The Truth About The Cost of Reloading

Bulk .45 bullets (courtesy ammoland.com)

Andrew Scott writes [via Ammoland.com]:

I have had a lot of friends and customers come up to me asking this very question. In this article I’m going to look at what we call the “Break Even Point” in business. That is, at what point would your savings on ammunition equal what you spent on equipment to get started? Obviously I’m not going to be able to cover for every contingency here. The numbers will change significantly based on what cartridge you’re loading, what setup you want, etc. For this analysis, we’re going to go with a .45 ACP load I started out with, using the cheapest, most bare bones equipment we can get, and we will price everything off of Midsouth Shooter’s Supply. Here’s our load data . . .

For this analysis, we’re going to negate the cost of brass. That’s not because your brass will last forever, you’ll eventually have to procure more. But it’s hard to nail down a realistic cost given the opportunities for free brass from friends/ranges, plus you’ll get multiple uses from your brass.

The number of times you’ll be able to reload a casing will vary widely based on the manufacturer, your load data, what reloading dies you’re using, and even what gun you’re shooting it out of.  Because I can’t realistically account for all of this, and it would be disingenuous to price in the full cost of brass, we’re just going to ignore it here.

So, we get a final cost of 17.9 cents per round when we account for the components. But wait! We need to account for shipping, and with hazmat fees, shipping adds up quick. We’ll price it out if we were buying enough components for 2,000 rounds from Midsouth to my hometown of Tucson, AZ.

 Reloading kit

Unfortunately, I can’t currently add in the powder and primers as they are on backorder (a common problem recently) so those will be estimated into the shipping cost. We get a shipping price of $35.70 plus $2.70 insurance for just the bullets. We’ll add in 25% for the primers and powder, as they are light but bulky. This gives us $48, plus $35 for hazmat costs, or $83 (estimated) for total shipping.

This brings our total cost per round to 26.2 cents. We’ll compare that to Wal-Mart’s price of Federal ammo of 51.5 cents a round (not including sales tax), for a savings of 25.3 cents a round. Note: you can bring that price per round down significantly with certain things like cast lead bullets, cheaper primers, buying in bulk etc. This is just a basic load I have built up that we’re using for our example.

Now let’s look at what we’ll need for our basic reloading setup and the cost (prices subject to change as article ages):

Total – $302.92

Now if you know or have done any research regarding reloading tools, you’ll see that I really went barebones with this, especially on the actual press (I had no idea you could pick up a single stage press for under $90 before researching it for this article). Also, I discovered the Midsouth Tumbler Kit, which is a really great value at around $73.

If you start reloading rifle cartridges there’s going to be some more equipment you’ll need to acquire, such as a case trimmer and possibly even an annealing machine for heavier rifle cartridges. Also, since we’re running a Carbide die set for our .45 ACP, I didn’t include any case lube, as it’s not necessary when running carbide dies for a straight-walled pistol cartridge. However, even when it’s not necessary, case lube will make resizing your brass much easier.

So our cost is $302.92 in equipment. (Equipment Cost/Savings per round $302.92/$.253= 1,197.31.) Since we’re saving 25.3 cents a round, our break-even point will be: 1,198 rounds of .45 ACP.

Reloading info (courtesy ammoland.com)

So at just under 1,200 rounds, you’re now saving money, which really isn’t bad. Keep in mind: if you go with the equipment listed here, you’ll be running a single stage press. On average you’ll be able to make about 50 rounds an hour. So you’ll be looking at about 24 hours labor (not including doing your research/reading/setting up/developing test loads) to make those 1,200 rounds.

Now that we know the equipment cost and the point at which you’ll start saving money, the question you’ll want to ask yourself is whether or not you really want to start reloading. Like working on cars, it’s a fun hobby to some and a total pain in the neck to others. My recommendation is to find someone who currently reloads that’ll let you run his/her press for a time, and see if it’s something you’ll want to pursue. If it fits your taste and budget, then pull the trigger!

 

———-

Andrew Scott is the Founder and CEO of A&A Ammunition, an ammunition manufacturing and sales company located in Tucson, AZ that specializes in reloading high quality training ammo. He is also a Veteran currently serving in the Arizona Air National Guard, and has previously worked in numerous industries ranging from food prep to stock trading. For more information visit A&A Ammunition’s website at www.TrainHardAmmo.com/blog

comments

  1. avatar planet_federal_way_twax_city says:

    Just reload. Learn it, live it, love it.

    1. avatar Cyrano says:

      Why not start out with used presses and other equipment. Lots of stuff in the classifieds running 50% discount or more to the new stuff. Then there is reloading the oddball calibers which the bigger savings come into play. I think the single stage stuff is a better economic play for rifle cartridges. Especially if you are into precision over volume.

      1. avatar Arc says:

        This right here!

        Reloading expensive or oddball calibers is the biggest bang for reloading.

        As for me, stockpiling bulk ammo is far easier, I would rather spend my time doing other things or making money. The cost of common caliber bulk ammo is comparable to reloading, esp with shipping costs.

    2. Cool, couldn’t have said it better!!!

  2. avatar Fuque says:

    If I had to rely on reloading to shoot, Id be shooting a lot less..That said, I enjoy taking a saturday and reloading from time to time.. I just don’t want to have to depend on it while I can still buy… I guess it’s like buyng ice versus having to fill ice trays all the time..

    1. avatar Michael says:

      I shoot way more reloading than when I had to buy ammo. I buy powder in 8lbs jugs, bullets for handguns in the thousands and that brings the price way down. All on a single stage.

      1. avatar CAG404 says:

        Yeah, I experienced the same…reloading I shoot a lot more. In the beginning I figured I would save money by reloading. Nowadays I realize I shoot twice as much, so I probably don’t really save anything in the end.

        1. avatar CarlosT says:

          Not in “cash out of your pocket” terms, no, but in practical terms, yes. The ability to shoot twice as much for the same money is a real “savings”, without doubt.

      2. avatar JR_in_NC says:

        Agreed; I shoot A LOT more handloading. Was at one time shooting about 1000 rounds per week with well over half that being handloads.

        That was on a turret press used as a single stage.

        Buy components in bulk, load in volume. But then again, as the OP said, I enjoy loading just for loading sake. It’s meditative – a hobby on its own, kinda separate from shooting.

  3. avatar Brian says:

    You’ll save $$ per round, but you find yourself shooting more and spending more overall. It’s an incredibly fun hobby, and I can’t recommend it enough.

    1. avatar OCD says:

      As a new reloader, I just figured this out. Got to test all these new loads.

    2. avatar Bob108 says:

      “you find yourself shooting more”

      I so need to get into reloading. 🙂

    3. avatar IdahoPete says:

      And it will enable you to shoot really nifty old guns in calibers that you never knew existed, or are really hard to find in your FLGS – .310 Martini Cadet, .43 Spanish, .577-450 Martini, .401 Winchester, .50-95, .40-65, .32-20, .32 H&R Mag, .44 Russian, and many more. Have fun!

