Reloading Insight: First Shots

March 3, 2022
Kevin "KJ" Jarnagin

I just got back from the range after firing my first 12 reloads. Here are the questions I must ask myself. What have I done? Do you realize how much money this is going to cost? Do you know you're creating a monster? All valid questions, but how did 12 rounds shape the future generation of Jarnagin shooters?

The Process

When I began this venture, it would only be me working on reloading. However, my willingness to create a new generation of doers instead of watchers cost me dearly. My son has taken quite an interest in reloading, and I've created a monster. He's now telling me which YouTubers he's watching who reload and how to change our process.

My oldest is analytical. He takes after his mother, which keeps me in line during the reloading process. I figured he'd like the reloading process since there is structure to it. There's an undeniable rhythm when you start cranking out rounds. We collected for months our gear to begin the process and waited patiently. Once everything came in, we started with six easy steps. 

  1. Clean Brass
  2. De-Prime
  3. Size
  4. Prime
  5. Load
  6. Seat Bullets

We started tumbling and cleaning the brass in Frankford Arsenal's Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler. This was an easy process for us to learn once we found the suitable media to use. Our next step was to sort out the brass from the media using the wet/dry media separator. We inspected each round. Obviously, we cleaned more than 12 rounds, but we took the finest we could find to be our first. 

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We de-primed all our brass utilizing the hand de primer from Frankford Arsenal. This is an easy, affordable tool, but the boy's grip strength wasn't enough to de-prime. In fact, the hand priming tool was a bit too difficult for him. He could get a few of them knocked out, but it really taxed his grip. 

We sized our brass using a full-length sizing die from Hornady from that point. I understand I can de-prime and size the brass with this sizing die but give me my process. After countless tutelage from mentors and YouTube videos, I began loading powder into the empty cases. This was probably the best part of the process for my son. He enjoyed calibrating the Frankford Arsenal Intellidropper, measuring out the Hodgdon Varget powder, and filling the cases.

It was impressive to see how he interacted with the process. At one point, he bumped the funnel and kicked a little more powder into the pan. He dumped the powder back into the mix without missing a beat and started over. He understands the precision that is needed to maintain stability. That is certainly something I didn't grasp at thirteen. 

Seating the Nosler Accubond Long-Range 129gr. Spitzer was made easy by using the Universal Seating Die from Frankford Arsenal. All my measurements were spot on with my cheater Hornady round as a guide. I felt it was time to shoot the twelve rounds we'd created.

Range Time

We made our way out to the range intending to make sure the rounds went off and see how we could improve our process. Simple goals to start off were key to our success. 

I briefly had the thought of what happens if these don’t fire? Or, what if I screwed a step up. That all changed when I sat behind the SIG SAUER CROSS rifle. As I pressed the trigger, everything disappeared except the target. 

The first shot fired, and a collective sigh of relief came over my son and me. We did it. We took a single piece of brass and created a round that we were proud to shoot. My son took a few turns behind the rifle, and that only fueled his intrigue even more. He was juiced to shoot something he created from start to finish.


The only issue I encountered was when I went to close the bolt it was a little stiffer to close. After discussing this with a couple mentors, we concluded this could be a sizing issue or seating depth problem. It wasn’t too difficult to close, but enough to make me sit back and ponder how I could make improvements. 

To answer all my questions above. 1) I’ve done my son a service. He understands the process. Just like hunting, he now sees that his meat doesn’t just appear in the grocery store. 2) It may cost a little more money to start up, but I’m gaining invaluable time with my son. 3) I’m creating a doer. He’s asking the right questions and looking forward to our reloading weekends. ~ KJ

P.S. If you're looking at getting into reloading, our friends at Frankford Arsenal would love to give you 10% off. Use code GUNTALK10 at checkout. Valid on all products sitewide. SHOP HERE >

Kevin Jarnagin (KJ) hails from Oklahoma but quickly established Louisiana roots after joining the Gun Talk team. KJ grew up as a big game hunter and often finds himself in a different venture often. Whether it’s making his way to British Columbia for elk or training with pistols, KJ always seems to find a gun in his hands and adventure on his mind. 

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