Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

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Ultravox
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Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#1 Post by Ultravox » Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:46 pm

I've been spending a bunch of time over on Reddit in the /r/guns and /r/reloading sub-reddits.

Someone asked the time-honored "Should I reload? Can I really save money?" questions.

This was a comment thread that I was in - I think it answers a couple of questions and I'm going to make it a sticky here.

I reload .45 ACP, .45 Colt, .30-06 and .270 Winchester and have been reloading on a single stage press for about a year now.

For context - the comment that I was replying to stated that he could buy cheap .45 ACP for $18/50 rounds. I replied that I can reload better ammo for $7/50 rounds and can produce 100 rounds an hour.
You are faster then all of the people I've talked to about single stage presses. You can do match quality ammo at $7 for 50? Cheaper then I thought. I assume that's reusing brass. I tried saving brass for my brother to reload. Lasted 1 box of ammo, and I chucked them all. Felt like a puppy chasing tennis balls.

Me? I value my time more then I value money. I'd much rather spend the $11 and spend an hour playing basement hockey with my 8yo son. I mean really, it's $11.
I bought 1000 pieces of .45 ACP brass for $60 when I started. I reclaim about 95% of my brass when I shoot. Some days I grab other people's brass (after asking if they reload) and come out ahead. .45 ACP is a low pressure round, so you can reload the brass 50+ times. I'm set for brass for a long time.

Sure it's only $11.

But if you shoot 100 rounds once a month that's a savings of $264 a year. That would pay for a single stage reloading setup right there.

If you shoot 150 rounds twice a month (about what I shoot) that's a savings of $792 a year. That's a new pistol right there.

Of course you are trading time for money. You do that every day. Do you grow your own food or buy it at the store? Do you change your own oil or go to Jiffy Lube?

Reloading is just another time vs. money trade-off.

I enjoy reloading. I get to play with the variables and find a load that works in my gun. And works better than the $18 stuff.

Reloading is not for everyone, but don't try and talk people out of it just because you think your time is more valuable.

Good for you if you think it's a better use of your time to play with your kids - I agree with you. But you could knock out 50 rounds after they go to bed once or twice a week...
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#2 Post by ErikO » Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:54 pm

If you want to save money shooting, only shoot .22lr and recycle your brass. :lol:
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#3 Post by Simmer down » Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:33 pm

Reloading benefit for me is more than money. In fact, reloading costs exceed what I used to spend at the store. What I get is a relaxing activity that lets me expand my shooting experience. It is a way for me to get my Tinkering Fix. It fulfills my inner miser. I like to try to master things and this is often a challenge.
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#4 Post by eelj » Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:35 pm

When people say you don't save money reloading because you shoot more it makes me look funny at them and say wha. Nobodies forcing you too shoot more you shoot more because you want too and now you can afford too so yes you save money. For truly precision hand loading for a very precise bench rifle you can't put a price tag on it because there is nothing available commercially to compare it too.
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#5 Post by whitey » Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:44 pm

I made up a batch of 20 7mm rem mag for a friend yesterday. I realized while doing it, I enjoyed it more than shooting. Someone once warned me that would happen.
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#6 Post by Awake » Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:03 pm

Why I reload:

- For me the shooting experience is something that goes beyond just pulling the trigger. It's the complete package, from tinkering with the gun, to shopping for 'stuff' to loading my own ammo, to cleaning up after a shooting session, to listening to podcasts. It's the same with any other hobby, like photography. I also like(d) spending time in the darkroom developing my own photos. Just the kind of guy that I am.

- The 'prepper' game. I have a valuable skill, and more ammo than most people, at 1/5th the price. Even if I haven't built it yet. You can buy supplies for 5000 rounds for less than you can buy 1000 completed rounds. They take up almost no space.

- I am not a perfectionist. I have some HP rounds for 'real' use, but 99% of my shooting is defensive practice of hitting the target in the general area that I'm aiming, quickly and repeatably. I will never try to shoot someone at 300 yards, no sense practicing that skill. If you enjoy it, great! Just not my thing. So in-the-ballpark reloads are plenty good for my type of shooting, and reloading fills that objective.

- I think economics in the long term, but initial expenses short term. I spent $300 on the first round I reloaded, it was stupid and expensive, but after that all the equipment was paid off, and doesn't factor into costs anymore. It's a strange way of thinking, but it works for me.

