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Old June 10, 2012, 09:29 PM   #1
Lost Sheep
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What's my TIME worth, loading? (Monetizing your time at your press)

There have been a few posts asking about the cost of reloading and if reloading is worth it, financially (ignoring the education, sensitivity, quality, customization, accuracy, availability and independence benefits).

I know many loaders adamantly do not count their time as part of their loading costs. To those loaders, I ask, please do not address this. It will only clutter the thread. If you want to discuss it, please start another thread. This thread is 1) just for curiosity and 2) for those who do put a dollar value on their time.


Say you invest $500 in a loading bench on which you are able to load 100 rounds per hour. (I have done this, so I know you can, too.)

Then you buy enough components to load 2,000 rounds of 38 Special/.357 Magnum ammunition.

That would be 3 lbs powder, 2,000 primers, 2,000 premium plated bullets, and 200 once fired ases (you may already have these on hand from your prior shooting, but I am including them as a cost anyway).

Prices I have found on the internet and in my local gun store.

214.00 bullets (2,000)
70.00 primers (2,000)
56.00 powder (2 lbs)
160.00 brass (400, to be re-used 5 times, which is quite conservative)

Total investment, Tools: $500 Components: $500. $1,000 plus 20 hours of your time at the press for 2,000 rounds.

Equivalent in retail ammunition at $25 per 50 round box, 2,000 rounds.

But you have received nothing monetarily for your 20 hours operating the press.


But, let's take it to 4,000 rounds

Total investment $1,500 and 40 hours of your time for 4,000 rounds

Equivalent in retail ammunition at $25 per 50 round box, 4,000 rounds is $2,000. You have just "paid" yourself the $500 you saved by reloading for 40 hours of your time. $12.50 per hour.


Now, let's take it to 6,000 rounds.

Total investment $2,000 and 60 hours of your time for 6,000 rounds

Equivalent in retail ammunition at $25 per 50 round box, 6,000 rounds is $3,000. You have just "paid" yourself the $1,000 you saved by reloading for 40 hours of your time. $16.67 per hour.


Now, let's take it to 8,000 rounds.

Total investment $2,500 and 80 hours of your time for 8,000 rounds

Equivalent in retail ammunition at $25 per 50 round box, 8,000 rounds is $4,000. You have just "paid" yourself the $1500 you saved by reloading for 40 hours of your time. $18.75 per hour.

If you have different prices for your tools or components, you can send them to me and I can plug them into my spreadhsheet (which right now is too clunky to publish). If there is enough interest I can clean it up and share.

I would need 8 elements: (plus some information from you)
Cost of your loading setup
Number of times your brass can be (or will be) reloaded
cost of your brass
cost of your primers
cost of your powder in one of two ways,
(1)Cost of powder for round or
(2)Cost of powder per pound and an estimate of your powder "spillage" and your charge weight.
Amount of time to load your typical session's production, to include ALL TIME SPENT. Setup and teardown, separating brass, cleaning, inspecting, boxing, labelling, EVERYTHING.
Over-the-counter cost of the most comparable ammunition you can buy

The extra information from you is for my own curiosity: What equipment are you using and do yo do batch processing, continuous, or a mix of both. Your typical processing session.

I know some loaders don't load start-to-finish (like prepping and priming all their cases for weeks and then completing the loading later). For those loaders, my spreadsheet is not yet up to the task. Sorry.

Enjoy this for what it is, a curiosity.

Lost Sheep

Last edited by Lost Sheep; June 13, 2012 at 01:12 AM.
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Old June 10, 2012, 09:45 PM   #2
Romeo 33 Delta
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I never counted my time because it is a part of my 'shooting experience", particularly in the winter months (November thru March for me).

HOWEVER ...Boy, was that an interesting read! I used to figure, "what the heck" ... but shooting upwards of 7,000 rounds of rifle (mostly) and pistol (much less), I loved the math!

Thanks very much for taking the time to work through this ... and for having the "light bulb" moment that got you started. If I felt good about how much I saved (or how much more I can shoot for "X" dollars), I feel REALLY GOOD NOW!
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Old June 10, 2012, 09:46 PM   #3
kreidel
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If you are going to account for your time you forgot about time and gas to buy the componets or the time you spent on your computer ordering. You can throw in R&D time, cleanup time, etc.
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Old June 10, 2012, 10:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
I would need 6 elements: (plus some information from you)
Cost of your loading setup
Number of times your brass can be (or will be) reloaded
cost of your brass
cost of your primers
cost of your powder in one of two ways,
(1)Cost of powder for round or
(2)Cost of powder per pound and an estimate of your powder "spillage" and your charge weight.
Amount of time to load your typical session's production, to include ALL TIME SPENT. Setup and teardown, separating brass, cleaning, inspecting, boxing, labelling, EVERYTHING
reloading set up cost - paid for over 35 years ago, but was under $100 then

