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Old 03-16-2009, 12:31 PM   #1
Aurelius OP
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Economics of reloading ammo(e)

The topic of reloading has surfaced in several gun threads, so I thought it might be of interest to see how the economics pencil out. I did these calculations some 30 years ago when I got involved in reloading, and the savings were substantial even then. Below are two cartridges I shoot quite often, broken down by component. The .223 once-fired cases I buy locally, as well as primers and powder. Prices for a box of cartridges, bullets, and .44 Magnum brass were all taken from MidwayUSA's website. The cost per case is based on a conservative estimate of 10 reloads before the cases show signs of splitting at the neck. I'm told that annealing the case necks will increase their lifespan, but I haven't attempted it.

.223 Remington

Cases: 1 cent per case.
Bullet: (55 grain bulk bullets) = 10 cents.
Primers: ($27/1000) = 3 cents.
Powder: (25 gr. of Win. 748) 8 cents.
Total per: cartridge = 22 cents

1 Box of 20 .223 Winchester = $26/40 = 65 cents a piece.

Total savings for 1000 rounds (43 cents X 1000) = $430.00

---------------------------------------------------------------

.44 Magnum

Cases: 2 cents per case.
Bullet (240 grain jacketed bulk bullets) = 19 cents.
Primers ($27/1000) = 3 cents.
Powder (9 gr. of Bulleye) 1.5 cents.
Total per cartridge = 25.5 cents

1 box of .44 Magnum cartridges = $18/20 = 90 cents a piece.

Total savings for 1000 rounds (64.5 cents X 1000) = $645.00*

* Note that I prefer reduced loads of 9 grains of Bullseye, rather than duplicating factory loads. This not only saves more money in the long run, but makes my Super Blackhawk tame enough to fire many rounds in rapid succession without the punishing recoil of factory loads.

---------------------------------------------------------------

If anyone else has run the numbers and would like to share the results, by all means do.
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Dizave opined: Why do you care where the premises come from? They are above reproach. For all intents and purposes, you can just make up all your premises, since they can't be proven anyway. That's why we need premises.

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Old 03-16-2009, 01:27 PM   #2
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Your loaded round prices are kind of inflated.

I always used 8-10 gr unique in a reduced 44 mag load with a cast bullet. Bullets used to sell for $10-12/500. Cast bullet handgun loads are where the real money is. The cases last forever. I would avoid bulleye in 44mag. I do use powders like bullseye in my 38/357 loads.

In normal times, rifles is not really worth reloading for loadings that are available as surplus. I don't think I have ever paid more than 20c for 223 ball ammo. You save a bunch if you are trying to replicate Fed. Gold medal loads with sierra bullets or something. I played a little with 80ga sierra in 223. I don't think you could buy that loading. I bought a bunch of black hills 223 reloads with the 68gr sierra that WERE very reasonable and accurate.

Shotgun is not worth loading for standard trap, skeet, sporting loads. Hasn't been for years. Even if your club is buying major qualities of components. Remington gun club(which are excellent shells available in tons of shot and powder loads) were as little as $3 in the last 5 years.
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Old 03-16-2009, 01:42 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UPSam
Your loaded round prices are kind of inflated.
I pulled these prices off MidwayUSA's website. Their prices are hard to beat, but there are considerable differences in the prices for a box of factory loaded ammo. For purposes of illustration, I selected a common brand like Winchester.

Quote:
I always used 8-10 gr unique in a reduced 44 mag load with a cast bullet. Bullets used to sell for $10-12/500. Cast bullet handgun loads are where the real money is. The cases last forever.
My bullet casting equipment just arrived last week, and I don't yet have any cost breakdown per bullet. If you use wheel weights, you can make them for next to nothing.

Quote:
I would avoid bulleye in 44mag. I do use powders like bullseye in my 38/357 loads.
I've used it in everything from .22 Hornet to 303 Enfield with good results. In NRA Hunter's Pistol and IHMSA Field Pistol classes, they recommend 8.5 grains of Bullseye with a 240 grain bullet.

