A lot of people think that when they reload ammunition they need a bench in their basement or garage, all of the various accoutrements that go along with a modern reloading rig and basically just about all the quiet and privacy a good home “laboratory” can provide. Well, believe it or not, a lot of shooters who are looking to concoct the most accurate loads like to reload at the range so they can develop their recipe through actual live fire testing. Some shooters even like to bring reloading equipment with them to hunting camp and a lot of competition shooters like to be able to work up some loads between matches.
A lot of shooters including myself began reloading on the old Lee Loader tool, which was good for one caliber at a time. The Lee Loader really required nothing more than a hammer to get started and was good for loading one box of ammunition at a time. Practical and sturdy, it was not however the greatest or most encouraging piece of equipment for experimentation and besides that, they’re quite noisy and certainly not the best reloading option for an apartment with neighbors or while other shooters are trying to concentrate.
I picked up a Lee Hand Press about five years ago and it was one of the best investments I ever made. The Lee Hand press can do everything that a full size press can do and it can do it wherever you may happen to find yourself. The only part of the process I ever took issue with was trying to keep the press completely upright while priming, so I picked up a Lee Auto Priming tool, which I can report has always worked great for me. What about trimming the brass if need be? Lee makes a nice trimmer that has a large wooden ball grip and studs for each caliber. These make trimming pretty easy.
I can remember when I used to have an overnight security job. My boss had me sitting in front of cameras for ten hours. Predictably, I finally got bored and took to bringing all my brass in to resize and then prime them there in my little security office. This saved me hours of work later at home before I loaded them up.
If you are more traditional there is the Lyman 310 tool, which has been around in one incarnation or another since the 1880s. These were first used on the plains by hunters who needed to load up their own cartridges far away from supplies (and factory loaded cartridges). The first models had their own bullet mold built in and these devices were for one caliber only. Later on interchangeable dies came with these tools, allowing for caliber changes. These dies, however, didn’t and still will not work on a standard reloading press, only for the Lyman 310.
I recommend only bringing one type of powder with you so that you can develop one load at a time. I recommend a battery powered scale like a little RCBS 750 that is much faster to use than a traditional scale. The RCBS 750 can either be plugged in to a wall plug or runs off of a 9V battery.
Reloading at the range or even when you are away from home can help you develop some more accurate loads that you can tailor make to your gun in minutes and not cost you more time and gas money with trips back and forth from home. Consider loading five rounds and deciding you don’t like the recipe vs. 100 rounds and knowing you don’t like the recipe after only shooting five. Not to mention having your reloading gear along can save a rainy day at camp!
Looks like reloading at the range can save you time, money and energy (if you have the right tools). Is there any unusual places you’ve ever found yourself priming brass?