|I run trains!|
With my recent job loss I've found myself with a lot of time during the day. In between job hunting I've started to get back into my reloading setup. I'd previously stumbled into a deal on a 650XL but soon after I got setup and running we had our third child and that curtailed things significantly.
Now with more time I'm jumping back in. My questions are regarding how many loads/setups are practical for an occasional reloader. I can run the numbers all day long, but what that doesn't tell me is how much of a hassle or headache it is to keep track of a large variety of loads vs. a more limited number.
My initial intent was to setup for the following:
-.30-06 (for an M1 Garand)
Reason for these are they're the one's I shoot the most of; I realize that outside of 300 BLK and .30-06 I'm probably not going to save any money, but maybe I can get more bang for the $ and shoot a little more often. My reloading space is somewhat limited so for the time being I'm confined to the one machine and swapping back and forth for different loads. If/when I ever have the disposable income and space I'd like to setup a press just dedicated to say 9mm for ease of occasional loading the bulk of my shooting.
Now to the questions. Let's take 9mm for example, about 1/3 of my 9mm shooting is suppressed through either PCC or handguns. With that in mind, am I better to just setup to run a single 147gr load for all my 9mm shooting, or does switching back and forth from 115/124gr for plinking to 147gr for suppressed make sense? In that I mean should I look to stock two powders, cheaper for plinking and cleaner for suppressed, or does it just add too much complication?
300 BLK will be exclusively setup for heavy suppressed loads, so no issue there; same for .30-06 in that it will be exclusively one load that I'll run.
5.56 is more so that I could/can weather a future ammo shortage if it were to happen again.
So there you go. Thoughts from those that have been doing this for longer than me?
Success always occurs in private, and failure in full view.
I am a relatively new reloader. Currently I load 9mm, 44mag/sp, and 45/70. These, because they are what I shoot most often - 9mm by a wide margin.
I have neither the time to load others nor space to store much more in the way of dies and associated equipment.
I could, in the future, think about loading 40S&W, 380, and 223/556 or even 270win, but I really don't shoot those calibers very much at all and I have a fair stash of factory ammo in any event.
As always, YMMV.
I certainly have several caliber conversions that are only used occasionally, with 3-4 that are loaded regularly:
This is a descending order, with 9mm and .40 being match loads. For my use, it's all about stocking components...for the last 40+ years.
|and this little pig said:|
Let's take your 9mm example. My defensive ammo is 124gr, so I reload with a 124gr bullet and use different powders and powder weights. My intent is to find the optimum powder charge & bullet that will yield the best accuracy out of my pistol(s). What does it take to do this? Time, patience, equipment, and meticulous note taking.
Find a bullet weight that you want to use (defense or target might be very different). Pick a powder. Some reloading books will list the most accurate powder for a specific bullet. This is a good place to start. If you have limited cash, experiment with one or two powders first.
If you can, try to avail yourself to a chronograph. Some are not easy to learn, some lend themselves to getting shot, some are just too darn expensive. Either look for the highest velocity from a powder or the best accuracy. Shoot from a rest to eliminate most personal inadequacies. Take copious notes. You'll find that some powders are more sensitive to temperature than others, although the newer powders are designed with this in mind. When reloading and testing, you might want to separate cases by headstamp. Maybe Federal/PMC shoot better than Winchester or Blaser. Your copious notes will let you know! I'd start by using powder A at a medium charge. Load 10 rounds. Go up .5gr and load 10 more, etc until you get close to max charge. Keep notes that include case. primer, bullet weight, charge, temperature on the range. A chrono will compile velocities and std deviations.
That is just one caliber! But, shooting is fun, right?
I have a Dillon 550B and reload for many calibers, pistol and rifle. I chose this press because of its versatility and how easy it is to convert. If I want to go from 9mm to .45ACP, it takes less than 4 minutes to convert the press. Another 3-4 minutes to get my desired charge from the powder measure and check other dimensions (seating, crimp) and I'm good to reload. I can do close to 200 rds/hr with all the QCing (periodic powder weight, OAL of catridge, random round in a case gauge, etc). Same if I convert from .45ACP to .223! Once the dies are setup in a die head dedicated to that die set, I'm good to go!
The one thing that I do is load my ammo the same
For 223 and 3006 same powder H4895.