Quote:
In normal times, rifles is not really worth reloading for loadings that are available as surplus. I don't think I have ever paid more than 20c for 223 ball ammo.
I've been looking for .223 ball ammo at local gun shows, but no one seems to have any. It would certainly save me a lot of trouble full length resizing all those cases for my AR-15.
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Old 03-16-2009, 01:49 PM   #4
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Shoot, the only .223 ammo I have ever seen that expensive for loaded factory ammo was Federal Gold Mdeal Match! I get 55gr relaods for like $239.00 per 1000.
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Old 03-16-2009, 02:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sniper X
Shoot, the only .223 ammo I have ever seen that expensive for loaded factory ammo was Federal Gold Mdeal Match! I get 55gr relaods for like $239.00 per 1000.
This looks like ordinary Winchester ammo, which MidwayUSA lists for $25.99 per box of 40: http://www.midwayusa.com/browse/Brow...4&brandId=1390

The premium Federal Gold Medal ammo lists on their website for $30.99 for a box of 20!
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Old 03-16-2009, 03:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sniper X
Shoot, the only .223 ammo I have ever seen that expensive for loaded factory ammo was Federal Gold Mdeal Match! I get 55gr relaods for like $239.00 per 1000.

Where? I'd love to get some decent 55gr .223 for that price!
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Old 03-16-2009, 03:08 PM   #7
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.40 SW winchester 165 gr are $30(incl tx)/100ct.

i don't think i can make an economic argument to buy a dillon xl 650.
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Old 03-16-2009, 04:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Usually Lost
Where? I'd love to get some decent 55gr .223 for that price!
I bought it twice at those prices when everybody had a ton but now....forget it! Glad I have a coul=ple K around....
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Old 03-16-2009, 02:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aurelius
I pulled these prices off MidwayUSA's website. Their prices are hard to beat, but there are considerable differences in the prices for a box of factory loaded ammo. For purposes of illustration, I selected a common brand like Winchester.



My bullet casting equipment just arrived last week, and I don't yet have any cost breakdown per bullet. If you use wheel weights, you can make them for next to nothing.



I've used it in everything from .22 Hornet to 303 Enfield with good results. In NRA Hunter's Pistol and IHMSA Field Pistol classes, they recommend 8.5 grains of Bullseye with a 240 grain bullet.



.
The current ammo prices are just nuts. Mail order prices on factory ammo are never very good.

I always bought cast bullets from gun show venders. Didn't seem worth the cost of equiptment and hastle to cast my own. I gave my black powder molds and pot away.

I don't like bullseye in large capacity cases because you can't see the level that easy when running a progressive loader. I don't seem to have my load books and notes anymore (I moved) but I am pretty sure a duplex load of unique over flows a 44 mag case or at least is right to the top. You do see a lot of blown up revolvers with bullseye. I am sure they were throwing duplex or worse loads. I always got better accuracy with unique but it is dirty as hell.
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Old 03-16-2009, 02:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UPSam
The current ammo prices are just nuts. Mail order prices on factory ammo are never very good.
I never bought any factory ammo for the .223. What was it commonly selling for prior to the recent price hikes?

Quote:
I always bought cast bullets from gun show venders. Didn't seem worth the cost of equiptment and hastle to cast my own. I gave my black powder molds and pot away.
The problem for me is that there's only one vendor at the local shows that sells cast bullets, and they specifically told me to keep velocities below 800 fps, because the lead alloy they use is too soft for anything else. That means I can't use them at the velocities I need for NRA silhouette matches.

Quote:
I don't like bullseye in large capacity cases because you can't see the level that easy when running a progressive loader. I don't seem to have my load books and notes anymore (I moved) but I am pretty sure a duplex load of unique over flows a 44 mag case or at least is right to the top. You do see a lot of blown up revolvers with bullseye. I am sure they were throwing duplex or worse loads. I always got better accuracy with unique but it is dirty as hell.
That can be a problem. I always check all my cases with a bore light prior to seating the bullets, but that won't work if you're using a progressive press.
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Dizave opined: Why do you care where the premises come from? They are above reproach. For all intents and purposes, you can just make up all your premises, since they can't be proven anyway. That's why we need premises.
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Old 03-16-2009, 02:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aurelius
I never bought any factory ammo for the .223. What was it commonly selling for prior to the recent price hikes?
For years you could get newly manufactured "military-style" stuff, 55gr FMJBT bullet, from Federal, PMC, and sometimes Winchester for around $5 for a box of 20. In the past two years that went up (at least around here) to $8-10 depending on make. Case lots of 1000 rounds of PMC were recently selling for between $375 and $399, but those supplies have dried up and now there is none available locally.
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Old 03-16-2009, 03:27 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aurelius

The problem for me is that there's only one vendor at the local shows that sells cast bullets, and they specifically told me to keep velocities below 800 fps, because the lead alloy they use is too soft for anything else. That means I can't use them at the velocities I need for NRA silhouette matches.


