The economics of reloading.

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Ammunition is widely available and well-priced in a lot of instances right now. I priced out some reloading supplies and the economics don't work out compared to buying new ammo in various common calibers. 1st case in point: 308/7.62x51 NATO Colorado Brass sells a combo set of 500 once-fired cases and 500 168gr FMJBT 308 rounds for $.43/rd. That's prior to shipping. And that doesn't include the primer or powder. Assuming the primer is $.04 and the powder is $.03, that's $0.50/rd for the components to assemble a cartridge. Provisions for time spent and the big startup cost of a complete reloading bench are not included. Wal-Mart has ZQI 308 ammunition, brass cased, for $9.97 for a box of 20. Pre-assembled, ready to fire. You might say, HEY! I already have the brass! Ok, then knock $0.125 off the reloaded price. You still need to pay off the price of the reloading bench. That's a long way to go to amortize that expense. And this assumes your time is free. Case in point 2: 9mm Parabellum Same supplier. Powder, $0.02 Primer, $0.04 Bullet, $0.15 Brass case, $0.05 (very dirty lot, needs tumbled, resized, primer removed, etc. Full processing needed) Assume shipping and taxes are free. Cost per round: $0.24. GECO German made 9mm 124gr NATO rounds are $0.24 from many different suppliers. Ready to rock and roll, made to top top top tier specifications. I can see where reloading starts making sense for benchrest shooters, people who want to make super-accurate ammo and want full control of the process, or people who shoot non-standard calibers that aren't made in such bulk. I just can't make the economic justification for it RIGHT NOW for people who shoot standard caliber non-exotic rounds at targets for fun. Last time ammunition got scarce, reloading components got even more scarce. Primers were impossible to find for quite a long time. Bullets were backordered too. Sure, blow a hole in my argument by saying that you melt down and cast your own. That's fantastic. That involves a lot of work and more startup expenses, and you have a harder time cleaning lead fouling vs. a jacketed round. Any thoughts?
 
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Agree for common lower cost calibers reload doesn't have a reasonable payback. If you shoot 44 mag or 300 winmag then maybe it works.
 
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Haven't done it for a a while (too long)...but in Oz, once I'd fired my 55c American Eagles, I could reload for 27c using Horndy V-Max, ADI 2207 powder, and Winchester/CCI primers. .44Mag, buying brass and making rounds was half price first time round also...1/4 to 1/3 price thereafter.
 

L_Sludger

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I am by no means against reloading. I'm all for it because it teaches one to respect the cartridge, and that it's pure fun to do it. I've heard it's very relaxing. So as a recreational activity, why not. This is just a thought exercise in whether or not it's worth it from a purely economical perspective for super mass-produced, dirt-common rounds.
 
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I thought re-loading was a hobby where you could experiment and get something that was not commercially available. I have friends that re-load and they say cost comparison is not part of the deal for them. One of them has a hot wildcat that burns up barrels and is very accurate in a small rifle. He put a lot of effort into the whole deal and has as much fun with the re-loading as he does with the shooting. He also built/assembled the rifle and keeps a spread sheet on the loads, bullets, brass, trigger and the barrel. For him you can't possibly buy the rifle or the ammo he shoots. And some of the preppers around her shoot black powder, cap and ball stuff with home made lead bullets. I have a 44 cal cap and ball six shooter pistol and it's a lot of fun to load and shoot. If I wanted to re-load for home defense this would be a good candidate if I could figure out how often I'd have to fire the gun and re-load it to be sure it would fire when needed.
 
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I never got into reloading, but know people who are. It's a hobby and when a hobby can break even, that is even better. Plus saving money and relaxing by pulling a lever is a good sell to the wife. But mostly I'm lazy and cheap and shoot alot of steel cased ammo. If I do shoot brass cased i try and pick it, but don't sweat it like some reloaders do. Plus now I have someone to give my boxer primed brass too. they get excited when I have 7.5x55 swiss empties in the original box!
 