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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#7 Post by Mason » Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:36 pm

Shooting well is about taking your time, being patient, knowing all the steps and performing them all in a careful, practiced sequence. So is reloading. :hmmm:

I could push this further but I'm sure those of you who are going to already get my drift.
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#8 Post by CowboyT » Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:23 pm

Ya know, I hear this sort of thing come up lots of times. I find that it depends on several things:

1.) how much you shoot,
2.) *what* you shoot,
3.) availability of what you shoot,
4.) how much fun you have while doing it, and
5.) the ethics that you perceive in the act of rolling your own.

For me, all five of these factors are, as Joe Biden would say, "big...deals." :-) In my specific case, replace ".45 ACP" with ".45 Long Colt", and you have an even greater cost savings. Finding affordable .45 Colt ammo is not at all an easy thing. The same applies for both .44 Spl and .44 Mag; neither is cheap.

In a typical week, I shoot 2-3 times at the range. Each time, I may shoot between 50 and 100 rounds, and if I bring the Super Redhawk 454 with .45 Colt ammo, that adds up very fast. Therefore, to afford practicing as much as I do, that pretty much mandates reloading. That other person may save $11/box doing single-stage. But I save at least $35/box with the mild loads, and just over $70/box with the wild loads. Oh, and I reload progressively, so that's six boxes in one hour. Do the math. :-)

Among handgun cartridges, .45 Colt ammo at any price is not as available at some Wally Worlds the way that, say, 9mm, .22LR, .38/357, and even .44 Magnum are. Since I reload, I don't need to worry about that; I make my own supply. Boy, was I glad for that throughout 2009 during the Great Ammo Shortage. And now that Mitt Romney is a shoo-in for the Republican nomination, Obama's going to win again in 2012, which means *another* ammo shortage. I'll be sittin' back laughing at everybody scurrying to try to get ammo.

The act of reloading, for me, is just plain fun! Same with casting. I actually like doing these things, so it's a fun hobby and not work. Beats the heck out of sitting in front of the TV for those 2 hours or whatever. Got a reloader buddy who now has his 8-year-old daughter helping him out; seems she loves to "help Daddy" and pull the handle. Therefore, he has her decapping shells, a pretty safe part of the reloading process. Can we say, "quality time with your kids?" That's irreplaceable.

And finally, the most important--to me--reason to reload: DOGGONE IT, IT'S OUR RIGHT! We have a right to do this, and I perceive rollin' my own as simply another aspect of exercising my Second Amendment rights.

And that's why I think it's worth it.
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#9 Post by Ultravox » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:36 pm

Can you expand on point number 5?

What would be ethical/unethical about reloading?
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#10 Post by ErikO » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:22 am

Honestly, I enjoy the fact that I can assemble things in my home for less money overall than buying them at the quality that I am working twards producing.

Once I get the .223 AR up and running and get good at casting for it, my reloads will have me spending less to shoot than .22lr. Its good living within ten miles of HI-Tech Ammo since they sell the pull-down bullets and powder for 5.56 at very very reasonable rates including sales tax. No hazmat fees at the will-call window. :thumbup:

500 rnds loaded for ~$98 works for me.
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#11 Post by CowboyT » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:39 am

Glad to. It's certainly not unethical not to reload, as long as you can afford to shoot enough to get good enough to do what you might need to do with your firearm. I do consider it unethical, because it's unsafe, to own a firearm and not practice with it regularly. It's like any other skill; practice makes perfect, and with a firearm or an automobile, lack of practice can turn out unfortunate.

Since I believe this, and since I have chosen to own a firearm, I decided it was necessary to practice a lot. Given my lack of millionare status, that means reloading. It also means ensuring a supply of ammo with which to practice. Reloading, combined with having supplies around, provides that.

The point about ensuring a supply of ammo also directly applies to the Second Amendment. As Ted Kennedy said in the 1970's, "no ammo, no guns." Kevin de Leon repeated this very sentiment with his AB 962 in California, which fortunately got overturned by a judge who actually understands the Constitution. If I don't ensure ready availability of ammo for my firearm...then what the hell good does my firearm do? How dare I be so preposterous as to own a firearm and not take the responsibility of being able to supply it? As Kennedy and de Leon clearly understood, what good is the the RKBA without ammunition?

