Gun Digest

Ammo: Reloads or Factory?

It used to be that if I wanted ammo for my .280 Ackley Improved, I needed to shoot .280 Remington in order to fireform it and then reload it. Now, Nosler Custom offers .280 Ackley ammo - and the stuff is darn accurate!
It used to be that if I wanted ammo for my .280 Ackley Improved, I needed to shoot .280 Remington in order to fireform it and then reload it. Now, Nosler Custom offers .280 Ackley ammo – and the stuff is darn accurate!

Writing this basic primer on reloading recently forced me to think critically about my own exploits into handloading.

I don’t reload as much as I used to, thanks to limited free time, but equally at fault is the fact that factory ammo has become so good. This is especially true when it comes to match-grade ammo.

One benefit of reloading precision rifle ammunition is the ability to customize loads for your rifle. Benchrest shooters are renown for this level of exactness. They’ll weigh out cases and bullets and discard any component that doesn’t fall within their self-imposed tolerances.

I don’t take it to this level. For one thing, I’m not a benchrest shooter. I enjoy banging steel or shooting IDPA targets at long range. At six football fields distant, I celebrate when I shoot a respectable MOA-sized group.

For handgunning, I still like to reload the .44 magnum. My favorite handgun load for deer is a genuine 250- or 300-grain “Keith-style” lead bullet design. These suckers kill big game today just like they did in the good ‘ol days for Elmer.

I can buy ammo loaded with the little sledgehammers — and I just might if time gets any tighter — but for now I’ve got an accurate recipe and the dies are all set up just right. So, go ahead and make my day.

Meanwhile, my .280 Ackley Improved requires .280 Remington ammo be shot for fireforming, after which it is then reloaded at Ackley levels. Having done my fair share of this, it’s refreshing that I can buy Nosler Custom .280 AI ammo that just happens to be extremely accurate in my gun.

For defensive handgunning, much shooting can and should be done to improve proficiency. An easy-going target load cranked out on a progressive press would make this endeavor more affordable. Unfortunately, reloading components — just like AR-15s and Glocks — are in short supply.

So for now I’m scrounging factory handgun ammo just like everyone else.

Which has inspired this thought: Factory ammo has gotten so good in recent years that a case could be made that it eclipses the benefits of handloading.

What do you think? Leave a comment below and tell me your thoughts.


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