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Thread: Anybody Do Reloading?

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    Anybody Do Reloading?

    Hello!

    My brother in law and I do quite a bit of shooting, and we were talking the other night about reloading our own ammo for the range. I'd like to get some insight on this. We both mainly shoot 9mm and .40 on most of our trips to the range. Occasionaly a .223 Rem, and a 30-30, but we'd shoot those more often if we did our own reloading. Mainly more on 9 and .40. We are both willing to split the costs of reloading equipment, such as the press, dyes, powder, primers, and bullets. Is this cost effective? Or best to just stick with store-bought range ammo?

    Plus, we both do not have any experience with reloading. We both want to learn, just want to make sure its worth it in the long run and cost effective per box vs store bought range ammo. I found a couple books at Bass Pro this morning while picking up some self-defense ammo and some G96 gun cleaner this morning.

    I need to go clean my .40 now, it's pretty dirty from yesterday. Tomorrow both of us are helping my folks at their business and OC'ing, even to lunch too at Wendy's! Then off to the National Forest for some hiking and shooting!

    Have a safe weekend!

    Keens

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    I reload .357 Mag and .223. The .357 is most definitely cost-effective; .223 probably not so much. I load .357 for about 11 cents a round for target ammo, and maybe a few cents more for full-house loads (not including the cost of brass and equipment). The key to saving money is to buy components in bulk (I buy mostly from Powder Valley). If you buy powder by the pound and bullets by the hundred you'll spend far more. Lead bullets would be even cheaper, but I shoot indoors, mostly, and don't like the smoke.

    Reloading 9mm and .40 won't save as much (maybe not at all) -- ammo's so cheap for them. There are other advantages to reloading, though. You can tailor ammo to your needs. Many people don't save anything -- they just shoot more.

    The reloading forum on thehighroad.org is a great place to go for reloading information. I'd highly recommend it.

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    If I don't buy components in bulk (by that I mean, not over 1000 rounds worth), and don't have to buy cases, my cost to reload 124gr FMJ 9mms is about $140/thousand, rounding up, including any local taxes. By using softer plated bullets (which are still great for practice), I can knock $15-20 off. If you buy in quantity especially in powder, primers, (but sometime in bullets) that's generally where you get the best discounts, by rolling haz-mat fees and freight together amongst friends.

    For comparison, weak sauce 115gr Wolf ammo can be had for about $170/thousand... Saving $30/thousand isn't noting to sneeze at, but no, you're not going to save a whole lot loading 9mm, but for near the same cost you can make loads which better replicate the impulse and point of aim of your defensive ammo, and make it more consistent & accurate than factory (especially rusky ammo). If you're willing to compare reloads to steel-cased russian ammo, you can still save, but if you compare your reloads to brass cased US made ammo, you can readily save $10/box of 50.

    You generally can save a lot more on rifle-cased ammo, and magnum pistol ammo. For example, .30-30 can be made for A LOT less than factory ammo, but, there's more prep work involved--getting your dies set up right and trimming your cases. Not the end of the world, but you need more tools than loading for straight wall pistol cartridges.

    Reading through a reloading forum or watching some internet videos on the subject can give you pretty good insight, and it's always good to read through a book or two. The NRA also has classes. If you have any specific questions, I'll do my best to provide whatever wisdom I can scrounge.
    Last edited by CO-Joe; 09-05-2011 at 01:47 AM.

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    Regular Member SovereignAxe's Avatar
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    It's a pretty sizeable investment to get all of the equipment, but once you do it's definitely cheaper in the long run, especially if you shoot alot. My grandfather has all of the equipment and I've used it a few times, and it's a pretty interesting process. What I like most about it is the QC you can give to each and every round. You know that every round is consistent to within a thousandth of an inch or a thousandth of an ounce, so you know it'll shoot the same every time.

    About the only thing I don't like about reloading is that whenever I go to shoot I want to religiously pickup up all the brass that I shoot. But when you start reusing brass you save even more money.

