Reloading: To start or Not to start...

Discussion in 'Caliber Talk: Ammunition, Reloading, and Shooting ' started by Hatter, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. Hatter

    Hatter Makes **** Move

    Aug 23, 2011
    Background, I'm 27 and money isn't exactly sitting around waiting to be spent but I shoot a lot of both pistol and rifle. There is a lot of discussion regarding loads, how to, and setups but there isn't much discussion on starting to reload. I'm currently buying ammo in 1000 round lots at decent prices.

    I'm looking for some information on investment cost and sustaining cost for reloading. My uncle has a press for shot shells that he has never used. He's giving it to me so that its out of his basement. I just wonder if I'll ever start reloading and what the savings will be. I understand that reloading shot shells and cartridges are two different animals. I can only assume there is considerably more precision involved with cartridges.

    What I'd like is for information pertaining to cartridges. Can a single reloader be set up for different calibers? Can I reload pistol and rifle with a single setup? What is truly needed in addition to the reloader itself? Space? Components? Little things that make life easier? What would the investment be from starting with nothing to my first loaded round? What is the basic cost per round (9 mm, .40 or .45) for plinking ammo? I know that if needed I can create specific loads to make major or accuracy but I'm just looking to basic at this time.

    I know that the reloading bench picture thread that was just started will help answer a few of these questions. I also know that I could probably go online and buy a damn book that will tell me all of this. In that case recommend it, if you don't wan't to write your own. It seems there is a lot of knowledge needed to reload and I'm wondering if I should pursue it.

    Thanks for the help!!!
  2. buyobuyo

    buyobuyo Member

    Aug 25, 2011
    Whether or not reloading is worth it to you is a matter of personal opinion. Like anything else, it takes time, so you need to decide if it is worth your time. Also, you need to sure that you can dedicate the time and attention to it because a screw up has the potential to destroy your guns and injure/kill you.

    With that said, start up cost depends a lot on what your needs are which are determined by the volume that you shoot and the amount of time that you can dedicate to reloading. A single reloading setup will be able to handle both rifle and pistol reloading without any problems. There is only one machine that I can think of that is sized to only handle pistol rounds (the Dillion SDB).

    Like the saying goes, you have three option cheap/fast/good and you get to pick which two you want. Single stage presses are comparatively inexpensive and good, but they aren't fast. Progressive presses are good and fast, but they aren't cheap. Turrets presses fall in between. They're good, but not as cheap as a single stage and not as fast as a progressive.

    The major producers of reloading equipment (in no particular order) are:
    Lee Precision (
    RCBS (
    Dillion Precision (
    Redding (
    Forster (
    Lyman (
    Hornady (

    The basic list of equipment that you will need is:
    -Reloading Press
    -Die set (for each caliber)
    -Powder Measure
    -Powder Funnel
    -Powder Scale
    -Trimmer (only really needed for rifle and revolver)
    -Chamfer / Debur Tool
    -Brass Tumbler (there are ways to get around needing a tumbler, but I find it faster and more efficient)

    With the exception of Forster and Dillon, all of the companies produce starter kits that will have the majority of the equipment that you need, including press, powder scale, powder measure, reloading manual, and possibly a trimmer. The majority of these kits include single stage presses, but a few come with turret presses. Lee's kits are around $150, and the other brand kits run in the $250 - $500 range. These prices do not include dies and other pieces that may be required. I would suggest skipping the Lee reloading kits. That is what many start with (myself included), and it will get the job done. However, most end up upgrading pieces after a short time, in particularly the powder scale and powder measure.

    As far as cost goes, it depends on what you have to pay for components. If you have been saving the brass from what you are shooting now, you will already have brass and won't have to buy it. However, once fired brass is available from various source for good prices. Alternatively, once fired brass can generally had for free if you take the time to pickup the brass at the range from all the people that don't reload. However, make sure you ask first because nothing pisses off a fellow reloader faster than having their brass snagged while they're still shooting. Bullets, primers, and powder are best purchased in case quantities for the best per unit cost. For bullets, this is generally in quantities of 2k. There are 5k primers in a case, and powder is sold in 1, 4 or 5, and 8 pound containers. When you're first starting out, find somewhere local with reloading components and purchase your powder by the pound. Once you've decided on a load you like buy 8 lb of that powder. Also, keep in mind that powders can generally be used in many different cartridges, and it is cheaper to buy one type of powder than to have to buy multiple types. Depending on what you're shooting, you may be able to get away with one powder for pistol and one for rifle.

    For my own personal costs, I can reload 9mm FMJ for ~$0.12 per round and 9mm cast for ~$0.03 per round. I'm loading .223 ammo (77gr SMK) for ~$0.42 per round that shoots 1/2" at 100 yds and .30-06 (168gr Nosler) for he same price that shoots ~1" at 100 yds out of my M1 Garand. In both cases, the bullet accounts for $0.20 of the price per round followed by powder, brass, and primer cost. However, after awhile the brass can be considered free because you pay for it once and can reuse it multiple times.

    Hopefully, this helps answer your questions. One of the best places to start looking for information is in the reloading manuals. Of the ones that I own, I feel that the Lyman 49 and Lee manuals do the best job explaining the reloading process. Another book that I see recommended often, but have never read, is The ABC's of Reloading.

  3. polizei1

    polizei1 It WAS Quack

    Aug 18, 2011

    I went with this:

    Lee LCT from Kempf's
    Dillon beam scale
    Built my own bench
    Lyman 1200 tumbler
    Lyman media separator
    Speer #14 manual
    Lyman 49th manual

    Conversion kits are cheap and easy for the LCT, and you can load both rifle and pistol. I'm loading 9mm for ~$110/1k but I'm using Precision Delta bullets (FMJ). MG and Zero are a little more pricy. Lead is like $45/1k. Reloading will save you money on the components, but you'll probably be shooting more instead. I like my LCT because it's cheap and gets the job done, but I will eventually upgrade to a Dillon 650.

    Check out
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2011
  4. 50GI-Jess

    50GI-Jess Member

    Aug 24, 2011
    Very good post !
    Not only does one save a bunch of cash. In most cases, you can't even buy ammo for your specific needs. Especially when it comes to accuracy and power floor. Don't know what I would do, without my reloaded 38 spl. for ICORE and Bianchi Cup. Or 45 ACP in my S&W 625 for IPSC etc.
    Also, you open up a completely new world of possibilities, where one will never run out of options or ammo combinations.
    Plus, it's a hell of a good passtime on dark cold winter nights, when theres nothing on TV worth watching.

You need 3 posts to add links to your posts! This is used to prevent spam.

Draft saved Draft deleted