Reloading: Is it Worth it?  The Frugal Novice Weighs In

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A quality press will cost you about $300.

A quality press, like a Rock Chuckler, will cost you about $300.

(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Sarah Farver.  You can check out her other article, “Five Tips for the Novice Reloader.)

Confession. Sometimes I’m “that” kind of wife. You know, the one that takes a look at all the guns in the safe and secretly wonders if we sold them how well we could live.

Shh, I usually keep that to myself. I mean, where do you draw the line? First there were the guns, then the safes, then reloading gear.

The practical side of me wanted, nay, needed to know if this was worth it. Here’s the low down on how much it costs to get started reloading so you can decide if it’s something you want to pick up. Warning: it is a bit addictive.

The set up we started with is the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master kit. It sells for about $300 at Walmart or Cabela’s. Don’t be too excited over the term “supreme master” if you’ve never reloaded. When you open that box for the first time, I bet you’ll realize you’re not the supreme master. You are a child in the ways of the reloader.

Honestly, it was rather daunting to see the whole set up when it came out of the box and in my mind they were just “the big heavy part and the part that measures the stuff and…” well, you get the picture. I knew nothing.

The beauty of having such a large community of gun enthusiasts on the Internet is realizing there are a lot of people who are willing to share what they have learned.

Dies!

We paid about $50 for our dies.

Aside from the items that come in a kit like ours, there are a few more things you’ll have to buy to get started. The obvious extra things to purchase are primers, cases, powder and dies. So to keep it simple, I’m going to focus on the cost of reloading 9mm, since that is what we started with.

The first step is to purchase a die for the 9mm that would go into the press. Our costs about $50 bucks but know that generally you typically need a different die for each caliber that you reload. You will probably want to pick up a micrometer for another $30, to measure the overall length of the bullet after it has been seated.

Our reloading kit comes with the hand-priming tool, but you will have to buy the primers separately. Winchester primers run $33 a box, or .03 a piece. These can be bought at most retailers, but we typically get ours at Midway USA. (Here) You can get comparable ones from Federal, CCI, or Tulo.

We found 9mm bullets at Rocky Mountain Reloading, which will run you another $48 for 500. Your investment in each bullet went up only 9 more cents.

We have been purchasing “once-fired” brass casing from Midway USA for about .06 a piece. ($31 for a box of 500) Using fired brass is probably the way you will save the most in this endeavor.

The cost of gunpowder will vary, depending on which brand you go with. Some people prefer driving Fords over Chevy and while others feel the opposite. I say you find what you like and what you think gives you good results.

Powder,

Hodgdon powder goes for about $26 per pound.

We have been using Hodgdon which is about $26 per pound, but we only use 6.4 grains (EDIT–not grams) per bullet. One pound of gunpowder we could load 1,093 bullets, making it close to 2 cents per bullet.

All these basic kit plus supplies will cost you about $490. As you consider the costs, you will also want to ask yourself how much you view your time being worth. This isn’t something you can quickly do and be done with. It’s a process and will take some time.

So if you ask yourself what your goals are and that may help you decide if this is worthwhile. On the one hand, it will take a few hundred dollars to get started but over time, you will definitely be saving some money on each bullet you fire. Saving money means you’ll want to shoot more and likely improve your shot.

If you only use store bought bullets you are using something made for a broad range of firearms. However, if you make your own concoction you have the opportunity to tweak it to improve your own accuracy and shoot better.

The truth is, though, it depends on you and how you’re wired. Do you like to pay attention to detail? Do you enjoy working with your hands and have the time to put into this?

Make sure to measure out your powder!

Make sure to measure out your powder!

The hard costs of reloading at a glance:

Reloading kit $300
Dies $50
Primers $33
Bullets $48
Brass casings $31
Powder $26
Time with spouse: PRICELESS!

Total: $488

For me, it was a no-brainer of a gift for my husband. He loves to work with his hands, loves to shoot and is a stickler for details. (When diesel prices were so high there for a while, he even made his own biodiesel. Our car ran at a fraction of the cost and since we used recycled oil from fast food restaurants, it smelled like French fries. Yeah. We’re cool people.)

How much does it cost for store bought 9mm bullets? Federal’s American Eagle line of 124-grain bullets are $14.99/ 50 cartridges at Cabela’s which is about $.30 a piece. Midway USA had similar bullets ranging from $.37 to $1.15 per round. The average cost of the store bought 9mm rounds are $.76.

Let’s just set all the start-up costs aside, and see how the much the home made round would cost. When we add up all the individual components, it comes out to .20 a piece. That turns out to about $10 a box. Not bad at all. So if it’s a hobby you enjoy that will leave you more money to spend on shooting, that’s time well-spent.

Once we have reloaded them a couple times we mark them red so they can be retired. The black ones indicate they have only been reloaded once.

Once we have reloaded them a couple times we mark them red so they can be retired. The black ones indicate they have only been reloaded once.

A word to the wise: you may feel yourself getting pulled into the vortex of wanting new things to add to your set up. There’s the media for cleaning the fired bullets, and then you’ll want a tumbler. After you have that, you will likely come across other gadgets–so you will have to know where you personally draw the line.

What’s more, if it is something that you and your spouse enjoy doing together, then it’s a bonus. It’s like when someone has a great personality AND they’re pretty. That’s what it’s like if you enjoy a hobby and you get to hang out with your spouse.

Speaking of him or her–it’s the Christmas season so now’s the time to start dropping hints.

