Shooting the Breeze
Reloading: Is it for you?

Contributed photo Dale Valade poses with a buck he shot with his .30-06.

Not too many years back, shooters endured two buying frenzies where ammo became scarce. Demand was at an all-time high, and manufacturers struggled to maintain the dismally low supply. Hoarders and preppers were mostly to blame, although, as usual, it was regular folks that suffered most. Many were the conversations I overheard where plinking, practice and target shooting sessions were nearly quelled altogether for fear of not being able to replace what was used up. While many were wringing their hands and dabbing sweat, I was able to reload to keep myself in a steady supply of ammunition.

To get started requires quite a bit of equipment. But with magnum cartridges going for $50-100 per box of 20, reloading will save some money, but only if you don’t shoot often. If you’re the kind of shooter that gets three to four years out of a box of ammo, reloading is definitely not for you. While the individual components are more economical in bulk, the truth of it is: When you can afford more ammo, you will shoot more ammo.

Handloading is quite assuredly an addiction. Everyone I know, without exception, that has taken up this great pastime has begun to shoot more as a direct result.

Once you have bought all of the necessary equipment, you will need a place to reload. A cool, dry place is necessary if components and equipment alike are going to be stored and used there. Extreme temperatures and moisture can rust equipment and ruin powder and primers. Proper storage and cataloging of your cartridges will ensure a longer shelf life and greater safety.

Reloading is potentially very dangerous. Each time you pull a trigger, you are experiencing a chain of events called a “controlled explosion.” This explosion takes place inches away from your face. It’s a scary thought to be sure. While munitions manufacturers are not immune to error, they have dozens of quality checks in their assembly processes to insure optimal safety and performance. Inversely, you handload at your own risk.

Distractions will cause you to make mistakes, some of which can be fatal. Always avoid multi-tasking. I cannot say strongly enough that you should never under any circumstances drink alcohol or smoke while handloading. The “why” here is obvious.

The main reason to handload is the ability to greater utilize the versatility of your firearms. You could construct multiple loads featuring bullets that aren’t available in factory ammo. Or perhaps you’ll find a single load that your rifle loves and shoot that one “general use” load for everything.

As a seasoned reloader, I enjoy this hobby thoroughly. I’ve been reloading for over 20 years, and still the additional knowledge of the science of ballistics and firearms continues to educate and delight this correspondent.

Don’t be surprised if you get overwhelmed early on. There is a lot of information out there. Regardless of what you may have heard, buy and adhere to the information within modern reloading manuals.

Not infrequently, component construction is changed or updated; data from the 1960s may not be within pressure limitations if used with 2018 components. As a general rule, default to the manual of the bullet manufacturer you’re using.

Handloading is a great hobby. Ask a friend or relative that reloads to give you a tutorial. Whether you want more accuracy or better performance, or perhaps you want to keep an older gun in ammunition, I recommend you take up handloading.

Have you been loading your own for a long time or are you relatively new to this hobby? Shoot us an email at

Dale Valade is a local country gent with a deep love for handloading, hunting and shooting.

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