Reloading to save money
Most guys who get into reloading to save money on ammo. They listen to their friend who reload that tell them it only costs them .25 to reload a .223 round. Then they look at the fact they are paying over .35 a round. Or worse they hear their friend say hey I just picked up 1000 9mm bullets for $65. So they figure they should reload their own ammo. In their mind it will save them thousands of dollars over the years. The problem is it doesn’t work that way. It’s not that easy, and of course cheaper ammo means you shot more.
The Cost of start up
The biggest cost forget when they think of reloading to save money is the cost of equipment. Even the cheap Lee kit like the LEE Challenger Kit is $120. Of course most people buy kits from Hornaday like the Lock n Load Classic Press Kit for around $300. These are low end kits where you can spend $500 or more on a progressive press. Of course these kit’s don’t include the caliber specific dies or shell holders. That will run you another $30-50 dollars. You can buy a lot of ammo for $250 to $550 dollars. Of course if you are an avid shooter that shots 500 rounds a week, you can eat up that much money pretty quickly. Thus even if you save $100 ever thousand rounds it won’t take long to recoup the cost of equipment. However, equipment isn’t your only cost of reloading to save money.
Cost of your time
Unless you have all the time in the world, your time costs you money. The time you spend reloading you could be doing things that earn you money. How much can you make working? Then figure it can a few hours to a few hundred rounds of ammo. Unless you buy a progressive press then your time is less but your equipment cost is higher.
On top of the up front cost of equipment and time, there are hidden costs to reloading. Like reloading manuals so you can find your load data. There’s the cost of brass. Almost no one thinks about it. Most people figure they will save the brass they shoot, and reload it. However, eventually brass wears out. You loss some. Eventually you will want to reload more than the brass you have. You will end up buying brass.
Then there is the fact that since your ammo is cheaper to reload you will shoot more. Why not? You are getting more ammo for the same money so you can shoot more of it. It becomes a big circle. You shot more so you can reload, you reload so you can shot. Next thing you know you are spending all your spare time and money either at the range or reloading at home.
Of course don’t forget eventually you’ll build yourself a space to store all your reloading stuff. This means you’ll end up with a room in your house just for guns and reloading equipment. Sounds pretty cool. Your own “man cave” for guns. However that’s just one more cost you didn’t think about when you decided to take up reloading to save yourself money.
Actual cost per round
If the cost hasn’t turned you off yet. Let’s look at what you will pay per round on a couple of common calibers. This is of course ignoring equipment costs, and brass costs. If you want to look up the cost of other rounds there’s a great calculator online that will help you.
Let’s start with 9mm. Using 4.7 grains of Titegroup powder. Berry’s Plated 115 GR RN bullets from Cabela’s but you can buy them almost anywhere. Primers brand doesn’t matter most of them are 3.99 a box of 100 or $34.00 a 1000, or less. If you exclude the cost of brass. It will cost you about $0.15 a bullet to reload. Better yet around $8 for 50. Where as a normal box of 50 9mm shells will cost you $10. Of course if you buy in bulk of around 1000 rounds at a time you can get that price down to $160.00 for a 1000. Which would be about $0.16 a round, for the cheapest bulk ammo you can get. Not a whole lot of savings.
How about .223/5.56 rifle ammo? If you use 27 grains of BL-C(2) powder. With Hornaday 55gr FMJ-BT bullets at $47 for a box of 500. Same 3.99 a box of primers. You get $0.23 a round. Better known as $4.60 a box of 20. Most places sell box of 20 .223 ammo for about $7. This is a savings. However if you don’t mind shooting steel cased ammo Lucky Gunner has Wolf ammo starting at $110 for 500 rounds. That equals about $0.21 a round. If your whole goal is to save money yet again you aren’t saving any.
Where can you save money? How about hunting ammo? We will go with 30-06. The most common hunting round. We’ll use the same BL-C(2) powder only 50 grains this time. Hornaday SST 165 gr bullets. Guess what the price per round is? It’s $0.58 or $12 per box of 20. Unless you find an amazing deal, a box of 20 30-06 hunting ammo starts at $20 and goes up from there. This mean you are saving at least $9 a box of hunting ammo. The only downside is most hunters don’t shoot more than a couple boxes of ammo a year.
Places to get cheap components
If you get into reloading to save money, you need look for the best deals on components. It’s clear from the previous examples you can’t just go into your local Cabela’s or sporting goods store and save money. Spending time searching the internet can turn up some really good deals on bullets. Places like Chey-Cast bullets sell handgun pullets for a good price and offer free shipping on orders of over $100. The free shipping is an amazing value. In fact you need to always consider shipping when buying online. Many times the shipping will push the cost to more than cost of what you can get locally.
If you want to make your life easy you can always use AmmoSeek. They do all the searching for you and give you a list of cost per bullet on multiple websites. They also do ammo prices, and brass prices. Now they maybe not have the every deal listed and of course you can find better deals if you spend some time looking.
You can always make your life easy and just go over and buy from Wes Sage. He always has a fair price, and amazingly quick shipping. For those who don’t already have brass he runs deals where you get the bullets and brass as a package. These deals will save you time and money.
Don’t Buy Powder or Primers online
If your goal is reloading to save money avoid buying primers and powder online. It’s required by law that sellers charge you a hazardous materials fee for shipping them. This fee is about $25. This means if find somewhere that gives you “free shipping” and save $5 on a pound of powder. You will still spend $20 more on powder than if you bought it locally. Of course some times you can find a big deal on primers. It is possible to add the hazardous shipping fee into the cost and save money on primers if you buy enough primers for the right deal. The down side if you will end up buying around 10,000 primers to save money. So either get a few friends to go in with you or understand you’ll end up with a potentially life time supply of primers.
Cheap reloads versus Match Grade ammo
The one thing to consider when you look at cost of reloading versus buying ammo is the quality of you ammo you make. Cheap ammo is never as consistent as what you will reload. Many times the variation of powder weight can be up to half a grain in cheap factory ammo. I’ve never known a reloader that excepts even a .2 grain variation in their reloads. This means you are getting much better quality ammo for the same price.
The fact is to buy ammo of the same quality as reloaded ammo, you’d have to buy Match Grade ammo. When you compare the cost of match grade ammo with the cost of reloaded ammo you will notice a huge cost savings.
If your only goal is reloading to save money, don’t bother. You’ll never save enough to justify the hobby of reloading. However, if you want to shoot ammo that is tailored to your gun, for the price of cheap bulk ammo. Please start reloading. You will never regret reloading ammo as long as you know why your are doing it. Reloading is not about saving money. That maybe a benefit I you shot enough. The benefit to reloading is that you get a better quality ammo, at a price that makes you shoot more often. It’s really a win, win situation because people who reload enjoy it almost as much as shooting it.