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Old March 10, 2012, 09:37 PM   #1
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Reloading value question

I am not a reloader but have a question regarding the value of it. I do fully understand it's another hobby, in addition to shooting, and should be done for the enjoyment of it. My question are the numbers being thrown around as to the savings you can get.

I see 50% as the average savings mentioned. Here are my questions.

Is that across the board from 9mm to .458 Winchester Magnum? Or do the higher end rifle calibers show a greater return than the lower pistol calibers?

Is that savings compared to the cheapest value round (like WWB) in addition to higher-end hunting rounds?

I've seen people say they reload because they can save money and produce better rounds for their particular gun than factory ammo. I'm confused as to if that is one or the other, or both? Can you produce better ammo with like Nosler partition bullets, for cheaper, compared to cheap bulk FMJ ammo? Or just when compared like-for-like?

Sorry for such a noob question, but here is my main concern.

I buy steel case ammo for my surplus guns like Brown Bear because it is so cheap, but it's also not that clean or accurate. When people quote the "average is 50%" savings, are they saying that when creating a reload that is comparable to the cheap Bear ammo? Or is that in addition to creating a better cartridge overall at the same time, with a higher quality bullet?

Or is it when compared to just the high-end hunting rounds?

'Just trying to get my bearings. Thanks!
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Old March 10, 2012, 09:42 PM   #2
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50% seems like a bare minimum to me. I get about 50% savings on 45 acp. But my cost to reload 45 acp, 38 spl, 357 and 44 magnum are almost the same. 44 magnum is maybe double the price of 45 acp. So, do the math

Rifle calibers tend to be even better. Price out some mid-range 30-06. Compare to $0.50 / round reloads. By the time you're up in the big magnums the savings is crazy.

Edit : didn't see the part about surplus. Yeah, I think it's going to be difficult to beat pure surplus-grade ammo like Brown Bear. Even if you're slightly winning by reloading, the amount of time and effort involved is going to outweigh the value. For "normal" factory ammo in non-exotic calibers, you're going to do at least 50%. And when it comes to Super Atomic Deer Killer TripleX DeathPoint ammo, reloading will be a huge winner.

Also, even plain dead simple reloads are going to perform as well or better than the most premium of commercial ammo, especially when it comes to rifles. It's astonishing how good the difference is.
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Last edited by Kayser; March 10, 2012 at 10:17 PM.
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Old March 10, 2012, 10:07 PM   #3
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I think that your questions have been asked and answered about a zillion times, but here's my opinion:

If you are loading FMJ for a 223, you can buy ammo just about as cheap (not quite, but close) as you can reload it. If you are have a 460 Weatherby Magnum, your handload will be much cheaper. So it depends somewhat on the cartridge that you are reloading, but generally speaking your reloads will be cheaper and, if you do your job well, will be more accurate. Of course you still will need to buy the reloading gear, if you don't have it already, and that can be a considerable expense that will likely pay for itself someday if you shoot and reload more than just occasionally.

So if you shoot twice a year and have a 223, buy ammo. If you shoot a lot or plan to, buy some reloading gear and get with the program. somebody said on this forum a while back...we have pie. But...I've been reloading for decades and I haven't seen no stinkin pie.

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Old March 10, 2012, 10:10 PM   #4
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50% can be low or high, it depends on your caliber and WHY you are reloading, and also how you factor in the brass... When figure reloading costs, I figure in the price of the brass / 10, because I can probably get 10 loadings out of it. Pistol brass I get for free off the ground....

9mm and .223 plinking ammo will see less cost savings, but IMO, saving even a couple dollars a box is a couple dollars in my pocket..

I can buy 10 boxes of 9mm for $120 , or I can reload 500 cases for $80, a savings of $4 a box.

On the other hand, I can reload a box worth of .308 ammo, tailored to my rifle to produce small groups, using premium hunting bullets for about $8, where that same box of factory ammo would cost $30, for a savings of $22 a box...

