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#4691609 - 03/11/18 03:12 PM The Decision to Reload - Cost Effectiveness?
JHZR2 Offline



Registered: 12/14/02
Posts: 41779
Loc: New Jersey
I like to shoot, but I like to save money too. Reloading seems to be an option that, at this point in the game (I'm in my mid-30s) would be an opportunity for a decent ROI.

Ive never shot Russian ammo. The steel cases dont really scare/bother me, but the steel bullets do. There is some new Tula "range safe" non-magnetic steel case ammo which seems like it could be the best of both worlds - no investment in brass commodity for the casing, yet no steel in the bullet to be a potential wear item in the barrel. That said, its still made in Russia.

Its not clear to me just how beneficial it would be to reload .223 or 9mm. 1000 rounds can be had pretty cost effectively for US-made stuff. For for .308, .44spl, .38spl/.357, .45ACP, it seems like the opportunity is there. Possibly so for shotgun shells too. But I dont know that for certain. In fact, I know nothing. Thus this post.

So has anyone run the calculations for break-even for reloading? Assuming one buys half decent reloading equipment, but is only really just making ammo for the range/fun shooting, how many and how long will it take to recoup the money?

The way I see it is this:

Brass: You can buy empties, but it would be better to just re-collect what youve got. Regardless, they are only good for so many cycles, so after every so often new ammo or new rounds STILL need to be purchased.

HAZMAT: Used brass needs to be cleaned, right? So there needs to be solvents, cleaners, etc., which only last so long, need to be stored, need to be disposed of, etc.

Dangerous Materials: To be cost effective, one would need to buy decent quantities of propellant and have them on hand. DItto for primers.

The equipment: Assuming you buy something decent, Id assume the investment is in the hundreds to thousand-ish dollar range.

Space: Id assume it is best to have a dedicated workspace so that the process can be started and stopped at will. Id assume its not something that you set up, make a batch, then put it all away. I dunno...

So, what do I have right, and what do I have wrong?

What is your commodity cost for cleaners, powders, primers and bullets for typical calibers?

What does it take to get set up for multiple calibers?

Is the setup for shotgun shells different?

What are some good books/places to read and learn?

Is the new vs used factor relevant here? Is there a good way to determine if used equipment is used up?

Seems like it could be a good idea, but has the opportunity to be a time waster for not a huge amount of savings, at least if mostly shooting commodity calibers.

Thoughts/recommendations??

Thanks!

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#4691617 - 03/11/18 03:23 PM Re: The Decision to Reload - Cost Effectiveness? [Re: JHZR2]
billt460 Online   content


Registered: 03/30/15
Posts: 4391
Loc: Glendale, Arizona
You will not save much money. What you will do is be able to shoot more for roughly the same cost. But in order to save anything you have to buy your reloading components in bulk. The more you buy, the lower cost per round. Stay out of places like Cabela's and local gun shops for components. And instead shop the Internet.

When ammo prices go up, you'll save more. But now with ammo really cheap the savings is minimal to non existent. I save all my 9 MM brass. But as long as I can buy 9 MM FMJ for under $9.00 a box, I'm not going to bother reloading it. It's not worth my time. Another area you make out reloading is for accuracy in centerfire rifles. You simply can't buy ammo as accurate as you can reload. Because you can control everything to your needs. And tailor it to your specific gun.

Initially the equipment is expensive. And the more you shoot, the more equipment you will buy. It's like any other hobby. There is this for this, and that for that. It never ends. I've been reloading for almost 50 years. And I still buy stuff from time to time.

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#4691619 - 03/11/18 03:23 PM Re: The Decision to Reload - Cost Effectiveness? [Re: JHZR2]
zrxkawboy Offline


Registered: 11/30/04
Posts: 1761
Loc: SD
Thanks so much for posting this, JHZR2! I have had very similar thoughts/questions. Looking forward to reading the replies.
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#4691626 - 03/11/18 03:25 PM Re: The Decision to Reload - Cost Effectiveness? [Re: JHZR2]
Pajero Offline


Registered: 05/05/12
Posts: 848
Loc: Rio Rancho, NM
It depends on how much you shoot! I know guys that shoot a thousand rounds a weekend at the range. Others a thousand rounds a month. Or a thousand rounds a year! In my humble opinion it's about the numbers. Hand loads are normally more accurate.

