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Economics of handloading - - Compiled Threads

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by JPoe, Mar 11, 2003.

  1. JPoe

    JPoe Active Member

    Would reloading be worthwhile for me?

    I have a feeling this is going to be one of those questions I'll live to regret asking ;) but here goes:

    I know NOTHING about reloading, but am intriqued. From what I've read here so far, I gather that reloading is a hobby unto itself - and is done almost as much for the enjoyment of it alone as simply to save money (although I have to admit - that's mainly what interests me). All I currently shoot are a 9mm pistol and (occasionally) my old .38 Special revolver. I can buy 100 rounds of Winchester white box 9mm target loads at Wally World for $11.97. Would I really save a significant amount of money over that if I reloaded my own?

    If so, what is a rough ballpark figure of what I'd have to spend on manuals, equipment, supplies, etc. to get started from scratch? I'm sure - as in every hobby - that can vary widely depending on the quality of the equipment - but let's just talk decent, middle-of-the-road stuff. What all would I have to buy? Feel free to recommend specific makes/models, etc.

    Surely this has been asked before, but I didn't turn up anything with the search facility. Maybe I didn't look for the correct words... but anyway, if so, please point me to any other threads where this has been discussed.

  2. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Moderator In Memoriam

  3. stans

    stans Well-Known Member

    It is going to be hard to reload the 9mm for less than the cost of bulk ammo. I reload the 9 because I like to practice with the same bullet profile as my carry ammo. I can also duplicate or exceed the accuracy of most bulk ammo.

    HSMITH Well-Known Member

    I load equivalent to the white box winchester for less than $3.25 per 50, less than $6.50 per 100. Buying components in larger quantities could bring the cost down more yet. The price floor will be around $3 per box unless you buy in warehouse quantities I think.

    Reloading has never saved me a damn dime, I just shoot more. IN fact I spend more money shooting guns that I reload for than I do ones that I do not reload for.
  5. Bottom Gun

    Bottom Gun Well-Known Member

    The benefit of reloading is that you can produce ammo exactly the way you want it.
    Sometimes the choices of factory ammo are limited to one or two bullets styles and weights.
    For example, try buying a box of 30-06 loaded with 110 or 125 gr hollow points, or a box of .338 Win Mag loaded with 210 gr Partitions or 215 gr BTSP.
    Try finding a box of factory ammo for any magnum pistol cartridge loaded to midrange specs.
    Reloading will not only give you almost unlimited choices, but my reloads are usually more accurate than factory ammo since I can tune my load to a specific firearm. This is especially true with rifle ammo.

    Oh yeah, you'll probably shoot more if you start reloading. :D
  6. JoeHatley

    JoeHatley Well-Known Member

  7. Sisco

    Sisco Well-Known Member

    When I first started, I only loaded for 9mm. Not really any cheaper I just wanted to do it myself.
    Now I load for ten calibers. Reloading was so much fun I went out and bought more guns. :D
  8. braindead0

    braindead0 Well-Known Member

    My major problem with reloading 9mm...chasing brass.. I'll not bother..wife wants to get a K9, told her to make sure to factor in bulk ammo purchases ;-).
  9. MoNsTeR

    MoNsTeR Well-Known Member

    If you only shoot 9mm, it's not really worth taking it up (yet). If you shoot any quantity of .38 (or any wheelgun caliber), you owe it to yourself to reload. Easy to save brass, extremely wide range of possible loads, and half the price of factory loads.
  10. ryucasta

    ryucasta Active Member


    If it’s your intent to save money by taking up reloading I would suggest keeping your money in the bank or some other investment.

    I know of no one who went in with the intent of saving money with reloading and not end up actually spending more than they had budgeted. Sort of reminds me of the old adage about boats the two happiest days of a boat owner’s life is when they buy one and then when they get rid of it.

    Now having said that I personally find reloading to be an enjoyable hobby that contributes to my other shooting activities and as long as I am able to use a firearm I will continue to reload.
  11. coonan357

    coonan357 Well-Known Member

    95 % of my reloading is in the .38/.357 calibers with some dibbling in the .44 mag and .45 acp calibers , the .38 is a fun one to work with you can make loads that are light as a .22 in recoil for newbies or some KAB( Kick A** blasters) for the .357 frames , I have cut my usage cost from case lots that I have bought in the past to over 3/4 plus I know what the finished product can do . also if you brass rat the trash cans at alot of ranges you will find free brass which cuts the cost down even more .
  12. JPoe

    JPoe Active Member

    WOW! GREAT information in here! Thanks all. Sounds like I currently wouldn't save any money jumping into reloading (yet), but it sure sounds like fun. I'll have to give it some more thought. I may just take the plunge anyway. I need a good excuse to shoot more often and buy more guns! :D

    Thanks again!
  13. larryw

    larryw Well-Known Member

    Its a viscous cycle

    Shoot, clean guns, reload ammo, repeat.