Is it possible the don't know what they are selling? Swagged lead bullets are soft as hell. I have never heard of anyone casting a bullet that can't go beyond 800 fps BUT you will see more leading the faster it goes. I was shooting 8-10 gr of Unique and 7 gr is almost 900 fps. Really no leading.

Casting might be a good idea if you are shooting high velocity competion. Long range. You could cast for rifle also. Sell your 223 and buy a 45-70 or some other buffalo gun.

Most surplus for 5.56 is good stuff. I used to buy that for -15-20c a round by the case. USA and the other 55gr cheap loads were about 20c too. Black Hills did have really good reloads with quality bullets for not much more. 500 rd cases in 50 rd boxes. I couldn't load much better on a single stage press
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Old 03-17-2009, 07:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aurelius
The topic of reloading has surfaced in several gun threads, so I thought it might be of interest to see how the economics pencil out. I did these calculations some 30 years ago when I got involved in reloading, and the savings were substantial even then. Below are two cartridges I shoot quite often, broken down by component. The .223 once-fired cases I buy locally, as well as primers and powder. Prices for a box of cartridges, bullets, and .44 Magnum brass were all taken from MidwayUSA's website. The cost per case is based on a conservative estimate of 10 reloads before the cases show signs of splitting at the neck. I'm told that annealing the case necks will increase their lifespan, but I haven't attempted it.

.223 Remington

Cases: 1 cent per case.
Bullet: (55 grain bulk bullets) = 10 cents.
Primers: ($27/1000) = 3 cents.
Powder: (25 gr. of Win. 748) 8 cents.
Total per: cartridge = 22 cents

1 Box of 20 .223 Winchester = $26/40 = 65 cents a piece.

Total savings for 1000 rounds (43 cents X 1000) = $430.00

---------------------------------------------------------------

.44 Magnum

Cases: 2 cents per case.
Bullet (240 grain jacketed bulk bullets) = 19 cents.
Primers ($27/1000) = 3 cents.
Powder (9 gr. of Bulleye) 1.5 cents.
Total per cartridge = 25.5 cents

1 box of .44 Magnum cartridges = $18/20 = 90 cents a piece.

Total savings for 1000 rounds (64.5 cents X 1000) = $645.00*

* Note that I prefer reduced loads of 9 grains of Bullseye, rather than duplicating factory loads. This not only saves more money in the long run, but makes my Super Blackhawk tame enough to fire many rounds in rapid succession without the punishing recoil of factory loads.

---------------------------------------------------------------

If anyone else has run the numbers and would like to share the results, by all means do.
Can you do the same analysis on .22?
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Old 03-17-2009, 08:33 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by koncha
Can you do the same analysis on .22?
Just get the cheap stuff. Or, if you want to hit something, get the medium stuff. Or if you want to be really precise, get the expensive shit. That's the word on .22.
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Old 03-17-2009, 09:09 PM   #15
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So I just took a shower, the only place I do any thinking.

If the purpose of this exercise is to provide anything remotely resembling a fair accounting of the cost of making ammo at home, it really needs to include the following:

* cost of labor (regardless of whether or not you're watching TV.)
* cost of goods
* capital costs (even 30 year old equipment cost something, or did you get it for free?)
* utilities (does the casting gadget use electricity? Gas?)
* facility (hard to figure, but it's costing you something to be where where you're casting and where you're storing all your equipment and goods.)
* insurance (if your home burns down, is all of your bullet making stuff covered by your insurance? If so, needs to be included. What if the casting machine burns down your home?)

I'm sure an accountant would come up with other stuff, but that seems like a lot that's not on your original list.

Of all of them, I suspect that cost of labor is the single most important. I would imagine that if you attached any kind of realistic cost to your labor (most especially if you attached a real value to the time of an architect), your ammo might become more expensive than the store bought stuff. I would think that those guys are heavily mechanized for this very reason. I would also imagine that your process is slow and time consuming relative to that of a bullet factory.

As I said, the above only matters if someone's trying to make a genuine comparison between the cost of a homemade bullet and the cost of a store bought bullet.

If it's for giggles, as Emily Litella would say... Never mind!
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