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Add 6.5mm Jap to that list. There doesn’t appear to be anyone in the United States who provides a reliable supply … or any supply at all for that matter.

  4. avatar BLAMMO says:

    I don’t have the time or the patience.

    1. avatar Fuque says:

      It’s a good skill to learn, you never know when buying ammo will go the way cigarettes went, by way of roll your own..

      1. avatar arsh says:

        By the time buying gets that expensive you can just learn at that time. My Philosophy has been that while reloading is cool being able to buy and blame someone else on anything being faulty is a lot easier. I.E. if my gun blows up from a malfunction not caused by user error then I’m getting new stuff via ammo company or gun company. Reloads negate that.

        1. avatar Leonard says:

          That makes no sense. Take pride in what you reload, be careful about doing it, and you’ll never have a kaboom. Knowing every shot I take was of my own making is a great feeling. If, however, you’re generally haphazard about things and don’t like paying attention to details, then reloading isn’t for you at all and probably safer to stick with vanilla loads from the various mfg’s.

  5. avatar Reef Blastbody says:

    Robert, I hate to go off topic here, but can you have a look at the forums and see why the message board software is not sending out verification emails? I registered with the same name I’m using here, and have requested several resends, to no avail.

    1. avatar Tile floor says:

      I’m having the same issue

  6. avatar Anner says:

    It’s pretty cool dropping the hammer on that first cartridge you reloaded by yourself. I shot it with my left hand (I’m right handed) in case I went crazy on the powder or crimp.

    3 cartridges later I inserted a primer backwards, and started the journey of discovering all 1000 ways to screw up reloading. It’s still fun, and I never have enough time for it.

    1. avatar OCD says:

      I was so damn nervous shooting my first reload. I kept thinking man I hope i didn’t screw up somewhere. Luckily I have caught all my screw ups before I got to the range. I’m glad I started with a single stage and didn’t jump right into a progressive. When I start doing pistol, I will getting that progressive though.

    2. avatar Siris says:

      My favorite screw up is sending a powder less bullet about half way down the barrel..
      That one mistake you learn from quickly… ????????????

      1. avatar Aerindel says:

        If you don’t learn it really quickly you end up buying a new barrel.

        1. avatar Gunr says:

          Or a new face!

        2. avatar troutbum5 says:

          Been there done that. 1911. Luckily it was pretty light target loads. Compression between the bullets made a nice ring in the barrel and locked up the slide. I keep that barrel on my bench and take a good look down the bore before I grab the press handle.

  7. avatar Brandon says:

    The savings are also potentially much higher if you are shooting a rare caliber or loading extremely consistent/accurate ammo. I find it very enjoyable too.

    1. avatar Matt G says:

      I reload for 300 BLK and when I first started commercial ammo wasnt really available widely. Add in the ammo hysteria a few years back and the shit was like Keyser Soze. Figured I saved about 50 to 75 cents per round and I had enough supplies that I didn’t need to pay the gougers. I think of it as sort of my strategic reserve

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        It’s how I found TTAG. Watching Nick reload .300 blackout using inexpensive equipment on YouTube.
        I’ve been reloading since 1975 or so.
        I’ve saved thousands upon thousands of dollars.
        Of course YMMV, I shoot a lot.
        A thousand rounds in a day is common.

  8. avatar mdc says:

    I buy ammo like Gold/Silver. Stash it away. Course I have my practice rounds.

  9. avatar Anonymous says:

    13c a round for bullets??? How about cast bullets from free wheel weights. Can’t beat free. I have hundreds of pounds of wheel weights. I don’t anticipate picking up more for the remainder of my lifespan.

    1. avatar Aerindel says:

      Where did you get free wheel weights? Around here people will steal them right off your car and sell them for scrap.

      1. avatar troutbum5 says:

        Tire places used to hand over 5 gallon buckets if you asked. Easier than disposing of them. 1 bucket will keep you in business for a couple of ,years.

      2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        Check tire shops, especially in rural areas where they’re going to have to haul it to a “certified disposal” option at a recycler or other outfit.

        Be advised that a 5 gallon bucket filled with wheel weights is probably more than you lift.

        Wheel weights make for good casting alloy for moderate velocities (eg, 800 fps for a .45 ACP).

    2. avatar Danman says:

      I used to get wheel weights free but not any more. Last big bucket I bought for about 12 dollars and of course the “alloy” is not in anyway measurably consistent and that was before scrap prices shot through the roof. In my many years of reloading I have run through maybe six 5 gallon buckets before I was lucky enough to come upon a source of lead alloy that works great for free. Now I have enough for the rest of my days (unless we have a Zombie apocalypse). Having a cheap bullet alloy is key to inexpensive handloading. Most the shooting I do from my 9mm, .45acp. 38/357, 40/10mm, .45LC are all cast. As I had written before, I am still loading a 50 round box of .45’s for under $5. I run a Dillon 550 and get about 300 rounds an hour usually. I have been rolling my own for more than 35 years now….more than worth the investment.

  10. avatar Adam says:

    This is almost exactly how I started. I would argue 50 rounds per hour is very conservative. I clan do almost three times that when I get going. However the money savings is and excuse given to the wife and soon you find you just shoot more.

    1. avatar Nick says:

      50 rounds to start isnt a bad estimate. But to do 1200 at that rate is pretty crazy. My first 100 rounds or so probably went at that pace. But after that you get more confident and understanding.

      Anymore I dont do huge runs but rather come home from work and knock out some ammo. Used to do 100 rounds or so in about 20-30 minutes and 200 rounds in usually an hour. Once everything is dialed in its a fast process with just a few stops to make sure everything is going well.First round gets checked for charge weight and OAL. Then I always pull a random round out of the reloading block to verify charge weight. Same a random round gets checked for OAL.

      I will say if anything the savings have just gone right back into reloading for me. Upgrading presses, nicer case trimmers, chargemasters, ect. But its a hobby for me.

      As for the no time remark…yes some people truly dont have the time. But the guy i learned from used to to ask people who wanted cheaper ammo but said they didnt have time, “do you have a favorite tv show or two?” Almost all of the guys said yes and named off at least 1 or 2. His response back was always “then you have the time, you just wish to pursue other interests” (tv watching in the case). Always made me smirk

    2. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

      “However the money savings is and excuse given to the wife and soon you find you just shoot more.”

      I found a similar situation when I started brewing my own beer.

      1. avatar Gunr says:

        Gov, If I told the little woman I saved money by reloading, she would want it all!

  11. avatar Stan says:

    First of all, most reloaders don’t buy powder and primers online because of the outrageous hazmat fee. Unless, multiple people have combined an order, its just too expensive. I buy powder at the local reloading store where I live. Unique, Bullseye, Titegroup, HS-6 are all available from time to time. You just have to be ready to buy when its available. Secondly, I bought a RCBS reloading kit, which is cheaper than the individual purchases shown. And finally, pistol shell cases do not have to be cleaned, they’ll work just fine without the cleaning. I’ve shot hundreds of rounds after multiple reloads without cleaning them. Eventually, I just toss out any suspect case. But the real reason I like to reload is that the specific .45 colt round I like to shoot (200gr RNFP) is not always available or it’s just too expensive.