I would keep a spreadsheet on how much you shoot. Then do a cost analysis how much it would cost to reload your own. Everything is based on quantity. The German ammo MEN is very accurate, but it cost more, as does Black Hills.

If you have a lot of time and shoot a lot, then reloading is worth it. There is a process in policing your brass, cleaning, and priming etc.

Some people don't want the hassle, while other's find reloading relaxing.

Good luck! Remember it's a hobby!


Respectfully,

Pajero!
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#4691631 - 03/11/18 03:27 PM Re: The Decision to Reload - Cost Effectiveness? [Re: billt460]
JHZR2 Offline



Registered: 12/14/02
Posts: 41779
Loc: New Jersey
Originally Posted By: billt460
You will not save much money. What you will do is be able to shoot more for roughly the same cost.


Which is saving money as far as Im concerned smile

I get the hobby part and your other comments - I appreciate it. Im not sure how much Id be tailoring this or that to start; just getting the technique right and cost down I think would be my first goal. But that sounds like a whole additional hobby to do the tuning!

Does the cost per round vary much? .44spl for example is "expensive" compared to 9mm and .40 when buying finished product. Is there really much of a difference for the commodity parts if bought in bulk?

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#4691634 - 03/11/18 03:28 PM Re: The Decision to Reload - Cost Effectiveness? [Re: JHZR2]
spasm3 Offline


Registered: 05/30/10
Posts: 8651
Loc: North Carolina
I'd thought about it from the hobby fun aspect, but i just don't have the time to get into it.
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#4691635 - 03/11/18 03:30 PM Re: The Decision to Reload - Cost Effectiveness? [Re: Pajero]
JHZR2 Offline



Registered: 12/14/02
Posts: 41779
Loc: New Jersey
Originally Posted By: Pajero
It depends on how much you shoot! I know guys that shoot a thousand rounds a weekend at the range. Others a thousand rounds a month. Or a thousand rounds a year! In my humble opinion it's about the numbers.


Understood. But assuming I can shoot for another 40 years, there's lots of time, even if Im in the thousand round per year club. Kids and work and other commitments do limit the opportunity, but the timeframe over which I could amortize the investment is that interests me...

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#4691645 - 03/11/18 03:46 PM Re: The Decision to Reload - Cost Effectiveness? [Re: JHZR2]
billt460 Online   content


Registered: 03/30/15
Posts: 4391
Loc: Glendale, Arizona
Originally Posted By: JHZR2
Does the cost per round vary much? .44spl for example is "expensive" compared to 9mm and .40 when buying finished product. Is there really much of a difference for the commodity parts if bought in bulk?


Yes, you save a lot buying in bulk. Not too much difference in cost in comparable pistol rounds. Powders and primers are the same as far as cost each. So if you are reloading say .223 / 5.56 MM you're going to use around 25 grains of powder per round. For .308 that will go up to around 42 grains. Almost double. There are 7,000 grains of powder to the pound. So all you have to do is divide it out.

Bullet cost depends on the type of bullet you want to shoot. Highly accurate .30 cal. Berger Match Bullets can run .50 cents each or more. Or you can buy Hornady 55 Gr. FMJ bulk .223 bullets for $460.00 for a box of 6,000. And everything in between. Lead shot for shotgun reloading runs around $40.00 for a 25 pound bag. Trap loads are 1 ounce to 1-1/8th ounce. 16 ounces to the pound. 437.5 grains to the ounce. So it comes out to roughly 400 shells to a bag of shot, and so on.

