In our hyper-litigious climate, I am amazed that a hobby such as reloading hasn’t been sued into oblivion. Yet here we are, where absolutely anybody with enough money for a reloading press and supplies can become their own ballistic engineer! Hey, it’s only 50kpsi of hot expanding gas contained by the lowest bidder next to your face, why not kick it up a notch?
I had been “planning” to roll my own for years, inasmuch as collecting tools, parts and components and storing them in the garage represents “planning”. But a few stars aligned and I finally got my reloading bench built! Check it out at the money blog: Part 1 and Part 2.
A chronograph isn’t absolutely required equipment for handloading, but much like shooting from the holster without a shot timer, if you want to keep track of how you’re doing it’s the only way to fly. Plus it’s under $100 and scratches my OCD itch.
I’d also like to caution against getting cocky about ballistics at distances further than you have to shoot. Yes, we’ve all played with the trajectory calculator and you can make a guess based on that, but unless you have shot your rifle and ammunition combination at that specific range, you don’t know how it’s going to perform. At my club, 200 yards is as far as we can shoot, and that’s as far as I’m willing to shoot my rifle.
While new handloaders are usually advised to start out on a straight walled, low pressure pistol cartridge, I had a much easier time getting nice .308 rounds turned out than .45 ACP. I have a handful of derpy dummy test rounds, all with some kind of fatal deformity. That seater / crimper die is a bitch! I eventually got some useable .45 ammo, but my .308s were all in-spec from the first lever throw.
Reloading is probably the most expensive way to save money that I’ve ever tried out (“After spending $300 on tools and supplies, my rifle rounds cost less than 25 cents!”), but it’s oddly entertaining to me, and I find myself shooting more for about the same dollar outlay. I really can’t recommend it to anyone, but I’m glad I got into it.