So, you are considering starting to reload your own ammunition. Or maybe you have already been reloading ammunition and you must to justify your interest in ammunition reloading to someone else. In either case, you have come to the right page.
Why Reload Ammunition?
Ammunition prices have risen drastically over the past three years. For example, a 50-round box of factory .45 ACP ammunition costs $23 or so. That is 46 cents per shot. If you can find it, a 20-round box of factory .223 Remington ammunition costs about $12. Sixty cents per shot. And .30-06 Springfield ammunition - at $25 for a 20-round box of factory ammunition, .30-06 Springfield ammunition costs $1.25 per shot. Whatever you shoot, you have probably had to cut back on how much you shoot. You would like to shoot as much as you ever did. Heck, you would like to shoot more than you ever did. But you just cannot afford to. Or can you? Reloading your ammunition may be a way to help you shoot now as much as you used to shoot. Maybe more than ever.
You may not be aware of it, but the cartridge case - the only reusable component of a round of ammunition - is the most expensive component. Depending on what caliber you shoot, the case could be more than 58% of the cost of a round. You cannot reuse the bullet, the powder, or the primer. But you can reuse the case. As many as ten times. If you have been throwing away your cases - if you have not been reloading ammunition - you have been throwing away money. Think about it. You could cut your cost of ammunition by more than half by reloading! Or you could shoot twice as much!
Let's look at an example. A 20-round box of factory loaded .308 Winchester ammunition costs about $20. Since bullets and primers are sold in boxes of 100, we'll calculate how much it cost to load 100 rounds of .308 Winchester ammunition. One box of 100 count .308 diameter, 165 grain bullets costs about $28 or 28 cents per bullet. One box of 100 count standard large rifle primers costs $4 or 4 cents per primer. Smokeless powder is sold in one pound cans for about $22. Twenty-two dollars for just one pound of centerfire rifle smokeless powder? But wait. You can charge a lot of cartridge cases with one pound of smokeless powder. How many cases you can charge depends on the capacity of the case. You can charge about 175 .308 Winchester case with just one pound of smokeless powder. We will be loading 100 cases in this example. Although you must buy the whole pound, you will be using only $12.60 worth to load 100 rounds of .308 Winchester. Save the remainder of the pound for your next reloading session.
So, lets add this up. Twenty-eight dollars for 100 bullets, $4 for 100 primers, plus $12.60 worth of powder. The brass cases cost nothing because you will be reusing once-fired cases. That adds up to $44.60 to reload 100 rounds of .308 Winchester ammunition. If a 20-round box of factory loaded .308 Winchester ammunition costs $20, then 100 rounds of factory .308 Winchester ammunition will run you about $100. You could save $55.40 on 100 rounds of .308 Winchester ammunition by reloading. That also works out to a 55.4% savings. Just think; you could shoot more than twice as much for less! The tables below show how the savings of reloading ammunition can add up.
|Cost To Reload 100 Rounds Of Ammunition|
|.223 Remington||.308 Winchester||.30-06 Springfield||.300 Winchester Magnum||.45 ACP|
|Savings For 100 Rounds Of Reloaded Ammuntion|
|.223 Remington||.308 Winchester||.30-06 Springfield||.300 Winchester Magnum||.45 ACP|
You could save even more if you order reloading components in bulk. Primers can be purchased in 1000-count packages. Some bullets can be purchased in 250-count, 500-count, or 1000-count packages. Smokeless powders are available in up to 15 pound cans.
With all the money you will save, you may be able to assume other shooting activities. Perhaps one you have always wanted to pursue.
Ammunition Reloading Equipment
But what about reloading equipment? Yes, you will have to order reloading equipmentbefore you begin reloading ammunition. You will need a reloading manual, a reloading press, a set of reloading dies, a shellholder, a priming tool, a case tray, some case lubricant, a powder scale, and a powder funnel just to start. Each of these items can be ordered separately. However, you can save money by ordering an ammunition reloading starter kit.
Ammunition reloading starter kits are available from several reloading equipment manufacturers. Starter kits normally include all the equipment you will need to get started except a set of dies and a shellholder. Dies and shellholders are sold separately because the starter kit manufacturer does not know what ammunition you will be reloading. You will have to order the appropriate set of dies and shellholder separately for whatever ammunition you will be reloading. Some starter kits are more expensive than others. However, the more expensive kits include some extra items you will probably order later anyway. Regardless of which starter kit you order, you will pay less than you would by ordering each item separately! (Unfortunately, you cannot reload shotgun shells with the same equipment you reload handgun and rifle ammunition. Reloading shotgun shells requires different equipment.)
Recover Your Investment
Maybe you cannot justify investing in reloading equipment because you do not shoot much. Perhaps you have not been shooting as much as you would to like because ammunition is so expensive. You would shoot more if ammunition was less expensive. You know you want to shoot more. We all want to shoot more. If you took up reloading, you would have to shoot more to justify your investment in reloading equipment. Then you could justify your investment in reloading equipment because you shoot so much. You win either way!
Think of the price of reloading equipment as an investment. Your savings in ammunition costs will quickly pay for your reloading equipment if you keep reloading. The more you shoot, the faster you will recover your investment.
Consider the .308 Winchester example again. Let's say you invest $180 in an ammunition reloading starter kit, $30 in set of .308 Winchester reloading dies, and $5 for a shellholder. That is $215 for reloading equipment. How many rounds of .308 Winchester ammunition would you have to reload to recover your investment? At a savings of 55.4 cents per round, you would break even when you reload your 388th round of .308 Winchester ammunition. Any reloading in addition to the 388th round becomes a gain on your investment. You know you will eventually shoot more than 388 rounds.
