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Old December 13, 2012, 01:04 PM   #1
JimDandy
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The Math and Economy of Reloading.

This is a post that will hopefully answer some of the common questions about what reloading can do for you, as well as how much you can save by reloading.

I just created a cart at Cabelas. I did not wait for a sale, or price match etc. I did not spend a lot of time picking and choosing, or go for the lowest cost item in a given class. I'll also be rounding a bit. I'm basing the list off of shooting .45 ammo. The numbers will be provided to make it easy-ish to translate to whatever caliber you shoot. I'm worst-casing brass life to three reloads, plus the initial load to reuse factory brass. I'm not accounting for the fliers that disappear before you can pick them up at the range. I chose items I have, or most similar to what I have. I'm not advocating one over the other, just picking things I know of, or most accurately resemble what I have and know of- having purhcased from multiple locations I can't directly recreate from one shopping cart/wishlist.

One Horndary LNL Ammo Plant.
Shell plate, bullet feeder, case feeder plate,
RCBS 5-0-5,
Hornady M2 Case Tumbler,
Tumbling Media,
one reloading manual.
One set of .45 ACP dies with taper crimp.

Grand Total, about $1450. Yeah, I just cried a little myself.

The components to reload those rounds are about .24 cents a round. One pound of powder, 1000 bullets, and 1000 primers is about $243, divided by 1000. (1 lb of powder will reload more than 1000 rounds, even allowing for waste, but it's close enough, and you're new, you can drop/tip/whatever the bottle once).

1000 230 grain FMJ-FP Hornady bullets
1000 for ~186 = .19 per

Unique Powder
6ish grains, 7000 grains per pound, about 1000 rounds per $23 pound or .023 per

Large Pistol Primers
$35 per 1000, or .035 per.

Federal 100 round Value packs at Walmart 32/100
.32+.24+.24+.24 = 1.04/4=.26 to evenly distribute the brass cost over three reloads

WWB 100 round value packs at walmart 44/100
.44+.24+.24+.24 = .29

Federal American Eagle 26/50
.52+.24+.24+.24 = 1.24 or .31

So you can save 0.08 per Federal VP, .20 pre WWB, and .28 per Federal American Eagle at your LGS/Range.

This does not account for your time. If you want to account for that(and you probably should, we'll assume most of us are making 40K a year, and you'd value your time at least as much as the people paying you for real, so ~$20 an hour. Hornady says you can make up to 500 an hour, we'll be kind and say 400 an hour, since we're probably a little slower, and I doubt that includes setup time, and incidentals like loading the primer tube. 2000 rounds in 5 hours, 5 hours x $20 is 100 bucks for 2000 rounds, .05 cents per round in your "time". $0.31/0.34/.0.36 cents total. Thus to pay for your Hornay Lock N Load, with all the fixins and extras you'll need to make 145,000(federal)/14,500(WWB), or 9062 Federal American Eagle .45 ACP rounds.

To pay for this setup in a year you'd need to shoot:

Federal: More than 10K a month. Unlikely, and an unfair comparison because I don't think anyone could find enough Walmarts that have those Federal value packs in stock. I know they're always out of them when I leave, and about half the time or slightly better out when I arrive too.

WWB: About 14.5K a year. About 300 a week. A bit high for most people, but within the realm for the devoted. Both in shooting, and in finding the stock at multiple walmarts, or the small town walmart where you're drinking buddies with the sporting goods manager who orders the stuff for you.

American Eagle. About 9000 a year, or 750 a month, if you go once a week, less than 175 a week.





Now for a Single State press:

The Hornady LNL Classic Singe State kit
M2 Tumbler and Media.
RCBS 5-0-5 scale (the Kit comes with one, but balance is better than electronic I think)
and the Dies.

About $470 dollars.

The component price to reload is still the same.

