cost of shotshell reloading


November 23, 2007, 05:58 PM
Hi All,

I'm thinking about starting to reload 12 ga shotgun shells. I have some experience reloading handgun ammo, but haven't done any shotgun shell reloading yet.

I'm wondering if I can save a lot of money by reloading shotgun shells. I save a lot of $$$ reloading handgun ammo.

Currently I can buy a box of 100 12 ga shells for about $17 per box at Wal Mart (17 cents per round). Excluding the initial cost of the reloading equipment, what is the approx price per round of 12ga if I'm loading #8 or #9 shot, target loads? Also, how much $$ would I need to invest for a basic shotgun shell reloading setup?

For the handguns, I only reload small quantities, since I don't shoot them very often. But for the shotgun ammo, I'd probably want to load higher volumes (300 to 400 rounds per month).

Thanks in advance

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November 23, 2007, 06:14 PM
The last time I calculated the cost of reloading, it was about $2.30 per box of 16 gauge shells. The bad news is -- that was 20-25 years ago. I doubt if you can beat $17/hundred now.

A new MEC 600 Jr. press is slightly over $100. Used ones can be had for $50-60 except for .410 presses which are usually higher.

November 23, 2007, 06:21 PM
Hi Irv...

Even on a very basic loader like the MEC 600jr shells can be loaded close to 200 per hour. You could probably pick up a used 600jr for less than $100.

Almost impossible for someone who is not in your area to tell you how much you'd save because of the fluctuating and often variable prices for shot and powder. Cost will also affected by which hulls you use, how many times you reload a particular hull, what powder you use, and where you buy your components.

You might try asking around to see if any local club or store has reloads for sale and figure you can reload for a bit less than whatever their asking price is.


November 23, 2007, 06:24 PM
Honestly, you're not going to save that much reloading shotgun shells if all you shoot is the cheap stuff. About the cheapest you'll be able to reload is $5 a box. The savings comes in if you shoot the more "premium" (1 1/4 oz. or heavy turkey loads) stuff. These shells could run you $10+ at the store, but can be reloaded for less than $6 a box.

Like I said, if all you're doing is shooting the cheap dove loads, don't bother. However, if you plan on loading up some heavier loads, it might be something to consider.

Average price wad .02 ($10/500)
primer .03 ($3/100)
lead .10-.11 (1 oz load at $40 for 25lb.)
powder .03

November 23, 2007, 07:46 PM
I have been exploring this same questio almost endlessly or the past couple of months. In fact I starting a pretty well-responded to thread on shotgunworld addressing the issue of reloading for the fun of the thing and not wanting to spend more on relaods than on shells.

I concluded that I am gonna reload. I enjoy shooting consistent loads, which is hard when one buys whatever is on sale for cheap. I prefer 1 oz. loads and would like to explore shooting 7/8 loads. Both of those have been difficult or impossible for me to find in cheap promo loads. By asking around at the range I have found ways to save a bit more, bringing premium loads down to the cost of cheap promo loads, more or less.

Options include:

-finding a more or less local specialty shop that sells primers an powder in 5000/8 pound quantities, which will be quite a bit cheaper.

-going someplace online and buying a large quantity of primers/powder, which means hazmat fees, but it's one hazmat fee however much you buy. Some smaller shops pay the fee for you if you buy enough, or if you have a state sales tax, it may be cheaper to pay the hazmat fee than to pay state sales tax.

-Finding someone who drips their own shot willing to sell you some. There are potential legal problems with this: see thread in, I believe FSOt, possibly here on the shotgun forum. This shot can be either fine or poor quality.

-Using reclaimed shot.

-Dripping your own shot. Substantial equipment investment and steep learning curve. Probably not worth it for the quantities you are shooting, unless you want to shoot much more and the cost is preventing you.

The foregoing three options depart from the goal of achieving premium shells for promo prices, but they will save substantial money.

Consensus is there are great saving to be had in reloading for 28 gauge, which are pricier shells, but less lead and easily reloadable. Slightly less so with .410, which are finicky to reloads and the hulls don't last as well.

