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Costs of reloading...

Rack OpsRack Ops Member Posts: 18,597 ✭✭✭
I'm interested in getting into reloading, but am not sure if its cost effective.

I'd like to shoot a lot more than I currently do, I shoot a lot of different calibers .223, .308, 9mm, .45, ect. What kind of cost per round can I expect as opposed to just buying surplus stuff? I tried using wolf ammo for awhile, I didn't like it, but everything else is getting expensive. Any info would be greatly appreaciated.

Molon Labe


  • bpostbpost Member Posts: 32,377 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Not only is reloading cost effective but you will become addicted to the process. After shooting and cleaning you are pretty much done with your toys. On a rainy day you are bored. If you reloaded you could have a wonderful day loading ammo. Plus you can get much more accuracy out of reloads than you can out of anything off the shelf.

    If you need large amunts of ammo check into the dillion Precision line of equipment; it is top quality and backed by a good company.
  • dcso3009dcso3009 Member Posts: 2,350 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Cost per round all depends on what you are shooting... For example, my .308 loads are nearing $1.00/ rnd for the Barnes TSX I loaded for hunting. I know you can beat that with bulk. I also know people who sware they can get down to around 30 cents/rnd for the same caliber.

    As for the 9mm and .45, it is hard to beat factory loaded prices. Hard, but not impossible and I have found them to be MUCH more accurate.

    One more thing, you get out what you put into it. If you get into loading get good equipment. Dillon is a common one that seems to be a good product. All of my equipment is RCBS and works great!

    You also may want to hang out with some guys that do handload. That way you can see the process and learn what type of equipment you want. I prefer a single stage for rifle rounds, but I dont load 1000's of rounds at a time either. Others would rather load on a progressive for the volume.
  • nononsensenononsense Member Posts: 10,933 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    "...but am not sure if its cost effective."

    It depends on what type of shooting you do. If you just want to head out to the gravel pit and blast away with your SKS, I'd look for cheap reloaded ammunition by the case. Large volumes of ammunition can be handled by some of the better progressive presses but the intial cost will be high because of the machine and material costs.

    If you want to reload to save some money and still enjoy quality ammunition, then I'd look around for some used equipment first and like another poster has mentioned, get together with some fellow reloaders for help getting started.

    I reload because I need to have fairly custom cartridges for the shooting I do. The best part of that though is I really enjoy the process and the satisfaction.

    Here is a link to a calculator for cost per cartridge. Just fill in the blanks:

  • Rack OpsRack Ops Member Posts: 18,597 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Just to clarify my question a little...

    I'm not trying to reload for superior accuracy, just want to lower the overall costs of shooting, just trying to strech my dollar a little.

    For example, with my AR-15, I can buy Lake City GI spec. ammo for about 18 cents a round. I kinda hoped if I made the ammo myself I could shave that down to about 10 cents a round. Maybe I'm mistaken...

    Molon Labe
  • Rack OpsRack Ops Member Posts: 18,597 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    nononsense: thanks for the link, didn't see it till I had already posted

    Molon Labe
  • dclocodcloco Member Posts: 2,967
    edited November -1
    I put a little math to what I am reloading.

    Loaded 200 rounds of 44 mag...cost...$42 (I had spent brass). That include $30 for bullets, powder, & primers.

    I bought locally on the am quite a bit over my original estimate...but these would be considered PREMIUM rounds that were reloaded.

    Check the link on GunBroker:
  • sandwarriorsandwarrior Member Posts: 5,453 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I generally can reload for a bout 35% of the cost of buying boxes of shells in the store. Even when on sale I get more bang for the buck reloading.
    The best part is I get all that accuracy and can tune it in the way I like. Not how or what a store thinks I should buy.

    If you save approximately 5-10 bucks (we'll use an avg. of $7.5) per box of shells You can pay for an entire rockchucker kit by shooting 33-34 boxes of shells. I made that back the first year. Some people take two years. If you go for a bigger outfit like a Dillon progressive you've paid for your stuff in 2-4 years. It is the best investment you can make if you shoot a lot. I average 2 boxes each time I go to the range. Treat your stuff right and you will get a lot of shooting for a lot less money and accuracy to boot.

    We have the second amendment so that all the rest are secure....UNK>
  • FrancFFrancF Member Posts: 35,278 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    The only thing I would like to add and sure you have head it before.