I run two 550's one small prim and one large prim
My problem is over the decades I jumped on all the us calibers and have the tool heads setup from 5x7 to300 ultra mag.
Father time has run over my ass and I mostly don't shoot anything anymore other than the 5X7 and the house 9X39 pistol.
Ten years ago I was turning hundreds weekly and shooting the same if all.
I shoot 38 thru three guns. I have two loads, wadcutters and 158 cast.
I have two 357 magnum guns. I make one kind of ammo for both guns.
I have four guns for 223/5.56. I make only two rounds for them. only one gun gets the special stuff cause it’s a bolt gun and I make the rest to nato velocity and use it in 3 ARs.
I have two 9mm pistols, they get the same ammo.
It’s much easier to keep stuff the same. The 223 that is different uses Sierra green polymer tipped ammo, so it’s easy to see the difference than FMJ I produce.
"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers
|I run trains!|
Thank you. This is very much what I was trying to get at. While I might be able to save a tiny amount of money by loading two loads for 9mm, one for suppressed and the the other for plinking; is the added hassle worth the savings.
Sounds like I need to just standardize my loads for each caliber and call it a day.
Success always occurs in private, and failure in full view.
You can work up a good 9mm 147 grain load, but I have loads worked up in each bullet weight with 4-5 different powders.
The reason being future availability of preferred powders and bullet weights.
Also I reload because it's cheaper than factory ammo. VihtaVuori is great but expensive. My favorite powder for 147 gr is probably CFE Pistol.
I've tried the new Winchester 244 and don't think I would buy it again. CFE Pistol is excellent. Oh and don't forget Titegroup.
One of the benefits of reloading is the ability to customize loads. I’ve never understood the desire to reduce down to a single load. It seems to remove one of the reasons to hand load.
On a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
|Prepared for the Worst, Providing the Best|
I load for quite a few calibers. How I load for them is dependent upon volume and the intended purpose.
9mm - I shoot more of this than anything else. My duty gun is a 9mm, and I own quite a few others as well. I currently have a Hornady LNL set up exclusively for 9mm. I've settled on a load using HS6 and a 135gr coated bullet from Donny Summers, and I typically crank out 5-10k of these a year. Same load every time...I've found what works and I stick to it.
Other handgun calibers (.40S&W, .45ACP, .45 Colt, .38spcl, .357 mag): These all get shot a decent amount, but not as frequently as 9mm. I am still playing with loads for some of them, and night try different bullet or powder combinations from time to time. I have a Lee Classic Turret that I run these in, with turrets already set up for different calibers. I drop powder as a separate step off-press from Lee or RCBS powder measures. I've found this setup to be cheaper than separate toolheads or powder measures for the progressive, and much quicker to switch between calibers for my lower-volume stuff.
Rifle (.223, 6.5 Grendel, .30-30, .30-06, .45-70): I have a Lee Classic Cast single-stage for these (although the straight-walled .45-70 usually gets run on the Turret). Typically I'm weighing each charge for these (I use a powder measure to drop a few grains under and trickle up) so speed isn't really a factor, and I like the precision of the single-stage. I've worked up loads for most of these already, so I don't do a lot of changing stuff around. I do have a different load for cheap bulk .223 AR fodder than what I use for my target rifles, but for the most part once I've found a load that works I stick to it.
I don't load for 9mm because I don't shoot a ton of it and with 9mm commercial practice ammo is these days, it just isn't worth my time. I have one practice/plinking load for .45ACP, two for .45 Colt (200gr and 250gr bullets), and one for .38/.357. For HD/SD use I buy HST or Gold Dots in both 9mm and .45ACP.
For long guns, most of my handloads are for match shooting, in 6.5CM and .223. Those I do on a single stage press because there are enough by-hand operations to make a progressive all but pointless. I do use the progressive (an old RL450 partially updated to a pseudo-550, the same press I load my handgun ammo on) for .223/5.56 plinking ammo. I have one M193-ish load and I'm just starting to work up a Mk262 clone load.
Changing primer sizes is the most PITA part of switching calibers, so if I run across a good deal on a used RL550 or 650 I might pick that up and dedicate one progressive to large primer loads and the other to small primer loads. Except that my loading bench already has the 450 and the single stage press mounted on it and there really isn't enough room for a 3rd one.
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