With the current cost of ammunition, many shooters are investigating hand loading to save money. But there is a problem with that: While it is true that reloaded ammunition may cost less than factory ammunition, the notion that you will save money is about as false as it is true. If money is the only reason you are considering recharging, you may want to rethink.
When I started reloading decades ago, factory ammunition was not very good, and there were not many bullet alternatives. But there are much less problems today. Modern ammunition is much better, and – provided you can find it on the shelves – there are many more bullet options. So is it worth everything? Let’s take a closer look.
How much money does hand charging actually save?
Right now, 1,000 cartridges of cheap 9mm FMJ ammunition will cost you about 36 cents per shot. It will be $ 360 for the party. Assuming you already have a 1,000 9mm case, the rest of the components – bullets, powders and primers – will recharge that many rounds will cost you around $ 295. That means you save about $ 65. Speaking of rifle cartridges, the components are a little more expensive, but you can also save a little more. If you already have the brass to recharge 1000 cartridges of .223 Remington FMJ ammunition, the rest will cost you around $ 320. Compared to the cheapest factory ammunition, you save about $ 180.
That said, you will also need to spend money on reloading ammunition. A good progressive press gives you at least $ 500. A single-stage press is much cheaper; RCBS Partner Press, for example, costs only $ 127. Either way, you will need some additional tools and can expect to pay as much as $ 200 for them. If you’re going one step further, a press that comes in a kit is your best bet, but you’re still looking for at least $ 250 for a minimalist set.
In addition to the tools, you will need time. My time is the most valuable I have, but only you can value yours. So let’s look at how much time it will take. With practice, you can crank out about 300 revolutions per hour on a progressive press. If you use a one-step press, and are very effectively you can charge as many as 100 shots per hour. This means that it will take between four and 10 hours to charge a thousand rounds. And this does not take into account the extra time required to develop and test the load you want to manufacture in bulk.
Given these numbers, and with an average saving of about $ 120 per thousand rounds, if you go the one-way route, you have to charge about 3,000 rounds to get even on the components plus the cost of the tools. If you work with a progressive press, you will need to produce about 7,000 rounds to do the same. However, over the course of a year, you have to shoot between 250 and 500 shots per month to use your investment. And remember that these numbers only apply if you already have the empty boxes. If you do not, brass will cost you between 10 and 20 cents apiece, adding an additional $ 100 to $ 200 to every thousand rounds, which could completely offset your savings. (Financially, by the way, it is better to buy ammunition and use the fired brass.)
To reduce costs, you can look for used transhipment equipment. Transhipment tools do not hold their value as well as firearms; often you can find great deals. I have known more than several shooters who have received a truck with reloading equipment from people who just wanted their ex-husband’s shit out of the house. You can also collaborate with a friend and split the cost of tools and even components.
But we still have not counted your time. With a one-step press, it takes you about 10 hours to save these $ 120; so for $ 12 an hour you have to ask yourself if you are saving money there or losing it based on how you value your time. With progressive pressure, it’s more like $ 30 an hour.
Reasons for hand load that can not be measured
The bottom line is that if you have to buy brass and you put a significant amount of value on your time, there is a good chance that you will actually lose money by recharging by hand. And even in the best of circumstances, you will not save much. But that does not mean you should not do it. I still do – because as with most things that have to do with shooting, it’s not just about money. Reloading takes time, but most of us find the process fun. There is a lot of satisfaction in creating reliable and accurate ammunition. It’s also a great way to make the most of days with bad weather, and some find it an escape from everyday life and even a stress reliever. It is difficult to value it. Let me give you a perfect example: My wife and children are planning a trip to Universal Studios, and I was given the opportunity to go or not. I followed the latter, because I would rather stay at home and load ammunition.
In addition, shooters are becoming more and more obsessed with performance, and although today’s ammunition is so good that you can almost certainly find a factory charge that performs well in your weapon, you can most likely come up with a hand charge that performs even better. And that’s something most of us want spend money on. Just be prepared for the addiction that can come with calling in the perfect round. Many of the reloaders I know have several presses, a wide range of tools and even a room dedicated to the art of making ammunition. What can start as a way to save money can become a way of life.