    It's the tailored load that you made that works for you and works in your gun.

    Sometimes it might cost a little more. However in the longrun, you have the satisfaction that you have the simple basic tools to make ammo factory quality or better.

    NRA Life Endowment Member

  • bperdue21bperdue21 Member Posts: 1,457 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    it really wont be cost effective until you reload enough to pay for the dies, set, shell holders etc. if you shoot in a quantity enough to make this worth your while, go for it. for me, i traded an old gun for a new RCBS set, dies, some bullets and powder and went from there. it is fun and it gets you away from people for a while, so if this means anything to you then you ought to do it. get a tumbler while you are at it, and a digital scale, and i think what i am going to get next is one of the RCBS electronic powder dispensers. then i will be really cool.

    When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.
  • dclocodcloco Member Posts: 2,967
    edited November -1
    In my illustration, I proposed to reload 2500 rounds (500 per weapon listed). The total cost SAVINGS on these 2500 rounds for FIVE different weapons = $848.09. that...anybody could pay for a NEW RockChucker, 5 dies, 5 shell holders, multiple 1 lb powder samples (then buy 5 or 8 lbs that your pistol/rifle likes), bullets, primers, etc, etc....and still have money left over.

    My proposal also did not take into account if I purchased larger quantities of bullets, primers, or powder - will make some difference as well.

    223 caliber - $132.40 per 500. Save $292.35
    6.5x55 caliber - $189.44 per 500. Save $209.31
    7.5x55 caliber - $220.89 per 500. Save $28.66
    357 mag caliber- $ 60.69 per 500. Save $168.81
    44 mag caliber - $ 70.54 per 500. Save $148.96

    With any luck, the 7.5x55 brass will come down IF Wolf comes out with it.
  • n/an/a Member Posts: 168,427
    edited November -1
    Reloading is quite a bit cheaper than buying store bought ammo. The only problem is, once you get bit by the "ultimate accuracy" bug it seems as if you can never have enough equipment/gadgets. I'm still reloading with the basics, but my "want" list is very, very long. I would imagine that folks like JustC have THOUSANDS of dollars worth of equipment. After you have been bit by the "ultimate accuracy" bug, saving money is no longer the becomes accuracy at all costs. In most cases you cannot buy store bought ammo that will shoot anything like your handloads, so one could say that they are "priceless"[;)][:p][:D]


    All American Arms Company
    VIP Code: AAAC

    Veteran Owned and Operated
  • bperdue21bperdue21 Member Posts: 1,457 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    i have thousands of dollars worth of reloading stuff and i havent been in it but for a couple months, but i do tend to go a little overboard in my hobbies.

    When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.
  • r_himmelreichr_himmelreich Member Posts: 68 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    I got into reloading mainly for tailoring loads to my rifles. I save very little on 243/6mm/7mm08/280 but where I save A LOT is with my magnum calibers. My 338WM for example shoots both 225gr Hornady SP and 225gr Nosler Partitions to the same point of impact. I practice with the Hornady's and use the Noslers for hunting. Although, I took a nice elk in Colorado this past fall with a Hornady. It has been a lot of fun working up loads, going to the range and shooting. I don't have thousands invested but I could easily spend the cash on new gadgets. Get a starter kit, a set of dies, some powder, bullets and give it a try. If you like it, dive in!

  • SnellstromSnellstrom Member Posts: 1,085 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    For me it has nothing to do with cost or savings. For me it is simply the satisfaction of tuning a load or several loads for each of my rifles. I have not killed a Deer, Elk, Antelope, Mountain Goat, Bighorn Sheep or even a Coyote in the last 30 years (since I was 14) with any thing other than my own handloads. I have a lot of satisfaction in this whole process the tuning of my firearms, the tuning of my handloads, forensic study on animals of bullet performance, target shooting/load testing etc. Handloading could easily cost twice what it does and I'd still do it for just those reasons.
    As for my plinking guns I just buy loaded ammo in bulk(223, 32acp, 45,38/357).[;)]
  • IconoclastIconoclast Member Posts: 10,912
    edited November -1
    If you have your own brass and cast your own bullets (I know, a whole new Pandora's box), you can load premium (at least in terms of accuracy) CF handgun ammo for about the same as quality .22 LR. Back before all the HazMat hoorah drove the prices of powder & primers up so badly, I could shoot magnum handgun for less than dealer cost on .22 LR.

