Cost effective?


December 24, 2002, 09:17 PM
Has anyone ever calculated how many rounds you would need to shoot to make reloading cost effective? My main shooting is .308 in my rifle and 9mm in my pistol. As far as labor, my son would probably work for $7. an hour Thanks!;) Also, what would a mid range price be for a setup to do the afore mentioned loads? Thanks!

If you enjoyed reading about "Cost effective?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
December 24, 2002, 09:33 PM
Guess I never put a pencil to it, but "Reloading is cost effective" could be considered an oxymoron. You get your monies worth, but you probably won't save much 'cause you'll shoot a lot more.
First chance to post this on the new board!
Reloading is a vicious circle:
Reload, shoot, clean guns. Reload, shoot, clean guns. Wait for payday to buy more supplies, reload, shoot, clean guns.

December 24, 2002, 09:46 PM
Thinking out loud here...for the .308: $99 for 8lbs of Varget...$150 for 500 Lapua cases...$99 for 500 SMK175gr...'bout $30 for the primers (per 1K)...So if I get the start up costs right, I'm looking at about $375 for a 500 round case of match grade ammo. I can get a case of BH .308 175gr for about the same, maybe a little less.

Now, for the second reload...cases aren't needed...still have plenty of powder...still have primers....$99 for the SMK's...hmmm..$99 for the second 500 rounds... $129 for the third 500 rounds, (need more primers)...$99 for the next 500...

See a pattern?

After the start up costs, it's pretty easy to either A) spend less money on super-high quality ammo and / or B) shoot more with better ammo for the same price.

But there are some situations where this ain't the 9mm. A while back, I was fiddling with the idea of loading some 9mm. After the start up costs and continued componant replacement, I found it was ultimately cheaper to buy loaded ammo than to make it myself. Now granted I don't compete, and I don't even get much pistol time in per year, so it really doesn't make sense for me to reload for the 9. It's different for some of the other calibers, but for recreational 9mm, it doesn't seem all that practical.

My 2 cents


H&K Fan
December 24, 2002, 09:59 PM
I like reloading, it gives me something to do during odd hours of the night. That has been known to give way to the fun "intruders at 03:00" game. A fashlight, a slide action shotgun, intimate knowledge of my property and stupid people late at night are not a very good combination, though it works very well for me.

Back to reloading, however it is interesting in and of itself. Do I save money, probably not. Do I have a secondary hobby based off of firearms, yes. Do I reload for other people, absolutely not. The liability issues alone are a deterrent. It gives me something to do when it is too cold, hot or just lousy weather to be out shooting that does not involve junk food, junk tv and other bad habits.

December 24, 2002, 11:25 PM
I sat down once and calculated this out for different calibers and I don't remember where i put the calculations. But I remeber that for .308 I came up with the figure that if I can buy 1000 rds for less than $140 then I buy the rounds and don't reload.

But remember, you cam make ammo tuned for particular guns in reloading, this is important for competetion.

When I was considering which reloader to buy and decided on a Dillon 550, I figured, at the rate I was shooting then, that I would "pay off" the coast of the equipment in about three years worth of savings. However, as others have stated, I eneded up shooting much more because of reloading, thus the equipoment paid off faster.

Yes, you save on reloading, you just need to watch component price vs. milsurp ammo prices.

Steve Smith
December 24, 2002, 11:28 PM
There is a guy over on that made a huge spreadsheet that includes the cost of EVERYTHING (I swear!) that you buy, and how much you estimate your time is worth too! It will also calculate how long it will take to pay for your equipment. Go over there and search for "spreadsheet" in the Handloading section. Free download.

Standing Wolf
December 25, 2002, 12:08 AM
I'm real partial to 3 grains of Bullseye and 148-grain hollow-based wad cutters over standard primers in .357 magnum cases. Ammunition manufacturers aren't.

December 25, 2002, 09:52 AM
I'm not sure that I've ever calculated the tools cost: you collect things over time, after all...
Besides, I'm still using dies I bought back in the 70's, and I've really no idea how many rounds I've loaded with them. So, I guess I just ignore the setup costs...

While I do reload for rifles, normally .308 and .223, normally using CCI mil primers and so forth, and I'm sure that the cost per round is probably around 20% of the factory ammo, I don't really shoot enough of it to make any reasonable comparison.

Pistol ammo, though...

You can get primers, in my case, WIN SP or LP, for roughly $16/K, but I normally do the 5K box for roughly $75, or $.015/shot.

I've long since standardized on Bullseye for pistols, and, once again, going for bulk, every couple of years or so I buy an 8 lb keg. Normally, that'll be around $110. For the larger calibers, figure 5 gr/round, and you get
$110/(8*7000/5), or roughly $.011/round.

Now, while my social intercourse ammo is jacketed hollowpoint, the practice slugs are all cast, by me. I forget what the cost per kilowatt hour is, but I see no significant increase in the electric bill while casting, so I count it as zero.

