Factoring in the initial cost of equipment can be misleading if you reload for just one caliber. For inexpensive rounds like the 9mm, it can take tens of thousands of rounds reloaded before the equipment pays for itself. OTOH, the same setup you use for the 9mm, with just the swap of dies, can allow you to reload for another caliber on the cheap. My idea of a basic bare bones setup would be, press, scale, weights(to check scale) tumbler and powder measure. YMMV, and others may have a different variation, but this is my idea of basic. These are pretty fixed as far as being universal in their use. I mainly reload for the .44 Mag and .45 LC, and factory ammo in those calibers often runs to $.50 per round, or higher. Commercial reloads can be had for as little as $.25 per round. With careful component selection, I can get the cost per round down to under a dime a shot, and maybe less if I can get a good deal on some of the components. Now, as you note, 9mm ammo is rather plentiful, and relativly cheap. In that case, to reload for only the 9mm, would require a lot more reloads to equal the same savings. In my case, my investment in reloading the 9mm required I buy only a set of dies for my press at a cost of around $20.00. I try to stick with one powder for everything I reload, presently that powder is Unique, so powder cost kind of gets lost in the factoring as well as primer cost ( I also reload for the .38/,357 Mag using standard small pistol primers). Basiclly what I am left with is just brass and bullets as far as component costs, since the other components also get used elswhere. For bullets, the price can range from $.05 each for generic bulk 124 gr FMJ, to $.12 each for Speer GDHP. In 9mm, I figure my total cost per round to be 7 to 11 cents each, depending a lot on bullet and brass selection. Bullets are a one time cost of $.05, and brass (New unprimed Win or Rem at an initial cost of $.09 in lots of 1000 at www.midwayusa.com),
figureing a life span of 5 reloads, is about $.02, another $.02 per primer, and $.005 to $015 per round of powder. My high side of reloading the 9mm, is right at the cost of cheap range ammo, BUT, that uses premium components. Pretty much for my 10 to 12 cents a shot, I can shoot Golden Sabers. When you compare reloads to factory ammo that just goes bang, the line is kinda blurred. When you take into account you can "shoot champagne for the price of beer" it becomes a bit more defined. Then there is the added transparent bonus that you don't have to let high ammo cost bar you from a different caliber. Say somewhere down the road, you find you just can't live without a Raging Bull, but balk at the cost of over $1.00 a shot for .454 ammo. All of a sudden, those $.095 per round .45LC's you can load look awful good. I tend to get the exact facts a bit skewed at times (right Denise
), but I think you can catch the drift. Reloading allows you to be more versital and shoot better quality ammo. A somewhat lower cost per shot is a side bonus at times. If nothing else, the knowledge of ballistics you can gather is priceless.