Economics of reloading ammo(e)

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by Aurelius, Mar 16, 2009.

  1. Aurelius

    Aurelius Long timer

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    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. :thumb
    #1
  2. UPSam

    UPSam All jacked up on Dew

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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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  3. Aurelius

    Aurelius Long timer

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    :dunno 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.

    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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  4. Sniper X

    Sniper X De Oppresso Liber

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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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  5. Aurelius

    Aurelius Long timer

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    This looks like ordinary Winchester ammo, which MidwayUSA lists for $25.99 per box of 40: http://www.midwayusa.com/browse/Bro...ick+to+begin+refined+search.y=14&brandId=1390

    The premium Federal Gold Medal ammo lists on their website for $30.99 for a box of 20! :eek1
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  6. UPSam

    UPSam All jacked up on Dew

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    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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  7. Aurelius

    Aurelius Long timer

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    I never bought any factory ammo for the .223. What was it commonly selling for prior to the recent price hikes?

    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.

    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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  8. HardCase

    HardCase winter is coming

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    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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  9. nevermind

    nevermind sLOW Rider

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    Where? I'd love to get some decent 55gr .223 for that price!
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  10. Misery Goat

    Misery Goat Positating the negative Super Moderator

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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. :cry
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  11. UPSam

    UPSam All jacked up on Dew

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    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.:dunno

    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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  12. Sniper X

    Sniper X De Oppresso Liber

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    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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  13. HardCase

    HardCase winter is coming

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    I just loaded 100 rounds of 308 yesterday. Here's the breakdown:

    Brass.....I have tons of it, so it was basically free.

    Bullet.....Sierra 168 Matchkings....box of 100 was $29, so .29.

    Primers.....just shy of $3 per 100, so .03

    Powder.....748, 45 grains per round, $22 per pound, roughly 150 rounds per pound, so .15 per round.

    Total cost per round......47 cents.

    New factory 308, when you can find it which is a problem right now, is minimum $16 per box, and ranges up to around $30, so a buck per shot is a good average. Reloading cuts that cost in half.

    I find that with some of the more oddball rounds like the belted magnums, or a handgun round like the 500 S&W, the savings can be considerably more than that.
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  14. Boston12GS

    Boston12GS Banned

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    When I used to shoot competitively, 10 years ago, my 45 ACP rounds could be reloaded for about 5 cents a round. At the time I was shooting about 10,000 rounds a year. My Dillon 650 paid for itself in short order.
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  15. Sniper X

    Sniper X De Oppresso Liber

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    PM me your address and Ill send you a box of Sierra Match Kings in 168gr BTHP free if you pay shipping....I have a box I am not going to use.
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  16. Bongolia

    Bongolia stop acting

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    wtf are you talking about?
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  17. Stiner

    Stiner Son of Dakardad

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    Dont forget the cost of entry, aka equipment. Also the time it takes you, opportunity cost. Some times it is cheaper just to buy the stuff. it all depends.
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  18. Aurelius

    Aurelius Long timer

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    At the last gun show I spoke with the guy that casts their bullets, and was told that they can no longer get the antimony needed for harder bullets at a reasonable price, so now all their bullets are geared toward Cowboy Action shooting. :dunno

    :nono The AR-15 is a keeper. Its my favorite all-purpose rifle, and there's nothing better during a zombie attack. The rifle I'm thinking of casting bullets for is my ancient Enfield 303. I tried it with reduced loads last weekend (9 grains of Bullseye), and it shot pretty accurately at 100 meters. Recoil was nearly non-existent. If I could bring the cost per round down, it would make a great plinker.

    For NRA pistol competition, I need velocities in the range of 1200-1800 fps. I've seen articles saying that cast bullets can work up to about 2000 fps without leading, but my experience with cast lead is limited to my 45 ACP (800 fps with my own loads).

    Any idea when prices might come back down? Local shooters tell me they can't even find .223 ammoe at stores these days, and MidwayUSA has them all on back order. :cry
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  19. Aurelius

    Aurelius Long timer

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    Buy a cheap Lee hand press for ~$17. Mine is thirty years old, and I still use it for most of my loading requirements. :thumb
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  20. Aurelius

    Aurelius Long timer

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    In all the cost calculations, the bullet seems to be the most expensive component by far. I'd be curious to know how much you would save by casting your own bullets from discarded wheelweights.
    #20