Making Reloads On A Press

Reloading Ammunition
 By Mike Coviello (Tanner)

WHAT IS SO DANGEROUS ABOUT RELOADING your own ammunition? It's the gun powder, the explosive primers and the toxicity of the lead.

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How Dangerous is Reloading Ammunition?


If you are considering reloading your ammunition to save money, consider the dangers involved. Reloading can be dangerous to your personal safety as well as those around you.



Lee Turret Reloading Press

Laser Bullet for Gun Training

Reloading Components

Reloading Equipment


Damage to Firearm/ Personal Injury

  1. Dangerous pressures can build up if you don't seat the bullet to the correct depth.

  2. If you make a mistake you can double charge a round or use too much powder

  3. If you use too little powder you may end up with a squib stuck in the barrel. If you don't realize it and fire off another round then you may end up with an exploded gun and a mangled hand or worse yet.

  4. Shell cases that are used too many times have the potential to crack

  5. Gunpowder from different purchases or batches may act differently.

  6. If the primer hole is too loose, the primer may blow out due to the pressure of firing the cartridge.

  7. Brass shells may become hardened by being cleaned with ammonia or repeated reloading. This hardening may provide a greater tendency toward cracking.

  8. The obvious hazards of smoking while you are reloading. A definite no-no.

  9. The potential hazard of breathing lead filled fumes if you cast your own bullets.

  10. The dangers of working with lead bullets. The lead you get when handling lead bullets and with lead deposits on fired casings can be dangerous if they get into your body.

  11. Exceeding maximum loads (possible double charge) may cause over pressure conditions.

  12. Forgetting to put any gunpowder in the casing.

  13. Using the wrong bullet when you reload.

  14. Using the wrong powder.

  15. Using the wrong primer.


Personal Defense Dangers

If you're shooting at something with teeth or someone that can shoot back or hurt you in some way then having a round that does not fire can be dangerous in itself.


Storage Dangers

Having a pound or more of bulk gun powder in your house presents a hazard in itself. Where will you store it? Will you lock it up to keep it away from the kids. What if there is a fire? Will having bulk gun powder in you house effect your insurance rates? Do you have to tell your insurance company. Does having bulk gun powder in an apartment provide danger to your neighbors? These are questions to thing about before you decide to reload your own ammunition.


Winchester Autocomp Smokeless Powder
Winchester AutoComp Smokeless Powder

Is Reloading Ammunition Worth the Effort and Danger?

Some of the dangers and mistakes associated with reloading may cause personal injury or damage to your firearm. Other may simply result in poor accuracy, jams or failure to chamber. Most if not all of these may be mitigated by safe loading practices.

From the above listing it is apparent that you have to be extremely careful when reloading your own ammunition. There are many mistakes (mostly human error) that can lead to a bad day at the range. Is it worth it to save a few bucks? Are you really saving money especially when you consider all the money you spent on the loading equipment and the time that you spend doing the reloading?

I made this listing to help me decide whether I want to reload my own ammunition or not. The information was obtained from the internet and talking with friends who reload their ammunition.

I have been watching many reloading videos on the internet. You surely don't have to be a rocket scientist to do reloading. With a good press and the right equipment the process is very simple, especially if you only reload on size caliber. You just have to be very careful.

I have some more research to do, but I am seriously re-considering whether I want to continue to buy new (safe) ammunition or spend the money, time and effort to reload my own and face the above potential risks/hazards. I may be lazy and just play it safe.

Can You Throw Away Live Primers? Discarding Live Primers in a Case.

"De-active" them first. Place them in a plastic container (an old powder container labeled accordingly will do) covered with a little penetrating oil/WD-40/gun oil (maybe even water?). Soak overnight. Oil is suppose to deactivate them (no guarantees). I read that someone said that oil doesn't really "kill" a primer, it raises the ignition temperature which means that it takes more to set the primer off but it is still "live". Wrapp it in duct tape as a extra precaution before throwing it into the garbage.

Notable Quote
"No, I don't reload my own ammo, because humans are invariably prone to mistakes, and the odds of me double charging my reloaded rounds is significantly higher than simply buying them new. And it's not worth it to me to blow my gun up and my hand off to save a few cents." ref:

To minimize the dangers and accidents of reloading ammunition, please consider the following:
- wear safety glasses
- don't watch television or have distractions around while reloading
- don't eat or smoke when reloading
- don't reload when you are tired
- don't reload when affected by alcohol or drugs
- clean up your work are and wash your hands after reloading
- store your reloading equipment and supplies in a safe and secure area


Feedback & Comments


Sent: May 12, 2012
Subject: Reloading Dangers

I'm not sure if this is anti reloading or just plain old ignorance. Most of this is just plain out not right and seems like a large amount of fear-mongering. While some of it is slightly factual most of it, like breathing in lead dust from liquified lead, "dangerous" levels of lead absorption from touching it, and everything seeming to explode at the drop of a dime.(smokeless powder doesn't explode unless tightly and well contained in a metal box). Also the emphasis on how much safer "factory ammo" is, really is quite saddening to me in the fact that people think that ammo produced en masse is actually safer than articulate well developed precision rounds. Take a look at Remington .357 Sig to get an idea of how well factory ammo is produced and sold to people, primers extruding improper seating depths odd powder charges. Look at a few lots of Federal target loads for 20 gauge, there was at a time so much of a powder charge difference that it could be felt in recoil. In addition, please for future use check your grammar and spelling, there were noticeable amounts of mistakes that further discredits your post. Finally, saying that you have never reloaded and think that saving a "few cents" per round shows you probably do not shoot anything outside 9mm or some other popular widely produced cartridge.

