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9mm and .38spl, when will I break even?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by TFin04, Dec 7, 2006.

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  1. TFin04

    TFin04 Member

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    I have next to no reloading experience, and am new to owning my own firearms as well. I've been shooting with my grandfather for years, but now that I'm reaching 21 have been buying a couple pistols and rifles for hunting.

    As of right now I have a 9mm and a .38spl wheelie I like to shoot at least once a week (usually about 75 rounds per gun).

    I'm wondering how long it will take before I break even on the machines and supplies of reloading 9mm and .38spl.

    Once I begin doing more rifle shooting (in the summer, real nice outdoor range around here), I would be reloading rifle rounds as well, so a machine with that capability would be nice.

    Any advice for me? I have read the stickies at the top and didn't find what I was looking for.
     
  2. Jerry Morris

    Jerry Morris Member

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    Forget about breaking even. It will amortize inside a year, if you do any shooting at all. Most of us just wind up shooting more often.

    Saving money, yeah, it will. But, that really is not what it is about. Shooting more often. And shooting loads you cannot buy are the main things.

    Jerry
     
  3. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Look at it this way. If you shoot enough you can save enough money to buy another gun. This is how it works. Right?
     
  4. steelhead

    steelhead Member

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    A long time

    A long time since you aren't shooting that much and you are also shooting 2 of the cheaper factory made rounds. You will do better on rifle rounds assuming it won't be .223. I use my Hornady L-N-L progressive for handgun/high quantity loadings and the single stages for rifle/high quality rounds. Based on your "needs" a single stage press would be perfect. Look for used presses on craigslist, ebay, etc.. I picked up a used (but excellent condition) RCBS JR3 for $15 and a LNIB Redding T7 for $50. Buying used will help on recouping the costs sooner.

    Bottom line, it is a hobby and you aren't really going to be saving money if you really get into it. You will find that you end up spending more because you are always experimenting with new loads (powder/primer/bullet combo's) and buying more reloading equipment like Bullet comparators, OAL gages, etc..
     
  5. TFin04

    TFin04 Member

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    Good info guys, I know it isn't a great way to save money. I've helped my grandfather reload and had a lot of fun doing that.

    I would shoot more if I didn't have to spend as much on ammo, so I'm sure those numbers will go up. In the winter I have to drive about 30 miles to a good range, in the summer there is one 3 miles away, so my shooting will go up then as well.

    Thanks for the info guys, it helps.
     
  6. Luggernut

    Luggernut Member

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  7. TFin04

    TFin04 Member

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    Haha, I've already been a rubbish picker. :D Even without having any reloading equipment I've been saving brass. I don't even own a .38 yet (picking one up this weekend), but whenever I've rented one or shot one I always saved the brass. Same w/ my 9mm, I save it and any other good looking brass I can find.

    My range only allows you to take home what you came in with, though if they are slow they don't mind allowing you to clean up the line a bit and take home some extra brass.
     
  8. BigDog(RE)

    BigDog(RE) Member

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    With the way ammo prices are going up, it won't take long al all to cover your costs. People talk about how cheap 38SPL is, but around here, the cheapest I can find it is $19.98 for WWB at Walmart. I reload my wadcutter rounds for $8.35 per 100 and thats using Hornady bullets. You don't save quite as much on 9mm, but you get to shoot a lot better quality ammo for less.
     
  9. Bula

    Bula Member

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    I read on THR somewhere "You'll go broke saving all that money" Boy is that true. I shoot a heck of a lot more than I ever have now that I reload. As it pertains to your question, It is totally worth the investment. Assume your reloads will cost you 30-40% of the price of factory ammo (sometimes less) When I first started reloading, I was only doing 45 acp. Now I look at firearms differently. Before I reloaded I always thought to myself "i'd love a 44 mag...but $25 for 50 rounds!?" Now, i dont even consider the price of ammo. I can easily shoot 200-300 rounds now per week (357,44,45,38's) where as before I'd do half that once a month. Make the leap, get into reloading, and you'll most likely never look back.
     
  10. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

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    Beware!!! This hobby is habit forming and is almost impossible to break. Been reloading for 20 years and can't quit. Of course I haven't tried either...:D
     
  11. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Advice?
    Sure, psychological stuff like "you won't save money, you will shoot more" aside; get a couple of catalogs, a handloading manual, and remember your grammar school arithmetic.
    Let us assume as a math problem that you shoot enough to warrant a progressive loader for both rifle and pistol, and you will buy new equipment at list price, components at Midway prices but locally to avoid Hazmat penalties.

