Reload or Factory Ammo?

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Sep 13, 2003
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Questions on the economics of reloading:

How much ammo do I have to load to see benefit over just buying factory?

I just bought a BFR .45-70. I shoot quite a bit of .45 ACP and I have about 1200 empty hulls from my li'l .410. Is there A press that would work for all three of those or are there different presses required for all three? (Rifle, Pistol, Shotgun)

How much bench space should I be looking to dedicate to this project?

Hello, Esteemed Moderators! Am I posting this in the correct place or would it serve our community better somewhere else?
I can definitely

see the benefit for the 45-70 and 45acp especially by tayloring some decent loads, but I don't know about the 410. I know the shells are expensive but I don't shoot mine that much.

A good single stage will work for both that I mentioned for reloading. It does not take up allot of space if you have system or method.
You need a good strong press for the larger calibers like 45-70, the RCBS is a good press for those sorts of calibers. Shotgun reloading is a completely different animal, I would recommend factory loads for that unless you wanted to jump in with both feet.

Link to an RCBS starter kit:
Different beasts, different tools.

One tends to shot a LOT of .45 ACP, therefore a base model progressive press from Dillion is indicated.

For .45-70 we are talking only a few rounds per year. The classic Rock Chucker is indicated.

For .410? I've never reloaded shotshells, it requires a different set of tools and attitudes.

Who needs to shoot more. :cool:
The economics of it depends on the amount of shooting you do vs the amount you invested in your reloading equipment. You first have to shoot long enough for your savings per shot to total your investment. Then you begin to see the savings. You will always be buying primers and powder so that has to be factored in. Bullets are a big variable depending on what type of bullet you decide to shoot.
In the long run you really won't see any extra money in your pocket. You will find that you can shoot more at a cheaper price.
You need a good strong press for the larger calibers like 45-70, the RCBS is a good press for those sorts of calibers.

Yep. My R.C.B.S. Rock Chucker is nearly thirty years old, and still doing as good a job as the evening I took it out of the box.

The economics of loading your own ammunition are usually argued without considering the value of one's time. If your time's worth much more than the minimum wage, you'll probably come out ahead buying factory loads.

I load my own for a.) accuracy, and b.) reduced recoil, both of which are worth more than money.
There are two answers to your questions:

1. Buy a loader for the .45 ACP and the 45/70!

2. Don't buy a loader for the .410!

Both the 45 ACP and the 45/70 are very easy to load for with a wide range of components and equipment to choose from. The .410 is a royal pain in the *@% for even experienced loaders! I have never know anyone who reloaded the .410 for anything besides skeet shooting. It's hard to find quality cases, hard to get them to crimp and stay crimped with the 1/2 oz. shot load. It would take a very, very long time to ever recover you cash outlay on a .410 loader IMO. As a matter of fact it's hard to justify even loading the 20 and the 12 ga. for what you can buy decent target loads for these days. Then again that's just my opinion also. :D
The Dillon 550b will load the 45-70 as well as the acp.It is semi-progressive giving the operator more control.Not as hell-for-stout as a Rock Chucker but then...what is!!:D
The dillon powder measure is best used with ball powders for the rifle stuff IMHO,but some folks use any o'l powder with it.I find it sticks something fierce on 'stick' shaped powders.
You can load acp's for less than 5 bucks/50.Far less if you buy components in bulk,and use lead bullets.
The advantage of the 45-7 reloads will be much greater range of power,or lack of it,than available over-the-counter.A stout loaded 45-70 in a handgun can be an eye opener.:what:
If you have the time,and the discipline to observe safety rules,reloading is a great hobby and past time.
As to the .40,doubtful you'd save any money.shotshell reloading is STRESSFUL!!!! for me anyway.:D
How much ammo do I have to load to see benefit over just buying factory?

From my limited experience, if you load 100 at a time, you'll be paying about what you would for cheap factory loads, on the first load. You see the real savings by reloading the brass. To save a LOT of money, load in 1000 round lots. You'll start out at maybe 40% of factory cost, and again, each reload of the brass saves big $$.
In reality you won't see a savings until the difference between the cost of a reloaded cartridge vs a factory cartridge adds up to equal the cost you have invested in the reloading equipment. Once you recoup that inital loss then you begin to save money on each cartridge. Now the time it takes to recover the investment depends on how much you shoot. It's not an instant savings unless you get your reloading equipment with no money out of your pocket.
I believe Majic has just nailed the economic considerations. I'd like to add this to his comment: you never have all the reloading gadgetry you're ever going to want and/or need. However good the equipment you start out with, you're going to find things you've just got to have, as well as things you didn't know about when you started loading your own.

Reloading is like shooting: there's always more.

As far as I'm concerned, it's entirely worth it; I doubt, however, I'm actually saving a great deal of money. Higher quality ammunition is my motivation.
The cost savings of reloading is considerable in some calibers, not so much in others. And, as Standing Wolf brought up, it all depends on what your time is worth. How soon you realize a net savings depends on how much you shoot and if you can trade you spare time for money in another way.

For example, 45ACP (that’s what I have the most experience with) can be loaded using commercially cast bullets for about $.07 each. A good price for 45 hardball is $.20 each in bulk. You save about $130.00 a thousand. Even with my old Dillon 450 it takes me about 3 ½ to 4 hours to load, that includes tumbling the brass and all the other little things. There is a trade-off using cast as opposed to jacketed. Cast is cheaper, wears the barrel less, is dirtier, and sometimes it is tough getting some commercial cast bullets to the same accuracy standard of the best factory jacketed bullets, although it can be done. Using jacketed bullets can raise the price per round another $.03-.08 or more per round.

The large revolver cartridges have an even greater savings. I can load 44Mag for about $.11 each cast, $.18 each jacketed. The cheapest I can find quality 44Mag in bulk is about $.36 each. Some of the more obscure cartridges can also really bump up the savings, try pricing .32 Long wadcutters.

Casting your own can give even more savings and flexibility but that’s a whole other topic.

You also could by commercial reloads, but I’m just not the trusting type.
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Immense thanks for the input. The price of my own time was one consideration I ignored in my earlier estimates.

Reloading appears to be as much like any hobby as anything, huh?

After shooting more than 2000 rds. of .45 ACP I considered reloading.

After shooting more than 1000 rds. of .410 I considered reloading.

After shooting only 40 rds. of .45-70 I am seriously considering reloading!

I guess it's the .45-70 (Magnum Research BFR; 5 shot single action revolver) that caught my attention because it is as much fun to shoot as the other two, but WAY pricier!

'Box of .45-70: $25, plus tax.

'BFR, new in box: $899, plus tax.

Grin on face: Priceless!:D
Reloading appears to be as much like any hobby as anything, huh?


And I will warn you, that most people, even after "breaking even" on the equipment don't save any money. They just shoot more for the same money. Cost per round goes down, but more rounds go down (range) also!
I would definitely recommend reloading, as you will save money. The "saved" money might take the form of many more rounds for the same price, however.

Most people are recommending a progressive press. If you start with a single stage, you'd save yourself even more money. But they are a lot slower. For example, it takes me an hour to load about 100-150 rounds, and that's if the cases are already primed.
Reloading isn't about saving money. It's about using the best ammo possible in your firearms. It's also about not having to search all over the countryside for the brand and load that shoots best in your firearm.
Like the others have said, you can load the .45 and .45-70 on the same press. The .410 needs a totally different press.
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