Are You Gonna Pick Up That Brass? by Dan Zimmerman | Dec 12, 2012 | 44 comments facebook twitter linkedin email How many time have your heard that question at the range? The latest opus from the spinet of fxhummel1. comments Wantsallyourbrass says: December 12, 2012 at 19:10 There is a guy who makes his (probably meager) living picking up all the brass at the local range on a nearby game management area range. He also digs lead out of the berms and melts them into 1lb bars. He must be doing alright selling brass and lead because he’s always there. Sometimes I catch him slipping and get to a goodly pile of brass before he does. You never have to worry about him poaching your brass though. He will always ask and move on if you say you want your brass(after trying to sell you stuff lol). Reply bpjester says: December 12, 2012 at 20:12 At least that guy will ask first. I mark my brass with a sharpie so I can identify mine from all the other .45 cases. There is always some guy trying to snake your brass. Reply Matt in FL says: December 12, 2012 at 19:21 I like this guy. His video titled “Afraid of Firearms” is the gold standard, in my opinion. No little dog in this video. I hope it’s OK. Reply ensitu says: December 12, 2012 at 19:43 It’s an old habit of mine; leave nothing behind for the enemy. Reply Tom jones says: December 12, 2012 at 19:57 I hate brass vultures… Reply Agitator says: December 12, 2012 at 20:13 +1 The weird guy who stands behind your right shoulder and swoops in after every shot no matter how many nasty looks you give him. Reply Buster says: December 12, 2012 at 20:06 I usually shoot at a local WMA. Open at sun-up, close at sunset. I usually get there at sun-up to avoid the crowds, crazies and careless folks and have encountered what have been termed the “brass buzzards”. They scoop up anything made of brass, aluminum or even steel cased spent cartridges. Very polite and considerate…even watched them pick up garbage left behind from inconsiderate shooters. I even thanked them for what they did. I almost felt bad for catching all my brass evne though I don’t reload. But I do do the [URL=http://www.freedommunitions.com/Brass-Credit-Program-s/48072.htm]FREEDOM MUNITIONS THING[/URL], with my philosophy that all shooter will benefit in the big picture.. Reply Average_Casey says: December 12, 2012 at 20:17 Kudos for creativity. I hope people aren’t that annoying at ranges, that’s terrible. I just wait until people leave and raid the brass bucket if they leave anything as it’s pretty rude to bug people. Reply Matt in FL says: December 12, 2012 at 20:22 I guess I’ve been lucky that I’ve only rarely encountered brass collectors at all, and never impolite ones. I’ve never had anyone try to pick up my handgun brass (which I don’t care about), but I did have someone ask me about my brass a week ago on my first trip to the range with my new Remington 700 in .243 Winchester. Reply Ted says: December 12, 2012 at 22:02 Did you pick that one up at Dick’s Sporting Goods during the black Friday sale? I got mine in .308 – told my wife it was her present to me for christmas. Reply Matt in FL says: December 12, 2012 at 22:24 Ted: Yeah, it came from Dick’s. I did what someone else here managed to do. I bought it for full price on Wednesday, and then went back Friday about noon and did a price-match exchange. They weren’t thrilled about doing it, the manager even told me (on Wednesday) that he was only doing it because I’d driven 40 minutes across town, but he did it, and was friendly about it. The exchange on Friday took under 10 minutes with zero hassles. Since they were doing a “Buy one-get one 50% off” sale on ammo, I turned around dumped that $100 refund right back into ammo. I’m very happy with it; I took it to the 100/200 yard range on the 2nd, and it shoots better than I’m currently capable of. Reply Ted says: December 12, 2012 at 22:44 Good to hear. I haven’t shot mine yet. I told my wife I would wait until after Christmas. Can’t wait! Billy Wardlaw says: December 12, 2012 at 20:26 Question. If I wanted to shoot and reload 45 ACP, how many rounds would it take to break even on all the equipment & supplies, given the round for round cost difference between the factory round and my reload? And what about 5.56, and what about both – any savings in equipment for reloading more than one caliber? One of you smarter reloaders write an article on that….please. Reply Matt in FL says: December 12, 2012 at 20:32 Billy Wardlaw: There was a whole post on reloading some months back that discussed break-even points, but I can’t remember who wrote it. All I can find right now is Nick’s Reloading for Dummies, but I’ll keep looking. Ah, found it, inside the edit window… Reloading: A Cost/Benefit