9mm and .38spl, when will I break even?


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TFin04
December 7, 2006, 08:34 PM
I have next to no reloading experience, and am new to owning my own firearms as well. I've been shooting with my grandfather for years, but now that I'm reaching 21 have been buying a couple pistols and rifles for hunting.

As of right now I have a 9mm and a .38spl wheelie I like to shoot at least once a week (usually about 75 rounds per gun).

I'm wondering how long it will take before I break even on the machines and supplies of reloading 9mm and .38spl.

Once I begin doing more rifle shooting (in the summer, real nice outdoor range around here), I would be reloading rifle rounds as well, so a machine with that capability would be nice.

Any advice for me? I have read the stickies at the top and didn't find what I was looking for.

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Jerry Morris
December 7, 2006, 08:42 PM
Forget about breaking even. It will amortize inside a year, if you do any shooting at all. Most of us just wind up shooting more often.

Saving money, yeah, it will. But, that really is not what it is about. Shooting more often. And shooting loads you cannot buy are the main things.

Jerry

Walkalong
December 7, 2006, 08:44 PM
Look at it this way. If you shoot enough you can save enough money to buy another gun. This is how it works. Right?

steelhead
December 7, 2006, 09:15 PM
A long time since you aren't shooting that much and you are also shooting 2 of the cheaper factory made rounds. You will do better on rifle rounds assuming it won't be .223. I use my Hornady L-N-L progressive for handgun/high quantity loadings and the single stages for rifle/high quality rounds. Based on your "needs" a single stage press would be perfect. Look for used presses on craigslist, ebay, etc.. I picked up a used (but excellent condition) RCBS JR3 for $15 and a LNIB Redding T7 for $50. Buying used will help on recouping the costs sooner.

Bottom line, it is a hobby and you aren't really going to be saving money if you really get into it. You will find that you end up spending more because you are always experimenting with new loads (powder/primer/bullet combo's) and buying more reloading equipment like Bullet comparators, OAL gages, etc..

TFin04
December 7, 2006, 09:22 PM
Good info guys, I know it isn't a great way to save money. I've helped my grandfather reload and had a lot of fun doing that.

I would shoot more if I didn't have to spend as much on ammo, so I'm sure those numbers will go up. In the winter I have to drive about 30 miles to a good range, in the summer there is one 3 miles away, so my shooting will go up then as well.

Thanks for the info guys, it helps.

Luggernut
December 7, 2006, 09:48 PM
FFin- this is what it's all about anyway...
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=236044

TFin04
December 8, 2006, 07:31 AM
Haha, I've already been a rubbish picker. :D Even without having any reloading equipment I've been saving brass. I don't even own a .38 yet (picking one up this weekend), but whenever I've rented one or shot one I always saved the brass. Same w/ my 9mm, I save it and any other good looking brass I can find.

My range only allows you to take home what you came in with, though if they are slow they don't mind allowing you to clean up the line a bit and take home some extra brass.

BigDog(RE)
December 8, 2006, 07:42 AM
With the way ammo prices are going up, it won't take long al all to cover your costs. People talk about how cheap 38SPL is, but around here, the cheapest I can find it is $19.98 for WWB at Walmart. I reload my wadcutter rounds for $8.35 per 100 and thats using Hornady bullets. You don't save quite as much on 9mm, but you get to shoot a lot better quality ammo for less.

Bula
December 8, 2006, 10:07 AM
I read on THR somewhere "You'll go broke saving all that money" Boy is that true. I shoot a heck of a lot more than I ever have now that I reload. As it pertains to your question, It is totally worth the investment. Assume your reloads will cost you 30-40% of the price of factory ammo (sometimes less) When I first started reloading, I was only doing 45 acp. Now I look at firearms differently. Before I reloaded I always thought to myself "i'd love a 44 mag...but $25 for 50 rounds!?" Now, i dont even consider the price of ammo. I can easily shoot 200-300 rounds now per week (357,44,45,38's) where as before I'd do half that once a month. Make the leap, get into reloading, and you'll most likely never look back.

The Bushmaster
December 8, 2006, 10:13 AM
Beware!!! This hobby is habit forming and is almost impossible to break. Been reloading for 20 years and can't quit. Of course I haven't tried either...:D

Jim Watson
December 8, 2006, 11:20 AM
Advice?
Sure, psychological stuff like "you won't save money, you will shoot more" aside; get a couple of catalogs, a handloading manual, and remember your grammar school arithmetic.
Let us assume as a math problem that you shoot enough to warrant a progressive loader for both rifle and pistol, and you will buy new equipment at list price, components at Midway prices but locally to avoid Hazmat penalties.

