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Old April 1, 2011, 12:30 AM   #1
Madball6
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Initial Costs?

Ok I read the stickies and learned a little bit about reloading equipment. But what I really need is a cost analysis (thats actually a fancy way of being able to tell my wife "I Promise honey this will save us money!). Whats the minimum i can start reloading for VS. money saved? What Calibers AREN'T worth reloading? currently considering .223/.380/9x19/.40s&w/.38/.357/.45acp. Those being the calibers that i own and shoot regularly.

I know this is a very broad question, but im hoping someone can steer me in the right direction.
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Old April 1, 2011, 12:58 AM   #2
hk33ka1
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You can buy all the tools to reload say .223 or .308 for $100 from Lee. You will then need empty brass, primers, bullets and at least 1lb of powder. A manual, bolts to hold press, something to bolt the press to and a digital calipre that measures to .001" make life much easier. Probably every calibre is worth reloading, but the ones you can buy cheapest will just have less savings for reloading. 9mm is one calibre you may not save as much as .44mag on, but you still can. Plus you can make ammo in configurations you cannot buy.
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Old April 1, 2011, 01:37 AM   #3
zippy13
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Rest assured, you're not the first one to be found in this situation. As hk33ka1 noted, you can get a basic do-all kit for less than $100. Have you used a cost calculator to see how quickly you'll break even reloading? Here are links to ones for rifle and pistol loads. They may give you a better idea of what your actual costs and savings may be.

Your biggest savings can be realized reloading your classic pistol cartridges with home cast bullets and light charges of hi-energy powder (like Bullseye). The primers are basically the same price as your rifle loads but the powder and bullets may be only about 1/10 as much. With home casts, I load my plinker/target .38-SPL WCs, .357-Mag RNFP, and .45-ACP SWCs for around the same cost as quality .22LRs.
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Old April 1, 2011, 02:16 AM   #4
Madball6
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I appreciate the replies, how about brass cleaning? I've seen all sorts of tumblers and sonics, machines ranging from $20 to hundreds, can it be done manually? If not what are the pitfalls or plusses of any methods?
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Old April 1, 2011, 02:24 AM   #5
farmerboy
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If you're having to beg or ask, you're already started off in the wrong direction!!!! thats my opinion anyhow.... Better off asking the wife what would she like you to get into?
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Old April 1, 2011, 02:31 AM   #6
Madball6
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Lol, the wife is actually a new gun nut, after years of me enjoying this sport on my own she decided to come to the range with me for more "Together Time" and suddenly decided she absolutley loved shooting. She is supportive of me getting into reloading but is just afraid the chicken is gonna cost 4 times the egg. When i delve into a new hobby, i tend to go all in, and she's afraid im going to spend $2,000 on equipment to reload and will take us 20 years to recoup the cost of equipment. So mainly i was looking for a cost analysis to start and what calibers were most cost effective
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Old April 1, 2011, 02:31 AM   #7
Lost Sheep
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Welcome to reloading. Thanks for asking our advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Madball6
I appreciate the replies, how about brass cleaning? I've seen all sorts of tumblers and sonics, machines ranging from $20 to hundreds, can it be done manually? If not what are the pitfalls or plusses of any methods?
I loaded for 30 years cleaning my brass with a soft cloth.

The brass was dirty LOOKING, but shot just fine.

A couple of years ago, my shooting buddy gave me a vibratory cleaner. My brass is shinier now, but still shoots just the same.

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Old April 1, 2011, 02:48 AM   #8
Lost Sheep
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Reloading won't save you money

Most hobbies don't save money.

I get your question, though. Will you save money over buying over-the-counter ammunition.

The cost analysis depends on what you throw in the mix and how reloading changes your shooting habits.

My shooting buddy reloads for 500 S&W Magnum. 75 cents a shot reloaded vs 3 dollars a shot retail. He can amortize a $300 press/dies/scale setup in four boxes of ammunition.

If you buy commercially reloaded 9mm ammunition, you might be better off NOT reloading if cost is your only criteria.