{ 63 comments… add one }
  • Joe December 23, 2016, 5:54 pm

    I actually read most of these comments and for the most part I agree. But I have also run the numbers and as far as I can tell already having two Dillon SDB’s I’m going to be able to load plated bullets 9mm for between $7 and $8 per box of 50. While sale prices are running around $10 a box I’m going to save around $3 per box which will bring ROI to about 2000 rounds which I will shoot up in 20 weeks or less. If the cost of 9mm ammo runs up to $13 to $15 a box, which since all the LEO agencies in the country, not to mention the military, are going back to 9mm I think will be soon. If/when that happens my ROI will be down to 10 weeks. And incidentally I think that return to 9mm is driven, at least in part, because of the lower cost of the ammo. But you know what happens when demand goes up, so will prices. I remember not to many years ago, 3-4, when it was hard to get any ammo, and even the cost of components when up dramatically. Stocking enough components to load 5-7K rounds I had no problem. I won’t talk much about buying in bulk, getting together with friends for bulk orders, scavenging lead, etc. It was all covered. My final comment is loading presses. I can’t speak for any manufacturers other than Dillon. (Although I’m sure someone will.) And I can speak highly enough. My two SDB’s are almost 25 years old and have produced a couple hundred thousands rounds in 5 pistol calibers. Parts have broken, and I even had a frame crack. Everything was always replaced as per their warranty, even after 25 years, and even when I admitted I had done something stupid. Always free, always friendly, always quick. If somebody gave me another press, I’d sell it and buy a Dillon. I’m a competitive pistol shooter so I don’t care about MOA at 5-25 yards. I buy the cheapest bullets and primers, load on a progressive press, shoot as much as I want, never worry about sale prices, have loaded cases until they crack, maybe 20-30 times, shoot target loads so my guns don’t break after 10k rounds, and am as happy as a pig in ******. Good luck to you all whatever your choices are in life.

  • Hosea December 10, 2016, 3:09 pm

    I buy a box of 50 9mm’s at Wal Mart anytime of the year here in SW FL for $9.99 for aluminum cased and the same $9.99 for virgin brass ones with boxer primers in them. That’s just under the 20 cents per round mentioned above as the cost to reload. It’s true that the reloading cost comes down a bit as you reuse the casings you just shot but sooner or later you have to keep buying new ones as they split after so many reloads or won’t reform correctly. Point is buying is about as cheap as reloading. Also, the cost to buy new comes down even further (below 20 cents per round) if you buy in bulk.

  • Jim Compton November 25, 2016, 4:06 pm

    I loaded for years for accuracy. As far as case life, I accumulated lots of .38 over the years. These are just for fun rounds. I am now partially deaf thanks to the .357 and the fact we did not use hearing protection. When you amortize the cost over years your equipment, it approaches “0”.. As far as the women, I would presume they would have their other half in the basement reloading rather than spending time at the local bar. This chance may not come up again. Thompson SMG’s sold for under ?1200.00, I felt bad about thinking of buying them (among others), my wife encouraged me, but I felt it would be selfish. Could have bought them for 1,200 range. Check out the price today!

  • Ronhart February 15, 2016, 2:15 pm

    A dozen or so years ago a close friend planned on hunting antelope in Eastern Colorado. The hunt was for his teenage daughter and her first big game hunt. He had a Remington Model Seven, caliber .243 Win, for her to use. He purchased three 20 round boxes of different brands of factory .243 ammo and was gong to take her to the rifle range to sight in and let her practice shooting.

    Previously I had bought a box of name brand 100 grain round nose .243 BULLETS at a gun show for very cheap because as everyone knows, nobody uses round nose bullets for long range hunting. I had reloaded 50 rounds of .243 ammo with those bullets, with the intention of using them for target practice. I might add that I am a very careful and meticulous reloader and I do reload quality ammunition.

    When Jim told me he was going to the range with his daughter to sight in and practice shooting the .243, I gave him the 50 rounds of reloads. I told him to let her shoot them all, let her get used to the rifle and save some of the best factory rounds for the hunt. He came home that night and called me to tell me his daughter could hardly keep the factory bullets on the target and she was very frustrated.

    He gave her the reloads I provided and she consistently put them in the black at 100 yards. She decided to use that ammo on her hunt, dropped an antelope with one shot and she kept the rest of that ammo to use in future hunts. She treasures those reloads like gold!

    If you have ever been to a mass production ammunition manufacturing plant, you will begin to wonder how they could possibly produce really accurate ammo for all rifles. Dies wear, equipment wears, measuring devices and powder drops can vary, there are too many variables!

    When I reload, I consistently adjust my dies accurately and tighten them in the press. I trim my brass to the specified and consistent length and seat the primers with a Lee hand seater. I use a powder measure calibrated to within 1/10 of a grain with a Lyman 10/10 scale and weigh each tenth powder charge. I visually look into each 50 round loading block of charged cases with a flashlight. If I see one case that looks suspicious, I dump it back into the hopper and drop a new charge.

    A lot of work? Actually NO! I spend many pleasant evenings at my basement reloading bench listening to the radio and turning out safe, accurate and quality reloaded ammunition.

    • Ronhart February 15, 2016, 2:19 pm

      I forgot to include the following comment in my posting. . . . . . I do most of my serious reloading with a Herter’s C press which I purchased new in the late 1960,s for $19.95.

    • John Tomaie October 19, 2016, 3:42 am

      I already owned a complete reloading bench when I decided to add 9mm dies to my reloading endeavors. And I can say in hindsight its not worth it unless you are the type that is dedicated to the hobby of working up your own loads. Let me expand by saying I am a dedicated 45ACP reloader and that caliber has rewarded me ten fold in the joy I obtained creating my own loads for target practice, self defense loads and everything in between. It was a natural extension therefore since I already had a reloading bench -and by that I imply -turret press, digital powder dispenser, RCBS multi tool…..calipers…etc…etc… But honestly? These little 9mm cartridges are a joke compared to 45acp. And if it were only about 9mm I would never endeavor to reload.