Analysis – Part One Reloading: A Cost/Benefit Analysis – Part Two Reply Billy Wardlaw says: December 13, 2012 at 16:31 Awesome! Thanks, Matt. Reply Dan says: December 12, 2012 at 21:18 I don’t shoot centerfire rifle but got into reloading a few years ago thinking I’d save money in the long run by reloading handgun brass. I sat down a few years back and crunched the numbers and reloading my 38/357, .44 and .45acp at the rates I habitually shoot leaves me at a break even point of somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 rounds. But, if I’m going to be shooting full house magnum loads at about a dollar a piece or more retail, I can do the same myself for about half. So shooting more magnums saves more money. But, it still costs a signifiant amount of cash to go shooting regardless the source. The more expensive retail rounds, replicated at home, will meet your break even point sooner than std target loads. Reply Chaz says: December 12, 2012 at 21:40 If I wanted to shoot and reload 45 ACP, how many rounds would it take to break even on all the equipment & supplies, given the round for round cost difference between the factory round and my reload? Here’s a quick back of the envelope from my experience. My equipment cost was around $300 (Lee turret press, etc.). Loading plain lead target bullets, including depreciating the reused brass, costs around $0.17 per round ($8.50 per 50 round box). My application is NRA bullseye competition. Since I shoot the 1911 in both the “45” and the “any” legs, a match consumes 180 rounds. Compared to shooting $20/box loaded target ammo my break even point is about seven matches or for me one season’s shooting. Reply Dyspeptic Gunsmith says: December 12, 2012 at 21:42 You have to do this math for yourself. You’ll have to factor in a whole lot of things, such as: – how expensive are the bullets you’re using? Jacketed or lead? – do you save all your brass, or are you buying any? – how large a container of powder are you buying (1lb or 8lbs?) and so on. Reply irock350 says: December 12, 2012 at 23:08 This is a little bit trickier to answer than you might think. But I will do the best I can. So basically you want to know at what point will it be cheaper to reload your own brass than making that trip to store to buy more ammo. Answering that depends on a couple of variables, what set-up do you want, and what caliber/s are you reloading and what load formula you want to use. Since you question dealt with .45acp I will start with that. Currently I buy .45 acp FMJ in Remmington UMC packs for $100.00 (without tax) for 250 rounds. That works out to about $.40 a round. If you buy the cheapest equipment, bullets, primers, powder, dies, tumbler and media you will begin to manufacter your own ammo at that price point somewhere around the 4000th round. So here is the math, taking into to account you bought the reloading equipment solely to reload .45acp FMJ. You initial invest cost for a single stage Press, tumbler, media for the tumble, brass cases, .45acp pistol die, powder, primer and bullets is about $344.91. With that initial investment you can make 100 rounds of ammo. The reason being is that you bought one box of bullets containing 100 rounds. That first box of bullets costs you $3.44 to manufacture. After that 100 rounds you need to buy more bullets. If you pick up all 100 cases and buy another box of bullets your total investment coast is now $370.90 and your price per round has dropped significantly to $1.85. You continue this trend of buying a box of bullets every 100 rounds and catching all your brass till you have fired 1,000 rounds. At the 1100 round mark you now have to buy a new box primers and a new box of bullets. By your 1100th round you have invested $637.80 and your price per round has only dropped to $.57. You fire your reloads one more time before you start to worry about your cases. Most books will tell you that your brass can only be reloaded about 12 times YMV but you decide that you need another two boxes of cases. So you go back to the reloading supply shop you buy two more boxes of cases and another 100 bullets you go home, reload and head back to the range to fire another 100 bullets. Your total investment is now $723.76 and your price per round is about $.55. You fire your 1700th round, you pick up your case and head back to the house to reload. You sit down to your bench and notice that you are about out of powder. You figure what the hell, I have to buy another box of bullets, what is another pound of powder? You go to the store, you go home and you reload your 18ooth round, your total investment is now $874.70 and your price per round is $.48. You continue this trend of buying a box of bullets every 100 rounds, two boxes of brass every 1200 rounds and pound of powder ever 1700 until at last your pull the lever on your press for the 3999th time and your price per round has fallen to .