    1. avatar Tex300BLK says:

      “First of all, most reloaders don’t buy powder and primers online…”

      Speak for yourself there. Shops like precision reloading, powder valley, cabelas, etc. let you put something like 30lbs of powder and up to I think 4k primers per hazmat fee. Yes, if all you are doing is ordering a couple trays of primers and a pound of powder then it doesnt make any sense. I can buy a pound of Varget or 4064 at Cabelas retail for ~$30 plus tax, or I can hit an online retailer, buy a pound of the same for 23-26 depending on where you look. So you break even on the $28 hazmat fee after 4-5lbs which gets you about 650rounds of 308win.
      I have quite few friends who reload, and even though I am not actively reloading right now, I do buy components so that I am not looking around for them when I finally get set back up to reload again. Most of us shoot 223/556 and 308 so we go in on a case of RE15/Varget/ARComp whatever and it comes out to more or less what it would have been I hopped in the truck and rolled down to the local Cabelas by myself. If you reload for long action caliber you can probably order enough to break even all by yourself without having to pool with friends.

  12. avatar Ralph says:

    I’ve never loaded my own ammo, but it does seem like an interesting extension of the shooting hobby.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      It is. Incredibly.

      And very, very practical, too.

    2. avatar Fuque says:

      Its much better if you have a dedicated reloading bench.I don’t have the space, so I have to set up and break down each time I want to reload..there is satisfaction in reloading your own rnds.

      1. avatar bontai Joe says:

        A Black & Decker “Workmate” bench that folds up can be a pretty good solution for quick set up and tear down of a reloading station. I’ve seen the press mounted to a wood fastened like a “T” under it that then is easily clamped in the workbench. The bench folds up when not in use and the reloading equipment can be stored with it if you can manage to fins a corner of a closet or under the bed. The bonus is the bench is useful for other projects and tools.

  13. avatar Pascal says:

    I guess I will argue this. During the ammo scare (hoarding) when nobody could find ammo of any kind, I was happily reloading 9mm, 45ACP, 40 S&W and 223.

    Even today, there are some calibers that are cheaper to load than purchase like 45LC and I will argue 308 and 300BLK.

    When we purchase our equipment, we did not go cheap. We purchased a Dillon. We easily crank out over 100rds per hour. During Football Season we go into the basement, turn on the game, and reload throughout the game. We have one person cranking the handle, one feeding the machine with powder or the tray will bullets or shells and another person inspecting every round that we produce.

  14. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    By my math that’s $12.65/hr for your reloading labor. That is tax free money though. No income tax on your labor. You’ll save a buck and a half or so on sales tax (if you buy your ammo locally). After tax considerations your looking at roughly $17.50/hr. once you’ve paid off your equipment. YMMV.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      The problem I see with this $/hr argument is that at least for me, I handload when I would NOT be doing something making money anyway. It’s not like I’m skipping paid work to load ammo, though that has a nice ring to it.

      Sitting on the couch watching football (as example…not something I’d do anyway as I don’t own a TV) or handloading a few hundred rounds of ammo? No net loss/gain in labor cost.

      1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

        True, that’s a factor. For some of us the choice is there to spend more time working or to take on more hobbies. If you’re looking for the ‘break even point’ in the first place then you’re probably interested in the kind of money you’ll save/make after the break even point.

        There’s also considerations like what round you’re loading. The savings for 9mm won’t be nearly as big as .45acp. On the other hand if you spend a little more on equipment it sounds like your rate of production will go up considerably. I’m guessing that for most people who reload the money savings is just a nice bonus, not the core reason for doing it though.

      2. avatar int19h says:

        That comparison makes sense if you’re enjoying reloading as much as you enjoy the couch and football. Otherwise, the cost in hidden (in that difference in enjoyment that you’re getting), and is tricky to convert to money, but it’s still there.

  15. avatar Dave Lewis says:

    You can knock a little off the hardware totals by picking up the calipers from Harbor Freight ($20) and a tumbler from same ($52.99). I bought both six or seven years ago and they’ve lasted 20,000 plus rounds. Yeah they’re “cheap Chinese junk” but what isn’t these days? No need to buy a reloading manual as it’s all on line these days. Download the rounds you need and store the data on your tablet or phone and it’s always there. I pickup all of the brass that I can and trade loaded rounds for brass with my friends. The last time I ran my numbers I thought that I could load .38 special with cast semi wadcutter bullets for about a quarter a round. I look closely at hazmat fees to try to get the best deals on powder and primers. It’s all fun.

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      I have several caliper from Harbor Freight. Their fine for measuring case length etc., but I would never use them for fine measurements, such as bullet diameter.

      1. avatar Tanner says:

        I don’t know that the Harbor Freight calipers are as bad as you think. Our local Starrett rep came in to check calibration on various measuring devices that the company had and a couple of guys asked if he’d check their Harbor Freighters and and they checked out within the Starrett tolerances.

    2. avatar Azics says:

      What ratio do you trade loaded ammo for brass? I’ve thought about doing this. My friends want to see me as a cheap and readily available source of ammo, but I’m not interested in giving away ammo for the cost of components. Trading for brass seems like a good idea because it’s the one thing I’m lacking now that I have loaded all mine.

  16. avatar Siris says:

    Buy powder in 8lb. Tubs
    Bullets by 500 or 1,000
    If you can’t afford it, keep saving until you can get one. Then sit on it until you can get the other.
    You rounds will be more consistent with powder from an 8lb tub over 8 1lb jars from different lots.

  17. avatar CeeZar says:

    What has not been mentioned is that you will learn to tune your loads to your gun. I tested about 20 different combinations of bullet, powder, and seating depth and now have a load that shoots 2.5″ groups at 25 yards from a stock M&P with the 4.25″ barrel.

    I got into reloading after getting the IDPA bug. 9mm is cheap to buy, but even cheaper to reload at about 1/2 price. I spent about $1200 on a Dillon XL650 and the rest of the equipment. Based on cost per cartridge, I paid for my equipment in about 12 months. BUT, I am certainly shooting much much more than if I was paying for factory ammo…

  18. avatar Tex300BLK says:

    50 rounds per hour seems pretty optimistic with that little Lee hand press he priced out. Although to his credit I have heard that those smaller short stroke hand presses are significantly faster and more practical for reloading pistols than a more expensive O-ring style press which would be better suited to reloading rifle cartridges. There’s no way around the fact that reloading pistol cartridges means 5 strokes of the ram per round 1) resize/deprime fired case 2) bell case mouth 3) seat primer 4) seat bullet 5) crimp. I say if you are going to reload pistols for any amount of reasonable volume go all-in and get a progressive press and crank em out.

