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Old April 4, 2012, 09:37 AM   #1
Beentown71
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I shoot NATO rounds...

Working up a cost analysis for reloading and it isn't working out as I had hoped. I still may reload as it is something I think I would enjoy but cost wise the numbers just are not in my favor as much as I would have guessed.

I think part of this is due to that I shoot NATO rounds except .40 caliber hand gun. Actually here are all the calibers that I plan on shooting much of for the near future.

Rifle
.308 - I pay $11.77 per 20 of plinking (American Eagle) and $19.24 per 20 of target (FGM)
.223 - $329 per thousand of plinking ($325 PMC Bronze) and $18.18 for target (FGM)
.22lr - $14.96 for 525 bulk packs of Federal Champion and $18.96 for CCI Standard Velocity (can't reload this so it doesn't really figure in here)

Handgun

9mm - $213.76/1000 of blazer brass
.40 - $16.04/50 of blazer brass
.22lr (included in above)

*All prices are after tax

The only way I see it "paying off" is if I start shooting more target with my rifles and need to build up loads. Or if I start shooting non-NATO rounds.

For Example:

.223 cost per 1,000 rounds of plinking ammo

$26 for a 1,000 primers
$100 for 4 pounds of Varget
$90 for 1,000 bullets
$60 per 1,000

Which brings me to $276 plus shipping for these components. $30 for shipping lets say so we will be at $306 per thousand. So per thousand of .223 I shoot I will save $23.

Am I missing something? I may very well still order the press but just want to have a realistic view.
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Old April 4, 2012, 09:44 AM   #2
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I reload because I can make the best ammo possible for my guns.

I would still reload even if it cost more than factory.
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Old April 4, 2012, 09:51 AM   #3
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Quote:
I reload because I can make the best ammo possible for my guns.

I would still reload even if it cost more than factory.
+1 on that mrawesome22!
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Old April 4, 2012, 10:05 AM   #4
Beentown71
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Thats really not what I asked. I was asking if I was missing something cost wise? I really don't need "the best" ammo for plinking and informal target shooting. I am not a bench shooter and don't expect my plinking ammo to stay under .75 of an inch. I like to see what a rifle can do and then use it for hunting and shooting steel.

If I became a serious bench shooter I could see the benefit. I would also change calibers to achieve better results which would really help with the cost.

All of my rifles shoot under an inch with FGM or other top tier ammo and that is good enough for me. Maybe if I started reloading that would be different and I would start chasing groups.
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Old April 4, 2012, 10:07 AM   #5
Jim243
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Beentown

If your going into reloading to save money, don't. If you are going into reloading to get the most accurate load for your rifle then go for it. If you are getting into reloading because you have a caliber that is hard to find, it is the only way to go. If you get into reloading because there is no ammo on the shelves or at the distribitors and want to be self sufficient then by all means do it.

It is a great hobby that lets me shoot when I want to and gives me private time away from the problems of day to day raising a family and work.

Just a great way to spend an afternoon or two or three. Most that get into reloading find that it is something they like and keeps them close to their guns and do not worry about the cost. (but keep their eyes on the pennies.)

If you have kids to raise and lawns to cut and a wife to keep happy, then reloading is the way to go. (time for yourself)

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Old April 4, 2012, 10:12 AM   #6
Beentown71
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Quote:
It is a great hobby that lets me shoot when I want to and gives me private time away from the problems of day to day raising a family and work.
Quote:
If you have kids to raise and lawns to cut and a wife to keep happy, then reloading is the way to go. (time for yourself)
This is more the reason why I am so tempted to get started. Making the best ammo I can would be secondary. Just wish it made a little more sense monetarily.
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Old April 4, 2012, 10:40 AM   #7
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If I wasn't reloading I'd never be able to afford to shoot IPSC to the extant that I do now. My wife is as involved as I am, so between us we're going through about 1,000 rounds per week of Production power factor 9mm. That's 53,000 rounds per year.

I use the most expensive powder locally (VihtaVuori N320) @ $32 per pound. I cast my own bullets so no out-of-pocket costs there, and I also collect my own cases from the range. Primers up here cost $32 per 1,000 (for Winchester SPP). One pound of powder does well over 2,000 rounds, so we'll say 15 bucks as a conservative figure. For materials, 1,000 9mm are costing me about $47 to produce.

Costs for my labor (hey it's a hobby!), cost of electricity, and capital costs of the equipment are not included in the $47 per 1,000 figure. In my local area in Canada, 100 count box of 9mm (the crappiest Winchester white "party packs") cost about $30 with tax, or otherwise $300 per 1,000.

