Reloads vs. Factory Ammo


September 5, 2008, 09:03 AM
Since Forever the gunners' "conventional Wisdom" has been that the reloader can produce ammo that leaves the "factory stuff" in the dirt. That bit of "Wisdom" has sold an insanely HUGE amount of reloading equipment, powder, primers and "special" bullets - to me - and I shudder to think how much to the rest of the nation.

It's true that - for almost any given caliber - the person who reloads often has more bullet choices than the person who doesn't reload.

It's also true that if the bulletmakers put out 47 "different" 100-grain .243 bullets - die-hard reloaders will immediately buy at least one box of each (wave at the cash register now) to determine "which one shoots best in my rifle" - nevermind that all, or most of, them shoot 3 times more accurately than a hunter needs.

It's also true that - for any given caliber - the reputable ammo makers usually produce a choice of bullets in their ammo that will serve the entire range of what a person would be likely to do with that caliber.

It's also true that the reputable companies have figured out how to make very, very good ammo - ammo that is usually more accurate than a hunter needs it to be.

Like a great many reloaders gorged with gun-zine "conventional Wisdom", I used to feel a bit smug toward people who depended on factory ammo for their hunting. I thought of them as some type of woefully under-informed peasants who did not realize that one cannot fire a rifle unless one has developed eleven different armadillo (or deer or Elk) loads.... all specialized based on relative humidity, hemispheric variables and the Zodiac.

But I got my attitude corrected when I worked Saturdays and Sundays, for 12 weeks, doing nothing but sitting at a bench sighting in peoples' rifles with factory ammo, daylight to dark. I'd guess it was about 20 rifles a day - any caliber and any model and any factory ammo (often Walmart "on-sale" stuff) handed to me. I came to realize three really valuable facts about ammo.

* The quality of factory ammo from reputable ammo makers - at least for the more common calibers - is usually top-notch - and is so in many makes and models of rifles.

* Good factory ammo for many calibers can be bought in many small stores in most rural (hunting) areas - but my special reloads canNOT.

* The % of hunters/shooters who depend on factory ammo is HUGE.

One of my neighbors has a .223, two .22/250s, a .243, a .25/06, and a 7mm Rem. Mag. He has common factory ammo that will shoot sub-MOA for each of them, and except for the .25/06, he has at least two factory loads that will do so in each. For the .22/250, the .243 and the 7mag. - he has at least two factory loads for each that will shoot close enough to the same P.O.I. that they are virtually interchangeable in the hunting fields. As he puts it: "How much more accuracy and so-called "versatility" do I need - and how much reloading money and time would I have to spend before I could duplicate what I already have?"

A most Excellent point.

Another very good point he makes is that; if he shoots a deer DRT with a 100gr. Hornady bullet today - why should he use a different bullet/load tomorrow?

Though my neighbor has shot about 25-30 deer a year for a decade or so on agricultural damage permits, he obviously hasn't read enough gun-zines.


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Jason M
September 5, 2008, 09:15 AM
...and how much reloading money and time would I have to spend before I could duplicate what I already have?"

Despite the fact that Winchester white box soft points will take a miriad of game just as well as many of the "special" off-the-shelf ammo you can buy (like Federal match-grade stuff), the fact remains that you can load "specialty" match-grade loads at home for roughly the cost of cheap Winchester white box ammo. High end Remington, Winchester, Federal and Hornady factory ammunition starts at about $30 or $35 and goes up from there. It is laughable to buy .308 for $45 a box--plain laughable.

Also, with factory ammunition, you have no velocity choices, but with reloads/handloads, you do. If a .30cal bullet at 2400fps will kill a deer as well as one at 2800fps inside of 300 yards, then why punish yourself with more recoil? Load it down to 2400fps.

On the other hand, I am about to see just what factory ammunition can really do. My FN PBR will hopefully get to the range this weekend and I will be shooting factory ammo to begin with. This rifle is suppose to be a tack driver, even with factory rounds. We'll see. But don't get me wrong, I will still reload ammo for it.


Bwana John
September 5, 2008, 09:18 AM
You forgot about the part where I can shoot reloads for less than 1/3 the cost of factory ammo.

So I get to shoot more.