    When you really count the cost, its is barely practical to reload anything but rifle cartridges, and even then if you are going after accuracy and precision the equipment cost balloons out of control very quickly. Some people get lucky finding a load their rifle likes with cheap equipment, but this is a lifetime investment so you decide if you want to cheap out or not.

    The most important point he made is to find a friend who reloads and borrow their stuff or see if they will let you hang around their house for hours on end to see if it is right for you. That’s how I got into it, had some momentary setbacks financially so I never had a proper setup but I am in the process of specc’ing out my reloader’s mancave, if you are a tinkerer and DIY’er its worth the investment even if you dont make a penny of it back for your efforts.

    1. avatar troutbum5 says:

      Before I bought a progressive press, I would deprime/resize several hundred cases in one sitting, and then prime then with a hand tool while watching TV. Wife is happy you ate spending time with her, and you have 2 steos down. It’s more efficient in the long run, since you don’t have to change dies every step for each 50 rounds.

      1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

        Oh yeah, that’s how I do it. I don’t have a progressive, but do practice batch loading in larger “lots” as you describe.

        For pistol, I’ll prep up 1000 or more cases and keep them ready for loading, and usually seat bullets for 300+ in one sitting.

    2. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      “When you really count the cost, its is barely practical to reload anything but rifle cartridges,”

      I kind of disagree here, though I see this point all the time now that cheap pistol ammo seems to be competitive with handloaded ammo. Used be, back in the day, even the crappiest pistol ammo was about 2x the price of handloads.

      The problem I have with this statement is that it usually involves an apples to butterscotch comparison. When you handload…carefully handload (ie, not follow some youtuber’s ‘throw ammo together’ technique), you are loading match grade ammo you’d buy off the shelf. Even without ALL the tweaks and bells and whistles…it’s just better than the cheap stuff.

      Yet, the price compares to the cheap stuff…and even then, generally favorably.

      Right now, I’m loading 9mm for about $0.20 a round…accurate, reliable and with good terminally performing bullets. You sure can’t buy GOOD 9mm for that.

      So, I have high end quality for practice fodder that is cheaper than, or at least competitive with, cheap crap garbage. That means, to me anyway, better practice if I can get better ballistics for the same $ invested.

      Ditto on the rifle side, though there I admit I do have more invested in higher end tooling and measurement gear. I’m loading ’06 “Match Grade” (about 1/2 MOA at 300 yards) huntin’ loads for $0.72 rounds (last price check)…again, not even in the same ballpark as off-the-shelf Match grade retail.

      Unless I’m missing something really major in terms of deals available, we have to be careful to keep the quality of ammo in mind when comparing price.

      (And note that I use the term “handloads” vice “reloads” for a reason….it’s all about hand crafted quality control, which does not necessarily mean expensive tooling. It’s attention to detail…)

      1. avatar Nedd Ludd says:


        For my practice ammo, I regularly buy 147 grain Speer Lawman TMJ for 12.91/box (26¢ per round) with free freight, online.
        So more than 20¢ yes, but no work and very high quality ammo.

        1. avatar Tex300BLK says:

          Not to mention that no one ever counts the cost of their time. Time spent picking up brass after range sessions, time spent sorting and inspecting the brass. For the nit picky time spent cleaning the brass. That’s a bunch of time right there and I haven’t even sat down at the press. Then you have to actually knock out the ammo, and when I said “5 steps” above I didn’t mean doing one round start to finish I assumed a “batch process” each round will get 5 trips on the press when all is said and done, doesn’t matter if you do 100 or 1000 at a time before changing dies.

          Or I can spend 15 minutes browsing the 4-5 sites I order ammo from, and another 5-10 filling out my billing info and have 1000+ rounds at my door a week later for about .35/rd for brass cases non magnetic bullet 45acp that out of both my handguns will tear ragged holes in the target of I am doing my part. Now maybe when I was single and hangin out at a friend’s garage reloading I might have valued my time differently. Now though, time spent at the bench is time not spent with my kids, working on projects around the house, or putting food on the table. If I factor in what my employer pays me (just a thought excitement as I am not hourly) for an hour of reloading instead of At the office I probably couldn’t even make it economical reloading 50BMG.

          As many have stated above we don’t do it for saving money or time, even if in some cases that happens, we do it for the fun/pride of doing it yourself and il the ability tune the round to the gun. All I am trying to point out (as others have) if you get into reloading for the sole reason of thinking you will be saving this pile of money reloading handgun rounds you are going to be disappointed.

        2. avatar JR_in_NC says:

          I mentioned the fallacy (in my mind) of the “cost of my time” argument above in another comment.

          It’s a fallacy because I’m not getting paid for the time I spend handloading anyway. If you are saying it costs $x/hr to handload a box of ammo, do you also apply that $x/hr as LOST revenue if you spend that time sitting on the couch doing NOTHING productive?

        3. avatar PeterZ in West Tennessee says:

          Component cost has really shot up since I was reloading in the mid-90’s for USPSA. I bought my bullets from a commercial reloader (200 gr .45 cal lead SWC) for $16 for 500 with no sales tax.. Accurate #5 at the time came at about $98 for 8lbs and primers were $10/k. My finished cost was $.063 per round. I could never have practiced and shot as much as I did without reloading.

          I must be more coordinated than most here. Using my Dillon Square Deal B I could crank out about 500 rounds/hour. I had 5 of the large primer tubes that I would load in the evening while watching (listening to) TV. Then, with all the components ready to go it was off to the races. Needed reloading time about an hour per week.

  19. avatar rustybx says:

    Not worth it for 45 ACP. Buy online.

    Ammoseek shows factory reloads from $0.26. New steel case from $0.29 and new brass from $0.33.

    Large rifle caliber is a different story.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      Disagree wholeheartedly; see comment above re: quality of handloads compared to cheap retail.

    2. avatar troutbum5 says:

      Using equipment long payed for, cast bullets, and primers and powder bought before prices got stupid, I’m loading .45 for about $0.09 a round.

    3. avatar DaveR says:

      That’s a fine way to get brass but reloading is much much cheaper once you have the equipment paid for. I’m sub $0.10 per round using commercial plated bullets and if I use my own cast bullets it gets even better 🙂

  20. avatar David B. says:

    While comparing the cost of reloading to cheapest rounds available, it sort of misses another point of reloading.

    You pick a self defense round that is sold commercially, like a 125gr. HP .357 magnum. Not cheap, significant recoil and muzzle blast. Shoot your pistol to get used to where it hits. Then make up a load using a different load and bullet weight that has less recoil and not as loud. But you hit the target in the same place with the same gun. And will usually find it is cheaper to shoot and more pleasant to shoot.

    It is the difference between use rounds and practice rounds.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      Good point, but I’d go a step (or two) further:

      (a) develop and carry good defensive handloads. Heard all the arguments against doing this, and think they are all bunk.

      (b) develop a load that FULLY mimics your defensive carry loads…and practice with the loud noise, recoil and proper point of aim. Why not?

  21. avatar Accur81 says:

    What’s a good single stage press for the .338 Lapua? I can’t find the mythical shell plate holder for my Hornady LocknLoad progressive.

