Im always surprised when someone tells me what a staggering good deal on ammo they got and the price, to me, seems rather high. The reason for this is because I do alot of reloading on my own and Im amazed more poeple don't. Yeah, theres a time element involved (which is mitigated if youre willing to pop a few hundred bucks for a top notch progressive press like the Dillon) but alot of times the savings are worth it.
Lets crunch some numbers…
Powder is $18.00/# which comes out to $0.0025714 per grain
Primers are $17.50/1000, or $0.0175 each
We'll assume you have been saving your fired brass
9mm 115 gr. FMJ:
Bullets – $47.25/1000 or $0.04725 per bullet. We'll use 5.0 gr. of powder, or .$0.0128 worth.
Total cost for a cartridge: $0.07755, or $3.88 per 50 rounds.
Not bad, but 9mm is cheap enough to buy that you may as well not bother reloading for it (unless youre after some sort of exotic velocity or bullet).
.45 ACP, on the other hand, is never cheap…
Bullets – $85.80 or $0.0858 per 230 gr. FMJ bullet. We'll use 7.6 grains of powder, or $0.0195 worth.
Total cost for a cartridge: $0.1228, or $6.14 per 50 rounds.
The real savings is in the high end stuff…take, for example, a .30-06
Bullets – $98.70 for some 150 gr. Rem. soft points. $0.0987 per bullet. We'll use 52.5 grains of powder, or $0.1349 worth.
Total cost for a cartridge: $0.2511, or $5.02 per 20 rounds.
ANd, if youre one of the belted magnum guys, the .300 Win. Mag.:
Same bullet as the .30-06. 60 grains of powder, or $0.1542 worth.
Total cost for a cartridge: $0.2704 or $5.41 per 20 rounds.
.357 Magnum? (158 gr JHP)
Bullets – $64.45 or $0.06445 per bullet. We'll use 14 grains of powder, or $0.0385 worth.
Total cost for a cartridge: $0.1204 or $6.02 per 50 rounds.
“But Commander”, I hear you cry, “Who has the several hundred dollars necessary to buy the gear to get started?”
Fool! Only the weak and liberal democrats pay more than they have to!
You can get a decent setup from the folks at Lee for less than a hundred bucks. Not the best gear in the world, but it would load pistol ammo for you all day long on a single stage press. If you shoot .45 ACP at normally $10.99 a box you could pay for the setup within 21 boxes (1050 rounds)
If you dont mind spending a bunch more, RCBS makes a very good setup for about $300~.
Finally, the Dillon 550B or even the Square Deal are great for churning out lotsa ammo in a hurry.
Reloading is like any other hobby, you have to learn a few things but if youre worried about blowing yourself up you've got a very melodramatic idea of whats involved. If you can follow a recipe, you can reload. Guys alot stupider than you, and with worse equipment, have done it for years.
However, Im of the mind that you still need factory ammo. Why? Couple reasons. First of all, no matter how much experience I have and no matter how good I am at reloading, I'm going to feel a bit more comfortable with quality commercially loaded ammo (and that means Win., Rem., Fed., etc….not Texas Discount Reloads). Secondly, if, for whatever reason, I have to use ammo for trading I am going to be far more likely to take quality 'name-brand' commercial ammo than suspect reloads…and that works both ways – a fella is more likely to take a sealed box of factory ammo from me in trade than a drawstring bag filled with mixed-headstamp .223 reloads. Really, its a perception thing.
One other aspect to reloading thats worth considering if you dont already reload is the versatility. For example,
- you can reload subsonic ammo for your supressed toys.
- You can reload ammo in a configuration that is not normally served by the factories (example, you have a 98 Mauser in 8mm but want to shoot a subsonic lead roundball for whacking squirrels).
- You can make armour piercing or tracer ammo in a non-standard caliber (somewhat illegal, mind you. However, you'd have the ability to pull the bullet from a perfectly legal round of .30-06 M2 AP ammo and reload that bullet into your .300 Ultramag whcih would give you some hideously nasty penetrative power. Seen it done with a .300 H&H…drilled a hole through about 1″ of steel plate.) This will also work with pulling steelcored bullets from .223 SS109 and dropping them in your .22-250 or [shudder] .220 Swift.
- One more thing to think about, and this is for all of us tinfoil-beanie crowd… when they change the laws to require you to sign for ammo, or tax it to the point of unaffordability, or regulate the caliber/bullet you can use (which is already done in some places), or make it unavailable at all (as done in CA during the LA riots) you will be able to churn out whatever ammo you need free from intrusive .gov snooping.
Lee Anniversary Kit – $100~
RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Reloading Kit –