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Is it worth it economically?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by vamo, Jan 19, 2013.

  1. vamo

    vamo Well-Known Member

    First, I will apologize I am sure this topic gets posted all the time here, but I couldn't find an existing topic that answered the question satisfactorily. For the purposes of this discussion I am pretending my preferred calibers are just as available as they were 2 months ago. I keep going back and forth between wanting to reload and just thinking it would be a lot easier and almost as cheap to just go to walmart/basspro for my ammo.

    I will use 9mm as my example. It can be acquired at walmart for $0.25 per round. I don't consider brass to be part of the cost as I can just recycle there. Bullets on the other hand seem to cost almost as much as the completed cartridges, so after buying powder, primers, and making the initial investment in a press and dies I don't see how I would break ever break even.

    Am I using a bad example with 9mm, are other calibers more cost effective?

    As far as other reasons to reload I am not seeing it either. Self reliance only really works for the most talented, I doubt I have the skills or equipment to even consider molding my own, bullets; and can anyone make powder and primers? When ammo scarcities happen so do reloading supplies from what I hear. I have been fully satisfied with the quality of commercial ammo, that I have used.

    Please someone tell me where I am wrong this sounds like a fun hobby to have, I just don't want it to be an excercise in futility if I decide to pick it up.
  2. David E

    David E Well-Known Member

    It all depends how much you shoot.

    There are several reasons to reload besides economy......but for me, economy is 90% of the reason I reload.

    You can buy lead bullets for less than jacketed. Depending what your gun is and/or what you're doing, lead is just fine.

    You say WM 9mm ammo is .25 cents a shot. (when they have it) this works out to $250 per 1000 rds.

    I can buy a jacketed bullet for .09 + .04 for the primer + .03 for powder = .16 cents per shot, or $160 per 1000 rds.

    If lead is ok, deduct another ..03-.04 cents or so, bringing it down to $120-$130 per 1000 rds.

    You'll need to decide if that's worth it to you, which depends how much you shoot. If 1000 rds sounds like more than you'll shoot in a year, then reloading for economy's sake isn't for you.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  3. ranger335v

    ranger335v Well-Known Member

    "I keep going back and forth between wanting to reload and just thinking it would be a lot easier and almost as cheap to just go to walmart/basspro for my ammo."

    I've been an avid reloader since '65. My normal answer to those who ask if it's 'worth it' is NO. Not many who reload to 'save money' will keep it up long enough to break even. The tools are costly and a place to work isn't cheep nor can you get components for free. If all I wanted was to substitute reloads for common factory ammo I'd just go factory.
  4. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    It depends on how you value your time.

    On components, you will save money over buying factory ammunition but you then spend time to put the ammunition together. Some folks are real proud of their time, others, like me, enjoy reloading as a pastime and the time spent is entertainment like golfing, fishing, watching television and the like. On the savings, what you do with the savings is up to you. Many just shoot more. Others take the significant other out for a nice evening on the town. :)

    Also, you can tune the ammunition to better accuracy, softer recoil, or some other combination that is not readily available in factory combination.

    The capital cost of the equipment will amortize pretty quick and for the most part will last forever if cared for. I am still using the first single stage press and dies that I bought over 30 years ago. Others have had presses longer than that.

    Hope this helps.
  5. greybeard57

    greybeard57 Active Member

    To be honest I'm going to reload just to substitute reloads for factory loads. In other words I wanted to have a firearms hobby related sub-hobby LOL. I have no preconceived notions that I'll save any money, but I do know that as my stocks of components get better I'll be able to shoot regardless of what wallfart has in stock which generally isn't my preferred 9mm. I'll still be buying factory loads as needed however just to accumulate the brass. Besides, it'll get me away from this danged computer more. :banghead:
  6. c.latrans

    c.latrans Well-Known Member

    Apples to apples, you will save substantially in the long run once your start up costs are covered, etc. In reality, I can produce full on custom ammo with premium bullets tailored for a specific rifle for a quarter less than I can buy off the shelf wally world rem-chester. I save more dollar for dollar loading center fire rifle ammo than I do with pistol or shotgun ammo.