Number of times reloaded - 15+ for 38

Brass cost is zero - already have all I need and scrounge if more needed

last time I bought SP primers, they cost me $15/1000

Cost of powder per pound is $110/8 or less than $13/lb. Use 4.5 grains per round

I use a single stage press so reloading 100 from beginning to end is right about an hour to being in a bag
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Old June 10, 2012, 10:08 PM   #5
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the thing is, is i can reload hundreds vs your example of 100.


for pistols, i can reload 700-800.
for rifles, i can reload 500-600.


brass is free (range pick ups)
and everything else is about right i suppose.


the other main reason i reload, is "because i can"
its not something everyone can do.


also, every load i have made for my guns has been able to out-perform factory ammo as well.

two fold in gratifying feelings
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Old June 10, 2012, 10:10 PM   #6
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Kreidel ... I don't have a decent components outlet close by so it's all computer, but I can complete an order for all my brass, bullets, primers and powder easily in under 5 minutes if from a single source, 10 minutes if 2, 15 minutes if 3. Even doubling that, it's not a lot of time. Gas and wear and tear on the car? Well, it can be greatly mitigated if combined with grocery shopping. Cleanup, really depends on how messy you are or how organized you are. I can put my components back in their respective storage areas and my dies put away in less than 10 minutes. So ... for the above factors, not much time (way more money than time, if you get my drift).

R&D time ... aye, there's the rub. If your load development stops at duplicating a particular factory load, that's phase 1. Tweaking that load to maximize performance and reduce you group size, that's phase 2. If you're afflicted with WILDCATITIS (majorly guilty) ... well, there is no category for that. Each phase takes more time, but once you have reached the goal in a particular phase, if you keep good records (and why would a reloader NOT?) you just need to use the same components and follow your notes so "time" no longer is a factor.

For the WILDCATTER ... well, I know that it NEVER ends. I probably have 12 or more projects in the pipeline right now. Most are just waiting on dies from CH4D. Then it's on to finding a decent load. Yes, that IS time intensive.

However, I think wildcatting is beyond the scope of this dicussion, so we're left with Phase 1 and Phase 2.
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Old June 10, 2012, 10:20 PM   #7
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Romeo- you are DEFINITELY on the right track though.

its the biggest time consumer of my reloading time. load development.

different headstamps
different primers
different powders
different OAL
different bullets- weight and shape.
all have a variable, and it takes FOREVER to find a bullet that YOUR gun likes.

so do we take that into consideration?

but- once i get a load my gun likes, i can really hammer out some rounds on my 550
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Old June 10, 2012, 10:56 PM   #8
Lost Sheep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kreidel View Post
If you are going to account for your time you forgot about time and gas to buy the componets or the time you spent on your computer ordering. You can throw in R&D time, cleanup time, etc.
I did not count the gas, figuring it to be a wash. For the rest of it, I hope that my phrase
Quote:
Amount of time to load your typical session's production, to include ALL TIME SPENT. Setup and teardown, separating brass, cleaning, inspecting, boxing, labelling, EVERYTHING.
would prompt anyone who wants to include that time in the calculation will include it.

I actually did not consider those elements, but anyone who wants to include them should add them in (pro-rated to the round count, of course).

Thanks for helping edit my calculations.

Lost Sheep
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Old June 10, 2012, 11:44 PM   #9
Lost Sheep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oneounceload View Post
reloading set up cost - paid for over 35 years ago, but was under $100 then

Number of times reloaded - 15+ for 38

Brass cost is zero - already have all I need and scrounge if more needed

last time I bought SP primers, they cost me $15/1000

Cost of powder per pound is $110/8 or less than $13/lb. Use 4.5 grains per round

I use a single stage press so reloading 100 from beginning to end is right about an hour to being in a bag
I left out that I need your cost for comparable commercially loaded ammunition. I used $25 per 50 round box for this calculation.

You left out the cost of the slugs, so I used $107 per 1,000. Probably higher than your cost, but it's what I got quoted from Berry's.

Note that since my primary audience was people contemplating becoming loaders, it is future costs that are more relevant.

Here's your results. You were ahead of the cost curve right from the beginning (at the 272nd round - you broke even on the tools cost on #271.)
Round Hourly
Total pay rate
1000 26.89
2000 31.89
3000 33.56
4000 34.39
5000 34.89
eventually reaching $36.89 per hour when your round count reaches infinity or you run out of those cheap primers, whichever comes first.