I put 2-5 round downrange for big-game per year depending on my luck at the drawings.

We dont even want to talk about the rounds downrange per year "just to shoot" (wifey might be looking on, I claim the right of no self-incrimination).

Thats why I reload.

September 5, 2008, 09:21 AM
I think, with all due respect, your friend misses one point about reloading - it's a hobby. Sure, a lot of time and money goes into it (although you do end up saving pretty quickly, particularly on rifle ammunition), but I think most people reload because they enjoy it.

September 5, 2008, 09:23 AM
I don't know about the hunting, but as far as plinking ammo for my AR15s, the cheap factory stuff doesn't even come close to the accuracy of my handloaded plinking rounds that cost about the same. To get factory ammo that shoots as well as my handloads, I'd need to be spending ~75cents a pop or more... Fine if you are shooting a couple boxes a year hunting, but adds up fast of you are shooting more.

So... depends on the application I guess. Since I started handloading I've found the reverse to be true: I can barely find a reason to ever buy factory rifle ammo in large bulk again. The exception to that would be closer range 3-gun type shooting where good accuracy isn't needed or noticeable.

September 5, 2008, 09:29 AM
Many firearms exhibit far better accuracy if you tune the load to the rifle. if accuracy is important to you, reloading is a big deal. Shooting reloads is also much cheaper than the equivalent factory ammo.

But for most hunters neither is an important issue as factory ammo gives them adequate accuracy and they typically don't shoot enough that cost is an issue.

I know a fair number of deer hunters around here that only let off maybe half a dozen rounds a year.

September 5, 2008, 09:30 AM
I have to agree with the previous posters responses...

I like to reload ammo simply as it gives me quiet time (I don't run my tumbler while I do other things...I turn it on and then leave the house...) with my Lab. She likes to watch me from her bed. Sometimes she comes and keeps my feet warm.

The accuracy issue is important as well. I have a pair of old enfields that shoot like a dream when I load up cast and seat 'em out a bit with a light load of powder. My 45-70 would be a bit pricey...and my 416 Taylor? Forget it...I can load it up at about 1.25 per round...instead of paying 60-100 dollars for a box of, no.

Everyone has their reason...I like to tinker with stuff like that.


September 5, 2008, 09:30 AM
Plus when all goes right, reloading is a lot of fun in its own right.

September 5, 2008, 09:36 AM
Yep - reloading and centerfire paper-punching are hobbies - mucho fun ones - but the lesson I learned is they aren't everyone's hobbies or even a very large % of everyone's hobbies.

Yep - reloading centerfire rifle cartridges can enable a shooter to shoot more often for the same (or less) cost than using factory ammo. But as my neighbor is quick to point out - paper-punching and plinking with a .22 rimfire can be done at a cost-per-cartridge that no reloader of any centerfire can hope to get even close to.

Reloading is a fun hobby and can produce good ammo and good cost savings. But I gotta say - there is also most definitely a rightfully huge demand for good factory ammo.... and much of today's factory ammo is easily up to snuff.


September 5, 2008, 09:55 AM
There is a stark difference between hunters and shooters. Shooters don't buy factory ammo. They roll their own. It's a subculture within the gun community.

Most hunters buy a box of ammo every 2-3 years, put 2-3 rounds down range the day before opening day to see if they can even hit the target. If they can, they are sighted in and call it good. They shoot a deer at 30y with one shot and their season is over. Gun goes in the safe until the same time next year when they do it all over again.

Art Eatman
September 5, 2008, 10:27 AM
Shawnee's points in his opening post are indeed well-put.

The thing is, that's to a great extent a recent phenomenon. Back some sixty-ish years ago, the situation was quite different.

Many of today's bullet makers didn't exist. Or powder manufacturers. Factory choices were limited.

One aspect of "perception": It was conventional wisdom that one's handloads, in and of themselves, could readily be more accurate than factory loads. Generalizing somewhat, given that I bought into that idea in those early years, most of us hadn't considered the issue of "tuning" ammo to a particular rifle. "Sorta", maybe, but mostly we were snobbish. :)

Given stock bedding and quality of machining, comparing then and now, my guess is that there has been a world of improvement in both knowledge and technology. We understand more about bedding and barrel harmonics, and we have more precise equipment for making barrels.

