Making Reloads On A Press

Reloading Ammunition
 By Mike Coviello (Tanner)

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My Quality Control Program for Reloading 9MM Luger Ammunition


Quality Control for reloading ammunition is essential for safe shooting. Reloading your own ammunition is a process that involves many manufacturing steps which are subject to mechanical and human error. Quality control procedures and systematic inspections must be implemented to ensure your safety. This page does not get into the dangers associated with reloading ammunition, rather it provides the quality control steps and inspections needed to minimize the dangers. See Dangers of Reloading Ammunition.


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Digital caliper for reloading
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These quality control procedures were developed specifically for reloading 9mm Luger ammunition for personal use, but may be suitable for other pistol calibers as well. Following these procedures provides no guarantee of safety or safe shooting of your reloaded ammunition.

Reloading Ammunition Safely Depends On The Following

  1. Quality of Components

  2. Quality, Settings and Adjustments of Machines and Tools

  3. Safe Reloading Rooms

  4. Safety Equipment

  5. Quality Control Procedures and Inspections

  6. YOU!!

Human error during reloading is one of the biggest dangers resulting in injuries or damage. Self discipline is essential.


One of the first things that I did when I started to reload was to search the internet trying to find information how to minimize the dangers associated with reloading ammunition. I summarized everything and put it here "Quality Control & Inspection Procedures For Reloading Ammunition"

As I became more experienced and familiar with my own equipment and capabilities I recognized that I needed to develop a more specific procedure tailored for 9mm Luger. I now feel fairly confident with the quality control and inspection procedures on this page.

When I reload

  1. I try to follow all of the recommended safe practices for reloading including no distractions, no TV, no conversation, etc.

  2. I set up my reloading room in accordance with Safe Rooms for Reloading Ammunition.

  3. I use all of the applicable safety equipment.

  4. I don't reload when I am tired

  5. I keep everything neat and orderly


I reload 9mm Luger using a Lee Four Hole Turret Press and Lee Carbide Dies. I use an electronic caliper and a digital powder scale.

When I first started reloading I would de-prime and clean the primer pockets of all of my cases (after the cases were cleaned and polished via the tumbler). I believed that this would eliminate any future problems that I might encounter with fully seating the primers. I have since learned that this is an unnecessary step and a lot of extra work. Either with a "dirty" or cleaned primer pocket, I have never had any trouble with seating the primer with my Lee Press.

Develop a Chant or Mantra

As I pull the arm down on my press, at each stage I speak out loud the following:

  1. "Size" to size the brass casing.

  2. "Set" to set the primer into the primer pocket of the casing.

  3. "Charge" to dispense the powder into the casing.

  4. "Check" to look into the casing to make sure the proper amount of powder has been dispensed into the case

  5. "Half Full". After saying "Check" and just before saying "Bullet" I say "Half Full" to remind me to look into the casing. This forces my mind to think and ask myself "Is the case really about half full of powder". I do this because this is one of the most important steps because the amount of powder placed into a round of ammo cannot be verified by inspection after the round is assembled.

  6. "Bullet" to place the bullet on the case and set it to the proper depth.

  7. "Crimp" to flatten the mouth of the case against the sides of the bullet.

After each round is completed I remove it and do a "feel test" and inspect it for imperfections. My "feel test" consists of rotating the round in my fingers to make sure there are no rough edges, that the crimp is sufficient and that the primer is set properly.

I then place the completed round in the ammo box holder. I mark one corner of the ammo holder with a magic marker to indicate which is "Round #1". I then place the remaining rounds in an orderly fashion so I can tell which round is which.

For each box of reloaded ammunition I complete a work sheet.

After every tenth round I take a powder charge sample to verify the powder charge weight.

After every 50 rounds I recalibrate my powder weight scale.

Inspection Equipment

  1. Magnifying Eyeglasses

  2. Strong Light Source Or Desk Lamp

  3. Magnifying Glass

  4. Jewelers Loupe

  5. Electronic Calipers

  6. Electronic Powder Measure Scale

Final Inspection

I perform my final inspection of my reloads on the following day when I am refreshed and not tired from the reloading process. I usually perform my inspections in the morning light with a fresh cup of coffee. I do not rush my inspections.

I place the reloaded box of ammo and the Work Sheet on the inspection table. I record the weights, overall lengths and my observations on the back of the Work Sheet.

Primer Inspection and Overall Length Check

Before I begin individual inspection of the reloaded rounds I take the tray of reloads and hold it sideways against a light to look for raised or protruding primers and for any rounds with an overall length that looks different than the others. I then rotate the box and repeat the primer inspection from a different angle. I then do a finger feel test of each primer to ensure they are set properly.

Primer Feel Test

Using the tip of my index finger to feel for a protruding primer. If I feel or see that a primer is not flush or below flush with the bottom of the case then I will reject the round and later break apart and reuse the components.

Next I perform an overall inspection of all the bottom ends of the newly reloaded rounds. While still in the tray I examine them all together with a magnifying glass. I look for obvious flaws and imperfections. I then remove a round from the tray, weigh the round, record it's weight and do a "feel test" of the round before placing back into the tray. I repeat this process for each reloaded round.

Weighing Each Reloaded Round of Ammunition

Weighing each reload does not provide an accurate indication that I have a double charge or for that matter a light powder charge. Because I reload with brass cases of various manufacturers that have been picked up at the range, the weight of each case is different. This, combined with the differences in weights of the bullet and primer as well as any errors in the powder measure scale make this weight measurement only a gross indicator of a potential problem.

The average weight of my reloaded 9mm Luger ammo is anywhere from 178 grain – 185 grain. Any reload with a weight falling outside of that range, I pull it and move it to the front of the ammo box and record it on the front of the worksheet as well as on the ammo box label.

Any reloads with weights under 178 grains (usually 173-177 grains) I consider "light" loads and shoot first with extra care and time. I have confidence that these loads are fine for me to shoot since I have taken apart and measured the powder charge of several of these loads and the powder charge was correct. I shoot them first and I shoot them slowly "just in case". I they turned out to be actual light loads that caused a squib I could take appropriate action.

Any reloads with weights over 185 grains (usually 186-188 grains) I consider "heavy". I shoot these first as well. Any round with weights over 188 grains I will break apart and investigate. To date I have found no overcharges of powder.

I then check the overall length of the rounds at points near the front of the box, the middle of the box and at the end of the box to ensure that the die for the bullet depth did not somehow become "un-adjusted". This has never happened.

After my final inspection is completed I fill out the Reloading Label and tape it to the box of reloads. The label contains all of the appropriate information.

I also record this information on a computerized Reloading Log.

I then place the labeled reload box into my ammo locker. When it comes time to go the range I will shoot the oldest reloads first.


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Mike Coviello is a former aerospace engineer, now Web Designer/SEO Consultant. Hobbies include shooting zombies & reloading ammunition.






Reloading Equipment
1. Equipment
The Components Of Ammunition
2. Components
Cleaning Brass Cases For Reloading
3. Brass Cases
Making Reloads On A Press
4. Know How