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#4691648 - 03/11/18 03:50 PM Re: The Decision to Reload - Cost Effectiveness? [Re: JHZR2]
billt460 Online   content


Registered: 03/30/15
Posts: 4391
Loc: Glendale, Arizona
Another thing to look for when buying powder and primers, is if you buy in large quantities a lot of places will wave the Haz-Mat charge on the shipping. That will save you even more. This is a good place for .223 / 5.56 MM and .308 brass. Good quality, fast shipping.

http://www.evergladesammo.com/brass.html

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#4691679 - 03/11/18 04:26 PM Re: The Decision to Reload - Cost Effectiveness? [Re: JHZR2]
Linctex Offline


Registered: 12/31/16
Posts: 6148
Loc: Waco, TX
Google "ammo reloading spreadsheet"

If you do it right, you can "roll your own" for half the price.
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#4691699 - 03/11/18 04:49 PM Re: The Decision to Reload - Cost Effectiveness? [Re: Linctex]
Kira Offline


Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 5230
Loc: Champlain/Hudson Valley
Reloaded about a zillion 20 ga. rounds.

What will it save? Do the math....then do it regardless.

It's kinda fun.

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#4691709 - 03/11/18 05:03 PM Re: The Decision to Reload - Cost Effectiveness? [Re: JHZR2]
Reddy45 Offline


Registered: 08/15/08
Posts: 2968
Loc: USA
I like reloading for the fact that I can make extremely accurate ammo for a fraction of the boxed stuff. I used to buy Federal Gold Medal Match for around $1/Rd but I can make equivalent loadings for about 50 cents.

For pistol, reloading is fun when you start making really hot rounds.

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#4691736 - 03/11/18 05:34 PM Re: The Decision to Reload - Cost Effectiveness? [Re: billt460]
shanneba Offline


Registered: 07/10/04
Posts: 886
Loc: Indiana (IN)
Originally Posted By: billt460
You will not save much money. What you will do is be able to shoot more for roughly the same cost.


I'll second that statement.

For cleaning the brass, I used to have a rock polisher and used walnut shells for cleaning the brass.
No chemicals, something like this - https://www.amazon.com/Frankford-Arsenal...er+brass+polish

I used to reload handgun, rifle and shotgun shells.
Handgun and rifle were mostly for better accuracy.
I used a single stage Bonanza press.

For shotshells (what I shot the most of) I had a progressive press that worked on 6 shells at a time.
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#4691748 - 03/11/18 05:47 PM Re: The Decision to Reload - Cost Effectiveness? [Re: JHZR2]
mahansm Offline


Registered: 01/19/10
Posts: 108
Loc: Panama CIty, Florida
Cost is up to you and how much you want to spend on equipment. The inexpensive stuff will load good ammo, the more expensive equipment will load it with less fuss and at a higher production rate.

At today's prices, it's not really worthwhile to load common calibers like 9mm and .223 REM. However, if you've got a match grade .223 rifle and are looking to maximize its potential, it suddenly becomes very worthwhile to load for it.

The cost aspect really comes through on rarer calibers. .44 Magnum is more expensive to purchase than it is to reload, .500 Magnum much more so.

Pistol (straight wall cases) are faster and easier to load than rifle (bottleneck) cases. Start with something really easy (.38 Special, .45 ACP) and
progress to more challenging rounds.

You won't save any money at all but you'll get to shoot twice as much. You'll also be able go shooting when the ammo shelves at your local emporium are bare.
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#4691753 - 03/11/18 05:53 PM Re: The Decision to Reload - Cost Effectiveness? [Re: JHZR2]
CT8 Offline


Registered: 10/09/14
Posts: 10967
Loc: Idaho
I have been reloading since 1976 in fact most of my guns have never seen factory loads. Cleaning the brass, Wash of the mud and dirt if so with hot soapy water and rinse and let dry. Polish the brass with a vibrating polisher with corn husk media and a non ammonia polishing compound. Watching for sales when buying bullets [lead costs less than copper plated], primers and powder can save you at least 50% compared to factory. I learned to reload when one of my friends bought a RCBS Rock Chucker set up and abandoned it an my house in 1976. In 1992 I bought a 550 Dillon press and I have taught 5 people to reload with it . It is the press I would recommend with out reservation as a first press. Reloading is simple yet requires concentration and common sense. I rather enjoy shooting my reloads .I have reloaded 38 special.357 mag, 9MM, 40 [email protected] 45 acp. 223, 308, 30/06 and 338 Lapua on the 550 Dillon. If you go through lots of ammo loading is a money saver and a fun part og the hobby.
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