FWIW, if a "Rifleman's Rifle", the pre-'64 Model 70, gave groups under two MOA, folks were content. Under 1.5 MOA, very happy. Under one MOA? Go to bragging all around the gunshop.

Nowadays? If a rifle WON'T get down around one MOA or better, folks go to complaining.

Times change. It's just a crying shame to lose names like DuPont & Neymours, retailing IMR 3031 for $1.25 a pound. :D


September 5, 2008, 10:39 AM
I dont have a centerfire rifle , however I handload for my .357 magnum revolver and my .454 casull revolver . In the last year I shot about 800 rounds through the .357 and 1100 rounds through the .454 Most of the .454 was using cheaper cast and coated bullets and in bullet weights that are not available from any factory that I know of . The premium hunting ammo that I produce would cost nearly $1.80 per shot if I bought them from a factory ! i have saved a bunch of money and got to shoot a whole lot more for my money !

September 5, 2008, 10:51 AM
Good point about ammo for handguns, "FloridaKevin"!

Even the common hunting calibers like .357, 44 mag., and the 454 are real good candidates for handloaders. And if ever there was someone who can benefit from reloading it has to be the hunter using a centerfire Contender handgun.


September 5, 2008, 11:43 AM
Reloading isn't for everyone but there are benefits beyond the obvious accuracy and economy. As others have stated it is fun to reload and it also makes shooting more fun. The rewards of developing accurate loads and harvesting game with ammo you have created ups the grin factory exponentially . Personal involvement with the process greatly enriches the experience.

In a way its sort of like buying meat at the store compared to hunting. Hunting is WAY more fun.

September 5, 2008, 01:23 PM
Here's how I see it:

1000 small rifle primers for my .223=30 bucks
1000 55 grain FMJ BT bullets=80 bucks
4 lbs of varget= $85

That equates out to be $195, for rounds that are just as accurate as the M193 everyone buys in cases of a thousand for anywhere between 300 and 400 bucks. I like to shoot my AR alot, but my budget of play money is limited, so reloading helps alot. It also gives me another hobby. You'd be surprised how many of the little things affect accuracy. It really gives more of an appreciation of shooting.

September 5, 2008, 01:41 PM
That is almost exactly what I pay for componets, and my loads with that same bullet shoot much more accurately in my guns than factory M193.

September 5, 2008, 01:46 PM
I reload because I can get premium ammo results for less than bulk ammo cost.

That, and I'm a bit of a control freak.:what:

September 5, 2008, 04:21 PM
5000 Wolf Primers 89$
5000 LC 55GR bullets 389$
8LB of WCC844 98$
thats 5000 rounds for 576$
Ammo that chronos at 3,040FPS that isway better then wolf .223 thats why.

September 5, 2008, 04:33 PM
Wait, is the OP complaining about the glut of choices shooters have?

You can reload to maximize accuracy, economy, or terminal effects. Some folks really do have a lot of time and their hands. Some calibers are not readily available or are prohibitively expensive. Some calibers are not even available. Good luck finding M1-safe hunting ammo.

Sometimes reloading enables a hunter to feel more ethical about the shot. Some calibers are just satisfactory for certain animals. By reloading, better accuracy might be achieved which could mean the difference between a clean kill and a suffering animal.

September 5, 2008, 04:37 PM
All depends. Some hunters may fire less than 100 rds a year. No need to reload. Some shooters will do more than that in a week. Reloading is economical. There are times when good surplus ammo is available for nearly as inexpensive as you can reload (in some calibers). If the cost difference is just a few cents, I'll buy as opposed to reloading.

September 5, 2008, 05:03 PM
The .22 point is valid to certain people. The most accurate loads I have shot from a .223 cost 24 cents a shot. The most accurate .22lr loads I have shot cost $15/50 or 30 cents a shot. If you are truly trying to punch paper with the .22lr it gets a bit pricey, relatively. I will say there is a lot to say about a days worth of fun in bulk pack for under $20. It has taken the bulk of my shooting time. When I shoot paper though things go a bit the other way and both 100 yard accuracy and cost are better with a .223.