  • Joe November 29, 2015, 10:59 pm

    First and foremost, I acquiesce with Me and Brass’ comments. Well, I guess I have read all there is to read from all the shooters and reloaders and their input pro and con. I sit here trying to evaluate their remarks and comments…all good…some not so good. To some, it’s an addiction, and for some, it’s a past time hobby to go out to their “man cave” as I have been told; kick back and relax just as golfers do or boat owners; car enthusiasts–whatever. We do it because we love it, pure and simple…it’s our hobby. Monetarily, it is expensive to start out with the most and the best. If one is willing to amortize his investment, it is a worthwhile expenditure that is infinite.
    I have been reloading since 1970, an anathema, and have acquired k’s of dollars worth of reloading equipment at prices that are considered ridiculousness at todays prices. But that’s my prerogative. Forget about the labor involved. If one factored in labor, well, then, go out and buy someone else’s reloads or factory loads. When I go out to my reloading room, I consider it a relaxing period; meditation; getting away from the days news or work….a down time…a cleansing of the mind if you will. It’s perpetual R&D for one caliber or another. I forgot to mention. I shoot lead bullets for EVERYTHING. And I shoot a lot!
    I didn’t want to get into the semantics of reloading this or that; cost of components,etc, but one has to consider all those factors for themselves. Once you have the basic tools you will want to add to the inventory, or you bail, it’s that simple, as it was for me. As most all knowledgeable reloaders know who Mike Venturino is,says, it’s an affliction that we have become addicted to. Enough said.
    I enjoy it and hope to continue ad infinitum.

  • Kuby November 29, 2015, 10:11 am

    You made a wise choice in the RCBS loader, I started with Lee’s, a stupid cheap mistake that is NFG for rifle shells. Where the RCBS has two arms to the base (an H shape – holding the dies in perfect alignment to the casing) – Lee’s only has one arm (an L shape), when you apply any amount of force the Lee’s arm ‘will deflect’ causing questionable case re-sizing (I fear the L shape may not recover to true leading to misalignment of the bullet into the casing), etc. Using a balance scale, too time consuming, get a digital scale (they are so cheap now days).
    Next is shotgun shell reloading – another whole new set of knowledge and equipment – stay with MEC, I use a MEC Jr.

    • JettaRed January 1, 2016, 7:40 am

      I think it really depends on what you are reloading and how much you shoot. Lee makes fine equipment for ½ to ⅓ the price of the other brands. I’ve used it primarily for 9mm and .45 ACP pistol ammo for years and it has served me well. I also use a progressive stage press, which is far better if you are loading a lot when compared to a single-stage press like the Rock Chucker. You will definitely get your money’s worth out of the Lee quicker. And if it doesn’t suit your reloading requirements, there’s always Craig’s List.

  • Mongo November 23, 2015, 10:04 am

    Great article. Being able to reload ammunition, make lead bullets, etc will be very useful in a time of crisis. Not everyone can do it, and when you need something that is important but scarce in a time of SHTF, you can make a trade without losing much at all. Keeping mass amounts of components for reloading (not just brass, powder, but equipment, like a LEE Loader) is easier to get than gold, and cheaper.

    What’s in your wallet??

  • Ted Kowalski November 23, 2015, 8:30 am

    Sarah Farver:
    As several have already pointed out, if a little less clearly, Sarah is writing about reloading incorrectly.

    Sarah is complaining about the costs of reloading. But Sarah’s approach to minimizing the costs, but not the benefits, of reloading are nonsense.

    Sarah and her husband jumped into reloading, not because they could not afford ammo, but because it is fashionable.
    Instead of leaping into reloading by buying a ‘complete, yet incomplete’ master press and then seeking the ‘other’ toys that accompany said press; try buying the equipment piece by piece as ‘necessity’ demands.

    My cousin started out reloading by buying a single station ‘hand’ press, sold back then by Lyman. By hand, I mean he holds the die and uses a hammer to perform the various steps; and yes it makes much more sense to perform all of the same steps at once; Initial cost, something like 12 bucks for the cheap die set, 10 bucks for a tin of powder, (who can afford a pound of powder when they are truly poor). The die set came with a plastic scoop for measuring powder, using the same technology any old case files down to the proper sizes fulfills measuring powder. A few dollars for one small flat of primers, a little work and a lot of noise and one can shoot cheaply and safely.
    Steps:
    – Brass – searching around any public range fulfills most simple needs for brass, other wise buy a couple of boxes of ammo at the cheapest sale. Shoot and reuse. If you bought steel cases, well, one lesson learned.
    – deprime – Insert the depriming pin and tap with the hammer. Wooden blocks work.
    – clean – by hand, one by one, using common brushes, dry
    – lube for resizing, resize by placing the case into a holder, put the resize die on top and hammer till the die is as far as it will go. This is very loud on wooden floors or porches!
    – measure the case. Yes, micrometers are accurate; however most original case sizes are standard ruler mark sizes found on any engineering ruler. Mark the measurement you need!
    – file over long cases to size.
    – Prime, best done with another cheap hand tool; add another six bucks.
    – scoop the proper ration of powder. I initially used a very cheap diamond scale to measure powder measurements that I filed cases to meet. Smaller cases are safer, i.e. .380 case to measure 9mm charges. Scratch mark every case for powder and measurement.
    – Always work from one side to the other! Frequently check (weigh) powder scoops.
    – Add bullet, cover with the hand die and tap to set and crimp.
    – Measure overall length!

