Economics of Reloading 45ACP Revealed


Five of Clubs
September 14, 2008, 10:29 PM
This is a question that I had to answer for myself, but it may help others. Where is the "break even point" on 45ACP with reloading versus buying off the shelf? The answer for me was 1000 rounds. Here is the math:

Walmart price (cheapest around) for 100 rounds 45ACP = $32.99

X10 = $329.90 for 1000 rounds purchased.

Reloading startup costs:
$138 for Lee Breech lock Single Stage kit plus carbide dies shipped from
$17 Digital calipers from Harbor Freight
$106 for 1000 230gr lead bullets
$18 for 1 pound of Unique powder
$30 for 1000 CCI large pistol primers
$25 for ammo boxes (loaded rounds)
$0 Free range brass
$334 dollars total reloaded

Every thousand rounds of 45ACP from now on will cost $154 until prices change. All reloading components were purchased locally. I could probably get bullets cheaper off the web, but the hazard fees prohibit buying the other components that way.

Therefore, my advice is that if you plan to shoot more than 1000 rounds through your .45, start reloading. This is especially true if you have about 4 hours per week to dedicate to this hobby. The good news is that I have developed a load that I LOVE to shoot. The bad news is that I shoot WAY more than I ever did prior to reloading.

I hope this helps some person like me when I was looking a few months ago.

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September 14, 2008, 10:35 PM
I did the same math myself a while back. I also shoot a lot of 9mm, .380ACP, .357mag, and 38spl though. Either way, you're about right it works out to less than half of what you would spend on WWB at wally world.

September 14, 2008, 11:06 PM
Ha ha ha ha ha!

Call us when you hit 1000 rounds and you haven't bought any more stuff!

You'll see, once you buy a gun because you can reload for it you'll forget all about this "break-even" nonsense.

Seriously, though, you're right that the only way to shoot volume without being wealthy or sponsored or enlisted or a cop is to reload. The only way to be a good shot is to shoot volume. So, reloading is the only way average Joes like you and me can really work on our shooting skills.

Before I started reloading, I'd look at a $25 box of .45acp and wonder if I really needed to shoot all 50 in one trip. Add in $15 for range time, $10 for gas, and $5 for targets, and that's $55 for an hour of shooting. Now the ammo is about $12/100, it shoots much better than the cheap factory stuff, I can shoot enough to justify joining the range, AND I start to see real improvement in how I'm shooting.

Reloading makes a world of difference in your shooting, but in the long run it will never actually save you any money. Good luck!


September 14, 2008, 11:33 PM
By casting my own boolits from scrap lead/wheelweights, I got the cost for 9mm/38/357/45 down to just the powder and primers, about 4 cents per round. There's loads of free pickup brass out there, just keep at it.

But, I don't save money, just as I was warned. I've been picking 40SW brass for a long time just because there's a lot of it out there with the other stuff. Yesterday I ordered the reloading dies, and a boolit mould and sizer die for 40SW. And I don't yet even have anything in 40S&W (to be fixed soon though I hope).

They warned me that reloading would get this way, and it did. I don't save much if any money, but boy I can sure shoot a lot for the same $ I used to spend! At about $2 consumables cost per box of 50 ($4 for 100) I like to claim that I'm saving lots of money. A weekend range trip usually means a couple hundred 9mm and 45 rounds expended, so even at the 9mm price of about $20 per 100 the savings do add up!

September 15, 2008, 12:17 AM
By casting my own boolits from scrap lead/wheelweights

... where did the word boolit come from? I keep seeing it on this board. In a technical sense, is it different from bullet? Is it even a real word? :confused:

September 15, 2008, 12:24 AM
I'm probably an old fart, so I'm perhaps not the best to try to answer this -

I think the disintegration of the English language is a terrible thing to witness. Considering the influence of "texting", it is also probably inevitable.

So, boolits and Bushy, Remy, et al are slang terms that are part of today's lexicon.

I am so impressed by this.

