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Old August 19, 2011, 02:50 PM   #1
Coach Z
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Cost to start reloading?

I've been pondering starting to reload and I'm trying to figure out how much I have to shoot to break even. I've been shopping around and it looks like it will cost about $850 for a good progressive press and all of the associated accessories etc. Does this sound about right?
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Old August 19, 2011, 03:08 PM   #2
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For a good progressive that is about right, BUT I would recommend you start with a single stage or turret until you learn how to reload and find out if reloading is something you want to pursue. It is easier to dump a SS press on E-bay if your not interested in continuing. A SS can be had for less than $200 with everything needed.
As for how much it takes to recoup cost take a look at this.
http://10xshooters.com/calculators/H...Calculator.htm
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Old August 19, 2011, 03:14 PM   #3
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I just went to a auction and got a RCBS jr press, dies, 4500 primers, tons of lead, powder measure, scale, etc for $100...

Obviously this isn't the normal but just to go along with Shootest... A single stage press was definatly the way to go when begining so you can learn and be carefull to begin with. I'd check out your local www.craigslist.org or auctions to see if you can find 2nd hand equipment in good condition from someone that has upgraded. It's the more economical way to start and then if you really like it... Well... that's what Christmas is for!
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Old August 19, 2011, 03:18 PM   #4
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http://westernmass.craigslist.org/spo/2553598263.html
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Old August 19, 2011, 08:13 PM   #5
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Start out reloading with a single stage and work your way up. Learn the mechanics and ask questions first before you take the plunge with a progressive.
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Old August 19, 2011, 09:44 PM   #6
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!$@%#%$% Damn shootest, do you know how long it took me to setup the spreadsheet that i used to calculate EXACTLY what that site you linked to told me. I am seriously kicking myself but that site is excellent.

The way i look at it is I'm pretty sure I want to reload and as long as I do its a bit of a waste to get a single stage just to end up with a progressive.

Right now I'm looking at the hornady... Anybody using that one? I will definitely consider starting small though, I do appreciate the wisdom floating around here
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Old August 19, 2011, 09:51 PM   #7
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My entire reloading setup cost about $150.
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Old August 19, 2011, 09:59 PM   #8
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http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct...sting-_-749997

I started with this kit. When you buy it new you get 500 bullets free! Then you just need a shell holder, dies (another 100 bullets free) and your components.
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Old August 19, 2011, 10:48 PM   #9
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Get in as cheap as you want but I'll offer the use of my calculator to anyone who thinks they've saved money over the long run by reloading. Yes, you'll spend less per round but you'll pull the trigger on lots more of them. Soon you'll realize that your loads are more consistent than most factory loads. Then you'll want to load more calibers and make them shinier and then you'll discover precision measuring tools and brass prep tools and turret presses and progressive presses and boolit casting and swaging and wildcats and......pretty sure I'm up coming up on 250,000 rounds all told and haven't "saved" a dime yet!
But.... I've got the coolest loading room in my zip code and regularly produce better hunting, target and plinking ammo than I'm willing to buy.
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Old August 20, 2011, 04:34 AM   #10
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You get out of reloading what you put in it. Reloading is like a sickness that is uncurable. You will constantly need other tools and acc. I love reloading, I can duplicate loads over and over. And you always get to shoot more. When working up to the perfect load. Its not for everybody. But once you start, you are hooked. You will have to buy more calibers to reload. Try different bullets, powders. It never ends. But I would not have it any other way.
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Old August 20, 2011, 07:03 AM   #11
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Quote:
Cost to start reloading?
Simple--all ties you may have to the realm of sanity... It leads to a great many adventures for many, many years that other sane people will look at you for and say to themselves "He use to be so normal... What happened?"

Sorry--I'm usually referred to as the local gun-nut in my neighborhood. Most of my neighbors could arm a battalion--and I'm the nut...

Unless you're looking for new equipment, get a reloading manual, and read it many times. Make a list of all the things you decide you'll need from what you learn, and start shopping. Hit garage sales, forum WTS listings, etc. You can climb into some pretty nice used gear pretty cheap when some of us nut-jobs do a little spring cleaning.
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Old August 20, 2011, 08:00 AM   #12
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Rangefinder touched on it but someone's got to say it. Read your manual carefully and heed all the safety warnings, this is serious stuff. We want to have you around for a long time.
Then read another manual and learn more stuff, for some folks manuals are an obsession of their own.
Welcome to the asylum.
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Old August 20, 2011, 08:20 AM   #13
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For most of us, handloading is an avocation rather than a money saver. (Serious competitive pistol shooters excepted.)

My generally recommended "all-the-stuff-including bullets/powder/primers/brass" basket for a simple lifetime (but not extravagent) setup anchored by a Lyman/RCBS heavy-duty single stage is ~$500. Cheaper you can get. But you will soon get frustrated and either quit, or buy the good stuff all over again at added cost.