Please note that I have not yet reloaded a single shotshell! I'm just a beginner who has solicited a considerable body of advice and so I'm passing it on secondhand. I'm buying my press--probaby a Mec 600jr, unless I find a progressive MEC used for a great price--and 5000 shells worth of components in January. I may buy 10 or 15,000 primers since there is allegedly a coming shortage.

November 23, 2007, 07:56 PM
If all you are going to do is duplicate the standard low cost loads (1 oz), you won't be saving money even if you get all your hulls for free. I reload but want special lower recoil 7/8 oz loads with #9 shot for skeet. Those are not commonly available so the only route is to reload. The biggest kicker anymore is the price of good hard #9 shot. It now costs nearly 4X what I could get if for a couple years ago.
There are a number of free programs on the internet to give the cost of a box of shotgun shells based on what you are loading and what you pay for powder, primers, wads, hulls, and shot. Try those to see how much you would save and how much you would have to reload to pay back the investment in equipment.
Of course, there is also the satisfaction of shooting your own loads and customizing them to your needs. That is fun.

The Deer Hunter
November 23, 2007, 09:17 PM
Last time I checked, a 25 lb. bag of 8's was $45.

I used to reload.

November 23, 2007, 09:44 PM
If you do decide to reload, bite the bullet and get a progressive machine, unless you know that you'll enjoy reloading more than shooting.

November 24, 2007, 07:31 AM
You won't save any money at this particular time unless you need/want "lighter" shells or extra hard shot, but the only way to determine that is to price out reloading supplies in your area. Basically, people can quote widely different component prices, depending on their area and purchase volumes, etc. So, you need to find out your "real" costs.

Shotshell loading is easy and you don't "experiment" or "wildcat" purpose!!
Just follow the Powder's formulas online or in booklet

You can buy a singlestage MEC 600 Jr for about $125, I think, or a progressive MEC 650/Grabber for around $250-$ Figure 100-200 rounds per hour on the singlestage and 300-500 on the progressive...IME.
$5-$10 worth of powder bushings, maybe, and your done. You already have a powder scale...correct?
Decide how much "time" your willing to spend reloading.

November 24, 2007, 08:12 AM
>>I used to reload.<<

Same here.... now I Walmart! :p

November 24, 2007, 08:40 AM
I calculate between 16.6 cents and 24.7 cents per load for a 1 ounce load of magnum shot.

.095 cents per 1 oz. load of Shot
.027 cents per Primer
.030 cents per 17.5 grains of Powder
.014 cents per Wad
.166 total

.158 cents per 1 oz. load of Shot
.035 cents per Primer
.037 cents per 17.5 grains of Powder
.017 cents per Wad
.247 total

Two years ago I was spending less than 10 cents per shell.

You will pay somewhere between these two numbers depending on how well you purchase. To get good prices you often end up inventoring products. For example I currently have about 800 pounds of shot and 12,000 wads.

The last time I priced shot at the local Bass Pro Shop it was $62.99 per 25 pound bag of magnum shot.

I load on a MEC 9000G. I get about 150 shells per hour after boxing. This includes my somewhat anal weighing and record keeping.

Today you will reload for the joy of being with your dog and knowing that you are making a consistant shell.

The pendulem will swing again. That's my 2 cents worth. I hope it helps.

The Sheriff
November 24, 2007, 08:41 PM
I have a 9000 Hydraulic, and haven't used it in two years.
...From just the economic perspective, it costs more to reload now, than to buy in bulk new.
...I really do hope that will change, but, I'm not optimistic.

Dave McCracken
November 24, 2007, 09:22 PM
When I started reloading shotshells 6 years ago or so, I could load a box of high quality 7/8 oz shells similar to STS or AAs for $2.75.

Component costs have raised that to $4.70 now.

I still load, but I do not save anything...

November 24, 2007, 10:18 PM
I don't know about 12 gage but I do save quite a bit by reloading .410 shells. I reload 3" 11/16oz shells. I have found that I can get more range out of my reloaded shells compared to store bought ammo and haven't had any problems with short hull life.

November 25, 2007, 07:41 AM
Thanks all for the comments.