    1. avatar Tex300BLK says:

      Redding Big Boss 2 (the only cast O-ring press still made in America) if you are on a budget, Forster CoAx if you are not.

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        Thanks. I’ll look into it.

    2. avatar troutbum5 says:

      Shell plate is the same as a .416 Rigby. I know RCBS makes them, and I’m pretty sure they will for a hornady. Lee as well.

    3. avatar nemsis says:

      I use a Redding T7 it’s excellent.

  22. avatar Red in Texas says:

    Pistol on a single stage press is SLOW. 3 dies, manually charges, etc. You need a progressive, or a auto indexing turret press at minimum. A single stage is great for rifle, unless you are a hugh volume shooter.

    1. avatar Tex300BLK says:

      I think he used that cheap single stage press for his argument because otherwise the “economics” fall apart when you have to pay off your $600+ progressive press only loading a couple thousand rounds a year.

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      I “batch” all my loads through on single-stage presses.

      I’ll set up to run 250 (eg) cases through. First they’re decapped, then tumbled, then sifted, then primed, then charged, then a pill is seated/crimped. I run all 250 of the cases through one evolution, then I’ll switch dies or equipment and do the next operation to all 250.

      1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

        Ditto.

        It makes no sense whatsoever to constantly change dies on a single stage.

        Turret presses used as single stage are a happy medium as well.

        Also, aren’t there quick-change set-ups for dies nowadays?

        1. avatar Bob in Calif says:

          I have 2 Dillon presses, Square-deal and RL550, and have the quick change capability you speak of. Takes all of about 5 mins. to change the setup. All are set to the loads I frequently use. I keep a log of all the ammo I reload and surpassed the break-even point long ago. In the past year alone, 10K rounds. And the best part is that I have loads that are optimal for each of my firearms.

    3. avatar RenegadeDave says:

      The turret wouldn’t have been much more in gear.

      Turret +$65
      Upgrade powder throw to Lee Pro Auto Disk +$22
      Add Lee Disk Riser +$7 (over the perfect powder measure)
      Upgrade dies to 4 piece carbide Lee dies +$15
      Change over to Lee Safety Prime $-15

      That’s uping your BEP to 1,570 rounds, but you’ll be going twice as fast (at a minimum), so you’re looking at 16 hours vs. 24. The “time” is arguably more important than the money.

      1. avatar Drew says:

        turret press is awesome!

        i can attest to this. i did a couple years reloading without a press at all to see if i liked it. i used the lee loader for .38/.357 first as a test. spent very little on initial equipment, and it was slow.. about 60 rounds per hour. i made quite a few rounds and did end up shooting more, and i liked doing it while watching tv. the wife did not like the hammering though. i bought a turrent press for little more than a single stage and the dies are the same, so it is a wash. i now have a couple calibers in the turret, and i simply added more turret disks to mount the dies in and switching calibers is really fast and easy. my rounds per hour are now closer to 250 depending on the condition of my cases.

        if you reload for high precision rifle, as single stage will likely give the best accuracy/consistency at the cost of time.

        if you reload for casual shooting across a few different calibers or more, then turret

        if you reload for competition shooting thousands of rounds a week in a single caliber or two, then progressive

  23. avatar Avid Reader says:

    I do it because I enjoy it, not because it saves money. Eventually the cost per round is less than commercial ammo once the equipment expense is amortized. But, as is often pointed out, then you shoot more. It does help to be able to load some of the stuff that’s a little tougher to find at times, say .45-70, .38 Super, or the .44s.

    To me, it’s a win all the way around.

  24. avatar LongBeach says:

    There’s some prime real estate on my workbench that’s just begging for a reloading setup. My worry is that I’ll get a decent setup but never use it. 16-hour workdays have a way of limiting my motivation. One day, though, I’ll move up a few tax brackets and reload to my heart’s content!

    1. avatar RenegadeDave says:

      Reloading requires you to be totally focused on the task you’re doing. it’s a lot better and more productive way to let go of stress.

  25. avatar Robert says:

    I reload .45 ACP for about $8/50, .38 Special for $6/50, and 9mm Luger for about $5.50/50… I don’t know where you guys come up with the idea that it’s not worth it to reload and to just buy factory ammo, but I can have ammo available within an hour, no matter who’s stocking what or where it’s available.

  26. I’m sixty-nine, almost seventy, and have been reloading since my very early twenties. I still have a few cans of powder that cost less than $2.00 per pound. I started with a RCBS Junior. I now use a Dillon 550B. So much faster. Instead of reloading a box or two, I now load 500 to a 1000 rounds at a time. I can now stay ahead of my shooting. Yes I save money reloading, but that’s not the only reason I do it. I like the feeling of going out and shooting ammo I loaded myself. I can try different powders, primers, brass, and other components to see what shoots best in a given gun. I love it. I reload for pistols, revolvers, and rifles. I still use a single stage press for rifles. I want each round as close as possible. I highly recommend reloading. It costs less than a shrink.

  27. avatar Gunr says:

    Too many factors to consider. Some folks load for accuracy, others to save a couple of bucks, still others because they are loading for an almost non existent cartridge.
    A lot of these folks consider it a hobby.
    If your doing it just to save money, your missing a lot.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      Plus about a million.

      Saving money is an attractive side benefit of loading, but not much more than that.

  28. avatar Darkstar says:

    In addition to the very good advice about trying out a buddies equipment a prospective reloader can buy any of the manuals out there and read the chapters about the process of reloading. It will give you a good idea of what you are getting into for a minimal investment of $25-$30. Better than spending hundreds and deciding reloading isn’t for you.

  29. avatar bolero says:

    I can easily ding that 18″ X 18″ plate every time at 500 yds prone with my handloads. So go cost-compare buying OTC loads that may or may-not/sometimes/kinda-sorta meet that requirement.

    If you want to compare custom loads to Cabelas as far as $ is concerned, you can only compare your home recipe to premium $$ stuff.

  30. avatar Matt in Maine says:

    The press is easily the least expensive component you’ll buy because at some point you’re going to break even. At just over twice the cost of that single stage setup, a Dillon 550 will have you producing a few hundred an hour right out of the gate. Quite literally making bullets faster than you can shoot them, and spending far less of your spare time which is probably the most expensive component in reloading.

    1. avatar RenegadeDave says:

      Truth. I’m about to graduate from a turret to a Dillon. hammer out a months worth of shooting in an hour or two vs. 4.

  31. avatar Max says:

    Having been on the receiving end of an idiot reloader (literally filled the casing with powder in a 44 Mag round) and being lucky enough that no one got hurt (I wasn’t the shooter, my friend was, he was standing next to me and I was kneeling. Had I been standing a head injury from the pistol parts flying by would have been guaranteed) I just can’t bring myself to the expense and to me unnecessary risk of loading my own. I know, bad loads can happen from the factory too, but statistically a much smaller chance of that happening then if I get distracted while hand loading something and myself or a friend/family member gets hurt.

