George Block Column

Several things needed to start loading ammunition

Several things needed to start loading ammunition

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As most readers know, ammunition has been hard to get and in some chamberings, impossible to find.


Cartridges such as the .243 are a good example.


Why the shortage?


It’s really hard to say with any certainty.


I, like many, have an opinion why, but I don’t want to put my name to it.


I would guess the shortage has saved many woodchucks. Or did it?


It probably saved very few. Most groundhog hunters reload their own shells.


The problem with that is there has been a shortage of reloading components. But many reloaders have powder, bullets and primers stored away.


I have a bad habit of showing up at gun shops near my home and have noticed many shooters are turning to reloading to help alleviate the ammo shortage.


Earlier this week, I was sitting on John Johnson’s stool, and he had a customer ask me what loading equipment he should purchase and how much it would cost to start loading his own ammunition.


To answer the question properly, I needed to know how much he was going to shoot, if he was loading for more than one caliber and what type of shooting he does.


For example, if he is loading a small semi-automatic rifle such as a Bushmaster, he will go through a lot of rounds in a short period of time.


If he is going to shoot bench rest, the shooting is slow and the rounds are very carefully assembled. In the latter circumstance, precision is the name of the game, while the semi-automatic user likes the sound of the quick fires.


Shooters of military-style rifles probably need a progressive press so they can punch a high number of rounds in a short period of time. That shooter doesn’t want to go to the club with only a dozen rounds. He would only be there for five minutes before his ammo supply was gone.


The bench shooter can take 30 minutes to shoot a five-shot group. The load needs to be as close to perfect as it can be.


Meanwhile, the guy with an AR is sending hundreds of bullets down range.


They are both riflemen, but their needs are different.


A precision shooter usually uses a single station, well-made press. There are many good single-station presses available. Among these I would say with certainty the RCBS Rock Chucker is the best-selling press. It is a good one.


Redding makes The Boss. It is the one mounted on my reloading bench.


In the center of my loading tools is a Bonanza Co-Ax press, and it is my favorite. However, it is one of the higher-priced single-station loading presses.


There are very few bad presses.


You also will need dies for the cartridge you intend to load, a scale – more correctly called a balance – and a good-quality powder measure, which will speed up the process.


Cases lengthen as they are used, so you also need a case trimmer. Along with the trimmer, you also need a caliper so that you know when to trim.


Remember, if the cases are too long, you have a problem.


There are other small items needed, such as a funnel. It’s no fun loading powder into the case one granule at a time.


A loading block is a necessity and I would recommend Lee’s primer seating tool.


Now, you have everything you need except for one important thing – a loading manual.


For goodness sakes, look up your loads.


Start loading your own. You’ll never regret it. Soon, the tail will wag the dog.



George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.


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