What about .223 Remington ammunition for those who shoot an AR-15 or a Ruger® Mini-14? At a savings of 26.15 cents per round, they would break even at 823 rounds of .223 Remington ammunition. That may seem like a lot of ammunition. But it does not take long to shoot 823 rounds through a semi-automatic rifle - not long at all. AR-15 and Mini-14 owners who take up reloading have a reason to shoot at least 823 rounds - to recover their investment in reloading equipment.
Now that is a great way to not only justify reloading ammunition, but to justify shooting more as well. However, the less you shoot, the longer it will take to recover. So plan to shooting more - a lot more.
If you still do not shoot often, you will take longer to recover your investment. But take comfort in knowing your reloading equipment will last a lifetime.It will still be there when you need it. Then you can pass it on to the next generation.
|Rounds To Breakeven|
|.223 Remington||823 rounds|
|.308 Winchester||388 rounds|
|.30-06 Sprngfld||294 rounds|
|.300 Win Mag||189 rounds|
|.45 ACP||1054 rounds|
Recover Your Investment Even Faster
Reloading may seem even more attractive if you will be reloading ammunition for more than one gun. You will not have to order a new reloading press for each caliber you reload; just a new set of dies for each caliber and maybe a different shellholder. The thread size of all reloading dies is the same. So all reloading dies, no matter the caliber or brand, will fit whatever press you order. Similarly, any brand of shellholder will snap onto any brand of press. All the other equipment will support an array of different calibers. You may even be able use the same primers, powder, and bullets for more than one type of ammunition.
Certainly you will want to reload additional calibers after you really get into ammunition reloading. The more calibers you reload, the wider your investment in equipment will be distributed and the faster it will be recovered. For instance, suppose you decide to reload for all five calibers listed in the tables above. You would need one set of reloading dies for each of them. But you would only need three different shellholders (.308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, and .45 ACP cases all fit the same shellholder so you only have to order one shellholder of that size). At about $30 per set for five reloading die sets and $5 for each shellholder, it would cost you $345 for all the equipment to load five calibers. (That is $180 for a reloading starter kit plus $165 for dies and shellholders.) Yeah, that seems like a lot of money. But wait; since you have to order the reloading starter kit only once, now you only have to reload an average of 120 rounds of each of the five calibers to break even. That is a total of only 600 rounds to recover your investment in reloading equipment. The more calibers you reload, the faster you will recover your investment. You would only have to reload an average of about 89 rounds of each to break even if you reload ammunition for ten different calibers.
Oh, it gets even better. If you have more than one gun of the same chamber, you can use the same reloading die set and shellholder to reload ammunition for each of those guns. Suppose you have five guns that shoot four different cartridges (i.e. two of the five guns are chambered alike). You would only have to reload 545 rounds to recover. If you have ten guns chambered for eight different cartridges, you would only have to reload 78 rounds for each gun. Just think, you could recover your investment in reloading equipment before you shoot the equivalent of four 20-round boxes of factory loaded ammuniton. You know you will eventually shoot more than 78 rounds per gun. Plus, you will still have your equipment to reload more ammunition and save even more money.
So, the more ammunition you reload, the more money you save.
Other Reasons To Reload Ammunition
You may also be able to develop a more accurate load for your rifle than you get from factory ammunition. Who does not want a more accurate ammunition? Imagine the thrill of shooting tighter shot groups with your rifle - using ammunition you reloaded yourself! Maybe your rifle will shoot best with a certain type of bullet that is not even available in factory ammunition. You won't know unless you reload your own ammunition.
You will learn what not to reload as well as what to reload by referring a reloading manual. In addition to reloading data for popular cartridges, reloading manuals include the history, fascinating information, and important details about specific calibers. As an added benefit, most ammunition reloading manuals include chapters pertaining to reloading safety, reloading components, interior ballistics, and exterior ballistics to help you choose the best bullets, primers, and powder for your ammunition. You will be more much knowledgeable about ammunition and ballistics than you were before you started reloading.
But we must warn you; reloading your own ammunition will take more time than simply buying it. However, ammunition reloading is a relaxing hobby. Some even say it is fun. So, if you are having fun, you will not mind the extra time anyway. Besides, time flies when you are having fun. And you could do your ammunition reloading during the off season, at night, or when the weather is bad. What better way to build anticipation for your next shooting range session or hunting trip?
So there you have it - save money, have fun, gain knowledge, and customize your ammunition. Reloading ammunition is easier to justify now than ever before. What are you waiting for? Take up ammunition reloading - and shoot more! You know you want to. Start saving those brass cases and get ready to do some reloading!
Bonus: More Reasons to Reload Ammunition
Reloaders can customize ammunition for a particular gun that is more accurate than factory ammunition. Although modern factory ammunition is good, it must fit a range of chamber and bore tolerances. Factory ammunition rarely fits a particular gun as well as a handloaded ammunition specially developed for that gun.
Some shooters want either more power, more efficiency, or more accuracy than they can get from any factory-chambered rifle. So they design a cartridge to their own specifications and have a rifle custom-made for the cartridge they originated. A custom-designed cartridge is called a "wildcat". Wildcat ammunition is not available from a factory. Therefore, wildcat ammunition must reloaded.
Factory loaded ammunition for rare or antique guns may not be available. Reloaded ammunition may be the only source of obsolete ammunition. Bullets, primers, and powder for obsolete ammunition may be readily available because those components are also used in modern ammunition - but not cases. Therefore, the cases must be reused.