The real difference I see here is between shooters and hunters. For hunters reloading doesn't pay off. They don't shoot enough each year to ever cover their cost in reloading equipment and even if they do they rarely enjoy the time spent making ammo. A shooter will spend time searching for the "perfect load" and find it a good use of time. The cost savings to a shooter adds up very quickly and factory ammo rarely matches either cost or performance. I certainly see the beauty in buying factory ammo if you don't shoot that much. Reloading to me is time consuming and something I would skip, or at least do faster, if I could afford to. As is the only way I can shoot as much of what I want is to reload with cheap relatively cheap equipment. I can get accurate ammo or quickly made ammo but not both. I like accurate ammo so reloading takes a lot of my time up.

While I may see no other way than to reload I know quite a few others that reloading would be a waste for and I can respect the fact they have no interest in reloading.

September 5, 2008, 05:24 PM
I reload because I can get premium ammo results for less than bulk ammo cost.

That, and I'm a bit of a control freak.

Yeah that............ and it's a very rewarding and enjoyable pursuit.


September 5, 2008, 05:33 PM
The OP (me) isn't "complaining" about either reloads or factory ammo - just pointing out that advice about calibers ought to recognize and respect that the majority of hunters are not going to reload. For example...

... if someone said to me: "I want to get a rifle in 7mm caliber for deer and maybe Elk but I don't want to bother with reloading - what should I get? My advice would be to get a 7mm/08 - simply because I know there is factory ammo for that caliber that is very, very good.

...but if someone asked me the same question indicating that they also love to reload, I would suggest they look at the 7x57 Mauser because factory stuff for it is often underloaded and reloading can enable users of that cartridge to take good advantage of all the excellent 7mm bullets available. They would have a great hunting rifle and also a whale of a lot of fun playing with the load development.

To me, it's Major Dumb to recommend a cartridge like the 7x57 or .284 Winchester or 6.5 Remington to someone who doesn't want to get into reloading even though those are all good cartridges.


September 5, 2008, 06:03 PM
Good post. For some folks, reloading is a good way to save money and shoot more. For me, it is not worth the time it takes to reload based on my hourly wage vs. the amount of money I save. The math just does not add up.

I believe that the other main reason for reloading is that it gives you better, and more consistent control over ballistic performance out of your particular gun. You could spend endless piles of cash and time trying to find the perfect factory load for your particular rifle, or you can create the perfect load for your rifle.

Me on the other hand, I am not a sniper in the military, and my rifles are plenty good with factory ammo for hunting with. Also, as mentioned before, it does not make financial sense to reload... I'd be better served by spending those hours at work and buying ammo. Thats why I don't reload.

I know a lot of folks that swear by it though.

September 5, 2008, 07:32 PM
The only problem with reloading savings vs your hourly rate is that your free time isn't paid. If you look at reloading as work then yes it isn't often worth what you would be paid at your current position. If you look at it the same as watching TV or going shooting then you wouldn't be paid for that time anyways. Free time has its value and to everyone it is different. For someone working 70 hours a week making big bucks the monetary value of free time may be very high making reloading not worth it. To someone with a lot of free time or who enjoys the process it certainly is a different ball game. I do like the fact that I am experimenting a bit trying to find a better load. To me it is as good of a way to spend time as sitting here surfing the net is.

If that isn't you and reloading isn't for you I understand totally. I can see not wanting to reload and wanting to buy factory ammo. It certainly isn't something I can call a bad move if its what you want. I at least somewhat enjoy reloading and as such don't see it as something to value like work would be. If you do again I fully understand and have no issues at all. As long as you are doing the shooting you are happy with its fine with me.

September 5, 2008, 07:51 PM
i'm going to have to disagree with the 'factory ammo is as good as handloads'.

your friend is very lucky if he has several rifles that will shoot factory ammo sub-MOA. or may be he has a different definition of 'group' or 'MOA'.

of all the rifles I've ever owned, none would consistently shoot MOA with factory ammo. and by 'factory' i mean stuff you buy at walmart, not Federal GM Match or Hornady TAP.

btw, run some factory ammo through a concentricity gauge sometime and compare it to quality handloads. in my experience, it's an ENORMOUS difference

September 5, 2008, 07:51 PM
Since Forever the gunners' "conventional Wisdom" has been that the reloader can produce ammo that leaves the "factory stuff" in the dirt.

