Reloading is simply the act of reassembling a round using each of the 4 basic components; case, primer, powder and bullet. To convert these components into ammunition you are going to need a press, powder scale, dies, and a priming tool. While these are the physical tools you will need in order to complete the reloading process it is also very important that you use a reloading manual. This will ensure you are using the correct amount of power, correct type of powder, correct bullets, and so on. Once you have all have all these tools you are ready to start the loading process.
Your reloading press is the center piece of your reloading operation. While all the tools for reloading have a purpose, the press is what everything revolves around. This is the piece of equipment that does the heavy lifting for the rest of the process. There are many different styles of presses out there to choose from so you can match the type of shooter you are to the type of press you are looking for. For example, a single stage is a slower method of reloading, but it offers tighter tolerances for more precise reloading then a progressive press.
The amount of powder you need will vary from cartridge to cartridge. Things such as bullet weight, desired velocity, and powder type will all affect your charge weight. In order produce an accurate charge, you will need a good scale. While there are many different options for scales and measuring devices, ensuring you have confidence that you are accurately measuring your powder at a consistent rate is very important. A good scale, either digital or mechanical, is a very important part of your bench and failure to accurately measure your powder charge can be very dangerous.
Your press is essentially worthless without dies. Dies are the tools that you use to perform the individual functions during reloading. From sizing the brass to seating the bullet and crimping the neck, each die has a specific job. Each die set has three to four individual dies in it and die sets are caliber specific. For example, if you plan on reloading for a 223, you will need a complete set of dies just for that caliber.
In order to ignite the powder charge within the case you need a primer. Now some presses come with a priming mechanism attached to the press itself which may make it easier for you to complete all the functions of reloading on the press itself. For the presses that do not have this or for reloaders that prefer to hand prime, there are hand tools that allow you to prime off the press. No matter which method you prefer, priming your brass properly is a very important step to reloading and improperly seated primers may result in shooting malfunctions.
While this is just an introduction to some of the equipment and process needed when reloading ammunition, this is a great place to start. There are thousands of different tools and procedures for reloading. Ensuring you are well educated before you start is the best thing that you can do. It is a good idea to start off with a good reloading manual. These manuals not only provide you with load data but also with in depth reloading information. This article only gives a brief outline of what you need to get started reloading but we recommend you pick up a copy of our 50th Reloading Manual for a much more detailed explanation about reloading your own ammo.