That is a very good question. Now, in the doldrums between Deer and Turkey Season, is a good time to ask the question. I am just now celebrating my 10th anniversary as a reloader. I spent a good twenty years before that not reloading, but all the time wondering. I never threw away any brass just in case. If you are a deer hunter that hunts with a center-fire rifle, you may find benefits in reloading. I now load for everything I shoot– over a dozen chamberings.
Let me begin by asking some questions:
- Are you satisfied with your selection of ammunition? Can you go to the store and buy what you want?
- Are you plagued by excessive recoil with your deer rifle?
- Are you satisfied with the accuracy of your deer rifle?
- Are you appalled at the price of ammunition?
If you can drive over to Walmart and pick up what you want, reloading is probably not for you. Save your brass. You may change your mind. However, reloading is probably not going to fix any problems.
Recoil is one of the best reasons I know to pick up reloading as a hobby. Take the average 30-06 deer rifle. Take a moderate powder like H4895, knock about 5% off the MAX load listed in the table and put a 150 grain bullet on top. The kick will be noticeably better.
Accuracy is right up there as well as a good reason to pick up reloading. Again, take the idea of knocking 5% or so off the MAX load and see what happens at the range. A lot of shooters try and see how fast they can make a bullet fly, but they pay for it. Somewhere between the starting load (about 8-10% of the published MAX) and the MAX (The amount of powder the book says you should never exceed) is going to be a sweet spot for every rifle. When you find it, the average deer rifle goes down from a sprayer to a tack driver. There is also the benefit of shooting brass that has been fire-formed to the exact dimensions of your rifle, and being able to pick just the right powder and bullet. Overall, you have a lot more control, and that will usually mean greater accuracy.
Can you save money on reloading? Nowadays, probably not a whole lot. It depends on how much you invest in the equipment and how much you shoot. Chances are you will not save money, but you will shoot more and have more to shoot. The offset to cost is the rest of the questions:
- You will always have just the right load for your rifle.
- It will have the recoil you select.
- It will be as accurate as you can make it
- You can make it over and over again and never worry about supply.
So if this sounds appealing, let me give you two suggestions. First is a book that I recommend as great next step:
This is the book I started with. It went about 5 years on the shelf before I finally took the plunge. Every winter I would drag it out and read. In the beginning, I was not really ready for it; it seemed like too much work. Finally, I decided it was going to be a good way to spend the Winter and went for it.
You may be asking “Is it safe?” It is as safe as you make it. Follow the directions. Check all your work, the way the book describes. Never go over the MAX. Don’t try to cheat the process. Never go over the MAX.
. . . and one more thing: Don’t go over the MAX.
The other recommendation I want to make is a good starter reloading setup. Everyone has their favorites. Some like LEE, others Hornady, Dillon, RCBS. In a lot of ways it is like the preference for Ford vs. Chevrolet.
Both will get you down the road. A lot of it boils down to whether you like green, red, orange or blue paint on your press. I asked my friends on an online forum, and the suggestion I took was the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Kit. It has nearly everything you need for the first load, except the dies.
I bought it from http://www.natchezss.com/ . At the time they had the best price. Get used to pricing things. Somewhere between Natchez Shooters Supply, www.Grafs.com, and www.Midwayusa.com, you will find the best deal.
Look for primers, and powder locally. If you ship from a mail-order company they will have to charge you the hazardous material fee of $20 or so.
Brass, if you haven’t been saving yours, can be had off gunbroker.com . Look for once-fired brass.
The rest of what you will have to buy is a story for another day. If you have a hankering to get started in the meanwhile, drop me a comment or an email and I will help you the best I can.