Friday, February 17, 2006


I finally got all the reloading done that needed to be done for the start of the season. Not a chore I like, but one that's necessary because of the cost of the ammo we shoot. If you try to buy factory ammo in .45 Colt or .45 S&W (Schofield), you're looking at spending around $20 for a box of 50, I can reload it for around $5/box. $15 vs $60 per shoot is a VERY significant savings and every penny counts, especially with the price of gas now and days, if you have to travel any sort of distance to shoot, you know what I mean.

Another good thing about reloading is getting the load that you want. Factory .45 Colt loads are pretty stout, even the "cowboy" loads are near the SASS maximum velocity out of the pistol and while they don't bother me too much, they make it harder to have a quick followup shot. Reducing the powder charge and bullet weight make for much friendlier loads that allow you to shoot faster and not feel like you've gone seven rounds with the champ. Some guys go to the extreme of tayloring their loads to each firearm, that's too much work for me, plus I don't have my own range out my back door.

Flickr PhotoHere are some photos of my reloading setup. I use the excellent Dillon 550B progressive reloading press, Lyman .45 Colt dies with the excellent Lee Factory Crimp Die to finish off the ammo. As you can see for the photos, I have a couple of large bins to the right of the press, one for holding brass to be loaded and one to catch the completed ammo. To the left you'll see the bullet tray, keeping everything close to the press and in good position reduces movement and makes everything faster. These are attached to my bench via the wall brackets that come with the bins from my local mega hardware store. At this point, if I have all the primer tubes loaded and ready, I can crank out 400 rounds an hour with this setup. Compare that to the 75 an hour I was doing with the turret press I was using and you'll know why I love the Dillon, it shortens the time I spend on a dreary task :)

Flickr PhotoSome things that I really thing you should use when reloading are safety items. Eye protection is a must, primers have been know to go off in the tube and although it hasn't happened to me, I can imagine what could happen (even though the 550B has a double wall primer feed construction for protection). Ear protection is recommended, I'll be honest, I don't wear ear protection, I usually listen to my iPod when reloading. You probably notice that purple glove on the bullet tray, thats a nitrile glove, I use it to protect my hand from the lead bullets that I use, lead is dangerous and can be absorbed through the skin. I use nitrile gloves over latex because I also wear them while I clean guns to protect my hands from the harsh chemicals.

The bench you use for reloading is pretty darned important, it has to be sturdy enough to hold the press steady while operating it. My bench is an old pottery table from the local University Fine Arts school, it is 3/16" angle steel frame and the top is four 3/4" plywood sheets stacked on top of each other, it weighs a ton and my press doesn't move when I operate it. As a matter of fact, I move when I operate the press! I have an old office task chair that I sit on and that allows me to easily move positions when reloading, you'd be suprised at the amount of moving I do when reloading.

Reloading stuff I can't do without; Lee FCD, scales, digital calipers, bins bins bins, iPod, ammo boxes (lots of them), extra primer tubes, spare parts kit for the 550B (though I haven't used it), maintenance kit for the 550B, case trimmer, case guage, case deburrer and a heated/cooled garage.

Its not a task I like, but if you gotta, you gotta and you may as well do it well and be as comfortable and safe as possible.

1 comment:

Judge Mint Day said...

It's about time! I was begining to think I was all alone here.