid cost a lot less than I could find them here for sale in the UK. Sadly buying a used press for the US would be rather costly due to freight charges.

    The simplest form of reloading tools are of course the hammer dies like the Lee Loader:-



    ​Whilst not to every ones liking they do work very well.

    The choice of course is up to you. So good luck, have fun and be safe .

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