On Handloading

Okay, so I’ve had an RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme reloading set for over three years now. My dad used RCBS and that’s what I cut my teeth on–so when I finally had the time and the disposable income I finally broke down and bought some reloading equipment for myself. I told the Old Lady that it would save money over time, and she agreed to let me go out and get it. And the dies. And the powders. And the bullets. And… well, you get the picture.

I’ve now loaded literally thousands of rounds with it, and over all this time I actually kept a log of every round loaded and fired. Then I tabulated how much money I have saved–and no kidding, I am one range trip away from breaking even on the cost. One more range trip and the gear has paid for itself. That’s a pretty cool feeling I am here to tell you.

Over the last few years I’ve chatted with other shooters who have expressed an interested in handloading and I’ve made it clear that if your goal is to save money, then you’re really not in it for the right reasons. I can assure you that yes, while my gear is on the verge of paying for itself, I will undoubtedly expand or upgrade my operation, therefore kicking the proverbial can down the road once again. So I have always advised potential handloaders to get into the hobby for the fun of it, not to save cash. Saving money at this probably isn’t realistic.

There’s another crowd that I’ve had opportunity to chat with, and that’s the prepper crowd. There seems to be this misconception that if the Shit Hits The Fan (SHTF), then reloading would be some sort of super valuable skill to have after the apocalypse. As an experienced handloader I would have to disagree. You see, while reloading your own ammo is kind of a neat skill to have, you still need consumables to create ammunition. While you can reuse brass or shotgun hulls, you still need to load primers, powder, and bullets or shot. And those items simply do not grow on trees. While I can resize brass, and trim the neck, and do some rudimentary tasks, what I cannot do is build primers or create smokeless powder. An alchemist I am not. One might get away with casting lead bullets (and I know I guy who does this) you can’t get around the powder and primer dilema. So if we have a TEOWAWKI or SHTF event, being a reloader will be a valuable skill for about as long as your supplies last. Just like being a truck driver will be valuable until you run out of diesel fuel.

On a completely different note, I do have a gripe about the hobby that has always bothered me. And maybe it’s because I use RCBS equipment. My complaint is that when you buy a reloading kit, you don’t get directions on how to use it. Now, you might say that if you are doing something as complicated (it’s not really) or as potentially dangerous as loading ammunition, you ought to know what you’re doing ahead of time. Okay, sure… but not necessarily. If you are selling an entire handloading kit to a customer, I think it’s a reasonable assumption that that person is getting into the hobby for the first time and may not know much about it. So including an instruction manual might be kind of cool. But RCBS does not do this. Or at least they weren’t when I bought my gear.

Now, like I said before my dad taught me how to do this stuff. But over the years I’ve run into situations with my gear that Dad never talked to me about. Like what to do if a casing gets stuck in a resizing die. Thank goodness for Youtube or else you might be up Shit Creek. Because I’m here to tell you, RCBS doesn’t give you a pamphlet with a FAQ guide. Ever wonder why you need to trim your brass casings or how to what length? Yeah, you’re going to have to research that one on your own too. The bottom line is that there ought to be a basic instruction manual included with these kits with a “how to” guide and some basic troubleshooting info. Oh, and a link to a website with good information couldn’t hurt either. I’m just sayin’.

Anyway, I really enjoy reloading ammo, but I do have some issues. And since I’ve added a fricking crew-served weapon to my collection I may need to revisit my reloading operation and upgrade a bit. Quite a bit actually, since my .30 Cal eats ammo like the Old Lady eats crabs legs at the buffet (I swear, whenever we go to the casino for “crab leg night” she will consume her own body weight in king crab… it’s absolutely amazing).

Something to ponder anyway.

Marcus

P.S. The post was sponsored by Jim Beam and Coke Zero. Another booze-inspired blog post of excellence.

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