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Old 01-30-2010, 12:55 AM
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Default Bulk ammo vs reloading - which is cheaper?



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Has anyone done a cost comparison on which is cheaper - buying ammo in bulk retail vs reloading? I am wanting to stock up on both pistol and rifle ammo, but want to make my $$$ stretch as far as possible.

I have never done any reloading before, so there would be the initial cost of equipment on top of the powder, primers, brass, etc.

For example, I found a deal on 1000 rounds of .45 ammo for $300 - if I were to reload the same number of rounds would the cost be significantly cheaper?

I am sure that for those people who run thru alot of ammo each year that in the long run it would be more cost effective to hand load, but to be honest, other than a couple practice sessions each year my pistols dont get much use. Unless the shtf, 1000 rounds would last me the rest of my lifetime.

I am intrested in the following loading for the following: .45, .38spl, .357, and .30-06 if that helps any.

thanks
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Old 01-30-2010, 01:12 AM
Fletcher Christian Fletcher Christian is offline
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I got into reloading because of interest in reloading. If your only objective is to save money, unless you are going to load 10,000 rounds of 30-06 I don't think you are going to save any money at all, maybe not even then. Believe me, if you are going to reload in quantity, there are a fair number of tools you are going to want that are not cheap. I think the margin for savings is a little greater on handgun loads than rifle loads too.

With that said, I have enjoyed reloading immensely since I started. I also know that if I stock up supplies, I can keep myself ammoed up even after things sell out.
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Old 01-30-2010, 09:46 AM
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Well, let's try and break this down. You can get 1,000 rounds of .45ACP for $300.00

Reloading for the .45ACP --

1lb of powder = 7000 grains & costs about $20.00. It takes approx between 4-7 grains of powder for the .45ACP, depending on your powder of choice. So in this case, let's just use 5 grains for simple math purposes. So, that gives us about 1400 rounds in 1lb of powder.

1,000 Primers is going to cost you about $30.00

1,000 Hornady XTP 230grHP = $196.00

1,000 rounds of "NEW" Brass will cost you right at $200.00. Now you can always go with "ONCE FIRED" and get 1,000 rounds for $85.00.

Our Grand Total is = $446.00. Yes, it is a $146.00 "HIGHER" than the bulk ammo you were looking at, BUT........... I'll guarantee yuo that the bulk ammo you're looking at is high quality HP ammo, I'm sure it's your run of the mill FMJ. Now, that is great practice ammo, but for $146.00 more, give me the good sh1t, that i reloaded and i know down to the exact grain, how it's going to fire out of my guns.

Now, when you get into your Magnum Caliber Rifles, it is VERY cost effective. If you go to the store and buy a box of 300WSM ammo, it's going to run you about $2.30 per shot. My reloads cost me $.90 to load. $1.40 difference is a HELLUVA lot. Oh, and by the way, i got everything i needed to start reloading for $300.00. It has paid for itself many times over.
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Old 01-30-2010, 07:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Br'er Rabbit View Post
Has anyone done a cost comparison on which is cheaper - buying ammo in bulk retail vs reloading? I am wanting to stock up on both pistol and rifle ammo, but want to make my $$$ stretch as far as possible.

I have never done any reloading before, so there would be the initial cost of equipment on top of the powder, primers, brass, etc.

For example, I found a deal on 1000 rounds of .45 ammo for $300 - if I were to reload the same number of rounds would the cost be significantly cheaper?

I am sure that for those people who run thru alot of ammo each year that in the long run it would be more cost effective to hand load, but to be honest, other than a couple practice sessions each year my pistols dont get much use. Unless the shtf, 1000 rounds would last me the rest of my lifetime.

I am intrested in the following loading for the following: .45, .38spl, .357, and .30-06 if that helps any.

thanks
You seem to have already decided not to reload...so why bother asking the question?
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Old 01-30-2010, 07:50 PM
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Do a cost analysis, see which is better you can still find decent deals on .45 and the like, but its the more rare rounds/expensive rounds that are worth reloading.... such as 30.06, I was doing .308 but its reaching that threshold of same same the price is going down. It all depends on market fluctuation for me.

Get a price on powder devide that cost with how many bullets you can make with it

do the same with primers and bullets,

add how many bullets you can make with it all, and devide the cost by number of bullets u make and you'll have your comparison of reloading ammo to factory ammo.

Also, alot fo people reload for match grade ammo, I do it for cost and bulk and to have supplies for it just in case an ammo price skyrocket or ban.
Old 01-30-2010, 08:14 PM
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If you shop around you can bring the costs of reloads down even further. When you start reloading the brass you already have is when the saving really start adding up.

