Been wanting to get into reloading for about ten years but for one reason or the other, didn't. First glimpse of reloading was when I bought a Weatherby 300 mag and it would not shoot better than minute of apple. I tried 5-6 different Weatherby factory loads in it with nothing equaling 1". I almost sold that gun till my buddy, an avid reloader, told me to get some dies and we would work up a load. After 20 rounds, we had a 168 grain Amax load that shot consistent 5/8" groups. I was a believer after that.
Sold my home soon after, on the road with work, never had a place for a reloading bench. Working in Kotz in 2004, I ordered the rockchucker kit, only to find I couldn't get primers or powder sent up there. A $30 restocking fee at Midway and lesson learned.
Now back home in NC, I finally broke down and got myself set up. Got the RCBS Rockchucker kit (more or less) as I got the Chargemaster 1500 combo and will order Forster case trimmers. Additionally, I wanted the original RCBS hand primer, not the new model offered in the kits. Otherwise, I bought all the contents of the deluxe reloading kit. Just today, at my LGS, I picked up a Dillion 550 and some 40 S&W/10 mm dies. Got an 8' workbench from Costco the other day. Will buy the RCBS 50 BMG kit soon, but wanted to develop a skill set before rolling my own with the big boy. Also, I got 500 rounds of Talon ammo to burn while climbing the learning curve with my reloading skills. I am ready to go so to speak.
I said all that to say this....
What do I do now
I understand the basics of reloading. I understand the importance of safety (rtfm), value of case uniformity with rifle rounds, bullet seating depth being important, barrel harmonics, etc.. But there are a few lingering questions I would love to bounce off you guys.
How do you go about "working up a load"?
Meaning, I got my Speer manual and see 30 or so rounds for 300 Weatherby. What mental flow do you have to dictate a bullet to use, bullet weight, powder, etc... So many choices, almost a double edged sword of sorts. Curious if there is some logic to the process or if it is simply trial and error to feed a given gun what it likes.
For bench rest/target rifle rounds, what is your process for separating cartridge cases?
Example, I buy 100 Norma cartridge cases and attempt to sort them. I measure them for OAL, and weigh them to determine likeness in case volume. What criteria do you use when sorting? Wondering just how nit picky to be when it comes to the most expensive part of reloading components. Also, how do you go about deciding what OAL to trim all selected cases to? Logic implies that the shortest length in the batch is where you start and you must pick a number above that. Curious what kind of thoughts one might have when choosing the OAL of the brass.
How important is a crimp die (such as Lee) on hard hitting ammo like the 500 S&W, 45-70, etc..?
I have read varying reports on the utility of such a die. Some say it holds the bullet in place and prevents the gun from jamming. From what I read, when the gun fires, the recoil from the fired round jars the rounds in the cylinder (in case of 500) and can cause them to creep out. Other benefits perhaps, but this is what caught my attention. I have RCBS dies for the above calibers and seems some folks think the Lee crimp is better on certain ammo.
Do I need to trim straight walled cases (500 S&W and 45-70)?
The Forster case trimmer I am looking at will work on everything but my 500 due to the diameter of the cutter. To trim my 500 S&W, I will either need to change many parts on the smaller case trimmer, or buy the larger case trimmer they sell. Seems shouldered rounds like the 300 Weatherby will get most the case trimmer time. Wondering if I should invest the extra $100 or so in the larger case trimmer.
Will case preparation/uniformity, bullet selection, powder charge, or bullet seating depth/concentricity have the biggest effect on accuracy?
A loaded question perhaps. ha ha... But is one of the above more important than the other as it relates to target shooting with rifles, MOA, etc... I have the Weatherby shooting 5/8" groups at 100 yards, wondering how to go to the next step. Also, likely buying a Remington 700 "police" .308 soon for target shooting. As this gun is for all out accuracy (for me) I am wondering what steps in the reloading process will effect accuracy the most. In essence, where should I devote the most time?
Any comment appreciated as always