The more "common" a caliber is, the less you will save. the more exotic, the more you will save....
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Old March 10, 2012, 10:12 PM   #5
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It's hardly worth it just for the cost savings with 9mm and .223 "blasting" ammo. But even there, there's some cost savings. But if you shoot .45 Colt or .41 Magnum for example, the cheap stuff is about $1 a pop and you can reload it for about 15 cents. Plus you can tailor your loads to your gun in *any* caliber, and that's priceless.
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Old March 10, 2012, 10:31 PM   #6
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All good info. Thanks.

I've been buying guns in fairly common cartridges, but I do have a soft spot for 6.5x55. The only thing I've ever shot is Prvi Partizan. It would be nice to try something better.
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Old March 10, 2012, 10:41 PM   #7
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Here's another plus if you cast your own bullets. I have two .45 Colt revolvers. One has a .45 throat, and another has a .453 throat. I cast and size to throat size so that both shooters are accurate, and clean with little or no leading. I cast for all of my pistols and most of my rifles to include .32 Win. Spec. 32 WCF, 8mm Mauser and a .45 Colt '73 replica.

I believe a box of 50 reloads for the .45 Colt is between $6 to maybe $9 depending if I use a gaschecked bullet. Midway shows boxes of 50 for $32 to $60+ dollars. My gascheck load would be close to the $60+ Buffalo Bore cartridges, slightly slower but pushing a 270gr bullet.
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Old March 10, 2012, 10:44 PM   #8
William T. Watts
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I have some older components that allow me to put together some really good quality ammunition at less than .50 cents per round. The bullets were purchased at a close out from Nosler I.E $20.00 per 100 for Nosler Solid Base Soft Point 1st quality (not 2nds), powder 5600grs of H4831 used cost approx $18.25 for 100 rounds, primers were .04 cents per each total $4.00, I have nothing in the brass all once fired zero dollars. Total $42.25 equals .42 1/4 cents per round x 20 =$8.45 per box of 20 rounds. This beats the heck out of $20/$25 per box for the standard out of the box low end ammunition from Wal/Mart for your 270, 280, 30/06 class caliber. As has been pointed out many times you don't save any money because you shoot more. Loading ammunition or piddling in my shop (two rooms 380sq ft) is more than a hobby it is my relaxing time to clear my head and enjoy my alone time and do whatever I want to do. At my age soon to be 70 I've been doing this for 46 years and I treasure every minute of it, the down side I never could interest my son in this hobby. He likes to shoot whatever I provide just not interested in joining me, he's to busy!! It's a fun hobby, once you start it's a life long hobby for most people. Typically this what I use for 100 rounds of 270Win ammunition!! William

Last edited by William T. Watts; March 10, 2012 at 10:50 PM.
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Old March 10, 2012, 11:44 PM   #9
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Value comes in more flavors than financial.

For a financial answer, do an internet search on the phrase "handload calculator" and pick one of the 50,000 links that come up. You can calculate figuring in the cost of just the components alone or amortize the cost of the equipment or even include your time as a cost (or what you have to pay the kid down the street to mow your lawn to free up your time to reload). Your choice.

Or read my essay:

Why do I reload thee? Let me count the ways:

Economy: Depending on what cartridges you are reloading (and whether or not you want to count your time and the up-front equipment costs) you can save anywhere from just a little to 80% or more of your ammo costs. (9mm is very close to no savings. 500 S&W, my friend's ammo costs are $0.75 per round, factory loaded ammo is $3.00 each for comparable ammo. More exotic calibers (especially rifle calibers) can save even more. Some rounds are not even available on a regular basis at any price.

Quality: Ammo you craft yourself can be tuned to your firearms particular characteristics. Handloaders for rifles quite often find some individual guns have quite striking differences in group size when shooting tuned ammunition.

Knowledge: As you study reloading, you will, perforce, also study internal ballistics. The study of internal ballistics leads into the study of how your firearm works.

Customization: Ammo you load yourself can be tuned to your particular needs. My fried with the 500 S&W loads full power loads and "powder puff" loads that clock 350 grain slugs a little under 800 feet per second. I know that's more than a G.I. 45 ACP's power and momentum, but they shoot like 22 rimfire in that big, heavy gun. Great for fun, familiarization, training and letting the curious bystander go for a "test drive" with a super-light load, a medium load, a heavy load and, if they are still game one of the big boomers. This tends to avoid the "rear sight in the forehead" mark.

