The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > Handloading, Reloading, and Bullet Casting

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old December 1, 2000, 04:15 PM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: October 22, 2000
Location: Northeast OH
Posts: 243
I spent a few hours browsing through the Dillon catalog and figure I can get everything I need with an initial outlay of about $1500.00.

My question is "How much can I save"? I can buy new 9mm ammo for around $7.00/50 and .45ACP for about $9.00/50. I can usually find .44 Mag for $16.00/50.

Before I can justify the initial expenditure I guess I need to have assurance that my savings will pay for the equipment within a relatively short period of time.

Ideally I would fire about 150-200 rounds of 9mm, 150-200 rounds of .45ACP and 50-100 rounds of .44 Mag per week.

I'm just guessing that when you factor in the cost of brass, jacketed bullets, primers and powder it's gonna take a while to recoup the $.

Please convince me I'm wrong.

Bullshooter is offline  
Old December 1, 2000, 05:00 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: March 19, 2000
Posts: 2,904
I've been through the numbers a hundred times. Best price I see for .45ACP is 12.00/box. I pay 13.00/box so I can get once fired brass for 2 cents each. I priced Dillion equipment with an RL 550B. I figure the whole shebang (less the workbench) at about $750. Using conservative consummable costs I figure I can reload for about $5.50/box. I shoot weekly and anticipate going with 200 rounds per week. That gives me a capital payout of 6 months.

If I used your $9.00/box of .45ACP my payout would be 13 months. $9.00 is a good price.

I'm not an accountant, auditor, or other financial type. But I do have experience in projecting costs. I created an Excel worksheet where I can load in capital costs and consummable costs and play around with the payout. You're welcome to it once I get it simplified.
Waitone is offline  
Old December 1, 2000, 05:12 PM   #3
Steve Smith
Senior Member
Join Date: December 9, 1999
Posts: 4,131
This is gonna be long.

This is a breakdown of reloading vs. off the shelf .45 acp ammo. All prices are at the reloader's worst case scenario (hightest prices for components). BTW, you don't need to spend $1500 to get rolling with a Dillon setup.

Reloading vs. Off the Shelf Loaded Cartridges:

Cost for Off the Shelf Cartridges:
$10.00 for 50 rds.x 20 =
$200 per 1000 rds + 6.1% tax=
$212.20 Total

Total cost per round=

Total Cost per 10000 rounds=

$600 for Dillon RL 550B Press and all hardware (no tax because it’s bought out of state) (if you go with a single stage, this cost will be much lower)
$120 for 8lbs. of powder (good for just over 10000 rounds (1296 rounds per 1 lb of powder at my 5.4 grain load)
$20 for 1000 primers
$45 for 1000 bullets
$785 Total

$0.012 per round in powder
$$0.02 per round in primers
$0.045 per round in bullets
$.077 Per Round not including price of equipment.

Total Cost per 10000 rounds (including startup costs)
$0.06 per round cost for equipment over 10000 rounds
$0.012 per round cost for powder ($120 per 8lb, 10000 round keg)
$0.02 per round cost for primers ($20 per 1000 x 10 = $200 per 10000.)
$0.045 per round cost for bullets ($45 per 1000 x 10 = $450 per 10000.)

Total cost per round over 10,000 rounds:
$0.137 per round including startup costs.

Total cost per 10000 rounds=

A cost savings of $652 which pays for your press. From this point on, you only reference the part of the formula that doesn't include the press costs. ie:

$0.012 per round in powder
$$0.02 per round in primers
$0.045 per round in bullets
$.077 Per Round not including price of equipment.

Total cost per 10000 rounds = $770 which is about a 206% savings from off the shelf. At this point, you're saving money hand over fist, or more accurately, like most handloaders, you're shooting a whole lot more for the same money!

Note: None of this includes initial outlay of brass cost or renewing that supply as needed. Pistol brass lasts a long time and is difficult to add into the formula with any precision. Because of it's long life, it is such a negligible part of pistol reloading that I don't include it in my breakdown.
Steve Smith is offline  
Old December 1, 2000, 06:38 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: October 22, 2000
Location: Northeast OH
Posts: 243
This too is gonna be long!