Federal 100 round Value packs at Walmart 32/100
.32+.24+.24+.24 = 1.04/4=.26 to evenly distribute the brass cost over three reloads

WWB 100 round value packs at walmart 44/100
.44+.24+.24+.24 = .29

Federal American Eagle 26/50
.52+.24+.24+.24 = 1.24 or .31


Most people seem to think 100 rounds an hour is a pretty good pace for single stage reloading- so 20 bucks per 100, .20 cents in time per reload.

You now lose value, but still save money reloading those Value packs.

Break even on value and save money reloading WWB.

Still save money AND value over the American Eagle at the LGS.

So based on saving MONEY, ignoring the value of your time:

Value pack
.06 saved per, just under 8K rounds to pay it off in a year. 750 a month.

WWB
.13 3700ish rounds, ~300 per month.

American Eagle
.21 savings per, 2276, call it 2400, 200 per month, a box of 50 per week, and you paid off the single stage.


However, a Single stage really shines on the rifle reloading.

A box of .308 Match Federals, 35/20, 1.75 per.

Bullets, powder, primers..

Bullets:
100 Hornady BTHP match = 26.00 or .26 per
Powder:
~45 grains, 7000 per pound, 155 reloads per pound, 26/155= .17

Primers:
35 per 1000, .035 per primer.

So .465 per round reloading. Assume three reloads per brass again-
1.75+.47+.47+.47= 3.16 per four cartridges from 1 factory load + 3 sets of components = .79 cents a round. Save .96/.76(your time is .20 per round on a single stage, remember?) per shot that way. Less than 500/650 rounds a year. 20/box, 25/30 boxes a year. Range trip twice a month, a box/box and a half per trip, and you pay for your equipment in a year.

And that is the economy of reloading.

To chang the numbers, you have to know how much you pay per round, and about how many grains of powder in a load... there are 7000 grain per pound.. so take 7000 and divide by grains per load to get loads per pound, divide price of pound by loads per pound = price per load. Bullets aso change but the same cost per principle applies. Replace, and do the math.
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Old December 13, 2012, 02:19 PM   #2
tkglazie
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The idea behind the post is sound, and your math is solid, but there are a few things missing. First, there is a middle ground between an ammo plant and a single stage. One could either go with a less robust progressive (like a Square Deal B, a base LnL AP, or go for the true value and get aan LCT and cut that $1450 down by 2/3.

The bullet prices are extremely high was well. I would not spend more then 8-12 cents for a .45 bullet, regardless what kind. At a nickel for powder/primer and 10.5 cents a bullet the cost for my pet load (50/box) is $7.75
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Old December 13, 2012, 02:26 PM   #3
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Well, to be honest, I really consider reloading a relaxing fun hobby...so in that sense, I really don't keep track of time spent doing it. That would be like tracking my time Geocaching, or golfing or hunting. It wouldn't matter how long I spent doing it, I enjoy and it's a hobby.

As far as expense, really don't care about that either since its a hobby. I'd do it regardless. Saying that though, I can shoot twice as much or more with the cases I started out with and other components. It's all about bulk buying and finding the sales.

Biggest thing I have gotten from reloading is making a consistent accurate round for all my firearms.

Last edited by jwrowland77; December 13, 2012 at 02:37 PM.
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Old December 13, 2012, 02:36 PM   #4
JimDandy
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I was actually somewhat trying to hit the extremes of a basic single stage, and a nearly automated progressive, so people had a perspective that shows both how long it would take to recoup the investment, as well as the consumption necessary in a time frame.
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Old December 13, 2012, 02:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
brass cost over three reloads
Only 3 loads? I have .45 ACP cases that have been loaded so many times that the headstamps are barely legible.... I use them till the neck splits.... and unless it's a nickel plated case, that does not happen much...

I've done the math in at least 1/2 a dozen threads .....

And I never cost out the time .... I don't get paid $20/hour to go fishing, either ...... It's a hobby, and I enjoy it.
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Old December 13, 2012, 03:01 PM   #6
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I don't disagree that it's a hobby. And that 3 reloads is an incredibly small number, especially for straight wall 45 ACP cartidges. I was making sure to worst case it.

