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Old March 24, 2012, 06:28 AM   #1
Pond, James Pond
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How many 1000s before you broke even?

Talking revolver type calibres, and assuming you bought decent standard kit, how many 1000s of rounds did you have to handload before you broke even and your efforts started saving you money?

I ask this as I have just put together a spreadsheet to get some idea of my savings, per 1000, per calibre (.38 & .44 Spl, .44 Mag) handloaded over factory loaded, using my new copy of Lyman 49th.

It works out so far as about 1200 of each, handloaded, before I break even on the costs essential yet quality equipment (Press, Measure, Dies etc) that I can buy over here.

Personally, I am a little concerned as I presently don't shoot those quantities on an annual basis.

Perhaps that will change when I can buy ammo in greater bulk when I get my sports licence, but right now, that would be about 18mths worth of shooting if not more...

Does that sound reasonable to other handlloaders?

Am I expecting too much from reloading economy?
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Old March 24, 2012, 06:49 AM   #2
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Lesssee...I started in mid '65 and have lost count of the volume but I figger I'm gonna break even sometime soon and then I'll start turning a profit.
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Old March 24, 2012, 07:08 AM   #3
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I know with one of my calibers the return on investment came fast. When factory loads were $3+ a round and I was able to load them for a buck or less if I bought all the components brand new, even less when I reloaded the brass. I don't really give it too much thought as to when will it pay off...I know I am saving money. I enjoy reloading and look at it from the view of I can make ammo better suited to my guns and me rather than some general use factory load. You can't put a price on that.

The timeframe does sound reasonable. I think the real savings come from either loading and shooting mass quantities or loading calibers that are a little more higher dollar per shot.
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Old March 24, 2012, 07:26 AM   #4
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What is the price of a "decent standard kit"?

According to my spreadsheet, my 38 special target load saves me $180/ 1000 compared to the cheapest bulk lead bullet ammo on lucky gunner. 45 ACP with Rose Zero hollow points saves me $177 per 1000 compared to Lucky Gunners cheapest bulk fmj. At $299 for RCBS rock chucker supreme kit thats less than 2000 rounds to pay back. Of course, if you don't enjoy the process of reloading in and of itself then it's probably not going to be worth the trouble, pay back or no.
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Old March 24, 2012, 08:27 AM   #5
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The more common the caliber and load the more you have to reload to realize savings.

Shooting something like 505 Gibbs or 416 Rigby? When a box of 20 shells can cost over a hundred bucks on their own a set of dies north of a hundred bucks will pay for itself very quickly.

The other end is something like 223. There are plenty of cheap 55gr FMJ "plinking" loads on the market, but quality match ammunition is usually around a buck a shot. So instead of buying Hornady TAP or Black Hills Mk262 you assemble your own for less than half the cost, and the equipment pays for itself quickly (at 50 cents savings per round it adds up fast).

But shooting standard bullets out of 38 special or 44 mag? You are right, it is going to take a while.

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Old March 24, 2012, 08:33 AM   #6
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I'm like wncchester started 1965 and may break even next year.
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Old March 24, 2012, 08:38 AM   #7
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This is not an easy question to answer unless you put in the proper information.

1. The cost of good quality factory ammo in your area for each caliber.

2. The cost of components needed to load those calibers.

3. The number of rounds you would fire of each caliber if you could get cheaper ammo (think reloading).

4. The savings per hundred or thousand rounds.

5. The cost of equipment to load divided by the average savings of the rounds you will be loading should give you an idea.

Remember the cost of ammo seems to always go up rather then down. Once you purchase components and equipment the cost is then fixed until you add more components or add equipment. You will basically be locking in your price to produce ammo at the price you paid for components even if it takes you a couple of years to load it all up. It is hard to do that with factory ammo if you are only buying a box at a time. Sure you can buy cases of ammo to use over the next few years. What will be the price of that?

I look at reloading as a hobby all on its own. If I can save some money, with one hobby to support another hobby, that is a good thing. Another hobby I have is shooting. These two hobbies just go together. I have components on hand at present to load quite a bit of ammo. I can make changes to suit my needs. It is like being able to take back a box of ammo X to the store and exchange it for ammo Y when ever needed and no questions asked. I don't know many places that would consider doing that for me.