I'd never get to shoot my 375 Holland and Holland Magnum if it weren't for my reloading, I can load the cartridges myself for a bit less than $8 a box. I looked at the gun store this morning at a box of factory ammo with the exact same bullets I load, $76

For range ammo you can load ammo pretty cheap using FMJ or lead bullets
Old 01-30-2010, 10:30 PM
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I'm veering slightly off topic, but if SHTF I'd rather have a ton of bulk ammo ready to shoot rather than the ability to reload a lesser amount. I'm hoping to have both, but my primary goal has been establishing a supply.
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Old 01-30-2010, 11:24 PM
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Let me compare the cost of reloading practice ammo for a auto pistol. I shoot more 40 sw than anything else.

I picked up the brass from the police pistol range, all 4000 rds were free.

I cast the 180g lead truncated cone bullets from tire wts. Free again.

The load uses 6 grains powder and a winchester large pistol primer.

Cost for 1,000 rds = $50. If I buy molly coated cast bullets, the cost is $70 more.
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Old 01-31-2010, 12:10 AM
Fletcher Christian Fletcher Christian is offline
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Originally Posted by danger View Post
I'm veering slightly off topic, but if SHTF I'd rather have a ton of bulk ammo ready to shoot rather than the ability to reload a lesser amount. I'm hoping to have both, but my primary goal has been establishing a supply.
That's pretty much what I am doing. I've got my reloading gear and set up for my primary calibers.

30-06, 45 ACP, 38/357, 7.62x54R, etc.

I've picked up a bunch of new and used brass for all of the above. I've loaded a bunch of FMJ for each of the above at cheaper than you can buy it. So, I stockpile it loaded at about the average joe's cost for milsurp ammo. But, I have enough powder, primers, and lead to load again... see once I have the brass is when it makes sense as another commented above.

I can get 500 rounds of plated FP for the .45 for way less than $100. Primers for 500 rounds are $15. Powder is gonna cost about $7-10 for that 500 rounds. So, that is 500 rounds for around $100 for target ammo once you have the brass and equipment. So, yeah... once you're established it is cheaper. But, it takes time and initial investment.

I still stand by my statement though because of intial investment and time.... if you just want a bunch of ammo, buy bulk and put it away. If you are interested in learning how not to destroy your firearm and yourself with a double-thrown load and maybe save a few bucks in the process, then go the reloading route. It is a rewarding exercise.
Old 01-31-2010, 12:21 AM
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Originally Posted by trekker111 View Post
I'd never get to shoot my 375 Holland and Holland Magnum if it weren't for my reloading, I can load the cartridges myself for a bit less than $8 a box. I looked at the gun store this morning at a box of factory ammo with the exact same bullets I load, $76
Yep... specialty/rare loads is where the savings really start adding up. 'though I was really surprised about the difference in price for loading .357 tonight when I added up the cost for 25 rds of hornady 158 gr HP versus reloads. Even with new brass I can get about 1/4 the price.
Old 01-31-2010, 04:03 AM
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I reload 45 ACP for $150/1000 using 200 LSWC, VihtaVuori N310 and CCI primers. I have lots of brass and 45 ACP can be reloaded at least a dozen times over. Montana Gold Jacketed bullets would be $225/100 or so.

No question: it's cheaper to reload and I can make better ammunition than any company can manufacture.
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Old 01-31-2010, 04:23 AM
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Originally Posted by J1Q View Post
Well, let's try and break this down. You can get 1,000 rounds of .45ACP for $300.00

Reloading for the .45ACP --

1lb of powder = 7000 grains & costs about $20.00. It takes approx between 4-7 grains of powder for the .45ACP, depending on your powder of choice. So in this case, let's just use 5 grains for simple math purposes. So, that gives us about 1400 rounds in 1lb of powder.

1,000 Primers is going to cost you about $30.00

1,000 Hornady XTP 230grHP = $196.00

1,000 rounds of "NEW" Brass will cost you right at $200.00. Now you can always go with "ONCE FIRED" and get 1,000 rounds for $85.00.

Our Grand Total is = $446.00. Yes, it is a $146.00 "HIGHER" than the bulk ammo you were looking at, BUT........... I'll guarantee yuo that the bulk ammo you're looking at is high quality HP ammo, I'm sure it's your run of the mill FMJ. Now, that is great practice ammo, but for $146.00 more, give me the good sh1t, that i reloaded and i know down to the exact grain, how it's going to fire out of my guns.

Now, when you get into your Magnum Caliber Rifles, it is VERY cost effective. If you go to the store and buy a box of 300WSM ammo, it's going to run you about $2.30 per shot. My reloads cost me $.90 to load. $1.40 difference is a HELLUVA lot. Oh, and by the way, i got everything i needed to start reloading for $300.00. It has paid for itself many times over.
Nice breakdown -- plus if you go with your own once-fired brass that would cost ZERO, bringing the price per 1,000 down to $360 or so. Try to find JHP factory rounds of any quality at that price. Heck even WWB hollow points at Wal-mart are $30 for a box of 50. Cast lead or FMJ bullets would cost even less.