    How lucky can we get!
  14. dan_s

    dan_s Well-Known Member

    If you arel ooking for an enjoyable hobby, reloading is something to consider. Not only is it fun, but you will gain more insight into internal and external ballistics as you do your reloading homework.

    I load 9mm for about $3.25 a box. I too thought that chasing my brass would be a pain, but I do this anyway when I police up my area when I am done shooting. Also, I usually come back from the range witjh 100-200 more cases than I came with..
  15. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Moderator Emeritus

    As some others have hinted at, reloading isn't just a "suppport" hobby, but it is a hobby in itself. The quest for better, different, or cheaper is answered with reloading. Many times you just can't get what you need off the shelf so you make it yourself. Other times, you just want to play, liek my buddy with flechette shotgun rounds, another buddy with multi-projectile rounds for a .357, or another buddy pushing .223's over 2000 fps out of a CZ-52, or me with reverse loaded SWC bullets in a .45 Colt or super-duper hot .45 Colt barn-burners. Sometimes I wonder if I shoot so I can just reload more.
  16. caz223

    caz223 Well-Known Member

    The best way to get a quick education in reloading is to buy a .41 mag, or a .45ACP pistol, and realize how much money you could save if you reloaded.
  17. Yo

    Yo Well-Known Member

    9mm vs other calibers

    I've reloaded quite a lot of 9mm. Then when I found a source for good commercial reloads (MiWall) for $95/1000, I only reload 9mm when I need to shoot lead bullets at a match.

    In .45acp and .44 mag, its a completely different story. I have a ton of .45 brass already, so my cost, using copper-plated bullets, is about $3.50 a box (.07/round). The cheapest decent .45 reloads are more than $7 a box and they don't work well in my guns anyway. In .44 mag, if you want light, target loads with SWCs, reloading is the ONLY way to fly.

    .40sw is probably a borderline cartridge in terms of cost savings. You can now get good commercial reloads for about $115/1000. You can probably save about $25/1000 reloading, but that isn't worth it for me.

    I shoot mostly light 357s now in cowboy action. There I'm looking at $127/1000 delivered vs. $45/1000 for my own reloads using lead bullets. Worth the time to reload in this case, and you have control over the oal and muzzle velocity--both important when you're shooting lever action rifles in pistol calibers.
  18. JPM70535

    JPM70535 Well-Known Member

    I started off reloading for 38/357 and found I could load at a cost of under 2 cents per round. Of course prices for components have gone up since then but I can still load a 38/357 for under 3 cents. I buy primers in bulk (5000 round sleeves at $67 per) This works out to be 1.3 cents per round. WW231 powder I purchase in bulk cannisters ( 4 or 8 lb. kegs at a cost of 16.50 per pound avg. This works out to .2 cents per grain of powder. 5 grains costs 1.1 cent. Brass is free for the taking at many ranges and since I cast my own lead bullets from free wheelweights, my cost is nothing. Total cost for a round of 38/357 is 2.4 cents per round, or $2.40 per hundred. ( 9mm works out just about the same only a little less powder cost) I doubt you can beat that cost anywhere commercially.

    Now do I save money reloading, FAT CHANCE. I just buy more guns and more reloading equipment so I can reload more so I can shoot more. Besides if I factored in the cost of my time spent reloading, Premium ammunition would seem like a bargain.

  19. Khornet

    Khornet Well-Known Member

    Nothing is as cool

    as working up a really accurate handload for your particular gun. Especially if you then take a deer/win a match with it. Kinda like catching difficult trout on flies you tied yourself.

    PLUS you're never stymied if the store isn't open, and in some cases you can save money (if you don't count the value of your time).

    I'd say that reloaders don't really save in the sense that they spend less money, but they can shoot a lot more for the same money. I sure couldn't afford to shoot my 1911 or M1 much if I didn't reload.

    I say do it.
  20. cheygriz

    cheygriz Well-Known Member

    Is it worthwhile to reload 9MM?

    I think so. Of course, I only reload about 8,00-10,000 rounds of 9MM per year.

    Seriously, even if you didn't save money, it would be worthwhile just for the fun of it, and for the personal satisfaction of "doing it yourself."

    I've been reloading since 1964, and I currently reload 17 different calibers currently, mostly on a dillon XL 650.

    If you really want an experience that will give you a sense of accomplishment, try reloading 1,000 rounds of .25 ACP. Guaranteed to take your mind off of all other troubles.

    I don't save money, but I sure shoot more.

    BTW, after you start reloading, start thinking about bullet casting.

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