Per year, I'm saving around $13,409 by reloading. But as others have said here, it's also an enjoyable hobby that has a value in its own right even if it doesn't save you money in certain countries and/or calibers. Plus you get to tailor the bullet and load to your guns so that you can achieve goals that commercial ammunition just can't meet. Also in Canada here, when you buy commercial ammunition in my province, the government/police know how much you buy and when - but not so for reloading components. Many Canadians also reload because we feel it's none of our government's business to know how much ammo we shoot or might have on hand.
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Old April 4, 2012, 10:42 AM   #8
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In the handguns you'll save some money if you use cast bullets, but it'll be tough saving much in 9mm since loaded ammo is already relatively cheap.

For the rifles you could save some by buying pulled military bullets, but I don't know if those are available in .223. You wouldn't want to use them for serious target ammo though.

Keep in mind that you'll reuse your brass, so that's a one-time expense. Heck, with any luck you've been saving your brass and so you'll already have it!
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Old April 4, 2012, 10:51 AM   #9
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You can easily reload to save money. In some cases it will require more money up front though. Other times it will require a different choice of components. For example for 1000 .223 Remington I would pay $80 per thousand bullets by buying more than 1000 at a time, about the same as you for primers, $120 for 8 pounds of Ramshot X-terminator (big saver right here) and I get my brass for free these days. I did buy 500 rounds of once fired for $30 shipped to get myself started. Not counting brass that brings my cost down to $150ish, much cheaper than factory.

For handgun I cast my own bullets, but buying someone else's cast bullets or plated bullets will save a lot over a big name FMJs. There are sellers who will openly say how many bullets they can cram into a USPS flat rate box.

At first it may seem tough to save much (and for something like 9mm or 223 it can be if you don't buy bulk components) but it is more than possible. I also try not to fight HAZMAT fee's more than once a year. Shooting in a local club I've been able to split the fee with another shooter as well.

Quote:
If your going into reloading to save money, don't.
Thanks for letting everyone know you are better than that.
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Old April 4, 2012, 11:04 AM   #10
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Quote:
$26 for a 1,000 primers
$100 for 4 pounds of Varget
$90 for 1,000 bullets
$60 per 1,000
What is the $60 for, is that buying once-fired brass? (It looks a little high for that, but too low to be new brass.) Don't forget that you can reuse the brass at least a half a dozen times.

Buy your Varget in 8# jugs rather than 1#, or to really drive the price down buy a couple of jugs of WC-844 bulk powder. (I'm looking for SMP-842, but it's too new to be much on the market yet)

Watch for specials on primers. I bought a bunch of CCI SP's 3 months ago for $20/thousand. They also had CCI SR's for the same price, but I didn't need any at the time
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Old April 4, 2012, 11:24 AM   #11
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You've bought ammo in .308, .223, 9mm, and 40s&w that have perfectly usable brass so your brass costs are $0.

I handload 10 calibers and because I buy in bulk, I pay considerably less than your quoted prices. For instance, I load both 30-06 and .308 and they cost me 29¢ per round (vs your 59¢) using 147grn M80 ball bullets, Win 748 powder, and Win LR primers. I load 55grn .223 ammo for 14¢ (vs your 39¢) using LC bullets, WC844 powder, and Tula primers. I load 125grn 357mag ammo for 13.1¢ per round using Zero bullets, H110 powder, and Tula primers, and 165grn 40s&w for 11¢ per round using Berry's bullets, TiteGroup powder and Wolf primers.

The secret is buying in bulk when you find a good deal. I've saved so much on ammo costs over the years that my entire reloading setup and all my firearms were paid for out of the savings and my reloading setup isn't a bargain basement, hodgepodge of pieces as the pictures below will attest to.



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Old April 4, 2012, 11:34 AM   #12
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One thing to consider here is caliber. Due to popularity, many calibers are produced so cheaply that reloading becomes nearly pointless for savings reasons. .223 and 9mm are right at the top of that list. An even more extreme example might be 7.62x39 - the billions of rounds of surplus available make reloading that a purely intellectual exercise.

However, re-run those numbers for 308 or 357 magnum and you'll see a very different picture. Even with 45 I still see about a 50% savings over WWB using nice components like Hornady bullets. I can produce excellent 308 (and by excellent I mean "literally better in my rifle than the most expensive factory stuff in the world") for maybe 35 cents a round - compared to the $1/round average for ho-hum ammo that's pretty dang good.
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Old April 4, 2012, 11:43 AM   #13
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COSteve, that is so well organized that I must hide that photo from my wife under any and all circumstances!
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Old April 4, 2012, 12:02 PM   #14
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As much as I cannot believe I would ever agree with anyone that went to CU, Steve is right on the mark. Amazing set up, Steve!!!

