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Discussion in 'Reloading' started by polizei1, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. polizei1

    polizei1 It WAS Quack

    Feb 3, 2009
    Cincinnati, OH
    Hi everyone, I'm turning 21 this summer, and have always been fascinated in it's natural that I can't wait to get shooting more.

    Now I'm curious. I've searched this site quite a bit, and have spent the last 2-3 days extensively researching reloading, because it caught my eye and seemed interesting. Now, I've watched many videos and have read a ton of info (appreciate it all BTW, VERY helpful), but that has also lead me to have a few questions.

    First off, I wanted to research the cost. So, using all the research I've done, especially with the links provided, really helped me get a grasp for it. Now, is there a direct-reason why one should reload? Or more in a sense, why do people reload? Is it for costs reasons, a hobby, experimental/personal load variation, competition loads?

    Now, excuse my ignorance, but it seems that it costs just about the same (my comparison was 4,000rds I think) as far as reloading rounds, vs. buying cheap target ammo. I should establish that I will initially just shoot for fun at the range, but would also like to get my CCW (though I won't use reloads, so that doesn't matter), and I would also like to get into some competition (both pistol and rifle). Is it more cost-effective to reload vs. buying cheap ammo? I know there is an ammo shortage, does that play into it for some/most people?

    After all is said and done, like most hobbies it appears that reloading is quite expensive at first. Specifically, I was looking at the Hornady LnL AP, plus everything else you need to purchase to get started. It's my understanding that it would require at least $1,000 or so to get started, with rounds, powder, etc. Now I also understand (unless I'm wrong, of course) that primers seem to be the most expensive, and there is often a shortage of them. It seems like bullets, casings, powder, etc. are all pretty much always reliable. Is this accurate?

    So lets say I get my first pistol in the summer, and I start reloading. Obviously there is a LOT to learn, but for the relevance of this post, I'll just say is it going to be beneficial to start reloading if I only use 9mm/.40S&W and maybe some .223/.308win? I would love to shoot a lot, so I was thinking about getting a membership to my local range. I would ideally like to be able to shoot at least 200rds/month, which equals 2,400rds/year. It seems like average price for 9mm would be ~$12/box of 50. Is that accurate? If so, 2,400rds/year would be $573. I'm getting my prices from here: which is 115gr Winchester FMJ. So overall, would reloading overtime (well say a few years for this example) save me money? I would love to shoot more than 2,400rds/year, but this is just a minimal standard I have set forth for myself.

    Any additional information would be fantastic, especially from old salt reloaders. Also, if this does not comply for whatever reason, please mods delete this.

    Thank you,
  2. IndyGunFreak


    Jan 26, 2001
    You can start w/ a setup quite a bit cheaper than an LNL.. If cost is a concern, it will allow you to recoup your costs quicker. There's a lot of options out there as far as what press to use. First question would be how much do you plan to shoot per month. I shoot a little over 1k per month on most occasions, and I'm just now getting to the point where I feel like I'm outgrowing my Lee Classic Turret, but I would probably be OK up to 1500 a month w/o getting frustrated.

    As for why... I reload for cost. Some reload because they want to create the most accurate ammo possible. Jack reloads to get away from his ex-wives.. we all have our reasons.

    Edit: By the way, typically reloaders don't save a whole lot of money, simply because they end up shooting more. So where you might shoot 2400rds on your current budget, you would probably be shooting quite a bit more on that budget if you're reloading..

    Last edited: Jan 21, 2010

  3. RustyFN


    Sep 29, 2006
    West Virginia
    Hi Cody, welcome.

    I started reloading to save money. After around a month it turned into an enjoyable hobby that I enjoy as much as shooting and casting bullets. To save money you need to buy in bulk. A couple offriends and I max out a hazmat order. That would be 50,000 primers, 48 pounds of powder or 48 pounds of powder and primers mixed. As far as bullets I used to buy Zero bullets and they shoot good. I don't buy bullets any more because I still have a good supply of FMJ and I also cast so no need to buy any. Buying in bulk you should be able to load for around half of what cheap factory ammo cost.

    I don't think that's accurate. I am loading with components that are a year old and am loading 9mm for $7 per 100. I would think you should be able to load with todays prices for $10 to $12 per 100. Save all of your brass and pick up anyother brass you can find.

    You can get started a lot cheaper than that. I started with the Lee classic turret four years ago and still use that press. You can buy the kit for just under $200 and with a few other things you will need you should be ready to go for around $300 to $350. The classic turret will load close to 200 rounds per hour, that would be one hour a month for what you want to shoot. Check out this video to see the classic turret in action.
  4. Pylot7


    Apr 18, 2009
    If you reload to save money you will have to do a lot of shooting. And you will be better off going with a good progressive set up.

