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Thinking about starting to reload to save money, but...

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by NeverMore1701, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. NeverMore1701

    NeverMore1701 Fear no Evil Platinum Member

    Jun 25, 2004
    Amarillo, Tx
    Initial equipment costs, even for a basic setup, seem a bit steep. Is there anywhere that offers a package deal with everything you'd need to start out, or is it a matter of piecing everything together? Right now I mostly shoot (and would reload for) .380 and 9mm, and I'm just trying to see how long it would take for me to come out ahead reloading, as opposed to just buying WWB as I have been.
  2. dkf


    Aug 6, 2010

  3. IndyGunFreak


    Jan 26, 2001
    Pretty much. (If you get the Kempf kit, definitely get the pro auto disk)

    Read Colorado4Wheel's sticky in it's entirety, there's a LOT of good info in that thread, beyond just the first post.

    Only thing you absolutely need in addition to the above, is a set of dial calipers.. which can be had for $10-$14 at Harbor Freight. If you want you can forego a tumbler, media separator, etc.. which aren't really absolutely necessary. You can wash your brass in the sink, and let them air dry. As our favorite lunatic here says, they will not attract women of "ill repute".. but they'll work in your gun just fine.

    I don't load .380, but I load FMJ 9mm, for about $5.20 per 50. With factory prices hovering around $11-$12.... It doesn't take long to recoup that initial investment.
  4. All you need to know about reloading is contained here...
  5. Jon_R


    May 3, 2009
    Central Florida
    I like Dillon and this is a good source to get a package. That is the 550 but he has the other ones to.

    If you have the cash to get started it is likely if you decide it is not for you then you can sell it pretty easily without a lot of loss. They hold value pretty well. Payback depends how much you shoot. IMO it takes a lot if you want a progressive press but if you are shooting a lot a progressive (fast) press is warranted depending how much you value you time. With a 550 I can load 400-500 rounds in an hour once the machine is setup.
  6. IndyGunFreak


    Jan 26, 2001
    That's also all you need to know about detecting dementia in your grandparents..
  7. atakawow


    Jan 19, 2009
    Seattle, WA
    It is all about long term savings. Yes, for a $200 investment in reloading equipment, you could buy a case of factory ammo. But after that, then what?

    The biggest factor in cost is how cheaply you could purchase components. Plan it wisely and you can cut your ammo cost per 100 by as much as four times the price of factory, though half the cost of factory is usually the norm. Regardless, reloading will always be cheaper than factory bought.

    Again, it is about long term saving. The sooner you start, the sooner you start saving.
  8. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Read the sticky, get a copy of The ABCs of Reloading & read that, get a good reloading manual like the Lyman #49 & read that. Then you'll have a good understanding of the process. It always comes down to time vs money. The higher volume per hour, the more it will cost you in equip. if you have time, a single stageor Lee turret are an economical approach to reloading for many. If you have no time, then a progressive like the SDB, LNL or 550B is certainly worth the higher cost. You can reload 380 & 9mm for about the same cost, $10/100 w/ components bought in some kind of bulk. The only way you get under 50% of most factory ammo is to cast your own bullets. Exotics rounds like the 41mag, 10mm, even 357sig can be loaded for about 1/3 the cost of factory.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011
  9. F106 Fan

    F106 Fan

    Oct 19, 2011
    Figure that you can reload for 1/2 the Wally World price. Now all you need to do is multiply that savings times the number of boxes of ammo you shoot in whatever period of time you expect to recover your investment.

    If a Dillon 1050 (very high end) costs $1800 and you shoot 2000 rounds per month (say the Wally World cost is $300/1000 and you save $150/1000) then it is going to take 6 months to break even. But the 1050 doesn't lend itself to easy caliber conversion. At least not as easy as the 550B.

    For a Dillon 550B (recommended) and all the fixin's at $650 and shooting, say, 500 rounds per month, the savings would be $900/year so the press pays back in less than 9 months.

    So, even when you look at fairly high end presses, if you shoot enough, the price is irrelevant. Pick any factory ammo price you like if my Wally World estimate is wrong. I KNOW that .380 ammo at WW is very high priced but it's been a long time since I bought any 9mm.

    What's the difference between a 550B and a 1050? How long it takes to load 1000 rounds. I have 2 of the 550Bs and a 1050 in .45 ACP. Before the end of the year I will have another 1050 for 9mm. The 550B is too slow for my short attention span and I really don't enjoy reloading all that much. But I have loaded a whole lot of ammo on those two presses (one set for large primer and the other for small primer) and they have given remarkable service.

    Yes, I could get by without the 1050 and just load on the 550B's. But I don't want to!

    Like the others, I will suggest reading the 'stickies' at the top of this forum. And when you get to thinking about the cost of the various presses, think about how long it will take to load versus the time available to do it. I, too, started reloading on a single stage press. For about a week... Then I moved to a Ponsness-Warren MetalMatic and used that for a couple of years. But when I started shooting a LOT, I bought the 550Bs.

    Try to avoid the mistake of getting into reloading 'on the cheap'. Take a somewhat longer view and, remember, used Dillon presses go for 80-90% of the original cost. There's not a lot of downside in buying the press, shooting for a few years and then selling the press.

