Reloading rifle vs pistol

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Davevand, Sep 15, 2005.

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  1. Davevand

    Davevand Member

    May 19, 2005
    I have been reloading for about a year and so far I have only reloaded pistol ammo. I use a Hornady LnL progressive and mostly Lee dies. So far I have reloaded .357, .40, .44, .45 and I am still working on hetting the perfect load for me. My question, is there much difference in reloading pistol vs rifle ammo. I just purchased an "evil assault rifle" :evil: and will be reloading .223 for it. Any advice before I get started.

  2. dakotasin

    dakotasin Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    i think reloading for rifles is easier. the rifles tend to be more forgiving.

    on a progressive, though, you have to be a little more critical on powder selection. many rifle cartridges thrive on extruded powders, which don't meter very well. in the 223, this won't be a problem (just stay away from varget, which isn't hard to do), but for some other cartridges, a progressive press set-up will be difficult.
  3. USSR

    USSR Member

    Jul 7, 2005
    Finger Lakes Region of NY

    There is a learning curve involved with going from straight wall handgun cartridges to rifle cartridges. Suggest you sit down with someone who knows what they are doing and watch. That being said, with .223 ammo as cheap as it is, why bother?

  4. dmftoy1

    dmftoy1 Member

    Nov 17, 2003
    Lexington, IL
    I'm going through the same learning curve and don't consider myself any form of rifle reloading expert. Here's what I've discovered so far in terms of differences:

    1. Lubing the cases before sizing them. (I use carbide dies for pistol)
    2. Trimming the cases to correct length. (RCBS X-Size Die is looking very attractive!) To trimming add deburring and chamfering of the case mouth. Might not be necessary, but to me looks to be.
    3. Swaging primer pockets. (I'm using LC Brass)
    4. Additional tumbling (to remove the lube). Again this doesn't appear to be necessary because the hornady one-shot lube does look to dry pretty dry, but it does make the cases "pretty". :)
    5. Use of a universal decapping die in the progressing in the normal "sizing" position to push out any corncob from the tumbling to remove lube. :)

    The one "advantage" I've found is that it looks like I can use a powder check die in my progressive because I won't be crimping. The lack of crimping also looks to be a benefit.

    Just my .02

  5. Sheldon

    Sheldon Member

    Oct 3, 2003
    La Puente, CA
    I think rifle reloading is LESS forgiving myself. You need to lube the cases first off. Then you need to determine how much you need to size the case. Most either use the chamber of the rifle to do so or better yet use a headspace gauge. Then you need to determine if the case is in need of trimming. If so then you'll need to chamfer and deburr the case mouth after you trim it. I think it's a lot of work, but still do it.
  6. rick_reno

    rick_reno member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Pistol loading is a lot more forgiving than rifle - less steps, and I found in some rifles a .5 grain of powder can make a big difference in where the bullet prints on the target. I haven't observed this in any of my handguns.
  7. Powderman

    Powderman Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Washington State
    Some things I have found in reloading for the .223:

    1. You will need a good source for bullets. I use www.gibrass.com. Jeff Bartlett is a gentleman and a pleasure to do business with, and his prices are fantastic. You can also stock up on military brass as well.

    2. If you are using a progressive press, use ball powder. Accurate Arms 2230 and 1680, as well as Hodgdon BL(C)-2 come to mind. Military surplus powders are also available.

    3. A good crimp for this cartridge is ABSOLUTELY necessary--especially if you are shooting any semiautomatic or automatic rifle. If the cartridge is not crimped, the bullet will be pushed back into the case upon feeding. It can be scary.

    4. On the same note, I highly recommend the Lee Factory Crimp die for this and other calibers. It won't buckle your cases, and will crimp the cartridge firmly.

    5. By the way, I have used Varget in the .223, with the Sierra 52 grain MatchKing. Outstanding results!
  8. Six-Gun

    Six-Gun Member

    Jul 31, 2005
    Las Vegas, NV (but a PA resident)
    I have a progressive press, but for rifle loads, I use it as a single stage press (use 2 stations for sizing and seating, but one at a time).

    I hand weigh each charge for my rifle loads because I demand better accuracy out of my rifles than I do out of my pistols. As has been said, many rifles love loads with extruded powders, and these powders meter like crap in most progressive powder dispenser. I tried it once, and the loads varied too much for comfort from one case to the next.

    Since then, it's been single-stage style for me with rifle loads.
  9. TooTaxed

    TooTaxed Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    Columbus, Georgia
    A three generalities come to mind regarding pistol v. rifle reloading:

    (1.) Full-length resizing rifle cases requires a sturdier bench than for pistol loading. (Cast iron single-stage presses are better than aluminum for large rifle cases, though aluminum works fine for pistol.)

    (2.) There is danger of double-charging pistol cases, requiring more care than for rifle cases, which won't hold a double charge. A double-charge of fast powder will destroy most pistols. :what:

    (3.) Excessive case lubing will dimple bottle-necked rifle cases at the bevel...not dangerous, but unattractive.
  10. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

    Jan 29, 2005
    Ava, Missouri
    Aaah Me...Here we go again...I expect the same accuracy from my revolver/pistols as I do from my rifles. Just not at the same ranges. Hand guns should be sighted in at 25 yards unless they are to be used for hunting, then 50 yards ( I bet someone will disagree with this). Depending on the rifle. 100 yards for my .30-30 and .22's and 200 yards for my .30-06. Loading pistol/revolver is done on my turret and I single stage my rifle cases. But all powder charges for rifle, pistol and revolver are weighted before they are dropped into the case. That's just me. Besides I'm 62 and still have 38 more years to do this. Plenty of time... :D To me, Rifle takes a little more time then handgun because I have to do a few more steps for rifle cases then I do for handgun cases. :scrutiny:
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