From Dillon's website, I selected the following hardware:

1 XL650 @ 443.95
1 Strong Mount for the XL650 @ 27.97
1 Bullet Tray @ 27.95
1 Plastic Roller Handle @ 25.95
1 Powdercheck System @ 55.95
1 .44 SPL/MAG 3 die set @ 49.95
1 .45 ACP 3 die set @ 49.95
1 XL650 Beam Scale @ 178.95
1 Bullet Puller @ 24.95
1 CV500 Vibratory Case Cleaner @88.95
1 CM500 Case/Media Separator @33.95

This comes to just over $1K (plus shipping). When you add in brass, powder, primers, bullets, cleaning and polishing media, ammo storage boxes, etc., I imagine I could spend around $1500 pretty easily.

Could someone tell me whats "gotta have" and what's "nicetahave" on this list?

I selected the 650 because of several recommendations I've read in books and magazines. I like the thought of auto indexing and "one round per pull".

I appreciate your help.
Bullshooter is offline  
Old December 2, 2000, 10:04 AM   #5
Patrick Graham
Junior member
Join Date: January 18, 1999
Location: Kokomo, Indiana USA
Posts: 674
I guess a guy could save some money reloading but it's hard to beat some of the cheap russian ammo prices.

I don't look at reloading as a way to save money. I see it as another hobby to spend money on. I believe I spent more money on all my shooting activities since I got a 550 than I would have spent if I didn't have the 550. I'm a better shot because I shoot more and I have a lot more fun because I have more ammo to shoot. I'm into Hi-Power and IPSC now because I've got tons-o-ammo to practice with. Get the 550, you'l be glad you did.
Patrick Graham is offline  
Old December 2, 2000, 02:25 PM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: April 6, 2000
Location: PA
Posts: 3,451
I'm surprised that nobody has stated the obvious, you don't save money reloading! You normally just end up shooting more, but the cash outlay is still there.
johnwill is offline  
Old December 2, 2000, 04:38 PM   #7
Steve Smith
Senior Member
Join Date: December 9, 1999
Posts: 4,131
I did say that.

I said that in the last sentence of the next to last paragraph of my first post.

Anyway, Do you NEED a 650? Most folks are very happy with the 550B. I certainly am, and I like the manual indexing better...(personal preference). I personally think that a new handloader, if he/she decides on a progressive (like I did), should at least get the manual allows for "re-do's" and correcting an "oops" almost instantly. It won't slow you down that much either.

Things you don't need:

XL650 Get a 550B instead.

strong mount (unless you plan on standing all the time) just bolt her to a strong bench

bullet tray just use the box your bullets came in.

powder check just look in the cases. Buy it later if you really want it.

Dillon dies...if yo want to save a little, get them from another company...the Dillon dies are great, but not a requirement.

Plastic roller handle. The press comes with a ball-type handle

XL650 beam scale KIT. You didn't specify that this is kit, but I looked in my catalog, and it is. it has:

balance beam scale-you need this--$50

dial caliper--Dillon's is overpriced...a $20 Midway model will work great.

primer flip tray--the plastic RCBS model at your local store runs $4 and is just as good

two bench wrenches--with care, two crecent wrenches will do, but the bench wrenches re good too.

8 oz. bottle of case lube--you need this ONLY if you're doing rifles or you don't have carbide pistol dies. Otherwise, you don't need it.

safety glasses--you need these

machine cover--no way

and a lyman reloading book--which is probably available on ebay for $10.

CM500--I just use my hands...

Sure, you can buy every bell and whistle Dillon sells and never save any money if you can't turn out the ammo to pay for it. Be prudent and you will save money...or ranther, shoot twice or three times as much with the same money.
Steve Smith is offline  
Old December 2, 2000, 05:59 PM   #8
Senior Member
Join Date: October 22, 2000
Location: Northeast OH
Posts: 243
Many Thanks

I'm very appreciative for the feedback, especially from you, Steve. I greatly appreciate the time you've obviously spent preparing your carefully thought out reply. I'll decide in the next couple of weeks what I'm going to do, but I believe that I'll start reloading. The advice on the 550 vs the 650 is especially appreciated.

I guess that I'll start with the .45 ACP since that's what I shoot the most of, then move to .44 Mag. At current prices I'm going to reload 9mm last (if at all).

