Making Reloads On A Press

Reloading Ammunition
 By Mike Coviello (Tanner)

Reloading is the process of making your own ammunition by assembling previously fired (or new) cases with new bullets, primers and powder.

 LinkedIn  PinInterest 
HOME     Gun Reviews     Shooting Accessories



How Do You Reload Ammunition?


The reloading of ammunition is not a complicated process but it does take knowledge and experience to do it safely. The process varies slightly with each type and caliber of ammo being reloaded. This site details the process for reloading 9mm Luger cases but the general principles apply to all calibers of ammunition.


1. You Will Need Reloading Equipment

Choosing which reloading press to buy is the biggest decision that you have to make when you decide to reload. They come in all prices and types depending on what you want to spend, how hard you want to work and what you want to do. The press shown in this picture is a Lee Classic Turret Press. A listing of reloading equipment that I use to reload 9mm Luger cases can be found here.

Reloading Bench For 9mm Luger
Enlarge Image      Hover & Click Items Of Interest

Cool Laser Bullet for Gun Training

Reloading Equipment

Reloading Components

Reloading Reviews


2. You Need Components That Make Up Ammunition

The components (or parts) of a round of ammunition  consist of a primer, case, smokeless powder and bullet. The only re-usable item is the brass case which must be cleaned, de-primed and resized for each use.

Primer Smokeless Powder Bullet 9mm Reloading Components
Enlarge This Image     Hover & Click Items Of Interest


3. You Need To Clean Your Brass

Cleaning & Polishing Your Brass. Reloading involves using new or pre-fired brass cases which become dirty and stretched to "out-of-spec" conditions. The brass case is the most expensive component and it can typically be reused many times. The first step in reuse is cleaning (polishing) the brass. Polishing brass typically involves use of a tumbler, polish and cleaning media.

Ammo Brass Cleaning & Tumbling Equipment
Enlarge Image     Hover & Click Items Of Interest


4. You Need To Learn How To Reload

Reloading is a science. You don't need to be  a genius, but you do need to have discipline and concentration and know what you are doing. It can be dangerous. At a minimum, you should buy a few reloading manuals and study up on how it's done. You will also need the books for determining reloading recipes.


In general, the reloading process consists of:

  1. Inspecting and cleaning your brass cases (if previously used).

  2. Removing the old primer from the case and resizing the case to factory specs.

  3. Measuring, de-burring & chamfering the case (for rifle brass).

  4. Adding gun powder to the case.

  5. Placing a bullet on the mouth of the case and pushing it down to the correct depth (seating the bullet).

  6. Crimping the case against the bullet to hold the bullet in place and to smooth out case ridge.

  7. Inspecting the newly assembled round for defects.


To reload one round of 9mm Luger ammo on my turret press I have to place one brass case in the shell holder and pull the press handle down and up 4 times. Each time I pull the handle, the turret (holding the brass case) rotates and performs one (or two) functions on the case.


For each pull of the handle:

  1. The case is resized, the spent primer is removed and a new primer installed.

  2. Powder is added to the case, after which I manually place a bullet on top.

  3. The bullet is pushed down into the case to the correct depth.

  4. The case mouth is crimped (or in the case of 9mm Luger) flattened against the bullet.


Overview Of The Reloading Process
Place case into shell holder.
Place case into shell holder.
Resize and de-prime the case.
Resize and de-prime the case.
Load a primer.
Load a primer.
Add gunpowder.
Add gunpowder
Add the bullet.
Add the bullet.
Set the bullet depth.
Set the bullet depth.
Crimp the case.
Crimp the case.
Completed reload.
Completed reload.

- Click here for all reloading steps -


5. You Need A Quality Control Program

Bullet Puller Calipers Reloading Quality Control Equipment
Enlarge Image     Hover & Click Items Of Interest

Ensuring Quality Of Reloads

Reloading and shooting reloads is not without it's dangers. Primers have been known to go off during the seating process (though it has never happened to me) and handling of gunpowder is inherently dangerous. Shooting reloads that have insufficient powder may result in dangerous squibs. Reloads with too much powder may damage the firearm or cause injury. That's why it is critical to follow exacting quality control procedures. You have to know what you are doing when you reload.

Ref: Quality Control & Inspection Procedures For Reloading Ammunition


Common Reloading Questions

Why Do People Reload Their Own Ammunition?

Reloading your own ammunition is a great hobby, can save you money and make your shots more accurate. You can also customize your ammunition to make reduced power rounds to provide less kick (recoil), use specialized bullets, achieve greater accuracy and consistency of shots, or make ammunition that is hard to get or is no longer commercially produced.