As for the bullet material, every couple or three years I buy 50 lb or so of lineotype scrap, at$.5/lb, and police the bullets as they work their way to the surface of the berm.

Anyway, I figure my net cost per centerfire pistol round to be about that of a .22 LR, say .03 to .05/round.

As for the time, since when does hobby time count as work?

December 25, 2002, 12:56 PM
Watch out on the cost comparisons. Don't compare the price of bargian-basement or surplus ammo to the cost of reloads: your reloads will be premium ammo custom tuned to your use.

That said, cost alone doesn't justify reloading - if you consider it an unpleasant boring chore, it'll never pay for your time.

If, like me, you actually enjoy the process then the time you spend reloading is a plus, not a drawback.

December 25, 2002, 01:47 PM
Figure on saving at least 50% and probably more (upwards of 70%), depending on whether you use premium bullets and already have brass.

December 25, 2002, 02:30 PM
Steve Smith - Thanks for the info about the spreadsheets at GlockTalk. Downloaded them but haven't had time to play around with them yet, look like they'll come in handy.

December 26, 2002, 08:46 AM
I started reloading in search of better accuracy and got the bug so now reload for relaxation (hobby) as well. I doubt there is much if any saving, example; for 303 Brit I use milsurp berdan primed brass which could be a saving except for the cost of the primers and am seriously considering buying milsurp instead. Rem 223 accuracy has improved much from load development as has 6.5x55 but I don't use enough to be cost effective but it is nice to know that when I do use these rifles they will shoot sub MOA. :)

December 26, 2002, 10:41 AM
If you're starting out brand new, you have to buy the minimum equipment. I started with 45 ACP and 30/06, a C-press, dies, scale, and powder measure, calipers, and manual.

The 45 ACP is ideal to reload as you can use lead SWC bullets and dial in until the gun is accurate as all get out. The cases do not wear out with target loads and you will lose them before you have to replace them from wear.

With hardball 45 ACP running about $12.00/50 or up, you will amortize your original investment in less than 1000 rounds, imho. That is if you don't count your time. If your time is worth anything and you consider reloading work, you will not find it worth your time.

9mm would not be cost effective at this time because you can buy hardball for $5-6.00 a box. Just buy it and shoot it and leave the brass. There is also a diminishing return on satisfaction of trying to reload smaller cases. You just have to fit your fingers into tinier spaces and it is not as much fun, if reloading can be called fun.

High power rifle (308 or above) can be rewarding but the components are geometrically more money. Jacketed bullets cost a pretty penny and you need pretty good ones if they are to be as accurate as you hope, i.e., more accurate than factory.

A large bore rifle like a 458 Win Magnum or 45/70 can be fruitfully downloaded with cast lead bullets, again for a significant savings.

December 26, 2002, 02:08 PM
Check out this link...a good little spreadsheet that gives a decent ballpark on what you save per box of ammo.
cost of reloading: (

December 26, 2002, 03:08 PM
I reload 9mm for $59 per thousand. The cheapest that I can find decent loaded ammo is $99. That's $40 per thousand and I shoot 12,000 (at least) per year. That's a savings of $480 in one year.

I've calculated my cost per thousand for .308 to be around $200 per thousand, but I'm still looking for reasonably priced bullets and brass. I have a lead on 150gr bullets for $50/thousand. That'll bring me down to $165/thousand.

As cheap as 9mm is, I can still reload for almost half price. Reloading .308 for as cheap as surplus is very difficult. Part of what hurts is that shooting .308 out of my rifle really eats the brass. So I'll be lucky to get 3 loadings out of it.

December 26, 2002, 06:18 PM
I started reloading to save money and enjoyment. If you really want to save money try casting your own bullets, I just got 110 lbs of wheel weights for $22. My primers only cost about $16 so when its all said and done I pay about .06 each or less for .44 magnum although I reload for anything from .32 auto on up. I've reloaded some brass so often that I wore off the nickel plating long ago, just the case head has any plating left. I have a Remington 788 in 30/30 that I fire gas checked (copper disk fits to base of bullet) lead bullets with. I can get 1900fps with the 180 gr bullets and shoot 1.5 inch groups all day long. Loading the .375 Winchester and 45/70 is like a step into the past, they are as much fun to shoot as they are to reload. As far as rifle ammo with jacketed bullets, my experience has been that good quality factory ammo pretty much outshoots common everyday veriety reloads. To get the best accuracy from your rifle reloads is very time consuming and requires great attention to detail and for me thats when its starts to become work and not a hobby. I don't compete so MOA is not a driving force for me, I mainly shoot military semi auto's & now with the cheap surplus ammo I reload for these guns very seldom.

December 26, 2002, 06:23 PM
I don't reload rifles to save money; I'm chasing accuracy and performance. I figure I can reload precision ammo tuned to my rifle and application for about the same as bulk/surplus ammo.

For pistol, I load 45ACP and 44Mag. I shoot a lot of 45, so cost savings are important here, loads tuned for my guns are about 1/3 the cost of standard ball ammo. 44Mag I get premium ammo at a bulk price.

