Getting Started, With ‘Reloading All Day’
So You’re New to Reloading…
…and so are a lot of folks these days. With ammo prices sailing into preposterous territories, many newcomers to ammo production are dipping their toes in the water for many reasons.
I myself am looking to jump into that world. By fate one day I ran into someone on the range who was willing to explain every twist of the rabbit hole. Little did I know at the time I was speaking with the founder and mad scientist behind Reloading All Day. Whether you call it a man, an account, or a mission, Blake is a one-man show that has endeavored to help anyone willing to roll up their sleeves and resize a case learn the ropes.
Above is a link to his Instagram, where you’ll find a link-tree to one of the several avenues by which he offers knowledge and instruction for reloading. He has a blog, an app, and even a new YouTube series dedicated to cutting through the years of forum scrawling and book purchases to get the need-to-knows.
Blake and his friend were kind enough to meet me at the range again a couple weeks later to show me what some of their testing looks like and to answer my questions. From this .223 Wylde gas gun there were a carefully staged set of rounds organized in groups of five. Each group had a slightly different charge weight, which is to say slightly more or slightly less powder than the previous load depending on which direction you’re working in.
The goal here is to find the charge weight range that gives you the least amount of deviation from one to the next. This will help you find a node. And within that range you’ll also find which charge weight offers you the smallest SD, or ‘Standard Deviation.’ If this sounds like another language to you, don’t worry, Blake only explained it to me two or three separate times before it stuck.
We talked about a lot of things. The state of reloading today, the boom of newcomers, where the world was going next, conspiracies about Area 51… you know, usual. But to make sure I did him and his words due diligence, we corresponded later via email with some of the questions from the discord members as well as some of mine.
Reloading All Day
TKB: What is your background in reloading? How did you get started and what do you like to focus on today?
RAD: My journey began when I was very young. Around 14 years old when I had an older gentleman standing behind me picking up every piece of brass I fired. Puzzled, I asked him what the heck he was doing. He told me about reloading and I quickly jumped into every piece of literature I could find. I started off with stuff that was recommended by those on YouTube. My focus today is to test the theories and methodologies of those being taught and the science behind handloading. I was, unfortunately, a victim to a lot of the snake oil being shilled on YouTube and I got a lot of stuff that didn’t work or flat out was just not as advertised. Now, I test a lot of equipment that comes out, test projectiles in regards to internal ballistics, and even help people via video chat every night just for fun. My end goal is to just help people get into handloading. It truly has brought great joy to my life and has made shooting flat out more enjoyable. If I can help others shoot tiny groups at far targets, that’s what it is all about for me right there.
TKB: How did Reloading All Day find it’s start? Where has the project come and where do you see it going?
RAD: Jumped on Instagram, got into photography a little bit, started writing some articles, and quickly grew from word of mouth from just helping people out. I hope to see the whole page and website grow into something where I can help even more people out with handloading on a large basis, maybe even classes. We just came out with an app called RAD Development, that helps people in their handloading process. It has different graphs, charts, data points, and anything any handloader would want regardless of what type of reloading they want to do. Competition, plinking, ELR, PRS, etc.
TKB: There’s obviously a large and sudden interest in reloading with our current ammo shortage. Has RAD seen any trends in engagement or in the general reloading community as a result?
RAD: Oh, yeah. Theirs been a huge influx in the amount of new guys switching over to handloading. Ammo shortages are bad. However, so is reloading components right now. Moreover, every handloader you talk to buy in bulk for the utmost consistency from one lot to another. So, if you talk to some serious handloaders in the community, they’d be more than happy to lend out a hand to get you started at least before stock and prices come back down. The community is awesome. Reloading is intimidating at first, but with the right help it’s very enjoyable.
TKB: Ammo shortage isn’t the only reason folks get into reloading. What are some of the different reasons one would choose to start reloading? What are the larger segments of the community at large?