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You need to get into some different calibers to see real savings: .500 Magnum Commercial ammo is $2.00 to $7.00 per round 300 grain Hornady FTX (factory second) .40 Brass (1/5, five firings lifespan) .20 Powder (48 grains, $20/lb) .14 Primer (WLR) .03 Total: .77 Plus, buying components in bulk, I've got ammo during the shortages.
 
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I reload quite a bit and stick primarily to rifle. I do not reload for savings but for the joy of taking a rifle, any rifle, and finding the right bullet/powder/seating/primer combo that makes it shoot tiny 5 shot groups. There can still be a substantial cost savings to reloading. As of current factory pricing, there can be savings at the lower end of the spectrum (think comp shooters who shoot 40k a year of say 45acp) and high end (think Barnes TTSX, especially in larger calibers, and Accubonds, as well, etc...). Factor in a single piece of brass can be used multiple times (especially if you anneal cases, and the cost falls. Some combo's of reloading won't save you much, if anything, and you need to factor in your time to do these operations as well. But there can be savings, it all comes down to what exactly you are reloading and how much you want to shoot that combo.
 
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Originally Posted By: BISCUT
I do not reload for savings but for the joy of taking a rifle, any rifle, and finding the right bullet/powder/seating/primer combo that makes it shoot tiny 5 shot groups.
This. +1.
 
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Originally Posted By: cashmoney
Agree for common lower cost calibers reload doesn't have a reasonable payback. If you shoot 44 mag or 300 winmag then maybe it works.
When I ran my own cost/benefit analysis, I saw that ROI can vary a TON depending on caliber. For 10mm (I have a G20), the ROI was several thousand rounds. For a .338 Lapua, the breakeven point was only 82 rounds. sick
 
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True, getting under 3/4 inch groups out of my CZ527 when I got the stars to line up was great...as was 4 leaf clover in a mate's Remington 700.
 
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It depends on a number of things, but I have not found a way to buy the same ammunition for less than I can reload it. Case in point for my varmint hunting ammunition and provided my math is correct (and these are November 2014 prices--this is for .223 ammo): $805 = 1000 rounds of factory ammo ($15.66 x 50 = $783 + $22 shipping) [Hornady Varmint Express with 55gr Hornady V-Max bullets] (Cheaper than Dirt) $18.79 (Midway) per 20 round box $21.29 (Cabela's) per 20 round box $15.66 (Cheaper than dirt) per 20 round box $17.95 (Ammunition to go) per 20 round box $22.99 (Gander Mountain) per 20 round box $19.33 (AVERAGE) per 20 round box, but I am using the cheapest number of $15.66 per box $87 = 1000 rounds of once fired brass (free shipping) [Lake City; cleaned, de-primed, and swaged] (Brass Bombers) $121 = 4# powder ($81 +$40 shipping/hazmat)[Accurate 2200] (Powder Valley); 7000 grains in a pound and each cartridge takes about 24 grains (max load). 7000/24 = 291 rounds per pound, so just over 3.5# of powder needed. $26.50 = 1000 CCI small rifle primers (Shipping included with powder) (Powder Valley) $158 = 1000 55 grain bullets ($148 + $10 shipping) [Hornady V-Max] (MidSouth Shooters) $393 = TOTAL COST $306 = NEXT/SUBSEQUENT RELOAD (Typically no brass is needed; but all cases should be checked and verified) Cost savings over factory ammo: $412 = 1st loading ($805-$393) $499 = 2nd loading ($805-$306) I have paid for all of my reloading equipment through the years via costs savings of reloading versus purchasing ammunition and it is a nice hobby of mine too. YMMV, but if you shoot a lot of ammunition, it is worth looking into reloading--this is especially true since you can custom tailor the load to the particular rifle.
 
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Hand loads and reloads can be useful for specific situations. My LR308 really likes Sierra 168g BTHP rounds, IMR powder and and and. It's an attempt at Federal Gold Medal Match 168 duplication. And, even when handloaded with all new components, it's about 1/2 the price. The results are excellent.
 