Dillon gear, 550B, 9mm dies, powder scale, small tumbler and separator; plus a contingency for all the little extras, about $600. (Yes, guys, I know he could buy Lee dies and Midway tumbler, etc. and get out cheaper, but this is a math class not a firm recommendation.)

Titegroup powder $15 lb, enough for 1550 ea 9mm; about $10 a thousand.
Small pistol primers $18 a thousand.
Remington 115 gr FMJ $50 a thousand.
Brass - $20 a thousand once fired. (Cost goes way down if you shag your empties, with moderate loads you can reload them until they split or you lose. them.)
Total - $98 a thousand, tops.

UMC factory loads $135 a thousand.

Savings $37 a thousand.
$600/$37 = 16 thousand 9mm to break even.

Once you have the big stuff, press, scales, tumbler, and accessories, adding a new caliber gets very reasonable. Sticking with Dillon gear and Midway supplies to go to .38 Special

Dies, shellplate conversion, toolhead, powder die, $120

Components about the same for .38 as 9mm, if not less; $98 a thou, max.
UMC $97 a 500, $194 a thousand, wow.
Savings $96 a thousand.
$120/$96 = 1250 to break even when adding a caliber to an existing outfit.

Rifle calibers are left as an exercise for the students.

Steve C
December 8, 2006, 11:36 AM
I'm wondering how long it will take before I break even on the machines and supplies of reloading 9mm and .38spl.

You can save maybe $3 a box when compared to inexpensive factory 9mm and $6 a box for inexpensive factory .38 spl. If you invest $100 in some inexpensive Lee equipment your break even point would be 33 boxes of 9mm or 17 boxes of .38 spl and somewhere in between for a combination of both. If you shoot a box of each every week you’d break even after about 3 months.

If you plunk down $400 or more for a progressive set up you won’t break even for more than a year.

1911user
December 8, 2006, 11:44 AM
Good analysis Jim, but I have a slight addition to it. Break-even should also include the value of the equipment (not just original cost). The equipment is still useful until damaged or sold. Decent reloading gear can be purchased, used, then resold for about 70% of the original cost if you do it in a smart manner. Break-even costs would only be for the 30% that you lose between buying and selling it.

Using Jim's numbers, $600*30%=$180 is much closer to the true break-even cost IMO for only loading 9mm.

$180/$37= 4900 rounds of 9mm to break-even on the press.
$120*30%/$37= 980 rounds of 38 special (break-even on the 38 conversion costs only)

Using this method means you will have money invested in the reloading equipment (that could have been invested in something else), but you can extract that 70% by selling the equipment to upgrade or cash out.

My advice would be to buy a good press to start with. Shooting 12 boxes of pistol ammo a month (at retail prices) means you'll really sling the lead when the ammo cost drops. A dillon 550 would be a good choice IMO, but there are other good choices also. Don't fall for the trap of starting with the cheapest possible setup because it is cheap. You're going to be shooting and reloading for many years, purchase good reloading gear to support that habit. I'd look really hard at a progressive setup unless you want to spend lots and lots of time in front of the press for years to come. That is time that could be used elsewhere and you'll never get it back once gone.

robertbank
December 8, 2006, 11:50 AM
Last year I shot just over 6,000 rds of 9MM. NOw my costs are about $3.00 cdn for 100 rds. (I cast my own bullets). Therefore my total costs were $180. Cdn. 9MM goes for about $11.00 Cdn for 50 therefore commercial bullets would have cost me $1,320Cdn. I saved about $1,140 reloading. I intend to buy a Para LTC with my savings. Works for me.:D

Take Care

Bob

shadowalker
December 8, 2006, 12:15 PM
For 9mm by loading it myself I save about 50% ($4.50 per 50) and get much more accurate and cleaner ammo than the ultra value 9mm ammo.

I save $4.50 per 50 9mm and $7.00 per 50 40 S&W, shooting 400 rounds per month it will take me 9 months to pay off my reloading setup.