    1. avatar RenegadeDave says:

      I’ve seen two kabooms recently from commercially reloaded ammo. one in a Glock 34 (gun was more or less fine, just frayed a bit of the mag catch, which was shaved off with a knife and still in operation) and the other on a Ruger LC9s Pro (gun was more or less fine, the extractor blew out, we were able to put it back together and it still works).

    2. avatar tom w a glock says:

      An old saying I heard goes “if you idiot-proof something, they’ll just go build a better idiot”. I think they point in hand loading is to not be that “better idiot” and take your time, do your homework to get the loads right. Anything that goes BOOM is dangerous. Pistol rounds much less so than grenades, mortar rounds or HE artillery. Buying a nice turret press is on my to do list, not so much as a cost savings as for consistency plus guarding against the ~next~ ammo drought (you know there’s going to be one).

  32. avatar S.CROCK says:

    No plans on reloading in the near future but this article was awesome. Very informative and to the point. I wish I could reload now.

  33. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    First press was a Dillon SDB second hand off ebay and I still use it to load pistol cartridges. After years of saving and picking up 5.56 brass I finally bought a Lee 4 hole auto indexing press to load 300 BLK and then I wanted to load those cool 240 grain lead slugs for subsonic….oops another $40 for a single stage press and an expander die. Then I decided to try loading black powder shotgun rounds…..

    It seems that I now have two shooting hobbies – one is turning loaded rounds into empty brass and the other is turning empty brass into loaded rounds!

  34. avatar Will in Oregon says:

    Coming from someone who owns a gun that factory ammo literally isn’t available for, reloading can be a life line, the down side in my situation is that I’m active duty military and it’s a big pain in the butt having to get rid of all your powder and primers every 3-4 years because the DoD won’t ship it. If anyone out in TTAG land is in or around Las Vegas and would be willing to either load some ammo for me, or possibly let me use their reloading equipment it would mean the world to me

  35. avatar Southern Cross says:

    Can you save money reloading?

    It depends on what you shoot and how much?

    The answer is NO if you:

    -are a once a year deer hunter who buys a box of cartridges, uses a few to check your zero, and rest to harvest some meat.

    – are just plinking with a common caliber out to 100 yards.

    – can buy cheap ammunition at about 20 – 30 cents per round at most and are happy with good enough accuracy.

    The answer is YES is you:

    – participate in competition where accuracy and reliability is required. Being able to tailor the load to the rifle is important.

    – use obsolete or uncommon cartridges, especially with milsurps.

    – want something not available commercially, such as decent hunting loads for 8×57 Mauser, target ammunition in 6.5 Japanese or Mannlicher-Carcano, or others.

    – cut costs down as much as possible, such as a load for .223 Remington that costs about 17 cents per round, less than .22LR.

    – in a part of world where ammunition and components are subject to sporadic unavailability.

    – and don’t mind the time spent on the hobby.

    My reloading gear was paid off after about a year or so when compared to buying the cheapest retail ammunition. Today, depending on usage, the payoff time would probably be about 2+ years.

    Don’t buy tumbler media. Just buy the cheapest bulk rice in the supermarket and add a few shakes of dry powder cleanser to the rice in the tumbler.

    Reloads per case can vary widely. 5.56 Winchester commercial cases can excede 10+ neck size reloads. S&B .303 is risking head-separation from the 2nd reload onwards.

    1. avatar RenegadeDave says:

      If you shoot competition pistol you can get more accurate loads that recoil less than factory, and cost 40-60% of factory. You can also tailor your load to your chamber length. CZ shooters can make shorter loads to fit their chambers, 1911 shooters can load out to 1.270 for silky smooth feeding. You can load up different projectile shapes not commercially available for purchase, like semi-wad cutters. You can load up affordable HP rounds that offer more surface area to engage rifling and have a longer base than a projectile at that weight otherwise would. It’s also like buying bulk ammo in installments. If I have $30 in my pocket, that’s 1000 primers. Spend $120 on 1k projectiles. $20-200 on powder, etc. Rather than just $200 -$300 for 1k reloads from a commercial reloader.

    2. avatar Nickbnumbers says:

      I disagree on the rice. My favorite is Hornady corn cob (the pink stuff). I tried a few combinations of untreated corn cob, treated corn cob, walnut shells, dryer sheets, etc. The pink Hornady abrasive corn cob gives a good cleaning with low dust and is easy to remove from flash holes. Lyman corn cob seems to be made of little rocks the perfect size to lodge in flash holes.

      Even though I wasted some money ($60) experimenting, someone taking the advice to buy the pink Hornady corn cob can get great results for thousands and thousands of rounds for just $15 and skip the experimenting. It comes in a nice square jar that stacks on a shelf either upright or sideways, and for the truly lazy, does not require schlepping a giant bag of rice 🙂

  36. avatar Art Vogt says:

    They don’t have gun shows and stores where you’re from? if you ever pay a single hazmat fee you’re crazy. I broke even after about six months. But I shoot about 500 rounds (.45ACP, 9mm .308 and .223) three times a month.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      “They don’t have gun shows and stores where you’re from? if you ever pay a single hazmat fee you’re crazy. “

      Yeah, they have gun shows and stores where I am…and no one carries the powders I use. I OCCASIONALLY pay hazmat fees (buy in bulk large enough to spread that cost out to pretty small per pound) to get the powders I want…so sue me.

  37. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    You can reduce the equipment costs significantly if you use Lee’s powder scoops instead of weighing the powder charges.

    I’d go with Unique powder in a .45 ACP, because a) it is the most versatile pistol/shotgun powder made, IMO, and b) you need less of it to hurl a 230gr pill downrange out of a .45 ACP. If you’ve got 8lb canisters of Unique in your inventory, you’ve got a lot of potential loads out there, already worked up and tested.

    For folks new to reloading, a warning about the .45 ACP: It is easily possible with some modern powders to double-charge a .45 ACP case. In some other cartridges, with proper powder selection it is impossible to double-charge a case, the second charge will overflow the case mouth and you can easily see something went wrong.

    Know the parameters of the cartridge you are reloading. Is it possible to double-charge a case without it overflowing? Then you’d better pay attention to every powder throw.

    1. avatar Data Venia says:

      My understanding was that powder scoops were not only less accurate but a fair PITA. But then I’ve also encountered a fair amount of snobbery among reloaders with really nice equipment. Guys with 3 MEC reloaders who won’t touch a lee load all in case it sullies them.

      In your opinion, scoops are a viable reloading tool?

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        Powder scoops work well if you use a powder to which they are calibrated. You can’t just toss in any powder you buy with a scoop, you need to look at the reloading data and use only the powders that have been measured & determined for the scoops.

        Other than that, I’ve seen people reload successfully with as little as powder scoops, dies and a 310 tool.

        1. avatar Gunr says:

          You really need a scale or digital measure to check your load periodically.

  38. avatar troutbum5 says:

    The best part of reloading is watching an elkv or deer drop like a stone after you punched his ticket with a load you worked up and perfected for your favorite rifle. Only slightly better than watching a monster trout suck down a fly tied on your bench.

