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I've become more and more curious about reloading and have the following question for those of you who do reload (I checked over titles on the first page and didn't see any that related, so if this is a repeat thread I appologize).

How many rounds of ammunition did/do you need to make before the cost of the equipment/materials pays for itself vs. the cost of just purchasing the ammo? I realize it will vary from round to round depending on cal and types of material used, but I'm looking for your experience and or a ballpark figure if nothing else.
 

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the cost to benefit ratio. what a question, it is all dependent on how many rounds you shoot a month and the type of re-loader you are. ok lets look a two typical rounds that are at one time or another re-loaded by all who re-load. the first will be the 38 special namely the cheap wad-cutter target loads. if you buy in bulk bullets 1000, primers in 5000 lots, powder in 8 or 16 pound lots, pick brass up at the range, you buy like this all the time your cost can be cut as much as 60-65%. buy a box of rounds for 10.00 to 12.00 or re-load them for 3.50 to 5.00 a box of 50. this is all dependent on how frugal you are with your purchases of components. the other one is the 30/06. bullets brass and primers are not cheap as they were just 2 years ago. but buying bulk will still save you money, but the loading components must be bought in bulk to save money. you can also save money if you buy surplus components like powder, bullets, and if you can find them primers and brass. if you purchase the more expensive progressive equipment it will take longer to see a big savings and that is all dependent on how much re-loading you do. rifle ammo will come in at about 25- 30% cheaper than factory ammo. so it really up to you how fast you recover your cost.
 

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In running up some numbers and a little averaging. Primer and powder, figure 26 - 28 cents per round.. then, the cost of the bullet.. They can range anywhere from 20 cents to a buck a bullet..
Figuring that one who reloads should be able to make a cartridge that would roughly equate to a premium round,, which can cost 40 bucks a box, the savings is quite obvious..
On the average, one can normally save about 40-50 % depending upon the rifle they are shooting, and the ammunition they want to purchase. With all that said, figuring the cost of 500 rds factory is around 300.00, or .60 cents a round, it will take you longer to break even..then say if you are shooting the premium stuff at 20 for 40.00... then your savings would be 1.50 a round, which would only take about 400 rounds to break even....
Personally, I find reloading theraputic... almost as much as cleaning my guns..or casting, or making jacketed bullets..
 

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As it's relevant for me at the moment and it illustrates broken down components costs:

Cases ($0.23) - 5.56 NATO Brass 500ct - $115
Bullets ($0.19) - Sierra .224 69gr SMK 500ct - $95

Primers (0.04, 0.06 0.04 respectively):
+ CCI Small Rifle Magnum 1000ct - $40
+ CCI BR4 1000ct - $55
+ Federal GMM Small Rifle #205M 1000ct - $40

Powder ($0.08/round) -
+ TAC, 8lb (56000gr) - $150 (25gr/round)
+ Varget, 8lb (56000gr) - $160 (26gr/round)

(Yes I know those are toasty, not intended as loading data just pricing data, and both powders are $0.003/grain rounded up to the nearest thousandth of a dollar)

Assuming I went with the FGMM Primer and TAC, for handloads I could expect to pay $0.54 / round. The case is ~43% of the cost, and the bullet is ~35% of the cost. Comparatively, Federal's factory .223 Remington 69gr FGMM cost $1.46/round; by loading my own I'd be making better ammo at just over 1/3 of the cost with $0.92 savings per round. In 500 rounds, that's $460 in savings and (accruing the initial costs of the bulk powder) $270 in expenditures for components.

On to more of what you would probably want to know:

Using Hornady bulk 55gr FMJ (and assuming a $0.08 powder charge with whatever one ends up putting in the load), at an acquisition cost of $50/500ct ($0.10 / bullet), reloads of once fired brass could cost as low as $0.22 / round. Five hundred of such reloads would cost $110, and would facilitate ~$50 savings vs. buying Surp M193.

Setup costs depend upon what one wants to do. The major costs vary but I'll guestimate $800ish is probably a budget point for a comprehensive system. Obviously corners can be cut way down if you want to scrap a chronograph and a digital scale, and use standard dies. A major factor in the value of loading your own ammo is whether or not it's fun for you. If not, your time is probably more valuable than the attainable savings unless you shoot really expensive factory loads, or extremely high volume.

