Reloading Saves Money on 45 ACP? Please teach me!


Boba Fett
December 12, 2008, 05:36 PM
So...I've seen several people on this forum and others saying that reloading saves soooo much money on 45 ACP. I want in on that.

So I ran the numbers and I can't seem to figure where the savings are coming from. So could you all check my math and my understanding of reloading?

Winchester Brass ( $192 for 1000 cases

Winchester FMJ Bullets ( $150 for 1000 bullets

This comes to $342 and that's before you add primers and powder.

Versus Winchester ammo at Ammunition to Go: 1000 rounds for $379 (

Reloading = 34 cents per round
Buying it factory = 38 cents per round

4 cents a round isn't really enough for me to want to start reloading nor would it make up for the cost of the equipment.

NOW, that being said, I understand that a lot of people like to reuse their own brass. My question is, how do you collect your brass from a gun range?? At an outdoor range, the stuff goes on the ground with all the other brass. How do you find the stuff you shot? I wouldn't want to pick up brass that had been stepped on and ground around at an outdoor range. At an indoor range, I can see that you'd have a better chance since you usually have a clean area to shoot from and can pick your casings up easily.

With a rifle I could understand reloading; it is easier to keep your brass (bolt action very easy, AR-15, just attach a bag).

So are the savings for handguns coming from coming from collecting your brass at the range and how do you manage it? Or is there a cheaper place I haven't been able to find that you can buy the reload materials? OR even still, should I not be looking at Winchester materials and just buying the cheapest stuff I can find (quality not an issue??) ? And where do you find it?

Educate me please :confused:

Teach me o masters of reloading what your process is.

Thanks ^_^

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December 12, 2008, 06:02 PM
Save the brass-YES. Get some form of vibratory or rotary cleaner. Shiny, just fired brass will visibly stand-out from all the rest of the junk on the ground!

Buy bulk/buy lead $115.00 per 1000 bullets is doable.

Buy bulk powder, 8 pound kegs at least. One $20 HAZMAT FEE OVER 8, 16, 24 OR 32 POUNDS from Powder Valley. Also a per pound price break on the powder itself.

Buy bulk primers, a brick of 5000 WLP is about $125.00 give or take; and that hazmat fee shuffle again too!

A little internet shopping, and buying in large/bulk quantities will bring the price down by half at least. And in 3 hours I can make 1200 rounds of 45acp with a good progressive press--that's about the same minimum time I spend in one visit to the range including travel.

December 12, 2008, 06:02 PM
Well as far as brass, I use a brass catcher for all my pistols. It's just a 18" X 24" frame with fiberglass screen attached to form a bag. It works with all my pistols. I just put it on a camera tripod and set it up so it's right next to the gun and the brass just gets spit into the bag.
I never buy brass. I buy ammo, shoot it and then reload the brass. .45 brass lasts damn near forever. You can also find brass cheaper than that if you want to buy it, but I usually end up going home with about 20-50+ pieces of brass more than I went to the range with.
To realize the greatest cost savings from reloading you have to either buy cast bullets or cast your own.
With reloading and casting my total cost for 100 rds of .45 230gr LRN is less than $5.00

December 12, 2008, 07:04 PM
Don't buy a million dollar reloading set up to start.

Pick up range brass or buy once fired. You will get many reloads from each one.

Buy bullets in bulk.

Switch to plated.

Switch to lead.

Start casting. Beg free wheel weights. Scrounge shot bullets and melt them down.

It can be done. :)

December 12, 2008, 07:20 PM
I was buying WW at 29.99 per 100 and after figuring out the per round count of my components I come in around 15.00 ish per 100 by reloading.

Brass: Free. Policed up at a local range.

Round: Ranier plated 230g RN at 77.00 per 1000 from midway. NO shipping fee when you buy large quantities, and I usually get 2000 at a time.

Primers: CCI large pistol bought through midway. Again, I buy in bulk, like 5000 to 10000 at a time.

Powder: I haven't gone the bulk route with the powder, I just buy a can of clay's when I need it, however, I could save a bit buy buying 8lbs at a time.

You DO save money by reloading. How much is on you.

Aside from the savings aspect, the best part about reloading is the ability to shoot the round YOU want to shoot. Do you want a super accurate round? Make it. How about a "power round" cooking at mach speed. Make it. Soft shooting "plinkers"? Make it. You can tailor the load for YOUR gun and for YOUR needs and STILL save some cash, which means MORE shooting!

