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I have heard horror stories of what has happened to some people when they did not reload correctly. Upon firing the gun...from minor distruptions to major shrapnel. I am not only worried about myself but also about my gun - they are not so easy to come by these days. Is there a safer way to test a few rounds besides putting them in my dearly beloved and pulling the trigger, especially since I am a newbie?
 

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1 of each - maybe 2 rifle. Yes, that is a good idea - could be done for both actually. But I am also worried about what will happen to the guns.
 

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There are a dozen mistakes a person can make reloading ammo. But only one that makes guns come apart. And that is too much powder or too much of the wrong powder. There are some basic things a person can do to make sure that issue does not cause a Kaboom. Here are some suggestions>

1. Never have but one powder on your work or reloading area at one time. If you are reloading a pistol then only your W296 or H110 or Unique or whatever powder you plan on using are near your reloading spot. Same with bullets. I have 200 grain and 250 grain I am loading into the 454. Only the proper one is nearby while loading.

2. Make absolutely sure of the amount of the chosen powder is what you plan. Always look it up in a reloading manual, and check a second source. I suggest you go ahead and write down on a piece of paper what the load is going to be. I have been reloading since 1972 and had no Kabooms yet. Two days ago I loaded some 454. I wrote the formula on a piece of paper that will go in the box with the reloads. These are light loads. It reads like this:
454 Jan 7,2022
Hornady 240 Mag XTP
CCI SRP
Unique 14.6 grains, 1.6 cc
COL 1.745
Plan is for 1,600 fps in Rossi 92
So while I am loading, that paper is laying there reminding what I am loading.

3. Double check every powder charge. In my small load I only loaded 40 rounds as a test round for moderate loads. I used the little Lee Dipper instead of a powder measure. The charge fills about 75% of the case so I cannot get a double charge because it would run out of the case. Never the less, I still look inside every case to make sure the powder level seems right.

4, Immediately upon checking the powder level, I stick the bullet in it so no more powder could get into the case. If I am loading something like 30-06 where I may use the powder measure and cannot easily see inside the case, I add the powder and put the charged case into a cartridge block. Once the block is full, usually 50 rounds, I take a flashlight and look down into every case. I keep a cheap LED tiny light on my reload bench.

5. Powder selection. Most people believe that the powder is going to be the most accurate and safe when the case is as close to 100% full as it can be, that way it is not laying in different positions each time the rifle is fired. So, select a powder that is 70-100% filling. Many manuals like the Nosler manual will show you exactly how much of the case is filled. When you have a case that is more than 50% filled, then you cannot double charge a case without seeing the second charge spill over. Your biggest risk is a double charge.

6. Probably as important as anything is to not have interruptions or other people in and out while you are reloading. Somebody moving a powder around might cause you to pick up the wrong one. Then of course no drinking when reloading and just common sense safety things like that. Also, there is never anything wrong with using a checklist and keeping a log. You will want a log anyway so you know what did and did not work for a particular gun. I make comments in my little log, like "good accuracy-1 inch groups". I have one for Trail Boss the wimpy powder, that says, "too hot at this level", and others like "great light level load". The 454 that I loaded recently will have comments in the log about accuracy and velocity and recoil.

7. The last thing is select a loading recipe that is near the bottom of the load in the manuals. Most books will give you starting and max loads, like 50.0 grains, 52.0 grains and 54.0 grains. When you choose the hottest load you know you are approaching the danger zone, so start low and work up, that way you do not start with that fear.

Anyway, just go slow, pay attention and enjoy creating your own much cheaper which will let you shoot about 3 times more.

And enjoy the process.
 

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Most rifle loads are almost a full case so it's easy to tell if you get an overload it will run over. Pistols on the other hand can easily be over loaded & it's hard to tell unless you load in a way you can see into the powder level before to press the bullet in.
Another thing when working up a load do what is called a ladder test.
The ladder test is a sequence of rounds loaded in steps from the lowest recommended grain weight load to the highest.
I usually do 5 steps unless it's a very small graduation from the smallest to the largest load.
Then I will load 3 to 5 rounds of each step. As you shoot these test rounds starting from the lowest & checking for overpressure signs, accuracy, any problems chambering and speed if you have a chrono handy.
If you find a problem in any of the items above STOP no not shoot any more until you pull those rounds to see what the problem is.
From what I have seen most rounds shoot more accurately just under max load. So loading everything at max load is not necessary. You will save on the price of powder per round & save on wear & tear on your firearms.
And like Dutch said keep a log book of loads good & bad.
 

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All of the advice above is good and will keep you safe except #1 gives 2 things that can cause a kaboom and didn't list the third and potentially worse or at least easiest to violate . NEVER LOAD BELOW MINIMUM RECOMMEND CHARGE . I know for a fact too little of a certain pistol powder is worse than going over max . If you load too much you will know first shot but too little may seem like a weak load for 1 or several shots the ka boom . Go by manual not someone else's loads will alleviate that danger .

