5 Tools You Need in Addition to Your Reloading Kit

5 Tools You Need in Addition to Your Reloading Kit

bench2You’ve thought about it long enough and now you’re ready to make the plunge into reloading. Good for you, it’s a rewarding discipline and adds depth to your shooting experience. Luckily, there is no better time to get involved with reloading then now with most manufacturers offering fully-loaded starter kits.

Well stocked as these kits might be, almost all typically require supplemental purchases. Here are five of the most common tools you must plan on buying after you’ve bought your reloading kit to start cranking out the ammo.

Lyman Dial CaliperCaliper
Next to your press and scale, a caliper is perhaps your most important reloading tool. The instrument is used to measure case length, inside and outside case diameter, primer pocket depth and other case dimensions. There are two styles available – dial and digital. Both are accurate, with most measuring within one one-thousandth of an inch.
 Hornady DiesDies
Dies are where the rubber meets the road in reloading. They are the tools you use to size cases and seat bullets to finish your cartridges. The simple reason why dies are not included with your kit is manufacturers have no idea what calibers you plan to reload. The good news, dies are universally compatible with presses, so you needn't confine yourself to buying from one manufacturer.
Lyman Dial CaliperShellholder
A Shellhoder is the intermediary between your case and a number of reloading tools. Like its name implies, a shellholder holds your shells – in a press, on a hand priming tool and in a case trimmer. Similar to dies, they are not included with your kit because manufacturers don’t know what you’re reloading. The nice thing about a shellholder, it will typically work for more than one caliber.
 Hornady Case TrimmerCase Trimmer
You won’t need one of these right off the bat, but fire the same brass a few times and it’s a different story. Case trimmers become a must once brass reaches a certain length. Without trimming your cases you'll either need to buy more brass or run the risk of a hefty gunsmith bill to get your action unstuck.
 Lyman Dial CaliperBench
Really, you might not have to buy this, just get a little inventive. There are many fine reloading benches on the market and designs available for free and purchase. But if you have an old sturdy desk or table you don’t mind drilling holes into then you're set. Now you just need to find that quite out of the way spot to put it and get reloading.


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Elwood Shelton is the Digital Editor for Gun Digest. He lives in Colorado and has provided coverage on a vast spectrum of topics for GD for more than a decade. Before that, he was an award-winning sports and outdoors reporter for a number of newspapers across the Rocky Mountains. His experience has consisted of covering the spread of chronic wasting disease into the Western Slope of Colorado to the state’s ranching for wildlife programs. His passion for shooting began at a young age, fostered on pheasant hunts with his father. Since then, he has become an accomplished handloader, long-range shooter and avid hunter—particularly mule deer and any low-down, dirty varmint that comes into his crosshairs. He is a regular contributor to Gun Digest Magazine and has contributed to various books on guns and shooting, most recently Lever-Actions: A Tribute to the All-American Rifle.


  1. Also, you will need access to primers, powder, bullets, and brass. Best advice when you find them is to buy more than you think you need, as supplies are sporadic, at best…

    • Also, a or a few good reloading manual(s). I recommend your local library to look over several from different publishers, for your preferred format, comprehensive info for your intended type of cartridges, etc. Some are more brand or type specific, some more general. Also, user friendliness for newbies varies a bit. Once you find what you like, then you can get a current version. Also, YouTube has numerous videos that can help, and an experienced friend can be very useful. Reloading is a very appropriate skill for any shooter, and some folks find as much satisfaction in “rolling their own” as in the actual shooting. Enjoy…

  2. A couple more tools to make reloading easier and more pleasant:
    1. A hand-priming tool..
    2. Hornady’s hand press.

    Especially if you load quantities of handgun ammo and small rifle ammo such as .223/5.56 These 2 tools will speed up your loading process and won’t keep you locked in to one site for loading. I even take the hand press, scale, dies, powder and primers, etc. to the range and can develop loads without travelling back and forth. A powder measure also will speed up the process, but if loading for maximum accuracy I am old school and weigh each load on my balance scale.


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