Anybody who reloads their own ammunition knows that the time it takes to reload ammo depends entirely on your process and reloading setup. And that’s why I decided to really explain how many rounds you can reload in an hour. In short, you can reload between 70-90 rounds of handgun ammo per hour including case prep. But reloading times vary depending on the tools (reloading press) at your disposal, the type of cartridge you’re reloading, and time allocated to case preparation.
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What Impacts The Time It Takes To Reload
How long it takes to load your own ammo depends on a number of factors. Below are different aspects of reloading that can significantly impact your timetable and ultimately the number of cartridges you can load in a given time.
By far, the biggest impact to your reloading timetable is the type of cartridge you’re reloading. Reloading rifle cartridges has significantly more steps than reloading handgun ammo.
Regardless of which ammo type you are reloading, some time will be allocated to de-priming, cleaning, and priming your brass. However, there are several additional steps when reloading rifle cartridges.
Because rifle brass expands significantly when fired, you’ll need to trim the cases to length. Additionally, time is spent chamfering and deburring cases once trimmed. Furthermore, if you opt to anneal your cases — the process of hardening the brass — your reload time increases. Finally, lubrication is more relevant when loading rifle cartridges as opposed to handgun cartridges.
Thus, reloading times will vary greatly between cartridge types. You can expect to cut your production of reloads by 20-30% when pressing rifle cartridges due to additional case prep.
Type Of Reloading Press
Another factor that will impact how long it will take to reload ammo is the type of reloading press you are using. A single stage press takes longer than either a turret or auto progressive reloading press.
If you’re loading precision or match grade rounds, then you’ll want to run a single stage press because you have much more control over the entire reloading process. However, this slows down production and will increase the time it takes to reload.
Alternatively, you can save time by using an auto-progressive press to churn out more cartridges per hour. But, rounds produced on an AP press are best suited for plinking.
Specialized Reloading Tools
When reloading, some tools make things move more quickly. However, some tools offer you greater control over your reloads. How long it takes to reload depends on whether speed or control are more important to you.
For instance, my reloading press comes with a primer tube. Therefore, I could prime cases while they are in the shell plate of my press. Although this may be more efficient, I prefer the control of a hand primer. A hand primer allows me to finely adjust the seating depth of the primer. I sacrifice efficiency for precision in this case.
Your Safety & Quality Check Process
Finally, your quality assurance checks can eat up time. However, only the reloader determines how much time is spent on checking loads. For instance, you can measure each cartridge OAL or take a random sampling. Checking all 1000K rounds for weight variance, case length, etc. takes much more time than a random sampling of say 100 cartridges.
Additionally, deconstructing any rounds after completion to check the powder charge means you’ll need to re-do those loads after checking. All of these affect how long it will take you to reload ammo.
I shoot predominantly pistol cartridges, so my reloading times are on the lower end of the spectrum. Additionally, I use an auto-progressive press which lowers my load times. However, I’ve outlined the time table for reloading handgun ammunition to illustrate the amount of time spent on case prep. Because rifle cartridges require additional case prep, the time it takes to reload ammo will increase.
Hand Priming & Case Inspection
Charge & Press Reloads
Naturally, any problems you encounter with your press, reloading equipment, or loaded cartridges will add more time to the reloading timeline. Generally, these problems are small and require minor tweaks.
Unless you load 1000 rounds and realize your powder charge was off by 2 grains. Then you’ll need to pull the bullets and start all over again. However, these problems usually work themselves out in your first couple batches of reloads while you iron out your process.
Bear in mind, that I do not sit down on the weekend and decide to press 1000 rounds of ammunition from start to finish. Typically, I do one step in the reloading process at a time. Ultimately, I process between 200-300 rounds of ammunition on my reloading press in one sitting.
Hopefully this article provides the necessary insights into how long it takes to reload ammunition. If you’re considering reloading your own ammo, check out my reloading tools and setup.