While I agree it's a hobby, the time spent is still a "cost". And the flip side of the point even makes it more persuasive. If you can pay yourself $20 an hour to make the stuff, and still come out ahead against everything but a value pack so ridiculously priced it's rare only the shelves....
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Old December 13, 2012, 03:07 PM   #7
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A friend of mine who shoots nothing more than 9MM pistol asked me about this last year, I told him not to bother if the only reason he want to do it was to save a dollar or two. However for match grade rifle ammo it is certainly worth it just to be able to dial in each round to my particular gun. Match grade 308 is qround 1.25 to 1.50 a round and I can make better for half that in materials

Every time I pull the trigger on one of my rifles I realize that I just turned 60 cents into noise, I certainly don't do this to save money. I do it as a hobby that allows me to punch holes in paper at extreme distances
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Old December 13, 2012, 03:11 PM   #8
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I never ran the numbers.
I enjoy the process and use it for a break.
Aside for that, I get the exact load I want and if you have an odd ball or big bore you will see real savings.
Try pricing factory 338 Lapua Mag---'bout $100 for 20

I can reload 20 for around 20 bucks and since I don't hotrod the load, I am up to 7 loads per case and they still look good--I do anneal however.

Much cheaper than my other hobbies- try feeding an airplane!!
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Old December 13, 2012, 03:13 PM   #9
JimDandy
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I hadn't run the numbers either. I was actually surprised a little when I did. Oh I'd run rough numbers that told me I couldn't buy brass and match those Federal value packs. But I didn't realize just how close they were to reloading cost. Makes me wonder if Federal is taking aim (so to speak) at the WWB and UMC target (no pun intended) market.
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Old December 13, 2012, 03:25 PM   #10
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If you buy your hadgun bullets in bulk from someplace like Montana Gold, Zero, etc ..... you can get the cost of jacketed bullets down to about 1/2 of what they cost at Cabela's ....

....and for low pressure rounds like .45ACP and .38 special target loads, plated work just fine........ Midway has Ranier Ballistics 125gr .357 plated bullets @ $89/1000 right now.
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Old December 13, 2012, 03:28 PM   #11
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To me its not about how much money I save, if any, but the satisfaction of loading my own rounds. Others spend their mad money smoking, drinking, chasing wild women, etc. Me I spend it on reloading.
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Old December 13, 2012, 03:42 PM   #12
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All valid points. This was mostly just something that was bouncing around in my head. I tried to stay to something near Match grade rounds.

And now I've got this all worked out so when someone asks what should I get to start reloading, there's a break down of how much consumption saves how much money how fast pays for itself and point them here. If you shoot X rounds a month, look at this; Y look at that.

Much like one of the reasons I reload. Much harder to find .223 68 grain BTHP Match bullets on a factory round than the 55 grain FMJ and/or varmint bullets.
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Old December 13, 2012, 03:55 PM   #13
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The prices for components you listed are high......

You can buy Precision Delta 230g for $132 shipped per 1k or 185g JHP's at $137 per 1k shipped.

Powder when bought in bulk can be as low as $14 per lb.

Same goes for primers. $35 is on the max of the high end or the price range. $25 per 1k is closer to what you should be paying and if you buy enough you can get them for around $20.
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Old December 13, 2012, 03:58 PM   #14
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Reloading handgun ammo will not realize you the savings of reloading rifle ammo, especially when you are replicating the performance of a match load.

5000 bullets cost me a pretty penny to buy up front, but I'm right at 60% of retail cost on the first reloading. That means 40% more shooting for the same price. If you cut the cost of brass by 25% (the general rule being 4 reloads and toss 'em for an autoloader match rifle) then the savings are well below 60% of bottom end free shipping black friday retail.