Beentown71 your numbers are about right. The powder calcs are close enough for 223. Each component could probably be found a little cheaper, but can be found for a much more too. I assume the $60 is for used brass. A bit on the high side, but this would cover electricity, cleaning media, and case lube.
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Old April 4, 2012, 12:14 PM   #15
wogpotter
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Quote:
.308 - I pay $11.77 per 20 of plinking (American Eagle) and $19.24 per 20 of target (FGM)
Part of your confusion is because you're comparing apples to oranges in a way.

If you re work your numbers using actual 7.62mm NATO spec ammunition you're looking at something round a buck a bang. You are dropping the cost per unit with the plinking ammo, so your original input numbers are a bit slewed.

Now lets look at how you get & price your supplies.

If you do the same thing with your reloads as you do with your current ammo you can either shoot better ammo for the same price, or have a lower-cost dual setup, but reloaded.
Example:
Plinking ammo.
Get once-fired MilSurp Brass.
Use pulled projectiles & bargain powder.

Now re-work your costing both ways & see how it comes out for you.

I reload with premium components for about 60% of the cost of pre made ammo of the same type. I don't really reload for economy, if I did I could probably drop that to 40% of the cost, but I prefer to shoot ammo that is 50% better than factory for 60% of the cost.
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Old April 4, 2012, 12:35 PM   #16
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Agree that you can save more than your calculations show. You should have or can easily accumulate .223 brass for free. Reduces your cost by $60/1000. Buy 8# Wcc844 for under $100 (similar to H355). Cuts your cost another $50/1000.

Another benefit is having the ammo you want at that price whenever you want. Components usually are more available than ammo during periodic shortages. Buying in volume cuts overall costs and gives you reserve that can be configured how you want your ammo.

Saving money is definitely possible and easy to do, but many more benefits too. Custom tailored ammo of exact components you want, more accurate, fun as all get out to operate your own manufacturing plant, you learn a ton more about ammunition, guns and ballistics.
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Old April 4, 2012, 12:40 PM   #17
Beentown71
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Thanks for the input fellas. I think I see all sides of it. Finding in stock components for a decent price seems to be a problem. Then add in the cost of the equipment I am looking into(Hornady LNL or Dillon 550) it seems to be a stagnant issue $ wise for a couple/three years.

I do like to be self sufficient and that is a reward all in its self for me. One more gun purchase then the fun money will be saved for a press, extras and components.

I am sure I will have more questions soon.

Thanks again!
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Old April 4, 2012, 03:01 PM   #18
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Beentown71,

I'd say the main faults in your calculation is you use NATO ammo, but then pick some premium grade components to compare to as loads. Take the Varget. Varget is a slowish powder for .223 best suited to heavier match bullets. That's why you're using so much. If you use a 50-55 grain bullet closer to the NATO rounds, then a faster powder like IMR 4198, which I currently use, it works quite well and requires only about 21 grains, getting down to 3 lbs of powder/1000 rounds. You could also pick a less expensive powder, like Ramshot X-terminator at $17.85/lb and $127 for 8 lb at Powder Valley before hazmat and shipping. It's spherical and easier to meter for large volume progressive loading and likely comes more in line with your NATO powder on performance and will run around 24 grains per round. I don't personally use surplus these days because it varies more from lot-to-lot, but as was pointed out, you could get 8 lbs of surplus WC844 from Jeff Bartlett for $100 before hazmat and shipping, or from another surplus dealer and run around 25 grains per round.

Anyway, let's assume 3 lb of IMR 4198 and if you buy 8 lb at a time and after hazmat and shipping you've got $0.023/round.

I got 5000 of the Russian KVB556M primers in the TulAmmo brand for $16/1000 on sale recently. Hazmat fee was shared with other items, and with shipping brought them up to $18.40/1000. So $0.0184/round.

I also got 2000 new, unprimed Lake City cases for about $110/1000 + shipping at Natchez, or about $0.12 each. If I amortize them over five reloadings, that's $0.024 per loading for new brass. They'll run more than five loads, but I don't trust them in the semi-autos beyond that without careful individual inspection for stretching. The ones showing stretching signs get moved over to the bolt guns where they sometimes as much as another twenty load cycles can be coaxed out of them. But I also lose them in the AR at about 5% per load cycle, depending where the match is. So I probably average $0.025/cycle amortized over the life of the case.

Always look for sales. Montana gold has its 55 grain FMJ on sale for $280/3500, or $0.08 each. So, I'm at $0.15/ round or $150/1000, give or take. Against your price of $329/1000, that's $179/1000 savings.

