Gear Guide: Essential Reloading Tools for Beginners

Reloading tools are a lot like kitchen appliances; there are a lot that make life easier, but only a few that are absolutely necessary.

My father got me started handloading when I was 13 years old, because he couldn't afford to feed my shooting habit. Ever since then, I've been reloading to support my practice, hunting and competitive shooting needs. In fact, though I hunted from the time I could keep both ends of a rifle aloft, I never shot a big game animal with a factory load until I was 29 years old.

Even with the increasing prices of copper, lead and gunpowder on today's market, it's possible to produce handloads for about a third the price of good factory ammo. Better yet, for 30 to 60 cents per shot, you can equal the performance of premium factory loads with top-shelf projectiles, rather than paying three dollars per cartridge. You can also tailor the loads to fit your particular rifle's sweet spot, potentially achieving better accuracy than other ammunition on the market.

For the first several years of my reloading career, I produced some top-notch ammo with a very basic setup. Doing so was slow, methodical and deliberate, but resulted in very consistent reloads and a good understanding of the process.

One thing I did right — or rather, my father did right — was to start with quality gear. It doesn't have to be expensive gear, but it shouldn't be cheap gear. Buying quality up front avoids frustration with sub-par tools and the eventual expense of buying again for better quality. You don't need every shiny gadget in the display case — get started with a minimum setup of solid tools, and then add to your setup as need and desire dictates.

Check out this list of very basic components needed to start reloading. With this setup, you'll be prepared to lube, size and prime fired cases, charge them with gunpowder and top them off with bullets — creating quality home-brewed cartridges.

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