    I got started with a lee single stage press and a marginal set of everything else for about $300. Then you can add a bit here and there until you will have quite a collection of stuff.

    My motivation for reloading was always to be able to dial in a round for any one of my rifles. If you look up "optimum charge method" or "ladder method" you will see that you can get an accurate round for about anything without a lot of costly tricks.

    So the luxury of reloading for me is that I can create ammo that you can not buy. And if I want to knock out a couple hundred plinker rounds for a .38 or .357 or a 45 70 I can easily do so.

    Either way don't buy new. Most reloading equipment is very durable and with a little shopping you can get someone elses progressive for much less than a new one.
  5. decibels5


    Sep 14, 2009
    reasons to reload, save money, accuracy, getting the right load for a specific purpose, time to relax

    brass 100 free
    primers 100 3.00
    bullet 100 9.00
    powder approx lets say .50cents

    this is low quantity items, buy bulk, save more. 12.50 around here that is one box of ammo. qty 50

    now for .380, same cost. a box of that in 50 is 30.00

    I use a 100.00 setup. I saved that in less than a thousand rounds.
  6. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Well, not really. You are saving money per shot regardless of how much you shoot. How long it takes to recover your equip. investment will vary though.
    I think most of us started reloading to dave money, & regardless of the comments like, "you won't save money, you'll just shoot more", you do sve on a per round basis.
    How much depends on how yo ubuy your components. Buy in some kind of bulk, like 5K primers, 4# of powder & 1K bullets, you can reload for 1/2 the cost of the cheapest factory ammo. You are probably counting the cost of brasss in your reload. Brass ends up eing the cheapest part because it is used as many as 20x. Buy once fired or shoot factory ammo & keep your brass, amortized cost is less than 1c each. Bullets are the next most expensive component, shop around, prices vary quite a bit. Primers are next on the list & the most important. I can make bullets, scrounge powder from sg shells but I can't make a primer. Then powder is your cheapest item & 4# would last you quite a long time (1200-1600/#).
    Do you NEED a progressive, most shooters DO NOT. Should you buy one" Depends on how much you want to shoot & how much time you have to reload. You can get a top of the line singlestage setup for less than $400 & about the same for a Lee turret. Yes production will be slow, but 50rds/hr on the ss & 150/hr on the turret are possible. So either will work for 150rds/week & would be the cheapest way to get into reloading.
  7. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

    May 31, 2007
    Old Colorado City
    Cost - depending on what you load, breakeven on your tooling up costs will vary, but it will happen... then ammo for the rest of your life is gravy. For me, .45 Colt is less than half of what you'd pay for factory cowboy loads. 9mm I save less, but it's still savings.

    The other big reason to reload is to tune it to your gun or a specific purpose. For example, any .44 mag you buy from a factory is going to be full balls. If you want an intermediate load, you're SOL.

    It's about tinkering, it's about control, it's about saving money and sometimes it's just fun to have some hermit time in the garage.
  8. BK63


    Sep 15, 2005
    Keep reading this site and you will learn a lot young Jedi. The force is strong in this one :supergrin: First of all you are young and just getting started. You have to understand that this is a disease to which there is no cure. It will only get worse. Your startup costs will seem high but you will use this equipment for years and years, maybe your whole life. Over time you will collect a lot of stuff. Brass many of us pick up a lot at the range. A lot of factory off the shelf ammo is pretty hot because it is made to function in a variety of guns. I like to load mid range stuff for the range maybe 60 to 70% of max loads, and what shoots and functions good in my guns. If I'm thinking of going to the range on the weekend I'll go to the loading room different nights during the week after work and load a box of this or that, whatever I think I might want to shoot that weekend. For me loading takes away some of the stress of the day. I buy bullets and primers/powder in bulk and when I need some I load them up for the weekend. That way I don't have to make a trip to some gun shop for over priced ammo. I shoot mostly 45 and it's about half the price to load a box. I am now getting the wheel guns out again and loading the bulk cast bullets I have on hand. You will collect more guns, more bullets, more equipment. Don't be concerned, you can't help it, it's just a guy thing. You are young and there is no hurry to have everything at once so get started and enjoy yourself.
  9. n2extrm


    Feb 24, 2009
    I started because everytime I went to the range I would shoot a couple of hundred pistol rounds, and 40 or so rifle rounds. I needed to find away to save a buck. Once I started I found I could "build" a better round. I could have a plinking load, a target load, a match load and a hunting load. I could tune the round for the paticualr firearm and purpouse. I ended up shooting more, and I saved more doing it. I also had a hobbie tied to my main hobby that I can do when I can't shoot. To me it was an all win situation.