Eagle103
December 8, 2006, 02:43 PM
If you're going to get a single stage for reloading rifle in the future I say you can leave out the cost of the equipment except for your dies. You'll pay for a Lee or even an RCBS kit in no time if you do much rifle reloading. You could save around $1 per round if your buying the factory loaded "Premium" stuff.
So IMO you only have to recoup the cost of the pistol dies, which run around $22 for Lee carbides. For 9mm it worked out to about 400 rounds for me. 38 Special would be even fewer. It was about 100 rounds for my .357.

emitt1
December 8, 2006, 03:03 PM
And, besides, its a heck of a lot of fun, and welcome to our world.

Jim Watson
December 8, 2006, 03:44 PM
You are right on a strict economics basis, User, but assigning a remaining value to the equipment means assuming that he will QUIT reloading and liquidate his gear. Too discouraging to think about.
The most optimistic assumption would be that he sells his starter set to finance better. But if he is confident enough to buy the best to start...

I have a variety of reloading equipment; I bought a Dillon Super 1050 instead of a new gun for one year's entire sports budget, as the big outlay. (Not a whale of a lot bigger relative outlay than my 1978 C-H Autochamp, inflation considered.)

But I still load rifle ammunition on my 1971 RCBS Rockchucker. I read about loading rifle ammo on the progressives but I just prefer the control of doing it single stage.

Jerry Morris
December 8, 2006, 06:35 PM
I started on a RCBS Rockchucker, back in the early 70's. Went to Dillon for higher volume. For rifle cartridges, I go back to the Rockchucker. The closer tolerances of the Rockchucker are almost demanded with the higher precision dies. And there are better single stage presses out there.

My first press was out of line, but I continued to use it, out of ignorance. When I got into precision rifle, I sent the press back to RCBS and they replaced an almost 30 year old press at no charge. You can't beat that.

I see a lot of low end cartridges compared in the price equation. For sub-minute of angle, there is no such critter available for the comparison. Somethings are only available to the man who does it himself. But, then the dies are out of the bargain basement arena, too.

Yeah, if you want to do it, you can. If you want to do it extremely well, you fork out for the high end equipment.

For handguns, Dillon is tops. For near top end rifle accuracy it can suffice. For absolute maximum rifle accuracy, a trued single stage with match type dies is low end. You may even go to custom dies made to match your particular rifle.

Yeah, you can save a lot of bucks reloading, or you may not. It all depends upon what YOU do!

BTW, anything you own, has some resale value, but I consider that an intangible asset, until someone puts money into my wallet.

Jerry

TFin04
December 9, 2006, 09:48 AM
Jim that is a great breakdown, I really appriciate it.

I'm only 20 years old, so I figure I have a lot of shooting/reloading time ahead of me. I'll probably start buying some good equipment after the holidays, and hopefully some of that stuff will last me all or most of my reloading career, even further saving me money.

Thanks for the insight guys, great info!!:evil:

MCgunner
December 10, 2006, 11:31 AM
Forget about breaking even. It will amortize inside a year, if you do any shooting at all. Most of us just wind up shooting more often.

Saving money, yeah, it will. But, that really is not what it is about. Shooting more often. And shooting loads you cannot buy are the main things.

Jerry

Another benefit I like, and it has something to do with casting my own bullets, is knowing my loads are the same every time I go to the range, hit the same POI, same accuracy. I'll never not be able to find my favorite load because I don't have to buy it at the store, not even the bullets!

Casting saves even more money, but it's definitely the slowest process in the reloading routine. I quite enjoy casting, though.

TFin04
December 10, 2006, 12:13 PM
Isn't casting more for the experienced reloader? Tutorials I've been reading recommend become comfortable with the process using factory bullets before trying your hand at casting.

Besides, the indoor range I shoot at only allows jacketed ammo. Would be nice for plinking outdoors in the summer, though.

Opinions on newbie casting?

Edit- I've been looking on Midwayusa.com for supplies, and I'm wondering if anybody can recommend a good starter "kit" for reloading? It seems that Lee, as well as other makers, have some 5 or 6 piece sets to get started. Which one is the best kit? Currently, I'm looking at this one:

http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=820810

MCgunner
December 10, 2006, 01:28 PM
Casting is just another process to save money in reloading. It doesn't have anything to do with the reloading process. I don't know why you couldn't learn to do both. The main thing about casting is learning to keep the temp right and the mold blocks temp right. It's not hard to do. I have free lead, so it really saves not having to pay anything for bullets.

As with any bullet, different designs give different results. I have had great luck with some of the Lee blocks and other than two blocks, that's all I use. I find aluminum blocks easy to care for and use.