When I started reloading in 1972 or 1973 (forever ago?) that was clearly true.

IMO and IME, that is not true now. On the contrary, I am hard pressed to reload ammo that shoots as well as Federal GCM or Black Hills match. But even "normal" factory ammo can be very hard to beat today.

Further, for high volume range practice, I can't really equal the economics of what's available in common cartridges like 9x19, .45 ACP, etc., especially if you put any kind of dollar value on my time - that did not used to be true.

These days, I reload only when I really can't get what I want locally or can't get it on an economically reasonable basis. Two that come to mind that I still actively load for: .30-40 Krag and .22 Hornet.

September 5, 2008, 08:01 PM
Hi JNewell...

Watch MidwayUSA. They often have some flavor of Hornet on sale. I lucked out and got some Honady V-max ammo for $12/box. I think they have some Remington still on sale now.


September 5, 2008, 09:35 PM
I noticed .300 Wby ammo at Walmart the other day. $49 something for 20 rounds. And this was the economical Remington brand. For some cartridges, usually magnums and obscure loadings, there is no way I could shoot factory ammo. I just couldn't pull the trigger round after round on ammo that expensive. Maybe once or twice if it was something special, but routinely, no. The guilt would kill me.

September 5, 2008, 10:03 PM
Shawnee wrote:
.but if someone asked me the same question indicating that they also love to reload, I would suggest they look at the 7x57 Mauser because factory stuff for it is often underloaded and reloading can enable users of that cartridge to take good advantage of all the excellent 7mm bullets available. They would have a great hunting rifle and also a whale of a lot of fun playing with the load development.

To me, it's Major Dumb to recommend a cartridge like the 7x57 to someone who doesn't want to get into reloading even though those are all good cartridges.

I don't know. The new 7x57 loads are not loaded anywhere near what modern chambers can allow. However, a friend of mine uses factory ammo in his 7x57 to take deer up here all the time. The deer never know that they were killed by an undercharged round.

I did load ammo for him for a moose hunt though, it went very well. Aside from reloading, he would never have been able to find 175 gn ammo for the 7x57. The big cow went 25 yds and laid down.

September 5, 2008, 10:03 PM
From my best estimates, reloading is handy if you want specifics out of your ammo, or you cast your bullets, or you like it. I still swear I can shoot my 44mag for less than premium 22 ammo, but that's cause my time is more plentiful than my allowance. If it were dollar for dollar even, I get more enjoyment out of reloading because I spend more time with each round than the non-loader does. I also do my own auto work, weave my own hammocks, tend my own garden, and bake my own bread. It may not save a lot, but I like doing my own work. It's more fulfilling.

September 5, 2008, 10:22 PM
Factory loads will get anyone into the ballpark, while handloads create a new ballgame. Every ten degrees of Ambient Temperature rise creates a new extremely accuracy ballgame. What Temperature were your factory loads designed for for best usage? Which rifle, bolt, auto, single-shot were your loads designed for? Which bullet and velocity? Too many variables enter the factory-load scenario. Factories error on the light-side, rather than on the heavy-side of performance, and who can blame them? Handloaders who study and use a chronograph have much going in their favor, performancewise. I have specific loads dedicated to 50-60-70-80-90-100 degree hunting conditions. Each is different: powder/ powderchargewise. Temperature-Insensitive Powder doesn't exactly exist. Love Hodgdon Powers due to resistance to extremes in temperature change, yet no powder can cover it all, unless grain charge differences are initiated. Owning and using a chronograph is an irreplaceable necessity. cliffy

September 5, 2008, 10:22 PM
Hi HM2...

We are in agreement.:)

You'll notice I wrote: "if someone said to me: "I want to get a rifle in 7mm caliber for deer and maybe Elk" ...

As you say - much of the factory 7x57 ammo is perfectly fine for deer even though it is loaded below the capability of modern rifles. I would suggest the 7x57 for the reloader because reloading could correct the underloading situation when it came time to go for Elk - just like you did for your friend when he went after Moose.


September 5, 2008, 10:41 PM
The % of hunters/shooters who depend on factory ammo is HUGE.

