Ammo reloading


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jonshooter
June 4, 2011, 08:54 AM
I shoot a lot. I am at the range at least once or twice a week, many times a lot more. I know a lot of people pick up and save their brass, but is reloading really that much cheaper? Or do people do it as a hobby? I priced out reloading presses and the materials to do it, but once you factor in ones time and the initial investment does it really save that much money? And if it does, how much we talking?

A topic I have pondered for a while........

Thanks, Jon

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M-Cameron
June 4, 2011, 09:00 AM
I shoot a lot. I am at the range at least once or twice a week, many times a lot more. I know a lot of people pick up and save their brass, but is reloading really that much cheaper? Or do people do it as a hobby? I priced out reloading presses and the materials to do it, but once you factor in ones time and the initial investment does it really save that much money? And if it does, how much we talking?

A topic I have pondered for a while........

Thanks, Jon

thats exactly it......you never get anything for nothing.......you 'save' because you dont need to pay anyone for their time..........but make up for it with your own.

as for initial expense.......thats simply distributed over time.....so technically, the more you reload.....the cheaper it gets.

plus you arent paying for manufacturer and distributor mark-up.....which depending on the round.....may or may not be all that great.

ColtPythonElite
June 4, 2011, 09:09 AM
I load my handgun rounds for in the neighborhood of 11 cents a round.....38/.357/.45ACP....With that number as a rough quess, you can compare it to how much you are paying for factory ammo and use them both with the number of rounds you shoot over a period of time to see how much money you save...Yes, I know equipment costs money. However, it also doesn't lose much value over time.

EddieNFL
June 4, 2011, 09:16 AM
...but once you factor in ones time and the initial investment does it really save that much money?

Will you sacrifice income to take time for reloading?

Do you get paid to pursue other hobbies, surf the net or watch the idiot box?

Would you have to pay someone to perform tasks you would no longer have time for?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, buy factory.

My equipment has paid for itself many times over...and I have a lot of equipment.

RandyP
June 4, 2011, 09:29 AM
It is possible to reload for roughly half the price of store bought. Buying components in bulk, what calibers, rifle or pistol, lead or plated/FMJ bullets etc all factor into the calculation.

You can NEVER, and I repeat NEVER 'save' money by spending it on anything, hobbies included. Most reloaders will admit that they shoot more rounds for the same dollar spent.

If you are a high volume shooter a high volume progressive press will pay for itself in about the same amount of time that a low volume shooter, low cost single stage press reloader will pay for their gear. It's all relative.

IF you can follow instructions, have attention to detail and above all WANT to take up a new hobby? Reloading is a fun hobby to take up. If the money you are spending on factory made ammo is not really a big deal to your budget now, and other interests occupy your free time? Reloading may be a poor choice.

Only you can decide for yourself. There is a TON of info available on the web. Google and Youtube are your friends, use them.

Sam1911
June 4, 2011, 09:41 AM
First off, that's about the most common question ever in the reloading forum (so I moved it here). Everyone asks that as they contemplate getting into the side hobby of reloading, and each person's answer to the question is slightly different. The best answer is based on a combination of factors:

1) Cost: How many rounds are you shooting per month, and what kinds of rounds? Rifle ammo these days is ranging from anywhere between about $0.12 a shot (surplus 5.45x39mm) to a dollar or so per shot (most common hunting cartridges) to many dollars a round (the big Weatherbys, large dangerous game rounds, anything obsolete or uncommon). Pistol ammo varies all over the place. 9mm can still be had cheaply enough that getting into reloading just to shoot a box or two of that per month probably doesn't make sense. On the other hand, I shoot a lot of .44 Special some years (like maybe 8-10,000 rds.) No way I'm paying factory prices for that...if I can find enough at all.

Just like factory ammo, reloaded ammo costs vary all over the place. At the bottom end, in pistol rounds, cast lead bullets might be 5 cents a piece, a penny or two for a charge of powder, about 3 cents for a primer, and range-pick-up brass is free, so you're shooting for about ten cents a shot. (You can cast your own bullets, too, for "free" if you scrounge lead ... but that's a whole 'nother ballgame.)