    I started with a Dillon 550. I felt it was a good rate per hour for the cost. It may not be in your budget, or the right pess for you but I love mine. It is simple fast and reliable, with a great warrenty and customer service. Watch the want adds or clasifieds here, used presses do come up. Remember shiping can be expensive on a press, they are heavy. Check the prices and shipping before you commit. Grafs and Brian Enos have the presses and shipping is cheap to free. Start with one caliber and add as you grow. Also check out the sticky colorado4wheel has at the top. He really did alot of work to help you pick a press, explains alot about them.
  10. polizei1

    polizei1 It WAS Quack

    Feb 3, 2009
    Cincinnati, OH
    Thank you everyone for all the comments, they are well appreciated! I would like to say that I'm not exactly concerned with the initial costs as much as I might have accidentally made it sound like in my post.

    It's my fault, but I should have explained that I tend to get into hobbies, and most (actually I think ALL) have been quite expensive. That said, I don't like cheap things, and I typically don't like the basics. Now, I understand starting small is a good thing, especially in a new hobby. My main concern is this: from watching various videos and whatnot, I feel that the Hornady LnL AP would be the best choice. The main reason for that is it has the 5 stations, which I feel would greatly reduce my frustration! I've watched videos of single station presses, and the Dillon 550, and I honestly think that would frustrate me to the point of throwing various things. lol.

    I love the idea of the Hornady because it auto-loads the casings, seems like quite an easy setup, and I also like the powder-check device. And I like how I would only have to put the bullet on the casing!

    I appreciate all the comments, and hopefully if I decide to do all this, I'll start and let everyone know how things went. I'll be on the lookout for some used items. Is there anything specific I should avoid?

    Now, does anyone recommend starting soon, even though I have ~6months until I turn 21? I figure that would give me plenty of time to get the basics down and get some ammo ready for when I can purchase my first gun. Now I'll have to do some testing as I don't know exactly what to get! I'm thinking a G19 or H&K P2000sk .40S&W...hrmm. I guess my hand will be the judge of that!

    Any other comments would be appreciated. I hope this thread isn't just another noobfest. I hope I had some well warranted questions.

    Edit* Also, like I said earlier, I would probably start at ~200rds/month, but if I get my buddy involved (he has a piston-AR and a M1A, but no pistols), I would hope to shoot quite a bit more. He wants to start shooting competition with me as well, both being in the Marine Corps, we naturally are very competitive and love shooting! However, I just haven't been able to do much because of being underage. There's only 2 other people in my family that shoot, and they don't shoot regularly at all.

    Last edited: Jan 21, 2010
  11. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO
    Hello Cody, and welcome to our little band of misfits:

    Turning 21, huh... when I was 21 I'd already been loading for 7 years so the excitement for me was knowing that I'd no longer have to stand in front of a liquor store and beg someone to buy me a six-pack. Now to avoid the embarrassment I stand in front of Safeway and beg someone to go in and buy me a box of Depends.

    Contrary to what IndyGunFreak says, I do not reload to get away from all of my ex-wives... I have all of the ex-wives because I reload.

    The previous posts all contain excellent information that will hopefully make your upcoming decision both easier and more educated.

    Perhaps the one area of reloading that hasn't been covered is the intangible... the knowledge gained of how things happen and why they happen when you pull the trigger.

    To most people, shooters included, 'twist' is a dance that was popular in the '60's. To a loader it is an essential part of the equation when predicting how a given weight projectile will perform at a given distance. Loaders use that knowledge to their advantage... shooters hope for the best... anti-gunners sit home and eat tofu.

    Unlike other sports where the body succumbs to the rigors of physical abuse, or the ravages of tasty pastries, loading can be enjoyed well after erotic fantasies have been replaced by reruns on HBO. Bob2223 and Cobra64 are classic examples of octogenarians still enjoying the thrill of loading.

    Will you save money, probably not... you'll just shoot a lot more for the same money you would have spent anyway. Will there be a net gain... definitely so. You'll develop a keener knowledge and greater appreciation for the art of arms but more importantly, have the privilege of being part of a great camaraderie.

    Again, welcome.


    (This message has been brought to you by Hornady, maker of the Lock N Load... the preferred loading press of the Big Boys the world over.)
  12. Colorado4Wheel


    Nov 2, 2006
    Sorry. I am going to try and be nice about this, but choosing a LnL over a Dillon to "reduce your frustration" is just funny. :rofl: Dillon is just about the most reliable, simplies to use presses made. Hornady, if people are honest, is a great press but will require just a little more fiddle time to set up and learn then a Dillon. Not bashing, but you see it all the time on this forum. Instructions are not as good for starters. Press is a little more complicated in some ways as well. It's not like you can't learn the thing. It's a fractional difference but a difference none the less. The 550 has almost NOTHING to adjust. It's so simple. Thats it's role in life. Autoindexing progressives are more complicated by design. It's really not that complicated. What a 5 station press has to do with reduced frustration is WAY beyond me. That just makes zero sence.

