Making Reloads On A Press

Reloading Ammunition
 By Mike Coviello (Tanner)

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Quality Control & Inspection Procedures
(For Reloading Ammunition)


Inspection and quality control procedures for ammunition reloading is critical to avoid or reduce mistakes. Here's one that I put together for reloading 9MM Luger ammunition.


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Ammunition reloading can be dangerous. Following inspection and quality control procedures during ammunition reloading is critical to avoid or reduce mistakes. The following is a Quality Control Procedure for Reloading 9MM Luger handgun ammunition using a Lee Turret Press.


The following is a quality control and inspection procedure that I pieced together for reloading 9mm Luger handgun ammunition. Many of the steps may be applicable for reloading other calibers of ammunition. This may not a complete listing of inspections and controls needed to ensure safe ammunition reloading operations. If anybody knows of additional inspection or safety steps that should be added (or changed), please email them to me. Thanks. (Note - to many experienced ammunition reloaders this may seem like overkill, but I listed everything that I could find on the subject to have it in one place. Individual reloaders can use it as a guide and pick and choose for themselves the individual steps that they wish to follow).

Record the following information:

Caliber: ____________________ Date: ____________________
Case: ____________________ Primer: ____________________
Powder Brand: ____________________ Powder Load Weight: ____________________
Bullet Brand: ____________________ Bullet Weight: ____________________
Bullet Point: ____________________ Reloading Manual Used: ____________________

Other Data: __________________________________________________________________________


Case depth gage Eye protection Surgical gloves
Digital/electronic calipers Digital/electronic scale Magnifier with light
Small hand held flashlight


  1. Not following good practice ammunition reloading procedures can impact your safety, the safety of others and the reliability of your firearm.

  2. Wear eye protection.

  3. Wear surgical gloves to minimize oil deposits on brass and primers.

  4. Read reloading dangers, reloading safety tips and the potential for lead poisoning.




  1. Verify all cases are brass. Discard all others. Aluminum cases (such as CCI Blazers) should not be reloaded. Steel cases are tough on reloading dies.

  2. Clean and polish all brass before reloading. Tarnished or dirty cases make it harder to see defects. Cleaning and polishing of cases in a tumbler removes oxidation and allows easier inspection.

  3. Visually check the caliber head stamp on each case and sort accordingly. Discard cases with obvious defects.

  4. Case Inspection. Visually inspect each case with lighted magnifier; examine each case carefully.

a) Check for Berdan-primed cases and discard them. Berdan was an American inventor of the Berdan rifle & the Berdan center fire primer. "Boxer" type primers are the most commonly used commercially available primers and have a cup and "anvil" design. The primer pocket in the bottom of the case has one flash hole in the center of the pocket which makes it easy to punch out the old primer. "Berdan" type primers are different and have two flash holes on either side of the anvil which makes the Berdan primers much harder to reload.

b) Look for splits, scratches, out of roundness, cracks, signs of head separation or other defects (bent case mouths may be repaired during resizing). Surface defects on cases range from small scratches to severe dents. Small dings and scratches are common and of no great consequence. Smaller dents will be fixed during resizing operation. Small scratches (those too small to hang or catch a thumbnail on) are acceptable won’t affect performance. Deep scratches may weaken the case and should be rejected. Case rims that are damaged or deformed are usually not a safety problem but may affect reliability. Look for signs of cracking, burrs, peening or out-of-roundness.

d) Look inside the casing (with a light) to verify internal cleanliness (no cleaning media or debris permitted).

e) Lay each case on its side and roll it back and forth to look for bulges and out-of-roundness.

  1. Verify/Measure Case lengths. Use a case length gage to verify proper length. Alternative method - Set calipers to case length as defined in the loading manual for that specific caliber. Pass each case through the caliper's gap to verify proper. It is important to ensure your casings are properly sized and shaped prevent misfires or malfunctions when using your firearm. Lubricating cases is not required when using carbide dies.

(Reviewer - I have used LE Wilson case gauges in several calibers and I simply cannot say enough good things about them. Simply drop your finished round in one and it tells you immediately if the case neck is too long, the headspace is incorrect, the primer is seated properly, and if the case has an improper bulge somewhere it shouldn't. So much safer than running each one through your handgun or rifle and you know when you drop that round in the box, that it is ready to go. No surprises on hunt day or at the range. I ended buying one for every caliber I hand load and that is quite a list. I make the case gauge as part of my final checkout of the loaded round. Wipe it down, run it into the gauge, and slide the finished round in the box.) ref:

Good information about case gages at this web site.


  1. Read the box/packaging and verify that the bullets are the correct bullets for the cases being loaded per the Reloaders Handbook.