Again, thanks to all who replied.
Bullshooter is offline  
Old December 3, 2000, 05:09 PM   #9
Steve Smith
Senior Member
Join Date: December 9, 1999
Posts: 4,131
Bullshooter---you need to take a look at Ebay and do a search on "reloading" (without quotes). There are a few protentially great deals on Dillon presses with a lot of other stuff (scales, tumblers, dies) all in the deal. The auctions are closing in a day or two. A last minute bid may get you a great deal.
Steve Smith is offline  
Old December 3, 2000, 07:15 PM   #10
Join Date: December 2, 2000
Posts: 60
How much can I save

I bought a Dillon 650 3 years ago. Got the powder checker safety check, the auto case loader, etc. Spent a lot. I figure I shoot about 150-200 rds per week on average, and I have paid for the equipment by now, easily. Best yet, I have had great fun (spelled frustration in some instances) loading a variety of lead, semi wads, lead and metal jackets, and Hollow points for three different calibers. BTW I got one caliber setup with the purchase of the press, and I chose .45.
If you can stand the outlay, don't hesitate to get the 650. It's a fine press and can crank out 200-300 .45's per hour with hardly breaking sweat. I believe, for me, I always regret going with second best, when I can afford the best. Because later I will spend the extra, anyway. Best of luck
45 Colt
45Colt is offline  
Old December 4, 2000, 02:55 AM   #11
Guy B. Meredith
Senior Member
Join Date: August 29, 1999
Location: Salem, Oregon
Posts: 1,581
Dillon tempts reloaders to buy all sorts of dandy doo-dads that are really unnecessary. Maybe that's why I like shopping Hornady. The Hornady Lock-N-Load has many of the features of the 650 for the price of a 550B.

I purchased the following from Lock, Stock and Barrel and T & T Reloading over the web and Traders in Oakland:
RCBS 505 scale
RCBS dies
RCBS lockout die (powder check)
Hornady large vibratory cleaner
RCBS bullet puller
RCBS micrometer
Hornady primer flipper

From Traders in Oakland:
Hornady Lock-N-Load Auto Progressive

From local vendors and gun shows:
1 lb Accurate Arms #2
5000 Winchester WSP primers

From West Coast Bullets:
1000 158 gr RN copper plated bullets

And From OSH, a Sears subsidy, a Gorilla bench for reloading and extra plywood piece to strengthen top $120.

Excluding the bench, the total came to less than $600. The Hornady allows individual die replacement without disturbing settings, has auto indexing and an accurate self contained case actuated powder measure that can be used in three of the Lock-N-Load's 5 stations.

I bought this is the April/May time frame and have since reloaded over 7000 rounds of .38 spl at less than 8 cents each or $4.00 per box. With the pretty bullets I use this would cost $7.50 per box from a commercial reloader and around $15 to $20 as factory rounds. I have already saved enough in comparison to commercial reloader to cover most of the initial cost. I have saved enough over the cost of commercial rounds to purchase almost three full sets of equipment.

[Edited by Guy B. Meredith on 12-04-2000 at 09:02 PM]
Guy B. Meredith is offline  
Old December 4, 2000, 03:16 PM   #12
Senior Member
Join Date: June 5, 2000
Location: Job hunting on the road...
Posts: 3,827
Either a 550 or 650 will do, if you're set on Dillon.

Build a nice bench outta 2x4s...

Don't need the tray, roller handle, etc.

Midway's tumbler works fine for me.

Powder check is a good thing, but you may want to see if you really need it. If you're gonna use all Dillon stuff, you're stuck with the $50/set of dies...

The scale is HOW MUCH? Spend $30, get a Lee, and be happy. It's as accurate, maybe more (hey, I shoot benchrest - I own two Lees, one Dillon/Ohaus - paid about $50 - and a pact electronic - I use the Lees the most when weighing powder), and the only drawback is that you can't weigh heavier than 110 grains.

You can get a bullet puller when you accumulate enough screw ups to warrant the need. Or borrow a buddy's...

As for separating tumbling media - I stole the ol' lady's collander, but now I use the kitty litter tray I got at the grocery - about $3.50 or so... I still have media in some shells - They all get dumped and inspected anyway, so so what...

Scrounge old boxes at the range. Don't worry about looking chintzy - everyone who reloads does it. We call it "recycling." Some of 'em have plastic inserts that make GREAT loading blocks (Federal? I know the last box of those aluminum shells I snagged had a nice solid-bottom plastic insert...).

You're saving enough here to buy things like a rockchucker, some good calipers and a micrometer (repeat after me - primers mean diddly - case head expansion is where it's at), and more components...

Remember too that Lee's dies do good enough, and are actually preferred for some uses (I'd rather decap military brass with a Lee than keep replacing the %(()%$$## pins in RCBS dies...), and their "perfect" powder measure has tested out very well in benchrest circles... Money is not a measurement of quality.

Bogie is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:43 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2017 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.06572 seconds with 7 queries