    For some reason just from the title I knew I shouldn't open this thread. Now I am going to get sucked into a debate just defending my above post. After I said just a second ago I was trying to be nice as well.
  13. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Loading on a 550B & playing w/ my buddie's LNL & another guys 650, the 550B is pretty user friendly. The more the machine does on it's own, the more likely you are to have a problem (like messed up case or upside down primer). The LNL works great, but at least for my friend, did not run well out of the box & required tinkering to get it right. The case feeder still drives him nuts from time to time. I can load 450-500rds in an hour of straight reloading on the 550B w/ no case feeder. I honestly can't see needing more than that or I would have traded one of them off & gotten a 650 along time ago.
  14. Shooters reload for a variety of reasons, including all of the ones you listed. For me, I got into it when ammo was really scarce a little while ago. I like to shoot a lot of rounds and saw the need for being able to produce some ammo myself; availability. I also could not see myself being able to sustain my habit by paying the prices for factory ammo at the rate I was shooting. I invested in a press and have not looked back.

    For me, I can load pistol calibers for about half the cost of factory ammo at Walmart; that is, if I reuse my old brass cases and don't have to buy them from another source. Now that I've been into it longer, I am starting to get a feel for modifying my loads to get something I like that shoots great out of my guns. Overall, I definitely recommend reloading for any hobby shooter. There are a lot of reasons to get into it but availability is at the top of the list for me. It is also quite therapeutic at times...but that could also be because I use a Dillon. :supergrin:
  15. Hydraulicman


    May 21, 2007
    The Lee turret is a great press. But I don't imagine it meters W296 very well. My dillon cant do very well with w296. I bet the LNL has no problem with it.
  16. BK63


    Sep 15, 2005
    Just remember that the more "auto" a press is the more complicated it can be. Auto indexing, auto case feed. I also have a 550. I put an empty case on stage 1 and a bullet on stage 3 and crank the handle, then I index the whole thing with a flip of my thumb and repeat. It doesn't get much easier than that. In my opinion any more auto than that is more than I need. In fact I have two 550's. I sat at one last night and loaded a box of 45's in 10 minutes, then went to the other and loaded a box of 38 special cast and I'm set for the range on Saturday morning. In less than a half hour I have what I'm going to shoot in an hour plus at the range Saturday. Of course when I'm done with that I have to pull out the 22 and do some plinking with that as well. Since it takes time to aquire this stuff, get started now.
  17. Bob2223

    Bob2223 Jack's buddy!

    Mar 26, 2009
    Spencer Indiana
    Welcome to the forum Cody!
    I got in to reloading for most of the reasons mentioned above.
    The main reason for me was the $ saved per round regardless of caliber but I also just enjoy it. If you do really get in to it and enjoy it as much as some of the addicts here you will pay off your equipment quicker then you think.
    I'm betting once you start reloading you will shoot more then 200 rounds a month. Then later on after you got the basics down you might be interested in casting your own bullets, to save even more $.
    Which press ? this question always starts a big debate, so I'll just say I agree with your 1st choice. :thumbsup:

  18. ChaneyD


    Mar 20, 2003
    I have a loading calculator that gives the cost of batch, each, 50, or 100. Input the cost of the components and it spits out the cost. 6.96 for 50 rounds of lead. Caliber doesn't matter for the cost of lead. All the same unless you're loading 250gr .45 Colt. I got this calculator which is in Excel somewhere on the internet for free. Quite handy. Prints labels, figures out the total cost of your reloading machine and how long it would take you to pay for it by reloading.
  19. ChaneyD


    Mar 20, 2003
    Colorado4Wheel I've got your back.

    Love my 550 and have tried several others in the past. Ditto on the tinkering. Pain the A**. Bought my Dillon and had it up and running in 45 min. Got concerned after loading a box of shells that NO tinkering was required. Got nervous over that. Oh well, years later still no tinkering. Guess that'swhat it's all about. You get what you pay for.
  20. unclebob


    Oct 14, 2000
    Mary Esther FL
    Also look at the Dillon 650. If you want to compare presses compare the LNL with the 650 and not the 550. I had a 550 and sold it and bought the 650 and have never looked back.
    Too save money like what has been already said you need too buy in bulk. Also look at either plain lead bullets or copper plated. I think the last order we did my finial cost was $68.00 a thousand delivered. Of 135gr. X-treme copper plated bullets.
    Welcome too the world of reloading.:welcome: