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Old August 25, 2008, 12:13 AM   #1
AutoPistola
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Reloading Newb: What centerfire rifle ammo is cost effective to reload?

Having fun shooting Wolf 7.62x39 in my AK, but I am thinking about handloading. My next rifle will probably be 7.62x39 or .308, and I'd like to get a .223 someday.

Finish this sentence for me...
For the price of reloading 7.62x39, I could have just as well reloaded ???????

I know, its about accuracy and consistency, not caliber, right? A bigger boom for the buck is good too.
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Old August 25, 2008, 05:36 AM   #2
darkgael
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cost effective?

I'm not sure that reloading the 7.62X39 is cost effective in any case. The rounds, bought in bulk are still pretty cheap; with the cost of components at a high, by the time I factor in my time and energy, how much have I saved on ammo that I'm going to shoot from and SKS? I like the SKS, but a tack driver it ain't.
There are other limitations to the 7.62X39 also, the biggest one is bullet selection; there just are not many.
For the same money, probably a bit less, I could load .223s and shoot them from a more accurate rifle.
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Old August 25, 2008, 07:07 AM   #3
Sevens
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Of all the center fire rifle rounds in modern existence, the ultimate in least cost effective to reload would be the 7.62x39 mm.

This is simply because:
--surplus ammo in this caliber is amongst the cheapest of any rifle caliber
--available of surplus ammo is staggeringly high
--availability of decent, boxer primed and non-steel brass is relatively scarce
--most of the rifles in this caliber benefit the least from better produced, handloaded ammo

Add all that up and it's got to be the least cost effective to reload. Most all other calibers go up from there.

Your question is, what center fire ammo is cost effective to reload? The answer is most all of them, depending on how you can obtain reloadable brass and how much you pay for your bullets. The most cost effective rifle rounds to reload? Anything defunct or impossible to get otherwise. Next to them would be the ungodly priced factory stuff, such as ANY of the Weatherby Magnum cartridges.

Quote:
For the price of reloading 7.62x39, I could have just as well reloaded ?
Tough call to answer this one. I would say you are better off shooting surplus in crusty old chi-com rifles. You don't have to chase brass. Of course, you also are not building a growing stock of brass, either.

If your next rifle is 7.62x54R, you should probably stick to surplus.

If your next rifle is .308, .223 or .30-06, start whoring brass and getting set up to reload.
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Old August 25, 2008, 10:05 AM   #4
ilbob
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I think any of the less commonly encountered calibers is likely to be the very cost effective to reload. More commonly encountered calibers are probably less coste ffective to reload, but really any CF rifle carttridge is cost effective to reload.
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Old August 25, 2008, 11:23 AM   #5
Dr. Strangelove
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Hmmm...

Your is an interesting question. The three calibers you mention are perhaps the three least cost effective to reload, depending on how you look at cost. As Sevens pointed out, there is so much inexpensive ammo available for the 7.62x39 (.223 and .308 as well) that from a pure cost standpoint, it makes no sense to reload them. Just looking at ammo that goes boom and puts a hole in something downrange, I simply cannot load .223, .308, or 7.62 x 39 for less than I can purchase loaded cartridges.

Where you start to see a difference is when you begin to look at hunting or target type loads with more expensive bullets. A box of Hornady 154gr SST 7mm Rem Mag cartridges goes for about $32 -$50 for twenty depending on where you purchase them. I can load them for roughly 50 cents each, about a third to a quarter of the cost of factory ammo. I also load .223 and .308, I just don't try to compete with the surplus or cheap factory ammo, just like I don't try to make Budweiser when I brew beer.

Cost savings in reloading is a strange and wandering road, it is possible to realize significant savings in individual loads such as the 7mm example noted above, however I would say that overall I've never really saved any money. I just shoot more 7mm than I would if paying full price. If you enjoy tinkering and don't mind tedious details, by all means get into reloading. I enjoy the time spent at the bench, weighing every powder charge, loading 10 different loads with the same powder to maybe wring out that last bit of accuracy, etc. If put any kind of value on the time I spend at the loading bench, accounted for the price of my equipment (most which I've had for 20+ years so I don't care to factor that in anymore), or didn't have easy access to a place to shoot, I don't know that I would reload.

To sum up a long-winded answer, yes, you can save money by reloading, just not particularly on the three calibers you mentioned. As as others have mentioned, the more strange and rare the caliber, the higher the potential cost savings. I enjoy the control over the components and level of accuracy I attain by reloading, and I load all my hunting and target rounds, but I'm fine with letting the factory load the stuff I'm just going to play with, mainly because they can do it for less money.