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Old December 13, 2012, 05:00 PM   #15
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I enjoy reloading so I don’t think I can consider the time I spend as an expense, any more than I could the time I spend talking to my children or watching a good movie or even eating dinner for that matter.
The equipment/tools will last a lifetime, for the most part, so I don’t see the need to pay for them in one year. Most of my equipment is over 15 years old and has paid for it‘s self long ago, in fact some of it could be sold today for a higher price than I paid for it. I bought a new Dillon XL650 w/case feeder for $549.00 and could sell it today for much more.
I cast my own hand gun bullets (I know more time spent) for about $0.03 each, bringing the cost of a box of ammo down considerably.
I know for a fact that the ammo I load shoots better than the cheap stuff, making the cost impossible to compare.
Happy Loading
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Old December 13, 2012, 05:02 PM   #16
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Using range brass accumulated over the years (0 cost),
my lead cast reloads for target shooting run between 5-8 dollars per
box of 50 for 9mm, .40SW, and .45 ACP .
Several decent calculators out there, I'm sure most have seen before.
http://ultimatereloader.com/tools/re...ts-calculator/
As others have said, "nice hobby" when the snow is flying and no grass to mow.
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Old December 13, 2012, 06:32 PM   #17
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ShootingNut, your numbers agree with mine... For shooting .45 Colt, It is around $20 per 100 finished rounds using 250g RNFP lead bullets. Hardly 'ever' buy jacketed. Hard to remember the last time I did in fact. As for 'match' grade rounds, I can't tell much difference as this is usually good 'enough' off hand using these generic bullets ... for me that is.

Doing the math, it doesn't take long to 'pay off' your reloading equipment.
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Old December 13, 2012, 09:09 PM   #18
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Seems if you are going to figure your time to reload as part of the expense,
you would also want to figure your time shooting as an expense?
And what about your time spent reading forums about reloading, and shooting?
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Old December 13, 2012, 09:55 PM   #19
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You will save a bundle if you compare "premium" ammunition to taking the same bullet and loading it yourself exactly like you want it. .45 Colt - Starline brass, Winchester/CCI primer, Hornady 250 grain XTP or 250 grain Gold Dot and 10 grains of Unique for about $.40 or less assuming average of five plus reloads per case. That is less than half price.

Last edited by jmortimer; December 13, 2012 at 10:02 PM.
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Old December 13, 2012, 10:01 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmortimer View Post
You will save a bundle if you compare "premium" ammunition to taking the same bullet and loading it yourself exactly like you want it. .45 Colt - Starline brass, Winchester/CCI primer, Hornady 250 grain XTP or 250 grain Gold Dot and 10 grains of Unique for about $.40 assuming average of five plus reloads per case. That is less than half price.
Amen. I love that my $7.75/50 200gr LSWC load shoots better than the 2 boxes of $32/50 200gr LSWC ammo I bought when I picked up my gun. Yes, $32/50 is a joke of a price to pay, but I just HAD to shoot my first 1911 that very day and that was the only LSWC ammo they had. Damned if it didnt shoot good though, and boy do I feel good that I can make even better ammo for 1/4 the cost! Isnt that why this hobby is so addictive;(
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Old December 13, 2012, 10:20 PM   #21
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BTW, using a Classic Turret and sensible reloading set-up will only add 2.5 cents per round over 10,000 rounds. So we are under $.40 for my example using a 250 grain Gold Dot.
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Old December 13, 2012, 10:51 PM   #22
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My reloading habit is expensive....

But I get to shoot for free!
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Old December 13, 2012, 10:57 PM   #23
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i hate when people put in the time factor x wage. its like your working 24/7 and you call off work to do reloading to make up for it.

i wonder how many people do this.
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Old December 13, 2012, 11:03 PM   #24
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^ Yes, I zero-out my time. I guess I need a Dillon 1050 to make my time worthwhile.
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Old December 14, 2012, 12:41 AM   #25
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WOW $1450
HA. Some of us have that much in different gun powders. I do.
I started figuring the cost of my reloading room and casting equipment once about 4 years ago, and decided to stop counting when I hit around $5000 dollars. And I dont get into any of that electric powered stuff like scales, trimmers and such.

I also didnt buy it all new. Start out with the basics and watch for deals here and there. Its amazing how much you can actually accumulate over a few short years.
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