Reloading Your Own Ammunition- the pros and cons

by Naomi K. Shapiro

Reloading ammunition is not for everyone. There are generally two "types" of people who do their own reloading. The first are those who shoot a lot –members of a shooting club, sporting clays, trap, skeet, sport rifle shooting, shooting competitions, hunting guides, avid hunters, or those who just want to help out their buddies. They use a figurative "ton" of ammo, and by doing their own reloading they save a figurative "ton" of money.

The other group are the dyed-in-the-wool meticulous "sharpshooters." These folks need to know the EXACT amount of powder or size of the bullet or pellet that goes into a shell – shotgun or rifle- - down to the final grain. These folks insist on complete accuracy, and believe me, after speaking to Glenn Moberg of Mosinee, Wisconsin (a guide associate of our friend Phil Schweik, and a long time licensed gun smith), I have total respect for all of those do their own reloading. Glenn tells me that something as simple as even a couple of grains of powder or bullet/shell weight can make a difference in the accuracy of a shot.

Now, there's nothing wrong with factory ammo. It's made on an assembly line, and while very precise in both powder and bullet weight, it is not quite as exact as an experienced reloader insists on. Indeed, as Glenn puts it, "many of us who do our own reloading are so meticulous, that it borders on a psychosis- - but it's something that we just need to do." As an aside, Glenn came within a literal inch of making the U.S. Olympic trap and skeet team a few years back. He scored 497 out of 500 on whatever scale was used, and the person ahead him scored 498 out of 500 – and made the final spot on the team. Glenn says that as far as he knows all of the members of the team load their own shells.

For those who are just everyday hunters or sport shooters, it probably isn't an imperative that you do your own reloading. You buy a box of shells or bullets, here and there, and it's not something that's going to bankrupt you. On the other hand if you do shoot a lot, buying factory ammo can run into mega bucks. The initial investment in equipment can run into some money. You need specialized equipment, and it varies greatly in complexity. Glenn Moberg says that most all sporting good outfitters and stores have a decent selection of moderately priced equipment – and of course, you can get equipment that's custom made, or has specialized functions and materials. The sky's the limit. Glenn says that there is also used equipment for sale, and that those starting out can do it pretty much "on the cheap" initially, and then upgrade or add "bells and whistles" as needed.

My husband says that he has seen some of the components that the Army uses for reloading for its sharpshooting competitions, specialized testing, and sniper ammo, and that it fills whole rooms, and as he puts it, "you need a PhD in gunsmithing to even know what a particular piece of equipment is used for."

Most "average" reloaders are able to save lots of money by buying powder, bullets primers, wads and pellets in bulk. Brass and shotgun shell casings can be reused until they show signs of deterioration. Depending on the amount of shooting that's done, the cost of the initial equipment can be amortized over a reasonably short period of time. After that, outside of the time spent to reload, it's "all gravy." This is particularly true of shooting clubs.

Guide Phil Schweik who does not reload his own ammo, says that when he watches Glenn Moberg do it, "it looks real simple." In reality, the process or reloading itself IS simple, but it's NOT FOR THE NOVICE! You must have experience. If you don't know what you're doing, you could not only damage your firearm, but could injure or even kill yourself – and that's no laughing matter. Glenn Moberg says that it's imperative that anyone wanting to do their own ammunition reloading, must not only do a lot of research and study, but there's nothing better than being tutored, trained and mentored by someone who has done it for a long time. That means a gunsmith, such as Glenn, OR a savvy "old timer," who's been doing it for years.

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Outdoor writer and hunter Naomi ShapiroNaomi K. Shapiro and Stuart Spitz write about hunting, fishing, nature, outdoors and travel for a variety of media. They lived on a lake in the middle of the Chequamegon National Forest in Northern Wisconsin for fifteen years (where the elk were reintroduced; a number of wolf packs exist; and that has the largest-per-acre black bear population in North America).