On the other end, if you're buying premium rifle bullets and loading large or unusual, or high-precision cartridges, the bullet itself can be over two dollars a piece for some of the crazy target and long-range stuff, a new brass cartridge case might run you over $5, etc. But if you look at buying that same loaded cartridge, you still might be saving half or even more of the cost.

So let's just say "half." You might reasonably expect to load common ammo for about half the cost per shot, depending on a lot of factors.

2) Time: Time is money, sometimes. Do you work a lot of hours, have some disposable cash, but have little spare time to shoot? You're probably better off buying ammo, and using your valuable spare time for practice. Do you have more free time than spare cash? Reloading may make sense right there.

3) Ammo factors: Is what you like to shoot always on the shelf at the local store, or always in stock at the online retailers? Is the price stable? Are you satisfied with the factory ammo? Is it accurate enough for your needs? (Do you have a sneaking suspicion you could do better with ammo tailored to your rifle?) Are there other bullets you'd like to try that aren't available in factory loads, or only in super expensive premium ammo? Other power levels you'd like to be able to use? Want some reduced loads for plinking or teaching a young person or your wife? Want to try cast lead bullets? Reloading your own ammo gives you a benefit here that isn't measurable with cash. You can make things that cannot be bought at all. That's valuable, if you want it.

4) Initial costs: Again, how many rounds per month? You can buy a single-stage press kit from Lee for something close to $100 and be churning out great ammo right away. Now each 100 rd lot is probably going to take you an hour or two to make. If you shoot 300 rds a week, that might be way too much time investment to justify, week after week. If you shoot 100 rds. a month -- maybe that's not so bad. If you shoot 100 rds a week+ and time is somewhat at a premium, a progressive press is a better idea, as you'll be able to run off 400+ rounds in an hour. But the costs to get into a progressive are something more like $300-$600+ (and way up, depending on features and speed). If you're shooting a lot, the savings per round will pay you back at some rate (depending on all these factors).

5) The "more is more" effect: Most of us who reload find that we shot some when we were buying ammo, but then shot a LOT more after we started reloading. Shooting 3x the ammo, even at half the cost, is going to cost you money.

6) Can you really do it? I don't mean physically. Of course you can. But can you do it practically and safely? Do you have a place to dedicate to a high-precision activity that can't be disturbed, can't be cluttered with random household junk, is free from distractions and interruptions that could cause you to make a serious error? Do you have time you can set aside where you aren't going to be intruded upon, called away, watching TV, or otherwise subject to diversions of your attention from the matter at hand? Not to scare you or dissuade you, but the results of an error are NOT good. (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=595480)

As I said, there are many discussions on this that can shed more light on the question:

Our sticky on the subject:
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=18835

A couple of recent posts:
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=596157
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=595540

...and dozens more...

Ky Larry
June 4, 2011, 09:59 AM
You will not save any money by reloading. You'll still spend about the same amount of money a month but you'll have a lot more ammo so you'll shoot more.
Also, you will get better, more accurate ammo when you load it yourself.
I have found reloading to be almost as much fun as shooting.
To me, reloading isn't just about the money savng aspect. It is a satisfying, fun activity unto its self.

rikman
June 4, 2011, 11:47 AM
I got into reloading for economics. But I have the sickness :) I really enjoy it...I make more accurate ammo. It's going to take a while to recoup my investment in tools since I like top of the line equipment. I load 45 acp,38spl for about $8 and I cringe when I see what they want for factory ammo.

Friendly, Don't Fire!
June 4, 2011, 12:00 PM
I am the kind of guy who likes to figure things out, see how things work, as a child, I was always taking things apart to see how they worked. To me, anything that involves thinking and using my hands is what I am extremely good at and I really get a feeling of accomplishment and of achievement when I create something - whether it be renovating an old run-down cottage to all brand-new to creating my own ammo that I have painstakingly spent much time cleaning the cases, clearing the flash holes, cleaning the primer pockets, trimming all to within specified length, resized, belled, primed, measured powder and seated all the bullets! Putting that last one round of fifty into the plastic reloader's box and creating the label detailing just what these loads are is something to me that is extremely satisfying!

