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Commercial reloading

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by freakshow10mm, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm 10mm Advocate

    First off, let me clear the air. I do not give a rat's butt if you have the FFL for ammunition manufacturing or are insured for liability, E's & O's, et al. I do encourage all that do it to be licensed and insured for their sake. This is not a head hunting thread and with the anonymous nature of the Internet, I could really care less who you actually are, try to be, or think you are in "real life". This is just a "wondering" thread. What you post will not change my opinion of you (except Jack) as a person or a GTer. Take off your tin foil hat and pony up to the bar.

    For those that think or know they have what it takes to load for others and charge money for it, but don't, why not? The free market mentality is there and there is a market for affordable ammunition which is also profitable if done right. Do you not think there is demand? Is it business management skills you lack (I can relate to that)? Is it the perceived liability?
  2. Mostly it's the time. If I were to get laid off from my job, that's probably what I'd start doing, though. Right now, I have a pretty decent job that has me travelling about 280 days a year and doesn't allow me to do that. Add in the fact that I'm about to move my place of residence 1000 miles so Jack can't call me a flatlander anymore, and yeah... just not enough time. Obviously, if I WERE to start reloading for sale to others, I'd be VERY meticulous with that whole process. I just am doing pretty good where I'm at and don't see any reason to allow the BATF instant access to my home at this point.

  3. n2extrm


    Feb 24, 2009
    I think it is a hard business, a lot of work making, marketing the ammo. A lot of work securing a supply of components, and researching the information. Price shopping for the best deals. Record keeping, liability and the good old ATF.

    Frankly I think there is a market for it, and my hats off to anybody willing to fill it. I will simply do it as a hobby!:wavey:
  4. Reloading ans selling ammunition is a business. A fun one, but still a business, with all its problems, expences and pitfalls. Not everyone is cut to be a businessman. Potential liability issues don't make it any easier either.
  5. jmorris


    Apr 13, 2006
    I simply cannot make the same amount, much less more, money than what I make doing what I currently do. Costs are to high and the margins are too low.
  6. My question is...
    If one of us were to get into it, would Freak be willing to share sources and info?
  7. Hoser

    Hoser Ninja

    May 22, 2002
    Never turn your hobby into work.
  8. BWT


    Apr 27, 2010
    I've thought about it numerous times. I retire in 4 years (3yr9months but who's counting) and that is one of the businesses I've been researching. I know some people that don't live too far from me that took the plunge and its worked well for them. They hit all the gun shows in Texas and that's how they have gotten the word out about their business.
  9. shotgunred

    shotgunred local trouble maker

    Mar 1, 2008
    Washington (the state)
    I ran two small business for over a decade. I have had several part time business that I have done while being employed elsewhere. I am setting up another right now. One that only takes 5 to 10 hours a week. Extra money business not a large cash maker. But I like my current job. At the end of business I forget about it until tomorrow. When I go on vacation I still get payed. When my kid gets sick I can worry about that not about the medical bills.

    You don't run a small business it runs you. My last one I made twice what I do now. But I worked 7 days a week. I was always on call. I got stress migraines. Customers always were behind on payments. The dream of your own business is far from the reality of a small business.
    My best advice is to work for the government and do your ammo business on the side.
  10. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    I did it for awhile freak, back when CAS first started, around the late 80s. There was a market for lead bulleted ammo that just wasn't available then. I found I couldn't make any serious money pulling the handle myself vs doing the engineering drawing that I still do today. I could sell all the ammo I wanted to guys not willing to handload, but just too time consuming on a 550B. SO it is now just for me.
    THis last couple of years got me started thinking about gearing back up w/ a 650 & just loading 9mm & 45, but again, time vs money. Although I am working only part time now, maybe it's time to start up again?
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2010
  11. VN350X10


    Apr 13, 2001
    McHenry, IL
    Supply of components at this time is a bit too "iffy" as I want to source bullets locally. Otherwise, could do a consistant business by only doing .38's & .45 LC, both loaded to S.A.S.S. specs, selling them at the shop I work at part time; Really waiting for the shop's paperwork to add on a class 6 & a class 7 to our class 01 lic.
    The added ins. is only going to be about $100.00/year anyhow.
    Either loads acceptably fast on a 650 w/feeder & the margin on these 2 special applications is very good.

    uncle albert

    The idea of being a niche provider is a good concept.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2010
  12. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm 10mm Advocate

    That's for sure. :wow:

    I recall your anecdotes about CAS reloading business here and there over the years I've "known" you online.

    Niche is the way to go right now. The big guys are back in town and it's the niche stuff that's working.

    I think you've known me as long as I ventured into handloading. You should know I started my ammo company loading on my 550. It's harder with lower volume, but think of the "perfect" results. Loading only on a 550 for 40 hours a week (2,080 hours) is 1.04 million rounds a year at 500rds per hour. Even half that figure is 500,000 rounds. Making $50 per K for popular stuff is $25,000 gross at a half million rounds a year. Double that for special stuff even more. .32 H&R I made 300% profit margin (gross). Load a case of 1,000 rounds make $400 profit. Trouble is I'd sell maybe 10,000 rounds yearly. Not enough to bother with so I dropped it from the catalog.

    I quickly realized quantity without sacrificing quality is paramount. Currently I can do about 25-30 cases a month of 9mm no problem; supplies and time away from FT job factored. That's why I ponied up for the 1050. Reduce the time, no sacrifice in quality, more time with family.

