How to Reload Ammo: 15 Steps (with Images)

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How to Reload Ammo: 15 Steps (with Images)
How to Reload Ammo: 15 Steps (with Images)

If you frequent shooting clubs regularly, you'll find that reloading empty shells is a good way to save money and keep yourself fueled. It doesn't matter if you're collecting brass bullets and shotgun shells unloaded at the shooting club or if you're storing the ammunition you used yourself: it's a smart idea, for any athlete, to invest in materials and tools for your practice. See step 1 for more information.


Method 1 of 2: Reloading Metal Bullets

Reload Ammo Step 1

Step 1. Clean the casings

Make sure they are not defective and discard those that are cracked, dented or damaged. Also discard those whose primers are deformed, which indicates excessive pressure during firing.

  • Rub a soft cloth on the inside of the casing to remove powder residue and dirt. Use a cylindrical brush for this.
  • Lubricate the housings so they do not get caught in the sizing mold. Apply a light coat of lubricant to the grease sponge, then rub several sheaths at once onto this pad. Reapply lubricant to cushion if necessary.
Reload Ammo Step 2

Step 2. Collect the products to recharge

In addition to the refill press and a lot of free time, you'll need:

  • Previously cleaned and lubricated housings
  • Primers
  • Bullets matching the size of the cartridges you took
  • Gunpowder appropriate to the size of the collected cartridges
Reload Ammo Step 3

Step 3. Remove spent primers

Place each casing in the refill press, the handle of which should be facing up. Lower the handle to resize the casing and remove the spent primer. Lift the handle again, remove the wrapper and place it in a refill tray. Do this with all wrappers.

Some presses have a rotating tray on which it is possible to reload several at once. However, it will still be necessary to go through the entire process of uncapping the spent casings before recharging. This is tedious, but it ends up being worth it

Reload Ammo Step 4

Step 4. Insert the new primer into the housing

Raise the handle to its maximum height and place a new primer in the gap in the primer arm. Then put a wrapper on the cartridge holder. Squeeze the primer arm into its opening and finally place the casing over it.

Remove the wrapper and analyze the primer carefully. It should be level or slightly below the base of the housing

Reload Ammo Step 5

Step 5. Reload the casing with the correct powder

Each type of cartridge requires a powder of variety and specific weight. It is recommended to purchase a well-known reloading manual such as the "Alliant Powder Reloader's Guide" which covers all the calibers you will reload. Follow his recommendations regarding gunpowder and weight.

  • Weigh the gunpowder to separate an adequate amount. It is possible to weigh each load separately or use a specific volumetric meter for gunpowder or even one for kitchen, if this is properly calibrated.
  • Use a funnel to place the gunpowder. Then discard the spare gunpowder or put it back in the factory container. Otherwise, dust may damage the meter or the equipment in which it is left. Keep the refill area clean and free of powder.
Reload Ammo Step 6

Step 6. Position the bullet

The positioning mold pushes the bullet to a suitable depth in the neck of the casing and turns the edges of the cartridge over. Place one of the shrouds in the cartridge holder and lower the press handle to turn the edges of the shroud, securing it securely with the locking ring. Consult the instruction manual for more information on overturning.

Hold a bullet over an open casing with one hand and lower the handle with the other. If it is necessary to place the bullet further into the casing, adjust the mold

Reload Ammo Step 7

Step 7. Clean the molds and apply a thin coat of gun oil to them and stick them in after reloading the ammo

With this oil it is also possible to lubricate the moving parts of the cartridge magazine.

Reload Ammo Step 8

Step 8. Place ammo in boxes

Keep it in a safe away from your weapons and store this safe in a cool, dry place.

Method 2 of 2: Reloading Shotgun Cartridges

Reload Ammo Step 9

Step 1. Gather the necessary materials

Each shotgun shell has five basic components that aren't as complex as the materials available for refilling metal casings. To refill empty shotgun shells, you will need:

  • Empty cartridges that are not worn out
  • Properly sized plastic rollers
  • Projectile of desired "number"
  • Primers
  • Cartridge powder
Reload Ammo Step 10

Step 2. Check your empty cartridges for any reusable ones

The only reusable component is the plastic cartridge itself, which is thrown out of the shotgun during firing. To find a reusable cartridge, check for signs of wear around the cartridge mouth. Plastic cartridges to be refilled should be relatively even, rounded and undamaged.

  • Examine the cartridges you want to refill against the light and pay attention to the mouth of each cartridge to see that there are no tears or excessive wear along the crimped edges. If so, the cartridge cannot be used as it will not be possible to turn the edges properly – which would result in a defective cartridge.
  • It is generally a good idea to discard cartridges that have been stepped on or otherwise muddy, the safest option being cartridges that come with shotguns where they are placed directly inside the gun from the back. If you want to reload, keep the ammo in a crate or backpack.
Reload Ammo Step 11

Step 3. Depress your cartridges

After placing the empty cartridges in the refill opening, the first thing to do is relatively simple. Pull the lever so the pickle pin removes the spent cap from the empty cartridge and resize the housing to the proper specifications. If the cartridge has bent some of them during shipping, this procedure will fix them a little.

Reload Ammo Step 12

Step 4. Consult a charging guide for charging dimensions

The surest way to make sure cartridges are being refilled to the proper specifications is to consult a trusted refill guide such as Alliant's. It includes a list of gunpowder weights, projectile types and primers that are used in all makes and types of cartridges. If you plan on refilling regularly, it's essential to invest in some such guide.

Reload Ammo Step 13

Step 5. Rotate the metal of the cartridge to charge it with the primer and powder

Each charger works differently and therefore it may be necessary to consult your charge press instruction manual for the proper procedure.

  • Most refill guides recommend using Red Dot powder for refill, in varying amounts. 12-gauge cartridges are usually filled with 16 to 25 grams of gunpowder.
  • Most rechargers have a rotating tray that allows you to accumulate the "ingredients" to be used and therefore to do a relatively quick job. To advance from one step to another, simply rotate the tray and pull the handle again. With this simple action, the highest speed you can get is up to you.
Reload Ammo Step 14

Step 6. Place the roller and projectile

Rotate the tray again and use the lever to insert the plastic roll and the appropriate amount of ammo for your specific cartridge type.

Depending on your goals, there is some choice as to the type of projectile you want to fill the cartridges with. 12-gauge cartridges generally use sized 7, 5, 8, or 9 projectiles, which are sold in 11 kg bags. The smaller the number, the smaller the size of the lead pellets. If you're going to be sport shooting, usually the size 8 or 9 are the best option, while the size 7, 5 are better for hunting or some other purpose

Reload Ammo Step 15

Step 7. Turn the cartridge over

Rotate the refill again to overturn and close the cartridges, securing and finishing them. Store them in cartridge trays, easily available at sporting goods stores and other retail outlets, or simply put them back in the old boxes they came from.

If you've modified the cartridges in any way – using different sized projectiles or in some other way provided for in the manual, note the box so you know when to use them


  • When trying to reload your ammo for the first time, complete about 10 rounds and test to see how shooting works. Shoot once and analyze the casing. Stop shooting if you feel excessive recoil, have difficulty extracting worn wrappers, wrappers are broken, or primers are flattened or sunken.
  • Consider taking a cartridge refill course. See the National Rifle Association (NRA) website for area courses.
  • When lubricating cartridge housings or magazine, do not go into areas that come in contact with primers or gunpowder, as the oil will degrade these components.
  • If the support mold overturns the metal casings too much, they will most likely break during firing and cannot be used.


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