Wal-mart had 45 ACP on sale a couple of years ago for less than I could buy similar components. So, I stocked up. I now have enough empty brass to last me for a decade. Unless there is another sale.

Will you count your time in the cost of reloading (after all, you will give up the possibility of overtime on your job if you spend your time reloading, or you may have to pay $25 for someone to mow your lawn while you are loading)?

The classic answer to your question is, "You won't save any money (or spend any less for ammunition), but you will shoot more, become a better shot and have more fun".

Use Google to find links to ammunition cost calculators. Use the phrase "ammunition reloading cost" or the like. Use your local prices for ammo and components.

Check your local gun shops to see if there are any local businesses that reload ammunition. There are often locals who make custom ammunition for non-handloading hunters or bulk ammunition for the local police department. Note: Selling ammunition requires a Federal License similar to, but different from the license required to sell or manufacture firearms for sale.

Sometimes, once you get into it, you wonder, "Do I reload so I can afford to shoot, or do I shoot so I can get back to my relaxing hobby of reloading?"

Good Luck.

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Old April 1, 2011, 02:52 AM   #9
Madball6
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Mainly i just dont want to "underbuy" I'd rather spend more to get quality rather then cheap out and get something im not going to like working with. But I believe i need more then just a press yes? Dies? (Obviously i know i need primers/powder/bullets) but im unclear as to die costs? how about shouldered brass (my .223), crimping? im a total noob and trying to work this out before investing. (Also still curious about brass cleaning?!)
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Old April 1, 2011, 02:58 AM   #10
Madball6
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Lost sheep, I definately dont count my time reloading as a cost, it would be a relaxing hobby for me, so if the result was a break even, i'd consider it a plus if i was shooting my own ammo. I've been collecting brass for awhile now (always thought i'd end up reloading and lots of people i shoot with dont care about brass.) So I can start with no brass costs which makes me think it should be cost effective pretty quickly, so long as i can learn how to reload effeciently. Also, how many reloads is an avg piece of brass worth?
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Old April 1, 2011, 03:32 AM   #11
Lost Sheep
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Congrats

Congratulations on your excellent taste in spouses.

Quote:
Madball6
Lol, the wife is actually a new gun nut, after years of me enjoying this sport on my own she decided to come to the range with me for more "Together Time" and suddenly decided she absolutley loved shooting. She is supportive of me getting into reloading but is just afraid the chicken is gonna cost 4 times the egg. When i delve into a new hobby, i tend to go all in, and she's afraid im going to spend $2,000 on equipment to reload and will take us 20 years to recoup the cost of equipment. So mainly i was looking for a cost analysis to start and what calibers were most cost effective
You can get a truly first-class setup for under well under $600 with this gear:

5 sets of Lee 4-die sets for your handgun calibers plus the .223 - $240
Scale $25 to $100 (Lee up to RCBS/Ohaus)
Lee Classic Turret Press $100
Lee Priming tool (either the Auto-prime or Safety-prime) $30
Powder Measure $30 to $125 (Lee to whoever)
Misc Accessories. Loading block(s), bullet puller, Brass Tumbler, Calipers

You can easily beat the prices I quoted if you spend a little time shopping around or if you find a kit that has several of the components. Check our Kempf's Gun Shop. They have one of the few kits that features the Lee CLASSIC Turret (as opposed to the lesser Lee Deluxe Turret). Talk to Sue, she was very helpful to me and is a dear.

I bought (and recommend) the Lee Classic Turret because the Lee Turrets are the ONLY turret press that features auto-indexing. That puts it a BIG step ahead of all other turrets and puts it only one step below a true progressive press. But, being a one-process-at-a-time press, is much simpler to use than a progressive.

Other brands of presses are good, too, and some offer package deals that are hard to beat. The Lee does have shortcomings (only four die stations, for instance) but it fits my needs just about right. From your description of your shooting needs, I suspect it will be good for you, too. If you did more high-precision or really LARGE caliber rifle shooting, I might suggest a single-stage. If HUGE quantities, a progressive would be in order.

