help new reloaders

I haven't been at it that long, but I've found that if I keep my brass neck down until it's charged with powder, I can tell if it's primed, what kind it is and, I'm sure there's no powder in it already.
Lots of good advice here! I've been loading for quite some time and learn something new everyday from PM forums.
Wanting to load close to max for that little extra speed for a follow-up shot on a running target is not a really valid reason for loading near max. I would keep my loads in the moderate part of the data for accuracy; longer brass life and a little longer barrel life and not have to worry about temperature pressures. Develope and mantaine a safe routine at the loading bench;then when that routine is interupted mental warning bells and whistles go off and that is when you stop and find out why.
Details-details-details; take your time and enjoy all the good things.
I agree whole heartedly about the extreme powders. I try to use them as much as possible. Also, the advise on distractions is right on the money. Pay attention to what you are radio, no TV, no wife, no beer. I have been doing this for about fifteen years and I can tell you that everyone loves velocity (at first). However, it is rare, extremely rare that you get top velocity and top accuracy with the same load. 2600 fps will kill 'em just as dead as 2800 fps. Accuracy is essential, velocity is optional.
I always keep a small mag lite flashlight on my bench..the reason is to look inside all my cases after the powder has been dumped into them, Especially Pistol reloads, Double charges of powder are very dangerous and it is all to easy to do...I look down inside the cases with a light and it will stick out like a sore thumb.

This is not a safety thing, but may save you time. Dont handle Primers with your a good hand priming tool and dump the primers into it..oil from your fingers can kill a primer.

You can never have to many manuals..I often cross reference loads in one manual with other manuals and find a middle of the road load to start with and work from there.

NEVER NEVER Mix powders...if powder hits the bench, it gets swept up and thrown away...I knew a guy who decided that he could use powder that he raked into a powder can over a period of was 3 different kinds of powder..I told him many times not to ever do this...well he loaded it up in his Ruger Blackhawk 44 mag one weekend, then came to work and told me his Cylinder blew in half...blamed it on the gun...i asked what powder he was the mixed powder...STUPID is as STUPID does.
He is lucky he didnt get hurt or killed, or someone standing nearby. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazy.gif
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I just picked up the new Hornady reloading manual yesterday afternoon and it has been revised to include .204, new .223 and .22-250 stuff, more powder recommendations, and just a ton of good, new stuff. Wish I had access to something that good when I started about 15 or 20 years ago. I highly recommend that manual for anyone starting to reload, or experienced ones for that matter. It's a good one.

I wanted to add...never, never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up powder spilled on the floor or your reloading bench. They build up static electricity and they will make a big boom when they go off. Stay away from them thangs.
From what I've learned and seen in my own loads, your best accuracy is below max velocities anyway. I don;t think any of my loads ever got close before accuracy started to wane.

My Dad got me started off reloading my own , and his first and most heartened advice was safety, and thats always first and foremost- its a personal law with me.

Another tidbit, that I havent seen mentioned, it the act of being sure to discharge yourself (of static electricity) before you even start towards powder or primers. Open primers are extremely suseptable to static charge, and a single rifle primer is fully capable of leaving you a finger shorter than when you started.
One of the things that I have adapted to after 20 + years of handloading is to do everything in steps !! When you are working on the brass dont have primers and powder laying around and so on . If you work on one task at a time things are much safer. Mark
I have only been reloading since 1981. I have some other stories to learn from, but I will break them up on the thread to keep eyes from bleeding. I only have one bad story that involved me, and I intended to keep it that way.

Check flash holes for left over tumbler media. When you take them out of the tumbler LOOK to insure the flash holes are clear over white paper. I have the end of a dart I use for a pick, I also push the dart through the flash hole to CLEAR the flash hole even if it looks clear. Do not just look, clear the hole. I CHECK the flash holes again when I clean the primer pockets over white paper. I CHECK the primer pockets again over white paper prior to putting the primer in. The Story below is why.

About 1989 I was going to the range to shoot my 300 mag. I had an up coming Alaskan Hunt to prep for and I just wanted to shoot. It is good for the heart, mind and soul, keeps the confidence up. I was thinking I might as well take my 22-250 to shoot while I am waiting for my 300’s barrel to cool down. I didn’t have any 250 stuff loaded up so I hurried to load up a quick 10 rounds. I got out to the range to do my thing and it is interesting I shot 3 from the 300, 3 from the 250 alternating. I had shot the last set of 3 from the 250, I had the 10th round I pulled the trigger.

I immediately felt hot gas going just below my cheek, I looked at the rifle, the outside looked fine. I could not get the bolt opened. I was finally able to get the bolt open by tapping it open with a block of wood. The case was expanded in the face of the bolt and would not come out. I took the bolt out of the rifle to get the case out of the bolt face. Heck, it was screwed up anyway so I took a pair of vice grips and pulled the case out. The case had expanded so big it looked like you could put a primer in the flash hole.

What happened? Too much powder? Primer pocket loose? Something partially blocking the flash hole? Powder, I don’t think so, I could see that in a pistol using light loads, it was my standard load for my 250 the load could not have been doubled it would not fit in the case. Primer pocket loose, if the primer doesn’t feel solid going in I disregard the case. Flash hole, I did not recall checking when I grabbed the brass. At the time, I called Jay Postman over at RCBS and ran every thing by him and partially blocked flash hole could do it, so could a loose primer pocket and too much powder. I am thinking blocked flash hole.