And that's the main reason I reload. ;)

I don't know or care too much about MOA's or POI's or Chronographs. As long as I hit what I'm aiming at I'm happy. (It's the ones that can't that bothers me most.)

As far as reloading, its convenient because I work at a range getting all the brass I'll ever need. Secondary is I have more time than money, and the last time I checked bullets doubled and tripled. However I do believe reloads are better, (this goes back to more time than mone) are much better to shoot than factory loads because I measured and weighed the. Those Chinese, or whoever's making bullets now days is doing a pretty poor job of it, IMO.

September 5, 2008, 10:44 PM
Hunting with your "personal" ammo is kind of like eating the tomatoes out of "your" garden..It just tastes better..

September 6, 2008, 06:56 AM
Not everyone that owns a rifle uses it for hunting , most of the shooters I know or see at the range who are primarily target shooters reload their own ammo. It is extremely gratifying for me to shoot my all time best targets using ammo I loaded myself. Kind of like a guy at the local dragstrip who runs the best time of the night with an engine they built themselves.

Agreed , my hunting friends that fire less rounds all year than I do in a single range session usually rely on factory ammo for the most part. As long as the factory ammo allows them to bag a deer each season they are more than satisfied , which makes sense.

For shooting on a regular basis I sure could not afford to fire factory ammo loaded with match bullets , like the Federal Gold Medal .223 listed at $29.99 for 20 rounds in one of my recent Midway fliers. A buck fifty per shot! That is loaded with Sierra 69 grain MatchKings. I can load .223 with the same MatchKings for considerably less than $29.99 per 20.

Plus I have total control of the bullet seating depth , powder type , charge weight , primer type and I can simply neck size with the collet die which has provided me with great accuracy. My Berger bullet reloads have returned my most consistent accuracy - would not even want to think what it would cost if it were available factory loaded.

Every time a reloading thread comes up there is always this argument about the time you spend doing it and not getting paid for it? So , that to me would like your wife spending an hour in the kitchen making a nice home cooked meal - does she get paid for her time? Would you say - "Why not just hit the DogDonalds drive through and save some of your valuable time?" Nonsense.

September 6, 2008, 07:27 AM
I shoot a variety of calibres. 8 revolver rounds for CAS (cowboy competition) .223, 22-250, 243, .270, 38-55, 30-06, 300win mag 7mm rem mag (my fav deer rifle), (mine and others 'buffalo rifles now) 45-60, 45-70, 45-75, 45-90, 45-110, 50-90. (I prob missed a couple) Some of these are for other CAS shooters and for other hunter 'friends'. You just can not find some of these rounds readily available,,nor,,can you find the range of specific loads you might wish.

I think the two of the greatest advantages to reloading are these..beyond the tremendous savings,,,is,,,,the range of loads you can create and you can tailor a particular load to a particular rifle.

Granted again,,some rifles are just inherently accurate with about any thing you feed them. Some are not.

Reloading to me is fun. I despise TV, like the computer 'some',,but LOVE sitting at the reloading table. I love reloading as much as shooting I believe.

I will not bash factory ammo. If I only deer hunted or shot a few round casually, I might have stayed with factory. Factory ammo does have its place. Not everyone can afford,,,or even wish,,,to get deep into reloading. I 'HAVE' to,,,and I 'WISH' to. It just doesn't make me right or the other guy wrong,,nor make the other guy right and me wrong. We all have our needs, desires, etc.

At the end of the day though,,it just thrills the stuffing out of me to take deer or hit a 600 yard silhouette with ammo that 'I' have reloaded.

I will say this..there are some good factory rounds out nowadays,,with the advent of some of the better bullets. Better than 'back in the day' one might say.

But,,all in all,,, I do not think factory ammo's (non-premium anyways) are quite as accurate as precision reload rounds.


September 6, 2008, 08:11 AM

I know the feeling, Lads. I started reloading for centerfire rifles when I was 14 and the first time I plastered a woodchuck with ammo I had made myself I thought I was surely going to be the next Jack O'Conner. The first time I shot a deer with my homebrew ammo I knew I was the next Jack O'Conner. Unfortunately, Jim Carmichael beat me to it. :cuss:


September 6, 2008, 09:40 AM
While it is true that factory ammo has improved greatly since the 60's, when I started to reload, it is still not up to par with what I can do by hand loading with the right components and a little patience. And factory ammo certainly doesn't give me the satisfaction that I get when I use my own loads. But it is dealer's choice, and if someone is happy with factory loads by all means use them. Either one will drop a deer if you can shoot worth a snit. The kill zone on a deer isn't exactly a tiny target.