I have not attempted to amortize the loading gear with the above because most of it has an indefinite life expectancy if cared for, so I won't know how many rounds to amortize it over until I can't shoot anymore. But at 5,000 rounds, or about a season's shooting, I'll have saved enough for a pretty nice loading setup.

If I want to spend more and use match bullets, I certainly can. The above components are actually all perfectly suited to short range match shooting except the bullet. If I drop in a 53 grain Sierra MatchKing, which is what I use up to 200 yards in mouse gun matches, that adds $0.09 to the bullet cost and I'm up to $235/1000 for short range match ammunition.

If I want to shoot longer ranges I'll be looking at a slower powder and heavier bullets, but I can still put together an over-the-course service rifle match load using the 77 grain Sierra MatchKing for less than $300/1000; less than it costs you for plinking grade NATO rounds. I don't think that's a bad deal.
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Old April 4, 2012, 04:16 PM   #19
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number one reason to reload.

when you pull the trigger and see the group you just shoot.well lets say you will be screaming inside saying I just did that with a **** eating smile on your face.

sure factory ammo can and has been able to do just as I said above.but your load you loaded yourself just makes a day of shooting much better.who cares about money when you can load some of the best or always the best ammo for your gun.when I pull out one of my guns I know without a dought I will be hitting the target.

forgot one.it all so takes me away from the real world to my own world.
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Old April 4, 2012, 05:06 PM   #20
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Quote:
.223 cost per 1,000 rounds of plinking ammo

$26 for a 1,000 primers
$100 for 4 pounds of Varget
$90 for 1,000 bullets
$60 per 1,000

Which brings me to $276 plus shipping for these components. $30 for shipping lets say so we will be at $306 per thousand. So per thousand of .223 I shoot I will save $23.
The main problem I see is the quantity of components you are buying. You need to buy in bulk. I buy primers online for $15 to $20 per 1,000. Buy 20,000 or so at a time. I buy WC-844 pull down powder for $85 for an 8 pound bottle. Buy three bottles. You can buy Hornady 55 grain bullets at Wideners for around $75 per 1,000 or Montana Gold 55 grain for $80 per 1,000. You should be able to reload 223 for around $140 per 1,000 and have MOA and sub MOA ammo.
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Old April 4, 2012, 05:12 PM   #21
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A couple of other points to consider using only the calibers listed.

223 and 308 can both use the same powder over a range of projectiles; same goes for 9mm and 40 S&W. At the one pound size, you find what works well with both and makes you happy. Then you buy the 8 lb. jugs and you can see the savings.

Second and more salient point: Every few years we run into a panic shortage due to the make up of our executive and legislative branches. We saw this three years ago as the shelves were bare. Loaded and even components were scarce and the gouging was very evident (like $80 per 1k for primers). Assuming you are stocked on components, during these times you really see the cost benefit ratio. You can continue enjoying the sport when others are sidelined. This is when 223, 308, and 9 mm were impossible to find due to the ongoing conflicts abroad.
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Old April 4, 2012, 07:30 PM   #22
Beentown71
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It is all rather intimidating. I have a good grasp on the mechanics but until I actually set up the press and start pulling the handle it is seems a bit daunting. I am sure once I get started it will be easy breezy. I think part of the confusion is the nomenclature and not being familiar with it. I do like the videos that Hornady has put on you tube which includes set up of the press.

Thanks again guys.
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Old April 4, 2012, 08:07 PM   #23
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You know the low cost of making accurate ammunition was what got me into reloading. I started off with a used single stage press, 10 dollar dies, and was able to tune a load for my Savage 10 Tactical that was less than half the cost of Fed GMM or Black Hills.

My last purchase of 5k 75gr BTHP .224 bullets was like passing an emotional kidney stone. I had planned on using it for a cross the course load, but I just got 600 80gr Hdy Amax bullets for the 600 yard line.

Buying in bulk definitely helped keep the per round cost down.

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Old April 4, 2012, 08:53 PM   #24
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Quote:
It is all rather intimidating.
It is, especially with the hundreds of pages devoted to the subject in reloading manuals, and the endless arguments on the finer details of the hobby on forums such as this one!

In reality, it's a lot simpler than making bread. This is because with reloading, everything is measurable and mechanical. With bread, not only does the ambient humidity in the room determine how much water you must add, the feel and texture of the dough against your hand while kneading it determines how ready it is and what quality of bread it's going to make.

We have it easy. Believe me.
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Old April 4, 2012, 10:12 PM   #25
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I pretty much only shoot now so that I can have empty cases to reload again.
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