What's not to like about that?

December 12, 2008, 07:46 PM
Well, I was just at the Midway site, and the cheapest bullets I could find were over $100/1000. Nevertheless, I reload 380acp, 9mmLuger, 40s&w and 45acp all for a little over half the cost of factory. Once you figure in the equipment, you still save money after a few thousand rounds (for a cheap setup) or 10-15 thousand rounds (for an expensive setup).

Bullets - Zero
Powder - local
Primers - local

You have to pay the HAZMAT fee on the stuff that goes boom. That usually negates any savings. If a person got into casting, which I can't (too many hobbies already), they might save A LOT of money.

ETA: Your OP ended with "teach me the process." Here's mine.

I pick up brass. I have a friend or two who will also pick it up for me. I've been doing this for a while and have enough of every cal. that it won't ever be a concern again. That takes care of the brass.

I order bullets from ZeroBullets. They have a website, but no prices. You gotta call the number. If you order enough, there's no shipping.

I buy primers and powder locally. Bullseye is 15.99/lb. (yesterday at Ahlmans). I get the cheapest primers I can find - both small pistol and large pistol. Yesterday, the magnum small pistol were quite a bit cheaper, so I went with those and will reduce my powder charge by .2-.4 grains.

I have an RCBS Rockchucker setup. Not the best (single stage) but it works awsome. You also have to buy dies and shellholders for each cal. I also got a media separator and two jugs of media that I keep re-using.

That's about it. Get everything I listed (and probably a couple things I forgot), read the manual, scratch your head, post your questions, and eventually you make your own rounds.

Here's the thing. It's a hobby. Do stamp collectors save money? How about skiers? If you just shoot enough to be proficient with your firearms, then you aren't going to save enough money to justify it. If you shoot frequently or compete, you should have started reloading already.

December 12, 2008, 07:53 PM
Once you get your equipment and start loading, you'll make friends. I trade once fired brass to a friend that casts bullets. This arrangement works out as my brass is free range floor pick up stuff. Just be safe and reload alone ,,w/o any distracations.

December 12, 2008, 07:58 PM
Teach me o masters of reloading what your process is.

Smee again. I reload AND own a P220 Compact :D
Used/reused brass saves quite a bit. I pick up brass off the floor at the gun range. Guys at outdoor ranges spread out tarps and the like. You can usually scrounge other peoples brass also. Just ask if they are reloading or not. Wear a shirt that tucks in or get used to being known more by your plumber's smile than your face. It's good stretching exercise too. I buy my powder (HP-32), primers (CCI) and lead RN bullets (230gr and 95gr) from Space Coast Bullets at the Gun Show. The lead bullets run $78/1000 for the 230's and the 95gr's for 27.75/500. For the $9 entry fee, I eliminate the Haz-mat fee and get to have a look see at everything else. I buy the Remington Golden Sabers from Midway.

I load:
230gr RN Lead rounds for $6.41 per box of 50
230gr RN Brass rounds for $8.15/50
230gr Remington Golden Sabers JHP's for $14.13/50

Try those figures against your per thousand estimates.

380 ammo:
102gr Remington Golden Saber JHP for $9.80/50
95gr Lead RN rounds for $4.82/50

My loader, a Lee Classic Turret Press, cost $330 including the dies for the 45acp, tumbler, calipers, scale, etc. My bench including a 4ft fluoresent light cost another $100. The 380 dies and turret cost $40. I figure on paying for the setup in about a year's time with the savings. Time's almost up and I'm almost there :cool:

Boba Fett
December 12, 2008, 11:37 PM
Thank you all for your explanations. Anyone else's experience in this matter is much appreciated. I will look into reloading a little more.

Are there any dangers in reloading? Aside from making the load too hot and blowing up your gun in your face (happened at a range I go to...the guy was experimenting with a "super load." crazy). What about things like the casings weakening/cracking. Some of my Russian 7.62x54R has had cracked casings after one shot (of is Russian after real surprise about the quality). What about reloads damaging the gun? What should I avoid or look for to make sure I don't damage the gun or myself?

December 13, 2008, 12:44 AM
Try this spreadsheet to calculate your reloading cost and return on investment. Very helpful information.