RAD: Precision, flat out. A lot of people don’t understand that the advertised velocities on the side of boxed ammo is not what speed you will be getting. Most test barrels are 20″, with let’s say 55 grain FMJ’s for .223 going around 3000 fps or more, while most common AR’s have 16″ barrels, It is going significantly slower. Around 2700-2800 FPS depending on the manufacturer. Moreover, When you handload you are creating a handcrafted cartridge specific to your own rifle. The barrel length, the twist, the amount of powder, the seating depth, primer type, case type, shoulder setback, and way more. When trying to shoot very tiny groups at far distances, factory ammo doesn’t cut it if you want to shoot super tiny groups. Reloading is very subjective. Can you hit targets at super far distances with factory ammo? You bet! Consistently? Well….that’s speculative and subjective. Lots of different needs and requirements for each individual. Reloading takes you to that next level of precision and repeatability with certain reloading methodologies.
TKB: I know RAD has a lot of great resources for the beginner to reloading that covers equipment and methods. For someone starting at square one, what is some advice you’d offer beyond any specific technical concerns?
RAD: Don’t be intimidated, ask a ton of questions. Question everything you read. Use a barrel wear friendly cartridge to test out on first. Ultimately, just have fun with it.
TKB: Can you give an example of a good “square one” project for the prospective reloader to undertake to dip their toes in the water?
RAD: Reloading manual. Lookup your cartridge you want to reload, do some research on your barrel twist and length of barrel, and find the best grain of projectile that will work with your twist rate in your barrel. Once you have that, you have a good foundation on powder to choose from, bullet types, etc. Moreover, that reloading manual will show you everything you will need to know. Even how to reload! Also, a good resource to determine what grain bullet will work in your twist barrel, is Berger Bullets Stability calculator. All you have to do is enter the length of the barrel, twist, and the projectile you might want to use. Moreover, we also plan on adding a stability calculator and a bunch more that will help out new reloaders on the app, RAD Development.
TKB: Give us a quick and dirty rundown of how you develop a load for your intended purposes.
RAD: For the new guys,
- You will want to look at the minimum powder charge and the max powder charge with your powder of choice you find in your reloading manual.
- Load up 3 rounds each in .2 grain increments. So, if your minimum powder charge is 30 grains and max is 40 grains. You load up three rounds at 30 grains, another three rounds at 30.2 grains, another 3 rounds at 30.4…and repeat all the way up to 40. Seat the bullets at the recommended COAL (collective overall length) that is shown in your manual for the cartridge listed.
- Fire them on target and see which groups best on target, use that as your load.
This is a VERY basic method. After you get comfortable, you can then start researching seating depth tests, chronographs in relation to SD and ES, and maintaining it low consistently, measuring by CBTO vs COAL, fire forming, and much more. Again, reloading is subjective, you might not even have to worry about getting a chronograph, measuring by COAL vs CBTO, and way more. Just ask yourself, “what are MY needs in reloading?” That will really help put yourself in perspective how serious you want to get into this.
Fair warning, it’s a rabbit hole. You’re essentially making a mini rocket fly better out of your barrel. But I will tell you this, the results are very rewarding knowing that you can put 5 shots in the same hole.
TKB: I know RAD has an app, a website, and now a foray into YouTube. What sort of content can we expect to find there?
RAD: Testing reloading theories and methodologies being taught with no statistical backing to see if it is correct or not, reviews on certain equipment, how I approach load development, internal ballistic performances of certain bullets, and overall just education on many things reloading. My goal is to just help people out, I know this stuff can be intimidating at first, which I strive to make it very easy to understand and get into.
Anyone reading this, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d be more than happy to hop on a call with you and just walk through reloading, figure out what you need for your own specific needs, and whatever else you want to talk about.
More To Come!
This ain’t the end of the road. RAD has agreed to help TKB flesh out some more reloading questions with a live podcast. If you have any questions at all you can direct them right to Blake or await the yet-to-be-determined date.