    Btw, two things that I highly recommend if you do decide to buy all of the equipment: 1. get a good quality micrometer. You'll want to measure case dimensions on a few cases in each batch to make sure they aren't bulging or getting too long (if you haven't learned it already, most cases get longer every time you use them, reducing case thickness). 2. get an automatic electronic powder dispenser. Before we got one of those were were using a manual one and a basic weight. Then we got one that dispensed and weighed the powder automatically. It dispenses the powder while we're setting the bullet in the case. It reduced the time it took to make one round by at least 50%
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    Regular Member JamesB's Avatar
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    I have loaded all my own ammo for about eight years. It does save you some money. It does allow you to customize your loads. It will consume a huge amount of time if you let it. I use a dillon progressive press and can't say enough nice things about it.

    Mostly, as was said before, I really don't spend less money on ammo. I just shoot more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesB View Post
    Mostly, as was said before, I really don't spend less money on ammo. I just shoot more.
    I know it's gonna happen if we both start reloading! Lol! Just gonna shoot more! Nothing wrong with that! We did a TON of shooting this weekend, and saved the brass! Got a few Big Ziplock bags of .40 brass just from this weekend!

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    Quote Originally Posted by SovereignAxe View Post
    It's a pretty sizeable investment to get all of the equipment, but once you do it's definitely cheaper in the long run, especially if you shoot alot. My grandfather has all of the equipment and I've used it a few times, and it's a pretty interesting process. What I like most about it is the QC you can give to each and every round. You know that every round is consistent to within a thousandth of an inch or a thousandth of an ounce, so you know it'll shoot the same every time.

    About the only thing I don't like about reloading is that whenever I go to shoot I want to religiously pickup up all the brass that I shoot. But when you start reusing brass you save even more money.

    Btw, two things that I highly recommend if you do decide to buy all of the equipment: 1. get a good quality micrometer. You'll want to measure case dimensions on a few cases in each batch to make sure they aren't bulging or getting too long (if you haven't learned it already, most cases get longer every time you use them, reducing case thickness). 2. get an automatic electronic powder dispenser. Before we got one of those were were using a manual one and a basic weight. Then we got one that dispensed and weighed the powder automatically. It dispenses the powder while we're setting the bullet in the case. It reduced the time it took to make one round by at least 50%
    Bro-in-law and I would like to purchase a good quality press that will last a lifetime. And as far as the resthe equipment, just good quality items. I'm figuring at least $800 for a good press, scales, the basics, etc. Which we split in half. Plus a new skill learned and bonding time!

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    Regular Member jmar254's Avatar
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    9mm

    I can reload 1000 for $98.40 = .0217 Primer, .0087 worth of powder and .068 bullet.

    Now if I fire up the lead caster, I can pop a round off for .034 a crack. I've made 4300 rounds of cast lead for $ 145.61.

    Overall between my cast and Jacketed bullets, I've made 14,750 at a cost of $1,051.89 or roughly 7 cents a piece.
    Last edited by jmar254; 09-07-2011 at 12:37 AM. Reason: Primer & Powder prices backwards

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    Oh man

    Quote Originally Posted by Keens View Post
    Bro-in-law and I would like to purchase a good quality press that will last a lifetime. And as far as the resthe equipment, just good quality items. I'm figuring at least $800 for a good press, scales, the basics, etc. Which we split in half. Plus a new skill learned and bonding time!
    Don't ask which color press to get. I'd start on Youtube and search for all the different brands.

    PS Red Rules

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmar254 View Post
    Don't ask which color press to get. I'd start on Youtube and search for all the different brands.

    PS Red Rules
    Blue...He meant to say Blue.

    I'm sure he will fix that typo soon.

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    Regular Member JamesB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keens View Post
    Bro-in-law and I would like to purchase a good quality press that will last a lifetime. And as far as the resthe equipment, just good quality items. I'm figuring at least $800 for a good press, scales, the basics, etc. Which we split in half. Plus a new skill learned and bonding time!
    That's a decent guess for a startup. I would place it a little higher. Plus then there are all the ingredients you need at startup; powder, primers, bullets...