    This is how people without extra cash start!! Or by borrowing or renting someone else’s press and dies.

    Work on a budget!! Time and money must be budgeted!

    This gets one shooting cheaply safely. As time, budget and needs define one adds to their reloading station and set up!
    I started reloading shotgun shells first. I then gravitated to centerfire pistol and rifle shells as I began to shoot more to improve my skills and pleasure.
    As a low budget family, we would purchase reloading supplies (powder, primers, bullets) as the monthly budget allowed. Reloading as time allowed then we would visit the range as a family and shoot till we ran out of ammo. Often after several hours of target shooting.

    • JettaRed January 1, 2016, 7:49 am

      Ted, while I agree Sarah was inaccurate with some of her calculations, I think your approach is unrealistic for most people. Reloading is not an undertaking that one should take shortcuts with. Get the right tools and equipment, otherwise it can be dangerous. You need to be very attentive to what you are doing to avoid overcharging or undercharging the powder – both can have undesired effects. Your cousin’s use of a “hammer to perform the various steps” is a little scary. Is he still around?

  • Sam November 23, 2015, 2:16 am

    The #1 reason for reloading is quality control. The #2 reason is future availability. The #3 reason should be cost savings. Underlying all of this, though, is you must enjoy it, or you won’t continue. I don’t need better quality than I can get at the store, and no more than I shoot, I could never break even. Years ago, I felt the ‘safety’ regulations were going to make it very hard to by ammo at the store. I had a friend who was a re-loader, and he loved every aspect of it. I didn’t enjoy the process, and thought it very tedious. I stopped after awhile, and bought what I could, and hoarded. But, as I shot it up, I didn’t replace it. Worried about safety.

  • Lumpy November 22, 2015, 7:52 pm

    Another advantage to reloading is the control it gives you over the performance of your ammo. For nearly every cartridge, there are numerous bullet weights and designs which will enhance your shooting experience–especially if you’re into long-range shooting, competition shooting, hunting and even just plinking. I like hunting with handguns, and experiment with bullet designs and weights for Big bore handguns, including .44 Magnum, .45 Colt, .454 Casull and .500 S&W Magnum. The savings over the cost of specialty factory ammo is considerable for these calibres. Too, ammo for my .416 Rigby can cost over $30/round to purchase factory offerings, once you own the brass, you can roll your own for less than $5.00 per round.

  • xrw November 22, 2015, 9:38 am

    A dangerously misleading article by “frugal” S.Farver. Poor terminology, shopping, and conclusion. no mention of SIGNIFICANT RISKS. nice pics! Blannelberry is an editor? of this article? or proofreader? oh, it was spellchecked!

    Others have made valuable comments. I will add SHE HAS NO SAVINGS.
    she is spending “$10 per box … the average cost of the store bought 9mm rounds are $.76”. wow $38/50! PSA and CTD have 9mm in brass on sale for under $10/50. plus i thought i’d reload 300 blackout but i can’t come close to two big online reloaders. same for 556. and they buy back brass. yes brass will get scarce after SHTF unless you follow the military around, at a safe distance! i will stock the final item as it is hard to measure powder without lighting between attacks.

    And if she could save $5/50 and spent $350 on machinery, then she must reload 70 boxes or 3500 to break even. not counting 150+ hr labor and the risk of damaging the gun and shooter. then she is getting ahead, 10c each. $1 per hr labor? THERE ARE NO SAVINGS FOR BEGINNERS PAYING RETAIL AT STORES. THEY SHOULD TRY RELOADING FIRST [ASK at a gun store], THEN INVEST FOR PLEASURE, BE ACCURATE, FOCUS. NO TV. NO TALKING! BE SAFE.

  • Terry November 21, 2015, 10:17 pm

    Been reloading for over fifty years and believe me I don’t think I could afford to shoot rifles without reloading. Everything. From ,222 – .50 cal. Using rcbs. Everything else Dillon 650. To say it doesn’t save money is just not true. Cost of 222 $27.99 box of 20. Cost of reloading. $$8.00 or less. The 50 doesn’t really save a lot of money however…

  • Fred Farkel November 21, 2015, 9:42 pm

    Bottom line: Evaluate your own situation. Maybe you can save some money, and maybe you can build superior ammo, but neither is a slam-dunk. I used to reload shotgun target loads for $2.65 per 25. Now – if I still reloaded – it would be more like $7.00. I can buy decent target shells for under $6.

  • Rodney November 21, 2015, 3:11 pm

    I got into reloading about 5 years ago and I absolutely love it. I wanted to learn something new so I thought reloading would be fun to learn. I started asking for reloading equipment at Christmas time from my in-laws and other family members. So basically I got nearly all of mine for free. Except for some of the smaller things that I wanted. As far as brass is concerned, I get mine from a friend of mine who is a instructor with a local PD. So I get hundreds of 9mm,40,45, and 5.56/223. So really all I buy is primers, bullets and powder. Sometimes I get those for Christmas or even birthday. It’s truly relaxing to me and it helps take works stress away too. It’s a fun hobby.

  • Pedler November 21, 2015, 3:14 am

    I have been loading for about 40 years now.
    Recently, I discovered another important benefit.
    I don’t have to drive all over the place or pay shipping charges to get the cartridges I have adjusted my sights for–I just make them.
    The acountants can figure out the time and gas cost while I pump another hundred 45’s out.

