The basics of reloading from a bullet manfactures point of view.

Posted by George Martin on 4th Jun 2020

We acquired Bang And Clang LLC over 3 years ago.  In that time we've added coated bullets and shapes (Round Nous No Lube Groove) to support the modern shooting sports and some older ones as it turns out.  Let me offer this blog as a refresher course for an experienced reloader switching calibers, a new reloader just getting her feet wet and anyone that is having questions or problems with reloading.

First off start with 2 (two) reloading manuals.  I like Lyman's and edition is a classic and one other printed manual your choice.  Why two;  because I've found errors in manuals.  And you don't want to start reloading with settings based on an error.  Also, everything else you can find for reloading data is good to gather.

Next let's make some assumptions.

  • You are reloading for accuracy.
  • You are reloading to save some money and enjoy the hobby.
  • You are also reloading for performance.

If you want the max power for your reloads this in probably not the best source of information.  Also let's start with handgun cartridges.  Old to new cartridges meant to be shot in handguns and pistol caliber carbines.  Keeping things simple to start, let us choose the 38/357 cartridge as our first candidate.

The 38/357 is an old straight walled cartridge.  Been around for over 100 years.  If you have a 357 revolver and load 38 special ammunition it will be hard for do damage but it is still possible.  There are also 38 short colt, 38 long colt and 357 maximum.  All five case types vary in case length.  And revolvers are designed to only fit cartridges that the gun is designed to safely shoot.  357 Mag and 357 Max won't fit into a 38 Special chamber.  Cartridge capabilities are stamped on the side of the barrel.

I'll take about these cartridges in general and call them 38 to keep it simple.  I am shooting a 38 short colt out of an 8 shot S&W 627 chambered for 357 Magnum.  The short colt has many benefits for competition and we should expect performance and accuracy similar to a 38 Special.

The 38 case is a straight walled rimmed case that head spaces (look it up) on the case rim.  The cylinder is cut for moon clips and that cut is recessed into the cylinder so as not to upset the head spacing on the case rim.  The moon clip is along for the ride.  All members of this 38 family use small pistol primers.

Cleaning the cases:
If the cases you are using have been fired you first step is cleaning the cases.  I use a vibratory unit with crushed walnut shells and jewelers rouge.  Clean with the primers in the cases.  DO NOT USE POLISH WITH AMMONIA.  This will destroy the brass and make it unsafe.  Once cleaned wash and let dry.  No sense pushing jewelers  rouge down the barrel.

Inspect the cases:
You are looking for different cases the might have snuck into the dirty brass.  Do this with clean hands because you will leave oil and acid that will leave marks on the brass.  Also inspect your brass at this point.  Look at the case mouths for cracked or bent cases that you don't want to bother reloading.

Resize and Deprime:
When fired the brass case expands to seal the chamber and then shrinks a bit to make it possible to extract the cartridge.  Set up the resize / depriming die per the manufacturers directions.  You only need to put this one die in your reloading press and process all your brass.  If a piece of brass feels different in the press check it for problems.

I prime off-line with a hand priming tool.  I can feel the primer going into the case, I can crush the primer 0.005 to 0.009 inch to take up some of the action of the primer making less work for the hammer strike.  If you have a reloading machine that will prime automatically go for it.  But I would only prime the brass no powder or bullets yet.

This gets us to a position of primed brass ready to reload.  If I'm going to a steel match vs a plate shoot vs. and ICORE match I probably want different loads for the gun.  I can do that as I prepare for the match.

Good time for a break.  This should be enough to keep the new reloader busy and the old time checking his setup and material.

General Discussion:


I use Federal primers.  Regular ones for ammo I load, Match primers for ammo Bang and Clang loads for resale.  These have been proven to be the easiest to set off. My trigger pulls are around 8 pounds but VERY smooth.   I used to use Winchester (now brass colored).  These are a bit more difficult to set off.  I put in a longer strain screw for mare hammer force on the revolver.

Old saying was CCI was the hardest primer.  But both Federal and CCI are owned by the same company and I bet some technology will transfer over.

As I write this primers are hard to get and prices are rising.