How To Reload Ammo – Basic Reloading Equipment

Obsolete Arms and Ammo
By Bob Shell

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Reloading Books – Books are all important for reloading. The more the better
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

Apache Junction, AZ –-( Your here because you need to know how to reload ammo. Once you decide to reload your own ammunition there is some basic equipment that you need to get started as a full time reloader.

The first thing is you need a space to set up shop. It can be a spare room or a corner of a garage as long as you have some space and a way to have good lighting.

There should be enough room to have a table and some shelving space. You need a sturdy table to mount your reloading press too and other equipment while having some space that gives you room to work. I would suggest a table at least 6’ long to accommodate your setup. Shelving is necessary to keep such items as reloading dies and supplies such as bullets and powder organized. Once you have your reloading work area set up then it’s time to buy your equipment.

Set Of Dies, Powder Measure and a Reloading Press
Set Of Dies, Powder Measure and a Reloading Press.

Most people get into reloading to save money on their ammo. One fact of life is you will have to first make an investment into buying equipment and supplies before you can begin saving cash on ammunition. The basic equipment that you need is a press, dies, scales, powder measure and a few basic shop tools such as screwdrivers and Allen wrenches. You also may need a lube pad, vernier caliper and a bullet puller, more on these tools below. You are looking at about a $400. 00 investment for a complete reloading starter kit plus the cost of supplies such as primers and bullets. You will also need at least one reloading manual preferably more. That will get you started.

Micrometer And Vernier Caliper Are Necessary For The Reloader
Micrometer And Vernier Caliper Are Necessary For The Reloader

The purpose of the press is it holds the dies which are needed to process the ammo. Each caliber requires a set of dies and I will go into that later as to why and how to set them up. The press needs to be securely mounted to the table so that cases can be resized which takes some physical effort, especially with rifle ammo. There are a variety of presses made by various companies. Each manufacture, everyone from Lyman, Hornady and RCBS and Redding, all make good presses. Another option is a Lee Press.

For a new reloader you should look at a single stage press only. The progressives are great but if you are not familiar with reloading they can get you in trouble. With a progressive several things are going on at one time and you may miss a problem, causing you to load a batch of bad ammo.

Reloading Press With Die Setup
Reloading Press With Die Setup

Presses come in different sizes though I would go with a heavy duty model because you can do both rifle and handgun ammo.

Any caliber that you reload for is die specific. For instance if you want to load 40 S & W ammo you need that set of dies. Reloading is a precise operation and trying to use the wrong dies will not work for you. If you are loading a modern straight case then I recommend carbide dies. They make your sizing job easier plus last forever. Another nice thing is you don’t have to lube your cases as you do with rifle fodder. Like the presses there are various makers of dies who also make the presses and other equipment.

A powder measure and scales is necessary in order to put the proper amount of powder in your cases. That is vital if not mandatory to insure the safety and reliability of your ammo. This is where the reloading books come in handy.

You can look up the caliber you are loading for and get the proper type and amount of powder necessary. The data was developed in labs by professionals and should be followed closely. Also the books give you a lot of good info on reloading techniques and problem solving. Most provide a hotline if you run into a problem you can’t solve. I would go with several books on reloading or reloading manuals as they are a good investment.

If you load rifle cases you need a case trimmer as they will stretch when fired. How much depends on various factors but it is necessary to keep them at a proper length in order to produce quality ammo.

Reloading Scale Used To Weigh Powder Charges
Reloading Scale Used To Weigh Powder Charges

A vernier caliperis needed to measure the length. You can consult a reloading book for the proper length as that info is provided. Also when loading rifle cases a lube pad is necessary. If you don’t lube the cases one will get stuck in the die which is a real headache to remove. A brush to lube the inside of the case neck is also desirable.

Reloading Bullet Puller
Bullet Puller. The Eraser Of Reloading

With this you have most of the basic equipment that you need to get started. You will pick up various other items and gadgets as you go along. After you get your table set up and before you start I urge you to do some reading or watch some videos which will help. You need to pay attention to every detail to insure quality and safe ammo. We will go into the how and why in future installments.

When contemplating whether or not you want to reload here are a couple of things to think about. First of all reloading is a very safe hobby if you follow the precautions and use common sense. When reloading don’t allow distractions to creep in. That means no texting, watching TV or anything else that will draw your attention to the task at hand.

If you are not the type of person that pays attention to detail then reloading isn’t for you. I have been doing it for over 40 years and never had a serious mishap. It is a great hobby well worth exploring.


About Bob Shell
A Custom Reloader of Obsolete and Antique Ammo, Bob Shell, writes about the subject of Guns, Ammo, Shooting and Related Subjects. Visit:

  • 18 thoughts on “How To Reload Ammo – Basic Reloading Equipment

    1. @ Mark miller, What would you do if a spring broke or a screw fell out while you were shooting it. It would never again be original. Just curious.

    2. Anybody know of where I can find krag 30-40 brass or assembled rounds. I just got a krag and can’t shoot it. Researching reloading now bc I figure if I ever do get some I better plan on reloading myself. I thought maybe since you specialize in obsolete /hard to find ammo you would be a great resource.

