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Basic Reloading with an RCBS Single Stage Press


To dispense the powder into the primed case, the mouth of brass case is held up tight against the powder measure and the handle (attached to the cylinder) is cycled up and back down.  You should periodically check the powder measure just to make sure it is throwing consistent charges.  I usually check it once or twice during the loading of each 50 round box.  I always check it after loading the last case in the box/group.  If it is wrong, I have no more than 50 cases with an incorrect powder charge in them to deal with.


As each case is charged with powder, it is set into a loading tray (or loading block).  These can be had for under $10 and if you get a universal style, like the one shown above, it will accommodate a wide variety of handgun and rifle cartridges.   The tray holds 50 cases.


When you have filled the tray (or the desired number of cases), carefully visually inspect each case for the appropriate powder charge.  Having a bright desk lamp available makes this pretty easy.  What you are looking for is a missed (empty) powder charge or a case with a "double" powder charge.  It is pretty easy to see that the level of each case is the same as the case adjacent to it.  A double charge (or missing charge) should be very obvious during this very important inspection process.

Aside from ensuring you are using the correct powder for the cartridge and bullet weight, double checking your powder charge is the most important step you can perform in the reloading process.  DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!!!!!!


With each case now holding the correct powder charge, the bullet is loosely set into the top of the case.  Remember, if you adjusted the expander die correctly, you should just be able to set the bullet into the top of the case.  It won't go in very far....but it will go far enough to not fall out.

OK, we are ready for the last step.....seating the bullet and applying a crimp (as necessary).


The bullet seating die is now threaded into the press.  Remembering that since bullets come in different designs, round nose, semi-wad cutter, etc., the adjustable seating stem can be swapped out for the appropriate bullet style.  This prevents possibly deforming the bullet nose by using the wrong stem.

The depth of the seating stem is adjusted so that the correct over all length of the cartridge is achieved.  (see your reloading manual for the proper OAL)  This is where a dial calipers really comes in handy.  Ensuring the over all length is set correctly is important as you don't want the bullet engaging the rifling when the cartridge is not fully seated in the chamber. 

The body of the die will provide a crimping action when it is adjusted down enough into the body of the press.  Some cartridges head space on the mouth of the cartridge, such as the 9mm Luger and the 45 ACP.  You can NOT use a roll crimp on this type of cartridge.  You can use a slight taper crimp to secure the bullet and prevent it from moving during recoil of the pistol.  Consult your reloading manual and/or reloading press instructions for the proper adjustment of a taper crimp die.

Inspect each cartridge as you remove it from the shell holder.  The best quality control behind this entire process is YOU. 

This write-up quickly covered the basic use of the single stage reloading press.  It was intended to give you an idea of what is involved with reloading ammunition.  This write-up is NOT intended to replace a quality reloading manual or the documentation that came with your reloading equipment.  Always refer to your documentation and reference material (i.e., reloading manuals) when adjusting your equipment, selecting powder charges, bullet weights, etc. for the particular cartridge for which you are reloading.

Loading your own ammunition can and is a very rewarding experience.  It helps offset the expense of purchasing new ammunition every time you visit the range and allows you to tailor a load for a specific firearm.  It can take a while before you have all the material you need but gun shows, the "For Sale" sections in the gun forums, and other such places can net you used equipment that can save you some serious money.

Good luck and enjoy this new portion of your shooting hobby!





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