September 6, 2008, 09:58 AM
Just thought of something else Cool about reloading ammo. I've caught fish on flys I tied using feathers from quail, pheasants, prairie chickens, ducks, turkeys and hair from deer and squirrels I shot with homebrew shells.:)
Come to think of it, I've also used some shed hair from my Lab for the "legs" on homemade panfish "spiders". LOLOLOL! :D


September 6, 2008, 11:29 AM
I have specific loads dedicated to 50-60-70-80-90-100 degree hunting conditions.
So how does this work exactly. Say you get to your stand at sun-up and it's 40 degrees. You stay till noon and it's 70 degrees.

I don't think I've ever heard of a theory like this. I understand with all the same loads the POI will change slightly with high temperature changes but it changes slightly with any change from the standard where it was loaded.
Personally, I've worked up loads in 270 and 7m/m magnum for elk hunts. The loading was done in the central valley at 700' elevation, 80 degrees, no wind, and approximately 20%humidity. We hunted at 7,000', between 0 and 40 degrees, wind and up to 80% humidity.
I can just barely carry all the stuff I really need on my hunts. I'd have to hire a couple guys to cover all the bases with thermometers, wind direction and speed indicators, altimeters, Psychrometer (Hygrometer) and some kind of hand held device with balistics program to figure everything out.

September 6, 2008, 01:31 PM
You're right that you can usually take a modern hunting rifle and feed it good factory ammo and get great results. Handloading however gives you more options. Say that you have an antique rifle that fires an obsolete cartridge. Well, in that case, if you wish to fire it, you'd better get a press and learn how to handload. Maybe you've got an old military rifle with very limited options when it comes to ammo or even one chambered for a popular round like the 8mm Mauser. In the 8mm, unless you want anemic loads you have to handload. Some guns require handloads to bring out their best accuracy. I have a Saiga308 that shoots under 2 MOA with handloads but doesn't do as well with factory ammo. Then you also have the option of neck sizing cartridges for a cartridge that perfectly fits the chamber of the rifle in question as well as the option of seating the bullet closer to the lands of your particular rifle.

Factory ammo is great, but if you really like to shoot, (especially if you like to shoot old guns), then handloading gives you far more options.

September 6, 2008, 02:24 PM
I've always thought that benchrest shooters set the standard for accuracy. I'd be curious to know how many of them shoot factory ammunition ... my guess would be less than 1% and most of those would be new to the sport.

"Tom Sarver, proprietor of Thunder Valley Range, a Medina, Ohio, native, broke two International Benchrest (IBS) 1,000-yard records last July in Plainfield, Ohio. Using his "light gun class rifle" (17 pounds), Sarver scored a perfect 50 with 5X. The record breaking 5-shot group measured 1.403" from the center to center. His perfect score of 50 was located in the exact center of a 42"x42" target with a 2" diameter X ring. Sarver broke the record at the IBS association sanctioned match at Thunder Valley Range Saturday, 7/7/07 and captured the two records with a custom designed wildcat cartridge. He has coined his design the ".300 Hulk," which is patterned after the .338 Lapua Magnum case modified to .30 caliber."


September 6, 2008, 02:39 PM
Hi 1858...

Not sure what you mean "set the standard for accuracy".

I've alway thought there aren't too many deer hunters who feel they need "bench rest accuracy" for shooting deer.

Or were you saying that bench rest shooters just think they set the standard for everyone else ? If they do, I know a whole lot of "everyone else's" who would disagree with them.


September 6, 2008, 02:40 PM
I have a good friend that hunts every year in Eastern Washington and he doesn't reload. We were talking about reloading a few months ago and he sent me a target that he shot with his Remington 7mm Mag using factory loads.

"The last 100 yd. group I shot w/my 7mm Mag and factory loads is attached, 1/4" grid; (no the one shot in the upper right is NOT a flyer!). I figured that was good enough, so quit (it could only get worse). And, indeed, it was good enough (at least at 20 yds or so)."