How Much Money Does Reloading Your Own Ammunition Save?

The amount you save depends upon the caliber and type of ammunition that you are loading and the current market value of factory ammunition. In general, reloading your own brass cases can save you half the cost of new factory ammo. The brass case is the most expensive component of a round of ammunition and it can typically be reused many times. Note - If you only shoot occasionally, you may be better off buying new ammunition. Reloading requires an initial outlay of several hundred dollars for equipment and supplies. It takes time to recoup the cost of the equipment, so the more you shoot the more you save.


Are Reloading And Hand Loading the Same Thing?

Many people use the terms interchangeably but in general, hand loading use all new components, is made in lesser quantities and is considered higher quality, while reloading provides mass produced, functional and economic ammunition and is often used for target practice.


What is involved with Reloading Ammunition?

The reloading process varies slightly with each type and caliber of ammo being reloaded. In general the reloading process consists of - Inspect and Clean Brass, De-prime & Resize Cases, Measure & Trim, De-burr & Chamfer (for rifle brass), Prime The Cases, Charge the Cases, Seat the Bullet, Crimp the Bullet


Do 9mm Cases Need to be Trimmed?

No. Straight wall pistol cases do not need to be trimmed. Trimming cases is primarily done on rifle cases. Repeated shooting and sizing of bottleneck cases will cause the brass to stretch. Straight walled pistol cases don't stretch in length or if they do, isn't enough to worry about trimming them. See Trimming 9mm Cases at bottom of page.


Are 9x19 Cases the Same as 9mm Luger Cases?

Yes. 9X19 = 9mm Luger = 9mm Parabellum = 9x19mm Parabellum (abbreviated 9mm, 9x19mm or 9x19) cartridge. Cases identified with the markings, 9x19, is also called the 9mm Luger or the 9mm Parabellum and is the world's most popular pistol cartridge.
- 9X19 describes the cartridge by its diameter and length in millimeters
- 9mm Luger describes the cartridge by the name of it's inventor Georg Luger
- 9mm Parabellum describes the cartridge by its purpose 9mm for war (The name Parabellum is derived from the Latin: Si vis pacem, para bellum ("If you seek peace, prepare for war")


Can you safely "pop" a primer by shooting it (primer and empty case) in a gun?

Yes, but use care and under supervision. I shot one in a Glock 19 and it caused a jam because it did not have enough force to cycle the slide.
Have you ever removed a live primer using the press? Any danger involved?
Using a press is the proper way to remove a live primer for reuse or discard. When doing so, wear eye/face protection and try to keep your face and body as far away as possible from the primer when operating the press.


Is it OK to stack primer boxes on one another?

It is not recommended. In theory if one box of primes somehow ignited it may ignite the primers below it.


Feedback & Comments


Sent: Monday, March 28, 2011
Subject: Trimming 9mm Cases

Please help me understand: All hand loading sources say it's imperative to trim 9mm cases to uniform lengths before loading them. In all of my testing, and use of the 9mm I have discovered that 9mm cases get shorter(not longer) each time they are fired and reloaded. Please explain this phenomenon. I have purchased new brass that ranged from .748 to .743 so, to uniform them I have to trim all to .743 then, by the time they`re shot and reloaded a dozen times they are .738 which is shorter than allowed for reliable functioning and safety. So, why would I want to trim cases that are as short as you want them anyway, knowing that they are going get even shorter each time I use them. Sure, uniform lengths are nice for uniform expanding and crimping but this can be compensated for by using certain expanding dies (Redding or Lyman M) and certain crimp die/s (Hornady, maybe others).

Response - Larry,

When I first started reloading 9mm cases I did my research and it showed that you don't need to trim 9mm luger cases for reloading. Which hand loading sources are you referring to?

I have reloaded over 8,000 rounds of 9mm WITHOUT EVER trimming one case. I have only used range pickups for my reloads. They are cases from an assortment of different manufacturers. I have never had a problem with my reloads (except one squib) not related to the case I used.

I thought that only cases that are tapered like that of rifle cases required trimming. 9mm luger cases are straight wall cases and have no taper. I could be wrong, but it is my understanding that the taper of a case gives the pressure inside the case something to push longitudinally against which causes the elongation. Since straight wall cases have no taper there is no elongation. Don't take my word for it. That's just my understanding.

As far as 9mm cases getting shorter with each firing. I think I can provide an explanation.

