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Old August 24, 2012, 08:18 PM   #1
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Expensive reloading - What am I doing wrong?

Sorry for the newbie question. I wanted to start reloading 308 to save some money. But when I price bullets, primers, brass and powder, it looks like it will cost me more than buying new. What am I missing? Thanks in advance!
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Old August 24, 2012, 08:25 PM   #2
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Well how are you buying your brass?

Don't forget the more you're able to load the same brass the more price per round goes down. You know I got into reloading to save money, but I've realized, I spend about the same amount shooting every month, but now I get to shoot twice as much for the same price. Plus another added bonus is my rounds are tailored for my specific guns which makes them more accurate.

Just reload and enjoy!
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Old August 24, 2012, 08:29 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum and thanks for asking our advice

Forgive me for complaining in my opening paragraph, but I would say the first thing you did wrong was not share with us the specifics of your suppliers' prices. Hard for us to answer without specifics.

Some ammunition is fairly inexpensive bought over the counter, particularly the very commonly available stuff (9mm is a prime example). Bottlenecked rifle cartridges are usually fairly easy to save money on, however, so I cannot tell where you are going off the economy path.

Perhaps you are pricing very inexpensive factory ammunition and also pricing very expensive components.

You do know that you can re-use your cases, right? Sometimes as many as a dozen times.

Google the phrase "Handload cost calculator" and you will find many sites where you plug in your components cost and the calculations are done for you to show cost per round of handloaded ammunition.

Good luck. We will do the best we can to give oversight to your calculations if you share them here.

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Old August 24, 2012, 08:32 PM   #4
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Maybe you aren't doing the cost calculation correctly? You can use this calculator link. For costs of components I suggest you use Powder Valley costs. If you can still buy new for less and are only reloading to save money, don't reload.

But I just can't imagine you can buy any current commercial 308 ammunition for less than 2X the cost of your reloads, after you factor out the cost of the brass. Once fired 308 brass can save you quite a bit also.
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Old August 24, 2012, 08:34 PM   #5
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Realoading is not cheaper but you shoot more for the same money is basicaly how it is these days. I would like to add that lead bullets are your best friend for economy purposes.When i first started doing it i bought only jhp rounds at 20$ a box/100. Gets expensive after a while. Lead bullets go for almost half that, less if you cast yourself which i do now also. Most of my brass is range pick-ups, powder is the cheapest thing in the grand scheme of reloading i believe so the most expensive thing for me is primers 30-40$ a box/1000 or about five cents each, and of course alloys for the lead.
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Old August 24, 2012, 08:42 PM   #6
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Reloading is like buying stock--it's a young man's game. You have to lay out mega cash in the beginning for components. If you don't shoot very much it will never be worth the investment. If you shoot odd calibers, high volumes, or require specific accuracy, your returns will be well worth it later on. -7-
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Old August 24, 2012, 08:58 PM   #7
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I never include the cost of brass when I figure out what it cost me to reload any round. The reason is I use the brass of factory ammo I have used or what ever is given to me by people I know that don't reload and give their bass to me.

Buying in bulk tends to save you the most money. When you first start out with a new load you might not save all that much money. You normally buy powder in small amounts and bullets in small amounts until you find what works for you. Once you figure out what you want to use for your load you normally can get better pricing on bulk orders. I like ordering 10,000 or more primers and 8 pounds or more powder at a time and together from Powder Valley. Check around and you might find some good deal on suitable bullets when you are ordering more than 1000 of the same bullet at a time. For pistol bullets I buy them by the case and normally more than one case at that. This cuts the price down pretty fast. It can be rather expensive doing this all at once. Getting a friend or two that also reload can help to put together bulk orders. I do normally split up my powder/primer orders and bullet orders to make it a little easier on my check book.

