Basic reloading questions

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Basic reloading questions

Postby jcat » Wed Oct 02, 2013 12:48 pm

Hey guys,

Thanks to the generosity of a sigforum member I've come into a good bit of brass (about 1k 9mm, 250 or so 45acp). I've been shopping around online for components and stuff, and my uncle's got a pretty serious reloading setup in his basement, so I'm going to get in touch with him once I have the components all rounded up and see if he can teach me. A few questions have come up for me, and I'm sure are pretty standard rookie questions.

1.) Powder is sold in 1lb, 8lb etc. I know the conversion of grains to pounds (7000gr per lb apparently). What quantity do you typically buy? Where do you store it?
2.) There are a million different powders out there. How do you choose which one? I realize reloading manuals will have information, but are there some that are preferred over others? Any powders that cross over, i.e that you would load range/plinking pistol ammo with as well as shotgun shells for clay games? I have a bunch of once fired AA hulls that I could use, and I'd like to get into reloading those as well to save money when shooting trap.
3.) Where do you shop to minimize your costs as much as possible? I hear all these stories of guys reloading 9mm or 45 for .03 per round, or $4 per box, etc. I think some of them must be casting their own bullets to get that low. When I do the calculations based upon online prices, it always ends up being considerably more (albeit still considerably cheaper than factory ammo). So where do you get your stuff and what's your cost per box?
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Re: Basic reloading questions

Postby n1bsbri » Wed Oct 02, 2013 1:27 pm

I'm no expert, but I'm somewhat familiar with reloading 9mm and 45ACP, as you indicated you were looking to do.

1.) Powder is sold in 1lb, 8lb etc. I know the conversion of grains to pounds (7000gr per lb apparently). What quantity do you typically buy? Where do you store it?

I use W231 or Bullseye for 9mm (mostly W231). It's approximately 5gn per round, so you get about 1400 rounds per pound. I was buying it by the pound, but I found a good price on 8lb of W231 a while back. I haven't cracked into that yet, but that should cover me for over 10K rounds. I store power on open metal shelves in the original containers in my basement, which is very dry.

2.) There are a million different powders out there. How do you choose which one? I realize reloading manuals will have information, but are there some that are preferred over others? Any powders that cross over, i.e that you would load
range/plinking pistol ammo with as well as shotgun shells for clay games? I have a bunch of once fired AA hulls that I could use, and I'd like to get into reloading those as well to save money when shooting trap.

For the pistol calibers, there are several powders that will work. As I mentioned above, I use W231 and Bullseye. Also Unique and many others. These days it depends on what you can obtain, powder is still in short supply. I don't reload shotshells, but I believe you would need a different powder because of the burn characteristics needed. You would have to ask someone else about that.

3.) Where do you shop to minimize your costs as much as possible? I hear all these stories of guys reloading 9mm or 45 for .03 per round, or $4 per box, etc. I think some of them must be casting their own bullets to get that low. When I do the calculations based upon online prices, it always ends up being considerably more (albeit still considerably cheaper than factory ammo). So where do you get your stuff and what's your cost per box?

Internet order might work, but you are handicapped by the shipping and haz mat charges. I've found pricing at Heritage to be the best for reloading supplies. I buy Berry's plated bullets direct from the manufacturer, although they have been out of stock for quite a while now. Powder and primers at Heritage. Brass from the range floor. With the components I have in hand now, I'm reloading for about 11 cents per round (9mm). I'll bet it would be more if you were buying now, prices have gone up. :o
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Re: Basic reloading questions

Postby jcat » Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:12 pm

I think 11 cents was about what I was coming up with having calculated it out.

Bullets I've seen a couple links to good places. I can get 9mm 115gr TMJ for 93/1000 or 124gr for 97/1000, and the 45s I think were something like 125/1000, if I recall.
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Re: Basic reloading questions

Postby newportri » Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:21 pm

Get a reloading manual and make sure you stay within the recommended ranges (most powders that are listed will do fine for pistol). There are some differences in powder though, such as how clean it burns. Another more important factor is how fast the powder burns. For 9mm it doesn't matter as much, but you might want to avoid using a fast burning powder like Bullseye for .45acp. The reason is that you need less of it and since the .45acp case is large you have to pay a little more attention to powder actually being dropped into the case since it will just be a little a the bottom. You might not get a uniform burn either when you fire it since the case is horizontal and you might get two "lumps" of powder in the case that ignites differently. How big a problem this is in reality is hard to say, but there are people that know more about reloading than me that claims this.

I would recommend getting 8# since you don't have to worry about it expiring.
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Re: Basic reloading questions

Postby shovel1966 » Wed Oct 02, 2013 3:26 pm

Question 1. I usually buy it by the 1lb because I primarily load for handgun and a single pound goes a long way. 1000+ I do also buy in 8lb when it's for loads that take many grains for each round. Actually an 8lb jug of Unique is on it's way to my house right now from Cabelas. I store it all in their original containers with the cap white cap gasket intact in a metal cabinet in my garage. Some of my powder is now over 5 years old and still produces some mighty fine ammo.