His comment about "good enough for 20 yards" was a reference to the last deer he shot that was about 20 yards away! Anyway, he's an experienced hunter, and a competent shot and he manages to shoot about 1" groups at 100 yards with factory ammunition which is more than good enough for deer hunting. Could he get those groups under 1/2" with reloading .... SURE!! Does he need to get those groups under 1/2" ... NO!!


September 6, 2008, 02:48 PM
Not sure what you mean "set the standard for accuracy".

Shawnee, benchrest shooters give us mere mortals some idea of the potential of our equipment. The fact that someone can put 5 holes in a piece of paper 1000 yards away that fit within a 1.4" diameter circle is nothing short of amazing. Many people wouldn't believe that is possible but obviously it is. If your objective is the best accuracy possible from a particular firearm (which is what benchrest shooters are after), then you need to reload. I agree with you 100% that responsible hunting doesn't require the kind of accuracy needed to set world records in benchrest. So now I'm not sure what my point is ...


September 6, 2008, 02:55 PM
Nothing wrong with wanting to wring the last fraction of an inch of accuracy out of a rifle - whether its' needed or not - that's a fun sport in and of itself. And as you point out - that's almost guaranteed to call for reloading.


September 6, 2008, 09:11 PM
Just to make sure something gets said in plain words here, regardless of what you think about saving money or improving accuracy, one thing is definitely true.

Reloading can be an enjoyable hobby all by itself - you may reload just because you ENJOY it, regardless of whether it is better or cheaper!

September 8, 2008, 11:12 AM
Just to make sure something gets said in plain words here, regardless of what you think about saving money or improving accuracy, one thing is definitely true.

Reloading can be an enjoyable hobby all by itself - you may reload just because you ENJOY it, regardless of whether it is better or cheaper!+1.

Its a hobby in and of itself.

Snapping Twig
September 8, 2008, 02:18 PM
Don't overlook the ammunition bans currently under consideration.

Make your own and you don't need to be restricted to 50 rounds per month as the legislation stands.

I took up reloading when my State required a drivers license and a signature for ammo purchase.

Back door gun control through ammunition bans. California "No Lead" hunting in condor range for instance - total crap, but it is the law.

In my case, I reload for everything I shoot and cast too. My Mini 30 likes my 150g loads, but doesn't like factory 125g and without reloading, I'd have a pretty useless rifle.

September 8, 2008, 02:57 PM
Factory loads for home defense. Looks better in court. Hand loads for everything else. My accuracy went thought the roof when I used them. My Stevens 200 will get touching holes with 150 gr Corlockt's with 42 gr of Varget at 100 yds. Also, you can tune your loads for less barrel erosion, using hand loads.

Jason M
September 8, 2008, 04:18 PM
I've seen hand loaded .22-250 punch a .360" equivalent 100 yard group with home-brew ammo. He has put a few different factory rounds through the gun with nothing remotely close to that sweet group.

My .243 is the same way. Hand loading tightened up my groups two-fold.


September 8, 2008, 06:13 PM
There is a stark difference between hunters and shooters. Shooters don't buy factory ammo. They roll their own. It's a subculture within the gun community.
I think that oversimplifies things a bit. I like to shoot alot. I try to get out for a couple hours at least twice/month. I have a job that demands alot of my time, so leisure time is limited(my choice, I know.) In exchange for the time intensive job, I do make a pretty good living. SO I like to shoot, but don't care as much about the "hobby of reloading", or even so much the cost savings(although I am not rich for sure.) So if I can spend 4-6 hours per month on my shooting hobby, I'd personally rather have it be range time. Factory black hills ammo gives me sub half moa accuracy, and honestly my abilities are probably the limiting factor there.

September 8, 2008, 08:43 PM
There is a stark difference between hunters and shooters. Shooters don't buy factory ammo. They roll their own. It's a subculture within the gun community.


September 12, 2008, 12:58 PM
What prompted me to start reloading recently was the huge cost of .375 Weatherby and .416 Rigby - over $100 per box of 20. Also, the choices of bullets was a bit limited.

Once I started, I quickly added .30/06 because I was having so much FUN!

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