Also, once I have spent the money on something it is gone. I'm not in business to make a profit on hobbies. As far as buying components goes I buy them either when needed or when I find a good sale going on. I might find a deal that is hard to pass up on something I already have and get it for later use. I don't think you can have too many bullets, primers or powder available for later use.

Just because you reload you really don't save any money. You will be just shooting more then you did before. Thankfully I like shooting.
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Old March 24, 2012, 08:40 AM   #8
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I can't speak for revolvers, but rifle?

I use Lee stuff which turns out sub MOA ammo all the time (except in my daughter's Rossi which does 1.5 MOA). So I have less than $150 in cost, but spread over the multiple calibers (10 so far) where I only had to buy dies it worked out to about $50 per (with the neck die, crimp die, and FL dies).

Now, I load mostly .223 for .21 a round of GOOD varmint killing ammo. This would be a buck each in store and even most bulk plinking stuff is .40 a shot. so I save about .80 each time I load. Load 100 times and I have saved $80.

Looking at .270 I get .44 each and factory fodder of comparable quality is $1.25-1.50 a shot. I am saving a ton there too.

Lastly, my beloved .257 Roberts. Try looking for ammo for that! When you find it it is $1.50-$2.00 a shot. I can load that for .33.

Of course what ever reloader comes to find out is that they save nothing. We spend it on more shooting!
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Old March 24, 2012, 08:47 AM   #9
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Quote:
What is the price of a "decent standard kit"?
It comes to about €500 for a nice Lees press, two sets of dies, and a measure (auto-disk?)

1000 .38Spl from a shop is about 350EUR. Using a FMJFN 157gr bullet and Vihtavuori (only powder I can find locally) it costs about 280EUR. .44 calibers are a better saving at 500EUR and 350EUR, factory and handload, respectively.
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Old March 24, 2012, 08:53 AM   #10
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I started reloading when each shot cost me .85 cents.

I was able to lower that cost to .27 cents and them to .17 cents, by re-using the brass again and again.

By buying in bulk (powder, bullets, primers) I now shoot the .45 Long Colt for somewhere around .10 cents a shot, maybe less.

I do not think I have "saved" any money, because I shoot much more than I did when the rounds cost so much. But I like shooting and it keep me occupied and out of trouble.

When I get done, I clean the guns, tumble the brass and start on my next batch of ammo.
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Old March 24, 2012, 09:01 AM   #11
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once you buy your kit, the savings came around quickly. i then bought another press and other goodies that now put me back in the hole. rinse repeat with other new goodies.

also 9mm cost 20 cents factory. i could make them for about 6 cents. im still going to use 20 cents worth of components, so for me i just shoot more\ for the money.

im going to keep on buying 6 cavity, 10 cavity, 50 cavity molds, plus 10000lbs of lead.
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Old March 24, 2012, 09:04 AM   #12
Pond, James Pond
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Quote:
This is not an easy question to answer unless you put in the proper information.
Well, yes and no....

Unless reloading parts and gear and factory load prices change greatly and independantly of one another, then the savings, regardless of their actual values will remain about the same in relative terms. So actual costs are not so relevant, unless prohibitive: only the ratios of one to the other.

I have already taken your parameters into account in my spreadsheet, but to give you an idea of costs, here are the Factory and Reload ammo costs per 1000, in Euros, based on current prices.
Cal. ---- F ---- R
.38Spl: €380 - €255
.44 Spl: €450 - €295
.44 Mag: €500 - €360

.44 Spl makes for the biggest saving, followed by .38 Spl. None save me more than 35% over the factory load.

If possible I would load .44Mag cases to .44Spl specs, as technically I cannot shoot .44 Spl, out of the .44 Mag.

A stupid law that says I can only buy the ammo that the gun is registered for!! (even if the owner's manual says that other are OK too!!), so with .44 Mag cases I could have a little over .44Spl loads but less than full mag power!

Quote:
Remember the cost of ammo seems to always go up rather then down. Once you purchase components and equipment the cost is then fixed until you add more components or add equipment. You will basically be locking in your price to produce ammo at the price you paid for components even if it takes you a couple of years to load it all up.
This is very true.
And I do agree that savings may not be so great if I end up shooting more. Right now I can't afford to shoot much at all (but then I've bought a stack of guns in relatively short succession )
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Old March 24, 2012, 09:08 AM   #13
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I broke even in less than 6 weeks after I got my first reloading set up.