    Dillon gear, 550B, 9mm dies, powder scale, small tumbler and separator; plus a contingency for all the little extras, about $600. (Yes, guys, I know he could buy Lee dies and Midway tumbler, etc. and get out cheaper, but this is a math class not a firm recommendation.)

    Titegroup powder $15 lb, enough for 1550 ea 9mm; about $10 a thousand.
    Small pistol primers $18 a thousand.
    Remington 115 gr FMJ $50 a thousand.
    Brass - $20 a thousand once fired. (Cost goes way down if you shag your empties, with moderate loads you can reload them until they split or you lose. them.)
    Total - $98 a thousand, tops.

    UMC factory loads $135 a thousand.

    Savings $37 a thousand.
    $600/$37 = 16 thousand 9mm to break even.

    Once you have the big stuff, press, scales, tumbler, and accessories, adding a new caliber gets very reasonable. Sticking with Dillon gear and Midway supplies to go to .38 Special

    Dies, shellplate conversion, toolhead, powder die, $120

    Components about the same for .38 as 9mm, if not less; $98 a thou, max.
    UMC $97 a 500, $194 a thousand, wow.
    Savings $96 a thousand.
    $120/$96 = 1250 to break even when adding a caliber to an existing outfit.

    Rifle calibers are left as an exercise for the students.
     
  12. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    You can save maybe $3 a box when compared to inexpensive factory 9mm and $6 a box for inexpensive factory .38 spl. If you invest $100 in some inexpensive Lee equipment your break even point would be 33 boxes of 9mm or 17 boxes of .38 spl and somewhere in between for a combination of both. If you shoot a box of each every week you’d break even after about 3 months.

    If you plunk down $400 or more for a progressive set up you won’t break even for more than a year.
     
  13. 1911user

    1911user Member

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    Good analysis Jim, but I have a slight addition to it. Break-even should also include the value of the equipment (not just original cost). The equipment is still useful until damaged or sold. Decent reloading gear can be purchased, used, then resold for about 70% of the original cost if you do it in a smart manner. Break-even costs would only be for the 30% that you lose between buying and selling it.

    Using Jim's numbers, $600*30%=$180 is much closer to the true break-even cost IMO for only loading 9mm.

    $180/$37= 4900 rounds of 9mm to break-even on the press.
    $120*30%/$37= 980 rounds of 38 special (break-even on the 38 conversion costs only)

    Using this method means you will have money invested in the reloading equipment (that could have been invested in something else), but you can extract that 70% by selling the equipment to upgrade or cash out.

    My advice would be to buy a good press to start with. Shooting 12 boxes of pistol ammo a month (at retail prices) means you'll really sling the lead when the ammo cost drops. A dillon 550 would be a good choice IMO, but there are other good choices also. Don't fall for the trap of starting with the cheapest possible setup because it is cheap. You're going to be shooting and reloading for many years, purchase good reloading gear to support that habit. I'd look really hard at a progressive setup unless you want to spend lots and lots of time in front of the press for years to come. That is time that could be used elsewhere and you'll never get it back once gone.
     
  14. robertbank

    robertbank Member

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    Last year I shot just over 6,000 rds of 9MM. NOw my costs are about $3.00 cdn for 100 rds. (I cast my own bullets). Therefore my total costs were $180. Cdn. 9MM goes for about $11.00 Cdn for 50 therefore commercial bullets would have cost me $1,320Cdn. I saved about $1,140 reloading. I intend to buy a Para LTC with my savings. Works for me.:D

    Take Care

    Bob
     
  15. shadowalker

    shadowalker Member

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    For 9mm by loading it myself I save about 50% ($4.50 per 50) and get much more accurate and cleaner ammo than the ultra value 9mm ammo.

    I save $4.50 per 50 9mm and $7.00 per 50 40 S&W, shooting 400 rounds per month it will take me 9 months to pay off my reloading setup.
     
  16. Eagle103

    Eagle103 Member

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    If you're going to get a single stage for reloading rifle in the future I say you can leave out the cost of the equipment except for your dies. You'll pay for a Lee or even an RCBS kit in no time if you do much rifle reloading. You could save around $1 per round if your buying the factory loaded "Premium" stuff.
    So IMO you only have to recoup the cost of the pistol dies, which run around $22 for Lee carbides. For 9mm it worked out to about 400 rounds for me. 38 Special would be even fewer. It was about 100 rounds for my .357.
     
  17. emitt1

    emitt1 Member

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    And, besides, its a heck of a lot of fun, and welcome to our world.
     