I would like to specify this isn't a direct attack but it is an attempt to point out some of the bogus information put here and I hope that people see this post and see that this blog or whatever this writing is claimed as isn't accurate and should not be considered totally factual.



Sent: Sunday, December 12, 2010 6:00 PM
Subject: Reloading Room Hazards

I reload in a room that is below ground it sometimes gets humid which i have a dehumidifier and air cleaner machine to help ventilate the air is that enough or is it still hazardous to my health?


I can't answer that question for sure and I could never tell you if you are safe or not but I am trying to think what the health hazards would be for doing reloading in such a room.

If you melt and cast your own bullets, that's one thing, and you would definitely need good ventilation and working conditions but if you are just reloading ammunition where is the hazard to your health coming from?

I could see where you might not want to store your powder, primers and unlearned brass in that room.

As far as health hazards go, the only other thing that I can think of is the possibility of inhalation of gun powder vapors during the reloading process, and I don't know if that is hazardous or not. I have never heard of any such concerns. It would just be good practice to have good ventilation. Sorry I can't give you a good answer.



Sent: Friday, November 10, 2010
Subject: Dangers Of Reloading

I have been reloading for over 20 years and NEVER have anything Explode. If you can follow directions reloading is very safe and if you shoot a 1,0000 rounds on a week-end its a MUST. True long range shooters ALL RELOAD they are more accurate and reliable. To be scared of reloads is just rubbish. All the parts come from the same place. Because mine are Tom's ammo you will not shoot them....but if I put Tom's ammo Inc. you will. Total rubbish.


Sent: Friday, October 08, 2010
Subject: Dangers Of Reloading

Wow. I could come up with a similar argument on the dangers of driving a car. On the other hand, fear dictates what one should do, or does do. Those that overcome fears, do more in life. (We all have a limit, so I'm not saying fearless is too bright either). I reload for two reasons: 1) In regards to pistol ammo, it cost $.15 per round vs. $1.10, 2) My loads are more accurate and reliable.

"No, I don't reload my own ammo, because humans are invariably prone to mistakes, and the odds of me double charging my reloaded rounds is significantly higher than simply buying them new. And it's not worth it to me to blow my gun up and my hand off to save a few cents." THIS COULD ALSO BE; "I don't drive a car because humans are invariably prone to mistakes, and I might uncontrollably floor the gas and kill someone in a bad accident."

Well, reloading is definitely ONLY for responsible adults, and in light of having to have your wife's approval, or not doing it based on someone else's fear, it is also only for...let's see....responsible adults.


Sent: Monday, September 13, 2010 2:20 PM
Subject: Reloading Dangers

So my wife and I got into a discussion and I wanted to get another perspective. I just got a new rifle and my father reloads his own ammo, and has been for forty years. He has books on it and scales and accuracy is very important. I have sat with him and witnessed him even measure out powder down to the grain. He is very strict with how accurate things are. My wife on the other hand is adamant on ensuring I don't fire anything not from a ammo manufacturer, she regards the practice of loading ammo to be foolish. I have seen my father research ways to get his bullets faster or reduce the kick by lightening up the slug, but only after hours of research though. He doesn't do any experimenting when it comes to reloading rounds. I want to know what you think on the whole practice and what are some credible resources on the topic (pro or con)


Response - James

It's probably not what you would expect to hear, but if I had a wife who was adamant that I not reload and who was so concerned about my safety I probably would not reload ammunition. I would buy and shoot only factory ammo if that gave her peace of mind. I doubt that it is worth the marital problems. You're probably lucky she lets you shoot at all.

That being said, reloading is safe, when done correctly, but not as safe as shooting factory ammunition. Last week my brother came up from Fort Lauderdale for a visit and I took him to the range to shoot my handguns. I shot my reloads, but I gave him three boxes of 9mm factory ammo to shoot. I shoot my own reloads but I don't give them out to other's to shoot nor do I shoot other peoples reloads.

When I first took up shooting handguns at the range I looked around at the guys picking up brass and though to myself "boy are those guys stupid". Reloading you own ammo is a good way to lose a hand, a gun or even die from. I never dreamt that I would reload my own ammunition. After talking with a few of the guys and doing extensive research on the internet I changed my mind and decided to give it a try. Note - I can only speak of reloading handgun ammunition. I have never reloaded rifle ammo.

I have always considered myself a very safety conscious guy. Safety and quality control was drilled into me when I used to work as a propellant engineer at Kennedy Space Center and it has stuck with me throughout my life. So when it came time for reloading, I felt confident that I could do it safely.

But stuff happens. People are human and make mistakes, equipment fails, defective components, etc.. You might get a bad casing, become distracted or tired, load an improper charge, set the bullet to the wrong depth or a raft of other possible errors. I am fairly new to reloading and have reloaded only about 5,000 rounds. They all fired properly but one. That one gave me a squib. I still can't figure out how that happened, but it happened. Since then, I only shoot the next reload after I am positive that I know where the bullet went and I do not shoot my reloads fast.

Another bit of info. I go to the indoor shooting range each week. I would estimate that over the last two years I have not witnessed nor have I heard of any reloading accidents, but I have seen about 5 squibs resulting from reloads (and I am only there about 3 hours per week).

What are your reasons for wanting to reload? To save money? To increase accuracy? To have a hobby?

My friend send me an email of some pictures of what happened when someone shot a reload when they made the mistake of using black powder instead of smokeless powder. Let me know if you want me to email it to you. IT IS GORY. If your wife ever saw these pictures she would probably go through the roof and the decision would be made - NO RELOADING. These pictures will make you think twice before taking up reloading as a hobby.

Sorry, but I can't provide you with other credible resources (pro and con) on reloading other than what you are able to find on the internet.

Best regards,




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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