Handloading vs Reloading

I’ve heard a discussion about reloading vs handloading, which resinated, because I sometimes make that distinction too.

So what is it and is there really a difference or is it just a different starting point?

One could say that there is a nuance between reloading and handloading. I think there is, however, they are not mutually exclusive and resemble a starting point, rather than the outcome or the entire process.

The distinction is that handloading is to do something better or make something that cannot be bought. For example, tune ammunition to your rifle, rather than buying ammunition that is the lowest common denominator for all rifles. Or make obsolete cartridge that doesn’t exist.

Reloading is to do something cheaper, not worse or better, the focus is on cheaper (which handloading doesn’t always guarantee). Recycle, reuse, that sort of thing.

For example, a long range shooter may chose to handload for better consistency, while a handgun shooter just wants a lot of good cheap ammo.

I tend to think that these are redundant definitions and exclusive. For example, I do both, depending on the firearm. And I think that most people (myself included) start with reloading and end up tuning ammo to firearms (handloading), as their knowledge and process matures with experience.

So, perhaps, the starting use case may be different, however, the process always ends up converging.

Thoughts? Discuss?

I mostly reload, but i handload for a couple of guns.

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Thinking about it I really only handload for my .222, and even then I do it without any where the OCD that the likes of @sungazer , @Gwion or @Gregfiddich would but I at least did some proper load development for it. The other gun i hunt with mostly is the 303 but I basically just reload for that as the starting load I tried shot plenty good enough for what I want

I never really thought of it like that. I always just considered a non factory round to be either or.
But what you say makes seance there are two different wants.
When I am reloading some of the cheap 223 rounds I am not really tuning them to my gun but I cant help myself and just throw loads I have got into the habit of measuring powder.
For target rounds and even most of my hunting rounds I am much more careful and will go to extra lengths for the target rounds.

That may be the case with centrefire rifles, but I know for a fact you ‘handload’ and take your time developing you slug loads from hell.

Price underlies all my reloading. Factory ammo is great these days, just way too much for the amount i shoot.

For the 9, 45, 223 and 243 i don’t do much development. Find a safe and reasonably accurate load and then make heaps. My 223 is less than 50c a round using the Sierra 1365 bulk pack.

My 308 and 6.5 i do the whole tune the load specifically to each barrel and find the lowest SD and ES. I’m still no where near the level i probably should be.

Ultimately, I get better accuracy spending time behind the gun than i do spending time behind a press.

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Yeah its true when it comes to the slugs I guess, could also be true with some of the milsurps I have to make brass for.

I think we are arguing semantics.
I guess you could say once you pass a certain level of attention to detail and minutiae.
It could also argued that handloading is done sans press.
Or it could be argued that handloading is done during the development stage and turns into reloading.
Or…You are only reloading if the brass is once fired.
It’s the clip/magazine argument.
You can argue technicalities or just understand the intent and move on.

It’s a clip.

416 Ruger is $130/20 and I shoot it a lot. Still costs me about $3.50/1 to make but I get to use the 340g Woodleigh and tune it just right where I want it. Kelloggs just right. Not too heavy and not too light.


I’ve always treated the terms as synonyms, to be honest.

So we reload on a dillon automatic press, and hand load on a single stage O frame press, yes?

Don’t think tying the definition to an specific tool makes a difference.

But this is the internet, I think we’re ment to argue the semantics


Did not expect this thread to be necroed.

Urban dictionary was required to find the definition of necroed.

Me too, i thought it was something that required a condom and a morgue.

We are fun AND educational.

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