Is .223 worth reloading STRICTLY on a cost-savings basis?


Futo Inu
October 14, 2003, 02:52 PM
Of course if you're looking for an accurate or performance load, it is, but yes or no, on cost basis only for general purpose shooting, reload .223 or buy it in bulk?

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October 14, 2003, 03:06 PM
I don't think so.
for fun of loading, target etc; yes.


October 14, 2003, 04:14 PM
Depends on what brand of ammo you are using to plink with. I shoot about 90% Wolf. It costs about the same as my handloads using bulk Remington bullets. Every other brand that I have easy access to is substantually more.

October 14, 2003, 04:24 PM
on cost alone, no. definitely not.

but what fun is it if you can't hit distant targets? that's where handloading comes in...

October 14, 2003, 04:36 PM
My father and I reload 9mm, among the other calibers we shoot. You save a few pennies here and there, and reloading pistol isn't that hard anyway. Rifle on the other hand can get strenuous, specifically for semi-auto. Case prep takes awhile. If you have the time to reload for .223, go for it. I don't really plink with my AR anymore. I used to just go wild and waste ammo, but then I bought a .22 and sunk 7-8 times the cost of the gun into accessories (barrel, scope, internals) and I spend about $20 for a brick of 500 Wolf Match Target.

$30/1000 .223 FMJ (Golden West Bullet) = $0.03/round
7000grains/25grains = 280 rounds per 1lb powder* = $20/280 = $0.07142... ~ $0.08/round
$15/1000 primers = $0.015 ~ $0.02/round

This comes out to about 13 cents a round, not counting brass and shipping costs.

*I just picked 25gr because IMR 4064 and Varget can do 25gr as a low to mid power load.

You have to ask yourself if it's worth it to you to take the time to reload or just spend $$$ on cartridges? If anything, I'd buy Winchester Q3131A from or and save the brass. You can sell it or keep it.

October 14, 2003, 04:53 PM
I answered the question as the original poster asked it; on a cost basis only.
However, I totally agree that if you factor in time and effort is definitely isn't worth it. For plinking and self defense type practice, it definitely isn't worth it unless you are just trying to find something to do away from the TV. IMO, loading high volumes of rifle ammo is a PITA. I have a Dillon 550 set up to load .223. It is certainly faster than loading on a single stage, but it is many times slower than loading handgun ammo on the same press. Before you do anything, you have to lube the case. In the first stage you size/deprime/prime. Then you need to remove the case from the machine and remove the case lube (at least I do, I know some people don't). Then you need to measure the case to decide if it needs trimmed.........................

I do handload .223. I have two bolt guns and a Bushmaster V-Match AR that I handload my more refined target/varmint ammo. I augment my plinking/self defense type ammo with handloads. But the vast majority of my .223/5.56 ammo is Wolf which usually goes for around $90-$100/ case at the gunshows. It runs flawlessly out of my ARs and it is plenty accurate for what I am doing with it. I don't feel that I am making any kind of a sacrifice at all in using it. But, I wouldn't use it in the bolt guns or the V-Match for firing groups on paper at 300 yards.

Black Snowman
October 14, 2003, 06:00 PM
No, I 2nd the vote of support for Wolf. It's not match grade but as long as you're not shooting so fast as to melt the lacqure you're good to go.

Steve Smith
October 14, 2003, 08:43 PM
I agree with Sam. For plinking, no. For target use, you have to weigh your costs and benefits.

You cannot buy better ammo than I make for half of what they sell it in the stores for.

October 14, 2003, 09:21 PM
Second what Mr. Smith said!

For me, reloading .223 is primarily a winter hobby, when I'm not shooting as much as in the summer. A few thousand bullets, a case of spent brass, primer and powder, and I can sit through a Nor-easter or two with ease. But what do I know, I reload for 9mm also! :rolleyes:

October 14, 2003, 11:44 PM
I would never buy any of that SS109 or M855 stuff in bulk. It usually costs about $220 on up, and my reloads cost about $125 per 1000rds. My reloads are more accurate than all the Greek and British stuff.

October 15, 2003, 12:26 AM
Futo Ino, for the purpose you state, no it isn't to me. You can pick up the Win White box for ~ $4.00 or .20 a shot. Reloading a box of ammo with adequate case prep and cleaning etc is a hell of a lot more to me when I factor in the time. For super accuracy, yes, you can do better reloading but you pay for it in time. For just making noise or target practice, $10 worth of factory ammo will get it out of my system with no muss or fuss and I leave the brass neatly policed and returned to the box for some "lucky" individual to find. YMMV

Same goes for 9mm.

October 15, 2003, 01:40 PM
What use is ammo that won't drive tacks? And you'd have to sight in every time you change ammo.

October 15, 2003, 02:03 PM
What use is ammo that won't drive tacks?

Nobody said it wouldn't.

