Reloading – Getting Started by Shane Hurkmans
Now since you found a reloader and have read all of the information on your reloader, you have to pick a bullet, powder and primmer. First, what bullet do you want to use? What are you going to use it for, coyotes, deer, or bigger game?
The varmint hunter wants a bullet that expands fast. A light thin jacket is your best bet. For deer sized game and up you’ll want a bullet with a thicker jacket that is going to hold together. Many bullet companies have a bullet for each type of game you want to hunt.
Now that you know the bullet you want to hunt with. You have to pick a manufacture of a bullet you are going to try and buy the manual for that manufacture. There are hundreds of types of bullets to choose from. Choose a bullet that is going to fit your needs and that of the terrain where you hunt. Are you in wide-open spaces and going to shoot over 200 yards? Are you hunting in timber or where the brush is thick? The answers will help pick out a design of the bullet you are going to try. For example, if you are going out west for mule deer you are going to want a bullet that shoots flat and has good down range energy. You are going to need a spear point or a boat tail bullet. On the other hand if you are going to hunt in heavy timber and have a lot of brush to shoot though, you need a bullet that is not going to deflect when you hit the peace of brush, a heavier round nose bullet would be a good choice.
Now that you picked a bullet that is going to work for you, finding the right powder you are going to stat with is easier then you think. If you found a bullet you are going to use, you have bought the reloading manual for the bullet, right? Just go in the book and look for a powder that the manufacture has used in their tests. I start by looking at the powders that fall in the middle of the bunch. This give you a starting point and you can go either way on the chart. I have found that the powders that fall in the middle give me the best accuracy.
With the bullet and powder taken care of the next thing is the primmer. I start with the one in the book. But you can look at the chart in your manual to see what primers are the coldest and which ones are the hottest. You can work from there to see which one suite your needs. This is the same place you’re going to start making changes to your load too.
But we have one more thing to decide on. That is the case you are going to use. If you have empty cases around start there. However, make sure that they are all the same cases from the same manufacture. With everything done and you get started on the bench, setting up your dies and putting everything together. You are going to start with the lowest gain of powder your book tells you to use. Say, it is 33 grains of IMR powder. And the top load 39 grains. You are going to begin with 33 grains and work up. I load five cases at 33 grains and go half way between that load and the next load. The next five I reload are going to be 33.5 grains and so on and so on until I get a box loaded. I stop there and go shoot that box up. I look for signs of pressure or cracks in the case. It may be that the primmer is flatten. Theses are all signs of a hot load. Let’s say that I shoot that box up and I see no signs of pressure and I have one or two loads that look good. I still reload the next box to see if there is a better load in there. Now what happens when you have gone through and did not see a load from that you liked? Well you have choices, change primers or powder and start over and see what works better. I start with the primmer and work it that way. This will help you find the load that works best for your gun.
There are a few tips that will help you at the range. One is to mark your cases with a colored marker. In addition, change your target every time you shoot five cases. Mark the day, time, load and weather conditions on the paper. This will help you back at the bench at home. All ways keep a logbook of what load had what group and other things you may want to have for yourself. The other thing is take the time to go to the range when you have the time to put in to it. Shoot five and let your barrel cool down. This will help you in finding the load. Your not going to be shooting all day in the woods, and your gun barrel is going to be cold.
Well this it for the time being. But the next time for you shotgun and pistol guys, we will talk about whether progressive or single stage is the best for you. Have fun and be safe this year in the great outdoors.