December 13, 2008, 12:57 AM
As mentioned, lose the jacketed bullets and shoot cast bullets. Jacketed bullets are just too expensive to shoot regularly.
"...Are there any dangers in reloading?..." Not if you read the manual and follow it religiously. Common sense has a lot to do with it too. No smoking or distractions when loading, etc. It's not rocket science. The manuals have a how-to chapter as well. Go buy a copy of The ABC's of Reloading. It's a How-to for beginner's. Your local gun shop or Amazon.
Look into an RCBS Beginner's Kit. Gives you everything you need less dies and shell holder. Plus you get their legendary customer service. Have any problems and they'll fix it with a phone call(they'll ask for your mailing address and nothing else). Even if you caused it or bought used kit. Buying used is ok. Takes a lot of abuse to damage good kit. The same press with a change of dies and shell holder will load .45's and 7.62 x 54R.
"...crazy..." Exactly. Some guys are just idiots and think they know more than the ballistics engineers who do the work to develope loading manuals and factory ammo.
Cracked cases are likely due to the age of the ammo. Brass does deteriorate over time, but your 7.62 x 54 ammo may have steel cases too. Steel cases are mild steel and are not reloadable. The quality of it may not have been the best in the first place. It's not all created equal. Warsaw Pact milsurp ammo isn't the greatest stuff either. It was made to go bang reliably. What happens to the case didn't matter.

XD-40 Shooter
December 13, 2008, 01:07 AM
Here's my 40 S&W reloading math::D

2000 Ranier plated bullets on sale at = $185
8lbs of Unique = $100 at Sportsmans Warehouse
2 cases of Wolf primers from Wideners = $210, or $21/brick
Coffee can full of once fired brass from my neighbor = FREE!:D:D

The bullets are just over 9 cents/peice, the powder is about 1 cent/peice, and the primers, 2.1 cents/peice. This is basically 12 cents/round x 2000 = $240. Compare this to factory ammo at about $350/case and you end up with 700 bucks for 2000 rounds. I'll take the $460 savings.:):D:D

December 13, 2008, 01:17 AM
Using jacked bullets not really( when you add in your time) lead yes.

December 13, 2008, 02:02 AM
I've bought a LOT of brass from guys on gun forums, and picked up lots more from various ranges and shootin' holes. Just took a quick inventory, I have 15 gallons of .45 brass stashed in buckets! Filling all those up will cost a fortune! I already have a good stash of components, but not that much. Gonna take awhile.

December 13, 2008, 03:20 AM
Whether or not to reload depends on how much you shoot. I will normally average around 1000 rounds a month. It takes me perhaps three hours to load that number. Not counting my time, it costs me around $130. per 1000 loading .45acp.

I figured that my reloading equipment paid for itself in less than a year.

It will cost you around $600 to get set up with a progressive loader which will come with auto powder measure/hopper and the odds and ends you will need to include powder scale and brass tumbler. You may add other items as time goes by but that is all you really need. I use a Dillon SD2. The Lee Progressive loaders are also priced very competitively though I haven't used one.

You can reduce your initial costs if you get a single stage or turret press, but they are slow, and reloading becomes a chore. I have an old Rock Chucker around for rifle ammo when I'm looking for precision loads, but I would hate to load pistol ammo with it.

There are ways to cut cost. You can pour your own bullets and save, but more convenient is to get with the other guys in your shooting club and put in bulk orders for primers, powder and bullets. That will usually result in a better price plus paid shipping and haz-mat fees.

Find a local bullet caster. There is bound to be one in your area. In my area, within 150 mi radius, there are four that I know. All will deliver free of charge for large orders. I usually order around 10,000 and my buddies do likewise. So together we may have an order of 50 to 100,000. This way we get top quality bullets at around $40 to $50 per 1000. We were paying much less before the cost of lead went up, around $30 per 1000.

We have found that cheap primers work just as well as Federal, Winchester, and CCI. I've been using Mag-Tech and Wolf with excellent results. I buy these in quantity too, at least 10,000 at a time, and again, we make big group buys.

After you settle on your powder of choice, buy it in quantity. But, start with one pound cans until you decide what you prefer. All powders have individual characteristics. Some are dirty some are cleaner. Some are low density, some are high. Some are louder. They have different burn rates and characteristics. Some will be more accurate than others with given loads. Of course there are several old standard powders that you just can't go wrong with for the .45 acp. I like Unique, Bullseye and a couple of the Winchester powders. And I like Tite-Group too. And some of my friends like Clays.

If you shoot only a thousand or so rounds per year, it won't be worth your effort to reload. But, if you like to go through a couple hundred rounds a week, it's the only way to fly.