You do have to compare the ammo you are producing to the quality of the ammo you would normally buy. What I can develop is better than say shat WWB is from any source and costs less to make than it does to purchase by the case. I really need to compare my ammo to higher priced ammo to get a realistic cost comparison.
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Old August 24, 2012, 09:03 PM   #8
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If you like precision, try pulling the bullets on some factory stuff that seems to cost about what you estimate a reload to be, and see how consistent the powder charge is.

As for cost, I save a lot of money because I shoot mostly lead cowboy loads. Even buying high quality bullets, from Oregon Trail, the cost per round is way less than factory stuff. With light cowboy loads and good brass (I use Starline), I seem to get at least 12 cycles per case - I lose track after that because they go into the "mutt" jar with range brass. The math admittedly is different for jacketed bullets and trimming necked cases probably cuts back case life some, but you still should be saving money and improving quality, not to mention having pride in a nice piece of work. The downside is that it is a lot harder to blame the ammo when you miss.

Reloading is also great for a lot of us married guys, since we take the cost-complaint hit just once per many, many rounds and we're not storing a ton of ammo, just a ton of supplies.
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Old August 24, 2012, 09:04 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone for the great advice! I know you can reload the brass, but I guess I never really figured that into the equation. I looked at Midway, Brownells, and a few other sites, so that's where I got my prices. I went to Walmart, and couldn't believe how expensive new 308 was. I grew up shooting my 30-30 and my dad's 38 special, but he paid for my ammo so I never really knew what it cost. I guess I'm living in the past.
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Old August 24, 2012, 10:48 PM   #10
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For context, I'm reloading .308 match quality ammo for 46 cents a round. That's using 175 grain Sierra Match King bullets, Win brass and Win LR primers. A comparable round purchased commercially runs $1.96 each.

Great advice in the above replies... figure out what your rifle likes, then buy bulk as much as possible. It's hard to go wrong with Powder Valley's prices (and service) - occasionally someone may be a little cheaper, but it evens out.
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Old August 24, 2012, 10:57 PM   #11
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But when I price bullets, primers, brass and powder, it looks like it will cost me more than buying new. What am I missing? Thanks in advance!
It may start out that way, when you are buying new brass and when you are paying full retail for 1 pound cans of powder and 100 (or even 1000) primers -- figuring out what your rifle likes. But once you have the brass you can reloading it 4 or 5 times, or even more. And once you know what powders you like you can buy 8# jugs online, and 5000 primers.
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Old August 24, 2012, 11:29 PM   #12
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In comparison to ricklaut, I reload .308 for about 19 cents a round. I bought in large quantities (think many multiples of 10,000) pulled bullets a few years ago when they were really cheap (.05) as well as pulldown WC844 and WC846 powder for about $60 per 8 pound jug, and Wolf primers for under $15 per K, and I use salvaged military brass which costs me really nothing except time to process. Even I can't duplicate these prices today, but this shows the advantage of buying large quantities of components and storing them.
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Old August 25, 2012, 12:32 AM   #13
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I don't worry about the cost at all. I look at reloading as something that I enjoy, I get superior results and it breaks me free of the ammo vendors.

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Old August 25, 2012, 02:48 AM   #14
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If you use the calculator at the link jepp2 provided (, you can amortize the cost of the brass across the number or reloads by adjusting the "Number" field.

For example:
If you're shooting a bolt-action or pump action rifle, you should get at least 5 reloads out of .308 Win cases. If you buy 100 cases and use them 5 times, each, that's like buying 500 cases.
So, in the "Number" field for cases, enter 500 (not 100); and the calculator will spread the cost of the brass across the total number of reloads, not just the first load.

Here are two examples of my personal reloads, compared to equivalent factory ammo (using Midway prices for brass and bullets, and local prices for powder and primers).
One is a premium load. One is a "cheap" load:

My current favorite premium .270 Winchester load:
R-P brass $47.99/100 (I get about 6 reloads, minimum)
Nosler 140 gr Partition $31.99/50
55 grains RL-19 $23.99/lb
WLR primers $32.99/1000
That comes out to $0.94 a round or $18.80 per box of 20. Since I only buy when components are on sale, and I try to buy in bulk... my cost is actually less than that.
But... Federal's factory-loaded 150 gr Partition (in brass that's toast with the first firing) runs $39/box through Midway (plus shipping) or about $44/box locally. I'm saving more than $25/box by loading it myself.

