So, you’ve finally had enough with the shortages and decided that you want to start reloading. Perhaps you just picked up your first manual or just watched the first season of The Reloading Zone, and you are contemplating what gear to get for your reloading bench.
It’s always the perfect time to start getting your reloading act together so you can roll off high-quality rounds at your leisure and cut your dependence on “big ammo”. As you are setting up shop, be sure that these 10 reloading must-have items are on your reloading bench shopping list.
1. Reloading Bench
It seems like a no-brainer but so many folks open up that reloading kit and realize that they don’t have anywhere to mount a press.
A portable reloading bench like the Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Reloading Stand gives you a dedicated workspace that folds away when not in use. This eliminates the “I don’t have the space” excuse without breaking the bank or breaking out the power tools.
2. Reloading Manuals
The internet is great, but popups and advertisements are unwanted distractions when you are trying to concentrate on making ammunition. Having hard references is critical for perfecting techniques and keeping recipes at your fingertips.
Lyman’s reloading manual is my most frequently recommended reference, and it is best accompanied by the manual that correlates to the specific bullet that you are loading.
3. Single-Stage Press
While thousands of reloaders have navigated the murky waters of setting up a progressive press we still recommend starting with a single-stage jobbie. One way or another you are going to need one of these so why not start here. The Frankford Arsenal M-Press is a great choice because it takes up minimal bench space, crushes straight down, and doesn’t require any shell holders.
Just about every cartridge is going to need its own die set to load it. These dies resize the fired case, prepare it for a fresh primer and bullet and then handle the operations of seating and crimping. There are many good choices out there but Hornady has always been the classic balance between quality and price.
5. Case Lube
Ever try to run a car without any oil? The same thing happens if you try to drive a bone-dry brass case into a steel sizing die. In most sizing operations, cases need to be lubricated, then after sizing, the lubrication needs to be removed.
Products like RCBS Case Slick spray lube get the job done in a hurry and clean up easily, all without having to roll the brass across a traditional lube pad. It may seem unnecessary, but there’s a reason it made the list of 10 reloading must-have items.
6. Powder Dispenser
The days of weighing each charge by hand have been over for a long time. However, we likely never thought we’d see a day where Bluetooth would get involved, let alone cordless operation, but here we are!
The RCBS Chargemaster Supreme has Bluetooth connectivity as well as a feature that allows it to “learn” each unique powder it is dispensing to reduce or even eliminate overthrows- sure beats using a soda straw! It can also be operated via an external battery pack, allowing you to throw powder right at the range.
7. Dial Calipers
I love technology right up until I hate it. While our last piece of gear shows us the beauty of advanced equipment, sometimes plain old analog tools are the way to go. Old-school dial calipers are my go-to measuring device. Electronic calipers have an easy-to-read display.
However, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked them up only to find that the battery is dead. Worse yet, none of those little button-style bastards are anywhere to be found. Dial calipers also hold a measurement indefinitely. There’s no worry of it timing out and shutting off before you had a chance to record a reading.
8. Primer Pocket Uniformer
The goal with reloading is to make every round in a given batch as similar to each other as possible. Uniformity is at its utmost importance in the area of ignition. If you can get each round to light the same way then each powder charge will burn the same way.
Tools like the RCBS Primer Pocket Uniformer “square off” each pocket so that each primer get a solid, repeatable strike.
9. Flash Hole Deburrer
Now each primer is going off the same way, we’ll need to ensure it hits the powder the same way. The RCBS Flash Hole Deburrer removes the excess material.
The excess is left behind from the rapid process of punching flash holes through the case webbing. This ensures that the flame from your primer is transferred completely and in the same manner from case to case.
10. Ammo Boxes
Last on our list of 10 reloading must-have items is a way to store your loaded ammo. Storing ammo properly is more important than you think. Just a few deformed tips are all that it takes to convince most folks.
Also, during the process of load development, you’ll need to keep your different rounds separated. At least until you figure out things like the best powder charge or the best seating depth. The undisputed champion in this field is MTM Case-Gard. They make near-indestructible cases that keep your rounds safe and organized — from .22LR to .50 BMG.