By the way, a link to the folks who probably started the "boolit" nonsense is -

The information is accurate and they seem a dedicated, professional bunch. Coining a horrible appellation is a minor sin. :)

September 15, 2008, 12:35 AM
I don't get it ... it's not like boolit has fewer letters than bullet!!! I can't find any reference to it in any dictionary that I've checked (online too) so I was just wondering where this ridiculous word comes from. If it has a specific technical meaning such that it's a subset of bullet in the way that hollow point, jacketed, lead, copper, hard cast, gas checked etc are all subsets of bullet then I can see the point of it. :(

The one "real" reference I could find is that boolit is a Finish word and is the plural of booli which means punch (the drink, not the fist version).

I think the disintegration of the English language is a terrible thing to witness.

You're not kidding!!! :cuss:

September 15, 2008, 12:43 AM
The term simply differentiates between "store bought" and "homemade" projectiles. I have my costs for 45ACP down to about 6.10 per hundred or 67.00 per thousand. And I too, shoot a lot more than I used to!

September 15, 2008, 01:05 AM
The term simply differentiates between "store bought" and "homemade" projectiles.

Thanks for the explanation but I'm assuming that this is slang or a colloquialism rather than a "real" word.


As for the OP, this is very helpful information. I showed some calculations, plots etc a few months ago showing the cost of reloading .45 Colt and basically wanted to "prove" that it isn't significantly more expensive than .38 special (which some had claimed). Some folks will by a firearm based on their perception of what it'll cost to shoot rather than how enjoyable or functional the firearm will be. I was advised by many here to buy SAA revolvers in .38 special rather than .45 Colt for the simple and erroneous reason that they're "much" cheaper to shoot. I ended up buying USFA Rodeos in .45 Colt because that's what I wanted. I'll happily pay an extra $0.02 per round to own/shoot a caliber that I like versus one that I don't.


evan price
September 15, 2008, 01:19 AM
I got my .45 ACP down to $8.70 per hundred ($87 a thousand).
That's using purchased 230-RN lead bullets, Wolf primers, Titegroup powder, range brass.
And my Sig 220 likes 'em better than WWB.
Now I can shoot 200 .45's in one session and not feel guilty, and my targets look better because of it. What would have been $65 is now $35. That's what I call savings. However, back in the day, I would have just shot 100 .45's for $32. Now I shoot 200 for $35. Am I really saving anything? :)

September 15, 2008, 07:32 AM
I did the exact same analysis and came to the same conclusion, break even is at 1000 rounds, and after i bought powder and primers Friday, I updated the cost, it is was still almost %50 less then wal mart factory ammo.

hill billy
September 15, 2008, 01:45 PM
I ran out the numbers recently and not counting my initial investment for the press and such I can load 100 .45 FMJ for right at $20. If I bought in more bulk, I could lower that. I shoot Glocks so straight lead is out. So I save around $10 per hundred on FMJ and around $80 per hundred on JHP.

Parenthetically I was in a Big 5 over the weekend and they get $45 a box for .45 wwb. Yikes! I kind of laughed at them and told them how much Wally World has it for and the guy told me I was crazy.

September 15, 2008, 01:51 PM
castboolits is another forum website. Their focus is casting bullets.
Many people here are members on both.

I doubt you will save any money for the most part. Hobbies are expensive.

I reload for friends and family hunting loads, but it is gratis. They are making out like bandits.

If you shoot a lot, it will be cheaper to reload. If you shoot competition, and don't have a sponsor,

September 15, 2008, 02:34 PM
good thing your mechanic doesn't ammortize the price of his tools into your bill every time you get your brakes done.

September 15, 2008, 02:54 PM
Not to mess up a thread here, but hill billy, you CAN shoot lead in a glock. Hard cast lead is OK. Just don't shoot max loads, and after a few mags of lead, shoot a few jacketed bullets through the gun. Really helps keep out the leading. Give it a try. And yes, I love shootin' more since I jumped into the brotherhood of the brass chasers!

September 15, 2008, 05:38 PM
I've been thinking about buying cast bullets to bring my costs down even further..... but I shoot at an indoor range. Is this really something to be concerned about. I shoot about 200 rounds per week from my .45

September 15, 2008, 07:33 PM
From the link above.
Boolits= as God laid it into the soil,,grand old Galena,the Silver Stream graciously hand poured into molds for our consumption.