  39. avatar Jeff O. says:

    I started reloading with a Hornady single stage last summer, and I REALLY enjoy the whole process. I take my time, make sure I’m doing everything safe, every round had primers seated right, every round get the correct powder throw.
    So not only an I saving money, but I think it’s actually fun to make the reloads, so I don’t see at as a time cost, plus I get to shoot more.

    …I *almost* think reloading ammo is as fun as shooting.

  40. avatar Wiregrass says:

    I did the same analysis when I started with the Lee kit shown above loading .38 special. I was fortunate to find all the components I needed locally and avoided any shipping and hazmat charges which makes a big difference. I used locally manufactured cast lead bullets and skipped the tumbler as my once fired brass that I had saved was in decent shape. I already owned a digital caliper. My break even point was much lower, closer to 500 rounds, compared to locally available .38 special. When I started rifle rounds, I invested in a trimmer attachment and a second hand ultrasonic cleaner. I’ll likely get the tumbler soon because my cases are clean but the finish is getting pretty dull at this point. It’s slow but I don’t mind. I can listen to music and crank the one armed bandit all night. The alternative is laying around watching NCIS reruns for the tenth time with my wife. And I enjoy the process of adjusting variables to develop the best load for my rifle.

    1. avatar RenegadeDave says:

      Get the Chicago Rotary Drum Tumbler from Harbor Freight. The dual drum you can routinely get for less than $50. Add in 2# of stainless steel pins from Amazon (~25$ shipped, less if you’re prime), some Lemishine dishwasher additive and some Dawn blue dish soap and you’ve got cases that look brand new.

      With 45 ACP, load up each drum halfway full with brass, 1# pins in each. half a 9mm case full of Lemishine and a squirt of Dawn, add enough water to raise the water level to just cover the cases. Secure the lids, let it go for about 2 hours. I’ve not actually counted how many cases I can clean this way, but I would guess it’s just north of 100 45 ACP, so you’d probably get close to that out of 38’s. You also wouldn’t have to contend with the odd 9/40/380 case getting sandwiched into the brass.

      1. avatar Wiregrass says:

        Actually I was thinking about the 5# vibratory tumber as I want to clean .223 cases as well. I like the idea of the stainless pins. Thanks,

  41. avatar Andy says:

    A Lee Turret is only $111 (Amazon), and beats the heck out of a single-stage. 50 takes me 20 minutes, and I don’t hurry since that’s how errors creep in.

  42. avatar James in MO says:

    I would love to reload, but with small children taking most of my time and attention, it’s probably not happening in the next 5 years. Breaking even after ~1200 rounds for 9mm isn’t quite worth the hours I’d put into it at this point.

    For .308, I could see it being worth it, but I don’t have anywhere to shoot past 100yds yet, so it’d mostly be about putting the holes really close together… which is cool, but I’m sure my technique is less accurate than my ammo, and will be for a while as I’m still learning riflecraft.

    Side note– what do you do when you have a factory .308 round that didn’t fire? Primer is dimpled, no boom. Give it to someone else to pull apart?

    1. avatar RenegadeDave says:

      RE the cartridge: throw it away. unless you REALLY are hard up for projectiles and brass. The powder is a loss, basically.

      RE small kids: I have little ones. With a Lee Turret press, which wasn’t much more expensive than the set up he has I can load 125-150 an hour, which keeps me shooting for a week.

      Of course, you’ll need to be able to secure your components when not at the bench.

    2. avatar Wiregrass says:

      I know what you mean when it comes to little kids. Enjoy them and save your brass. When they get old enough, get them shooting. If they take to it, then you can train them to do simple tasks to help with the reloading. I wish I had figured that out earlier.

  43. avatar RenegadeDave says:

    If you shoot 45, it’s the only way to fly. $20 a box for inexpensive ammo vs. $8 a box… it’s even faster. Of course, that’s no hazmats, using a coated lead bullet.

    I actually think a Turret is safer and less error prone for a new guy. Tweak the powder measure and get it right, the auto advance keeps you from double charging, extremely difficult to seat primers backwards (assuming you’re using a Lee turret with Safety Prime).

  44. avatar JFrame says:

    Lee Pro 1000 – Great Press. Everyone on the internet gripes about it, but mine has been flawless. Many thousand rounds with it and my cost per box is $6.47 for 9mm. I can load about 150 hr without using the case feeder. I think I spent $189 at Cabelas for mine and comes with everything you need minus a scale.

    1. avatar Fuque says:

      Yup, Im running a Lee..

  45. avatar JJ48 says:

    I’d like to get into this, but more because some of the rifles I’m interested in fire hard-to-find ammunition rather than from any thought of saving money.

  46. avatar Data Venia says:

    Good article. 3 points for prospective reloaders to consider:

    1. Look for sales. Look for garage and estate sales where somebody is getting out of the hobby for whatever reason. You might pick up a great deal. Also just look for sales on Amazon. RCBS had a great deal on their mechanical scale a month or two ago. ~50 instead of the MSRP of 130. Yeah more expensive than bottom of the line- but with 500 grain capacity- if you get into casting you can weigh bullets and even shotgun payloads. Which leads to:

    2. Consider how far down the rabbit hole you want to go. If you know that you don’t want to deal with molten lead and casting- then there’s no sense getting the 500 grain scale. If you know you want to cast eventually- then consider waiting to get the better scale. If you’re going far down the hole then you can spread the cost out over time (and get more value).

    3. Consider is how much money you can afford to have tied up in inventory. It’s all well and good to say “I’m reloading for half the cost of storebought” but if you’ve got 400 dollars tied up in primers, powder and projectiles- the wife may not be very convinced by your argument of “saving” money. And as the article points out- bulk is where you save money. Take shotgun wads. You get the price way down if you buy a lot of 5000 compared to 250. You’re also tying up a couple hundred dollars in plastic wads.

  47. avatar Don from CT says:

    This kind of analysis serves only one purpose. To provide you with justification to do what you already wanted to do.

    If you don’t think you will enjoy reloading, then don’t do it. Its not worth it even with the cost savings.

    If you enjoy being able to tailor your ammo to your guns and your game, then its worth it even if it doesn’t cost less.

    One other thing. The author’s costs are WAAAAYYYY off. First of all, when you decide to reload, you should also decide to buy in bulk. For example. I had purchased 20,000ish primers at about $27 per thousand before sandy hook. I was worried about what I was going to do to restock, looking at the big bump in price.

    Then low and behold I saw an ad at my gun club advertising a lot of primers (a lifetime supply for many people) at $24/thousand.

    So having a reserve allowed me to wait until a deal came along.

    Powder is the same way. When you can find it in 8 lb jugs, buy it. Buy more than one. Buy more than 2.

    Bullets are the only thing that you don’t need to buy huge quantities of to save big. Precision Bullets’ coated bullets are as clean as FMJ and as inexpensive as lead.