Based on $25 per 50 round box for purchased ammo for comparison
$107 per thousand for bullets
$15 per thousand primers
$13.75 per lb for powder
3% spillage of powder
4.5 grains per round
15 uses per cartridge case
$0 cartridge case cost


Gosh, you are fast. There is no way I could do 100 per hour on my single stage including filling primer tube, setting up my scale, all those little things.

Thanks for volunteering to be my first victim, er, test calculation.
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Old June 11, 2012, 12:27 AM   #10
Josh45
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Powder by LB - $20 ( 4.2-4.4 Gr )

Primers - $35 per K

Brass - Free ( )

Bullets - $75 per 500 ( 230 Gr FMJ RN )

About an hour or so for 100 rounds. Im slow because I usually tend to look for a load and then set everything up. I take my time and do not rush this. Using a Turret.
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Old June 11, 2012, 12:35 AM   #11
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How much is one hour at a therapist?
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Old June 11, 2012, 12:53 AM   #12
Lost Sheep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh45 View Post
Powder by LB - $20 ( 4.2-4.4 Gr )
Primers - $35 per K
Brass - Free ( )
Bullets - $75 per 500 ( 230 Gr FMJ RN )
About an hour or so for 100 rounds. Im slow because I usually tend to look for a load and then set everything up. I take my time and do not rush this. Using a Turret.
I need your cost of comparable commercial ammo and your number of reloads per case in order to perform the calculations.

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Old June 11, 2012, 01:08 AM   #13
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I don't get guys wanting to count their time for reloading costs. It's a hobby, not a job in itself.

If you have the ability to work whenever and how unlimited hours then ok.

If you are the typical guy working business hours or shifts it makes no sense.

Do you count how much it costs for you to watch tv or surf the web?
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Old June 11, 2012, 04:52 AM   #14
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I have no interest in monetizing my reloading hobby.

I reload because I first and foremost enjoy it. An additional benefit for me is I make better ammo than the commercial OTC stuff.
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Old June 11, 2012, 05:03 AM   #15
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Hunting, fishing, and other forms of diversion aren't cost efficient. They are, however, fun.

Fun can get quite expensive.

Re-loading is theraputic. Maybe it should be tax deductable.

salty
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Old June 11, 2012, 05:29 AM   #16
evan price
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38 special brass- free range pickup, expected life = infinite with moderate loads
small pistol primers- $.018
Powder- Titegroup $108 per 8# keg...3.5 grains = $.00675
Bullet- free from my own mold
Lead- Free from smelting range scrap
Propane to smelt & electricity for melting pot = free from selling scrap copper from range scrap
XLOX bullet lube- Free from copper sales, see above.. negligable anyway.
Total price is $.025 per round

Press time: reloading Technician First Class compensation $250/hr
Load roughly 250 rounds per hour
Actual cost: $1.025 per round
Comparable cost of factory ammo with gas, tax, time to buy it: $25/50 rounds or $.050 per shot

Net Loss per reloaded round: $.525

I should quit reloading and find a hobby that is more profitable!
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Old June 11, 2012, 07:39 AM   #17
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Lost Sheep, interesting analysis. It might ease the mind of some who are on the fence about reloading.

But, folks that do not want to "waste" their time reloading will find any excuse to why they should not bother.

Those that cannot live without reloading will find any benefit to further their loved activity.

And that is all fine.
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Old June 11, 2012, 08:12 AM   #18
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I've eaten deer that, all tolled, probably cost me $100/lb. The fish we eat probably cost more than that.

Neat analysis, but unless you're literally working most of the hours of the day, and reloading means you're LOSING money that you'd otherwise be paid for those hours you didn't work, I have a hard time looking at things that way.

Who knows though? With family demands, home maintenance needs, range time, other hobbies and persuits... might be better off spending that time in other ways.

Thought provoking!
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Old June 11, 2012, 09:02 AM   #19
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Quote:
the thing is, is i can reload hundreds vs your example of 100.
True, but since I no longer have a really close place to shoot handguns, I don't much any more - I am having WAY too much fun shooting shotguns for sporting clays

Quote:
You left out the cost of the slugs, so I used $107 per 1,000. Probably higher than your cost, but it's what I got quoted from Berry's.
I must have missed that - I was finishing up some I bought years ago when you could get a box of 500 for $12.50 - those were from the old Western NV/West Coast bullet, now called X-treme, iirc. I use lead bullets and the last batch I bought from a dealer in AZ were right at $70/1000

Hope that helps

As for current ammo, I have no idea - I have bought factory metallic in a decade
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Old June 11, 2012, 09:33 AM   #20
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The "whats time worth" question is one I have spent a lot of time dealing with. Shooting competitively almost every week year round loading is a regular process. For a few years (about 10 years ago) when 9mm cost $3/50 I quit reloading but not being able to buy what I could assemble forced me back to reloading for the competitive advantage.

