Reloading handgun cartridges is easier than reloading rifle cartridges, and the steps are essentially the same. This guide to reloading handgun cartridges will help you understand the basics of safely reloading your handgun ammo. The steps you need to follow to reload handgun cartridges are given below:
- Clean the cartridge case
- Inspect it
- Take out the spent primer
- Resize the case
- Insert a new primer
- Put in a powder charge
- Insert a new bullet
Reloading handgun cartridges is easier because most rifles create immense pressure and have bottle-shaped cases. Due to this, the case is likely to stretch slightly when it’s fired and resized and it needs to be trimmed back to the right size. This step is rarely required with straight-wall pistol calibers.
Let’s get started and take a closer look at the process of reloading handgun cartridges:
Study an official reloading manual
Acquire an official reloading manual, which explains the process of reloading ammo safely. It will also give you the recipe for the exact type and quantity of powder needed for each type of bullet and caliber. Remember, not following the load recipes given in the reloading manual precisely can make your gun explode, resulting in injury or even death.
Clean spent cartridge cases thoroughly
Spent cartridge cases are usually dirty because of burnt powder residue or falling on the ground. That’s why it’s essential to clean them up properly before reloading them. A dry tumbler, such as the Cabela Model 400 Vibratory Case Tumbler Kit makes it easy for you to clean spent cartridge cases.
All you need to do is to put all the dirty cartridge cases you have in a bowl that’s filled with corn cob bits or crushed walnut shells. Cover it up and allow it to operate for a few hours. The vibration will scrub the dirt from your cases and they will be spotless by the time you take them out of the cleaning media.
Resize the case and take out the spent primer
In most cases, the resizing die also has a pin that pushes out the old primer. When you fire a cartridge, the case expands inside the chamber. This means that it is no longer the shape and size that it was before it was fired. When a fired case is forced into a resizing die, the walls of the die press its exterior back into place.
Insert a new primer and expand the case mouth
Next, use the press or a separate hand tool, such as the RCBS Universal Priming Tool, to gently press a fresh primer into the primer pocket. Use a case mouth expander die to expand the case mouth just enough to permit the base of a new bullet to fit into the case without having to shave off copper or lead.
Pour in the powder
Study the reloading manual to see what type of powder is needed and precisely how much is recommended for reloading your cartridge. Accurately weigh the powder charge and pour it into the case by means of a powder funnel.
Insert a new bullet
The seating step is now performed to insert a new bullet. The die is adjusted to thrust the bullet into the case to the right depth. Pistol cartridges have to be of a certain length to ensure that they will fit in magazines and that the pressure will not be too low or too high.
Crimp the case
Crimping involves eliminating the expansion of the case mouth produced by the case mouth expander die. Crimping the case around the bullet does not hold the bullet in place.
The friction between the bullet surface and the internal neck of the cartridge case is what holds the bullet in place. However, roll crimping is used to improve neck tension in some rimmed revolver cartridges.
Start with a single-stage press
If you’re a beginner, it’s best to start with a single stage press like the Hornady Lock-n-Load Classic. It can only perform one step at a time, so it’s just right for learning safely. It’s very forgiving and will help you to comprehend the basics of each stage of the reloading process.
Once you’ve gained experience, you can get a progressive reloading press, such as the Hornady Lock-n-Load Auto Progressive Press. It holds five cases and can carry out five operations at a time. This means that you can load much more ammo a lot faster.
Get a set of reloading dies
After choosing a press, you need to get a set of reloading dies for every caliber you intend to reload. If you are interested in pistol calibers, you need to get a set of three dies such as the Hornady Custom Grade Pistol Dies.
The first die resizes the spent case and removes the spent primer. The second one expands the mouth of the case before seating a new bullet, and the third one performs the bullet seating and crimping steps.
It’s possible to carry out both of these steps at one time if you have adjusted the die precisely. You can also do batches in which you seat the bullets the first time. You can then readjust the die for crimping and pass your cartridges through once more.
The final inspection
This is considered to be the most important step because after this your cartridges will be used in your gun. Inspect each cartridge carefully to see if the primer is in place and has not been inserted upside down. Check the overall length to ensure that it’s right. You can place each inspected cartridge in a suitable box, such as Cabela’s 100-round cartridge container.