$39. By the time your manufacturing costs have fallen below the price of buying UMC you have already spent $1554.43. Or you could have purchased 15 boxes of Remington UMC Mega packs and one 100 round box of UMC and ended up with only 3,850 rounds. But that is only if you are re-loading .45acp (230gr bullet with 4 grains of powder.) If you throw other calibers into the mix like .223, then your break even point is moved out even further becuase you have to buy more brass, bullets, dies, primers and powder. So there is it, if you plan on shooting thousands of rounds and investing a couple thousand dollars you can manufacture your ammo cheaper than you can buy it at the store. It’s up to you and the amount of time you want to sit at a bench pulling levers. Reply Matt in FL says: December 12, 2012 at 23:24 That was an excellent example, irock350. Even if your numbers are a little off (not saying they are, just if), your writeup still provides a plug ‘n play framework. My only issue is this part: “If you throw other calibers into the mix like .223, then your break even point is moved out even further becuase you have to buy more brass, bullets, dies, primers and powder.” I suppose it depends on the caliber, but for a lot of rifle cartridges, the store cost is high enough that there is a much larger potential difference per round, in terms of “percent of round cost.” As an example, in Jim’s post that I linked above, he used the example of .308 rounds that cost about $1.75 each, retail. With all new components, he figured a cost per round of $1.07. That’s a 39% drop in just the first round, and since the brass is almost half of that per-round cost, as soon as you reload it, the price/round drops considerably further. To meet that 39% drop, you’d have to turn enough to manufacture your exemplary .45 round for $0.24 each. Of course, that’s why most people who reload at home do it for rifle ammunition rather than handgun ammo. It’s a lot easier to make your investment back. Of course, the flip side is, if you’re reloading something like .243 Winchester, which I’m gonna try to get into, you don’t shoot as much as you might of .223 or .40 or .45, so although it won’t take you as many total rounds to break even, it might take you a while by the calendar measure. Reply Billy Wardlaw says: December 13, 2012 at 16:36 Agreed! Excellent. Thanks for writing that up, you ROCK, irock350! Mike in NC says: December 13, 2012 at 10:07 I see there are already several good long answers to your question. As a reloader I offer a short one: You will not save ANY money long-term by reloading. Reloading will become one more enjoyable hobby on which you will spend money and time. Also, there are always more ways to spend money in pursuit of the hobby. Even if you calculate that you will save X cents per round, you will still not save long-term because you WILL SHOOT MORE! Reply Tim says: December 13, 2012 at 11:54 +1 But I do shoot more than twice as much for the same $’s. The bigger the round, the better the savings. Don’t do 9mm, but do 45’s, .223, .357, .300 BLK, and .308. Most of the savings are in .357 and .308. And I get enjoyment doing something productive on the patio listening to the evening news. Reply LongPurple says: December 13, 2012 at 19:35 +1 The man who shoots as a hobby gets the additional hobby of reloading. I know some guys who shoot just so they have brass to reload. Reply Billy Wardlaw says: December 13, 2012 at 16:41 Thanks to all those who chipped in with the information – it was all very helpful. The TTAG community is awesome. Side note: I have been lucky enough to pick up my 45 ACP whenever a deal permits itself at a good enough pace to stay up with my shooting consumption. I fire a good mix of rounds but shoot mostly 230Gr. HP. The average price per round has been hovering between .36-.42/Rnd. I will probably continue to buy my ammo. I don’t need another expensive hobby. Reply daveR says: December 12, 2012 at 20:36 That song is not badly written…I’d even call it quite well-done. Respect. Reply Texicans says: December 12, 2012 at 20:59 I find this one a little better….YMMV. Reply sanchanim says: December 12, 2012 at 21:37 fxhummel1 that is too funny… At least I know he leaves it so I will raid it later lol Honestly people who reload it is like weeding in the yard. It never stops, but it can be relaxing all the same. If you save a few bucks or get into dialing in your load for your gun that isn’t a bad thing. Reply Dyspeptic Gunsmith says: December 12, 2012 at 21:51 You think casual brass vultures are