I sent my rifle to Remington with the story. (I have had the rifle since 1981 with no problems.) They checked it out and replaced the bolt for a reasonable fee. I still have it, it will still keep three rounds touching at 102 yards shooting off the box of my pickup using a gun case for a pad.

Never be in a hurry reloading, check what you are doing, you will notice it becomes second nature. It is a healthy fear, this situation could have maimed or killed. Thank God for strong weapons. Paul
Yep, I have another one. I was living in Fairbanks, Alaska and a buddy of mine (no, really it wasn’t me) who was also working for me called and said he could not make it in. He said he had burned his hand. So, that peaked my curiosity. He lived pretty close so I went over to hear the rest of the story.

He had traded a caribou hide for a muzzleloader (really good trade considering we usually just left the hides out on the tundra). So, he had made his own speed loaders and had filled them up for another caribou hunt. He wanted to kill a caribou with his new to him muzzleloader. Oh, he smokes, but being safety conscience he refrained during his project. The black powder that he had spilt on the bench he had cleaned up and put in his ash try. Of course, later on when he was doing something else he was smoking and went to put his cigarette out and FLASH his hand was cooked.

Again, it is healthy fear, to fear things that can be set off by static and cigarettes. Paul
Another safety tip. Reloading for accuracy.

Usually the closer the bullet are to the rifling lands the more accurate (refer to Hornaday reloading). Also, the closer the bullet is the higher the pressure is. So, if you are going to do this you have to back off the powder.

Start low, when you see pressure signs like flat primers back off, if the bolts is hard to open stop, and back off. If you have any of your newly discovered hot loads left do not shoot them take them apart.

I reload for accuracy not speed. You may have to drop down 100 fps or more until you get the right combinations accuracy and speed. There are other things you can do like use powders that develop less pressure while giving the same speed. For example if you look at Dupont’s hand outs IMR 4831 it develops more pressure pushing 180 grain bullet to 3000 fps than Duponts 7828. Using the 7828 the middle of the road load is what the hot load is for IMR 4831.

From the Speer book 4831 max is 73. grains at 2996 fps
#11 7828 max is 78. grains at 3019
7828 mid is 76. grains at 3004
7828 low is 74. grains at 2977

So, using the mid load I still get the same speed I want with less pressure. Even if I used the low load its is 2977 fps I don’t think a elk or moose will know the difference. Now, animals will know the difference if you and your rifle are not accurate, maybe you will miss them or maybe you will make a poor hit. So, Accuracy is more important than speed. Being a little off at 100yds might not be that big of deal, but being off at 400 or 500yds is truly un-ethical.

You have to not only read the reloading books, but also read the handouts provided by the powder manufacture. Paul
Get a couple of reloading manuals, and a chronograph. Build some middle of the road loads and see how things compare. it will save alot of frustration later. "Experience conformation of success rather than consequence of failure" is the best advice I ever got.
One mistake that I made about seven years ago was let my young son 14 at the time was to use my equpiment unsupervised. He helped me quite a few times in our basement and in his defense he was a safe kid. I own a Dillion square deal B which is a four stage progressive reloader. For those who don't know it is that after you start loading after the first four rounds, you got all the stations going, you get a loaded round every crank of the handle. I have never had any trouble with my reloader and every thing comes out right on the money.The machine was all set and ready to go,by me,the night before. I only had three pickup tubes ready to go. Thats what holds the primers to load into the main tube, you load the pick up tubes yourself. Anyway my son ran out of primers and took it upon himself to load up a few more tubes. Luckily I came home and went down to the basement while he was on his first tube of fifty. When he loaded the pickup tubes he loaded the primers into them upside down. He had about thirty rounds loaded with the primers fully seated upside down. He said the handle was just a little harder to pull down but didn't give it any thought.Luckily none of them went off and we had another lesson for him to learn. So whether you are only loading a few rounds at a time or able to crank out 600 + an hour take the time to check out whats going on with your ammo instead of waiting till your done and do your final inspection. Could save you a serious injury or death to you or someone you love.
I know someone who just scattered a really nice S&W 629 classic 44mag with another persons reloads.

The top 3 cylinders and top strap were completely missing and the barrel almost came off! One of the pieces went through a thick plastic divider that seperates the lanes at the indoor range. Luckily nobody was hurt but the pistol is most likely now a parts gun.

When I was young I bought a really nice Remington PSS in .308 and a friend of mine, who had been relaoding for decades, gave me some rounds. Being a complete novice I had no idea that the bolt handle being really tight after each round was a BIG warning then the last round cracked the extractor lip right off the bolt.
Read read read read read and read some more. I must have read 20 or 30 reloading manuals and articles in magazines. Before I really started reloading.
For some one just starting out I would say go with a good single stage like a RCBS Rockchucker. If you are not sure your going to keep reloading start with a Lee.

I reload on my OLD as dirt RCBS Reloader Special. It turns out great reloads today.

Many will tell you to start with a dilon RL550B. But there is a lot going on when you pull the handle of one of them. This is just me a progressive is not for a newbie. Start slow and get all the little details down pat before moving on. I reload because it is relaxing. I am not trying to crank out 10,000 rounds in an hour. I am not saying you can't start on a progressive. You know yourself better than I do. I am like Winchester from MASH, "I do one thing I do it very well, then I move one."
Any thoughts on the best way to load primers? My fairly new RCBS Rock Chucker has primer load function on the press. I notice the new ones have removed it and added the hand primer. What way is the safest and most preferred way to prime?