    Niche is the way to go for small reloaders like us. Trouble is gauging beyond the customer in front of you. Like my .38 LC thread. Guy just got a gun for it. Wants ammo to shoot. Wants to support a local business. Trouble is in 4 years he's the only customer that's ever asked about it. A younger me would say "sure I can load for it" get dies, brass, etc and load 100 rounds when the guy only wants 50. Then spend money marketing to sell and recoup the investment for inventory to sit for a year until the same guy buys another 50rds. Then sell the dies for a loss.

    Now for the real small niche stuff, I'd rather resell than load. Some guy that I know fairly well (owns a convenience shop in the right spot) needs some 7.3mm Carcano ammo. No one I've found makes ammo, but there's brass and dies readily available. Guy only wants a box of 20rds to start with. $20 for dies, $40 for brass, then $9 for 50 bullets, couple $ for powder. Cost for 20 rounds is $60 and I still have to make a profit. Three dollars per round is, IMO, insane. No thanks. But this gentleman is also getting his 01 FFL. Doing a favor of a loss leader-ish gesture like this could land me a stocking dealer worth how many hundreds of dollars in profit each month? Maybe sell to this guy for cost, then make my money when he remembers my ability to meet his needs and buys ammo from me in bulk. It's all a gamble. Will it pay off? Roll the dice.

    Very good responses. Keep them coming.
  13. marvin

    marvin sci-fi nut

    Mar 26, 2001
    greentown ind.
    would love to give it a try, but start up money and a place to do is the hard part.
  14. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

    May 31, 2007
    Old Colorado City
    We have a winner!!! :number1:
  15. I just don't see how reload ammo can compete with WalMart new production ammo.
  16. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm 10mm Advocate

    My prices for remanufactured (reloaded by a licensed manufacturer) are

    .380 ACP $230 per K
    9mm supersonic $165 per K
    9mm subsonic $180 per K
    .45 ACP $213 per K.

    Shipping is $50 per case for .45 and $20 per case for the others. Compare that with Walmart. Don't they sell 9mm for about $20 per hundred? Yep, thought so. My ammo is cheaper even with shipping.
  17. shotgunred

    shotgunred local trouble maker

    Mar 1, 2008
    Washington (the state)
    Just for fun I ran some numbers. Curently I can make
    9mm for $137 a k
    45 for $193 a k
    40 for$167 a K
    Plus the price of a box.

    SO your prices seem a little low to me. I realize you can get components cheaper than I can. But I am already getting wholesale on bullets.
  18. jmorris


    Apr 13, 2006
    Now subtract just your component costs (No insurance, machine, electric, heat, or other utilities, advertising, etc.) and you will begin to see the answer to your original question.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2010
  19. XDRoX


    Jan 24, 2009
    San Diego
    I love reloading and think it would be cool to make money at it. But the way I figure it, it would be hard to make a decent living at it. I live in an expensive city and I'm not sure I could make enough to survive even with 5 1050's and 5 employees.

    Benefits, retirement, medical, , job security, etc, ... is what I look for in a job. I'm not sure I could get that reloading.

    My hat is off to all small business owners. It is one of the things that makes this country great. But I just don't think I have what it takes to ever take the chance with it. Being your own boss sounds nice, but so does vacation pay and medical benefits.

    This might sound silly, but If I ever did start my own business I think it would be a licensed day care. Low overhead and you can charge a fortune. In my city almost everybody's both parents work.

    Right now I truly believe there is big money to be made in renting. My best or "luckiest" financial decisions have been in real state. That's what I'm focusing on right now. The cost of these houses keep getting lower, and the price of rent stays the same or goes up.
  20. hoffy


    Jun 12, 2007
    Seen a lot try and fail. If one is doing it on the side, then it is taking up a lot of time. Tooling costs are huge, + insurance. I almost started,had an in with the director of the the local community college's Peace Officer training program. Worrying about insurance, then the guy retired, did not follow through.

    I worked at gun shop 25 years ago and we had a lot of guys try to sell us reloads, but did business with only one, the owner actually went to the ammo guy's shop, verified insurance, etc, that guy lasted about 10 years, sold all over the state.

    If I had the capital, I think I would get into production swaging, Corbin makes some really neat stuff, and I have wanted to get into it for decades.

    The guy that commented about making your hobby your business is dead on. I learned a lot during my 6 years working at a gun shop, especially since it had been going since the '50s, got to shoot more different guns than people could imagine. But, I learned to hate cleaning guns(test fired, cleaned and inspected and repaired every used gun we got, that was within my ability to repair, or the gun smith got it), thousands of guns. Also, even going to the range could be tedious, we bench sighted guns for quite a fee, and sighting in a dozen rifles, can get punishing, big calibers first!(an aside, a guy got a pre-war model 70 in 300 H&H, from his grandad. It had an old Lyman scope in Pachmayer swing mounts. He had us put some good modern glass/mounts on it and had it range tested, from bore sighting, the first 3 shot group took out the X at 100 yards! All three touching! I was stoked to say the least. His response was to ask if we could rechamber it to Win mag, we could, but had a devil of a time talking him out of it.) I am glad I worked there, but to retire from it....... But there is always the example of Black Hills, arguably the most successful case, we sold their stuff too IIRC.

    It is not easy running a business, for sure, and with the nonsense that happened after the last election, I would not have wanted ammunition feeding me. I load for my friends, at what ever my costs are, because we help each other out, when I need help doing something I have people I can rely on(small town living)
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2010