  10. The Lee Loader is the ticket to getting your CRB card quickest.
  11. dkf


    Aug 6, 2010
    I'm just getting into reloading so I don't have a tumbler.(yet) I have been washing my brass in a bucket with some Dawn "Power Clean" (strongest stuff they offer) dish soap with some vinegar added to it. After soaking for a while rinse the brass off and lay them out on a towel to dry. Not the fastest but its cheap and gets the brass pretty clean and shiny.

    I just picked up a .380 last month that I'm going to load for. I've found that cast bullets are in the $50-$60 per 1000. For my .357sig Glocks I stick to jacketed bullets.
  12. Colorado4Wheel


    Nov 2, 2006
    Wise Words.

    I have owned every press in the sticky I wrote a while back (some of them twice:faint:). I would have saved a lot of frustration and $ if I had just got the 650 from the start. Not saying everyone should get a 650. Not at all. My first press was a LCT. It was a great press to learn on. I don't regret it at all. My second and forth presses where mistakes. Once I had the LCT I knew I needed more speed for one primary caliber. I should have bit the bullet and bought a 650 with a roller handle way back then. Instead I fiddled around with a 550 and LnL till I finally just said "screw it, I'm getting a 650" (and bought another LCT). With out a doubt, just like in race cars, speed is money. So if you want speed spend the money once. If your happy with 100 rds in 30 mins get a LCT to learn on. If your happy with 400 rds a hour you can do with out a casefeeder and be very happy. If you want over 400rds a hour might as well just spend the money and be done with it. It only hurts for a short period of time.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011
  13. TexasFats

    TexasFats NRA, TSRA, SAF

    Sep 14, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Reloading will not save you any money--you'll just shoot more.
  14. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO


    OP, loading equipment is like wives, you're going to upgrade every few years anyway so it doesn't matter what you begin with... you're just lookin' to start having fun.

    Fine, fine, I look at this stuff different than you guys... sue me.

  15. MisterLady27


    Oct 25, 2006
    w/ Lady 27
    Howdy All,

    1. I'm with TexasFats - no money saved here.

    2. But ---- More shooting = more fun!! "And fun is fun, but you got to know how." :cool:

  16. ursoboostd


    Jun 30, 2009
    Florence, Ky
    :rofl: I laughed pretty hard.
  17. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    Jack is right, even if it has been many summers since he was able to converse with someone on a reading level higher than a NASCAR fan.

    Just get a cheap single stage and a set of Lee dies with the dipper and you'll be making ammo an hour after you sign for the box. You don't need calipers and you don't need a tumbler. You do need one good reloading book. Beware of people trying to save you money by telling you "it's only $500.00".
  18. TN.Frank

    TN.Frank Glock4Life

    Oct 11, 2004
    Avondale, AZ.
    Hit one of the Local Sales Network sites and look for used equipment. Reloading equipment normally sells for cheap so you can stretch your dollar a bit.
    Once you get the basic stuff it doesn't cost much to add a caliber to your equipment. Just be sure to get a decent press, none of these Lee aluminum/pot metal presses, spend a few bucks on a good RCBS, Lyman or Hornady press, you can thank me later.
    Dies are fine in the Lee brand and you'll get a shell holder and powder dipper to boot.
    Get a decent scale, RCBS 5-0-5 works nice and get some good calipers too. I like dial calipers since I've worked as a machinist and know how to read em' AND batteries do die when you need them the most so I simply avoid anything that needs a battery.
    A decent powder measure like the Lee Perfect Powder measure will make life a lot easier. I loaded for years measuring out charges on my 505 but it was pure heaven once I got a powder measure to throw the charge. Made things to a lot faster.
    Other then that bullets, primers and powder are the only things you'll need to start loading and once you've loaded up a few boxes the savings will more then pay for the equipment that you've bought.

    Next thing you'll want to look into is bullet casting equipment since the bullet is the most expensive component out of the three expendables that you'll use. Then you can load up a 50 round box of handgun ammo for about $3 bucks using home cast bullets.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 29, 2011
  19. michael e

    michael e

    Nov 20, 2010
    Have a lee , was around 150 for set up with 1 caliber, about 50 for each added caliber. It pays for its self in short amount of time. I have been using the same set up for over 10years, up to several calibers now, but started with 45, 9mm.
  20. TN.Frank

    TN.Frank Glock4Life

    Oct 11, 2004
    Avondale, AZ.
    Ok, going to add this after reading a couple of the replies here. You CAN get by with minimum equipment if you just want to get your feet wet and give reloading a try. Here's what you'll absolutely need.

    1) Good quality "O" ring style press(RCBS Partner Press will work fine long as you're not loading a bunch of magnum rifle ctgs.)
    2) Dies(Lee comes with a shell holder, dipper and loading data)
    3) Shell Holder for the ctg. you'll be loading if you don't buy Lee dies(see above)
    4) Calipers(I know some of ya'll don't think they're needed but it really is nice to be able to measure OAL.)
    5) Lee Powder Dipper set.(let's you have more choices in loads)
    6) Loading book(2 is better then one and 3 is better then two, you can never have too many. I recommend the Lee book for your 1st one.)

    With this you can start loading ammo that'll be decent enough. If you want to load something other then the powder charges that the dippers will throw then you'll need a Scale and a Powder Measure but if you can live with the powder charges that the dippers throw then you'll be fine.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 29, 2011