In today’s society, hunters and recreational shooters have the ability to reload their own ammunition. By doing this, people save a significant amount of money when compared to continually buying boxes of new ammunition. The cost, at first, for all the equipment is very high, such that it could deter people from reloading. The reward is when people buy the necessary supplies in bulk which is cheaper per round when the remanufacturing process is complete. Figure 1 depicts a multi-stage (progressive) press that is used by avid outdoorsmen. It is the top-shelf press which is more expensive. However, it is more efficient.
Figure 1: Multi-Stage (Progressive) Reloading Press
Source: “Types of Presses.” Ultimate Reloader. January 2009. http://ultimatereloader.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/progressive_press1.jpg
Contrary to popular belief, the preparation stage begins while at the shooting range or while participating in any event that requires a firearm. While people shoot their guns at the shooting range, all of the expended rounds fall to the ground. The expended rounds are then picked up and assessed for damage by the person that will be reloading them. Cracked and/or bent casings will not be used as it allows for an additional liability when firing the cartridge after reloading. The most important part to collecting expended brass is to ensure that the shooter gathers the right caliber of casing. The stage continues as the shooters get back home. All of the collected used casings are loaded into case feeder with the primer of the casing facing down. The selected Die is loaded onto the top of the press. The gunpowder is measured for precision and accuracy before it is placed into the housing. With all of the components setup and in place, the next step is ready.
Ready, Set, Reload!
After all of the hard work has been done in preparation, the next step is to reload the rounds. The progressive press is the most desired press due to its ability to multi-task. The casings are dropped down the case feeder primer first onto the shell plate.Â The shell plate has five (5) notches cut out of it to hold the casings in various stages of the reloading process. The person reloading pulls the handle down which turns the shell plate. Once the first round enters the shell plate and is turned, it goes to the first stage which is the primer stage. Here, the press punches the old primer out of the casing and prepares the casing for a new primer. While the first round is at this stage, a second casing is in the notch behind it getting ready for the said process. The person then pulls the handle down again and puts the first casing into the second stage which is where the casing gets a new primer. The second casing had the old primer removed from it and there is now an old casing getting ready for primer removal behind it. The person pulls the handle downward again and puts the first casing into the gunpowder stage. Here, the shell plate raises the casing into the die for gunpowder to be dispersed into the casing. The amount of gunpowder that falls into each casing is pre-determined by the user. Once the handle resets in the up position, the shell plate lowers and makes the casings ready for the next stage, whether coming into or leaving the gunpowder stage. The second round now has a new primer. The third round has been stripped of its old primer and an additional old casing has been added to the shell plate. The person will then pull the handle down which initiates the final stage: pressing the bullet into the casing. As the handle goes downward, the plate raises. Before the plate raises all the way up into the caliber die, a bullet must be hand-loaded onto the top of the casing. Once the bullet has been placed, the user then completely lowers the handle which presses the bullet into the casing. When the handle is in the up position, the shell plate drops. A new bullet has been made. The second casing now has gunpowder in it. The third casing now has a new primer. The fourth casing has been stripped of its primer. An additional casing has been added to the first notch in the shell plate. When the user pulls the handle downward, the entire cycle has been completed. The finished casing falls into a round catch where it can be examined. The second round is getting ready for a bullet to be pressed into it. The third casing has had gunpowder added to it. The fourth round has a new primer. The fifth round has had its old primer punched from its casing.
Although the process of reloading ammunition appears to be very tedious and difficult, with some experience on the equipment anyone could do it. The equipment is designed such that it allows shooters and hunters to be successful when reloading their own ammunition while also remaining safe both during the reloading process and firing the reloaded ammunition. The different stages of the press as stated above all serve a very crucial part in manufacturing one’s own ammunition. As the casings turn, they progress towards something bigger, hints the name progressive press.