Good Luck, Always wear eye protection, especially when working with primers. Be safe. Always, all ways and don't pinch your fingers in your press.

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Old April 1, 2011, 04:11 AM   #12
Lost Sheep
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Thinking ahead. Good for you, Saving your brass.

Quote:
Madball6
Lost sheep, I definately dont count my time reloading as a cost, it would be a relaxing hobby for me, so if the result was a break even, i'd consider it a plus if i was shooting my own ammo. I've been collecting brass for awhile now (always thought i'd end up reloading and lots of people i shoot with dont care about brass.) So I can start with no brass costs which makes me think it should be cost effective pretty quickly, so long as i can learn how to reload effeciently. Also, how many reloads is an avg piece of brass worth?
It depends on how heavily your loads are and how hard you crimp.

Crimping "cold works" the brass. You get splits at the case mouth after as few as a half-dozen uses.

Bottle-necked brass stretches after a few reloadings and must be trimmed. Eventually the brass is gone. But before that happens, the case necks will be cold-worked into brittleness unless you anneal them. I am sure some .223 shooters will give you a better estimate of case life than I can. (I reload for handguns only).

I reload 45 ACP, 45 Colt 454 Casull, 9mm, 45 ACP, 44 Magnum and 357 Magnum.

I can honestly say that I have never worn out a piece of 9mm brass. They get lost before they wear out. I used to try to keep track of how many times I have reloaded batches of cases, but gave it up. I am sure some of my cases have over a dozen uses.

I did wear out a box of 38 specials. Did it in four reloadings. Of course, one of them was pretty hot. Fired out of a Dan Wesson .357. In 35 years, that was the only box of 38s I have ever fired. I load only .357 cases in that bullet size, but use 38 special pressures for most of my shooting and darn little crimp. That box of 38 Specials was nickled, too, which does tend to crack a little sooner than unplated brass. Some of my .357 cases are approaching 20 loadings. My 44 Mag cases, too. Same story on pressures, crimping and number of uses.

I have not been loading 45 Colt and 454 Casull for very long, but I expect the same sort of performance from them, too.

Quote:
so long as i can learn how to reload effeciently.
Reloading efficiently? Start out slow. The slower you go when you start, the more efficient you will be when you are experienced. When you start, you work out your algorithm (your step-by-step procedure). When I started, I did about 25 to 50 per hour. I watched each step and weighed each powder charge. Had two loading blocks. Put 50 case in the one on the left. Processed each case through the press and put them one at a time in the block on the right. Switch dies. Move the cases from the right block through the press and to the left block again, one at a time until the left block was full. When I charged them with powder, I charged all of them, moving them one at a time from one block to the other, then used a flashlight to inspect the powder quantity in the entire batch of 50. Then seated the bullets and crimped, passing from one block to the other, again, one at a time.

That was my algorithm. Others may do it differently, but I developed a method and stuck with it. It never varied and thus never has a skipped step or a doubled-up step. Once the algorithm was "perfected", I got faster. And more efficient. Nothing destroys efficiency like having to pull 50 bullets because you are unsure if one of them may have a double charge or no charge of powder.

I did it that way for several years and got a pair of progressive presses, which I never really got comfortable with, so retired them in favor of my turret press.

My turret press is faster than the single stage, but just as simple to keep track of the processes. That simplicity keeps it SAFE. I know my limitations, and watching multiple operations on a progressive was just a little too much for me. Handloaders with greater powers of concentration find progressives to be no problem. They just don't fit my style and besides, I don't need that amount of ammo.

Good night and good luck.