  • five in one hole November 20, 2015, 7:26 pm

    The hunter that goes out three times a year most likely would not benefit from reloading. Pistol guys that really shoot a lot of rounds a year will save some money. I shoot bench rest and that means testing and more testing, so reloading is an absolute necessity. It however has gone from casual reloading to obsession. When you focus is on dropping on one kernel of powder at a time to get that correct charge its time to get help. It however is fun and gratifying to achieve good results.

  • Paul November 20, 2015, 6:59 pm

    Reload Cost—12 Gauge, 16 yard trap

    Case Win AA $ 0.000
    Primer Fiochi .027
    Powder Red Dot .049 (16.5gr $20.84 lb)
    Wad CB (CBO178-12) .019 (WAA12L equiv.)
    Lead (7/8 oz) .096 (@ $44 per 25lbs)
    $ 0.191 Per Rnd.

    19.1 cents per round x 25 = $4.78 box

    • Hosea December 10, 2016, 3:16 pm

      Walmart has this for about $5.50 a box.

  • Huapakechi November 20, 2015, 6:08 pm

    I find the ultimate cheap 9mm FMJ for $10/box of 50. The real savings come with reloading rifle rounds. Those cost ~ $1.00 each or more, depending on the particular projectile. Reloading brings the price of these beauties down to about $0.30 each, or less. Carefully inspect the fired brass. The chamber pressures of a rifle (I shoot 30.06) are incredible.

  • blh557 November 20, 2015, 4:15 pm

    I shoot a 300 Remington Ultra Mag. Store bought rounds are in the neighborhood of $4-6 each. I load <.75 MOA rounds for about 75 cents each. My 9mm for about 10 cents.

    I'm sold.

  • James November 20, 2015, 3:45 pm

    The writer makes this a very confusing article due to incorrect terminology.
    A bullet is what comes out of the barrel.
    A case (or brass) is what holds the primer, propellant (or powder), and bullet (or projectile). When these are assembled it is called a cartridge, or a round of ammunition.
    I pick up brass at the range for free. I buy primers from local suppliers for about $30 per 1000, and powder for $22 – $26 per pound. Buying locally saves on shipping and the $28.50 hazmat fee. Depending on the amount I use (typically 3.5 – 4.5 grains of TiteGroup) in 9 MM, .40, .45 or .38, that costs about 1.5¢ per round. I buy copper plated bullets from X-Treme for around 7¢ – 12¢ each, depending on the caliber, weight and type. It costs me about 12¢ – 13¢ per round of 9 MM, including the depreciation of the tumbler and cleaning media. If you cast your own bullets it is possible to make them for a few cents less per round.

  • Ryan November 20, 2015, 2:47 pm

    Without getting into what’s already been mentioned, if you enjoy shooting and have some spare time, it’s worth reloading for pistol.
    As far as bottleneck rifle cases go, unless you have lots of spare time, custom loads or a rare caliber, it’s a long tedious process. (To do them the right way).
    As with anything else, there are cheaper, better, faster ways to do anything. All it takes is $$$. Same goes for reloading.

    • Jethro November 20, 2015, 3:17 pm

      You have it exactly backwards…

  • BRASS November 20, 2015, 1:04 pm

    I used to reload so I could shoot, now decades later and retired, I shoot so I can reload.
    I used to have trouble loading enough to support my shooting, now I have trouble shooting enough to support my reloading.

  • Me November 20, 2015, 12:44 pm

    I love how once these types of articles get published, they bring all the “experts” out of the Wood Work. I especially enjoy how some of the Commenter’s attempt to Hijack the thread by turning it into a Political Soap Box. (I’m rolling my eyes as I type that). They are more interested in advancing Their own particular agenda & bragging about their Set Up than actually understanding the message the Author was trying to convey. As it far too often seems to happen on these blogs, they missed the target/point. (ironic in light of the fact they all claim to be Shooters)

    That being said, I purchased most of my “Set Up” in 1980 and most of my equipment was purchased used at Flea Markets and Garage Sales.. The point is, I shelled out a fraction of what today’s neophyte Hand Loaders pay for NIB equipment. With the Exception of 22LR I can’t remember the last time I purchased factory ammo. That being said, used equipment can still be purchased on Ebay, Amazon, and Gun Auction Sites at a fraction of NIB prices. The good news for the Neo’s is that most, if not all of this equipment long out lives it’s original/current owners. Even in 1980 I saved untold amounts of Cash cooking my own brew of loads. These Days the savings are indeed profound. Plus it’s always been a good way to while away cold, rainy or snowy afternoons. It sure beats vegging out in front of the Boob Tube watching Re-runs & Commercials.

    Today I load for no less than Six different Rifles, Three Shotguns and Four Handguns. I have a 13’x 15′ heated Shed with a fridge & TV attached to the Garage dedicated to nothing but Reloading. (Yes I’m bragging a little) My Son’s and my Best Friend/Wife are all enjoy helping, learning, and enjoying each other through this “Hobby” I fell into all those years ago. There are few things more satisfying in this Life than taking a prized Game Animal or laying down a Sub MOA Group with a self concocted Load you have spent time and treasure creating. One of my sincerest wishes is that when I’m gone, my Family will continue the tradition with their Family’s

    Skewed percentages and misplaced terminology aside, this was a good article aimed at exploring & encouraging ways for Couple’s to spend more time together. Encouraging Companionship and shared Interest’s between ourselves & the ones we love and care about is never a bad thing.

