Honestly, this is a little bit of an embarrassing guide to write. Most of these tips and tricks are things that I learned first-hand. I hope this guide proves to be handy and at the very least helps whet your appetite for reloading and the shooting sports. If you have questions or if there’s an issue with this guide, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Checking the level of the powder
One of the most dangerous things in reloading is accidentally loading a round with no powder (sometimes referred to as a squib or dud round). This is problematic if you rack another shell and let ‘er rip with another bullet lodged somewhere in your barrel. Generally, this ends in catastrophic failure of the firearm (KABOOM). This is super important to keep in mind if you are going to be shooting quickly with a semi-auto where you might not have enough time to mentally recognize the squib before pulling the trigger again. For this reason, it is a really good idea to visually verify the powder level in each case before you move to capping each round with a bullet. For this, I like to use one of those little keychain flashlights. I just run back and forth over the load block. It takes like 15 seconds.
Different shapes of powder
When I first started reloading nobody told me this. There are different shapes of the little powder granules. If you are going be using a powder measure (as oppose to hand measuring each load), I found that the “extruded” types of powder (little cylinders) don’t flow as easily through the measure as something that is more of flake shape. Not something that is incredibly important, but it might be useful.
Don’t just jump straight to your goal amount of powder
This is covered in most reloading manuals, but I figured it was worth mentioning. Do not just pick a charge weight of powder somewhere in the middle of the acceptable range for your powder and load it up. You should start near the minimum charge weight and load a couple shells, and increase the charge weight by small amounts as you go up. Look for signs of over-pressure as you progress up to your goal weight.
..to be continued