  18. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    You are right on a strict economics basis, User, but assigning a remaining value to the equipment means assuming that he will QUIT reloading and liquidate his gear. Too discouraging to think about.
    The most optimistic assumption would be that he sells his starter set to finance better. But if he is confident enough to buy the best to start...

    I have a variety of reloading equipment; I bought a Dillon Super 1050 instead of a new gun for one year's entire sports budget, as the big outlay. (Not a whale of a lot bigger relative outlay than my 1978 C-H Autochamp, inflation considered.)

    But I still load rifle ammunition on my 1971 RCBS Rockchucker. I read about loading rifle ammo on the progressives but I just prefer the control of doing it single stage.
     
  19. Jerry Morris

    Jerry Morris Member

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    I started on a RCBS Rockchucker, back in the early 70's. Went to Dillon for higher volume. For rifle cartridges, I go back to the Rockchucker. The closer tolerances of the Rockchucker are almost demanded with the higher precision dies. And there are better single stage presses out there.

    My first press was out of line, but I continued to use it, out of ignorance. When I got into precision rifle, I sent the press back to RCBS and they replaced an almost 30 year old press at no charge. You can't beat that.

    I see a lot of low end cartridges compared in the price equation. For sub-minute of angle, there is no such critter available for the comparison. Somethings are only available to the man who does it himself. But, then the dies are out of the bargain basement arena, too.

    Yeah, if you want to do it, you can. If you want to do it extremely well, you fork out for the high end equipment.

    For handguns, Dillon is tops. For near top end rifle accuracy it can suffice. For absolute maximum rifle accuracy, a trued single stage with match type dies is low end. You may even go to custom dies made to match your particular rifle.

    Yeah, you can save a lot of bucks reloading, or you may not. It all depends upon what YOU do!

    BTW, anything you own, has some resale value, but I consider that an intangible asset, until someone puts money into my wallet.

    Jerry
     
  20. TFin04

    TFin04 Member

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    Jim that is a great breakdown, I really appriciate it.

    I'm only 20 years old, so I figure I have a lot of shooting/reloading time ahead of me. I'll probably start buying some good equipment after the holidays, and hopefully some of that stuff will last me all or most of my reloading career, even further saving me money.

    Thanks for the insight guys, great info!!:evil:
     
  21. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Another benefit I like, and it has something to do with casting my own bullets, is knowing my loads are the same every time I go to the range, hit the same POI, same accuracy. I'll never not be able to find my favorite load because I don't have to buy it at the store, not even the bullets!

    Casting saves even more money, but it's definitely the slowest process in the reloading routine. I quite enjoy casting, though.
     
  22. TFin04

    TFin04 Member

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    Isn't casting more for the experienced reloader? Tutorials I've been reading recommend become comfortable with the process using factory bullets before trying your hand at casting.

    Besides, the indoor range I shoot at only allows jacketed ammo. Would be nice for plinking outdoors in the summer, though.

    Opinions on newbie casting?

    Edit- I've been looking on Midwayusa.com for supplies, and I'm wondering if anybody can recommend a good starter "kit" for reloading? It seems that Lee, as well as other makers, have some 5 or 6 piece sets to get started. Which one is the best kit? Currently, I'm looking at this one:

    http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=820810
     
  23. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Casting is just another process to save money in reloading. It doesn't have anything to do with the reloading process. I don't know why you couldn't learn to do both. The main thing about casting is learning to keep the temp right and the mold blocks temp right. It's not hard to do. I have free lead, so it really saves not having to pay anything for bullets.

    As with any bullet, different designs give different results. I have had great luck with some of the Lee blocks and other than two blocks, that's all I use. I find aluminum blocks easy to care for and use.
     
  24. 1911user

    1911user Member

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    It would get you started for about the lowest entry price, but IMO (puts flamesuit on) you'll want to replace almost every piece of that kit just as soon as you have the funds for better/faster reloading equipment especially for loading pistol ammo. If possible, another $50-$100 would make a noticable difference in what you could get. If it is not possible (BTDT) then start with it and realize you can (and should) upgrade for better/faster equipment in the future. Loading lots of pistol ammo on a setup like that has a real danger of reloader "burnout" and factory ammo will start to look increasingly attractive even at higher prices or you start shooting much less and the fun is gone. lose-lose either way. BTDT
     
  25. TFin04

    TFin04 Member

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    I've already learned in life that with most tangible products, you get what you pay for.

    I have no problem investing in some better equipment, is there a different kit you would recommend?

    Thanks.
     
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