should I start reloading?

Discussion in 'reloading/bullet casting' started by Grumpy, Sep 4, 2017.

  1. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

    it really depends on how much ammo you'll want on hand and if your willing to both buy the equipment,
    and get into the secondary hobby of producing that ammo.

    theres no question that you can produce good reliable ammo at a cost savings ,
    but the time and effort and equipment cost may not be worth the savings unless you shoot a good deal
    read this link

    ammo in bulk is not cheap but youll want to compare the cost vs benefits and the time spent
    getting commercial ammo will cost 45-60 cents a shot in bulk for that 308

    load data is available

    16-20 cents each for projectiles

    16-20 cents for cases

    $3-3.50 a hundred for primers

    and maybe $20-27 a pound for powder and you get maybe 120-130 shots per pound

    then theres the equipment, which you might be able to buy used in great condition at a discount,
    but if you buy good basic equipment you,ll usually spend $350-$550
    (press , powder scale ,dies , shell holder, manuals,case trimmer, primer tools,,case tumbler)

    youll get 4-9 reloads per case, on average depending on the rifle and how hot the case is reloaded,
    you may save 16 -20 cent a cartridge with reloads on 308 win
    the economic point is, reached (and that varies wildly with the cartridge selected)
    but with a 308 win or 223, rem that will generally be a break-even is between 1200-1800 cartridges,
    from that point on the price per cartridge drops.

    if you were reloading a 375 H&H , 300 wby 416 rem or 458 win etc.
    where cartridges cost $60-$80 for 20 cartridges the cost of reloading makes a great deal of sense,
    you could easily reduce the cost by 40%-70% of commercial ammo.

    but for a 308 win, 223 rem,9mm para where mill surplus is abundant, and reasonably priced, at least currently, its generally not a huge savings

    now if you want to shoot pistols ar rifles and use cast projectiles you can save a good deal more,
    especially if you cast your own bullets but that could easily add an additional $150-$500 in additional initial, tool cost,
    but it could also reduce projectile cost to a couple cents a shot,
    in lead, lube and maybe a gas check, for example

    450 marlin ammo costs $26-$30 a box for 20

    (thats about $130-$1.50 cents a shot)
    you can reload it if you have the brass , for under 30 cents a shot using a good accurate cast gas check projectile (a savings of 70%-to - 90%)
    youll have similar percentage savings with many of the larger less common cartridges, especially magnums

    Last edited: Jan 31, 2018
  2. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

    I got asked what,
    " what would you suggest if a person was interested in accumulating a S.H.T.F survival rifle and ammo?"

    most people will suggest you buy an SKS or AK47 as the lower cost and dependable option,and store a lot of cases of ammo,and while thats an option, once you run out of ammo your screwed,
    if your looking to have a long term source for a rifle with usable ammo, on a cost per shot basis, and over a long term,
    Id suggest you consider having the ability to reload, and cast your own projectiles, in a caliber that can be very effective using cast bullets, the 357 mag , 44 mag, 45 lc, 450 marlin 458 win, and 45/70 all come to mind as good options.
    as high quality lever or bolt action rifle might be a good investment,
    finding a bargain on used or cheap but high quality reloading tools and decent bullet casting molds a supply of brass,(mild loads allow brass to be re-used many times) primers (stock up a bunch these, they are reasonably cheap, easily stored and last decades and don,t take up much space), and powder , would cost about the same as stocking up with several thousand center-fire cartridges, but in a survival context it would allow you to still have a functional firearm for a good deal more shots.
    the larger diameter calibers pushing a reasonably high mass projectile , can be very very effective (50 million buffalo were killed with cartridges like the 45/70) and if your really forced too you can manufacture black powder
    (obviously look into how that's done and print out, and have copies of all the minute details in duplicate)
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2019
  3. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

  4. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

    Allen is one of the guys I hunt with, and hand load for , rather regularly,he uses a marlin 45lc and these hand loads,
    cast and use gas check,300 grain bullets, bullets from 95% WW alloy and 5% tin,
    10 grains of blue dot works well, (accurate) and about 1000 fps in the rifle but your limited to about 120 yards , due to trajectory and retained energy
    the bullets are lethal enough at that range for deer and hogs but don,t expect spectacular kills according to Allen
    hit where you need too and they kill very well gun&Source=

    personally if I wanted a marlin too use with cast bullet's in a lever gun Id select a 45/70 like this one linked below
    and load 350 grain cast, gas check bullets over 45 grains of RL7 with a 215 fed primer,
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2018
    labdad likes this.
  5. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member