Satisfaction: Punching small bunches of small, medium or large holes in paper or bringing down a game or food animal with ammunition you crafted yourself has a good deal of satisfaction. Same reason I prefer to make my own biscuits instead of store-bought.

Smug satisfaction: When the ammo shelves are bare during a market or political scare, loaders are demonstrably less affected by the shortages. A couple of pounds of powder, a thousand primers and bullets (or few pounds of lead) and a hundred cartridge cases wouldn't fill a small book carton, but lets the loader know he can shoot while price-gougers take advantage of non-loaders.

Self-satisfaction: The repetitive, calm, attentive concentration of the reloading activities is often found to be so much fun as to bring to the shooter's mind the question, "Do I reload so I can shoot shoot or do I shoot so I can reload?". Some find loading to be as satisfying a hobby as shooting or fly-tying or many other hobbies.

The more fanatical among us combine a couple of the features I have mentioned and, instead of shooting for bullseye accuracy at the range, reload in a search for the "magic load" that achieves perfection in a given rifle. Then, they move on to the next target, which is another rifle and another tuned load. But you do have to be at least a little fanatical to even get it. It is the hunt they seek, for they enjoy the quest more than the goal.

I am sure there are many other reasons, but these are the main ones I can think of.

Lost Sheep

Last edited by Lost Sheep; March 11, 2012 at 02:58 PM.
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Old March 11, 2012, 10:39 AM   #10
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I buy steel case ammo for my surplus guns like Brown Bear because it is so cheap, but it's also not that clean or accurate.
At what level do you want to be a 1-hole shooter or 12'' it will do the job? If the steel meets your standard then it would not be, if you'll never go and attempt a 450yr shot at a p-dog is the size of a squirrel and want to hit it on the 1st shot(at least know your ammo is able), but if you desire to get the most from your ammo and rifle and want to shoot the 450 yrd shot then reloading would be a method and way to do just that.
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Old March 11, 2012, 11:07 AM   #11
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I too have older components and components that I have purchased on sale. I have primers that I paid $50.00 bucks for a sleeve of 5,000 which I realize is no longer available. I use bulk surplus powders both new and pulldown that costs $10 to $12.50 per pound, this is still available. I cast my own bullets using free lead from our indoor range that I get when helping with clean up.

Now getting to the costs using 45 acp as a base

Primer----------------------$ .01
Powder---------------------$ .009
Case-----------------------$ .n/c
Bullet-----------------------$ .n/c

One round-------------------$ .02?

Box of 100 rounds $2.00

That is a pretty fair savings.
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Old March 11, 2012, 11:47 AM   #12
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I see 50% as the average savings mentioned... Is that across the board from 9mm to .458 Winchester Magnum?
I just pulled some numbers from Cabella's site for a rough estimate. Cost per round would be about:

Primers $0.03;
Bullets (9 mm) $0.10;
Powder $0.02

Adds up to about $0.15 per round (assumes reusing cases). I can buy Federal 9mm for $0.20, so probable savings are about $0.05 per round. Certainly not a precise estimate, and Cabellas is probably not the best source, but it still is a 25% savings, and that would add up over time.

Last edited by PPBart; March 11, 2012 at 12:58 PM.
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Old March 11, 2012, 12:04 PM   #13
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The most expensive piece of every round you fire is the case.

If you use brass cases they can easily be used over and over again, and in some calibers (45 ACP) you are more likely to lose a case than wear it out.

I still have almost all of a lot of over 10,000+ TZ ad TZZ once fired cases that are running on 20 years old.

