Manual reloading is an increasingly common practice amongst serious shooters. Not only does it help save money, but the process itself can also be enjoyable and rewarding. But because it’s a complex process, the question might naturally arise, is reloading ammo dangerous?
Unfortunately, it definitely can be. There are many aspects and components of reloading, which means you can never be too careful.
So today, we’re going to discuss 5 of the most common reloading mistakes and how you can prevent them from happening.
Let’s get started.
1. Incorrect or Excess Powder Charge
This is first on our list because it’s undoubtedly the most common mistake that reloaders are guilty of making: loading excess powder into the cartridge or loading the wrong powder.
Why is this an issue? Because if you load a case with too much powder or with the wrong kind of powder, you are creating the potential for an explosive situation. You may end up sustaining serious injury or damage.
The easiest way of avoiding this mistake is to inspect each cartridge individually to ensure that all the cartridges have the same amount of powder. You’ll have to be careful, as this is a completely visual process.
If this is a problem you struggle with frequently, you can consider buying a reloading kit that comes with automatic powder measurement capabilities.
Additionally, if you have a reloading manual, you can refer to that as well. The best ones will usually detail the required amount of powder for each type of caliber.
Another cautionary step you can take is to label all your powders correctly and store them separately. This is an essential precaution to take if you’re loading multiple types of cartridges.
2. Primer Seating Errors
There are two main ways in which you can bungle up seating the primer in the cartridge. Either the primer will be seated too deeply, or not deeply enough.
In the case of excessively deep seating, the primer tends to become more sensitive, and therefore more prone to impact. This happens because some of the primer is crushed when it’s forced too deep into the casing.
And if the primer isn’t seated deeply enough? Well, then it will protrude out of the cartridge’s back end. Once again, this increases the primer’s sensitivity, which can cause it to be ignited prematurely.
And even though safety is the main concern, it’s not the only thing that’s affected by inadequate primer seating. Inaccuracies in shooting (such as in cycling and firing) can also be attributed to this reloading mistake.
So, what should you do? Once again, inspect and carefully observe after you’ve inserted the primer. It should be seated under the surface of the back of the casing. If you know someone who is already an experienced reloader, enlist their help.
3. Poor Casing
Many reloaders recycle used cases after they have done the shooting. This is, understandably, an economical choice for many reloaders.
However, one of the most common culprits of reloading gone wrong is poor casing, and that usually happens with recycled casing. Your casing is poor when it’s cracked, dented, or not of the right size. In any of these situations, you should avoid using the casing.
If your casing has a crack or a dent or is simply too big or too small, this can allow gases to escape from the cartridge easily. In turn, the escaped gases can create huge potential for the shooter—you—to be harmed.
The worst-case scenario is for the cartridge to totally split open, which as you can imagine, will damage your weapon to the extent that you won’t be able to use it.
So, poor gun performance and safety hazards can be attributed to poor casing. The best way to avoid this is obviously to double-check each casing before using them. And of course, always think twice before reusing casings.
4. Using Too Much Sizing Lube
Using spray lube for the purposes of case sizing is a common practice; however, using an excessive amount can cause issues. Most commonly, you can end up with divots in the case.
Usually, miniscule vent holes will be placed to ensure that excessive lube does not escape. However, because lube is not compressible, applying too much will cause it to accumulate in the die. That’s how you end up with dents in brass cases, which tend to be malleable.
The effect this has is reducing case capacity. You might have to deal with cracking, and of course, there’s always the chance of fatigue.
So how should you avoid this issue? It’s simple enough: avoid using extra lube. Sure, they can make your life easier at the moment; however, using too much lube almost always has a negative impact on your gun in the long run.
5. Crimping Too Much or Not Enough
As you may already know, crimping is the process of securing the bullets such that they don’t make too many movements. However, excessive and inadequate crimping during the bullet seating process can both cause issues.
If the case isn’t adequately crimped, this can cause the projectile to protrude from the casing. Naturally, this has every chance of landing you in difficult situations pertaining to cycling and loading.
On the other hand, if the case is excessively crimped, that can definitely also cause cycling issues. This happens because of a bulge that is formed in the cartridge, which in turn leads it to being hung up when entering the chamber. The projectile of the bullet is then affected.
Make it a point to regularly examine and inspect your ammunition. Develop a separate process for crimping.
Because of the nature of the task, expertise ultimately doesn’t count for much. Whether you’ve been reloading for a long time or have just started recently, it’s not uncommon to experience reloading accidents.
Hopefully, our article has been helpful. If not, you can always turn to a good reloading manual. Stay safe!
Joseph Fox writes on a variety of topics ranging from reloading ammunition to gun cleaning. He has been featured on various publications like thetruthaboutguns, Sofrep & many more. Joseph is also the founder of Gunloading, where he reviews different types of reloading & firearm products available on the market.