    these calculator links may come in rather handy,
    consider the fact that carefully selecting a rifle and cartridge,
    that has the realistic potential to use cast bullets will further reduce,
    the longer term cost of ammo!
    rifle and pistol calibers like 44 mag, 500 S&W and 358 win or 45/70,
    that potentially use fairly heavy larger bore diameter projectiles,
    at or below about 2200 fps generally make a realistic, and versatile choice.
    reloading is almost mandatory in some cases as the cost of personally ,custom fabricated ammo,
    can be far lower than 30% of the hard to locate commercial ammo

    related threads
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
  6. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

    lets look at hand-loading a 1000 cartridges
    vs commercial options,
    theres zero question that it will require a greater up-front investment in tools and supplies,
    and it will require time to cast bullets and reload ammo,
    but savings of well over 50% in ammo cost is a rather obvious benefit in many larger bore or rarer cartridges.
    you won,t save much on cartridges like 223 or 308 win or 7.62/39,
    as the markets flooded with surplus mill ammo, but on many larger bore commercial cartridges that can use either cast bullets or cheaper commercial projectiles,
    the cost savings make reloading financially a good way to save cash.
    example cast bullets in a 45 ACP, 45 lc, or 357 mag may only cut the cost 30%-50% ,
    but casting bullets and reloading is an interesting hobby for many people.
    Ill assume you have a desire to save money and have ,
    or are willing to buy a new or used ,
    reloading press and sizer and lead furnace ,and accessories as required.
    but even if you don,t currently own the tools
    the cost over cycling through a few hundred or thousand cartridges
    through 6-8 reloads will amortize out over the long term too be minimal,
    in cost per cartridge vs commercial ammo cost.
    lets say all that basic reloading tool material ,
    cost you an additional $500
    to set up for something a bit exotic like a 445 DWSM,
    thats about $1100 for the first 1000 cartridges,but you could but just 50-100 cases and recycle those and save a great deal on the up front cost,
    I generally purchase cases in 500-1000 case batches as the cost per case drops and I generally reload 500-1000 cases over a week-end

    and its not at all unusually that subsequent batches of 1000 cartridges being reloaded
    , cost less than $200 for the next thousand reloads and several,reloads per cycle of those ,
    per thousand more batches of 1000 cartridges

    compare that to the $1-$3 per cartridge I frequently see commercial ammo
    advertised for IF YOU CAN FIND ANY
    the local gun-shop wanted $49 for a box of 20 and only had one box,
    Ive seen the same factory ammo, listed on sale for $45 a box of 20,
    several places, and at gun shows it sells for $60 a box of 20 when its available... making hand loading a very financially profitable option if you own the revolver

    similar saving's on ammo, on many big bore rifles,
    like 416 rigby, 8mm rem mag, 375 wby, and 458 lott are available

    cartridges like the 45/70 and 30/30, using cast bullets can be hand-loaded at greater than 50% savings and still provide performance similar to factory ammo.

    you could very easily cut the cost of ammo for some cartridge like the 445 DWSM by well over
    40-to- %50% percent per cartridge
    over a few years time , and eliminate the fact factory ammo is very difficult to locate,
    and have custom fabricated ammo that maximizes value and minimizes your revolvers cost to operate, with increased accuracy.

    my 445 DWSM
    BRASS =$410 for a thousand cases

    primers $37 for 1000

    gas checks, $45 per thousand

    $20 for bullet mold

    $14 for mold handles

    powder roughly $50 per thousand reloaded cartridges

    youll obviously need the dies shell holders,and a decent reloading press, powder scale, manuals etc.
    I've also got a mix of RCBS, Lee, Hornady and Redding dies.
    the dies with carbide sizing ring [​IMG]
    and small holes drilled to allow trapped case lube to exit the die without deforming the case shoulders are preferred.
    having a micrometer handy to measure case head and neck diam. certainly helps and a caliper to measure case length wont hurt either
    use of case lube is mandatory, but you can get by with excellent results using vasoline on an un-inked stamp pad works
    smear then use a hair drier to soak in, you want minimal but full consistent case coverage
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2020
  7. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

    the spread sheet above is rather helpful
  8. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

  9. Maniacmechanic1

    Maniacmechanic1 solid fixture here in the forum

    Nice Grumpy.