It's true the cost savings goes WAY up on high-powered rifle rounds. .30-06, .30-30, .243, all the "macho" rifle calibers can be reloaded for a fraction of the cost of factory rounds.

Just got my first reloading setup a couple weeks ago and I'm excited to get started. Partly for the cost savings, partly because I can stock up on components for SHTF (gives me something to do) and partly just for the fun of it. I still need a few more tools before I can load my first round but in the end I'll have about $300 invested in the equipment. Assuming I can find primers . . .
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Old 01-31-2010, 04:52 AM
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Heres my breakdown of .270Win ammo that I load:
Ok, bear in mind this is worked out with New Zealands inflated prices:
500gm H4350 Powder $80 = 7716grains = 7700 grains, 1 dip charge = 46.9grains = 163 charges = 48c a charge
50 140grain Barnes X prjectiles $35 = 0.70c a projectile (A real bargain, normally $75 for 50)
50 Winchester .270Win brass cases $80 = x 5 reloads (minimum) = 250 cases = 0.32c a case
100 Winchester Large Rifle primers $10 = 0.10c a primer

So all up it =$1.60 a round which is very accurate and fireformed and loaded specifically for my rifle and will shoot sub MOA when I do my part.
Versus Federal Premium $50 for 20 .270Win =$2.50 a round which is loaded to a minimum length to fit any rifles chamber and will shoot ok.

Highland SP is $35 for 20 and Remington PSP is $56 for 20

With the bare outlay for components such as the bullets and powder I could have that at maybe 80c a round, but I want quality instead.
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Old 01-31-2010, 09:06 AM
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Well, it depends on what ammo you shoot. I have never loaded .45 but you can get 1000 bulk bullets for around $100, or with the .45 you can cast your own bullets or buy bulk lead bullets for really cheap. If you are buying brass and get once fired you can usually find it for around $50-$75 per thousand. $20 for a lb of powder, it will take a little less than a lb so lets say $18. $30 for primers. So on the high end of the prices I gave you, that is around $223 dollars. If you buy lead bullets take away about $40. If you cast your own bullets take away even more.

http://www.10xshooters.com/calculato...Calculator.htm

That link may be helpful for you. It lets you put in the cost of your components and equipment and the price of a box of factory ammo. Then it does the comparison for you.
Old 01-31-2010, 11:35 AM
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Once you have reloaded enough ammo to recover the cost of your set up, you can almost always reload cheaper than you can buy it as your only paying for componets at that point. The only thing I have found thats not cheaper to reload is Bridshot in 12 guage and 20 Guage as I can usually buy this cheaper when its Dove Season than I can reload it. Its a whole different story though when you start talking about OO-Buck, Slugs and 28 guage ammo.

You equipment doent have to cost you 400-500 to get started. I own four presses. All were bought used. The Rcbs Single Stage Press was 5 dollars at a estate sale. The Mec 600 Jr was free as the person selling it couldnt tell me if all the parts were there and it was missing a 2.00 spring. Quick trip to the gun store fixed that in about 15 seconds! I bought a Lee Pistol and Lee Rifle Press along with 12 sets of dies,2 tumblers, scales, 8 loading blocks, manual case trimmer and a enough other crap to fill a 106 qt plastic tote for 100.00 fun dollars off a neighbor. If your not in a hurry, keep your ears to the ground you can find some amazing deals on reloading equipment that needs a good dusting off and wipe down.

I cut my reloading cost buy volunteering once a month at the range for clean up day. My payment for a couple of hours of my time is Brass I seperate into what goes in the range barrels for recycling VS my 5 gallon buckets. The pay off? 20K in LC 7.62 Brass once fired, 45K in 5.56 LC Brass once fired, 6k in Winchester 12 gauge hulls once fired ect...you get the picture. This aspect reduces my cost to reload signifacantly!

I cast many of my own projectiles. About once a year that Berm at the range has to have some maintenance done to it as well. I collect a lot of lead this way. I also get it by the bucket from a local Tire Shop for minimal cost. This usually results in more lead than I know what to do with although I have to compete with fishermen who also get lead there for fishing weights and Jigs. Most of my handgun ammo, and 12 guage slugs are cast from this and this reduces my cost for practice ammo big time.

I dont buy my powder generally by the pound as its too cost prohibitive. I will buy it in the larger Kegs. It is a pretty steep price to pay up front but its usually a few bucks cheaper a pound. To make this work I have also narrowed down my powders to a few that are very flexible. Many powders that work in handguns also work well in shot guns for example. Thsi gets me down to two powders for shotgun/handgun and 2-3 for rifles.