    • Jethro November 20, 2015, 1:11 pm

      Unlike the rest of these Posers….You hit the Bulls-Eye….Best Post on the Whole Blog…Amen & Thank You

  • Justin November 20, 2015, 12:17 pm

    9mm brass is very forgiving with plinking loads, 2 reloads might happen if you’re rolling at +P+ pressures. Split necks, loose primer pockets and /or case head separation should be the only reasons for tossing pistol brass; a good argument can also be made for swaged primers too.
    As much as having a single stage press is good for small lots of tester cartridges, production work is best left to dedicated progressive presses. Realistic production for progressive vs single is 500-600 to 50 respectively.

    As for sourcing the haz-mat supplies, buy in bulk to spread out that extra fee. Buying in bulk also removes some of the lot to lot inconsistency in powder.
    I suggest reading all you can of published load manuals, they spell out many of these things in greater detail.

  • TwoDogs November 20, 2015, 11:32 am

    I sure wouldn’t toss pistol brass after a “couple” of reloadings. It’s good for much longer than that. I shoot mine until they crack.

  • Crunchy Frog November 20, 2015, 11:12 am

    The erroneous reference to “grams” of powder needs to be corrected to read “grains”. It is a safety issue.

    • Mitch Spence November 20, 2015, 3:16 pm

      Oh yes. Anybody confusing and or writing grams vs grains needs to say well away from reloading, and perhaps writing.

    • Lou S. November 21, 2015, 9:04 am

      To all the guys complaining about the author stating grams when grains should have been used….. read the frikken article again…. good grief guys!

    • Me November 23, 2015, 12:02 pm

      I think you’re a safety issue cause you’re an idiot. You should probably be “corrected” too.

  • Alf November 20, 2015, 9:23 am

    I enjoy reloading. It’s my get away from everyone and get some down time. My wife got into the stay armed scene and she will be a little more tolerant of my hobby. I get 3 reloads to each round. I save on 1-1/2 boxes of ammo by reloading.

  • missourisam November 20, 2015, 9:14 am

    For very little more, you can cast your own bullets and save a lot more. I have, over the years hoarded lead from wheel weights to the extent that I have several hundred pounds of it. It makes great practice ammo, and brings the price down. Wheel weights are still available at tire shops, but now you have to pay scrap price. Still cheaper than commercial bullets. One note, If you shoot a Glock, you will be shelling out for a rifled barrel which will add to the cost, but I found that it improved the accuracy of my Glock immensely.

  • Don Mei November 20, 2015, 9:10 am

    Reloading only makes sense if you get pleasure out of the process in and of itself. Although the lure of money savings often starts people reloading, they aren’t going to stay with it and be any good at it if they don’t get hooked on reloading as a hobby in and of itself.

    Re marking the cases with a red stripe. That is totally pointless. Unless you are loading self defense ammo or for very high power rounds like .460 S&W, there is no reason to track the number of times a piece of brass has been reloaded. When I go to the range, I mix my reloaded brass with all the once fired stuff I pick up off the floor. I’ve been doing it for 25 years and never had a problem. You also don’t “retire” pistol brass after a few reloadings unless you just like to add cost and/or complexity to your life. I have 9mm brass that has been reloaded so many times the head stamp is practically worn off. Until there is cracking around the mouth, it gets reused. And if you set your powder die to only bell the mouth as much as is necessary to accept the bullet without “shaving lead” then they will last a long long time.

    Also, your costs are off. Based on your article, you do things differently than 99% of the reloaders I’ve ever met. All of these things increase your costs.

    1) You pay for 9mm brass – good god. NOBODY pays for 9mm brass. If I’m making precision rifle loads, I’ve paid for Lapua brass. But for 9mm, range pick ups are all you will ever need. I just finished a defensive pistol class at the Sig Sauer Academy . Over the course of the class, 9 of us shot about 1500 rounds each. Guess who got all the brass?? Scoring 13,000+ pieces of 9mm brass does not happen every day. But its not uncommon for me to score a couple of hundred pieces while at the range. The bottom line is that brass should almost always be considered to be FREE.

    2) Reloaders buy in bulk. You don’t buy a 1 lb bottle of powder unless you are working on a load and aren’t sure you like the powder or you can’t find the 8 lb jug. Mail order on primers and bullets typically include a $25 hazmat fee regardless of whether you buy 1 lb of powder or 50. If you are willing to spend $500 or more on primers and powder, your costs can come way way down. The same is true of bullets. I can reload 9mm for $5.30/box and .45 ACP for 6.40/box. I don’t cast my own bullets and I don’t shoot bare lead bullets.

    All of your analytics are great. I’m not knocking that. But the numbers/assumptions just aren’t realistic.

    One other thing. I don’t know anyone who has started reloading pistol ammo on a single stage press who stayed with it for more than a year. Its just too slow. When you can get a Dillon Square Deal B for $439 with dies. It just doesn’t make sense.

    At the very least your readers should consider the Lee Classic Cast turret press. This press can be used like a traditional single stage press. That’s how I use it to make rifle ammo. With the insertion of the auto index rod, it can be used to crank out ammo at the rate of about 120 rounds per hour. I use the Lee this way to make small batches of handgun ammo that I don’t shoot a lot of in a given year. .44 mag, .460 S&W mag, .38 Spcl. The amazing thing about this little Lee Turret is that it can be used to load precision rifle with a powder scale and it can be used to load pistol reasonably quickly with the Lee Disk powder drop. All in all, this press will set you back about $150 with the powder drop.

    If you are mechanically inclined and have the money, then a Dillon 650 is very fast. I jokingly say I MANUFACTURE ammo on my 650, but I CRAFT ammo on my Lee when I run it like a single stage.

    If you have the money, I suggest people start with the Dillon 550. It can be used like a single stage by running one shell around at a time. Until you get things straight.