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Follow your reloading MANUAL to the letter completing each step on ALL your brass before going on to the next. Just like baking a cake for the first time. Don't stop in the middle, don't skip around.

Stay off the internet from the time you START until you have loaded ammunition.

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I have a nice LED light setup on my press. I have a progressive so it has a center hole on top that one LED light sits in and then a small strip that runs up the side inside the turrent. I can see everything so that is something I would look into as well for your press. If you are that worried about pulling the trigger on your first reloads, I was the same way. Use a lead sled and a string from several feet away to pull the trigger till you trust the work you have done. Anyway good luck and if you have more questions ask, there are a lot of knowledgeable people here who are happy to help.
 

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Great advice from everyone so far . Unless it's been covered I would like to add use the listed charge for the brand bullet you are shooting . This is especially important when you are near max charge . Two brand ( say 150 grn ) bullets may be the same weight but they may be shaped different enough to where one bullet hits the lands a fraction before the other and cause over pressure . NO ALCOHOL / DRUG ZONE !!! I'm sure it will not be a problem for you because you were conscientious enough to ask about the best way to be safe .

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yep good stuff.

and always remember rule number-1.
start low and work up.

using the minimum load to get started will give you some latitude, and gives you a chance to catch any mistakes or pressures YOUR rifle might see.
not all rifles will take the max load, and most don't shoot their best at the top load anyway.

remember YOU control the quality and outcome of the process.
GIGO...
 

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This is the same advice that others already posted. I'll just say it a little differently.
One of the biggest risks to your safety is a squib load. A squib is a cartridge loaded with no powder, or low powder. Upon firing, the primer drives the bullet into the rifling and gets stuck. In some circumstances, the gun cycles and even ejects the empty brass and loads in another round. You even hear a report so you think the shot was normal but didn't see the bullet splash in the gravel.
But now, there is a live, fully charged round in the chamber...and a bullet stuck in the bore. So if you pull the trigger, you have a huge problem.

So from all of that, pay attention to this: Be very, very sure you check that each and every round receives the proper amount of powder.

You can do that visually with a light. Or use a powder checker die, or whatever. You don't have to dump out the powder and reweigh it. You can just look in the case mouth, or use a small wood dowel if you can't see in the case neck..

As for testing loads that you are skittish of: once I was given a barreled rifle action - in good shape but the background was unknown. So i duct taped it to a heavy saw horse, looped a string through the trigger guard, and pulled the trigger from 20 feet back and off the axis. All went well for several shots, so i then bought a stock and finished up the rifle. Take from that what you will.
 

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One more thought , if after loading ammo if there is any doubt such as thinking you may have mismeaured or the bullets may not be the ones you meant for that powder , wrong powder or whatever pull the bullets and check it out . Bullet pullers or kenetic hammers are cheap . A lot cheaper than guns or doctor bills . And don't be afraid of loading , it's no different than anything else , it's as safe as you make it .

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There's a lot of good info here for a newbie reloader to get started down the safe path to reloading. Read and then re-read your reloading books before you even start building your first round. If possible, shoot the reloads over a chronograph. It'll allow you to see what the round is doing while working it up. I also shoot factory ammo across my chrono to get a baseline pressure and compare it to the reloading books. Memorize high- and low-pressure danger signs concerning the round while working them up on the range, bring your reloading book for reference too. Your reloading book has blank pages in the back so you can write down the recipe for your chosen round. Be safe.
 

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There's a lot of good info here for a newbie reloader to get started down the safe path to reloading. Read and then re-read your reloading books before you even start building your first round. If possible, shoot the reloads over a chronograph. It'll allow you to see what the round is doing while working it up. I also shoot factory ammo across my chrono to get a baseline pressure and compare it to the reloading books. Memorize high- and low-pressure danger signs concerning the round while working them up on the range, bring your reloading book for reference too. Your reloading book has blank pages in the back so you can write down the recipe for your chosen round. Be safe.
Excellent point about the chronograph. Always take some factory ammo along to compare. It is a good time to take a buddy and a book and write down what velocity you get with what gun etc. At some point you will also find that a certain velocity is your sweet spot. You will also learn a lot about both the guns and the ammo.