    But just buying bullets in bulk (1,000 or 5,000) and primers by the 5K sleeve cuts costs waaay down. Brass can be had cheaply enough - I have found some incredible bargains over the years (such as 1xF .45 ACP @ $5/K about two years) and there are good sources of reconditioned 1xF brass in these common calibers at prices in the $50/K or less range. Once you know what loads you like, buying kegs of powder will reduce that cost considerably as well.

    So you can save some significant money. I figure anyone who shoots 500 or more rounds a year can justify at least an entry level setup on cost savings / value alone. That said, in my experience this doesn't always happen. Many guys get lots of gadgets and the vast majority just plain shoot more, so their outlay is the same, just gets them more time at the range (and this is bad? [:D]).

    Further, there is the fact you *can* (usually) tailor loads to your particular firearms which will drive tacks where pie plates were more common. And create loads which are either not available or hard to find.

    Then there is the opportunity to spend time in a favorite hobby when the weather would keep you inside anyway.

    Finally, there is that immense feeling of pride when your hand-rolled ammo cuts the black out of the bullseye or puts meat on the table.

    "There is nothing lower than the human race - except the french." (Mark Twain)
  • Rack OpsRack Ops Member Posts: 18,597 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Iconoclast, thanks for the tip about buying in bulk. I'm guess that the "1xF" means "fired one time"??

    One question that bugs me is that I have been told that mil spec brass is thicker, but at the same time it can not be loaded with as much powder as a civilian case. I would have assumed that a thicker case would mean more powder, and therefore a "hotter" round?

    Thanks again for the info

    Molon Labe
  • remington nutremington nut Member Posts: 961 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    thicker cases mean less internal volume, since the case is thicker the outside dimensions remain the same to work in various rifles/firearms that being said using the same amount of powder in mil brass as commercial brass raises internal pressures giving different results. you should always work your loads up from min to max and keep a close eye on pressure signs on your brass and primers... max load in military brass could possibly be a costly mistake depending on the specific load you are using, other than that mil brass is safe to reload
  • JustCJustC Member Posts: 16,057 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    military brass saves money because
    #1 it cheap
    #2 it uses less powder to acheive the same velocity due to reduced internal capacity.

    I have not loaded any mil brass,..but have a few full freezer bags of Lake City 30-06 and 308 brass, Lapua and Norma are hard to leave after you use it. Iconoclast was kind enough to supply me with a bit of the old "vintage" norma brass a while back, and it is in the original boxes. Kinda makes me want to display it rather than load it,..but Teak deserves a pic of some ragged holes with his brass, so I am sure that and my addiction to tiny little "bug holes" will no doubt lead to it's being utilized and the boxes being added to the collection[8D]

    Loading for accuracy in any particular rifle makes the price of loading equipment an "awww who gives a dookie" type of situation. Once that one hole group pops into your glass,'ll never be the same. I have stuff that I stil am learning how to use[:0] Like meplat trimmers to uniform the hollow points (both inside and outside) of match bullets to get the 2% variance in BC down to 0%. Also,..when you start to measure bearing surface length with 2 sets of comparators or the Verne Jeunke machine,..then there is little you can do to justify that expense and time, other than testing yourself against others who share your addiction.

    For 300yds and less, many variables are not worth uniforming unless you wish to compete. However, these things can make your $400 rifle worth $700 to the lazy uninformed guy with too much money watching you shoot. That sale, recovers $300 of your loading equipment cost once you allow him the honor of owning that rifle, and you just buy another one and work the load again[8D] I have been offered more money for some of my rigs at the range than I have in them NEW from the gunsmith, but once you get her shooting super tight,..there aint no dime gonna buy it[8] I tell them that after another 1000rnds, the deal will be available[:D] then I'll build a new one and have $0 in it[8D] and they still think it's the most accurate rifle they have ever owned.

    as far as getting started,..don't wait. Just jump in. Read a few manuals and get the feel for it in "theory". Then, stick only to book loads, and work your majic. Even if you end up way in the hole, it is a hobby that is seldom given up and sold off. Once you got the dies set and the equipment is there, can always go and load up enough for a few more years if you are a non-shooter. BUT, if you enjoy the shoulder softness and concussion head, then you'll be far richer for rolling your own, and far more accurate to boot.

    why chase the game when the bullet can get em from here?....
    Got Balistics?
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