Episode 10 – Reloading Pistol Cartridges

Reloading Pistol Cartridges – Episode 10

Step 1

Selecting Cartridge Cases


If you haven’t started reloading than you are buying factory ammo…. make sure you pick up the brass so that you can reload at a later date


Unfired Brass: is just as its name describes… its brand new brass that has never been fired


Once fired Brass: again just as the name suggests… brass that has been fired once.


Selecting Primers:


Magnam….. for magnam loads such as 357 and 44


Large Pistol 10mm and 40 and up


Small Pistol 32 ACP, 9mm and 38’s


Some primers require a hard strike to ignite them over others. If you are a compeition shooter and lightning up hammer springs (this is done in Cowboy cause you have to pull the hammer back manually) than ask around when at a shoot what primers others are using.


Selecting Powder


Check your reloading manual for the type of powders that have been tested with different bullet weights. The Lyman manual has the powder with the best accuracy per bullet wieght typed in bold.


Also some powders require more grains than others to fire the same projectile. This is the reasoning I used to pic my powder. 700X requires 5.9 gr’s for my pistol load while if I choose Unique I would have to use 8.6 gr’s. The less grains used the more rounds per pound you will get.


Don’t be afraid to ask around the range and find out what others are shooting. I did this and will be switching to trail boss…. its what most of the Cowboys shoot and looking at my manual its below 6 gr’s per round as well.


Selecting Your Bullet


There are man different bullets weights you can choose from for each calibre. But it boils down to 2 chooses before you reach that point. Jacketed or Lead


Lead is cheaper to shoot and for that reason alot of people choose to reload lead. Another reason to choose lead is if you are shooting at steel the copper jacket on a jacketed round can ricochet back at you.


If you are have a glock and using the glock barrel than you will have to reload with jacketed bullets. If you shoot lead through a glock barrel it’ll get gummed up and cause problems for you. If you have a glock and want to shoot lead you can buy a third part barrel such as a lone wolf barrel (from Lone Wolf distributors). They make a barrel specifically for shooting lead from a glock.


Outside of owning a glock I don’t know why else you would load jacketed bullets. In the States concealed carry is common and therefore jacketed ammo such as hollow points are used for self defense.


It’s always recommended to use factory ammo in your carry weapon, but you are not going to want to be shooting factory ammo when at the range so for this reason it would make sense to by the same projectile for loading that is being used in your factory ammo.




Case Inspection:


generally you will get 6 – 15 firing from a single piece of brass.


The hotter the load or greater the pressure the less longevity your brass will have


Begin by checking for splits or cracks around the case mouth and than the case walls.


Disgard any cases with damge.






Cleaning your brass protects your dies and chambers. This can be down wet or dry.


A vibrator tumbler used dry media such as crumbled walnut


A sonic cleaner uses water and stainless steel media






Each time a round is fired the casing expands and there for needs to be resized.


If you have a standard die set you will need to lube each case so that it does not get stuck in the die.


Carbide dies avoid this problem and do not require lube.


If you do need to lube, you will have a pad that you put your lube on and than roll each case on the pad than run it through the die. Be careful not to over lube the case.


There are also spray on lubes that you can use.


I have carbide dies and don’t use lube so this step I’m not familar with.






Since I have a single stage I’ll be going over this in that maner.


Pull the loading arm down so the plunder raise all the way to the top.


Screw in your resizing die so that is touches the case holder. Lock the die into place


Inside the resizing die is a de-priming pin. This pin has to be down far enough so that it punches the old primer out.


Place a used cartridge into the case holder and pull the handle.


2 functions are performed (possible 3). The case is resized and the old primer punched out.


If you have a priming arm on your press (which I do) when the plunger is coming down you can put a primer in your priming arm, move it under the case that is coming down and with a firm upwards pull of the press arm you can seat your primer.


And now you have a sized and primed case.


You can choose to prime later with a priming tool if you choose. If you are using Lube this might be the case since Lube can damage primers




Lube Removal and Second Inspection


Repeated resizing can cause the case to become brittle and there for can be cracked or split during the resizing process as well as when fired.


If you used lube it needs to be removed now and a second inspection can be done at the same time.


If you are using Carbide dies than a quick look as you take the case from the case holder can be done.




Case Length Measuring


Firing and resizing can stretch the case length and at this point should be checked. If a case becomes too long it will either not chamber at all or cause the risk of chamber pressure problems.



Trimming and Deburing.


If you need to trim you case back to the trim to length you will also need to debur them. A few twist of the deburring tool is all that is needed.


To date I have not had to trim a single piece of brass. And generally your brass will wear out before it needs trimming.


Rifle cases I believe do need trimming each time… I can be wrong about this since I don’t load for rifle yet.




Case Mouth Expansion


To adjust the expander die body, raise the press ram to its full hieght with a case i the shell holder. Thread the expander die into the press until the expander touches the case mouth. Raise the handle and screw the die in small increments (each time inspecting the mouth) until the mouth of the case has been flared just enough to seat the bullet.


Careful not to over flare your case mouth cause it will get damaged when put into the seating die.






If you have not primed now is the time to get that primer in. There is a tool you can get to cleaning the primer pocket…. I have not needed to do this yet…. perhaps I should have but I’ve never had a problem seating a primer.




Weighing and Charging Powder


Here you need to weigh out each charge (this is how many grains of powder you need) and put it in your case.


I would strongly recommend a powder measure. This will drop a predetermined amount of powder each time. So instead of using a scoop and little by little dropping it onto the scale until you get to the grains you need, a powder measure will drop the same amount of powder each time.


I have a golden oldie measure and there is a knob I turn on the side. I place the case under the measure turn the knob and “Bob’s your Uncle” my case is charged.


If you use the scale than you need to use a scoop and funnel. The problem with this is it takes a long time and if you put too much powder in the scale now you get into taking powder out and its just a pain in the back end.


Do me and yourself a favour and just get a powder measure.


With all that being said, you should still spot check to make sure your measure is still dropping the proper amount of powder each time…. I check the first 5 in a 50 batch… than about half way through I check a couple more than the last 3 or 4 I will check.


I also have a lamp that I will hold over the loading block and I’ll do a visual just to make sure nothing looks out of order.




Bullet seating and Crimping.


  1. Insert a sized case into the shell holder and lower the handle and back out the seater adjustment screw.
  2. Thread the seating die into the press until you feel resistance. At that point, the crimp ring as come in contact with the mouth of the case.
  3. Back the die out of the press on turn to prevent the case from being crimped
  4. Insert a bullet in the case mouth – lower the handle so the cartridge and bullet enter the alignment sleeve
  5. Adjust the seater adjustment screw down in small increments, each time checking your overall lenght until you reach the desired lenght
  6. Once you’ve reached the disired depth back the seater adjustment screw a few turns
  7. Raise the ram with the cartridge to the top of the stoke
  8. Thread the seater die body into the press until it meets resistance.
  9. Thread the seater die into the press in small increments each time operating the handle. After each stroke inspect the crimp until you reach proper crimp
  10. Once you’ve reached the desired crimp (with the cartridge still in the die) tighten the body lock ring. Than while holding down the handle, thread the seater adjustment screw downward until it contacts the bullet.


Final step is final inspection. Make sure primers are seated properly, make sure the rounds are the same length, check cases again.