Last edited by Dr. Strangelove; August 25, 2008 at 11:25 AM. Reason: clarity
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Old August 25, 2008, 04:44 PM   #6
AutoPistola
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Thanks for the input

I don't want to get into any oddball calibers specifically for that reason. Most surplus ammo is inconsistent, so if you want accuracy in 7.62x39, you have to buy good US made brass-cased ammo; about $1 a shot.

So for $1 a shot, wouldn't it just be better to buy .308 and get a bigger boom, more accuracy, and longer range?

BTW, I wanted to get a PTR91 or a Saiga .308 21", but I heard they chew up brass. Maybe I'll just save more and get an M1A1. Does anybody know what accuracy I can expect from a base-model Springfield?
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Old August 25, 2008, 09:46 PM   #7
Dr. Strangelove
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So for $1 a shot, wouldn't it just be better to buy .308 and get a bigger boom, more accuracy, and longer range?
Without knowing what you have in mind, I'd say yes, go with the .308. It sounds like you are looking for a semi-auto military style rifle with long range possibilities. There's nothing wrong with any of the three calibers mentioned, but the .308 comes out on top in my mind for versatility. Being a .30 caliber, it has the widest variety of bullet styles and weights available should you get into reloading, and there is a huge variety of quality factory ammo available should you decide elect to not reload. You didn't mention hunting, but .308 is ample for anything from varmints to most any game animal you are likely to hunt. (I don't know you, but how many people really hunt Polar Bears and Grizzlies and things like that?)

.223 is a great cartridge, but you're going to limit yourself if you plan to hunt with the rifle. Deer sized game is about the upper limit, and even that is kind of questionable. (My opinion only, I know many use it for deer and more)

7.62x39 is a fine cartridge as well, but you limit yourself in both loading and buying commercial ammunition to a few choices of bullet weights and styles. More choices are becoming available as more hunters use SKS style rifles, but currently there is just not the range of bullet weights and styles as are available for the .308 or .223.

So to answer your question without really knowing what you want to do with this new rifle, I would say go with the .308, it's the most versatile of the three cartridges you mention. I would do some research and decide what you really want the rifle to do before choosing a caliber and maybe not limit yourself to those three. If I was just looking to make some noise and have fun blasting away, I'd go with the 7.62x39, the rifle will be much cheaper and ammo is about as cheap as it gets, centerfire wise anyway. If I was going to mix in a little varmint shooting with my soda can blasting, I'd go with the .223. The rifle will be much more expensive but correspondingly more accurate and cheap ammo is available. If I wanted to hunt medium to large game and long range target shoot, I would go with the .308. In other words, figure out what you really want to do with the rifle and then pick a suitable caliber, don't limit yourself to something that may not be suited for your needs.
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Old August 26, 2008, 01:55 AM   #8
BntBrl
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I dont really save any money reloading for my weatherby 300. At 2.50 a round for the cheapest spire points (80 dollars for the good stuff -20 rounds) its a lot to shoot. Since I reload and trade brass and what not I can shoot tennis balls and water jugs with my 300 weatherby and have fun with it without spending 100 dollars for a day of shooting. I can reload and shoot the same for just a couple of dollars, but I end up shooting more, apples and waterbottles beware.
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Old August 28, 2008, 05:05 PM   #9
totalloser
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RIGHT NOW projectiles are super super cheap for .310 surplus, but like stated above, brass is scarce in 7.62x39 or x54. There are methods worked out, now for converting to boxer from berdan, but consider this as a hobby experience as it is not cost effective unless your time is not a concern.

As to .223 reloading, it is completely cost effective. I used to use a dillon trimmer and load in two passes at about 450 rounds an hour give or take, but now I have a setup to do it in one pass and do about 900. (it's posted) I figure I am loading nearly match grade cartridges for about .11 per shell. That's hard to beat. Even cheaper now that I am using surplus powder.

Still getting set up to do this in .308, but even in a two pass setup, it still should do about 450. The nice thing about the western military cartridges is that you can get vast amounts of brass for fairly cheap, and pulled bullets are available. Swaging primer pockets is a pain, but the effort pays for itself easily. Plus bulk Hornady bullets are EXTREMELY consistent in weight for non-match, and very cost effective in .223/.308. I use their fjmbt with cannelure in 150 grain .308" and 55 in .224" Accuracy of many pulled bullets I would consider inferior, but cheap fun.
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