    Got a Big expensive bad habit now.
  10. rlphvac

    rlphvac reliable source of info

    Don't think of it as a habit think of it as therapy
  11. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

  12. rlphvac

    rlphvac reliable source of info

    Grumpy you said that you load 500 - 1000 cases over the weekend are you doing rifle cases on your regular single stage press or your progressive press I just started on my progressive press but so far pistol only I did get a shellplate for 223 I'm not sure I want to take the time to set up that press for only a few hundred cases so it will be quicker to use the single stage I have a Hornaday set up in both presses do you do much rifle on a progressive press because I want to at least do 223 and 308 on the progressive but my hunting ammo I think that I will do them in the single because at max for each caliber I'll do 50-100 of each is that how you do it and what kind of presses do you use will a progressive press do decent ammo for A/R
  13. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

    Ive got a dillion 650 (no longer sold) its been replaced with the dillon 750
    a upgraded version, better features, I use for 223.

    the secret is to decap/deprime the cases separately before you start reloading
    I don,t have the auto case feeder (YET)

    I generally do that as a separate operation and swage the primer pockets on any mill surplus brass
    commercial cases generally don,t require primer pocket swaging

    you then can run batches of 6-7 cases through the machine before refilling the case feed tube,
    it sounds much harder than it is once your familiar and have practice
    you get into a rhythm and its not hard to crank out an impressive volume of ready to use ammo over several hours
  14. rlphvac

    rlphvac reliable source of info

    I was getting pretty good with 9mm and 45ACP I cranked out a total of about 5000 total from Christmas til now I just decided that I was going to load up what I had materials for I don't care to use any factory ammo that I have so now I can shoot when the weather breakes
  15. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

    one of the local guys stopped by to have some coffee and question me about what it takes to reload ammo,
    as hes been looking for months for ammo and just can't locate any decent quantity at anything close to reasonable prices.
    obviously hes having experiences that are far from unique.
    he stated he had watched a few videos on line and it looked like a complicated and expensive hobby.
    I stated, its as complicated and to some extent as expensive as you want to make it, if your just wanting hunting or plinking ammo,
    and your selective in the guns and calibers you select, it can be fairly simple and relatively cheap
    if you cast your own bullets, and use calibers like 357 mag, 9mm, 10mm, 44 mag, in handguns or 30/30, 35 rem, or 45/70,
    in a rifle you can easily produce reloaded ammo equal or better than most factory ammo for 1/4 -to-1/2 the price per shot
    once the tools and used brass is available
    yes it costs money to get set up, but lets look at 45/70
    currently $35-$55 dollars for 20 shots is the price I see quoted
    if you have the used brass and cast your own bullets you can reload 20 for well Under $10 A BOX OF 20
    my marlin 44 mag lever actions been loaded with cast bullet ammo for 5 decades and its accounted for dozens of hogs and a few deer during that time with zero issues, in fact its more accurate and lethal with reloads than with any factory ammo Ive ever tried
    and if you have, and use a large hunting revolver like I do, like a 445 DWSM or 500 S&W revolver factory ammo cost 7-8 times what high quality reloads do!
    got a 378 wby? factory ammo is priced at over $120 for 20 shots,
    you can reload the brass for less than 1/3rd the cost per shot,
    when you save $80 on 20 shots,
    it does not take long to justify the reloading equipment cost.

    Last edited: Apr 2, 2021
  16. rlphvac

    rlphvac reliable source of info

    I will agree with something that I've read a lot but reloading might save you money but you will shoot more and that is true with me but your millage may vary I have a lot of different calibers and load for them all. Reloading is addictive what started out as a couple pistol calibers has turned into an ammo factory but it is also something that I enjoy a lot and spend a lot of time doing it is my therapy I do it to relax like cleaning guns I don't mind doing it at all. The only thing that I want to add is the timing is bad to start to reload as components are not available but from what I'm seeing things are starting to rebound slowly so I would say when the components recover go for it in the mean time keep an eye out some things do show up
  17. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

    yes your correct, timing sucks ,
    some components are currently scarce and absurdly priced at times,
    but its not a hobby that you need to start by throwing a great deal of cash into up front,
    and used reloading tooling , is generally not hard to find or really expensive if you shop carefully.
    keep in mind you can built in stages, and Id suggest starting with a decent used single stage press
    and maybe a single caliber, it would be a huge advantage to find and work with an experienced reloader locally,
    that could point out what you need and how to use the tools, watching the linked videos is a big help
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2021
  18. rlphvac

    rlphvac reliable source of info

    I saw on a site yesterday one online company in big bold letters that they had .223 ammo in stock for sale now this was regular 55gr. brass cased rounds for $1149.00I almost fell off my chair I just hope no one is dump enough to buy this I will make clubs out of my guns first
  19. rlphvac

    rlphvac reliable source of info

    Shoot that price was for 1000
  20. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

    yeah thats absurdly greedy price gouging
    a about 2 years ago a careful shopper could get 1000 cartridges for ABOUT $345

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