      1. @Mark miller – It’s possible to size .303 British brass using a .30-40 Krag die. You’ll probably have to square up the case mouth after that operation. The resulting cases will be a little short in the neck, but should work fine. Just remember I’m not liable for how this information is utilized!

    3. Where would one normlly set up a reloading station? My husband wants to set it up in our home office. Would this be ok? bec he wants to keep one room free for guests. And he doesnt want to set up in the garage bec it gets too hot in the summer. Please advise.

    4. can anyone tell me why i have trouble with some cases buckling when i seat and crimp the cartridge ??? i can feel it when it is about to happen. an info. is appreciated thank you

      1. Pre-measure the length of the empty cartridge.

        If it is too long it will buckle when you press the bullet.

        Cartridge cases stretch each time they are fired. Pistol, not so much as rifle, but there is some stretching. If it is too long, trim it to specs listed in a good reloading manual. i.e. Speer, Sierra, or Hornady.

        For beginners, I would HIGHLY recommend you get one of the aforementioned manuals FIRST! Not only do they contain info on powder measure and types to use, they also have a complete, step-by-step, reloading process guide.

        Best. of course, is an old-timer to sit at their knee and learn. (Check to make sure he/she still has all their fingers and toes.) Failing that, a good reloading manual is the second best way to learn how to reload ammunition.

        Semper Fi

    5. I ready enjoyed this video… just bought me a lee Classic turret press…. cant wait to get started to making my reloads…

    6. I just turned 65 today and have been reloading since I was 17… a lot of years. I have a Hornady progressive press and still love the hobby today as much as I did then. I am able to shoot quite a lot also. Be safe!

    7. I have been reloading for 20 something years. Some people might be comfortable in reloading for self defense, but ammo is not that expensive. For self defense I only use factory loads.
      Hopefully you never need it for self defense but if so you can open a can of worms using reloads.
      Talk to any lawyer that has defended someone in a shooting using reloads.
      You better know everything there is to know about every aspect or reloading if you do.
      Good luck and have fun go shooting

    8. If you go to the RCBS site it has a pretty good video on reloading basics…folks I know who want to reload get to read up on it…go to a few sites with reloading information…and think about what you want to do and why…safety is alway paramount in reloading…been doing it for almost 40 years and still love it…

    9. I purchased Lee reloading equipment a while ago from a man who was getting too old to shoot. I have been intimidated by all the equipment and manuals as I have no experience at reloading, as a result it all remains in a closet, unused.

      This article and it's two videos explaining the hows and whys of the process took much of the mystery out of reloading for me. I am motivated now to unbox my gear and set up a work space…and save some money on ammo.

      The young man who made these "Basic" reloading videos did a much better job than 95% of YouTube productions!


      1. If you still have the reloading equipment and want to sell it let me know. Look me up on facebook. Sean Donovan

    10. I strongly agree that an all-in-one starter kit is not the way to go, unless the buyer is too strapped to do anything else. Even then, I'd try to befriend a reloader and trade out some work or most anything (maybe just friendship and a drive to and from the airport) for instruction and time on his loading equipment.

      As an old man, I recommend that beginning reloaders who are "old" pay particular attention to the advice above. That is because it is too easy to become distracted during the loading process. At home, I still use a single-stage press. I'm blessed to have enough time to do that, and my Day One guru taught me to measure powder precisely – a habit that I think admirable and desirable, but not essential for shooters who want to shoot hundreds of rounds a weekend at steel targets, for example. Nevertheless, I put 50 rounds in a tray and visually inspect each, to be sure I have not "double-charged" any case. Double-charging can be disastrous and cause injury or worse, not to mention destruction of your gun.

      In a basic kit, the press usually is OK, but almost all the other pieces are very cheap. So once you know what you're doing, first thing is you want a better powder measure and scales. You will want a chamfer/debur tool. It goes on and on.

      Reloading will save you a lot of money IF you plan to, or think you might need to, load a lot of rounds. But if you're looking at less than "thousands" of rounds, you might be better off buying reloaded ammo from a trusted local reseller.

      My guru also had a turret press, and my current reloading buddy has a 5-die progressive reloader that is awesome, but he has been doing this for many, many years and knows almost everything there is to know. Humility is the greatest virtue around such people, if you are fortunate enough to meet them.

      I guess what I am driving at, in way too many words, is that if you never reloaded before and want to get into it, I think the very best investment you can make is in getting an experienced reloader to take you under his wing and show you the ropes. Gun people are the friendliest and most helpful relative to any sport, as far as I am concerned.

      Articles like this post are great for giving you a feel for what it's all about, though nothing written can fully replace a "sitting right there" teacher.

      1. @Rich, I agree…understudy someone. The equipment, dies, and little tools are really cheap at gun shows, but you have to have some experience to know what you want. More important than the equipment is the safety checks and procedures. These are things that you need to learn right away and are not likely to think of yourself. Find a mentor.

    11. I reload pistol cartridges and it's a blast!Customize them for plinking,target or self defense, you can't go wrong!

    12. the prices are very high…i no you have to make money….but most all these product you can get in a auto parts store….at a 1/4 of the price show here….check it out for your self.

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