Then, take YOUR LOADS out and shoot them, and if you have worked up a load and these are the final cartridges, just shooting your own-made ammunition and shooting it extremely WELL is all part of the satisfaction we, as reloaders and riflemen, feel!

If you cannot picture yourself calculating loads, figuring out how things work, figuring out how to put together things from instructions, having quality time, all by yourself, for hours, just you and the reloading bench, then reloading is most likely NOT for you! I think it is very wise to find out just what type of person you are BEFORE you spend lots of money on quality reloading equipment! Of course, once you start, there will no doubt be more equipment that you should purchase. For me, I had to have a Forster Case Trimmer to trim all my brass to exact lengths. Some people never trim their brass. I am one who may take several additional steps, not because I have to but because I WANT to!

EddieNFL
June 4, 2011, 12:14 PM
I am one who may take several additional steps, not because I have to but because I WANT to!

Preach on, Brother.

oldreloader
June 4, 2011, 01:50 PM
Preach on, Brother.
AMEN!

Caliper_RWVA
June 4, 2011, 05:22 PM
What calibers do you shoot? 9mm doesn't save too much reloading as compared to steel case Russian or Wal Mart Federal unless you go to lead bullets. 45 and most revolver rounds are a pretty healthy savings though. Generally pistol rounds can be reloaded for about $8-10 a box if you save your brass and collect more at the range now and then (ie: brass cost = $0).

Try this calculator: http://handloads.com/calc/loadingCosts.asp You can find safe load data at the powder manufacturers websites and component prices at Grafs, Powder Valley, etc.

cfullgraf
June 4, 2011, 05:27 PM
Preach on, Brother.

Also agree!

gamestalker
June 4, 2011, 05:31 PM
Some handgun ammo is hard to load cheaper than factory by much margin. But considering I load only jacketed bullets, I'm usually maintaining a decent degree of savings over factory. I load a box of quality rilfe, 7mm mag, .270win. for about $8 - $10 per box. My handgun ammo, 9mm, .40 cal., .357 mag, 44 mag. and like ammo is costing me $8-12 per 50 round box. I also don't load light, my loads always utilize the slow burning powders which means I use more powder than with a the faster burning stuff. In other words, my operation is likely more costly than the average. But for me this is acceptable as I started reloading not for economics, but to achieve better performing ammunition all the way around.

P-32
June 4, 2011, 05:55 PM
I started reloading when the wife suggested it when complaining about a box of Winchester silver tip '06 costing $12.50. Since this time I have reloaded serval K's of ammo. My example will be a little dated but you will get the idea . I shoot High Power rifle. I was shooting a match tuned 308 M-1. To load 100 rounds of ammo using 168 gr SMK's would cost me around $44.00. A box of 20 rds of Federal Gold Match was around $22.00 a box of 20. I would need 5 boxes to get my 100 rds. So, I saved myself $60.00 everytime I loaded to shoot a match. I shot more than 10 matches a year plus practice...........it adds up and I'm not counting other reloaded ammo. Now I shoot a AR and load a mess of 223. Shooting 77 and 80 gr match bullets which if you can find already loaded is very big bucks compaired to my $22.00 for 100 rounds. So for me I do save a lot of money reloading. Sometimes it's a pain to load in time for a match and I 'm up late the night before. Oh and by the way my match ammo shoots as good if not better than store bought.

Lost Sheep
June 4, 2011, 06:35 PM
Will you sacrifice income to take time for reloading?

Do you get paid to pursue other hobbies, surf the net or watch the idiot box?

Would you have to pay someone to perform tasks you would no longer have time for?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, buy factory.

My equipment has paid for itself many times over...and I have a lot of equipment.
One point I disagree with, EddieNFL. Even if the answer to any or all of the questions is "yes", loading could still be a moneysaver. It will just take longer to amortize the costs when you include the cost of your time.

For example, 500 Smith & Wesson Magnum cost $3.25 per round in my neighborhood. It costs $0.75 for the same quality ammo home-made. If it takes an hour to reload 50 rounds, I can "pay" myself $20/hr (that's AFTER "withholding taxes") and still amortize $105 of my press's cost.