The chrono will let you get to a desired velocity that will match what you want to do. Example. I load for a 454 Casul rifle. Factory 260 grain ammo will go 2,200 fps with recoil about 30 foot pounds, a lot in a 5. pound 8 ounce rifle. I want a lplay load that is flat to 125 yards for open sights that has less recoil. The books say I can get there at 1600 fps. So, I am loading several samples this week. At 1600 fps the recoil is only about 13, less than half. So that is my quest. For reference a 30-30 is about 11 pounds, so I am just trying to match a light recoil about like a 30-30. The chronograph will ensure I am where I want to be. That round will be a 125 yard round that will still have about as much energy as a 44 mag pistol at the muzzle and only drop 6 inches at 125 yards. The chronograph tells me when I get that velocity and result that I want. Otherwise, I have to load and tests lots of rounds. My buddy and I went together and bought one and used it for 25 years until it was replaced, 2-3 guys can share one, no problem.
 
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This is close to what I do. First, I clean up my bench and put everything in order with the bullets I'm going to reload, dies out. I then go to my closet and take out one type of powder. If I need another, the other can has to return to the closet. I've heard of a reloader that accidentally loaded pistol powder in a rifle cartridge. The gun blew up. The shooter and bystander got lucky with only some shrapnel in an arm or leg. I don't play a radio. I enjoy the process. And last, I keep a shop light over the bench and run my tray of loaded casings under the light to see if the heights are the same. If I'm using a progressive, I make sure there's powder in the case. Oh yes, and if I'm shooting a Glock, I check every case for a bulge mark in the resized casings. If I see even a discoloration, I'll toss the case to avoid a ruptured case.
 

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Another thing. Keep WD-40 away from your loading bench. I once experimented with it once to see if it could be used as a case lube. I didn't. But what it did but effect my rifle primer. At the range I pulled my trigger and my rifle went click. I said hmm and lowered the barrel. Five seconds later it went off. Imagine if I ejected that round and held it in my hand?
 

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There are a dozen mistakes a person can make reloading ammo. But only one that makes guns come apart. And that is too much powder or too much of the wrong powder. There are some basic things a person can do to make sure that issue does not cause a Kaboom. Here are some suggestions>

1. Never have but one powder on your work or reloading area at one time. If you are reloading a pistol then only your W296 or H110 or Unique or whatever powder you plan on using are near your reloading spot. Same with bullets. I have 200 grain and 250 grain I am loading into the 454. Only the proper one is nearby while loading.

2. Make absolutely sure of the amount of the chosen powder is what you plan. Always look it up in a reloading manual, and check a second source. I suggest you go ahead and write down on a piece of paper what the load is going to be. I have been reloading since 1972 and had no Kabooms yet. Two days ago I loaded some 454. I wrote the formula on a piece of paper that will go in the box with the reloads. These are light loads. It reads like this:
454 Jan 7,2022
Hornady 240 Mag XTP
CCI SRP
Unique 14.6 grains, 1.6 cc
COL 1.745
Plan is for 1,600 fps in Rossi 92
So while I am loading, that paper is laying there reminding what I am loading.

3. Double check every powder charge. In my small load I only loaded 40 rounds as a test round for moderate loads. I used the little Lee Dipper instead of a powder measure. The charge fills about 75% of the case so I cannot get a double charge because it would run out of the case. Never the less, I still look inside every case to make sure the powder level seems right.

4, Immediately upon checking the powder level, I stick the bullet in it so no more powder could get into the case. If I am loading something like 30-06 where I may use the powder measure and cannot easily see inside the case, I add the powder and put the charged case into a cartridge block. Once the block is full, usually 50 rounds, I take a flashlight and look down into every case. I keep a cheap LED tiny light on my reload bench.

5. Powder selection. Most people believe that the powder is going to be the most accurate and safe when the case is as close to 100% full as it can be, that way it is not laying in different positions each time the rifle is fired. So, select a powder that is 70-100% filling. Many manuals like the Nosler manual will show you exactly how much of the case is filled. When you have a case that is more than 50% filled, then you cannot double charge a case without seeing the second charge spill over. Your biggest risk is a double charge.

6. Probably as important as anything is to not have interruptions or other people in and out while you are reloading. Somebody moving a powder around might cause you to pick up the wrong one. Then of course no drinking when reloading and just common sense safety things like that. Also, there is never anything wrong with using a checklist and keeping a log. You will want a log anyway so you know what did and did not work for a particular gun. I make comments in my little log, like "good accuracy-1 inch groups". I have one for Trail Boss the wimpy powder, that says, "too hot at this level", and others like "great light level load". The 454 that I loaded recently will have comments in the log about accuracy and velocity and recoil.

7. The last thing is select a loading recipe that is near the bottom of the load in the manuals. Most books will give you starting and max loads, like 50.0 grains, 52.0 grains and 54.0 grains. When you choose the hottest load you know you are approaching the danger zone, so start low and work up, that way you do not start with that fear.

Anyway, just go slow, pay attention and enjoy creating your own much cheaper which will let you shoot about 3 times more.

And enjoy the process.
Hello, moderators: Can we make this eminently sensible description of reloading safety a sticky?
 
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