Shooting with the Mann: The Truth About Handloading


There are numerous books and magazine articles about handloading or reloading. Most contain technical information to help you do it better. Few if any provide you with the six eternal truths about handloading. Fortunately for you, it’s my job to help you see the light and understand what handloading your own ammunition can do to your life.

To save money by handloading your own ammunition, you have to load a lot of ammunition.
  1. Handloading is Expensive

All my life I’ve heard that if you handload your own ammo, you can save money. For a small minority of shooters, that’s true. For most of us, handloading is a way for you to spend money. Once you add in the cost of all of the reloading equipment you need, in most cases you’ll have to load a couple thousand rounds of a single cartridge to break even. If you shoot 1,000 rounds or more a year, in time you will save some money, but you will lose something else.

The final process of seating a bullet is a cartridge takes little time. It’s all the prep work beforehand that consumes the clock.
  1. Handloading takes Time

In our modern world, time is our most precision commodity. Making your own ammunition takes time; time many of us do not have to spare. If you’re loading rifle ammunition on a single stage press, you can load about one cartridge per minute. For the mathematically challenged among us, that works out to 60 rounds per hour. However, that’s not counting the time it takes to clean brass, resize brass, prep brass, and set up the dies. A more realistic ratio might be 30 to 15 rounds per hour.

Those who use a progressive press can load a lot of cartridges in a much shorter amount of time, maybe even as many as a couple hundred per hour. However, progressive presses cost a lot more than single stage presses. They also take longer to set up and adjust.

Handloaders always think there is one more powder, bullet or primer that will make all the difference in the load they are working on.
  1. Handloading is Addictive

Once you get into handloading you’ll find it’s hard to stop. You will continually be trying to devise ways and procure new tools to help you do it better and faster. You won’t be able to stop trying to create ammo that is faster, more reliable, and more accurate. You’ll also probably become a member on some handloading forum where you can discuss methods and techniques with other handloaders. You might even lay awake at night wondering how you can tweak the current load you’re working on. There’ll always be another bullet, powder, or primer to try. Fortunately, the good of handloading outweighs the bad, and this is why it is so popular.

When you handload your own ammo, you learn things about ammo and about the firearms you reload for.
  1. Handloading is Educational

When you create your own ammunition, you feel a certain level of independence. You are not constrained by the same limits that the average shooter faces. You can create mission-specific loads, tailored to your firearm and shooting pursuit. You learn about ballistics, you learn the intricacies of ammunition, and you learn more about the firearms you’re creating ammunition for.

For shooters, few things are as rewarding as creating your own extremely accurate ammunition.
  1. Handloading is Rewarding

You will probably never forget the first cartridge you reload and the elation you felt when the gun went off and you hit the target. This feeling of accomplishment is even more prevalent when you load the ammunition you use on a successful hunt or to possibly win a shooting match. Even more rewarding is the accomplishment of taking a rifle or handgun that is not shooting with the precision you demand, and turning it into a tack driver with ammunition you created.

There is some sort of mad scientist like atmosphere created in a loading room. Making your own ammo is fun.
  1. Handloading is Fun

Men are tinkerers by nature. They like to make and fix things. There is a mad scientist element to handloading that naturally appeals to human nature. Creating a reloading room is like building your own laboratory. Sneaking off to that room can be a therapeutic escape. For the real outdoor, gun-loving kind of guy, a reloading room is the ultimate man cave, and handloading is the ultimate pastime. Finally, there is another advantage to handloading: Handloaders belong to an unofficial fraternity. When you find yourself at some unbearable social event, you can always hope there is another handloader there you can talk to, to help pass the time, you could be using to load more ammo.


Images by Richard Mann

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