1911user
December 10, 2006, 02:08 PM
Edit- I've been looking on Midwayusa.com for supplies, and I'm wondering if anybody can recommend a good starter "kit" for reloading? It seems that Lee, as well as other makers, have some 5 or 6 piece sets to get started. Which one is the best kit? Currently, I'm looking at this one:

http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpag...eitemid=820810

It would get you started for about the lowest entry price, but IMO (puts flamesuit on) you'll want to replace almost every piece of that kit just as soon as you have the funds for better/faster reloading equipment especially for loading pistol ammo. If possible, another $50-$100 would make a noticable difference in what you could get. If it is not possible (BTDT) then start with it and realize you can (and should) upgrade for better/faster equipment in the future. Loading lots of pistol ammo on a setup like that has a real danger of reloader "burnout" and factory ammo will start to look increasingly attractive even at higher prices or you start shooting much less and the fun is gone. lose-lose either way. BTDT

TFin04
December 10, 2006, 09:03 PM
It would get you started for about the lowest entry price, but IMO (puts flamesuit on) you'll want to replace almost every piece of that kit just as soon as you have the funds for better/faster reloading equipment especially for loading pistol ammo. If possible, another $50-$100 would make a noticable difference in what you could get. If it is not possible (BTDT) then start with it and realize you can (and should) upgrade for better/faster equipment in the future. Loading lots of pistol ammo on a setup like that has a real danger of reloader "burnout" and factory ammo will start to look increasingly attractive even at higher prices or you start shooting much less and the fun is gone. lose-lose either way. BTDT

I've already learned in life that with most tangible products, you get what you pay for.

I have no problem investing in some better equipment, is there a different kit you would recommend?

Thanks.

1911user
December 10, 2006, 11:00 PM
If cost isn't a huge issue and you want a reloading setup that would still be useful in 10 years, I would recommend something like a dillon 550 or hornady LNL-AP. Both are quality progressive presses that can load rifle and pistol ammo. Both use standard size dies and allow relatively quick caliber changes. I've owned both presses and either would be fine. You're probably looking at $500 minimum to get started with a setup for 9mm and 38sp.

farscott
December 15, 2006, 08:00 AM
I've been looking on Midwayusa.com for supplies, and I'm wondering if anybody can recommend a good starter "kit" for reloading?I would look at the classfied ads on boards where competitive shooters are and see what they are selling. Often one can find complete reloading outfits (press, dies, shell plates, scales, optional press accessories, case cleaners, media separators, etc.) at very reasonable prices.

TooTaxed
December 16, 2006, 06:25 PM
Your breakeven cost/time will depend entirely on both your cost of equipment and cost of components, both of which vary widely depending on your choices. 9-mm Luger costs me $2.26/box of 50, rifle about $3 to $4/box of 20 regardless of caliber, the difference in cost being mainly the choice of bullet.

Single stage presses are the least expensive and most flexible way to go...very inexpensive to change calibers, requiring only one shell holder (Say $3 to $5) and the dies, and perhaps a primer rod change (all you need is one large and one small). Presses don't wear out...used ones are as good as new ones, and are available if you search...check "used" shelfs at gun shops and the gun shows. Lee makes excellent dies at a very fair price...Midway is a good source. Aluminum frame presses are fine for pistol and .223, but for full-length resizing large rifle cases a cast iron frame press is advisable...less spring. Any progressive press is very expensive to change calibers...Say $20 to $40, less for a Lee, plus dies.

Cast bullets are fine for both rifle and pistol...I've done both, but find that current 500 lot prices for pistol are so low that it isn't worth my time. Cast, gas-checked bullets for rifle are rather scarce, however. I still occasionally cast a batch of 170-gr .30 bullets (Lyman U311291) for my .308 and .30-06 and my son's .30-30, and which, unsized, are excellent for .303 and 7.7 Jap.

Suggestions for low-cost reloading: (1.) Buy components in bulk, sharing costs with another reloader if possible (particularly useful for mail orders). (2.) Standardize on powder and buy in bulk rather than a bunch of very expensive little cans. (I use Win #231 for all pistol between 9-mm Makarov and .45 Colt, and #4895 for all rifle between .223 and .30-06.) (3.) Shop for bargains. There are a number of INET sellers of bulk surplus powders and bullets, and you may run across good deals at gun shows.

