Now that you’ve reloaded some ammo, let’s talk about the results. Hopefully everything went smoothly. As I’ve written before, if you are reloading semi-auto pistol rounds, a cartridge gauge is very helpful to eliminate ‘failure to feeds’ in advance. Several online sources such as Midway offer inexpensive go/no go gauges for checking reloads. Just drop a reloaded cartridge in and slide your finger across. You’ll know if it’s good. Checking revolver cartridges is a good idea also. Now after shooting a reload, check for cratered primers. The firing pin dimple should be uniform without a lip around the dimple. Usually a cratered primer indicates high pressure. Loose primer pockets (that’s why a hand primer is nice, it gives you the feel of seating the primer) are also a high pressure indicator. Look for other case failures, such as splits and cracks. Next, did the ammo cycle smoothly in your auto pistol? Are the cases hard to extract from the cylinder in revolvers? Pressure issues can cause this, but is not the only reason. Now, how about accuracy and cleanliness? Some powders are dirtier than others. Why use them unless you got a smoking deal. Sorry, no pun intended. Accuracy is nice, don’t you think? Even in a handgun. Try and sort your reload recipes by accuracy, experimenting with powder quantity. Maximum loads with maximum velocity aren’t always the most accurate load.
Rifle reloads are a bit trickier. Accuracy is the main reason to reload for a bolt action rifle. You want maximum accuracy with the chosen bullet for the job. Hunting bullets and target bullets are not the same. Take your time with reloading recipes. Sometimes loading only 8 or 10 cartridges with different load recipes is the best way to check load accuracy. You don’t need a whole box of an inaccurate load. Some bullet retailers sell reload kits with small quantities of a variety of bullets for experimenting. Bullet seating depth can affect accuracy and pressure. Touching the lands too tightly will raise pressure. Look at pressure indicators, such as cratered or loose primers and hard extraction. Never start with the maximum load listed. For years, the standard .270 Winchester load was 60.0 grains of 4831 powder for a 130 grain bullet. From the 50’s forward: standard. Most accurate, perfect load. I have had several .270’s over the years and have used that load over and over. Until I shot my late uncle’s old Model 70. I foolishly shot my pet load without working up to it. I had primers falling out of the cases. Now, how high was that pressure? Scared the living daylights out of me. Luckily that old Winchester action was stout enough for a few misguided rounds. Work up all loads slowly and never take for granted the potential pressure point of your rifle and cartridge. Cartridge gauges for semi-auto actions are highly recommended, just like the pistols. Eliminate the ‘FTF’ at home before going to the range. Reloading is fun and dangerous all at the same time. Just right for today’s adventurous shooter.
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