Looked into reloading 9MM a while ago and decided the cost savings didn't justify the effort. I've since sold off my 9MM guns. :p

December 26, 2002, 06:56 PM
In general, I think that you should be able to support any weapon that you own with reloaded ammo: the anti's understand cartridges, but not components, I hope.

That said, I follow the "least cost" line, refusing to reload 7.62 x 39 since I can buy the complete cartridge for less than I can buy the bullet, jacketed, for the reload. And, yes, I know the reload bullet is better, but I've 30 rounds on call in the MAC90...

I more or less follow Telewinz's thought process, though I retire my pistol brass after ten rounds or so, with one load, after being admitted in the once fired state, high power, with JHP's and as close to full bore as I think I can safely get with the Dillon, and the remainder with cast lineotype, or a close approximation of it, given that all recovered rounds are melted and recast.
After all, once fired brass cost how much per round?

One of these days I gotta get one of those Brinell checkers and work on uniformity in the casting process....

December 26, 2002, 09:15 PM
Many shooters, when it comes to ammo costs, have more time than money to put into the activity. If you don't consider your effort as part of the cost, then reloading is extremely cost effective. You can make a lot of ammo for a small fraction of the cost of commercial stuff, at least most of the time. When occasional bargains in factory ammo appear, jump on 'em.

As has been mentioned, reloading is for many a very enjoyable hobby. For them it is fun and cost effective. Reloading also allows tailoring ammo to a variety of applications. Within the framework of reloading, there are many bargains to be had on materials and even equipment. So further economies can be achieved. As mentioned above, wheel weights can be a great, low cost source of bullet metal. There are other interesting sources of bullet metal. Bullet casting, especially for handguns is very practical. For some, bullet swaging is of interest, but this is more equipment intensive than bullet casting.

Reloading is best approached with the thinking that it is something you WANT TO DO and that you can save some money and do more shooting in exchange for the time you contribute. It is because of the soundness of this thinking that reloading is a very substantial business sector.

I think the spreadsheets and detailed cost analyses are a completely unnecessary exercise. The goodness of reloading is not a propostion that requires rigorous penny-wise scientific proof. It is something you either want to do and find intriguing, or it isn't.

If it is for you, you will know!

:) Bob

Dan Shapiro
December 27, 2002, 02:42 AM
If you are talking about blinking ammo, then some calibers are cheaper to buy surplus than reloading it yourself. (e.g. .223) Now, if you shoot .30-06 or .30 carbine, then you know that the surplus is drying up. That’s why I got started.

Then, well…you buy a chronograph and start experimenting. Then the whole reason you started reloading is a fond memory.

I too ran the numbers and found that the savings was enough to invest in the equipment. I cannot remember the exact numbers, but it was about half of what I was paying in the store. Of course you’ll have to factor in your time. Some people loving reloading, some hate it. It’s really a hobby of its own.

December 28, 2002, 01:25 AM
Not counting the initial equipment cost, anywhere from $150 on up for a single caliber, I figure the cost of a box of 45 ACP to be as follows.

Case- free for the finding at the range.
Primer- 1.6 cent @ $16 per 1000
Powder-1.3 cent (5.5gr. 231 @$17 per pound
bullet- free to 2.8 cent per. based on lead cost (self cast)

Total- 2.9-5.7 cent per round= $1.45-$2.85 per box of 50

Over the long haul you will save money although you will probably just shoot more or buy more components or new equipment or different caliber guns. Hmm. maybe you won't save after all.

December 28, 2002, 02:30 AM
Wow, once again question asked, question answered. Thanks again!

December 28, 2002, 02:49 AM
I can reload 1000 rounds of .45 ACP for less than $80. None of the amil-order places could touch that price.

Jon Coppenbarger
December 28, 2002, 09:33 AM
I reload for a couple of reasons as I use my ammo in service rifle highpower competition and I want it to be the best it can be.

I crunched the numbers about a week ago of what it cost me to reload 50 rounds of the ammo I use.
I do not count equipment just what it cost and I only counted 1cent for the .223 brass becuse I use it over and over.
I use the best primers I can get, vithvouri powder, and smk bullets.
my cost to reload 50 rounds is $9.50.
I can not touch anything close to that for under $20 a box and its really a little more that $20 a box of 50.
it alows me to prep the brass and custm load it to my rifles plus I figure what I save ever year I can buy a new match rifle.

Steve Smith
December 28, 2002, 11:58 AM
I guess downloading a simple program and plugging a few numbers in it is just too much work for you guys. Ya'll stick to your calculators and figurin'.

Jon Coppenbarger
December 28, 2002, 03:50 PM
thats a great ideal my room mate is good on numbers I will ask him to do it on the computer.

December 28, 2002, 08:36 PM
That was the main reason I started reloading.

I just shoot that much more. And my reloading room looks like a tornado hit it.

If you enjoyed reading about "Cost effective?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!