Geez Swede, You may want to start another thread for this one!
Reloading is an art, kind of like great cooking. Instead of recipes, you have secret loads, (bullet/powder/primer combinations), favorite powders, there are a million different bullets depending on what you are using them for.
The first step is get a good reloading manual. This lists all the loads, powder types, and velocity. Use the listed loads as they have been tested so do not exceed the safe operation of your weapon.
OK, Lets start with bullets.
Example: Spitzer full metal jacket for targets. Very accurate, do not work well for hunting as there is almost no bullet expansion.
Soft point: rounded tip exposing a lot of lead. Quick expansion, excellent for hunting, loose a lot of speed and do not have the range of spitzers.
Flat nose: usually used in pistols and lever action rifles. Tremendous expansion and transmittal of kinetic energy into target. Very low ballistic coefficient, (How aerodynamic the bullet is), so short range. Usually has a high "rainbow" trajectory.
This is 3 examples, there are hundreds. Several manufacturers, each with their own tables for flight, coefficient, mushrooming, sectional density
Next come the powders. depending on what you are shooting, you may want to try ball powder, or flake, or perhaps extruded grain. The different shapes mean different burn rates mostly.
Powders are graded as slow, medium and fast. Usually you want a fast burning powder to generate quick energy for hyper velocity rounds, in excess of 4000 feet per second. Not always the case.
Usually you will use a slower burning powder for big heavy bullets so the pressure grows in a smooth arc rather than a spike of energy. Cannons or field guns use slow burning powder. This also is not always the case as a fast burning powder needs a lighter load than a slow burn to create the same pressures.
Again, hundreds to choose from.
Primers. This is the little silver or brass button at the back of a bullet that the firing pin strikes to set off the powder burn. Usually there is fulminate of mercury in there, so don't eat it!
There are primers for pistol, magnum pistol, light rifle, rifle, magnum rifle etc. each has a different amount of flash for more positive ignition. You do not need to use a magnum rifle for rifle cartridges. And it is not a great idea to use rifle primers on magnum cartridges as you may have a hang fire or delayed ignition.
I am not going to do a step by step on how to reload, get training with an instructor or someone who has reloaded. This can be dangerous. If you experiment or accidentally exceed the CUPS standard, the weapon may fail and blow up in your face or crack your receiver or barrel.
A black powder weapon is rated at 35000 copper units of pressure, (CUPS) while a smokeless powder load is rated to 55,000 cups.
If you use a smokeless load in a weapon rated for a black powder load, BOOM!!!
Standard retail loads are normally loaded 20% below the lightest load listed by reloading manuals. This is a liability issue. The companies have no idea the condition of the weapon you have, and they don't want to take any chances the weapon might fail using their ammunition.
Premium loads are now offered, (at a premium price) that are loaded to handloaded specs and offered retail. These have the cool names like "Light Magnum".
Next you need the reloading press. This can cost about $100 for a starter kit for rifles and pistols, up to a thousand or more for the more involved kits. These do not come with the dies or shell holders.
The press is the heart of the system. It decaps, (remove the spent primer), sizes the case, and seats the new primer and bullet.
The scale measures powder weight up to a tenth of a grain of weight. This is critical as too much powder, you got problems.
To light a charge and in a worst case scenario, there won't be enough power for the bullet to make it all the way out of the barrel, and that is a real Jam.
The dies are specifically made for each caliber and chambering. A 2 die set for bottleneck cartridges, and a 3 die set for straight wall cartridges like pistol ammunition.
The shell holder does just what it says. It holds the brass case in the press.
Now that you understand some of the basics of reloading,
what are the benefits???
OK, once you get away from the initial investment of buying your reloading kit, dies, shell holders, powder, primers, bullets, primers, powder and manual, it is far cheaper to fire handloads than buying retail.
It doesn't take long to recoup the initial investment depending on caliber. For instance, my standard elk hunting rifle is the 338 Winchester Magnum. I use a 250 grain bullet on (censored) grains of powder for a ballistic velocity of just over 3400 feet per second.
These rounds retail for anywhere from $29 to $38 per 20 rounds. If I buy from sales for my components, or gun shows, I can reduce my price to between $8 and $10 per 20.
I also get markedly improved performance. As this weapon uses very heavy loads that I have made especially tuned for this particular rifle, my accuracy has gone from a 1.75 inch group at 100 yards to .85 inches at 100 yards. (best group ever
As the price of ammunition is seriously reduced, I can afford to practice more, and become a better shot.
Also I love to touch off that big boomer!
I use this as an example because the results are pretty clear. For others, the costs will vary, but the savings and improvements in accuracy and power hold for each caliber.
I don't shoot enough shotgun rounds to warrent the investment in a reloader press for it, it takes a different press and outfit than rifles/pistols. But the savings and improvement in performance hold for shotguns as well.
I am getting carpel tunnel. I hope this helps answer some questions, but if anyone has any specific questions I would be happy to answer them for you.
Think I will go load a couple hundred more rounds, Hunting season is coming. I may only need 1 or 2 shells, but you can never have enough ammunition
One last thing, Don't smoke while handling powder, Not a good combination