Primers, Wads, Bullets, Sabots andother misc items I also buy in bulk. Instead fo running down to the gun store and picking it up off the shelf, I go to said guns hop owner prior to him making and order and strike a good deal for both of us. He orders what I want to buy and becuase I am going to be buying in large quanities and its a gaurenteed sale he cuts me a nice discount. I save some fun doallrs and he still makes a profit and doesnt have stuff sitting on his shelf for ever, and people like me dont come in one day and clean everything he has on the shelf leaving his other customers high and dry until the next shipment comes in. I win - he wins.

Quote:
I'm veering slightly off topic, but if SHTF I'd rather have a ton of bulk ammo ready to shoot rather than the ability to reload a lesser amount.
Point well taken and its a argument that many will bring up everytime this subject arises. A factor that always fails to be mentioned, is that I can reload my 1000 rounds as I shoot it. Turning my 1000 rounds into about 4000 rounds over the course of time before tha brass fails is a force multiplier if you will. It keeps me in the game long after you have exhausted your supply of loaded ammo. I can usually get about 2-3 reloads out of my 224 TTH, 5-6 out of my 308 Winchester, at least that out of my pistol and I have shotgun hulls that have been reloaded a good dozen times. Multiply that by 1000!

Consider this too...get in a good brief fire fight, and a team of 8-10 can easily burn through 4000 rounds in a matter of 3-5 minutes! I know as I have been there and done just that before more times than I would like to remember from 2002 thru 2005 in 'Stan and Iraq. Granted semi auto fire wont expend ammo at quiet that rate, but you might be suprised at just how much you can burn through even when your defending a good position. The ability to reload the ammo you just expended after the smoke clears would truely allow you to go on long after everyone else has ran bone dry. And thats why you are a survivor and better prepared tha "that other" guy, the dead one over there, right? We are civilains not the military, although one day we may face many of the same situations, we cant just call down to supply/logistics and order a pallet of A475 on a 999 priority code! Either you got it, can make it or your hating life...
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Old 01-31-2010, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Mortimer View Post
Assuming I can find primers . . .
They're around again. However, the price is up $10 from a year ago at the shows. Primers were $39.99/1000 at the show yesterday. If you order, you have a hazmat charge, so still cheaper at the shows.
Old 01-31-2010, 02:38 PM
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Quote:
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They're around again. However, the price is up $10 from a year ago at the shows. Primers were $39.99/1000 at the show yesterday. If you order, you have a hazmat charge, so still cheaper at the shows.
they are $30/1000 here. I think that varies from place to place. They were $20 per thousand about a year ago, when you could find them.
Old 01-31-2010, 10:54 PM
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You can get quality 30 cal bullets for around $30/100. Premium hunting bullets will cost more, but the methodology is the same. Powder will cost less than .25 per round if you use 59 grains or less and pay $29/lb. You can get large rifle primers for $35-40/1000, so cost per round for 30-06 should be around .59. If you weigh, trim and clean cases and can spend the range time and ammo to work up the most accurate load, it will almost certainly outshoot the best premium factory loads.

You can probably catch a sale and pick up inexpensive factory loads for less than .59/round, but how do they group compared to your best handloads? That accuracy may not matter at 100 yards, but it probably will at 400.

If your ammo is of better quality, you won't need as much, you'll be able to travel lighter and make less noise and if you stockpile a lot, your storage area will be safer. If you don't have the time to work up a quality handload, you're probably better off buying bulk or factory loads on sale.
Old 02-01-2010, 05:02 AM
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Forgetting set up costs for reloading which after a couple of runs will have paid for itself already, assuming the number of shells the OP is thinking about...

It all depends on what you are buying/reloading and of course how much...

9mm, .45 ACP, .223, .308 because of their popularity can be bought cheaper then reloading but you may be getting once fired brass...

Skeet/trap/clays shells is a toss up unless you are buying lots...The gun club just bought a truck load, about one million rounds and I bought from that lot as it was cheaper for me by over half of my own reloads...

Any of the other calibres it's probably cheaper to reload your own unless you're buying many thousands of rounds...Check prices of the custom reloader houses and see they have a 100, 200, 500, 1K, 2K and a 5K price list and see how quickly the prices go down...Bulk buys of powder, primers, brass, bullets reflect back to you in cheaper prices...

So it goes to the question--How much you needing?
Old 02-01-2010, 08:54 PM
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Bulk cheap ammo is good blasting ammo, but rarely is it very high grade. That's where reloading really comes into it's own. For about the same price as bulk, you can make ammo that is more accurate in your guns that premium factory ammo. Being able to customize your loads to your guns would be a major selling point for reloading, even if there wasn't a cost savings, but factor in the savings and it's the only logical way to go for people who do much shooting. As a high volume shooter, there's no way I could have ever afforded enough factory ammo to keep up.
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