  2. Remove the bullets from manufacturer's box and place them on a level tray. Move them around with your finger. Look for obvious defects and imperfections. Make sure they are clean.

  3. Take 3 bullets (out of 100) and weight them to make sure they meet specifications.


  1. Read the box/packaging and verify that the primers are the correct primers for the cases being loaded per the Reloaders Handbook.

  2. Remove the primers from manufacturer's box and place them on the loading tray. Move them around with your finger. Look for obvious defects and imperfections. Make sure they are clean.


  1. Read the box/packaging and verify that the powder is correct for the ammunition being loaded per the Reloaders Handbook.

  2. Visually inspect the powder looking for signs of deterioration.


Visually inspect the dies for cleanliness and condition before each reloading session. Clean as required. Dirt, dust and debris can collect in the seater die. With accumulation of dirt/debris, bullets can progressively be seated deeper and deeper or become misaligned.

Maintain a clean and organized work area. Label everything to avoid mistakes.


  1. Inspect the inside of all cases for foreign objects before dropping a charge into the case.

  2. Visually inspect the level of powder deposited into each case.

  3. Weigh the powder load for the first round and every 50 rounds thereafter to ensure proper powder measures.

  4. Perform a Final Inspection on the first round reloaded and every 50 rounds thereafter to ensure proper adjustment of dies and equipment.


For each round of reloaded ammunition:

  1. Visually inspect reloaded round under magnification using lighted magnifier. Look for obvious errors and imperfections.

  2. Measure the overall length of each reloaded round to make sure bullet is seated to proper depth.

  3. Weigh each reloaded round to make sure there are no "double charges". (This may not be feasible in all cases).

  4. Inspect the installed primer. Verify that it does not protrude from the case bottom and that it has the correct inset.

  5. Inspect the crimp. Verify the crimp’s dimensions. Pull and twist on the bullet to verify no wiggle and ensure tight fit and good crimp.

  6. Lay each reloaded round on its side and roll it back and forth to look for bulges, misalignment and out-of-roundness.

  7. Use a case gauge and shell holder to verify overall dimensions.


  1. Powder - using the wrong powder, no powder charge, too little powder or too large a powder charge.

  2. Primers - using the wrong type of primer, an inverted primer, mis-seated primer, incorrect depth and positioning of the primer.

  3. Bullets - using the wrong type of bullet, an inverted bullet, mis-seated bullet, incorrect depth and positioning of the bullet.

  4. Cases - using the wrong type of case, improperly sized case, mis-crimped case, incorrect case length, weakened case.


Human errors are the most common causes of reloading mistakes.

  1. Use digital or electronic calipers to make measurements. They provide more consistent readings and are easier to read. People can make mistakes of reading "old fashioned" hand calipers due to fatigue, poor lighting, lack of knowledge on how to read it and so forth. Spend a little extra money and increase your reloading safety.

  2. Use digital or electronic scales to make powder and component measurements. They provide more consistent readings and are quicker and easier to read.

  3. Components (cases, bullets and powder) showing signs of a potential problem should be destroyed or tossed away immediately.

  4. Label everything to avoid confusion.


  1. FOLLOW THE RELOADING HANDBOOK. Use only new reloading manuals with fresh information regarding manufacturer's products. Don't use word-of-mouth loading data.

  2. Use care and common sense while reloading ammunition.

  3. Keep a clean and organized work area.

  4. Do not get distracted during reloading. Avoid TV, conversation or other activity which would take your mind off of what you are doing.

  5. Never rush while reloading. You can make more mistakes.

  6. Use only accurate and quality reloading equipment.

  7. Store powder and primers separate from each other per the manufacturers directions.

  8. Know the components that you are going to use. Positively identify and verify the specifications of the components.

  9. Keep all components in their original packaging.

  10. Follow all the safety rules when handling powders and primers.

  11. Never mix gun powders.

  12. Recalibrate measuring equipment frequently.

  13. Inspect all components prior to reloading.

  14. Be award of the potential for lead poisoning during reloading or at the range. Click here.

  15. Keep all powder and primers out of the reach of children.

  16. Keep accurate and detailed records of all loading operations. Label everything accordingly.

  17. Never shoot ammunition that has been reloaded by others. Never buy reloaded ammunition.

  18. Do not use brass cases that have been heated (for drying purposes) to excessive temperatures. Heating may cause the brass to soften.

  19. Do not mix or interchange bullets, powder or primers from various manufacturers using the same reloading formula.

  20. Keep only a minimum of primers in your work area. Remove unused primers from your loading tool after each reloading session.

  21. Do not store primers in bulk. If one accidentally goes off, the others might too.

  22. No smoking, matches or open flame in the reloading area.

  23. No drinking, drugs or other activity that may impair reasoning and ability.


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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