    I know that when I first set up to reload I was about $1200 into it before I had my first round out of the machine. That was in 2003. Prices have changed a little since then.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmar254 View Post
    I can reload 1000 for $98.40 = .0087 Primer, .0217 worth of powder and .068 bullet.

    Now if I fire up the lead caster, I can pop a round off for .034 a crack. I've made 4300 rounds of cast lead for $ 145.61.

    Overall between my cast and Jacketed bullets, I've made 14,750 at a cost of $1,051.89 or roughly 7 cents a piece.
    jmar, your primer price is low (unless you stocked up a few years ago). $.015 is rock bottom now, and it's difficult to find them for that. Powder Valley has Tula for $.02, and the others are all higher. Bullets are going up, too. I shoot Zero bullets, and they just had a price hike. My 125 gr. JHPs are up to about $.09.

    I drank the red kool-aid and love it, but I've never used the blue. That argument will never end!

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    Cheap = Classic Lee Loaders or the Lee Anniversary package. Sorry, no time to post more. Get thee to Google.

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    Regular Member tcmech's Avatar
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    There is an NRA course on reloading which you might want to look into.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcmech View Post
    There is an NRA course on reloading which you might want to look into.
    Thanks! I will look into it. I did see that on NRA's website a few months ago. Meanwhile, I'm googling and reading doing my research on reloading. Basically I just want to make sure its worth spending $$ on the equipment to save some dimes VS store bought range ammo. How long you guys figure before the equipment pays itself off? I shoot about 100 rounds of .40/per week.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keens View Post
    Thanks! I will look into it. I did see that on NRA's website a few months ago. Meanwhile, I'm googling and reading doing my research on reloading. Basically I just want to make sure its worth spending $$ on the equipment to save some dimes VS store bought range ammo. How long you guys figure before the equipment pays itself off? I shoot about 100 rounds of .40/per week.
    It paid off for me immediately in the serenity of the hobby, and in the shared time spent with my daughter.

    Financially, I have no idea. Again it really hasn't actually saved me anything. I just get to shoot more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dynamite Rabbit View Post
    jmar, your primer price is low (unless you stocked up a few years ago). $.015 is rock bottom now, and it's difficult to find them for that. Powder Valley has Tula for $.02, and the others are all higher. Bullets are going up, too. I shoot Zero bullets, and they just had a price hike. My 125 gr. JHPs are up to about $.09.

    I drank the red kool-aid and love it, but I've never used the blue. That argument will never end!
    Sorry, your right I have those prices backwards .0087 of powder and a .0217 primer. Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dynamite Rabbit View Post
    jmar, your primer price is low (unless you stocked up a few years ago). $.015 is rock bottom now, and it's difficult to find them for that. Powder Valley has Tula for $.02, and the others are all higher. Bullets are going up, too. I shoot Zero bullets, and they just had a price hike. My 125 gr. JHPs are up to about $.09.

    I drank the red kool-aid and love it, but I've never used the blue. That argument will never end!

    If you shoot enough of the JHPs, you can get the 124gr 9mm JHPs from Montana Gold for .0808 each shipped, granted you have to buy 3 cases @ $303 a piece, 3750 a case or a single case for $308 shipped .0821333333333 each.

    Primers I get at the gun shows, except for a smokin deal I got from someone on one of the forums, 15k Winchesters for $255 WOW

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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesB View Post
    It paid off for me immediately in the serenity of the hobby, and in the shared time spent with my daughter.

    Financially, I have no idea. Again it really hasn't actually saved me anything. I just get to shoot more.
    LOL! Haha, I figure we will just shoot more! Nothing wrong with that!

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    Wow! Thank you for all the info, guys! It's certainly helped a lot!

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    Lee Load Master complete kit for one caliber $220 (Factory Sales)
    The Bullet Works plated bullets $70-80/1000
    Buy primers and powder locally to avoid haz mat shipping charges
    CCI sm pistol $35/1000
    Titegroup or Unique, etc $30/lb... A thousand rounds or more (7000 gr/lb, used at 3-5 gr/ round)

    I do 9mm using mixed (free) range brass for 10 cents/round... Half of the cost of cheap factory ammo. Once I get going, I can do a couple of hundred in an hour.

