Today I’m going to go over 5 shortcuts for reloading I’ve discovered over the years. As you can see from the photo above, I’m stuck inside today with about a 2ft snow drift outside the garage! So what can a person do with a snowy day? Certainly it leaves an opportunity for catching up on any reloading that needs to be done. One of the more daunting issues I had when I first got started was the sheer time it took me to hand load around 50 cartridges. Certainly with the basic tools, it can be done. However, there are some tools that are more expensive. Ever hear the saying, “You get what you pay for?” Well, several of the 5 shortcuts for reloading I’m going to go over are gear related. Some items just help speed up the process, and some are more technique driven. I’ll let you decide which are worth it!
This should be no surprise. The RCBS Chargemaster is a combination scale and powder dispenser with a keypad. You can load up the hopper with powder, punch in the weight of the powder charge you want, and it will automatically dispense and weigh the charge. They’re pretty good out of the box, but some simple modifications can help increase their level of consistency. The reason this is on the list is because it’s a huge time saver. If you’re loading 200 rounds for a match, individually dispensing them, then transferring them to a beam scale, and then trickling each round…that’s a lot of work.
After modifying my RCBS Chargemaster, I’m able to dispense around 2 rounds per minute and then continue on. I’ve weighed charges thrown on a Chargemaster on a Gem Pro and at least on my scale, they’re consistent enough not to worry too much about the variance. Maybe someday if I’m placing in the Top 10 at big matches I’ll invest the time in checking all of them but for now, it’s more than accurate enough. In fact, I’m planning to add a second Chargemaster to my reloading bench to double the rate at which I can dispense ammunition.
This is another piece of gear that isn’t cheap, but saves a ton of time. In my early days I would have to trim brass by hand, then again, chamfer and deburr in separate steps, each case I was loading. It took up an ENORMOUS amount of my time. The Giraud power trimmer combines these steps into a single process. You drop the case into the case holder that’s already set up for trim length. The carbide blade then cuts the case to length, chamfers the inside edge of the lip, and deburrs the outside edge of the lip, all at the same time. It’s powered and sounds like a buzz saw when you drop a case into the holder.
I can’t over stress the time you save here. Any opportunity you have to combine multiple steps in processing brass or loading it, do it! It does a really nice job on every cut it makes so you have a nice, consistent, piece of brass that’s cut to length and prepped for loading. The Girauds are also some super friendly and helpful people. I had one case holder that was a bit tight so different cases were dropping into the holder at different depths which was messing up my trim lengths. I was asked to send 3 pieces of sized brass back with the holder. I sent it out and had it back in about a week and the problem was solved. They had measured my brass (each die is a little different when sizing brass) and adjusted the case holder to match up with it. Awesome!
Batch Your Brass
This may seem like common sense, but it often isn’t. Batch your brass. It’s silly to change dies, trimmer heads, case holders, etc. for a few pieces of brass. Get in a habit of processing around 100 cases at a time, minimum, as you go through the different steps to prepare it for hand loading. You spend some time getting things ready to process brass. You have to pick dies, if you’re seating projectiles…I tend to readjust and verify the seating depth each time. If you’re trimming you often need to switch blades or case holders. All that takes time and it’s silly to waste it on 20 pieces of brass. Get all your gear set up for whatever caliber you’re planning to load and then run a few hundred pieces of brass through it. I know, you don’t want to be in there all day. That’s fine, maybe trim 200 pieces of brass today, and tomorrow you can toss it in the cleaner, or start priming, or whatever. Break the different steps up and batch process your brass for efficiency.
Spray Lube in a Ziploc
The credit for this time saver in the 5 shortcuts for reloading article goes to Rob over at Sniper’s Hide! He did a short description of how he lubes his cases before sizing and I gave it a try and haven’t done any different since. It’s as simple as it sounds. Get some quality spray lube like Hornady One Shot. Dump 30-50 cases into a large, gallon size, Zip Loc bag. Keep the bag open and use it as a trap for the lube. Spray the lube into the bag, then roll the cases around inside the bag by putting your hand on the outside and rolling them around. Then give them another spritz with the spray lube and dump them into a cardboard box. The Ziploc catches the lube so you don’t spray it all over your house, and the cardboard box allows the lube to dry a bit before you size.
I’m also going to say I’ve found Hornady One Shot to be far superior to lubes that come in a bottle with a pad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen One Shot collapse or dent a shoulder on one of my cases. I’ve had a few different other brands of lube wreck a case in the sizing die. Before anybody says I was using too much of the other lube, I experimented and tried everything from almost none to a lot, and was still getting dented shoulders. If I used less, the case would try to stick in the die. So I’ve adopted this method and it works so well I’ve never looked for another!
Stainless Pins & Wet Tumbler
You saw this one coming, didn’t you? Stainless pins and a wet tumbler make the list of 5 shortcuts for reloading because of how well they work, and how little hassle they are. I’ve used plenty of dry media in my day. Corn, Walnut, stuff with all sorts of stuff injected into it to make it work better…tried it all. Dry media works, it will clean up your cases. However, nothing gets your brass sparkling shiny new like stainless pins and a wet tumbler. My issue with the dry media was that the dirtier the cases, the longer the tumbler had to run. The more you used the media, the quicker it wore out and needed to be replaced. Dry media can also leave a dusty film on the cases, and I like my cases shiny and clean. So I was adding a step and trying to wipe them down before being finished.
The Thumler tumbler and stainless pins also clean the primer pockets better than dry media. They also have the cases clean in an hour, pretty much regardless of how dirty they were to start. So in my opinion, that’s the ultimate solution for case cleaning.
Wrapping Up 5 Shortcuts for Reloading!
So that’s my list of 5 shortcuts for reloading. Looking it over at the end of the article it’s mostly gear related, but if you want to spend less time at the bench, and more time at the range, it costs money. Don’t feel bad, I’d like to get more pistol shooting and practice done and I’m looking at progressive reloading press setups that cost more than a grand! This article is set up in order of importance. The Chargemaster will be your biggest time saver, followed by the trimmer. The other gear and ideas will help, but there’s big time to be saved when it comes to weighing and dispensing charges and when you’re trimming/chamfering/deburring your brass. So that’s where I’d start. I can’t think of everything, so if you have some time saving ideas of your own, or a question…drop it in the comments below!