Now, if you want me to amortize the cost of the extra time I spend EMPTYING the extra ammunition I now make, that's another story...

Lost Sheep

Hondo 60
June 4, 2011, 06:45 PM
If you like to go to the range once or twice a week, then reloading is definitely something to check out.

Like most others, I've found that I don't save by reloading, but DO get to shoot 2 or 3 times the amount for the same dollar - depends on caliber.

jcwit
June 4, 2011, 07:06 PM
Time is money? I'll try to remember that tonight when I go to bed.

BTW here I sit in my living room watching TV and cruising the net, must be making at least $20.00 bucks an hour.

Hondo 60
June 4, 2011, 07:11 PM
Just got back from the range.
Got to spend time with my 17 y/o nephew & he loves going with me!

Spent about $75 worth of ammo
If I bought it at the store that's what 4 maybe 5 boxes?

We emptied 11 boxes.

And time spent with Josh is absolutely priceless!

P-32
June 4, 2011, 07:51 PM
Do I count my reloading time as lost money? Well no. I don't count shooting, watching TV or games between the sheets as lost time or money. ;) I also don't count BS'ing and drinking beer as lost time or money. Work is Work, Off work is Off work.

RustyFN
June 4, 2011, 09:13 PM
You should be able to load for at least half of what cheap factory ammo cost but end up with equal or better than expensive factory ammo.

but once you factor in ones time

I never understood that. If you don't factor in your time to shoot, watch tv, eat, drive to buy ammo, drive to work or anything else non work related then why would you figure it for reloading. If you do have to factor in your time then reloading is probably not for you, especally if you want to load rifle.

1SOW
June 4, 2011, 10:36 PM
For 9mm pistol. I use a more expensive powder, quality 124/125gr 'target' jacketed bullets, Federal primers and free range brass. My reloads are built to shoot well in my pistol.
Savings? My reloads cost about half the price of Wal-Mart Winchester 115gr fmj cartridges, if that's important to you. I'm pleased to shoot my reloaded ammo. I enjoy reloading my ammo. I enjoy shooting.
So how do you cost analyze a win-win-win situation that makes you smile?

DANNY-L
June 5, 2011, 07:09 AM
You may also add a firearm that the ammo is next to impossible to find and if you do you'll spend big bucks for it,I'm glad I had the equiptment when I got my dan wesson 375sm,but I still needed to have my dies made. Reloading for accuracy is a reward all by itself.

NC Cruffler
June 5, 2011, 08:49 AM
You will not save any money by reloading. You'll still spend about the same amount of money a month but you'll have a lot more ammo so you'll shoot more.
Also, you will get better, more accurate ammo when you load it yourself.
I have found reloading to be almost as much fun as shooting.
To me, reloading isn't just about the money savng aspect. It is a satisfying, fun activity unto its self.

+1
I think of reloading as a hobby within a hobby.

RustyFN
June 5, 2011, 10:29 AM
You will not save any money by reloading. You'll still spend about the same amount of money a month but you'll have a lot more ammo so you'll shoot more.

As I've been told before I don't save money reloading, but I do spend a lot less. If I bought 200 rounds of 45 acp it would cost me around $60. I can load 2,500 rounds with my own cast bullets for that price. I just can't shoot that much in one day.

Old krow
June 5, 2011, 11:52 AM
2) Time: Time is money, sometimes

I can attempt to give an example of what he meant by this and what people mean by "factoring in time." Our work load big enough that there are times when I could be working instead of reloading. It is more profitable for me to go to work and simply purchase my ammo than what it would be to make, even making it at a highly discounted rate. There are times it would be more cost effective for me to pay someone to cut the grass. It isn't a condition that exists all of the time for me, but for some others it might, hence the qualifier sometimes.

There's the old saying in Economics "There's no such thing as a free lunch" and it applies to reloading. If spending less money and having more in your pocket at the end of the day is your goal, then sometimes, some of us might be better off if we just purchased ammo.