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It is just one of those "It just depends" situations. Type and volume man. I mainly load for 300WBY, 257 Ackley, and target loads for my 308. You pretty much don't have a lot of choices on the first two (If you have seen the cost of factory Weatherby ammo), and to get a really accurate 308, you pretty much have to do your own loads to get that extra .125 off your group. 5.56, 9mm and .45, I will just buy brass boxer primed loads, shoot it, and save the brass for later if it gets rare. In the long run, with few exceptions, it will always be cheaper to load it yourself. The thing is, at least with me, is how much spare time I have, and how much my time is worth.
 
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Quote:
It depends on a number of things, but I have not found a way to buy the same ammunition for less than I can reload it.
Ditto. Currently, the margins are thinner. I can buy the cheapest available decent ammo for only a little above (initial) reloading costs. In the '90s, it was a much more substantial difference. But then as well as now, i could shoot my reloads for much greater accuracy in a given gun than commercial loads. if you punch paper and like the results, reloads are a blast. Also, the OPs figured assumed brass was fired once and discarded. I suspect that when reusing brass, and getting 1x fired quality brass cheap, you'll see the per-piece price drop and the cost advantages add up. but in the end, you also have to have the time and desire to do it - your time and the tuning/accuracy benefits may just not motivate you enough to do it.
 

L_Sludger

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Originally Posted By: Oro_O
Also, the OPs figured assumed brass was fired once and discarded
Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope noes! I save brass whenever possible.. I know that brass is reusable, sometimes for many reloads depending on whether or not it was fired in an unsupported chamber (case bottom bulging) Pistol brass is cheap as chips. Good rifle caliber brass is a little more valuable. Uncommon, custom rifle brass is money in the bank.
 
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I knew some guys who were reloaders and I knew two guys in particular. I thought about becoming a reloader myself and I did a lot of discussion with these reloaders. I don't think reloading really makes that much sense when it comes to common calibers like 9mm, unless a person is doing an incredible amount of shooting. There is a considerable investment in equipment. Whatever a person decides to do, become a reloader or not, don't take bad advice from people who probably don't know what they are talking about. For example, I don't think most if any reloaders would consider reloading aluminum or steel cases. Both metals are hard on dies and the dies cost more than cases. I don't know about Federal aluminum cases but I do know that Blazer aluminum cases are not designed to be reloaded. The reloaders I knew would walk right past aluminum and steel cases. They would use only brass. I used to shoot a lot with this one reloader. He would save the brass cases but all of the aluminum cases were thrown in the trash can. I was present when a .45 Long Colt round exploded in a .45 single action revolver and I saw a photograph of a 1911 .45 and a .45 round had exploded in that .45. I changed my mind about reloading. I don't shoot that much and it just makes sense to shoot factory ammo. If you do decide to become a reloader, get good advice from people who really know what they are doing.
 

L_Sludger

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Originally Posted By: Mystic
I was present when a .45 Long Colt round exploded in a .45 single action revolver and I saw a photograph of a 1911 .45 and a .45 round had exploded in that .45. I changed my mind about reloading. I don't shoot that much and it just makes sense to shoot factory ammo.
Backstory? Were they reloaded rounds? Were those big cartridges charged incorrectly? It's possible to overcharge big rounds like that. The 9mm not so much, it's barely got enough case volume to do the correct amount of powder. Despite the thread, I'm looking closely into a starter reloading setup just to get started. This wouldn't be for economics but more for a fun activity. I heard good stuff about the Lee presses, but if I ask five people I'd get five opinions..
 
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I think the round in the .45 Long Colt was a reload. In the case of the 1911 .45 apparently it was just a defective gun, or else there had been something wrong with the round fired. I only saw a photograph of the 1911 .45. It would make you think a little bit. The only thing I am saying is get some good advice from real reloaders.
 
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