Bullets= Machine made utilizing Full Length Gas Checks as to provide projectiles for the masses.
I also cast my own bullits for 45 auto and am loading 45 for 2.6 cents each or $26 per 1,000. I'm getting ready to start casting for 9mm and 38 spcl soon.

September 15, 2008, 09:42 PM
1858 Asks: Where did the word boolit come from? I keep seeing it on this board. In a technical sense, is it different from bullet? Is it even a real word?

Actually, the term started on the old shooterstalk (now long gone) cast bullet board. I don't recall the individual that first came up w/ the unique spelling (in very late 90's?), but that's where it started.

When shooterstalk went belly up, the guys always on the cast bullet board started another site.

I've been casting my own since 1982.

September 15, 2008, 11:14 PM
I too have been pricing the economics of reloaded .45 ACP.

Here's what I've determined:

$68+$10 s/h for 1000 200 gr RNL from

~$27 for 1000 primers (gunshow)

~$18 for 1lb of PowerPistol (local shop)

$0 1000 pieces of range brass

Don't factor in the cost of reloading equipment. The initial investment is very low unless you drink blue koolaid :P

My cost less time = 78+27+18 = $123/1000 rounds.

If I were to cast my own rounds I could probably get this down to $50/1000. There are also other ways to get cheaper powder (surplus AA #7, etc.) and primers (buy 5000-1000 at a time)

I wish I could afford a progressive press. :(

If you have to shoot a jacketed bullet you might want to consider rainier plated or possibly 185 gr JHP noslers. I bought a 250 bullet box of the noslers from midway for like $37. Not bad IMO

September 15, 2008, 11:20 PM
Break even for me is 3000, but I'm using JHP and premium powder for USPSA...for which I now shoot 9mm...oh well.

September 16, 2008, 10:13 AM
Evil, If the ventilation system is GREAT, then you generally should be allright. If there is any question, get tested. If you can find cast lead projectiles with a gas check on them, even better.

September 16, 2008, 11:48 AM
Wow. 45 ACP is more expensive than I had thought. I can buy 1000 9mm 124 gr from Georgia Arms for $195. I reload my 45 LC, but not 9mm, since it's so cheap. I had no idea that 45 ACP was so expensive.


September 16, 2008, 06:11 PM
Wow. 45 ACP is more expensive than I had thought. I can buy 1000 9mm 124 gr from Georgia Arms for $195. I reload my 45 LC, but not 9mm, since it's so cheap. I had no idea that 45 ACP was so expensive.

When I can reload 1,000 9mm for $75 then $195 is way to expensive for me. I shoot a lot of 9mm. Once I start casting for 9mm my cost will be down to around $26 per 1,000.

XD-40 Shooter
September 16, 2008, 06:26 PM
I can reload 1000 40 S&W rounds for $120. At Wal-Mart, win white box is $30/100. Instead of shooting 100 rounds/month and trying to stretch my supply as far as possible, I shoot 250 rounds/month and I don't worry about my ammo supply.:D When I get down to 1000 rounds, I usually order the 2000 count Ranier bulk pack from Midwayusa, $205 with free shipping.:) I've been buying Wolf Primers from Widener's, 10,000 at a time, which works out to $21/brick. For powder, I buy 8lb keg's of Unique at Sportsmans Warehouse for $104 out the door.

Five of Clubs
September 16, 2008, 08:12 PM
Sorry it has taken so long to reply, we had some hurricane-like winds in Louisville and I have been without internet.

I hope this info is useful to some newbie reloader, but as everyone said you start to shoot WAY more than you ever did before. I used to shoot about 1000 rounds of 45ACP per year, along with about 6000 rounds of .22LR. I now shoot 250 rounds of 45ACP per week and I've quit taking my .22 pistol with me to the range. Actually, I'm even selling the brass I don't reload just to feed my shooting habit. I now totally understand why my wife would say that buying something on sale meant she was really saving money.

This type of shooting is going to seriously cut into my gun-buying money. I used to be too tight to spend the money for ammo, so my slush fund would build up and I would just buy a new gun when I got enough. Not anymore. I just hope I never buy an AR and start reloading .223, I think I could go bankrupt.