One of my cheap .30-06 loads:
LC 67 brass (free! But we'll run the numbers as if I paid $47.99/100 for R-P brass, too)
Remington 165 gr Core-Lokt bought in bulk for $99/500
48 grains AA4350 $23.99/lb
WLR primers $32.99/1000
That comes out to $0.475 per round or $9.50 per box of 20, if I paid for the brass and got 6 reloads. But... with free brass, it works out to $0.277 per round or $5.54 per box of 20.
Remington's identical factory 165 gr Core-Lokt load runs $20/box through Midway (plus shipping) or about $23/box locally.
I'm saving $14-18/box by loading it myself.

I even have one "ultra-premium" .30-06 load with Swift Scirocco IIs in Lapua brass. Last time I ran the numbers, I found that I save more than $52/box by handloading it.

The numbers aren't quite as impressive when you look at handgun ammo, but it's usually well worth the effort.

One word of advice:
Don't buy Federal ammo or brass if you intend to reload it. Quite often, the primer pockets get stretched on the first firing, rendering the cases worthless and unsafe.
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Old August 25, 2012, 02:51 AM   #15
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Rifle brass is much more difficult to figure into the calculation as the number of reloads you get will vary and is limited. Pistol brass you can reload almost indefinetly. Easily can get 25 reloads out of the same brass in pistol.
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Old August 25, 2012, 01:01 PM   #16
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Keep in mind the shipping prices when you order through the mail. Sometimes you can find local suppliers who will save you tons of money.

I do not know where you are, but by shopping around, I found I could get factory second bullets. I just bought 21 pounds of 185 grain jacket hollow points for my .45 ACP for about $135.00. That comes out to about 785 bullets. They normally sell for $25.00 per 100 bullets. (I could not get the 230 grains bullets I wanted, but these will keep me shooting.)

I sometimes split my reloading supply order with friends, we also split the shipping cost and hazmat fee.

When you start to reload, do not buy four or eight pound jugs of a powder unless you absolutely, positively know that is the powder you want to use.

There are 7000 grains per pound of powder. Divide your powder by your load and you can figure out how many reloads you are going to get from each pound of powder. (Beware the powder jugs that are only 14 ounces )

I just picked up, from Craigslist, 2000 large rifle primers for $20.00. They guy is getting out of reloading.

One of the best resources available you have already used. The Firing Line Forums are full of knowledgeable people who are willing to share their time and knowledge.

Best of luck.
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Old August 25, 2012, 04:53 PM   #17
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For powder I go to
and buy the Russian 4895-4064 powder. It is a great powder and an eight pound jug costs 120 USD vs 145 usd at Powder valley for IMR-4064

For bullets I buy Nosler seconds at

Right now they do not have any CC target 30 caliber bullets for sale, but when they do you need to stock up on 155 or 168 gr target bullets.

For brass I go to my local shooting range during the run up to deer season here in Texas, and get my once fired 3006 brass cheap or for free. 2000 rounds of brass was my last haul. (Last two weeks of October)

Also at Shooters Pro Shop, you can get premium big game bullets for substantial savings. I would not buy the Ballistic tips because the savings is not great. But when the Accubonds or Partitions become available in the caliber and weight you want, buy them up in a large volume. These premium bullets are 1/2 or less per bullet.

Good Luck
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Old August 25, 2012, 06:03 PM   #18
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Match grade ammo costs me about .50/round, including roughly $.30 for a bullet like the SMK.

Buying match grade ammo by the box, be it Federal Gold Match, Black Hills, or the like, is easily double that.

Not even close.

As mentioned above, you need to know where to shop. Powder Valley is probably the best. Graf's is also competitive- if you have a C&R and dealer pricing.
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