    In terms of difficulty, it is a relatively simple process. Not knowing where you are, if you were able visit me in my play house I could have you producing serviceable ammo in an afternoon. The more you load, the more little issues you will encounter and learn to conquer. Like anything else, the more you do the better and more efficient you get....I learn new little twists constantly. It may not be for everybody, but it has been 40 years since I seated my first bullet under the tutelage of my father. I will never forget the fascination I had when I recovered the bullet from my first deer, that I had loaded with my own two hands years before I could get a drivers license. I still have that bullet. Its been a lifelong hobby for me that took on a life of its own! I cant imagine NOT hand loading.
  7. greybeard57

    greybeard57 Active Member

    Don't know if that was directed at me c.latrans but I'd gladly jump at the opportunity to visit Montana again! I loved living there in the 80's for a short summer and if things are reasonably the same I'll bet the mountains are still just as purty. :D
  8. jmorris

    jmorris Well-Known Member

    My 9mm 147 rounds are about $6/50 rounds.
  9. greybeard57

    greybeard57 Active Member


    What combination of components are you using?
  10. Ifishsum

    Ifishsum Well-Known Member

    9mm is probably the least cost-saving as far as reloading - unless you include the imported cartridges like 9x18mak, 7.62x39, 7.62x54R, 5.45x39. With some cartridges like .45 Colt, big bore magnums and rifle cartridges you can save quite a bit - especially if you do a lot of shooting. But like Greybeard said, more of us who reload/handload probably do it primarily as a complimentary gun-related hobby and also to fine-tune more accurate or custom ammunition. To be honest, most of any initial cost savings is probably offset by shooting more, and buying more equipment. But over time I think it does pay off, as long as you enjoy it.
  11. joeschmoe

    joeschmoe Well-Known Member

    "You won't save money, but you'll shoot more" - Unknown

    As ammo prices keep rising, the day may soon come when it will be cheaper to reload. Especially if you bought componets before the price spike.
  12. Legion489

    Legion489 member

    Well as the man said, "It all depends...". Can you save money? Maybe, and I mean a good solid maybe too! First you need to buy the equipment. That takes money. If you buy a low quality pot metal crap press, it will cost you twice, once for the junk press, a second time for a decent press. Then you need dies, lube, primers, powder, bullets, shell holders, etc., etc. All that to save a few bucks?! Wait a minute....!

    On the other hand, if you like to shoot and need a hobby (and who doesn't like to shoot and need something to do in their spare time?) then reloading is relaxing, enjoyable (provided you don't buy pot metal junk gear that can't do what you want and breaks down every pull of the handle and drives you crazy so you quit) and you will shoot more for the same amount of money. If you shoot much you will pay for the equipment and if you bought high quality gear it WILL hold it's value (I know I keep repeating this, but it NEEDS to be said! Buy junk and it is still junk, new or used! Used junk is worth less than new junk too! Still just as useless too!) and you can recoup a fair amount of what you paid later when you up grade, or you can give it to you grand kids to use.

    If you reload, you are not subject to the price hikes and runs on ammo. The local Scheels had lots of primers, powder, gear, but NO ammo! They used to have one whole wall covered in ammo and it was GONE! Just smile, buy some primers, powder and bullets and go home knowing that YOU have all the ammo you want sitting right there.

    Well just got told I need to get off the computer.

    Bottom line? Yeah, reloading is worth it.
  13. greybeard57

    greybeard57 Active Member

    I plan on loading the makarov and x39 calibers also down the road. I bought a set of the Mak dies but haven't found any brass or bullits that are available yet. Everything is so back ordered right now. I've read rumors that 9mm cases can be cut down but I'm not ready for that yet. Besides, Mak bullets are 0.363 and have to be plated or jacketed for the polygonal rifling.
  14. Kachok

    Kachok Well-Known Member

    YES, but economics is only 10% of the reason I handload. I can custom tune a load to specific requirements, and shortages of factory ammo don't bother me a bit. Handloading allows you to utilize some fantastic bullets that are simply not offered in factory loadings.
  15. horsemen61

    horsemen61 Well-Known Member

    I reload because I find it fun in fact I am going to the bench right now to work on some 9 mm. :D
  16. redneck2

    redneck2 Well-Known Member

    As noted, 9mm is probably the poorest example in terms of return on hand loads versus store bought. It is the cheapest per round to buy, other than .22's.

    .223 used to be (a few months ago) maybe 40 cents or so each. Not sure, as I don't buy factory stuff. What I do know is that there is very little right now, and anything around here is about $1.25 per. I'm loading match grade precision stuff for 30 cents.

    I have a friend that has a .300 H&H. Factory rounds are $4 each or better. I can load it for maybe 45-50 cents.

    I've started to get into casting. It's a lot easier than I would have thought, and loads are running about 4 1/2 cents each for 40 S&W.