You don't have to hit the "B" on the budweiser can to have fun. Besides, my AR15 SP1 has iron sights and I don't use it to puncture prairie dogs at 400 yards. When I put my high power 20X Leupold on my 223 it would shoot 3/4" groups off the bench with ball but that ain't what I'm about usually. YYMV

October 15, 2003, 04:26 PM
I recently bought 1000 rounds of Win USA 5.56mm ammo for $168 out the door, so that's $3.36 a box with tax. It's 55 grain FMJ and has a crimped primer . . . so it's hard to do better reloading "plinking" ammo if your time is worth anything even on a progressive press.

South African surplus was also pretty good, and a bit cheaper, but seems to be much less available today.

Of course, when I'm seeking best accuracy or performance I handload.

October 16, 2003, 03:59 PM
I dont buy loaded ammo anymore cost aside its just superior results and consistency.

Mr. Chitlin
October 16, 2003, 08:49 PM
$30/1000 .223 FMJ (Golden West Bullet) = $0.03/round
7000grains/25grains = 280 rounds per 1lb powder* = $20/280 = $0.07142... ~ $0.08/round
$15/1000 primers = $0.015 ~ $0.02/round

This comes out to about 13 cents a round, not counting brass and shipping costs.

Last year, I stocked up on South Afrikan surplus M193. For our local 3 gun matches and general blasting it is just fine. I got it for $279/2700, or just over 10 cents per round. I did the math and can not load it that cheap. The only 223 I load any more is my hunting loads using 50 or 55 grain Ballistic Tips as opposed to buying factory loads. I DO save money on them. I can load 500 or so, and that will last me all winter for hunting and sighting in.

I am also going to have to look at 9mm the next time I run low. I have gotten out of loading lead, just too nasty for me any more. I am going to have to compare the cost of bulk to loading my own. I enjoy loading as much as anyone, and load many thousands of rounds per year, but if I can buy factory cheaper than loading my own, that is a no brainer for me.

October 17, 2003, 10:09 AM
Has anybody considered using surplus powder for .223? If you buy enough (30lbs) cost drops to about $8/lb..... I've had good results with WC846 in .308.

My 9mm costs:
115gr star 9mm/1000: $37.50 ($150/4000 with shipping included)
alliant power pistol @ 6 gr ~ $.0125/rd = $12.50 ($58/4lbs @ gunshow after tax)
WSP primers ~$16/1000 ($80/5k after tax)
1000 9mm brass: free

Total per 1k: $66

As I consider reloading WORK:

add about 3 hours of my time ~$8.50/hour(after taxes:fire: )

Total with My Time: ~ $91.50

I save about $30 per 1000 rds over bulk, with my time factored in.

If I enjoyed pulling the handle, ammo would be about half what the store charges. If your time is worth more, factory is the way to go.

Steve Smith
October 17, 2003, 10:31 AM
I don't think calculating your hourly wage into your handloading budget is a good thing to do.

October 17, 2003, 12:12 PM
If it takes time away from something else you should be doing, it should be calculated in. If it takes time away where you could be doing something else, it is an opportunity cost, at the least. So you prefer to do the brass prep, charge up the system and pull the handle. To me, that is work unless I'm saving big bucks or working up a special load.

If you are calling it a hobby and you would only be watching the idiot box for lack of something better to do, yes, I call that worth your while.

October 17, 2003, 12:24 PM
I think most bases been covered .. and no ...... I don't think the cost-saving is in itself enough ..... provided we talk plinking. My Mini-14 will eat all it is given and I can burn up good home-loads way too fast ... tho I have to say that then and only then does the lil puupy actually shoot rather well.

That aside .... and if the time factor accepted as ''hobby'' and thus not chargeable ......... then like any rifle round the .223 Rem is definitely best ''home brewed''. certainly when it comes to loads to suit a Contender for intsance . then it's a must. I am waiting on some experimental bullets from a buddy of mine who swages ..... and shall be playing with some 45 grn and 50 grn bullets ... probably over Varget. No factory loads that'll cover that sorta round.

October 17, 2003, 01:03 PM
We got guys who reload shotgun at the gun club. They tried to tell me I needed to get a MEC. I said how much does it cost you to load a box of 12 gauge? After some head scratching, figgering, getting a piece of paper and writing on it, etc. the answer was um about $3.50 -.75 a box. Here I have four boxes of Federal 12 gauge for 16 bucks and this guy takes his shot, which misfires and he has to get the cleaning rod to knock the wad out. Returning, they say, yeah, you really need to get a reloader. The other guy shoots, misfires, and gets the cleaning rod to knock the wad out. etc.

As far as metallic ctgs go, I like reloading 45 ACP as it is large enough to put into the bullet seating die without my fingers getting in the way. Same with a large rifle ctg like 375 H&H. The .223 or 9mm or other mini ctg, no way. YMMV

October 17, 2003, 02:13 PM
I have got to know who is paying all these guys that say "my time reloading is worth X dollars a hour"?