I have spent years (and more money than the wife knows about) assembling and building equipment to streamline the process so with the exception of case gauging and boxing the rounds up 98% of my ammo doesn't get touched by hand from the ground at the range to getting loaded into a mag.

I likely could have hired undocumented workers to load all of my ammo over the years on a single stage for less money, without calculating in my time but where is the fun in that?
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Old June 11, 2012, 09:54 AM   #21
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I count my hobby time at minimum wage. In Europe, that is about 15 dollars per hour.

Regardless of how much I enjoy something, If I can buy some part of the underlying component of the hobby for less than the time it takes to make it, then I do so.

Only exception is highly artistic or precision items (for example, can I buy a batch of 20 rifle cartridges, with each component measured to the fraction of grain, and do I care about that precision?)

Logically then, my hobbies all include *some* thing I cannot buy. For example.... I do not pay someone to go to the range for me to shoot my guns. The time I invest in that is worth more to me than 15 per hour. Right .

In practice, I do not do the mathematical accounting - although I try and stay conscious of it, and sometimes rationalize. Most times, I just do a quick decision: If I reload and a box of 50 costs half of what I would pay for factory ammo, I buy it. If fixing, trigger tuning, sight alignment, bicycle break maintenance, etc costs what I can pay for in weekly pocket cash, and I don't have time, then I do it.

When buying services for qualified labour costs more than minimum wage, I just decide on my ability/available time/business case.

But typically, my two cents on your question are: YES and FIFTEEN
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Old June 11, 2012, 09:58 AM   #22
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BTW:
45ACP NIB costs me 22-40 euro. My reload new brass 19eur. My reload old brass 11.
It takes me two hours to make 100 soup to nuts.
303Brit and 762x54R cost me 35 for 50. Recycled brass costs me 29. I buy the excellent S&B match cartridges, and just collect the brass for that lazy day.
But sweetspotting the rifles, I reload 5 test cartridges with different weights and charges.
That takes me about an hour for 5 cartridges if I include all of the P-in-A sorting and cleaning time. S&B won't do that for me.
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Old June 11, 2012, 10:15 AM   #23
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Lost Sheep,

Interesting analysis, but IMHO the one time cost of tools should not be included in the "hourly wage" calculation. If you leave tool cost out, all of your examples yield $25/hr. At that rate, it will take 20 hours to pay off the tool cost, then you will continue to "earn" $25/hr thereafter. In other words, you "earn" $25/hr from the start, but there is no savings over factory ammo for the first 20 hours.

As an aside, being a newbie, I guesstimate my ammo so far has cost me 3 or 4 times the cost of factory ammo. I'm gaining on it, but the enjoyment is worth more than the price of admission anyway.
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Old June 11, 2012, 10:26 AM   #24
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I see no point in adding the costs of the tools into the equation. I don't do this for my job and I have tens of thousands invested. If I did figure in my time. It would be at my overtime rate since I'm reloading during off hours. This would make it a lot more expensive than factory ammo. My time is free unless I'm doing a job for someone else.


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Old June 11, 2012, 10:28 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lost Sheep
What's my TIME worth, loading? (Monetizing your time at your press)
What's my time worth?

If I were to monetize the "worth" of my time, I just need to simply subtract the reloading cost from the cost of commercially loaded ammunition (around $130,000 to $430,000+ over my life time - see quoted box below for calculations) - http://www.thehighroad.org/showthrea...63#post7787563

Quote:
Originally Posted by bds
[So far], I have reloaded over 300,000 rounds and may go over million reloads before I die.

If I average factory ammo price between $12/50 for 9mm to $28/50 for 45ACP ($0.24/round to $0.56/round), cost savings is substantial when I am averaging $5.50/50 for 9mm reloads to $6.50/50 for 45ACP reloads. And chances are, cost of factory ammo and reloading components will only go higher in the future.
Quote:
Factory 9mm/45ACP:
1,000,000 rounds x $0.24 = $240,000
1,000,000 rounds x $0.56 = $560,000

Reloaded 9mm/45ACP:
1,000,000 rounds x $0.11 = $110,000
1,000,000 rounds x $0.13 = $130,000
So, if I shoot one million rounds before I die, that would be cost savings of $130,000 to $430,000+ over my life time.

Last edited by bds; June 11, 2012 at 10:45 AM.
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