December 13, 2008, 03:35 AM
Holy cow, who pays for brass? :D Ok, so I suppose I've been absolutely spoiled by a couple buddies who brought me bags of primarily 9x19, .40S&W and .45acp brass allowed to be swept up from a BLET range. I certainly didn't mind having to pick out the aluminum and steel cases as I ended up with several thousand brass that appeared for the most part "once-fired".
I don't shoot my HP and K9 enough to imagine ever running through my 9x19 brass, but I can see a day where I *may* have to look into more .45acp brass to feed my hungry 1911s... but it will be a while. :)

December 13, 2008, 12:00 PM
At the worst look for used brass at gun shows. There is always used brass at the things for a good price if you hunt a bit. As I work for a federal agency I get free brass at work after range days.

December 13, 2008, 12:21 PM
Local caster 155 gr SWC $54.5 per 1,000, 200 gr SWC $65.50 per 1,000, primers .03, powder .01-.02, free brass, but I have bought some once fired from a couple sources, Wyoming Brass is good. Reload so many times each that the cost is negligible. 100 rounds for $10-$11. A bit more for other commercial lead, and on up for fmj. I only use fmj for shooting bowling pins any more.

I bought the Hornady LnL about 6 years ago. It has over 100,000 rounds through it, mostly pistol, but it reloads .204 Ruger to 300WSM just fine.

As mentioned, it doesn't make sense to reload if you shoot 100-200 rounds per month max, but I like to shoot 300-500 center fire rounds and 200-300 .22 at a typical range session.

I figure with the savings I've paid for my reloading gear and most of my guns, and I have some nice guns.

December 13, 2008, 01:17 PM
With me, my reloading isn't so much about how much I shoot, it's more about the uncertainty of the future availability of ammunition, and how much I'll be ABLE to shoot in the future. The Democrats will be running Washington for awhile, you know, and they don't like us "gun nuts". I prefer to sock away a few thousand rounds now while I can.

December 13, 2008, 02:52 PM
I have been warned, No one saves money reloading. When it costs less, you shoot MORE.

I'm in the process of setting this up with my dad, we already have pretty much all the gear. You can find used RCBS presses on ebay for $30-$50. (Even less for Lee and other brands.) I have a stockpile of brass too, I've been saving it for several years. I can get the rest of the supplies locally, I would just as soon not pay shipping or hazmat fees.

I was worried about using lead cast bullets, until I talked to some guys in here, now I'm convinced that if you lube them, and clean your gun correctly like I do anyway, the savings will buy you a new gun LONG before you could every wear anything out on it.

December 13, 2008, 02:57 PM
Holy cow, who pays for brass?

around here we have fairys or maybe trolls that catch it before it hits the ground. I've never see any 45 on the ground.

December 13, 2008, 03:07 PM
And is there any advantage to nickle plated casings? You still have to lube them like any other case, right? I'm looking on Midway's page, seeing it's available from Starline, just wondering what purpose it would serve.

December 13, 2008, 03:45 PM
And is there any advantage to nickle plated casings? You still have to lube them like any other case, right? I'm looking on Midway's page, seeing it's available from Starline, just wondering what purpose it would serve.

For pistol calibers you don't have to lube at all if you use carbide dies.

December 13, 2008, 06:32 PM
So, theoretically I could reload both 45 ACP and say, 300WSM with the same setup except for dies and the like? I only ask because I have 45 pistols, and while the cost of shooting isn't killing me (yet), if I decide to get 300WSM instead of 308 in my next rifle, $60ish a box is tough to swallow. I know next to nothing about reloading, so please forgive me if this is an amateur question. Thanks!

December 13, 2008, 07:08 PM
If you buy a good sturdy press and mount it to a sturdy bench, in short yes. If you scrimp and go cheap on the press or bench, you can do it, but it'll be a pain to full length resize (get the whole cartridge case back to it's original dimensions). The nice thing is that if you're going to be shooting it out of one bolt action rifle, you don't have to full length resize.


chris in va
December 14, 2008, 02:19 PM
I looked into reloading and decided if I ever did, the Lee handloader would be more my speed as I really don't shoot all that much. $40 for the whole kit minus dies.

Understand you'll probably be shooting more if you reload, so the savings is offset by the equipment and materials cost.

December 15, 2008, 12:21 AM
Is a bench actually essential to reloading?

Could one just use a cheap card table or something?

I want to start, I think I may pick up the Hornady reloading manual and read that during my X-mas break, and then see about getting a setup...