    One but of advice: when using the Lee progressive press, I de-prime and size a bunch of brass, doing nothing else at that time. Discard brass which had crimped primer pockets (Win 9 mm NATO, or surplus military rounds.). It's easy to mess up your workflow with a jam or primer feed problem with a messed up primer pocket. I think the priming system is a big issue why people dislike the Lee press.

    The inexpensive Lee works pretty well once you get things adjusted. I really like the Auto Disk powder measure, and it does have it's limits, but it is very consistent with Titgroup (small charges of powder with a small particle diameter.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmar254 View Post
    I can reload 1000 for $98.40 = .0217 Primer, .0087 worth of powder and .068 bullet.

    Now if I fire up the lead caster, I can pop a round off for .034 a crack. I've made 4300 rounds of cast lead for $ 145.61.

    Overall between my cast and Jacketed bullets, I've made 14,750 at a cost of $1,051.89 or roughly 7 cents a piece.
    What are your costs after you factor in the ammortized costs of your machine and dies?

    Keens, I shoot about 300 rounds per year, which is nowhere near enough to justify the expense of reloading.

    Regardless, even at 7 cents a piece, I couldn't justify the time it takes by any stretch other than to call it a "hobby," and it's not one of my hobbies, so I just buy my 9mm target-plinking ball ammo for about 12 cents a piece and call it a day.

    ETA: Unless you consider firing black powder as "reloading." If so, then I'm a reloader, as I have to load before I can fire!
    Last edited by since9; 09-07-2011 at 02:56 AM.
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    Regular Member jmar254's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by since9 View Post
    What are your costs after you factor in the ammortized costs of your machine and dies?

    Keens, I shoot about 300 rounds per year, which is nowhere near enough to justify the expense of reloading.

    Regardless, even at 7 cents a piece, I couldn't justify the time it takes by any stretch other than to call it a "hobby," and it's not one of my hobbies, so I just buy my 9mm target-plinking ball ammo for about 12 cents a piece and call it a day.

    ETA: Unless you consider firing black powder as "reloading." If so, then I'm a reloader, as I have to load before I can fire!

    The way I have figured it, had I bought that many rounds from Bass Pro, granted I haven't checked their prices in a while, 14,750 rounds would've cost me over $5000. The excel spreadsheet I have says I paid for all of my expenses, machine, dies, powder, primers, everything in 11,300 rounds, this changes everytime I buy more components.

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    Quote Originally Posted by since9 View Post
    What are your costs after you factor in the ammortized costs of your machine and dies?

    Keens, I shoot about 300 rounds per year, which is nowhere near enough to justify the expense of reloading.

    Regardless, even at 7 cents a piece, I couldn't justify the time it takes by any stretch other than to call it a "hobby," and it's not one of my hobbies, so I just buy my 9mm target-plinking ball ammo for about 12 cents a piece and call it a day.

    ETA: Unless you consider firing black powder as "reloading." If so, then I'm a reloader, as I have to load before I can fire!

    We are shooting more ammo than the previous months and it just goes higher each month! Shooting is fun! I'm unloading about 300 rounds a month now. Mostly we shoot .40's, and would like to start for now with reloading those. Then eventually buy dyes for.223, .30-30, 9mm. Searched Wally-Marts all last weekend for some .40 Tulammo for the NF, at about $12-13 a box, found none! This weekend, going back to the NF to shoot, I'm gonna just shoot the Walther P22 (needs broken in more, fairly new) and Marlin model 60, cheap to shoot after spending too much on ammo last weekend! Last weekend I shot a .500 mag for the first time (indoor range!), and...Wow!
    Last edited by Keens; 09-10-2011 at 01:51 AM.

  25. #25
    Regular Member Beau's Avatar
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    I have about 1500 in loading and casting equipment. It was definitely worth the investment. I've used RCBS, Lee and Dillon presses. I like Dillon the best.
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