September 16, 2008, 11:02 PM
I thought .223 was cheap to reload compared to other rifle cartidges? I mean, I think I'd be lucky to reload .308 for less than $300/1000... .223 is like $100 IIRC

Guns and more
September 16, 2008, 11:09 PM
I have my costs for 45ACP down to about 6.10 per hundred or 67.00 per!
Then I would shoot a hundred.....ten times.

September 17, 2008, 01:54 PM
380ACP and 45ACP is pretty similar in factory rounds as far as cost.

reloading 380 is really a cost savings, then 45 ACP, then 9mm. 9mm is cheapest factory ammo pistol round for a common caliber.

September 17, 2008, 08:24 PM
I thought .223 was cheap to reload compared to other rifle cartidges? I mean, I think I'd be lucky to reload .308 for less than $300/1000... .223 is like $100 IIRC
Not sure how 223 compares to 308 because I have never loaded 308. Yes 223 is cheap to reload. I reload 223 for around $100 per 1,000 maybe a little less.

Five of Clubs
September 17, 2008, 08:42 PM
I meant that if I bought an AR and started loading .223 I know I would shoot many thousands of rounds per year. Accurate, thirty round mags and minimal recoil? Way too tempting.

September 17, 2008, 08:48 PM
Your numbers are wrong. You need to add the cost of *new* brass and divide that by the number of times it's reloaded. Brass is where the savings are (well, that and labor). For 45 ACP, I can usually count on five great reloads if I'm careful with belling and probably get at least 10 before I have to throw it out.

Additionally, account for lost brass. I lose up to 10% per trip if I shoot at an indoor range. I never pick up brass I didn't shoot or see shot (as new). range brass is looking better and better.

evan price
September 18, 2008, 12:54 AM
I pick up all the brass I can get my hot little fingers on at any range I shoot at. I don't care if it is 1X fired or 10X fired. At lower-pressure levels like practice ammo is loaded at, most of my brass gets lost before it splits. I don't own a .40 which is one of the most brass-damaging cailbers (after 10mm!) but my .45 and .38 specials will last forever. As far as 9mm- who cares if the cases go bad after 1 firing or twenty, there's almost as many 9mm cases as gravel on the ground at most ranges.

I can load 9mm for $66 per thousand. I've loaded and shot over 3000 rounds so far this year that I know of in just 9mm. Just in what 9mm I have shot this year, I would have used that savings (Almost $400!) to pay for a progressive press setup, tumbler, scale, bullet puller, media separator, etc and had a good reloading setup if I didn't have it all already.

September 18, 2008, 07:32 AM
What's your source of projectiles for 9mm evan? I don't think I've seen the bullets themselves (discounting lead) below $60/1000. Taking into acount primers and powder you must be casting your own or getting bullets at $25/1000...

September 18, 2008, 08:04 AM
you don't save a dime reloading. you just shoot more.

September 18, 2008, 11:12 AM
DMazur said: I think the disintegration of the English language is a terrible thing to witness.

I'm likely at least the old fart you are and I agree in distaste for the seeming demise of correct spelling. However, consider that the alteration of the spelling of certain words can serve to lessen the amount of spam generated by marketing programs designed to respond to certain and various correctly spelled words and phrases.

September 18, 2008, 06:09 PM
Here's a handy web-based calculator that does the price per hundred & thousand of reloaded ammo:

According to it, the 9mm reloads I just made (with scrounged range brass) is 4.79/50. That's about 1/3 the cost of WWB.


September 18, 2008, 06:23 PM
I cast all my 45's with reclaimed range scrap. I use H&G molds, a couple of 130's for 50 ft and 25 yards and a 68bb for 50 yards. If I don't count my time, my cost per 50rd box for cast loads are $2.00/box. The 130's will group about 1/2" C.T.C. @50', where the 68's will hold 2 1/2"-3" @ 50 yards from the Ransom Rest.

For State, Regional, and Camp Perry I use the Remington 185 SWC. Those up the price to $11.00/box. Those always produce a nice round 2" or less group,with any fliers, @ 50 yards from my Ransom Rest.