December 15, 2008, 12:32 AM
You need a solid base to work from, it's actually a machining process under manual power, you don't want it jiggling at all. You actually have to work that lever pretty hard.

December 15, 2008, 07:05 PM
A reloading press bolted to a card table equals massive fail. I thought my bench would be sturdy enough - it plays forward a little.

December 15, 2008, 08:57 PM
Is a bench actually essential to reloading?

Could one just use a cheap card table or something?

I want to start, I think I may pick up the Hornady reloading manual and read that during my X-mas break, and then see about getting a setup...

I currently live in a 1 bedroom apartment, so there is no room for a real reloading bench. I have 3' X 3' sheet of 1" plywood that clamps in a Workmate folding work bench. I then mount my Hornady L-N-L Progressive to the plywood with wing nuts. Less than 5 minutes to set up or take down. The entire thing sits in one corner of a coat closet when not in use. This setup works just fine for .40 s&w and .223, since both need relatively low force.

I have made one small run (50 rounds) of 30-06 for my Garand. The force required to resize the 30-06 case is much made the Workmate rock pretty bad and occasionally made the wheels come off the ground. I will not be doing any more 30-06 until I get a proper bench. (But I've got 8 more spam cans of Greek stuff to hold me over until then. :evil:)

December 15, 2008, 11:30 PM
I did a lot of forum reading and web pricing the last week or so. this is what i came up with. the math is all hidden to save space but i belive its accurate. hope it helps.

others, please wade if you i'm in serious error.

Lead $1/lb.
Powder $0.02 each at 9 grains
primer $0.03 each
New Winchester cartridges $0.40 each (reuse 6 times)
New Brass $0.20 each (reuse 6 times)
Used Brass $0.09 each

Total Cost for Reloaded Cartridge

WW-New brass-Used Brass
$0.17-$0.22-$0.20 New Lead
$0.13-$0.10-$0.09 Cast

Save $0.30 to $0.50 each

Lee 1000 , 140.00
Molds, 40.00
Casting Pot, 50.00
misc tools, 50.00

Total 280.00

December 16, 2008, 05:13 PM
How to save money reloading.
1. Casting.
2. Buying estate lots of reloading equipment off Craigslist, newspaper classified, advertised at local ranges, etc., keeping the powder, primers, bullets and whatever else you want and ebaying the rest. I have actually made thousands doing this, enough to pay for my entire year of shooting in just a few days of selling.
3. Using range brass.
4. downloading your practice ammo to save money on powder and save wear on equipment and you.
It can be done. I shot 20k rounds of centerfire a year and I don't even think about the cost it is so cheap. But it took some years of smart buying, selling etc. I have a VERY sweet loading set up of equipment I made money acquiring and components enough for, well for awhile. It can be done! :)

December 16, 2008, 05:26 PM
I certainly didn't mind having to pick out the aluminum and steel casesDon't throw away the aluminum ones - recycling centers will buy scrap aluminum for a respectable price. Just don't get them mixed in with the brass ones.

December 16, 2008, 09:18 PM
My approx costs recently:

Dillon 550B with accessories( tray, mount, handle), quick caliber change and .45 and 9mm dies and Black & Decker workbench modified~$1000

Frankford Arsenal Tumbler (not necessary to clean pistol brass) $87

These are upfront costs AND can be done much cheaper IF necessary.

A friend from the gun shop helped me finalize each caliber setup

Brass free or dirt cheap locally.
Lead bullets locally $65/1000 = 0.07/round
Winchester primers $117/5000 =0.02/round
Titegroup powder $57/4# = 0.01/round

I figure overall each round is ~ 0.12 cents which is 1/2 of 9mm and 1/3 of .45

I figure over the next few years I'll be making and shooting alot and will realize savings. But clearly, I will shoot more and blah blah blah.

IMPORTANT however, is the REAL SATISFACTION in this new hobby of making and using something. I enjoy the activity of making bullets with quiet background music. I personally like doing tasks and always have... For me it's a welcome relief from the stress of work and many years of marriage.

NOTE; this is NOT an activity for the distracted!

Good-luck, Peter

Boba Fett
December 16, 2008, 09:30 PM
Thanks everyone for their input. This has really helped me decide. I'll probably start trying to reload soon...especially once I decide on a 308 rifle. I also like Reopropf's point about it being a satisfying hobby...I can see that it would be and that's an added bouns.

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