    Using a cost of $20/lb for powder and $27/thousand with primers and precision bullets at $203 for 2250 bullets (shipped), you end up with a cost per round of a bit over 12 cents. Less than half of Mr Farrago’s example. Those shipping and hazmat fees are huge if you buy one pound of powder. They become rounding errors when you pitch in with a group of friends and buy a bunch.

    This isn’t crap ammo either. Its my 45 target load with 4 gr of Clays over a 200gr swc coated bullet. Its a proven accurate range load.

    Thats about $6/box of .45. Thats tough to beat. IFFFFFFFFF you enjoy reloading. Which I do. If I didn’t, I’d suck it up and just buy ammo.

    One other thing. You aren’t going to save money. You are going to shoot more. You are also going to buy oddball guns you wouldn’t have otherwise bought because you can make ammo for it.

    I haven’t even gotten into the joys of tag sales or friends just giving stuff to you. I got into reloading .44 magnum because a friend gave me 2 sets of dies and 1000 bullets. I already had brass and large primers. So off I went. In the next couple of months, I shot my nickel plated model 29 more than I had in the previous 5 years.

    The same goes for my .460 XVR. I can make a FULL power target load using FMJ .45 ACP bullets for about 10 bucks a box. Needless to say, my investment in $40 worth of lee dies was well worth it. I already had brass from the factory ammo I had shot. I already had primers and bullets. All I had to buy was a couple of pounds of H-110.

    In the end. I reload because I enjoy it. Reloading bottle necked rifle cartridge is a whole ‘nother process and I enjoy making very very consistent and accurate ammo. (My .308s average 6fps standard deviation in MV)

    Its become an entirely new hobby, separate from shooting. Maybe thats the answer. If you aren’t willing for it to become its own activity, you may not want to do it.

    Don

  48. avatar kap says:

    Reloading is necessary in my house! started out reloading .38 with a Lee classic kit! what a learning experience for a newbie, same for.45 finally bought a Lee single stage! So added 5 more calibers! 3 were long range. still not enough time too make cartridges! bought a Lee Turret, still not fast enough so got a Lee Pro 1000 it would not do rifle, bought a Hornaday progressive, now being quality over Quantity I am back to single a stage
    One thing that adds to the cost is time it is not free so add a reasonable wage too your costs, it seems the older I get the harder it is too find pieces and parts, mostly BS from Dick wad President

  49. avatar Azics says:

    I got a XL650 for loading 10mm. Considering the cost and lack of availability of commercial 10mm, it was a fairly short break even point. Switching to and loading up 5.56 during the ammo shortage made it even more so. Components were still hard to come by, but not nearly as ridiculously as loaded ammo.

    I can now confidently say that I will never again be down to under 300 rounds of 5.56, with nowhere to get more.

    I wouldn’t worry even if the break even point was 5 years away. How many here are planning to stop shooting in 3 to 4 years?

  50. avatar JS says:

    I definitely have saved tons of money, and that’s even including a $1200 Dillon machine. I shoot 3x as much as I was when I didn’t reload. However I have found that you can not save money with shotgun shell reloading, its just not possible as long as good shells can be found for $60/case. If you shoot nothing but $$$ AA loads then maybe you can still save but I gave up on shotshell reloading not long after I started. So much more finicky to do correctly.

  51. avatar Tim says:

    That is what I use exactly. With a Lee turret press. I built a loading bench with wheels to wheel it to them backyard off the patio. Buy in bulk. 5 lbs power pistol 3-5,000 CCI primers because there is a hazard fee for shipping. Often on backorder for primers & powder. Can crank out 60-80 an hour, Little slower with rifle rounds but for 300 blkout or 308 and 44 mag rounds the savings add up. Don’t do 9mm not worth the time but I have the dies.

  52. avatar Jonathan says:

    I was mentored by older friend into metallic reloading learning first on his gear. Browsing through a local gun shop, I spied a used RCBS Rockchucker on the floor behind the counter. I made an offer, it was accepted and my own bench was started. Most of my gear was acquired used including some of my die sets. My friend John didn’t have a high school education. But he was a virtual encyclopedia on caliber statistics and metallic reloading. It was great companionship working up loads with various bullets and powders and then trying them at the range. John’s been gone for quite a few years now. I’ve saved a good bit of money over the years vs. buying factory ammo. But beyond that, the memories are priceless.

  53. avatar Don in PA says:

    I buy local, current prices rounding up to nearest cent:

    9mm = 0.13 per round
    40 S&W = 0.14 per round
    45 ACP = 0.14 per round
    .44 (light) REM = 0.16 per round

    So that’s between 6.50 and 8.00 per box (50) which I can’t get factory anywhere near me.

    Lately this is all using HP38/W231, and locally made hard-cast lead alloy bullets, Brinell Hardness 17 which I find works better than anything softer or harder at the velocities I like.

    I reload in batches of 500 or 1000 usually about once a month during shooting season. It takes an hour and a half to do 500 on a Dillon 550B if you are taking your time.

    -D

  54. I got into reloading because my G17L requires 9mm +P+ to cycle and its a bit hard to find. Now I reload 14 calibers on both a turret and single stage. Enjoy it as much as shooting. I would recommend you buy primers and powder locally if possible, unless you’re ordering bulk quantities. I paid a pretty hefty price for primers off the internet after Sandy Hook, but they would only sell me 3000.

  55. avatar off-topic brik says:

    Great discussion on reloading !

    I think this off-topic request is appropriate because reloaders tend to shoot/practice the most: how many (approximate) rounds can I shoot from my Ruger lcr.357 before the barrel wears out ?? I’m thinking if the lands wear down, the revolver will not be accurate anymore.

  56. avatar Yadama says:

    Why would anyone bother buying a tumbler if there are going for a single stage press? Tumblers are for high amount of brass cleaning, from a turret or progressive press. And even then, these are reloads, who cares if the brass is shiny; as long as the residue from the primer and powder and cleaned away, you good 2 go!

  57. avatar Fred Frendly says:

    You can get 1K rds of Wolf 45ACP FMJ for around 320.00 shipped. Brass cased Magtech for around 360.00 shipped. Thats around 32 to 36 cents per rd for decent practice ammo. 9MM is running around 20 cents and 40SW around 26 cents from bulk ammo online vendors.

    You reloaders keep sweating past midnite to save a few cents. Foregoing another ammo scare there is no net savings to reloading when you factor in all the equipment, materials and time.

  58. avatar ggrimes2 says:

    I’m not that comfortable with steel cased ammo. If it was that good all ammo would now be steel cased and brass would disappear.
    I’ve been reloading for over 30 years and now reload for all my rifles and pistols. I started with a single stage Pacific (now Hornady) and still have the item plus a much used Dillon 550 and an RCBS progressive and a Lee for large caliber. I started as a cost savings but continued because of some odd calibers I acquired. Try and get a bargain on Sharps 50 x 2 1/2 ! Downside is I shoot a lot more and part of the pleasure is the actual loading process find it very relaxing.

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