It is my understanding that when a round is fired the pressure within the case pushes against the sides of the case (as well as the bottom of the bullet) causing the sides to expand and the diameter of the case to increase. If the diameter expands the length has to decrease (the metal has to come from somewhere).

I just measured the length of three 9mm luger range pickup cases. I then resized each case in my press and in each case the length increased.

case #1: .7410" before, .7495" after
case #2: .7455" before, .7515" after
case #3: .7445" before, .7505" after

I also measured the diameter of two 9mm luger range pickup cases. I then resized each case in my press and in each case the diameter decreased.

case #1: .3900" before, .3730"after
case #2: .3840" before, .3735" after

This supports my understanding.

I assume you are measuring the .738 cases before you resize them in your press? See what they come to after you resize them. Let me know if that solves your length problem.

Hope that helped.

Best regards,


Follow-up Message

Thanks a lot. It was very kind of you to take the time and effort to help me. I should have said "some sources" instead of "all sources". Lyman 49 says to trim and all articles on 9mm loading that I`ve read in gun magazines say "do trim". I`m with you, I think trimming is dumb. It was my impression that it was a must and everyone else was doing it but me. What sources do you have that shows you don`t have to trim --- that`s what I`m looking for. I know that 9mm cases are considered "straight wall" but they actually have some taper to them. Does this taper have any effects on headspace or reloading or anything? All the measurements you gave me are true, but I should have mentioned that all of my case length measurements are taken after resizing. I have found that 9mm cases shrink about .0005 in length after resizing them after each firing. Have you ever noticed this? How short can a case be before it`s too short to use? The experts say cases should be no shorter than .744 and that any shorter will result in headspace and safety woes. I`ve loaded 9mm cases that were .732 (after resizing). Am I OK doing this? I`ve never noticed any performance difference in cases that were .732 or .748. Like you, I use any 9mm cases I can get and I don`t sort them either, but the experts say this is taboo. How do you get uniform expanding and crimping when your case lengths are not uniform? What is the best powder and charge weight for a +P defense load using a 124 gr. JHP?
What is your name please? Thanks,

Response - Larry,

Over the internet and for my website I use the name Tanner Smith (not my real name). Tanner was my dog's name.

I don't personally know that many people that reload ammo, but from those that I do know, no one trims their 9mm Luger cases.

I don't know of any official sources that says not to trim, but I have scanned and attached a few paragraphs from Lee Modern Reloading Manual (Second Edition).

When I first started reloading my research (mostly from gun forums) seemed to indicate that trimming 9mm cases was not necessary (from what I can remember). I do not have specifics to tell you but here are a few links to forums on this topic (you have probably already read these).
The vast majority seem to be in favor of not trimming 9mm Luger cases.

I can't answer your technical questions because I don't know the answers without doing a lot of research. I also can't answer your questions about powder and charges because I only reload 115gr. FMJ bullets with Titegroup powder. I only shoot my reloads at the range and I only would use factory ammo in my gun for defense. I don't want to mess around with +P loads for reloading.


Here is the SAAMI spec for 9mm Luger.

The above specs for 9mm Luger cases state .754" - .010" for the case length dimension. This would agree with your "experts" saying no less than .744". It would probably NOT BE A GOOD IDEA to load a case that was not to spec.

I am a little confused. It sounds like some of the new brass that you purchased was not within specifications.

You stated that "I have purchased new brass that ranged from .748 to .743".
Are your range pickups this short as well?

I just did another quick check on the length of 10 of my cases, and 9 were .750 or greater, the other one was .749.

It's odd that your cases are so short.


Follow-up Message

Man, thanks a lot for all your help. Before I buy any more new brass I`m going to make sure that they are not short to start with. Yes, the real short brass I have came from the range. I`m sure they were cases that were trimmed by folks that didn`t know any better, and as I said, I used them without any trouble. However, I`m not going to take chances any more, so I will go through my brass and pitch all the short ones. I did read on one of the forums you sent where a guy said "9mm cases actually get shorter over many loadings, so at least I know It`s just not something dumb that I am doing. If you ever come by any more tips on the 9mm, please pass them on to me. Thanks again


This is a beginners guide to reloading. If you are thinking about reloading your own ammunition, or are new to reloading, we will show and tell you all about it. Note: The reloading equipment, pictures and instructions provided within are for reloading 9mm Luger cases which I shoot in a Glock 19, Glock 17 and Glock 26. Most of this information is applicable to reloading other calibers.




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