Introduction: Reloading Rifle Brass
Many people enjoy shooting, but with the price of ammunition today, who can afford it? With the right tools and a basic understanding of a rifles' mechanical structure, loading your own bullets can help you save money and create a more accurate load. For myself as a long range hunter and marksman, it is imperative that I know exactly what kind of powder, bullet, primer, and casing is being used and at what amounts to calculate the trajectory of the round. In this instructable we will go over the basic steps for reloading your already fired brass into usable and accurate ammunition.
Step 1: Inspect Your Brass
The first step is to check each brass for any stress cracks or other deformations that could diminish the safety of the round upon reloading.
Step 2: Remove the Used Primer
Insert the used brass into the bullet press and, using a punch die, gently remove the primer from the base of the shell.
Step 3: Tumble the Brass
Using the media of your choice and a tumbler, tumble the bass until all of the oxidation and powder residue is removed. The length of this step depends on how dirty the case is.
Step 4: Remove the Brass From the Tumbler
After your brass is all shiny and free of oxidation, turn off the tumbler and remove your brass. (Warning: Be sure that all of the tumbling media is removed from the inside of the brass and primer seat. Failure to do so will result in an either an improper seating of bullet components or an unpredictable discharge.)
Step 5: Measure the Brass
Using a micrometer or another accurate gauge, measure the length of each case to determine the stretch of the brass when it was fired.
Step 6: Turning the Neck
Using a neck turning tool re-size the case to factory specifications. Every brand and caliber will be different so check with your reloading manual or a manufacturer's website.
Step 7: Lubrication
The following steps will require your brass to be run through the press at least two times each, so using an old, clean cloth coat the outside of the brass in case lube (be sure that it stays on the outside of the brass).
Step 8: Inset the Primer
Put a primer into the receiver on the bullet press and load the case into the holder. pull down on the handle to set the primer into the slot on the case. Inspect it to make sure it has seated all the way.
Step 9: Remove Lip Burrs
Using a deburring tool, smooth out the neck of the brass where it was turned to length earlier. This will insure a smooth seating of the bullet.
Step 10: Calibrate Your Scale
Set your powder scale, a scale that measures in grains and is accurate to one-thousandth of a grain, on an open, level surface and calibrate it as accurately as possible.
Step 11: Measure Your Powder
Using a powder and load size that is safe for your cartridge, reference your reloading manual or manufacturer for details, slowly pour the powder into the scales weighing bowl until you have reached EXACTLY the amount intended. It could cause serious injury to the user or the firearm if too much powder is added.
Step 12: Put the Powder Into the Case
With the help of a small funnel, slowly pour all of the powder from the scale's bowl into the primed brass.
Step 13: Change the Die to a Bullet Seat
Unscrew the punch die from the top of the bullet press and replace it with a bullet seating die.
Step 14: Seat the Bullet
Insert the primed and powder filled brass into the bullet press and carefully set the bullet on top vertically with the boat tail pointing toward the inside of the casing (toward the powder) and pull the leaver on the press. This will seat the bullet firmly into the brass.
Step 15: Inspect the Bullet
Inspect all mating surfaces for any stretching or scraping as this will cause inaccuracy. Check the seating of the bullet and the seating of the primer again to make sure everything is sealed for the longevity of powder life.
Step 16: Storing of the Bullet
Once a bullet has been made it is best to store it in a protective case and in a place that has a mild temperature of about 65 degrees Fahrenheit and is void of moisture.
Step 17: Conclusion
For those of us that take hunting and shooting accuracy seriously there is no better way of creating a predictable environment than to make the bullets yourself. I see it as a way to keep the quality control to a standard that I demand from my bullets. With the rising cost of brass and other materials that are required for making bullets, it also makes it easier on the wallet to go out and practice for a weekend. Good luck to all aspiring marksmen!
7 years ago
have always wondered how to do this I may take it up soon
Reply 3 years ago
Reloading pistol cartridges is even easier.
No lubing, trimming, removing burrs or removing pins from dies.
Question 3 years ago on Step 6
do you have to turn the neck?
6 years ago
I have been reloading for many years, and besides the obvious benefits of saving money, I have also found that you can dramatically increase the accuracy of your shots. Each weapon is unique, even those of the same caliber. For instance, my wife has a Winchester lever action in .30-30, and I have a Marlin lever in the same caliber. Yet, the load for each rifle is different when it comes to yielding accuracy. Each of these rifles will punch in the same hole at 50 yards with their respective "recipe", yet if you switch the ammo to the other, neither is even on the paper. You can only get that level of specificity to the weapon when you hand load. What are the chances of boxed ammo hittinh it out of the park like that?
7 years ago
How much do the loading tools cost? I watched a YouTube video recently that stated unless you load a large volume of brass, it is just a cost effective to purchase your ammunition. The real reason many get into loading is for speciality loads.
Reply 7 years ago
reloading tool prices will depend on the brand you go with; however, the entire set up will cost about $550 for a basic, but good, set of rcbs tools. The cost of reloading a round vs. buying a round is about half the price if you pay retail price for all the components. Brass can be fired and reloaded about 5 times out of a .270 Winchester before you will have to acquire more brass. so if you are serious about competition shooting you cannot beat the accuracy for the price you pay and you will feel better about practicing more often.
Reply 7 years ago
That's a good point. What about the time consideration factor? How many rounds can you load in an hour? That could very well be the deciding factor. If I can buy something for 10 bucks, I might not be willing to spend an hour making it. However, if you enjoy the process, the time taken is no issue at all.
Reply 7 years ago
That's exactly right. I enjoy reloading because I can go to the garage and lose myself in the accuracy and repetition of everything. Without hurrying too much, I can make about 30 rounds an hour. The thing about reloading is that you can get better accuracy. by experimenting with different powders and bullets you can see what your rifle prefers. This, combined with a tikka t3 and a burris fulfield II, I have been able to achieve a clover pattern, 3 holes touching, at a little past 225 yards and have hit milk jugs at over 700 yards with a .270 winchester.
7 years ago
Reloading is a great endeavor. I have been doing it for over 25 years for my rifle, pistol and shotgun. Most of my equiptment has come from garage or estate sales as this is a hobby that some people try and then give up, so you can easily come up with the items you need at a reduced price. When you get good at it, try bullet casting if you can come up with a supply of wheel weights to melt down. I use jacketed bullets for deer hunting and have used either cast or cheap bullets for target play. Rolling your own ammunition gives you a good feeling of self sufficiency and a sense of accomplishment like any other skill set. You will find that you shoot more initially as you develop a load, but as time goes along, you may just load some shells up just to keep your brass full and ready to go when the need arises. Most of the time, someone will be concerned that you will blow yourself up. Unless you are an idiot, who doesn't follow directions, watches tv while reloading or does it under the influence of some substance you will be fine. Just follow the instruction manuals and load charts and you will be fine. Have fun, it adds a level of satisfaction to your shooting that goes beyond just buying factory shells.