Reloading for Cheap

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Reloading for Cheap

Postby Wrangler_dave9 » Sat 08 Feb 2014 11:07 am

I am looking to get into reloading for fairly little expense. I know this is an area where "you get what you pay for" applies, so I don't want to skimp on quality too much. Unfortunately, money is somewhat scarce as I'm trying to pay for school. Because of this, I don't get to shoot nearly as much as I want to do to cost of ammo.

It's likely I will just have to buy pieces of reloading equipment when I get the funds and wait until I have acquired all the necessary equipment to start. I think I could be in that position within a year.

At this point I would only be doing .40, maybe 300-500 rds/month. My wife is still shopping for her gun, but it will most likely be a 9mm. Later on, I will probably do .223/5.56 as an AR is definitely on my list.

So what are the absolute basics that I need to start? I already I have plenty of once fired brass that needs to be cleaned and de-primed. I have no problem with switching dies to change calibers if that will help with keep the cost of the press down. I could also use advice of good brands of bullets, primers, and powders to use.


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Re: Reloading for Cheap

Postby manithree » Sat 08 Feb 2014 12:24 pm

Well, it's hard to beat a Lee Classic Turret for value, especially where you want to load for handguns. You can use it as a single stage while you're learning and setting up, then drop in the indexer and ramp up production speed once you're comfortable.

Caliber changes are fast and easy with extra $11 turrets. I also recommend the $15 upgrade to the pro auto disk if you can afford it.

I bought my kit at Kempf Gun Shop and they have great prices and great service.

What that kit doesn't include for handgun reloading is a manual or 3 (required), a digital scale (optional), tumbler and media (optional, but really nice), bullet puller (optional, maybe?), bench and mount, supplies (powder, brass, primers, projectiles), and anything else I'm forgetting.

Rifle reloading requires even more brass prep tools and supplies.
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Re: Reloading for Cheap

Postby Wrangler_dave9 » Sat 08 Feb 2014 12:54 pm

What reloading manuals are recommended?


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Re: Reloading for Cheap

Postby Sam Fidler » Sat 08 Feb 2014 5:17 pm

Any of the major manuals would be sufficient. The critical information is in the early chapters which explain much of the process and hazards. I would recommend only buying one since each of the major powder manufacturers offer their data for free online. I almost never crack open the one I have any more.

Bullets vary greatly in price. If you want cheap you can always buy lead but that comes with lead fouling. Plated bullets don't cost much more and eliminate the lead handling problems but don't offer much protection from the fouling.

I have not noticed any significant difference in primers. They may make some difference in long range rifles but they all ignite reliably or they wouldn't be in business. Price and availability should be your primary concerns.

It's essential that you understand the intended purpose for any powders you use. Most are highly specialized and something designed for 45 Colt can cause problems in a 45 ACP. Powders that work well in most auto loaders include Win 231, Hodgdon HP38, and Ramshot Silhouette. Just read the manufacturers description and it will tell you it's intended purpose. In today's environment, availability is likely your only concern. I don't know anyone who is consistently using their favorite powder right now.

When I got into reloading I learned that everyone who was serous about it first bought a single stage but eventually purchased a Dillon. Since price wasn't much of an issue at the time, I skipped the initial purchase and bought a Dillon 550. There's noting you can do with a single stage that can't be done on a progressive and it's a whole lot easier to do on a progressive. The learning curve may be a little steeper but it's well worth it. In the end, buy what you can afford.

At any rate, welcome to the club. Most of us are still undecided whether we reload so we can shoot or shoot so we can reload. I enjoyed it so much that I got my Class 6 FFL and started a business making ammo. That introduces my final point. If you can't afford much now then just bring me the brass and I can reload it for you for 26 cents per round (.40 S&W price with 300 round minimum).
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Re: Reloading for Cheap

Postby Durdenz » Sat 08 Feb 2014 9:28 pm

How much does it cost per round to reload, say reloading .223? Is the savings significant enough to justify getting into it? Also are supplies readily available within the current market?
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Re: Reloading for Cheap

Postby manithree » Sat 08 Feb 2014 10:33 pm

Wrangler_dave9 wrote:What reloading manuals are recommended?


A lot of people like The ABC's of Reloading. It doesn't have load data, but I checked it out at the library and read it a couple of times before I bought anything.

Two reloading manuals that have good educational prose and more load data for hard cast lead bullets are the Lee and Lyman manuals. Since lead bullets are the least expensive, that was handy for me.
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Re: Reloading for Cheap

Postby FrankenHollow » Sat 08 Feb 2014 10:55 pm

:lol3:
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Re: Reloading for Cheap

Postby D-FIN » Sun 09 Feb 2014 12:37 am

I have started with just the lee handpress. Very cheap and portable. Use in front of the tv. I will eventually get a progressive. Probably a Dillon but for now I work with this. Wife got most of the stuff for me at Christmas.
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Re: Reloading for Cheap

Postby manithree » Sun 09 Feb 2014 8:38 am

FrankenHollow wrote:Fair warning about the Lee manual.... Richard Lee is pretty [auto-filtered] proud of his tools, and takes any and every advantage he has to A) plug his products, and B) attempt to put down all of the competitors' products ... even if his claims are blatantly false. Use the Lee manual as a basic reference, and an outline of the fundementals; but don't get too caught up in what tools R. Lee is telling you to buy.


