Friday, June 26, 2009

Pressing On.

Baa Baa black sheep
Have you any wool?
Yes Sir! Yes Sir!
Three bags full.

Yesterday was a start of 3 days off. I was in the city briefly and stopped by to visit a friend. As she and I talked about the reloading process the question came up. Do I reload so I can shoot, or do I shoot so I can do more reloading? The work area is all set up, a screened door to the back yard keeps a nice breeze flowing through, but a fan was a necessity, it's been pretty hot lately. I got a new Lee O Frame press this week and got it mounted to my little bench. I've got some RCBS dies. . . . plus a Hornady scale, a Lee powder measure and the Lyman reloading manual. Let's try it out and make a practice bullet with the brand new press. Ta Da! THE BARNEY BULLET! In any case, it's going to be a fun summer, as long as the primer supply holds out. I got lucky and found a small supply of $32 for a thousand at a tiny "ma and pa" gun store. I've got dies for .45, .380 and .223, probably all I will need for now. I've got a big box of round-nose lead bullets and Hornady XTP Copper Jacketed. Finished product notwithstanding, there's something almost Zen-like about reloading, when you get going at a good pace, a rhythm and grace that with practice becomes a ballet of powder, press and hands. If you've never reloaded, remember, the first step is always the hardest. Trying something new. Embracing something long forgotten that at one time you loved. Embracing something you've never done but wanted to. Tiny leaps upward propelled by longing and only held back by the gravity of timidity.

It's not much different than taking that first solo in an airplane. . You have been given the tools, you have the capabilities. But it's the fear of the what you don't know that holds you back, while upward something enticing but new beckons. You've learned through your lessons, that the sky is sometimes gentle, sometimes capricious. Flying can be just efficient transportation or something almost spiritual in it's quiet, divine in it's vastness. And frankly, you're just a little afraid of it at this point.

But you couldn't resist the siren call and now it's time for your first solo. So you gingerly taxi away from your instructor, who is probably as nervous as you are, and you turn your eyes upward, and drink the air and breath the light and and make that first leap. And the beauty and the vastness of possibility hits you and the exhilaration of all that awaits takes your breath away. And life is suddenly fuller because you can do something you never ever thought you could do. Anything new can be daunting. Reloading was for me at first. Now I stand in the shop in my garage/shop area, a vast cavern of a space with hot and cold water and lights and tools. The fan is blowing my hair and I concentrate, yet my mind is completely open to thought. The soft hush of my movement, the sounds of the press, stabilize into a gentle inaudible song with just the occasional background chorus of the the world far away, and I am lulled into a quietness of efficiency.

Some would say it's a dull way to spend an evening. I find it a totally relaxing way to spend some time. I'm not out in my little plane, but I'm just as relaxed. It's not that much different from that first solo in that little open cockpit plane. I have goggles over my eyes and my hands move in rhythmic efficiency while somewhere the person who taught me grins, knowing the craft continues.

It's a nice, cost effective way to wind down after a long day. As the light starts to dim, I simply bask in the brisk pace of creating something, clouds outside disbanding with the disinterest of late day and the view out my little shop door looking out to the trail of someones little airplane up above. A first flight for someone perhaps? The plane moves onward through the evening, vanishing upward like the smoke from an expended cartridge.


  1. "the Barney bullet" and "the gravity of timidity" ... classics.

    I am so fascinated by the way you blend passion and prose, past and present, seamlessly - and yet in such an entertaining way.

    I keep saying it, but you keep earning it: thank you.

  2. Excellent post!! Those new presses look really neat. I have to envy anyone just starting out because of all the new equipment and new discoveries.

  3. I used recovery time from surgery to use up all my supply of .45ACP bullets, .357 bullets, .45 colt brass, and small pistol primers. You can build up quite a supply when you can't go out and shoot. First time out my wife discovered how much she liked shooting her new SP101. Now my work notwithstanding I'm short on .38 Special again.

  4. Look at a Dillon, I have a 550 that I no longer use, but in the day it churned out about 20K rounds.
    Then there are the primer flippers and all the other neat gadgets aailable.

  5. Hello Lass,

    Good looking bullets. Nice, shinny new equipment. Great looking hands. I am very new to reloading. Haven't been able to establish a "good rhythm" yet. I'm looking forward to that.


  6. I've never head reloading described in such poetic terms!
    If I can find what I need, I think I'm going to set up an area in my girlfriend's garage for reloading.
    I've taught her to shoot safely, and clean her revolver, so maybe we can both learn reloading together.
    The family that shoots together, stays together!

  7. Have you ever been soaring? Flying around with a motor is great, but an upward reading on a VSI with nothing more than rising air is quite a feeling, too.


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  9. Mom has her 78th birthday coming up in July. I am contemplating buying her a Lee turret press to increase her shooting enjoyment. She has never reloaded, but she is a quick learner (and picky about details). Her range buddy shoots
    .38 Special, so they could both benefit from reloading.

  10. a...Clean....reloading bench. I don't think I have seen that in years. Yes, reloading does have a Zen like quality
    Tom O'B

  11. THAT post should be included in the next edition of the ABC's of Reloading.

  12. Reloading=Pure joy.

    Built with your own hands=Priceless

    Now part of your life forever.

  13. You might want to investigate the Hornady 'Lock 'n Load' die inserts. I don't know it they will work with the Lee press. They do with the RcBS ones. It allows you to set the die depth for each die and then allows you to switch dies with a simple insert and twist. Makes changing dies MUCH easier and faster.

    I use them on my .223 dies and they work extremely well and maintain the die depth between multiple die changes.

  14. When I started reloading just over a year ago, I found a lot of my equipment on eBay. Unfortunately, every time I've checked lately, the bids are usually as high or higher than the price of buying new.
    MidwayUSA, Widener's, and Natchez are all online sources for reloading supplies.
    I also found some CCI large pistol primers for $30.95 yesterday at Bradis Guns.

  15. Crucis - I don't have to redo settings when I change the dies. I believe the set up I have operates in the same manner, just a different brand.

    TrueBlueSam - your Mom is going to love that

  16. I'm happy you're having fun pulling the lever. I found some more .380 brass on my shelf if you need more. Every time I go to the gun shop, it seems as if someone's asking for .380 ammo only to hear it isn't available.

    I'm husbanding the small rifle and pistol primers I have on the shelf. I have a large surplus of large pistol and rifle primer--need to trade out with somebody for small primers.

  17. I find in a pinch, reloading will scratch my itch to shoot. Sometimes I just wanna do something 'gun related' and reloading or casting satisfy that nearly as well as actually shooting.

    Don't you shoot a 300 mag? that is a fantastic candidate for reloading. any plans for that one in the future?

    This past season I had an opportunity to harvest my first animal with my own reloads- this year I hope to do it with a reload and one of my own cast bullets.

  18. I ran a progressive press (Dillon)but now just use a Lee 4-Hole Turret press (the Cast Iron one)as I feel better about keeping an eye on the powder drop and changing out dies is fast.

    It can be used as a single stage or semi-progressive and the price is right.

    Reloading is relaxing and fun, especially when you dial in a great load that makes you and your firearm happy at the range with small groups.

    Nice write up!



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