I've still not broke even on my Lee Classic Cast Turret yet, but I've not been shooting that much in the last couple of years.

However, I figure that I only need to hit two or three more bowling pin or steel plate matches and I'll be more than broken even.

Depending on what you shoot, and how much you shoot, and the set up that you buy, you can literally break even in a weekend.
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Old March 24, 2012, 09:18 AM   #14
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I guess I'm weird because I never factored the cost of the equipment in to the equation. I reload because I enjoy it and because it allows me shoot a whole lot more ammo for the same amount of cash especially in say a .45 Colt which seems to be going for $35 and up per box/50. Reloading also allows me to custom taylor my ammo to the particular gun it's fired from which makes it more accurate. I only factor consumables into my reloading costs, the equipment is a lifetime investment. If you reload multiple cartridges on the same equipment then it'll balance out quicker. I reload .45 ACP, .45 Colt, 6.5x55, .280 Rem, .223 Rem and use the same equipment for all of it so I would have to divide equipment cost across all cartridges plus I have die sets for almost any cartridge I would consider buying later on down the road (courtesy of my father). My costs will go down even more when I start casting my own bullets.

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Old March 24, 2012, 09:31 AM   #15
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It certainly depends on how involved you want to get involved in reloading.

Normal pistols and rifles it don't take long to get your money back but there are exceptions.

Someone mentioned the 416 Rigby. That certainly wasn't cheap reloading for me. When I built mine in the mid 70s Rigby had a monoply on their brass and ammo. No one could legally manufactor loaded ammo or brass but Rigby.

I couldn't find it, nor would I buy it if I could (stuburn as I was) I paid $1800 dollars for a Jet 6 X 19 Metal lathe to cut the belts off 460 Weatherby brass and ran the brass through the Rigby Sizing die (RCBS made me the dies).

My Rigby kicks like a mule so I doubt I'll live long enough to pay for my Rigby set up.

Some of my reloaded match ammo cost more then what I would have to pay buying factory.

Yeah for the average shooter it wont take long to recoop, but cost is secondary to my reasons for reloading.

Wait until you try to make your own brass bullets on a lathe to see what happend to your bullet cost. OR maybe try to make your own dies.

Trust me, you can get carried away with your reloading.
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Old March 24, 2012, 10:01 AM   #16
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Trust me, you can get carried away with your reloading.
I'm sure that is true. However, I don't want to get too carried away either.

I just can't afford it. I've had pursuits that were so expensive every other aspect of life suffered as a result: buying, insuring and financing a performance motorcycle in Europe is never cheap, but under 30 it is exhorbitant!!

I really like shooting and I want to do IPSC, also. If I decide to use my Redhawk in IPSC as opposed to my Glock, I think reloading will make a lot more sense, but I need to cut my teeth first!!

I'd equally like to branch into long arm, too, be it .22 or full-blown .308 etc...

But I don't want shooting or reloading to be all-consuming. Having bought 4 handguns in 5 months has certainly been a reality check. I think I'm going to take a break so I can finally get round to some shooting with my .22 for a change and get back into the swing of it.

If I reload, I hope that it means that I can shoot more, but I also want it to save me money in the long run. So perhaps I will shoot still just shoot those thousand .44s in a year or two and pocket the €140 it saves me...

All that is why, for me, cost is still a consideration.
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Old March 24, 2012, 10:09 AM   #17
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Quote:
.44 Spl makes for the biggest saving, followed by .38 Spl. None save me more than 35% over the factory load.
This really is going to depend on the equipment you plan on buying and whether or not you already have the brass to reload. If you've been shooting factory ammo for a while and have been saving your brass then you won't need to buy brass which saves you money. If you're planning to buy a progressive press then your costs will be much higher. My advice is to consider the equipment cost as an investment in your future. Most quality reloading equipment will give you a lifetime of service and in some cases will give your children a liftetime of service as well.

.44 Special is fairly comparable cost wise to .45 Colt, I imagine that reloading costs would be very similar also. If you spent $1000 on equipment and brass you could recoup your costs in roughly 2500 rounds. .45 Colt would cost me $600/1000 to buy at a sale price of $30 per box and it cost me $200/1000 to load them which is a savings of $400 per 1000 rounds. $400x2.5=$1000 initial investment in equipment and brass. After the equipment costs are covered your per round cost drops significantly. However this is all based on U.S. costs I imagine your cost will vary from ours.