bad? Heh. There’s worse. There are shotgun ranges where the rule is: “If your hull hits the ground, it belongs to the club.” Ever wonder why some high-level trap competitors have the ejectors on their over-n-under shotguns disabled, and their shotguns just extract and push the shells out to where you can pick them out of the barrels? Wonder no longer. As for reloading: If someone doesn’t want to do it – then don’t. If, on the other hand, you want to save some money, then save your brass, buy powder, bullets and primers in bulk (and they do go on sale every so often) and learn to reload. Want to become hard core? Then learn how to cast your own bullets from scrap lead. Want to become even more hard core? Learn how to swage copper jackets onto your own bullets with a Corbin press. Want to become even more-more hard core? Buy a lathe and machine your own bullets out of copper or bronze. Want to help other people reload? Buy some machine tools and make (and sell) bullet molds, swaged bullets or bullets machined from solid copper or bronze. Right in here is where it ceases being a hobby and it takes over your life as a business. As you can see, simply re-filling empty brass is hardly over-the-top stuff. Reply OHgunner says: December 12, 2012 at 22:31 That reminds me, I need to raid the brass bucket next time I go to the range! And buy more Win 231. Damn, I’ve been slacking. Reply ensitu says: December 12, 2012 at 23:41 All your brass now belong to us! Reply elnonio says: December 13, 2012 at 10:31 I think it should be “all your brass are belong to us” Reply Don says: December 13, 2012 at 00:36 If someone asks if you reload it is not because they think you should, it to find out if it worth hanging around until you leave in order to pick up your brass. Reply Tim says: December 13, 2012 at 11:57 I simply ask if they reload and if they say no, I ask if I can have their brass. I wait until they are done shooting (reloading mags or leaving the range) to pick the spent brass. Often they bring it over and hand it to me. Ahead on .223 & .308, about even on 45’s. You always lose some of what you shoot, so doing this makes up the difference. I buy bulk everything. Recent order 6,000 primers, 1000 bullets, 4 lb bottle of powder. Reply IdahoPete says: December 13, 2012 at 12:35 My main gripe is that no one ever seems to leave the brass I want to reload: .43 Spanish, .577-450 Martini, .310 Cadet, .44Russian, .32S&W Long, .45-70, etc. Reply Dyspeptic Gunsmith says: December 13, 2012 at 15:40 That’s because you’re a man of distinction and taste. 😉 Reply Amarante says: December 13, 2012 at 16:29 In Brazil ammunition reload is standard procedure. No one picks brass from anyone except from himself. Reply ready,fire,aim says: December 13, 2012 at 16:31 hell not only do I pick up my brass and neighbors brass (after asking) for reloading I still pick up a penny when I see it on the ground….that part really embarrasses the wife….LOL Reply bontai Joe says: December 14, 2012 at 14:48 You are not the only one that picks up pennies. Someone told me that each penny represented one month’s interest on any dollar I owed to any bank or credit card. As to picking up brass, I pick up my .22LR brass! Have you guys priced what scrap brass sells for lately? It’s been around a dollar pound in my neck of the woods. A couple of 5 gal buckets of brass can buy you a nice lunch someplace, so don’t be throwing old cases out in the trash. Find a scrap yard that pays for brass, lead, aluminum, etc and make a few bucks. Reply Amarante says: December 13, 2012 at 16:48 MUN CBC 380AUTO ETOG 95GR 1.000 rounds R$2.032,60 MUN CBC 9MM ETOG 124GR 1.000 ” R$2.933,00 MUN CBC 357MAG EXPP 158GR 1.000 ” R$3.475,70 MUN CBC 45AUTO ETOG 230GR 1.000 ” R$3.036,90 MUN CBC 308WIN HPBT 168GR MATCH C 1.000 ” R$8.660,50 R$2,1 = 1USD Reply Matt in FL says: December 13, 2012 at 17:25 Am I reading that right? $1.40 a round for 9mm? $4.12 a round for .308? Damn… Reply AlphaGeek says: December 13, 2012 at 17:57 Certainly explains the earlier comment that everyone in Brazil reloads, and why there’s well-established social convention regarding empty-brass collection. Reply Mike in NC says: December 13, 2012 at 17:54 There must be some serious taxes on ammunition in Brazil. CBC “Magtech” brand here in the USA is fairly inexpensive: 9mm 124gr $13 per 50; .45 ACP $20 per 50; and .308 Win 150gr $31 / 50. Reply Dan says: December 14, 2012 at 00:37 cheapest commercial subsonic 300blk – $19.99, ~$0.995/rd my subsonic 300blk handloads – $0.256/rd not only will you save money on ammo, you will also shoot less because you will spend more than half your time at the range picking up brass 🙂 Reply Write a Comment Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.