The other night, a friend from work, taught me the basics of loading my own ammunition. I've always been interested in loading my own, and with the recent spike in ammo prices, I was pretty jazzed when my friend offered to show me the ropes. My father had recently gifted me a beautiful Winchester Model 1895. The rifle is a Winchester-made, reproduction of the rifle that was produced from 1895 to 1932, totalling 425,825 pieces in all. Although this rifle was chambered in many calibers with many intended uses, including military, mine is chambered in the heaviest of them; 405 Win. This '95 is the rifle Teddy Roosevelt used in his famous African safari in 1909, and the rifle which he referred to as "big medicine" (Read more about Roosevelt's safari here). It was used to take down hippopotamus, rhinoceros, and lions as well. The big advantage of this rifle, at the time it was introduced, was its ability to hold pointed bullets, stacked in its non-detachable magazine. Up until this rifle was introduced, lever action rifles held their bullets in tubular magazines, that paralleled their barrels. Due to the fact that the bullets sat in the magazine, with the nose of one bullet resting upon the primer of the next, rifles with these tubular magazines were limited to holding only flat-nosed bullets Like many of my rifles, I look at this one as a marvel of engineering geneous. Coincidentally, this was the last of the lever action rifles, that John Browning designed for Winchester. Surprising to me, is the fact that a musket version of this rifle, with an extended forestock and bayonet lug, was even used by the Army of the Russian Empire, in WWI and Finland in WWII.
Along with the rifle, my father gave me shell casings, powder, primers, bullets and even the dies needed to flare, seat and crimp the rounds. The only pieces of the puzzle missing, were the actual loading press, primer seating tool, powder measure and scale. My friend had these pieces. After finding the right recipe for 405 Win rounds, my friend showed me the way to go about it. Over the next few hours, of swapping stories and drinking a few pilsners, I made 40 rounds. I was using a single stage system, so the process was slow, and there was a learning curve, and I did make a few mistakes (like forgetting to seat the primer before charging the bullet!) So, not only did I learn how to load, I learned how to correct my mistakes. There's a neat tool, called a kinetic hammer, which you use to remove bullets when you do silly things, like underload them, or forget to install primers. When I was finished I marvelled at the sheer size of the rounds I loaded. They make a 30-06 round, look small. They just look like great big cowboy bullets! I cannot wait to get to the range.
Details of my loading data is as follows:
Powder: Hodgdon H4895 - 58 gr
Bullets: 405 Cal .411 300 gr InterLock® FP
Brass: Hornady 405 unprimed cases
Primers: CCI standard