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Give Handloading a Try

Give Handloading a Try

I am advised that well under half of all active shooters use ammunition they have assembled in home reloading shops. That means a solid majority of shooters go to local or online merchants to buy their ammo. Since we know that interest in the shooting sports is at an all-time high, with more people shooting more shots, I am amazed that more of them are not handloading. This is particularly true of handloading for handgun cartridges, as there are several new handgun sports that really didn't exist in the past. The sporting handgunner shoots a lot more times per match than does his rifleman brother. At the same time that all of this came to pass, the reloading industry replied with what amounts to a revolution in high-volume loading equipment. More than a few IPSC, IDPA, SASS and IHMSA shooters have a big blue Dillon of one sort or another bolted to a bench in the garage. Although these big blue (red, black, green, orange, whatever) presses are somewhat pricey, they pay for themselves quickly if you are loading for volume. Shooters who are considering a progressive, high-volume press need to take note of the fact that there is a surprisingly wide range of prices available.

But volume is only part of the handloading mystique. No shooter will ever appreciate a nice, tight on-target group as will the shooter who personally loaded the ammunition that produced it. When he follows all the rules and assembles a batch of cartridges that perform well, he knows the extra care that he put into it. As his abilities grow, so does his confidence. When a load combination does not perform well, a confident handloader/shooter instantly knows that it isn't (or maybe is) his fault and he needs to try another combination. As time passes, an experienced and conscientious handloader simply knows more about his ammo, gun and himself. And lest there be any mistake about it, it is possible to out-perform the ammo companies—almost all the time. Learning how to do it is simply  a matter of time and effort. The ideal way to do it to load at the range. For various assignments over the years and one complete book, I developed a kit that permits me to go to the range and set up a complete, but portable loading bench. Working with a partner (usually long-suffering Stan Waugh), I can get through a pretty detailed work-up of a particular caliber and load in a single day. I might want a super accurate, cast-bullet, long-range load for a long-barreled .41 Magnum. If you get a good early start, you can get through several dozen loads assembled, loaded, fired for accuracy in the machine rest, chrongraphed and targets measured and tabulated. That's in a day.  

Obviously, you have to be motivated to do this. Give it a try.

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