By John Taffin
Myth 1: Reloaders save money. Articles always compare the cost of a box of factory cartridges with the cost of components once we have the fired cases to reload. At this level we do save money, but we need to factor in the cost of the equipment and how long it takes us to recoup our investment. For someone who is only going to load a box or two a year, it’s a lot cheaper to stay with factory ammo.
Will someone who loads hundreds of rounds a year save money? Probably not, but he will certainly shoot more for the money. I’ve never saved any money by reloading, but have been able to shoot thousands upon thousands of rounds as well as tailor ammunition to particular sixguns, especially odd or old calibers.
Myth 2: With the arrival of the Internet we no longer need loading manuals. The Internet is a wealth of information, however it’s also a mountain of misinformation. Some of that comes from anonymous posters, and goes way beyond bad information, into dangerous perhaps even evil information. Never accept reloading information of any kind from anonymous sources. There are a few reliable sources on the Internet which are maintained by bullet and powder companies as well as handloading publications. These can be trusted. All others are suspect, and the answer is stay with loading manuals.
Myth 3: One good reloading manual is all that’s necessary. Actually, one manual is just a good start. Hornady, Sierra and Speer are my most used jacketed bullets for reloading, and whichever bullet I’m using I want that manufacturer’s recommendations. This was brought home again this week as I used the same weight bullet for each of the three companies. When I checked out their recommendations for starting and stopping loads they were not the same.
Why? Simply because there are so many variables when it comes to reloading. Each of these three bullets have different bearing surfaces, sometimes slightly different diameters, are tested in different guns, under different conditions and with different equipment. By having all three manuals we are better able to make an informed choice.
Powder companies also produce manuals, with one being the Hodgdon’s Annual Manual. This very inexpensive reloading manual comes out every year and is constantly updated. I have a large collection of classic loading manuals going back to the 1930’s. They’re full of interesting information, however the loading data is definitely outdated and not to be used. Powder and primers have changed, as well as methods of measuring pressure and its affect on handguns. The first step in staying out of trouble when reloading is to always use current reloading manuals and information.
Myth 4: With the arrival of carbide sizing dies case lube is no longer necessary. This myth is correct as far as it goes, but using spray lube on cartridges which are going to be sized with a carbide sizing die helps to reduce the effort. Sizing 50-100 cartridges may not be noticeable, but when we get up around 500 or more the extra help the lube affords becomes noticeable.
Myth 5: Overall Cartridge Length, usually designated O.A.L., is virtual gospel and must be adhered to. This needs to be approached in separate ways for semi-autos and sixguns. I learned never to reload a batch of cartridges without first making up a couple of dummies for testing. Bullet manufacturers offer overall cartridge lengths for using each of their bullets. This is not the most important measurement, but rather that of finding whether or not that particular cartridge will fit in the magazine. Sometimes the stated O.A.L. will not let cartridges enter the magazine, so check them first.
With sixgun cartridges, normally the length is determined by the placement of the crimping groove. However, once in a while a cartridge crimped properly turns out to be too long for the cylinder. A prime example is the use of the Elmer Keith #358429 .38 Special/.357 Magnum bullet in .357 Magnum cases. When properly crimped in the crimping groove they are too long for Smith & Wesson Model 27 cylinders as well as some Ruger Flat-Top Blackhawk and Colt SAA cylinders. Once again check first.
We’ll be busting more myths in the next column.
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