So you wanna learn how to reload part 2
For this demonstration i will be reloading a .38 special. the procedure is the exact same for any other cartridge when using a 3 die set. using the speed die requires a slightly different procedure, but i’ll cover that later.
Before starting to reload the brass needs to be cleaned. Most folks use a tumbler to do this as it leaves the brass shiny. Personally, I don’t care if my ammo is pretty as long as it works as intended, so i simply wash it to remove any grit or fouling. When cleaning a load of brass I start by adding hot water (as hot as I can stand) to a coffee can, to this I add a tablespoon of laundry detergent and another tablespoon of degreaser, then pour in not more than a couple hundred pistol cases (half that number for rifle cases) and begin to agitate them with my hands, after 5 minutes or so I pour off the water and rinse, again with hot water finally I pour off the water and spread the brass on a cookie sheet and place it in the oven at 250 degrees for an hour to dry.
Once the brass is dry I can begin reloading. the first step is to get all the equipment I will need ready. Below is a pic of my loading bench with the proper dies ready to use. (as a side note, for those living in an apartment as i am, this bench is quite compact yet serves all my needs well. it’s actually built on an old school desk i salvaged. on the back side is my Lee Loadall II shotgun press.)
In the three die set the first die that is needed is the sized/depriming die. this has a pin sticking out the bottom to remove the old primer. To install it, place the shell holder on the ram and raise it all the way to the top. Next, screw in the die until it touches the shell holder and tighten the locking ring.
Lower the ram, slide the base of the case into the holder and raise it to the top. the case should slide completely into the sizer. You will also feel and hear the old primer being removed.
Lower the ram and replace the case with another. repeat these steps until all of the brass has been processed.
Next we need to prime the brass. if you purchased the anniversary kit you will have a priming tool included (for those with a ram prime, refer to the instructions included with the tool). To use the lee hand priming tool, first ensure that you have the right sized tray for the primers you are using, in this case, small pistol. Remove the clear cover from the tray and carefully pour up to 100 primers into the tray and gently shake it from side to side until all the primers are facing upwards. Then replace the lid.
Next, select the proper shell holder from the collection included with the kit. It will have the same number as the loading shell holder installed on the ram. depress the tray slightly and slide the holder into place, allowing the tray to rise again and lock it in place.
Finally, slide a deprimed case into the holder and tip the tray so the primers slide towards the case. When you’re set gently but firmly squeeze the handle. you will feel the primer seating.
After the priming tool stops moving release pressure and remove the case. If it will not come out tip the tray to remove primers from the shell holder and press the case again, harder. After the case is removed slide your finger over the primer. It should be set slightly lower than the brass. with a little practice you will be able to do this by feel. prime the rest of the brass before going on to the next step.
Now we’re ready to flare the case mouth. This is done to help ease the bullet into the case. The die to use will be hollow all the way through (this is to allow powder to be added if the die were being used with a progressive set). In this case we’ll be adding powder separately. To install the die place a case in the shell holder and raise the ram all the way up. Screw in the proper die until it just touches the case mouth, then another full turn. Tighten the locking ring and proceed to process all the brass. When properly flared the case will be noticeably wider at the mouth when you slide your fingers over it.
Now we add the powder. First we need to find the right powder and load. consult the load data book (you did buy a book, right? My bad, I forgot to tell you to do that. It’s ok though, Midway has them. Most reloaders have several, but to get started any of them will do). Look up the cartridge you’re working on and consult the tables until you find the one for the weight bullet you’re using. The bullet they describe may not be identical to what you’re using, but the only really important thing is that the weight is the same.
Scan down the table and find a powder you have in stock and then look for the minimum weight of powder listed. In my case I will be loading 4 grains of ramshot zip under a 125 grain cast roundnose bullet. once you have the load, pour the selected powder into the powder measure and set the scale for the load you selected (to zero the scale before use set all indicators to zero and, with the pan in place, screw the brass knob in or out until the scale balances).
The ball bearing in the arm sits in recesses for every 10 grains. In this case it is set in the zero spot.
The slider is moved until the number of grains is selected in the window and the hash marks indicate the 1/10th grain setting.
Next the powder measure is adjusted. screw the black stem in or out and weigh the results until you get the scale to balance.
Finally, lock down the ring on the stem.
Now, we begin the final stage. Install the last die in the press by putting a case in the shell holder and raising it all the way up, then screwing the die down until it barely touches the case. Set the locking ring.
Once the die is set screw the bullet seating knob (under my finger in the post above) at least a half inch out. place the case under the spout of the powder measure and work the lever up and down.
Place the case in the shell holder on the ram and place a bullet in it’s mouth.
Raise the ram and screw down the bullet seating knob until it touches the bullet. lower the ram slightly and give the knob a twist tighter, then raise the ram fully. lower it again and check the seating depth. Repeat this until you have the bullet seated to the depth you want.
Once you have the die set to the right depth back it off half a turn. Loosen the locking ring on the main die body and screw it half a turn tighter. this allows the die to now set the crimp on the case. retighten the locking ring and proceed to powder the cases and seat the bullets.
You have now successfully loaded your first ammunition. Go out to the range and burn through it so you will have more to reload!