    Either way, this article is a good perspective from a novice. But it needs to be balanced with input from experienced reloaders so that other novices don’t get the wrong idea.

    In closing, again, the most important thing when you start reloading is that you must understand that if your only goal is cheap ammo, you will most likely not be successful.

  • J D November 20, 2015, 9:08 am

    6.4 grains, not grams.

  • Rodger November 20, 2015, 9:02 am

    Just remember that in case of an accidental kaboom from your reloads, your gun will be destroyed and no gun company will warrant your firearm from damage due to reloads. No thanks, but I will continue to buy from reputable manufacturers. My guns are much more important and expensive than cheap reloads.

    • saa1903 November 28, 2015, 7:37 am

      I’ve seen more then one firearm that has been destroyed by factory ammo. The most recent was a vintage Garand that blew up during the firing of cheap steel-cased factory ammo.

      My quality control beats the big manufacturers hands down. I load and inspect each and every round. I don’t depend on machines to QC millions of rounds a week. Granted, you have to be meticulous, but if you’re not, you shouldn’t be reloading in the first place.

  • Mike Twidle November 20, 2015, 8:44 am

    It’s real simple if you shoot a lot it pays to reload. If you don’t it doesn’t. I can reload a box of 9mm for just under $7.00 you can buy it for around $12.00. Time is only money if you are working for it. If you are just sitting down watching TV reloading doesn’t cost you any time.

  • ASanders November 20, 2015, 8:34 am

    I beg to differ, but only to those who say you don’t save a significant amount of money. On plinking 9mm, that is correct, it will cost you about $6.000-$7.00 per box to reload if you do it right. The brass lasts many more than 2 or 3 loadings, so that is a constant savings. If you step up to .38 special, or .357 Mag, or .45 Auto, you savings increase by much more. Let’s say you reload your defense rounds as I do, A box of store bought hollow-points, decent ones, will cost between $15-$25 a box of 20, I reload better rounds than that myself and using the same bullets that they use for the most part, I pay only $25-$30 per 100, so I load 5 boxes for what 1-2 boxes of store bought cost. So that is my 2 cents worth on that.

  • Roy November 20, 2015, 8:27 am

    Reloading is fun, some would say addictive, and as the author said – “it depends on how you are wired”. As for the comments it does not save money, that is relative.

    It is particularly relative to what you shoot. For example, the numbers the author gives (Appx. $10/box) for 9mm might cut your cost by $3-4/box and cost a lot more than that in time, but if you shoot a .357mag, the cost of reloading goes up $2-3 per box but the savings jumps exponentially (one of the more affordable store brands cost $24 at my local Cabelas. I can reload that box of brass for about .10 a round and reuse the brass 5 or 6 time. Cost of reloading for my .41 mag is .03/round more but .41 mag rounds cost $40/box at the store.

    Shoot a large caliber rifle? My favorite rifle is picky, it likes Barnes VorTX 162gr bullets that cost $2.10 each at the store, I can reload them for .40. Granted that is not a round you load for volume, but accuracy counts in a 150-200 meter shot.

    So, is it worth it? “depends on how you are wired.” If you shoot a lot, yes, over time the volume will justify the cost. If you shoot an expensive round – yes, again over time savings will justify your choice. Want more accurate rounds for long range shots- again, it is worth it.

  • Old Shooter November 20, 2015, 8:06 am

    A really good article and some super comments. I initially kept track of how much I spent vs the cost of what my rounds would have cost me. I broke even in about 6 months. Loading for long guns is where I find a big savings. I normally shoot two to three days or more per week. I usually fire about 60 rounds of 6.5 Creedmore (retail cost $1.45 per round), 100 rounds of 6.5 Grendel ($1.14 per rd) and 100+ rounds of Match .308. Thanks to reloading I can afford my passion. It’s also very relaxing and allows me to try various loads to get the best accuracy. Great hobby and I recommend it to everybody. Oh! As far as the brass. I’ve used range brass for handgun and 5.56.. For the above rifles, as well as .204 Ruger & 6BR, I invest in Lapua or Hornady brass so I can maintain accuracy.

  • David November 20, 2015, 7:53 am

    It is a wonderful knowledge to have if you have time and space to do it. If you shoot for distance and want extreme accuracy hand loading for your match grade weapon gives you the best round suited to fit your shooting style.
    If you don’t have the time or space or you don’t shoot for accuracy at distance, then store bought ammo is best for you.

  • Blaßted Cap November 20, 2015, 7:29 am

    You can save even .more when you cast your own bullets out of range scrap from bullets out of the back stop. You can d4op the cost to around $2.50 per box of 50 then.

  • Tom November 20, 2015, 6:37 am

    Great article, no doubt you can save some dollars by reloading. However, using all new components, the savings are minimal, and loading pistol rounds one at a time is very tedious and time consuming. I would suggest shooting factory loads and save your brass for a while, and then consider investing in a progressive reloader if you see you will be shooting a good volume of ammo. Thanks again for a interesting article

  • Tom November 20, 2015, 6:21 am

    If it’s a hobby the time factor is a non-factor. It can save money but the savings are not worth dickering about. There’s a pride factor and that goes with the hobby. It’s a challenge and a science. It makes it a sport and sports are more fun to play than watch. It comes down to do you like opening a box and shoot and go. Or is your range day analysis and interest at a whole different level. I reload seven different calibers in smokeless powder…and cast six different caliber muzzle-loading balls for black powder rifles/pistols and revolvers. What a great hobby.
    Maybe finding time when the wife is not around makes it easier for guys like me…and plus having a wife who ‘gets’ hobbies makes a big difference. Just thought I’d “weigh in” for the hobby guys. Have fun!

