Metallic cartridge reloading is the ultimate in recycling: you are the recycler and manufacturer of the recycled product. How cool is that! We’ve already touched on the equipment. Now, let’s talk about the components; the bullets and the cases.The best way is, of course, used brass. Hopefully, your own. Discards at the range are good, but you don’t know the history. I always feel better if I find the box the cartridges came in, thus knowing the history of the brass. What if another reloader was shooting and had felt his brass was used up, just letting the brass lie? Careful inspection of the brass should give some clues. All matching brands? Matching primers? Discolored brass? Look at case mouths. Do they have splits? When in doubt, throw it out. New brass is available of course and sometimes it makes sense to buy some. Keep a lookout for deals wherever you go.
Bullets can be a challenge these days. It’s better than a few years ago, though. Berry’s and other smaller manufacturers are making plated bullets as opposed to jacketed bullets. They have to be loaded similar to lead bullet velocities, but are more available. Become familiar with bullet and cartridge nomenclature. A .44 magnum is actually a .429 diameter bullet, just as an example. .355 are for 9mm cartridges and .357 is for .38 Special and .357 cartridges. Certain bullet weights are popular with most cartridges but don’t be afraid to use unpopular weights if you find a deal. Also, buy the right bullet for the job. Target bullets aren’t recommended for hunting. Flatnose and roundnose bullets aren’t good for long distances.
Primers are becoming easier to find. The major brands like CCI are hard to find, but imports are available. So far they are pretty good. Be careful when using a new brand. Make sure it’s reliable before going on a rapid fire shootout. Or protecting your life. Be careful of static electricity when handling primers and gunpowder. Keep both in original containers. Keep them dry and away from moisture, such as high humidity.
Powder is another component that you have to shop around and buy whatever brand you find. Try to research several brands for your chosen cartridge before shopping. That way you’ll know what brands fit your needs. Used powder is sketchy at best. Moisture can degrade the integrity of the molecular structure. That’s engineer talk for powder breakdown. If the cylinder shaped pieces are crumbling, walk away. If the flakes are sticking together, walk away. Same for ball powder. If you know the owner and how he takes care of his powder, then buy it.
Components are out there. Search the web, go to gun shows and rummage around at the local gun shop. Be prepared to buy it when you see it. It won’t be there when you get back!
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