I'm still using mine after 45 years.

By comparison, have you seen what skateboards cost these days?
(And think where they usually wind up -- and when.)
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Old August 20, 2011, 08:33 AM   #14
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The single stage still has uses even after you go progressive. If I want to make just one or two rounds as a test, it is easier on me to use the single stage.
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Old August 20, 2011, 08:54 AM   #15
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I would recomend a Lee Classic Turret kit. Add a good manual, (two or three would be even better), dies, a more user friendly scale, a bullet puller, a dial caliper, and case trimmer if reloading for bottle necked rounds. That will still be well under your budget. Use the rest for supplies, and refreshments.

You will not be winning any speed contest, though when you get the hang of single stage loading, you go to auto index, and it will speed things up greatly. Chances are you may never go to a progressive if you have a good turret press with auto index. You would look at a progressive, and its cost, then decide to purchase a new gun instead. (Ask me how I know this.) I have the same problem and I use a single stage. When I think of how nice a new turret press would be, my money seems to go to either supplies, or another gun for some reason.
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Old August 20, 2011, 11:17 AM   #16
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For most of us, handloading is an avocation rather than a money saver. (Serious competitive pistol shooters excepted.) -mehavey

Good point. By sheer numbers most of my reloading was to support my competitive pistol shooting habit. Couldn't have done it without my Dillon. Pretty sure a turret press makes more sense and quite likely better ammo for most shooters. All kidding aside my Dillon has saved me quite a bit of money lately over factory 45acp's but that wouldn't be the case for someone just starting out. I don't enjoy shooting my carry gun so I don't need much ammo for it. What little pistol shooting I do doesn't justify reloading but since I have the equipment I do it. Casting my own practice ammo boolits is kinda fun tho. That old 550 has paid for itself a few times over but I pretty much retired it and have been playing on my single stage with rifle cartridges for the last ten years or so.
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Old August 20, 2011, 12:54 PM   #17
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I'm with the rest of the guys, in that breaking even is difficult and maybe impossible. Still, you could actually calculate a breakeven point, if you didn't 'cheat' and buy more stuff. So you're in for $850, and if you happen to be reloading something that costs a dollar to buy and 50 cents to make, you'll break even at 1700 rounds. You can calculate a breakeven that's more in tune with what you'll be doing and reloading, and you could show that to your wife to justify spending the money. Flaws in that justification are obvious, such as do you really need 1700 rounds. My Dad would use 1700 rounds in about 100 years, but there might be a couple of guys on this forum that'd use 1700 rounds by this time next week. To summarize, I think that there really is or could be a breakeven if your hobby is shooting and you really need the ammo for that, though we are all probably just chasing that breakeven number without ever catching it.

So just buy what you need and get started, and quit worrying about the breakeven mathematics. All you need the math for is for the one-time sale of the idea to the wife. But...she might just say "what in heaven's name do you need 1700 bullets for?", so prepare your responses...
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Old August 20, 2011, 01:05 PM   #18
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Used gear in good condition can typically be found for half or less than what new stuff costs. Then, once you have your loads figured out, buy your components in bulk.
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Old August 20, 2011, 01:16 PM   #19
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I used to be happy with buying ammo because I only plinked here and there,a lot of .22 because they were cheaper.Then I saw how much less I could make ammo and did the right thing.20 years later and I'm shooting 60 times more than I did before(plus way more guns i bought because I could reload so"cheap")I'm still hopeful to break even before I retire.
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Old August 20, 2011, 03:38 PM   #20
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Well I’ll jump in since you seem to want to jump in with both feet, just do it. I have the Hornaday LNL AP and it seems to work just fine. I’ve only had it for a couple of weeks now. Prior to that I had a Lee turret press for about 25 years, it too works fine. But just took too long after my wife joined me at the range. You can just slow down the process by feeding only on round and processing it thru the positions until you have a completed round. Not a big deal. The only thing I will say is be sure to understand the functions and inspect everything as you learn. Once you’re up to speed it’s a fine press and should last a very long time. I think one of my grandkids will enjoy it long after I’m gone, and I’m going nowhere fast.

I don’t know how many calibers you’re going to load but by your list I’m going to guess it will be more than one. I load about 9 calibers (subject to change with a visit to the local gun shop). So when I got mine I had to buy just a few extras. So the press alone with these extras was about 650 with shipping and tax.
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Old August 20, 2011, 10:33 PM   #21
WANT A LCR 22LR
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What caliber are you going to load? ( more than one? )

Are you loading to save $ or to generate loads you can't buy?

Be sure to consider the value of your time, if you can work a couple of hours overtime per week at your regular job Vs time spent reloading, you might be farther ahead staying at work and buying factory ammo.