Stu
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Old March 24, 2012, 10:15 AM   #18
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First: What Jimro said is spot on. If you add other calibres down the road, all you need to do is add the cost of new dies to the set. This will be a more pronounced savings if you delve into rifle calibres.

Second: In your costs, are you amortizing the cost of brass over 10 loadings? I go with 10 because full house 44 may give you less but 38 Spec. will give you many more. Many of us use 10 loads as a "ballpark" number of times we expect pistol brass to be good for.

Third: If you also factor in the sudden price increases that happen every decade or so and / or inflation, your return over time becomes even better.

Fourth: If you have components on hand and there is a sudden "shortage" of your chosen calibre(s) due to political shenannigans you are not beached.

Fifth: You can tweak you ammo as desired. You can make 44 Special level loads in Magnum brass if you so desire. I'll wager that you probably don't see to many offerings of "Cowboy" loads on your local shelves.
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Old March 24, 2012, 10:19 AM   #19
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To answer your opening question:

In the States, simple reloading equipment can be less than $200. I got a little higher grade equipment for two pistol calibers, with some extras, for slightly less than $600 - and recouped the initial investment in less than one year and 4000 rounds of 9mm reloads. Plus, I now shoot ammo which has been custom tuned to my pistols.
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Old March 24, 2012, 10:37 AM   #20
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shooting games require lots of ammo

After starting with a Dillon RL550B three years ago and keeping a spreadsheet account of all costs, it took about 12000 rounds to reach the balance point in 8 months. The total cost included everything that had anything to do with reloading. Things such as the bar stools to sit on, overhead light, floor mat, etc.

In the three years a little over 76000 rounds have been reloaded in the following calibers: 223, 308, 30-06, 45acp, 40s&w, 9mm, 38 & 357, and 380acp.

What really consumes the ammo is playing IDPA and 3-gun. And the practice that is involved with that activity. To be really good seems to require lots of practice. The best shooters in the IDPA groups that I play with shoot over 1000 rounds a week.

I think sailing may be a less expensive hobby.
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Old March 24, 2012, 11:15 AM   #21
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I personally did NOT make the mistake of trying to amortise the cost of press and other gear into 'number of rounds to break even" - this is madness. It's a hobby - I consider the gear as a one-time up-front cost.

Does Tiger Woods consider how many holes he must play to 'pay off' that fancy new club?
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Old March 24, 2012, 11:37 AM   #22
Pond, James Pond
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Does Tiger Woods consider how many holes he must play to 'pay off' that fancy new club?
Nope, coz he gets stuff for free thanks to his sponsors!
In fact, he probably marvels at how much he can play absolutely FoC!!

Unfortunately, I'm am not to shooting what Mr Woods is to golf...

All the same, as I explained in my receding post, cost is an issue for me. I'm happy if reloading allows me to shoot more than now, but I don't want to end up exceeding my present monthly spending on ammo....
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Old March 24, 2012, 12:03 PM   #23
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When you start casting, the savings really start to pile up. I figure my .30-30s cost me 7 cents apiece and my .44s cost me 4 cents apiece. My .45-70s are a little more expensive at a nickel a pop, but still, that's not bad for ammo costs. I don't figure in my time, simply because my time spent on a hobby is free.
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Old March 24, 2012, 12:21 PM   #24
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Mississippi Dave covered iy pretty well. I started reloading in the late 60's and have always enjoyed it as a hobby in itself. Actually for me it's theraputic. The savings are there .
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Old March 24, 2012, 12:31 PM   #25
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When I decided to start loading 30-06 about 30 yrs ago I determined the break-even point was 11-1200 rounds with my RCBS kit and minimal additional equipment. I soon found that the break-even point is an elusive moving target and it changes every time I add equipment, guns and cartridges. I've learned that when I buy a rifle in a caliber that I don't currently load for I can count of spending a few hundred on dies, moulds, brass, etc......very similar to the original investment. These days I can't be sure if I passed the break-even point long ago or if I'll simply never live long enough to do so. One thing's for sure, I'm having fun and making some very good ammo.
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