October 17, 2003, 03:16 PM
I have always wondered that myself, because I want a piece of that action. If my time is so valuable I should also get paid for shooting, sleeping, eating, in fact I should be on the clock right now.

But in a seriousness, there are some things that simply arn't worth it to me. When I am getting ready to take a class, I am firing a couple hundred 5.56 rounds daily for a month or two. If I was handloading them, I would do nothing else but load and shoot. It is worth it for me just to spent the $100 for a case of Wolf. Of course if I lived somewhere that I couldn't shoot year round, I could use that down time to handload a nice supply for the rest of the year.

Steve Smith
October 17, 2003, 04:16 PM
Some guys have to save up to buy a 1K case of Wolf 7.62x39, and others can buy it whenever they feel like it. I suggest that if we want to keep this friendly and keep personal finances out of this, we stop right now.

October 18, 2003, 01:37 AM
Some guys have to save up to buy a 1K case of Wolf 7.62x39

LOL, I'm one of those poor bastards. I save up over months to get decent prices. All so I can feed my obsession. :D

When I finish school and get a real job, I doubt I will even bother to reload, save for accuracy.

If it takes time away from something else you should be doing, it should be calculated in. If it takes time away where you could be doing something else, it is an opportunity cost, at the least. So you prefer to do the brass prep, charge up the system and pull the handle. To me, that is work unless I'm saving big bucks or working up a special load.


Back to the topic, cheap .223 can be made for ~half the cost of nonwolf ammo. I dont like shooting russian stuff in anything but russian guns, JMHO.

October 18, 2003, 11:45 AM
My post was not ment to be unfriendly or to question anyone's personal finances. The question was retorical. Unless someone is in business for themselves,has a side business, or is passing up on some overtime to reload how can they put a hourly $ value on their leasure time. As reloading is a hobby just like shooting done for the enjoyment of it or as a means to save money. Well most people start out to save money which I did when I first started but it really turned into more like to allow the maxium amount of shooting per dollar spent.
So to rephrase the origional question,
Who is paying these people,how do I get in on it, and how long does it take to get the first check?:D

October 18, 2003, 01:37 PM
I am not sure what Steve was referring to, but I certainly was not trying to get into anyone's personal finances.
I get paid while I am at work. I don't place an hourly value on my personal time. I view handloading as a hobby in and of itself. I find it interesting, and challenging. I see it as a better way to spend my leisure time than sitting in front of the TV or the computer. I realize that everyone has limits on their time. I realize that some people have to seriously budget their time to make time for their leisure activity. This is the reason why I choose not to spend the time to handload for the .223 cartridge (for the majority of my uses). I can buy factory ammo for about the same price as what I have to spend handloading. And the factory ammo I buy provides adequate performance for the majority of my needs. So, as far as money, it is a wash. However one takes considerable time and effort and the other only requires an equal amount of money.

October 18, 2003, 01:39 PM
I will clarify my situation. I work ~30 hrs a week. (school 17 cr-hr) I have the capacity to work more hours should I choose. That is how MY cost-benefit analysis works. I still consider reloading work (especially rifle), and if I could make more money by just working and buying my ammo, I would!:p

Back on topic(sort of).

Doesnt anybody use surplus components here? hi-tech ( has some really decent deals for powder, cases and pulled bullets in .223 and .308.

While reloading .308 isnt cost effective at this time:barf:, I can approach the cost of surplus when reloading with surplus components (kindof ironic). As a result, I just buy surplus .308. :D

Cheap .223 surplus isnt very common therefore reloading with surplus components appears rather attractive... I dont shoot .223 so my opinion may be irrelavant.:scrutiny:

October 18, 2003, 01:56 PM
Yes, I have used surplus components. The cases are more trouble than they are worth due to the crimp on the primer. Before the case can be loaded, you have to remove the primer crimp, adding yet another step to the process. I have purchased surplus powders and used them in a number of calibers other than .223. The surplus bullets that I have seen are pretty rough. They have pull marks on them.
I know there are surplus components you can buy without these problems; you can buy "processed" cases, you can get various grades of surplus bullets etc. But, they cost more money.
In .223, I use ball powder because it meters well through my progressive loader. I buy the bulk Remington bullets from Midway. And I have tons of brass that I have picked up over the years. 223 is a very common caliber and commercial brass is lying around everywhere and is cheap to buy.

Steve Smith
October 18, 2003, 05:24 PM
I wasn't pointing fingers at anyone. I actually rewrote my entire post because of what I'd originally said. I'll be honest, if I were to calculate my professional wages into my handloading time, I'd probably hang myself. It could never be worth it if I took that into account. I wanted to avoid saying that and other things because I know others are not in the same circumstance.

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