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Old 06-14-2009, 18:45   #53
Senior Member
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 647
Single stage yardstick - time and money

The following is one example of time needed in a single instance of production for 50 rounds. The caliber was the very common .40SW pistol round.

There was no rushing of any kind nor cutting of corners that might compromise safety. Simply an effort to calculate the average time needed to produce one box of ammo when proceeding with purpose, deliberately and steadily. This may inform those looking to start reloading with the traditionally recommended single-stage press, and curious about the level of production.

I am neither a novice nor pro but have 5 years experience as a hobbyist and learned from scratch on a Lee Anniversary kit (still in use and also for this example) by reading, one visit to the reloader who ordered my kit for me (before I figured out I could have done that myself!) and some additional information picked up online.

This is simply a reasonable yardstick. If you are moving slower or faster it is not necessarily an indication you are doing anything wrong.

Other steps ancillary to the process not included are brass sorting and selection. It assumes your brass has been tumbled or is otherwise ready to load. It does not include any case lube time if you are not using carbide dies.

If you are new it is certainly ok to do more safety inspections of the process to insure you're on the mark.

:09 Decap
:13 Prime
:22 Flare/Powder/inspect for doubles/squibs
:16 Seat/COAL check

Total: 1 hour exactly

:10 Crimp (optional)

Bench cleanup add <5 minutes.

There are little production tricks you can pick up over time. If you've lucked into a range bucket and want to have a prep session you can save time for later loading. Advance prep would mean sorting brass already clean, tumbling the rest, batching it in baggies of a 50 or 100. You can then sit down to a massive de-cap session where the case are all deprimed and resized. Again, count and re-bag/inventory and it will be ready to go once you're ready to start. Don't prime a lot in advance since recipe selection on some rounds might mean choosing between a standard or magnum primer. Naturally this will not matter if you're sure and have limited bullet/powder choices
and know for sure.

If you have some of these steps out of the way its not impossible to knock out 100 rounds in 90 minutes or so, but never rush at the expense of quality or safety.

The above simply summarizes this one reloader's experience over time and an actual example.

The ammo produced from this session is now ready to shoot. It can be loaded into magazines and put in service for carry or taken to a range and shot with no further delay.

If you wish to double check your rounds, a final check can include a chamber check, where you actually cycle some rounds thru your gun to insure they're chambering properly, or use a gauge if you have one. Remember to keep your gun pointed in a safe direction if cycling your rounds thru the gun since they're now live.

As always, you are responsible for safe weapon and ammo handling as well as every round that leaves the gun.

Money Saved

The following were my costs for this:

Powder: - $1.32 (1 lb = 7000gr, .002857 cents per grain at $20/lb, 9.3 grain load)
Primers: - $1.50 at .03/ea (brick at $30)
Bullets: - $6.00, (.12c each in bulk)
Brass: - re-use

Total: $8.83
Avg OTS price these parts: $18.50 (40SW cheap ball ammo, American Eagle)

So the savings in this instance was about $10.00/box. Load only 14 boxes and you've paid for a Lee anniversary kit. I don't know of any other form of economizing that has this quick a payback and its fun and productive to boot.

This can be improved upon:
-cast your bullets from wheel weights
-find a cheaper production source
-some powders can be had as low as $15.00/lb
-primers can be had in bulk cheaper with the right source
-different powder selection by recipe using powders with higher burn efficiency

Some of my loads in .38sp are down in the area of $6/box, some here do it for less than half that if they take the biggest cost (bullets!) out of the equation by casting their own.
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