Question 2. Now I seem to buy whatever is available. But for most smaller caliber handgun loads I have had good luck with Bullseye, Unique, WSF, WST, Power Pistol, American Select, and a few others. I WILL NOT use a powder that is not listed in a reputable manual for the caliber/bullet weight and type. And I usually start in the lower end and work my way up. I also believe others to be correct in saying that there is no single powder that will work for everything (12guage, .454Casull, 9mm, 30-06 etc)

Question 3. I used to make a lot of internet orders from Graf and Sons out of Mexico, Missouri when I had my FFL and would get dealer prices. I would set up group buys and by several 5k cases of primers and many 8lb jugs of powder all for one low hazmat fee and shipping charge. But.....now most of my friends don't shoot as much and there is no need to buy that many. Not to mention the fact that components have been scarce the past 10 months or so. The past few times I've been to D&L in Warwick, they have had an unlimited supply of rifle and pistol primers and a half way decent selection of powder. There are usually enough people who don't reload at the range to get plenty of common caliber brass over a few trips during busy times. (9mm, .40, .45ACP)

Probably didn't say anything others haven't already, but here are MY answers to your questions. Hope it helps.
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Re: Basic reloading questions

Postby Blast54 » Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:06 pm

What Newport says is IMPORTANT! Use powder that half fills the case. If you have a "double charge" it will show at the top of the case before you seat a bullet head. Most pistols will take a double charge without blowing up. What REALLY increases pressure more so than too much powder is too little powder ( a small amount in the case of fast burning powder) What happens is instead of a small surface area of a case that is filled, you can have DOUBLE the surface area that ignites all at once because the powder is laying all along the bottom of the case.

Shotshell? I have seen two shotguns blow up....1st was because of a wad in the barrel that wasn't cleared before he shot again and the second was by a new reloader that decided to use Bullseye powder ( pistol) in his shotshell cases.... figured powder is powder.

Get a manual, don't believe everything on the internet, talk to your Uncle.
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Re: Basic reloading questions

Postby jcat » Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:25 pm

Blast54 wrote:What Newport says is IMPORTANT! Use powder that half fills the case. If you have a "double charge" it will show at the top of the case before you seat a bullet head. Most pistols will take a double charge without blowing up. What REALLY increases pressure more so than too much powder is too little powder ( a small amount in the case of fast burning powder) What happens is instead of a small surface area of a case that is filled, you can have DOUBLE the surface area that ignites all at once because the powder is laying all along the bottom of the case.

Shotshell? I have seen two shotguns blow up....1st was because of a wad in the barrel that wasn't cleared before he shot again and the second was by a new reloader that decided to use Bullseye powder ( pistol) in his shotshell cases.... figured powder is powder.

Get a manual, don't believe everything on the internet, talk to your Uncle.



I saw a guy a couple months back who had shotshells loaded with blue dot...things were LOUD. Hit everything he shot at, though he had to use candle wax to seal the tops of the things.
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Re: Basic reloading questions

Postby Blast54 » Wed Oct 02, 2013 9:57 pm

jcat wrote:I saw a guy a couple months back who had shotshells loaded with blue dot...things were LOUD. Hit everything he shot at, though he had to use candle wax to seal the tops of the things.



Blue Dot is actually an accepted shotshell powder, slow burning but mostly used for 3" magnum hunting loads. Don't know why he needed to seal with wax unless he was loading in 2 3/4" hulls. If someone is "experimenting" get away as fast as you can :shock:
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Re: Basic reloading questions

Postby newportri » Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:38 am

I also believe Unique can be used in shotshells and pistol ammo. I don't know of any rifle powder than can be used in either pistol or shotgun, with the exception of pistol cartridges such as .38/.357. The bottom line is don't try anything you don't see in a reloading manual or you know what you are doing.
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Re: Basic reloading questions

Postby jcat » Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:39 pm

Bumping this up.

I was able to score 1k 124gr plated round nose 2nds from Rocky Mountain Reloading for $81 just now. I got rid of my only .45 pistol so I sold the .45 ammo and brass I had with it, so now I only have to focus on reloading 9mm.

I now have:

-more than 900 but less than 1,000 pcs uncleaned, not decapped 9mm brass
-1,000 124gr plated round nose bullets

I still need to get:

-Primers (was planning on CCI, but will take suggestions otherwise)
-Powder (will have to see what my uncle normally uses or what's available)
-Ammo boxes (ideal, but not necessary. All my 223 is currently in ziplock bags in my 'gun bin' in the closet :lol:)

I don't think I'll be doing too terribly much shooting over the winter, so it will be nice to build up a nice supply to have ready for when spring comes around. GF and I ran through 200 rounds during the last range trip, and I think I only have 200-250rds left in the stash.
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