Advice to Handloaders: 6 Mistakes to Avoid
I’ve whined at you so many times about the enormous advantages of handloading that going over it again would be...
I’ve whined at you so many times about the enormous advantages of handloading that going over it again would be beating a dead elk. The other side of the coin is that handloading introduces the chance of error into the equation, and can leave you standing there in the wilderness with a useless rifle in your hands. Here are some of the ways in which you can go wrong:
Using a very hot handload, which you worked up in cold weather, in hot weather. Air temperature affects chamber pressures, and a load that was stiff but usable when it was 20 degrees will shoot differently at the least, or blow its primer at the most, when it’s 80 degrees. Say “pressure spike.” Say “My rifle is jammed. Someone please help me”
Brass is expendable, like people, and gets tired, like people, and has to be replaced, like people. Taking old, tired brass on a hunting trip is asking for it. Say “Case head separation.” Say “You mean the nearest gunsmith is 280 miles from here?” Go hunting with new, strong brass.
Some shooters, in their quest for that last .00010″ of accuracy, seat their bullets so that they touch the lede; others, seat them so they are .00010″ from the lede. Then, when hunting, they discover that the rounds won’t feed through the magazine, or even more amusing, that when they chamber a cartridge but don’t fire, the bullets won’t pull loose of the rifling, but do pull out of the shell, filling the action with loose powder. You do not need that last .00010″ of accuracy. You need your ammo to work through your rifle.
Your rifle cycles greasy, dirty, funky cartridges about as well as humans cycle elephant meat.
You may, if you wish, neck-size your brass. Theoretically, this will extend the life of the cases. In all likelihood, it will also make them much harder to chamber than if you full-length sized them. However, think of the excitement this will add to your hunt when you can’t shove another round into the chamber to drop the deer that you missed the first time and who is just standing there, giving you a second chance.
With your heavy-kicking loads, be sure to leave lube inside the case necks. This will give the bullets a chance to slip out under recoil, and will give whatever you’re shooting at a better chance of surviving.
Handloading is a noble enterprise, but you got to pay attention.