I guess from an economic standpoint, it's better to just buy the field ammo at Wal Mart. Perhaps in the future when I have a little more time on my hands I'll try reloading.

It seems like a waste to just throw out the cheap non-reloadable (aluminum rims) shell casings. Does anyone recycle these things?

Thanks again for your input.

November 25, 2007, 08:09 AM
Those cheap Walmart shells are not worth reloading, paper bases are throw aways. The savings comes when you shoot better quality (AA) hulls that are designed to be reloaded. Hulls are usually worth about a nickle each....on a box of 25 you save $1.25. These are OK for practice, registered shoots don't allow reloads.

Bailey Boat
November 25, 2007, 09:39 AM
With component costs through the roof I have stopped reloading 12's and 20's and only reload 28's and 410's. I can buy a flat (10 cases) of 12 or 20 AA's for about 4.75 per box. The 28's and 410's are 9.99 per box regardless, and I reload those for 4.50 per box. So, you won't save anything on 12 or 20 but there are still savings to be had on the 28 and 410.
Being a high volume shooter (1000 + per month) if I didn't reload the small gauges I'd be rapidly broke.......
PS: Reloads ARE legal in registered shoots, but they may be inspected and weighed by management at their discretion...... Once approved they are sealed with a stamp and may be inspected again by the range officer, at his discretion.......I've never had any issue since all of my loads are "legal"......

November 25, 2007, 09:44 AM
Bailey, if I may ask, how do you buy 10 case quantities? I've tried in vain to find a way to buy larger quantities at a time.

The Sheriff
November 25, 2007, 10:15 AM
I buy 'em ten flats, or more,at a time, usually at Gander Mountain.
I have also gotten great deals from some of the private, smaller gun shops on Fiocchi's.
...Won't need any soon however, because I have about forty flats stockpiled.

November 25, 2007, 10:55 AM
I still reload because I can't get a steady supply of 7/8s ounce loads. I also think the Federal Top Gun shells are crap and while I will shoot the Winchester Super Target or Remington Gun Clubs I know my loads are better from a patterning, functioning and recoil standpoint.

I may not be saving any money but I am shooting better shells.

I also reload 28 gauge and definitely save money.

The Sheriff
November 25, 2007, 11:08 AM
"Top Gun" ammo, like all promotional loads are intended to build store traffic for the retailer. I was suspicious somewhat when I first started shooting them a few years ago, but my score hasn't suffered at all that I can tell.
...In fact, my Benelli doesn't like reloads that well when they aren't perfectly crimped.

November 25, 2007, 10:21 PM
Oh but Grasshopper...

One does not reload simply to save money.

November 25, 2007, 11:29 PM
I load 12-ga shells for casual trap, as well as field and upland hunting. I've seen the cost of shot rise so dramatically that is is disturbing.

I priced a local gun shop this afternoon for 25# of lead shot. They had just one bag, which was magnum #6 for $42.50. The last time I bought shot I paid the princely sum of $26 a bag for hard magnum. Thank God I bought #8, #8.5, #7.5 and #6 when I did.

A quick calculation based on today's $42.50 price gave me an approximate cost analysis:

$42.50 + tax = $46.33

1-1/8 oz payload = 14.22 loads per pound or 355 shells per bag.

That's 13 in each shell for shot alone. Add a primer which cost me 3.5 plus a Fig-8 wad for around 3 and powder which adds another 8 .

13 + 3.5 + 3 + 8 = 27.5 per shell x 25 = $6.88 per box

The 12-ga shells I make on my MEC650 snf MEC Sizemaster can compete with Remington STS Target, Nitro 27, or Nitro Handicap ammunition. But with today's lead prices and the cost of shot alone, it would make zero sense to use up my reserves of bagged shot.

I can buy Remington STS, Gold Sporting Clays, Handicap and Nitro 27 at Wal-mart for $6.45 including tax!

Ugghhhhhhh. Maybe some day the new ammo will be $9.00 a box and I will feel better. For now I am back to buying the Remington premium ammo until the retail price makes a dramatic jump.

But loading your own shells, even if the price is equalivent to high-quality factory stuff, is enjoyable and satisfying.

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