For this writer, 2022 will be remembered as the year I fully discovered reloading. It’s taken awhile, but I’m finally there. Best of all, with deer season just about over I’ll be getting back to the reloading bench.
While ammunition prices and lack of availability were certainly factors in getting me over the reloading hump, the truth is that it’s just something I’ve always wanted to do.
In a New York Outdoor News column I wrote earlier this year, I compared reloading to brewing my own beer, something I did in my younger days before I discovered I was gluten intolerant. I also make my own maple syrup, another self-sufficient hobby, that seems similar to that of reloading.
My timing sure could’ve been better. In early 2021, after interviewing Robin Sharpless from the Cortland, N.Y. based Redding Reloading company, I felt the reloading itch coming on. About a decade ago, an old family friend gave me a box full of vintage reloading stuff. After talking with Sharpless, and doing some research, I realized I had an old C-style, single-stage press and some rusty old dies for reloading .38-special.
Then, early last year, after another interview with Sharpless on the growing popularity of reloading, I told him I was ready to take the plunge. It was sort of a New Year’s resolution for me. It took some time, but by mid-summer I had everything I needed: a Redding T-7 turret press, scales, a powder measure, new dies and a number of smaller accessories.
As for components, knowing the reloading day would come, I had saved plenty of brass over the years for my two main deer calibers: .30-30 and .30-06. And thanks to my old friend, I had plenty of .38 special brass, lead cast bullets and even some primers. Rifle primers, however, have been a challenge, but thankfully, a friend came through with a small amount to get me started.
I also sought some advice from a few guys I hunt with or who are members of our local shooting club, and who reload. I got a lot of it. Add in some serious manual reading, plenty of time on the internet and downloading a copy of a book Sharpless co-authored titled Handbook of Reloading Basics, and I was on my way.
I decided to start with straight-wall pistol cartridges for my .38-special revolver. Cleaning the brass and running it through the sizing/de-capping die seemed like an accomplishment. Experimenting with the expanding die and eventually getting up the nerve to measure powder, pour it into a casing and seat a bullet was simply way too cool.
I loaded up 10 rounds and then deer season took over my daylight time. But my wife put a chronograph under the Christmas tree, and one recent afternoon, I hit the range with a few guys to try out the loads. They weren’t perfect, at least according to the chronograph, but they went “boom” and all I can say is how satisfying it felt.
Now I have a starting point for the New Year and once I get the load I want I’ll be getting a bit more serious.
I’ll go into a little more detail on this in future columns of our print edition, and will touch base here as well. For now, the 2023 New Year’s resolution is to build on last year’s, which will involve loading bottleneck cartridges for the deer rifles, including a custom varmint round.
Stay tuned, and Happy New Year!