A Life Spent Reloading

Experts | Shooting Iron |

List making is an exercise in mental relaxation for me. Recently, I set about listing the handgun cartridges for which I currently handload, and that ballooned into how many different ones I’ve reloaded in my lifetime. It’s a list with some odd twists and turns.

The total was 32, with handguns and die sets for 21 still on the active list. For semi-auto pistols they have ranged from .30 Luger to .45 ACP. For revolvers, on the small side they were .32 S&W Long, to .454 Casull on the big end. At this writing the smallest handgun cartridge for which I’m actively reloading is .32 Auto. The largest in volume is .45 Colt, but the largest in regards to bullet diameter is .455 Webley.

Like so many other reloaders of handgun ammunition, my career started with the .38 Special. That was in December 1966. Being a list keeper even at that age I jotted down the quantity assembled after each session at the bench. I quit doing that in 1980, by which time the total of .38 Specials had passed 60,000. Remember that was before the advent of commonly available progressive presses. On the other end of the spectrum are .357 SIG and .454 Casull; both calibers for which I have loaded only a few hundred rounds. They were fired in borrowed guns solely for the purpose of writing articles and I wasn’t impressed with either round.

By the fall of 1968, I was reloading for .44 Special, .44 Magnum and .45 Colt. At that time I also began assembling my first autoloading pistol cartridges. Naturally that was .45 ACP. Here’s one of those odd twists. Over the decades, I have handloaded tens of thousands of three revolver cartridges, but perhaps only a couple thousand .45 ACPs. I seldom take those .44- or .45-caliber revolvers off the shelf now, but have fired many thousand .45 ACPs (and 9mm Luger) these past few years. That’s because in building my World War II firearms collection, a couple each of .45 ACP and 9mm submachine guns have landed in my vault, along with handguns for same. I have one progressive press dedicated each to .45 ACP and 9mm Luger.

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