Lost Sheep
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Old April 1, 2011, 07:54 AM   #13
kalevatom
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I quit trying to figure how much money I was going to "save" reloading. I bought equipment that my budget afforded and moved on. My wife and I both shoot and share the reloading duties. I reload, she handles the brass. It's our hobby and it's time well spent together. Our satisfaction comes in the form of accuracy and low recoil. I think when anyone starts to reload, the "savings" are the start, but, that fades away, for most. You buy components that are the cheapest for the day, load'em up, and go have fun. In the end, it's all about the fun, but, thats just my opinion.
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Old April 1, 2011, 08:10 AM   #14
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I just spent about $200 on equipment to get started. Lee Classic Turret press, one set of dies, powder scale/measure, primer feeder, puller, caliper. I hope I won't need too much more right away.

I spent about another hundred bucks on supplies. Powder, primers, bullets. I can scrounge plenty of brass at the local ranges. If you buy brass, the cost will go up considerably. AND BOOKS.

I'm starting with just 380. I shoot a lot of that. We'll see where it goes from there. I will likely try 9mm and 45acp later. I may try casting bullets too. (Brass and bullets are the most expensive supplies to buy.)

I used my own "Harley fund" money, so I don't have to justify it to the wife. It is clear that it will pay for itself at some point in the future, but I'm really in it to get to shoot more, and maybe learn something. It is surprising how fast I could go through $300 worth of store-bought ammo anyway.

Last edited by leadchucker; April 1, 2011 at 08:15 AM.
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Old April 1, 2011, 08:15 AM   #15
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trust me

I save a ton on reloading I load almost every caliber you have and then some. My wife realizes how much it saves when I go to the toy store and buy a couple boxes of ammo verses loading it up for instance 50 rounds of 357 is around 19 bucks or higher when I can reload a hundred for or more around that, another is 45 acp if you buy a box of plinking ammo it is around 16 bucks a box or more I buy 500 semi wadcutters for 35 bucks and a pouund of powder for 28 and primers for about 4 bucks a 100 I get 500 round for about 80 bucks give or take a few dollars its way cheaper to reload but you just shoot more
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Old April 1, 2011, 04:17 PM   #16
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For the handguns calibers if you cast your own also the cost for casting, and reloading will wash quickly.

1,000 rounds of .45 ACP with my cast bullets, and range pick up brass. Less than $60. For .41 mag A tad more.

Rifle I load .221 Fireball, and .223 Rem. Cost excluding brass. Most of my brass is range pick up. Less than $100 per 500 rounds with premium components. Subtract up to $20 from that figure if I use bulk cheap bullets.

I use a Lee Breach Lock Challenger Kit that I traded brass for. Cost of that kit is around $100 not including a manual, and dies. I Purchased my dies, and manual myself. The only thing I have changed of the kit is the scale. I use a digintal that I purchased from Cabella's Bargain cave.


Over a year, and 25,000 round later I am still using it with no issues at all, other than speed. I am not out to win a race so that realy is not a problem for me.
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Old April 1, 2011, 04:37 PM   #17
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I use lead bullets to save money on handgun loads and I figure that I'm saving a considerable amount of money over factory fodder.

For example, lets take a standard .45 ACP load. A pound of powder is 7000 grains and most ACP loads take about 4.5 grains of powder, so you can load over 1500 round of ammo with a pound of powder. Figure $30.00 a pound (that's high) and you've got two cents worth of powder in the load. Three cents for a primer. A box of lead bullets come in at about 13 cents apiece. So, you've got 17 cents in one round of ammo. That's $17.00 per hundred.

What are you giving these days for a bulk pack of WW white box?

I make my own bullets from scrap lead, so I figure I've got about 6 cents in an round of ammo, whether .38 or .45. I make some rifle bullets too, and I figure that my .30-30 plinking ammo costs me about a dime a shot. That's $2.00 a box for rifle ammo. If I'm buying good jacketed rifle bullets, I can keep the cost down to about 25 cents per pop.

Will you save money reloading? No, none of us save money. We shoot a lot more and we have a lot more ammo on hand. And, we can tailor our ammo for specific tasks.
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Old April 1, 2011, 05:34 PM   #18
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Go here: http://www.10xshooters.com/calculators/
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Old April 1, 2011, 11:59 PM   #19
Madball6
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Thanks guys, this has been a big help!
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