A single stage press is dead slow and turret still slow. Don't be put off from a progressive by those that say is " too complicated " for a new user, it isn't unless they expect to blindly rip at the handle and make rounds.

For the money, a Lee Pro 1000 progressive is a good deal despite what those with no sense of machinery say. At $ 170 ish you get everything except a scale to start loading one caliber, a set of dies are included. I think the case feeder is included as well. Sure, there are a few things that are fussy and need adjusting but, remember, it only cost $ 170 to turn out 150 - 200 rounds per hour.

A Lee balance scale is ~ $ 22 and for all practical purposes it is just fine, just be sure to zero it out when you set it up.

If you want to load different calibers, at minimum you will need a extra shell plate and dies. If you are going between small and large primers, a second tray and feed tube will be needed, but getting a second carrier would be a good idea as it speeds up primer change over. Another item well worth the $ 15 is a extra die plate, this way change over is a twist and lift rather than a unscrew and reset 3X every time you want to change over.

When starting out, running one case at a time through a progressive is a good idea so you can get a feel for each station. Not everything happens at once! There are different things happening at different handle heights.

I have a Lee 1000 (bought used for $ 75 ) that works just fine loading 38 / 357.
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Old August 21, 2011, 12:30 AM   #22
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Not right

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coach Z
Cost to start reloading?
I've been pondering starting to reload and I'm trying to figure out how much I have to shoot to break even. I've been shopping around and it looks like it will cost about $850 for a good progressive press and all of the associated accessories etc. Does this sound about right?
It does sound about correct, but far from right.

For someone pondering reloading, to drop nearly a grand on a complete bench sounds impulsive. But that may be just me. Some people know their own minds well enough and you may be one of them.

Please tell us what quantity of ammunition you contemplate loading and how much time you are willing to devote to it. Also, what is your primary goal in reloading. Is it economy? accuracy? customizing loads to specific needs?

There are other considerations to the gear than cost and speed. Ease of use, how compatible is your temperament to progressives where multiple things happen simultaneously and bear a LOT of watching. Also, caliber switching on progressives is more involved (and expensive as you have apparently discovered) than on a single stage or turret. I suggest you price the same components that you chose for your progressive shopping with the price of a Lyman, Hornady or Lee turret press. Something to consider, $300 savings for a setup that is easier to use, simpler and safer and can still produce well over 100 rounds per hour (including setup time).

July 2010 I retired my two progressives and switched to a turret press. I chose the Lee Classic Turret and repopulated my entire bench for under $500 (press, 6 sets of dies, a couple of powder measures, and some accessories) and the $500 includes the price of a good scale, calipers and stuff I am keeping from my old set of gear.

Lost Sheep

Last edited by Lost Sheep; August 21, 2011 at 12:42 AM.
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Old August 21, 2011, 12:37 AM   #23
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Reloading saves money! LOL...Wait till the poor sap discovers bullet casting..and even more...bullet moulds! Ya can't have just one!
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Old August 21, 2011, 04:04 AM   #24
Mike / Tx
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Coach,

Far be it for me to tell you NOT to get what you want with your own money, but jumping into handloading with a progressive will be an aggravating initiation to say the least.

Like others have suggested it would be far better to start off with a turret or even a single stage until you get all of the basics down pat. I loaded with a single stage for over half my 47 years and when I got my progressive I thought man I'm in the big time now. Well instead of keeping track of one thing at a time, now your having to watch over 4-5 things at a time. While I DO admit my production went up, at the same time so did my rate of screw ups. Primers running out, powder dumping on the shell plate, plenty of other this, that, and the other little issues, I never had with the single stage. Even today some 02 years after mounting that progressive on my bench, I still do silly things like forget to shut off the powder. While it's not nearly as frustrating nowadays, I do find that even with that multistage press sitting there, I usually use the single stage more often than not to load up batches of a hundred or so.

There is simply so much more control over each round, during each stage, that I don't worry about how many I can turn out in an hour. I load for over 2 dozen firearms, most are handguns, and I hunt with most all of them. Blasting ammo for me is at most usually only 50 rounds per trip. Once I find a load, I might load up a couple hundred rounds and then the progressive comes into play, but for the most part it is used primarily as a fast decap and sizing operation.

Last edited by Mike / Tx; August 21, 2011 at 04:09 AM.
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Old August 21, 2011, 12:12 PM   #25
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Well it looks like some people can save money reloading and some can't. I'm in the group that can. I cast my own bullets for pistol and it doesn't cost that much to get into casting. My last primer order was 50,000 for $799 including shipping and hazmat. That's $15.98 per 1K. I have powder that cost $12 per pound. I get all of my lead for free and have around 1,600 pounds on hand. I can load any pistol I shoot for $25 per 1,000. I'm loading 223 for my AR for $110 per 1,000. You just have to look for deals and buy in bulk.
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