I don't factor the cost of any brass in because of the 10 gallons or so of 45 brass I have, I have only purchased 500 rds. All the rest have been either range pickups or given to me because the person was no longer shooting. I have given away probably another 2-3 gallons of 45 brass to beginner bullseye shooters because you can only use so much. All pistol loads are reloaded on a Dillon 550. Most rifle loads are loaded on an RCBS 4x4. Benchrest and long range calibers are done on Wilson arbor dies.

I normally shoot about 5-7,000 45 cast rounds per year, so the savings really add up.


evan price
September 19, 2008, 01:33 AM
Plinker, I buy Titegroup powder in 8# kegs and Wolf primers in 5000-cases in group buys.

I get my 9mm bullets from a commercial caster for 4 cents each shipped but I have to buy a flat-rate box full which is 3300 bullets in a box to get that price, plus when I buy bullets I buy a lot- I like to keep a good stockpile and then just order to replenish- that way if a caster gets backed up I am not waiting with nothing to shoot.

With anything, if you buy a lot, pay promptly, and order often, you can get good prices.

Double Naught Spy
September 19, 2008, 05:53 AM
According to it, the 9mm reloads I just made (with scrounged range brass) is 4.79/50. That's about 1/3 the cost of WWB.

And for that reason, I see no reason in paying for the more expensive brassed ammo and so I shoot a lot of Blazer. Blazer right now is running $7.50-8.00 a box. So the reloads are cheaper, but I have nearly zero time investment in making the purchase and don't spend time on the ground looking for the crumbs of others.

Five of Clubs
September 19, 2008, 09:03 PM
Crumbs of others? Wow. All I do is reach down and pick up something of value. I just sold nearly $140 worth of "crumbs" on this site. That means my reloads for the next couple months will be completely free of charge. Worth the trouble? For me the answer is definitely yes. Does it bother me that you don't approve? Of course not. Why make a comment like that in a reloading forum though?

September 20, 2008, 08:51 AM
I am very happy that there are shooters who consider brass "crumbs"!!! More for me! I do not buy brass. I trade the "crumbs" I pick up that I do not reload for. I use the recovered "crumbs" that I do reload for. If 5-10 minutes out of my range time produces a few hundred cases that I will use, I am in the plus column big time. I do not have money to throw away, I would rather shoot it away....:D

October 12, 2008, 11:05 PM
If they be crumbs, then I say "OM NOM NOM NOM!"

October 13, 2008, 02:23 PM
but I have nearly zero time investment in making the purchase and don't spend time on the ground looking for the crumbs of others.
Guilty as charged. I'm happy to pick up your crumbs or any body Else's. That keeps me loading 9mm for $70 per 1,000 and 45 auto foe $26 per 1,000. keep the crumbs coming.

The Bushmaster
October 13, 2008, 03:16 PM
If you can resist buying more stuff to reload with (equipment) you may save money...Let me know how you do it so we all can benefit from your experience of saving money reloading. That's if you can resist shooting your reloads so you can reload those cases again, so you can shoot again, so you can reload........

The only thing I found that was free was the once fired cases I get at the range, and then I have to degrade myself and get on my hands and knees to pick them up..."Ouch!!! Please take your foot off my fingers..."

October 13, 2008, 04:34 PM
I didn't take into consideration the cost of the press, dies, etc... just the brass, primers, bullets and brass. Time is subjective. I figure I can shoot more, not save more. I doubt I'll ever purchase factory ammo again - I won't shoot a caliber that can't be reloaded.

October 13, 2008, 06:04 PM
Side note: when you're calculating cost you only should put in the depreciation for the equipment, not the full price. I've been pricing stuff on the-Bay and realized that if a 20 year old RCBS stuff goes for 70% of the price of a new RCBS stuff then I shouldn't amortize the full cost of all that gear. Furthermore, if you buy used stuff to start with, then the equipment shouldn't be in your costs at all since you can sell it for what you paid. (I'm not including "lost potential" on the cash invested).

Now, if you're talking about never selling any of it, then why are you worried whether it takes 500 rounds or 5,000 rounds? After all, you've got a long time to recoup costs. ;^)

Edit to add: Scanning again I just saw a Lee press that has bids totaling more than the press costs from MidSouth. So perhaps its possible to buy equipment, save money making rounds, then make money selling the press!

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