But, in any case, reloading adds to your fun of shooting. Shooting factory stuff is fun...but you get extra pride in shooting ammo you've made yourself.:D

TFin04
December 17, 2006, 02:20 PM
Well I picked up a Lee Turret press kit that was on sale at Midway, and just bought a set of dies for my .38 from a local guy for about half price of new.

Do you guys know if Barnes and Noble and the like sell reloading manuals? I don't really want to order online and the shops around me don't have any reloading manuals.

Thanks.

TooTaxed
December 17, 2006, 06:25 PM
TFn04, look at gunshops for free loading data provided by the powder companies for their products. As for Barnes and Noble, you should ask them if they will order them for you. Otherwise, you can get'em at gunshows or order INET from Midway or Amazon.com.

Sheldon
December 18, 2006, 03:34 AM
P.M. me your address. I can mail you one of the older manuals I have laying around. It may not list the newest powders, but the old reliables will be there.;)

DWARREN123
December 18, 2006, 05:09 AM
I started reloading this past August, I haven't saved a damn penny. I shoot so much more. Since I started I have reloaded over 2100 rounds of 357 mag and 32 H&R mag, the reason I started was the 32 mag. $12 for 20 rounds of Federal ammo, 85 gr Hornady HP/XTP bullet. I can reload the 32 mag with the same bullet and build the round to what I want for a little less than half of factory ammo.
Powder is my downfall, I keep trying different types for a clean, fast, accurate round and have come up with a bunch but they seem to use different powders. Primers are easy, I started with Federal and am highly satisfied with them. Brass is what I had or new ammo I sometimes buy and once fired brass.
Want to see someone do a happy dance, see me if I find any decent 32 H&R mag brass, cheapest I have found is $10 per 50 unprimed.
So when will you break even, if you are like a lot of us you never will but boy you sure will have fun.:D :neener:

Porky6331
December 18, 2006, 05:32 PM
Before reloading 50 rounds a week. Started reloading 200 round a week. Not much savings.

mugsie
December 18, 2006, 06:04 PM
Don't let them fool you. The way it really works is akin to smoking crack cocaine! First the reloading lures you in with little 9mm and 38 specials. Gee, they load so easy, what's so difficult about this?". Then you start eyeing some other brass in the discard area - "Hmmm? Is that a 357? Maybe I'll take it. Oh look, a 44 mag! Wow, look at the size of that shell! I'll take it too" Now you're almost hooked. "Gee - I wonder what it would be like to load these things?" "I'll need to get another gun, then I'll have a reason to reload em" So you agonize for a while and finally purchase another revolver. More reloading dies, shell plates etc., larger bullets. "250 isn't enough, I'll get the 500 pack - maybe the 1000" Then it's different bullet designs, WC's, SWC's RNFP it goes on and on. Before you know it you're scrounging brass for everything. You're reloading hundreds of rounds and shooting a lot less than you reload. More brass, more reloading, some shooting aughhhh! Now why did I start this in the first place? By the time someone performs an intervention for you you've forgotten why you ever wanted to break even in the first place. Save yourself. Send me all your reloading equipment, brass, powder, bullets and manuals and free yourself of this terrible monkey on your back! I'll send you my address. You're free brother, go out and rejoice.....:D

TFin04
December 18, 2006, 08:47 PM
Thanks for the offer Sheldon, that is super nice of you. I PM'd you.

ralphie98
December 19, 2006, 12:26 AM
Here is the kicker, and where you really stop...err..start saving money... Go get a .45. I am reloading my .45 using lead bullets purchased online for around 5.40/50. If you compare it to the Winchester White box value packs, it's around half the cost. Just think of how quickly your reloading equipment could pay for itself then!!!

I think mine paid for itself in the first month. I was given an old RCBS RS single stage press, and it works great. Sure, I have my eyes on something a little more... time efficient, but I'm still having fun with the single stage. Only costs I've had are components and dies.

Lloyd Smale
December 19, 2006, 06:09 AM
like was mentioned by a couple others to save much loading 9s you about have to cast and sure you can invest 100 bucks in a single stage press but then i hope your time doesnt have a value to you. My recomendation to do it the cheapest is buy a cheap lee pot and lee 6 cavity mold some tumble lube and a dillon square deal press. You should be able to get into the whole thing for about 500 bucks. It may take a few years to recoup your money but youll have fun loading instead of making it work.

Sheldon
December 19, 2006, 01:20 PM
Hey TFin04....the manual is on its way to you as I just got back from the p.o. It's a copy of the Lyman Reloading Manual 46th Edition. Enjoy!!

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