I have been trough ALL of them at least four times now.
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Old March 11, 2012, 08:04 PM   #14
jolly roger
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I pour 44 Specials out of a Ruger Bisley and S&W 21. Just that savings is worth it. Also a ton of cast 45 Colts, 44 Magnums, 357 Magnums etc. Then include all of the rifle stuff and it definitely pays. 9mm and 223?...not so much but there is still savings. Expenditure of equipment to do it right is substantial but mine has been paid off now for I would guess 10 years or so.
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Old March 11, 2012, 08:07 PM   #15
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Lost Sheep said it best too. I LOVE reloading just about as much as shooting. For me it's not about speed of production and I still have plenty of ammo when I need it.
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Old March 13, 2012, 02:03 PM   #16
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In 9mm ....using a premium FMJ bullet reloads are under $5 for a box of 50 ...and retail 9mm ammo around here is $ 10 - $14 a box.....and as you increase in caliber - the savings are even greater.....reloads on .45acp using a prem FMJ bullet are around $ 8 a box ...retail is $ 25 or so ...

Accuracy ....because I keep my press clean and well tuned...and I am very careful on my powder drops using a progressive press...I know my accuracy on powder drops, seating primers, and seating bullets...and using good components me a more accurate cartridge....25% more, at least, in my opinion. I hold my tolerances long term ...where an ammo factory certainly holds their tolerances - but in my opinion, with more variation ...than I can get in a small personal operation.

But your premise - about it being another hobby is valid ..and because I can reload 9mm for $5 a box doesn't aggravate me if I shoot 12 boxes a week ...where buying retail ammo at 12 boxes a week - would aggravate me. So because I reload - I shoot more - with the same budget.
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Old March 13, 2012, 08:04 PM   #17
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Even loading 9 mm you can save some money over factory ammo. I find my reloads are a little more accurate then the cheap stuff. I can also make changes for self defense loads to paper punching loads as needed. It is fun to find out what works better for a given purpose. It is harder to do that by grabbing ammo off the shelf where you might spend a bundle and still not find what you are looking for. This is only considering pistol calibers. Rifle ammo tends to save you even more.

Depending on the caliber you are loading for the savings will vary. I find any money saved rolling your own tends to get lost in the process of shoot more rounds. I like being to buy components as money if available to have enough on hand to be able to continue to shoot if an ammo shortage ever does happen again. I no longer have as many cases of factory ammo on the shelf as I once did. It has been replaced with bullets, powder and primers. I think it is time to order the stuff I need to start loading the next caliber on my list.
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Old March 13, 2012, 08:36 PM   #18
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I can load a box of 50 45's for about 2 dollars still. That's with the new 3 cent primers, and my own cast lead boolits and a penny's worth of powder. 44 Mags are double that because of the powder.

I can load rifle rounds with store bought J-bullets for about 7 or 8 bucks per box, except the 45/70 which is half that much because I cast for it also.
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Old March 13, 2012, 08:36 PM   #19
Crusty Deary Ol'Coot
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Well, maybe it is be'in an Ol'Coot, I have mellowed a bit.

I used to think everyone who shot should reload and couldn't understand why some one would not.

As said, have mellowed a bit.

I still think it is the way to go, and I talk about it with new folk, and they need to go no farther then my loading bench to know where I come down.

But due to experience and time, I now realise it is not for everyone.

When I started, it was almost a given that a good and careful reloader could produce ammo better then factory made. Might or might not be so today, as the manufactures have at least on some lines really upped the quality. To the point where in some cases we just might not find a load that shoots better then factory.

A couple years ago, I tried to get a friend involved to the point of him buying some components and my loading a test series. One time at the range and it was over. For what ever reason, he is just not willing to commit the time and effort to the process, and he wasn't even doing the hand loading.

He is content to buy a box or two of factory fodder and leave it at that.

I have another friend who desires to follow the process through and we have done so with his 30/06. He wants to do this and is willing to come over and commit to the process. He wants to be involved to the point he even helps me cast boolits.

So, more then the cost, are you willing to invest the time needed to become a proficient handloader and not just a reloader. There is a difference.

Cost, although the investment could be considerable, just may not be the biggest question.

Me?? well I have been in the game since the 1960s, will be 69 next month and just started down a new path of casting my own hunting bullets and working up cast boolits loads for a 45/70 the Spring of 2010, so guess I'm commited for the long haul.

Keep em coming!

Crusty Deary Ol'Coot
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