Beginners Guide To Reloading, Part 3: Repriming, Case Expansion, and Powder!

Mike R
by Mike R

Welcome to Part 3 of TFB and LYMANS series on reloading for the beginner. If you missed Part 1 or 2, you can find them here:

At the end of Part 1, I list all of the components you should need to get started.

Let me start by saying thank you to the readers leaving comments. There is a wealth of knowledge out there, and I thank you for sharing. A big thanks to Lyman for sponsoring this series.

Since we are going to end up with going over powder dumping I want to bring a critical point–your workspace. Dumping powder requires uninterrupted concentration. Before I even open a powder container I spend time cleaning my workspace. Remember that clutter and distraction is your enemy!

Your bench should be clean and firmly set in its place. One of our readers sent in a picture of his reloading bench, and besides being beautifully made, he stores his lead ingots on his bench to weight it down and prevent movement. Great idea.

Thanks for the tip and photo, Paul!

Okay, now let’s get started. First, the casing needs to be expanded for the bullet. Expanding allows the bullet to be evenly placed in the casing

Neck Expansion

We will initially fit the expander die a little different then the resizer die. First, completely remove the expander plug. Next, put the press in its highest position (with a shell holder in place), screw the die until it lightly touches the shell holder. Tighten the lockring. Place a resized casing in the shell holder and raise it all the way up into the die. Now, screw in the expander plug until you feel it touch the casing. From here the more we screw it down the more we expand the neck. The trick is to expand enough for the bullet to push down easily into the case. I have found the sweet spot is where you can feel the expansion, but not really see it.

On the left, I over expanded as an example. On the right, it is appropriately expanded.


When you check your manual, you will see that .45 ACP takes a large pistol primer. A number of manufacturers have started making .45 with small primers. Irrelevant if you’re buying and shooting the ammo, but when reloading it becomes pretty important. Remember when I wrote about brass inspection? This also a point we will look for. Squeezing a large primer into a small hole might cause the primer to pop off, therefore we will separate large from small primers. Many will reload the small primer .45. We are beginners here, so we will save that brass for later, or discard. Again, every time you pick up brass throughout this process, LOOK IT OVER AND INSPECT IT.

Following the inspection of the brass, and sorting the small primers, we will set up our priming tool. A number of different priming tools are on the market. Our sponsor of this series, Lyman, sent us their hand primer. Hand primers are pretty easy. Put primers in the tray, SLIGHTLY shake it until they are all open side up.

What you see initially when placing primers
The ribbed bottom will roll the primers over with slight shaking
The primer is ready to slip into the case

When the primers are all right side up, put the cover on. With another small shake, a primer will slide into the priming slot. Squeeze the handle to raise it a touch, visualize it to see it is right side up. Place a casing in the case holder and slide the primer in (don’t ram it in, like on prom night).

Two most common errors: the first is upside down, second jammed in sideways. I use a hand de-primer, but passing them through the resizing die will work. Small chance the primer might pop off; be ready

Gun Powder

The soul of our “pew”! Don’t be intimidated by handling gunpowder, just be responsible. The first time I bought powder it felt like transporting unstable explosives. Pretty soon I relaxed and did not worry as much. My point is, I never stop being respectful of gunpowder. It is stable and safe, as long as YOU are safe and responsible. Clean your area, don’t smoke, keep any source of ignition away from your workspace. Don’t mix powders, and sweep up spills, don’t clean area with solvents until all the powder is swept up. When storing powder keep the lid on tight and a temperature semi-regulated area. Somewhere that does not get way hot or way cold. I never put the powder in my safe; I keep it in large plastic tubs.

Powder Dumping

Lyman provided me with their Brass Smith Powder Measurer. I find easy it easy it set up and easy to clean. For plinking ammo, it is more than consistent enough. Even after setting this up I remeasured every 10 dumps. I also remeasure if I add powder. Here a reloading tray comes in useful. It keeps the cases upright and in order. Once you start dumping powder, it is best to not stop. Here is where distractions have the most potential for a dangerous outcome. One danger is the “double-dump”. A pistol case can easily hold a double load and still easily seat the bullet. This can be a catastrophic event when the round is fired. The other is loading a bullet into a case without powder, creating a type of squib.

A tray keeps the cases safe, together and upright
Visually inspect the loads for an overfilled case

All that is left is seating the bullet which we will cover next week

As always, please leave some comments below and feel free to ask questions!


Mike R
Mike R

Mike spent his entire adult life riding an ambulance throughout the Southwest US. He found humor in long in-depth philosophical conversations with crack heads and other urban street survivalists. His highest point was being invited to instruct for some "special" medics in the military. He spent almost 10 years there. A 30 year gun enthusiast, he started down the path of reloading to keep up with his desperate need of more ammo. Reloading is like medicine, you never stop learning.He can generally be found at the local range picking the brains of the old timer, looking for brass, and banging away at gongs. He reloads everything from .32 to .45, .223 to 7 rem mag.

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3 of 7 comments
  • Biff Biff on Jun 20, 2018

    If you are going to load large quantities of pistol ammo don’t bother buying a single stage press. Just bite the bullet and buy a Hornady or a Dillon progressive.

    If you are going to load rifle ammo it depends on what you are gong to use it for. Match or hunting ammo is ok to load on a single stage. If you want to feed large quantities of ammo to an AR15, buy a progressive.

    I shoot thousands of rounds per year and rarely buy factory ammo. But, to save money and not spend all my time reloading I automate everything I can and buy in bulk.

    If you get a C&R FFL you can get a dealer account at Graf & Sons. By bulk ordering powder, primers and bullets you can save a lot of money. If you buy your supplies at a place like Bass Pro it would be cheaper to order bulk ammo online than to reload.

    Even if you reload, watch for sales and rebates. Towards the end of last year you could get American Eagle 9mm for $150 after their rebate. If you can buy ammo that cheap, it isn’t worth spending 4 hours in the basement to save another $30.

    • Mike R. Mike R. on Jun 20, 2018

      @Biff I think it is always good to have a single stage set up. For a precision load or to run my collet bullet puller. Good for the beginner to take a slow uncomplicated start to the basics.

      Totally agree with you on the the ammo. Right now it is cheap and accessible. The main reason why I will NEVER reload 7.62x39..... never,ever

  • Jerry young Jerry young on Jun 21, 2018

    I cannot agree with de-priming live primers, the cost of a case and primer is not worth taking the chance however small that the primer will detonate causing possible damage to your equipment or injury to yourself, a practice I use when reloading is when I am charging cases is to start with the cases upside down in the loading block, this serves two purposes, 1st you can see that all the cases have been primed with new primers, eliminating the chance of grabbing an old case that hasn't been prepared, second after charging the case it is placed right side up helping to eliminate the chance of a double charge, after I am done charging I take the time to look over the cases in the loading block to ensure the powder levels look to be the same, I've been reloading since the early 70's and have always used a single stage press, I find I get better quality and enjoy it more than cranking out round after round every time I pull the handle making it a chore or job if that makes sense, it gives me a hands on experience with every round I load from handgun to rifle and shotgun.