    If you're gonna load pistol, I'd strongly suggest a good progressive, either Hornady or Dillon. I have had my Dillon 550B for about 15 years. Paid for itself many times over. It's a LOT more fun to shoot when you can pop off fifty rounds and know you've only got maybe $3-4 in it instead of $25.

    As for accuracy, I loaded some .22-250 for a friend. Best he could ever do was about 1 1/4" with factory that cost $1.50 per round. I gave him some loads with 50 grain Nosler BT's over 38.0 of H-380. First two five shot groups were one hole. They cost around about 35 cents.
  17. Buckeyeguy525

    Buckeyeguy525 Well-Known Member

    Once you begin reloading you will find that it becomes just as much of a hobby as shooting, so cost becomes less of a determining factor. Yes you save money per round, but that becomes secondary to the enjoyment of the hobby.
  18. .22-5-40

    .22-5-40 Well-Known Member

    Hello, vamo. "are other calibers more cost effective?" Try finding a a low-recoil accurate cast-bullet loading that shoots to the sights on a vintage Farquharson
    .450/.400 British single-shot, or double rifle..or ammunition for a .255 Jeffery rook rifle, at your local wallyworld. By learning to handload you can just about re-create any cartridge loading out there.
  19. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Well-Known Member

    Mr Vamo -
    Welcome to THR and reloading

    Reloading has 3 major advantages....
    • Improved accuracy
    • 24/7 availability
    • Lower cost

    Plus it's relaxing and fun, it's a great "rainy day" substitute for shooting. It will require a small investment in time. The equipment quickly pays for itself, usually within 9 months.

    You wanted to look at 9mm. Even in these tight times my reloads, which use the best jacketed bullets and very expensive VihtaVuori powder, cost me right at 12 cents each. Your 25 cent rounds are bare minimum quality 115gr, mine are the much better shooting 124gr.

    ► I have all the ammo I want to shoot
    ► I can get more at 3AM if I want/need
    ► The components I use are shared between several other calibers
    ► I spend on average 2 hours per week

    So, at least in my case, that's how it breaks down. Hope this helps!

  20. hueyville

    hueyville Well-Known Member

    From this recent thread:
    I am going to use .45acp for my figures as this is my most fired caliber. Following up my quoted post, based on current scrap price of 0.35 per pound for bullets. There are 7,000 grains per pound. My load of choice for plinking are 185 grain SWC's. Thus I get 37.83 bullets per pound of scrap lead if I got a 100% recovery which I dont. Round it down to 35 bullets per pound for waste and that is 1 U.S. copper penny per bullet not counting labor and fuel to go to the scrap yard which would be about the same going to gun shop to buy ammo. Lets say about 6 grains of Unique per round. On the shelf, Unique is 22 to 25 a pound now. So use the high figure and you get 1,166 rounds per pound so 2 red cents per round for powder. Current price for large pistol primers with current market on the shelf as seen as recently as yesterday 35 dollars per thousand. We have at todays prices 3.5 cents in each primer. So using self cast bullets we are at 6.5 cents per round for .45 acp. last time I went to the indoor range they were charging 20.00 per box for range ammo in .45. My handloads cost me 3.25 per box. I put my ammo in 100 round MTM ammo boxes so every box of 100 rounds I load costs me 6.50 dollars. If I purchased range ammo instead that would be 40.00.

    My final math showes a savings of 33.50 dollars for every 100 rounds of .45 acp. Now you do have initial setup cost of press(s), dies, bullet molds and accessories. So figure out how much you want to shoot, do the math on your startup cost and decide if the down the road savings is worth the investment in equipment and time. I don't figure in my time as I enjoy the process of loading my ammo as much fun as sending it downrange. I shoot around 2,000 rounds per month albiet various calibers. If it were all .45 which 70% of it is, it costs me 130.00 a month to shoot at todays prices. If I were shooting store bought the cost would be 800.00 dollars. So if I could afford to shoot that much store bought ammo my monthly savings is approximately 670.00 per month. Assuming todays money, in the 1970's components were cheaper but I made less money and in 2020 they will be higher if I live that long but hopefully will get increased income to match inflation, over a shooting career in my case (started reloading in volume around 1979) 34 years thus far, my savings is 273,360 dollars. Back when I was competing in IPSC I shot much more (5,000 rounds per month) and at times I shoot less. But if my career last till say age 66 to be conservative my lifetime savings by taking up reloading very early in life is over 400,000 dollars plus lots of fun in the process. If you are going to shoot 50 rounds per month, screw the work and buy off the shelf. If you want to burn some real powder and sling a lot o lead then why don't you already have a press running?

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