I personally think that reloading near max pressures without a chronograph is analogous to a pharmacist throwing generic chemicals of unknown purity together as medicine. Unless you've got a calorimeter laying around chronograph use during load development can help reduce the safety concerns associated with lot-to-lot variations in powders (another reason bulk powder procurement is good).
 

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Last month or so, I've loaded up a bunch of .38 spl, .45acp, and .45Colt for an upcoming three-day campout. Using my brass, and buying plain lead bullets (nothing jacketed or even plated), my cost ran right at $6 per box for .38's, and nearer $7 per box for the .45acp & .45LC both. Sounds wrong, but when I added it up that's what it came to. Primers roughly $2 a box, bullets$85/1000 for .452's, and $75/1000 for .358's.

Loading up a few hundred .454's was even more eye-opening, since you can't use normal lead (or even normal jacketed) bullets for full-house loads, and it uses so much more powder. Hornady xtp-mags run ~$19/50, primers still $2 a box, and (surprised me) right at $4-$5 per 50 just for powder. Using 37.9 grains of 296 gives just 185 rounds per pound, and costs $14-$18 per pound.

Not near the bargain it used to be (or should be), but still substantially cheaper than buying factory ammo. Anymore, I tend to see factory stuff mostly as a source of "pre-loaded brass".
 

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Anymore, I tend to see factory stuff mostly as a source of "pre-loaded brass".
That is how I have seen factory ammo.. Years ago, I purchased 1000 rds of Armscor ammo for my 45 acp, I have to say, it has been very good brass. While I do not have all of it anymore, I have not thrown away any due to splitting or any other problem.. Mostly just trading with other range brass.. I always leave with a few more than I came with.. (along with a few other calibers..)
 

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The other thing to consider when handloading is tailoring ammo to your weapon. My hunting rounds are all handloads. I hand weigh each powder charge and chrono my loads for consistency. This is a time consuming and expensive proposition, but I know what to expect when hunting.

Plinking ammo I simply buy in bulk. I buy .223 2-3k at a time, same with .45 and 9mm plinking ammo.

I do buy good ammo for defensive carry, but don't handload that by choice.

Cost is a factor, but not the only factor to consider when handloading.
 

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The other thing to consider when handloading is tailoring ammo to your weapon. My hunting rounds are all handloads. I hand weigh each powder charge and chrono my loads for consistency. This is a time consuming and expensive proposition, but I know what to expect when hunting.

Plinking ammo I simply buy in bulk. I buy .223 2-3k at a time, same with .45 and 9mm plinking ammo.

I do buy good ammo for defensive carry, but don't handload that by choice.

Cost is a factor, but not the only factor to consider when handloading.
Once you have built a load for a particular firearm, to maximize it's performance, you have that load forever. I build a competition load for my .44 Ruger Vaqueros in 1996-1997, that I still use 30,000(+) loads later.
 

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the cost to benefit ratio. what a question, it is all dependent on how many rounds you shoot a month and the type of re-loader you are. ok lets look a two typical rounds that are at one time or another re-loaded by all who re-load. the first will be the 38 special namely the cheap wad-cutter target loads. if you buy in bulk bullets 1000, primers in 5000 lots, powder in 8 or 16 pound lots, pick brass up at the range, you buy like this all the time your cost can be cut as much as 60-65%. buy a box of rounds for 10.00 to 12.00 or re-load them for 3.50 to 5.00 a box of 50. this is all dependent on how frugal you are with your purchases of components. the other one is the 30/06. bullets brass and primers are not cheap as they were just 2 years ago. but buying bulk will still save you money, but the loading components must be bought in bulk to save money. you can also save money if you buy surplus components like powder, bullets, and if you can find them primers and brass. if you purchase the more expensive progressive equipment it will take longer to see a big savings and that is all dependent on how much re-loading you do. rifle ammo will come in at about 25- 30% cheaper than factory ammo. so it really up to you how fast you recover your cost.
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