BTW here I sit in my living room watching TV and cruising the net, must be making at least $20.00 bucks an hour.

I'm not making anything sitting here typing this, but, if I could be working, or taking care of one of the chores that will cause to miss a few hours of work next week, then it is entirely possible that someone could make the case that I am losing money. I sleep because I have to. If I could get around it, I'd reload during that time.

Do I count my reloading time as lost money? Well no. I don't count shooting, watching TV or games between the sheets as lost time or money.

It's not an issue of being lost. The issue is being spent. Time is the opposite of money, it can't be saved, it has no worth until it is spent, can't make anymore of it, and there are no refunds. It's finite, you can't just go print some more of it. If you're happy with the way that you spent it, then that's all that really matters, but it has been spent. I factor in time for a lot of things, and I reload rifles. I really don't see the conflict. Sometimes it is healthy to not work and get absorbed into something other than the daily grind. I enjoy doing it, I teach my son to reload, and we shoot together. I consider it time well spent whether it is cost effective or not.

Bush Pilot
June 5, 2011, 12:24 PM
I've got several thousand dollars worth of reloading equipment and don't hesitate to buy what I want for my hobby. I don't have a boat, motorcycle, ATV or RV to suck up my time or money, why not spend on what makes me happy? I will never recover every cent spent on reloading. Show me someone with a boat that ever broke even other than pleasure derived in it's use.

RustyFN
June 5, 2011, 02:02 PM
can attempt to give an example of what he meant by this and what people mean by "factoring in time." Our work load big enough that there are times when I could be working instead of reloading.

I have never met anybody that took off work to reload. Everybody I know reloads in their spare time.

Old krow
June 5, 2011, 03:29 PM
I have never met anybody that took off work to reload. Everybody I know reloads in their spare time.

There is enough extra work outside of my normal job and normal work hours this time of year that I could work everyday for months on end if I wanted to. Sometimes it is mandated that I work, sometimes I volunteer, but as a rule I do not volunteer 100% of the time.

The point was, if "saving" money is the only motivation for reloading, then I'd likely be disappointed and find it was the least cost effective way to obtain ammo. I can always just work the extra hours and easily cover the ammo costs. I personally know shooters that do not reload for that very reason. But, now you can say that you know at least one person that will take off of work to load ammo. :)

RustyFN
June 5, 2011, 06:36 PM
But, now you can say that you know at least one person that will take off of work to load ammo.

Yes I can. :D

Off topic: My Dad lives in Gulf Port. Nice area down there.

45ACPUSER
June 5, 2011, 08:43 PM
First and foremost shooting is a hobby. Nothing more nothing less. Reloading is a great by product of enjoying the shooting sports. Hobbies cost money. Ever wondered how much that venison in freezer really cost you? In time, effort, licenses, clothing, factoring that gun, ammo, time to sight the gun, I know people that take a week off to go deer hunting, not including time spent with setting up trail cams, maint on deer stands, and scouting. Then most haul the carcass off to a processor to butcher and the factor in if they get sausage made or jerky. Holy cow, you could buy a whole lot of meat for that, and still have money in the bank. Or better yet what about a week of skiing out in Park City Utah? Air faire, Hotel, Lift Tickets, Meals, Liquor, Car Rental. Or how about a Saturday out water Skiing with your boat? Burning up $4 a gallon gas using 30K Ski Boat, plus having the vehicle to tow said boat? That perhaps you get use what 7 to 10 times a year?

By now you get the idea hobbies cost money!

The next issue is do you have the time and inclination to reload? One fellow I know of claims his marriage was saved by reloading. Yeah! He said his wife would join him in their basement to crochet while he reloaded. This allowed them to reconnect as a couple. As they took time to chat while each enjoyed their respective hobbies, as they were empty nesters who had lost their way once the kids left for college.

Only the OP can answer the question whether relaoding is for him, not us.

The benefits to relaoding (if a person has the time and inclination) far exceed decreasing your cost per round. You get to tailor your ammo to suit your needs, increase accuracy potential, and enjoy another facet of the shooting sports. Learn more about shooting itself.

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