  • david November 20, 2015, 6:13 am

    Walmart sells 9mm fmj for around 12.50 a box of 50. Reloading at that price is not worth it but reloading
    rifle rounds, say .308, is definitely cost effective.

  • TommyG November 20, 2015, 5:42 am

    This article points out the difference in cost between factory loaded 9mm and reloads. 9mm ammo is just about the cheapest ammo you can buy, excepting 22lr of course (which is’nt reloadable). Savings go up significantly once you get into the rifle cartridges and more expensive pistol/revolver ammo. The more obscure your cartridge is, the more likely you are to save money. The range I go to sells it’s used Brass by the pound, which helps keep down costs as well.

  • Pete November 20, 2015, 5:17 am

    My wife and I are middle volume shooters, over 30K rounds a year easily. If your range lets you pick up your brass, do it. I started saving my range brass back in early 2000, now I have two giant Rubbermaid containers (40+ gallon each) full of assorted range brass. Wife and I sort them and keep a ready supply of brass to feed our Lyman TurboPro 2500 tumbler. We give unwanted calibers (e.g. .40S&W, 10mm, .38 Super) to our range buds that can use them. Half of your ammo cost is the brass, saving it and reloading it makes it very economical. Also when there are shortages, like during the onset of the second gulf war, you still have ammo while others do not. Buying bullets in bulk from places like Montana gold (2500 case bulk lots) keeps that cost down too. Powder is best bought in 5 or 8 Lb. bottles, this maintains a good supply. Invest in BATFE and fire dept approved powder storage lockers and keep up a good supply in times of plenty against times of want. It all pays off in more fun at the range, improved and more consistent loads and readiness in case of emergency.

  • Big Al November 20, 2015, 4:55 am

    Just wait – STOP THE PRESSES!!! First, while the author of this article seems to be directing it toward someone who is new to reloading or has never done so, how about using the proper terminology!!! As in… For $48 you can buy 1000 9mm “bullets” (correct term). Using a load of 6.4 “grams” (WHAT??? – NOT correct – see grains!) of powder you can make 1093 “bullets” (may I suggest “cartridges?). Not trying to be “politically” correct, but reloading is a precise operation. I would suggest that 6.4 grams (98.7 grains) of any smokeless powder likely will not fit in a 9mm Luger case.
    Genuinely good article, just say what you mean – because, not always do we know what you really mean to say.

    • Don Mei November 20, 2015, 9:13 am

      Excellent point. Cartridge, case, bullet, primer. By the way a “casing” is something you make sausage with.

  • Jeff November 20, 2015, 4:14 am

    The best thing about reloading is that I get high-quality ammo for just over half the price of the cheap stuff. I find reloading enjoyable, too, although some may find it tedious. Even then, it beats watching reruns of “Friends”.

    • eddy March 23, 2016, 4:29 am

      Somebody who gets it and actually understands, that reloads can be the best ammo you will ever shoot.

  • Will Drider November 20, 2015, 12:30 am

    To those that don’t reload. Pick up you fired brass its has value. You may decide to start reloading at a later date. When you have a few pounds you can sell it. Casings are the hardest thing to manufacture. You can make bullets, powder and rebuild primers if SHTF and supplies dry up but I don’t think individuals will be able to make them. Some say cartridges will be the the new currency after a total collapse, brass will be the pocket change. Cases will only last a finite amount of firings before they fail and a large portion of cases will not be recovered by the shooter if things are really bad. Do you have a VERY STRONG black powder revolver (w/extra cylinder) your stach? It may be the only thing you can feed X years down a bad road.

    • Pete November 20, 2015, 5:21 am

      There are already plans to make singe use polymer based cases in development. Several industries are working on that so that militaries in South America can limit component availability to opposing forces. I am sure the local anti-gun band wagon will jump on this when it becomes widely known. Save your brass.

  • Kent November 19, 2015, 10:27 am

    Generally speaking, reloading doesn’t save you that much money, if any, but you get to shoot a whole lot more for the same amount of money, and that’s really what it’s all about; shooting, and the more you shoot the better you get at it, and the better you get the more fun you have. More IS better in this case.

    However, Barack Obama dramatically changed the above scenario. With every Obama threat of draconian gun control (and he REALLY means it), shortages, and the price of ammo skyrockets along with most reloading components, and save the NRA, Obama has gotten virtually no push back, ON ANYTHING, including obvious offenses reaching the Supreme Court. Yes, many shooters started hoarding, but who can honestly blame them? So, given all that, the immediate foreseeable future (Hillary?!) is not encouraging. Better to begin reloading now if you don’t already, stock up on components, and keep shooting as long as we can.

    The silver lining in the bad news above is the more people that buy guns for whatever reason, many recently for the very first time, results in more people wanting to not have them taken away, and that’s a good thing, a very good thing. Stop depending on politicians and judges. It’s ALL up to us, now.

    • CA.UTAH November 20, 2015, 6:59 pm

      Kent,

      Wrong! I reload multiple calibers for 40-50% less than the CHEAPEST store bought ammo. 70-90% less than premium ammo. Not only that, My ammo is what I call premium since it is custom tuned to each of my firearms and is more accurate than most store bought ammo. It is also a fantastic hobby that all the guys in my family enjoy. This is win, win, win for us!

    • Dave Thater November 21, 2015, 10:30 pm

      Just common sense basically. You should do it, get profecient with it and know you can produce good quality ammo when you need to. New will work on wine/ beef making next time….

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