The reasons are many, and cost may not be the biggest reason. I've reloaded my shotgun and rifle ammunition since the mid-seventies. I always presumed I did it for the economics, and enjoyment. Now, I believe it is all of the above and more! This Elk taken in 2011, was shot from 406 yds.--through the heart. Both the diligence of reloading properly, a solid rest, and shooting practice may make-up the three-legged stool of "taking an animal" with your own reloads.
2013 marks the third year in a row that I've taken big game animals with a reload. Those two deer and one bull elk, were shot through the heart. There have been others of course, but the elk in 2011 was shot at 406 yards. What stands out to me, is that each and every one of these animals was not going to flee more than a few yards from where they were initially hit. The deer heart below was taken nearly off-hand (average rest) with an above average rifle, and my friends great recipe--name for a load one is developing or has developed.
The .338 Winchester Magnum, in BAR 1 (Belgium made), is a remarkable gun and caliber. No one that reloads or shoots semi-auto's would believe the groups this gun shoots. Not only proving that a reload can work in most any gun, but the toughest of actions for consistent accuracy.
So let's rewind.
You want to learn to reload, but have to be convinced to go for that initial purchase. I know, a press, the dies, the this-that-and-other, and before long it seems like at least $500 bucks has been laid out. Well, my initial outlay was in 1976. Divide that by almost 30 years of reloading, and the only things I buy regularly (When the Preppers and Apocolypticans don't have a cave full of this stuff) are: Primers--every few years; Powder--every few years; and, Bullets--every few years. I am primarily an archer, so my reloads last me for 5 years, or more! Some serious folks won't allow reloads to sit for more than a year without shooting them--so, only reload what you'll shoot in a years time, if that's the case!
In my case, I'm not a match shooter, and as I age I may become one. But, for the average-guy, reloading is an art and as an artist, one can create his own masterpiece.
I thoroughly enjoy my quiet time and perfecting a reload is as enjoyable as it gets. The reasons are many, but targets tell the story that the meticulous attention to detail can bring. The below target is from 100 yard sight-in, with the .338--I have four groups like that now.
--this is the largest of them--easily covering them with a quarter.
This gun with the right load has taken three animals shot through the heart from 100-406 yds. That is what a good gun and a good reload can do.
Here is what my pellet rifle can do after I developed a load for it...(just kidding), but it looks like it!!
I just read an article in Guns and Ammo that stated brass is the BIGGEST expense, and that reloading (once your brass is acquired and fire-formed) you save 60% over factory pricing--which I only buy occasionally for two rifles, and then reuse the brass, of course and if the brass is labeled from which of (similar calibers--differing chambers) the guns I used.
For an example: I have two rifles in .30-06. IF you ONLY neck-size after fire forming, you must not switch brass between different guns (you can get away with it, but not advised!), so label which of the rifles of the same caliber you fire-formed in--other wise you will have to full-length size the cases--and should if there is ever a doubt!!
Have fun, and keep detailed notes on all reloading efforts! To uncover problems, but to also know the most accurate rounds for your guns.
More details to come in the next post...
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