I own and like the Lee manual, but I can't disagree with that. Sometimes he is right about his competitors, but, yeah, take his pride in his products with a grain of salt. And it does have a lot of good load info.
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Re: Reloading for Cheap

Postby Car Knocker » Sun 09 Feb 2014 9:30 am

Durdenz wrote:How much does it cost per round to reload, say reloading .223? Is the savings significant enough to justify getting into it? Also are supplies readily available within the current market?


It depends. If you go to the most expensive gun shop in town, buy 1 pound of powder, a box of 100 bullets and 100 primers it will cost much more per round than if you go through, say, Powder Valley and buy 25 pounds of powder, 10,000 bullets and 10,000 primers. Quantity purchasing can really make a difference in reloading as can the quality of the components you choose.

More importantly to me, the ability to tweak a load to wring the maximum performance and accuracy from my rifles and handguns is more important than the actual cost per round. Most reviews of handguns and rifles have an accuracy component where the gun is tested with various commercial ammunition and there's a fairly wide spread of velocities and group sizes. Handloading allows you to develop the optimum load rather than relying on what's available over the counter.

Consistent technique and attention to detail are necessary for both safety and consistent accuracy. Lack of attention or loss of focus can result in serious injury. Reloading and multi-tasking are not mutually compatible.
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Re: Reloading for Cheap

Postby manithree » Sun 09 Feb 2014 4:23 pm

Durdenz wrote:How much does it cost per round to reload, say reloading .223? Is the savings significant enough to justify getting into it? Also are supplies readily available within the current market?


A lot of people like to point out that if you count the cost of your time at any reasonable hourly rate, then it takes a really long time (maybe never) to balance the cost equation.

But there are other advantages. My reloading time is quality time with my son, so I don't put a cost on it.

Plus, his plinker for the past year has been a sporterized M1917. With surplus 7.62 bullets, we can load light .30-06 cheaper than we can buy new .22lr. If we didn't reload, we wouldn't have had nearly as much range time in 2013.

Another reason I don't add my hourly rate into the cost is that I enjoy reloading.
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Re: Reloading for Cheap

Postby D-FIN » Sun 09 Feb 2014 4:58 pm

I agree with you on time. If you don't have the time or want to take the time for reloading then you are better off buying factory ammo. I don't reload a lot yet but I really don't mind the time I spend on it when I do. Because of that I don't put a price on it. I usually reload while getting caught up on my TV shows.
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Re: Reloading for Cheap

Postby rpyne » Mon 10 Feb 2014 9:42 pm

I am in the group that finds almost as much enjoyment in reloading as shooting. Through reloading and studying the effects of variations in loads, I have also learned a lot about how my firearms function and what factors affect their accuracy.

By buying components in as large of quantities you can afford and watching for sales and good deals, you can reduce the cost significantly. Most ammo components store very well, for example, I am still using some primers that I have had for more than 20 years and have no failures. I paid $30/case (5000) back then, I wish now that I had bought more than I did.
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Re: Reloading for Cheap

Postby Potatohd » Tue 11 Feb 2014 3:21 pm

Durdenz wrote:How much does it cost per round to reload, say reloading .223? Is the savings significant enough to justify getting into it? Also are supplies readily available within the current market?


I load a lot of .223 and do it in 2 separate lots. The highest quantity lot that I make is my "everybody else's ammo" that I try and remanufacture for as cheap as possible. This is the ammo that I take and use when I go on big group activities with a lot of people that I know will want to shoot my AR, and I am going to be the only one supplying the ammo for all of their shooting. Currently, my cheapest rounds are at 13.5 cents a piece (includes bullet, primer, and powder).

The other lot is my "highest accuracy" lot, which are definitely more expensive and tailored just for my gun. These are the rounds that I am currently shooting at 500+ yards with out of the AR. So, it really depends on what you are reloading for, but it definitely makes shooting with other people cheaper! :D
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Re: Reloading for Cheap

Postby Durdenz » Tue 11 Feb 2014 9:56 pm

Potatohd wrote:
Durdenz wrote:How much does it cost per round to reload, say reloading .223? Is the savings significant enough to justify getting into it? Also are supplies readily available within the current market?


I load a lot of .223 and do it in 2 separate lots. The highest quantity lot that I make is my "everybody else's ammo" that I try and remanufacture for as cheap as possible. This is the ammo that I take and use when I go on big group activities with a lot of people that I know will want to shoot my AR, and I am going to be the only one supplying the ammo for all of their shooting. Currently, my cheapest rounds are at 13.5 cents a piece (includes bullet, primer, and powder).

The other lot is my "highest accuracy" lot, which are definitely more expensive and tailored just for my gun. These are the rounds that I am currently shooting at 500+ yards with out of the AR. So, it really depends on what you are reloading for, but it definitely makes shooting with other people cheaper! :D


Thanks for the info. That's just what I needed to hear. Right now the cheapest non-steel I can find in .223 is about .30-.40 cents a round. Tax returns are in and I'm thinking of going in on a progressive loader with some other family members. We've been saving and cleaning brass for years for when we finally do get into it. I think it's about time to start.

Looking into the Dillion 650 progressive for really cranking out rounds. Maybe a single stage for really taking the time to tailor a round for my long range rifles. .300 win mag and eventually .308 as im going to build a .308 AR variant next.
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