Handloading allows me to ensure that this responsibility is covered, AB 962-like laws or not. The RKBA is just that, a *RIGHT*, not a privilege. And for me, it's a responsibility as a citizen to help preserve that right.

That's what I perceive the ethics of handloading to be. And that's a big part of why I do it and advocate it.
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#12 Post by lemur » Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:00 am

CowboyT wrote:because it's unsafe, to own a firearm and not practice with it regularly.
Ohh Shoot is good evidence:

http://ohhshoot.blogspot.com/

There are too many stories of folks causing negligent discharges because they forgot a round in the chamber after "unloading" their semi-auto. Absent mental incapacitation (permanent or temporary), the only explanation is that they don't know their firearm.
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#13 Post by axel » Fri Apr 13, 2012 7:14 pm

My reasons are: satisfaction of doing it, it saves money, and I get to shoot more.

Since it doesn't take much time out of my day my opportunity cost is low (opportunity cost is an economics term). Aside from that the kids are long gone, and the GF has her hobbies too.
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#14 Post by rolandson » Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:18 pm

If I ever get around to it, it will be that hand thing-a-ma-boob that whitey was talking about some time ago from Lee...and strictly for .30 Carbine...which is about 50 cents per round and kind of hard to come by.
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#15 Post by Black Eagle » Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:06 pm

We reload for different reasons. I do it because I build my own rifles and I want both my rifles and my ammunition to be as close to perfection as I can get them. I am currently loading for 40+ rifle cartridges, from .222 Rem. to .458 WM, as well as a bunch of handguns. I am as obsessive about my loads as I am about my rifles. I try different powders, different primers, different bullets and I measure seating depth to the ogive and I measure case concentricity and bullet run-out. I sort cases by weight. I also experiment with neck tension and I often turn and ream case necks. I run many of my loads over a chronograph and I sometimes run them over a Pressure Trace(R) system so that I can see a graph of the pressure curve on various guns and cartridges. Many of my friends do none of those things but they load because they find the "process" relaxing. Others, especially those who shoot a lot, load just for the economy of it. They are all equally valid reasons for doing it. I encourage people to load because, no matter what the underlying reason for doing it, it teaches them things about their guns they didn't know before that might help them become safer and better shooters and it will almost always increase their enjoyment of shooting. I want people to enjoy shooting and I tell my rifle and handgun students that it should be a relaxing activity and self-defense is a secondary benefit.

I am also a hunter [hey, I'm Native American and my wife is obsessive about organic food :D ] and I want the best performing ammunition on game animals that I can get. Handloading gives me a much enhanced opportunity to find accurate loads with premium grade hunting bullets. We are never too old to learn and after almost 50 years of handloading, I still learn something new about bullet and load performance every time I go to the range.

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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#16 Post by whitey » Sat Apr 14, 2012 8:14 am

rolandson wrote:If I ever get around to it, it will be that hand thing-a-ma-boob that whitey was talking about some time ago from Lee...and strictly for .30 Carbine...which is about 50 cents per round and kind of hard to come by.
Lee hand press kit, I haven't tried it on rifle ammo yet but I got to where I could knock out 200 rounds of .45acp in about 3 hours.
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#17 Post by CowboyT » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:44 pm

lemur wrote:
CowboyT wrote:because it's unsafe, to own a firearm and not practice with it regularly.
Ohh Shoot is good evidence:

http://ohhshoot.blogspot.com/

There are too many stories of folks causing negligent discharges because they forgot a round in the chamber after "unloading" their semi-auto. Absent mental incapacitation (permanent or temporary), the only explanation is that they don't know their firearm.
If he had mental disabilities, how the heck did he slip by the NICS check? This sounds like another Seung-Hui Cho-style mistake.
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#18 Post by lemur » Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:10 pm

CowboyT wrote:
lemur wrote: There are too many stories of folks causing negligent discharges because they forgot a round in the chamber after "unloading" their semi-auto. Absent mental incapacitation (permanent or temporary), the only explanation is that they don't know their firearm.
If he had mental disabilities, how the heck did he slip by the NICS check? This sounds like another Seung-Hui Cho-style mistake.
ohhshoot has many many stories so I'm not sure which one you're talking about. But I can comment generally... and I'm sure you already know all this. (Edit: Oh, I think I see now what story you had in mind. Yeah, I don't have a explanation for that one.)

An individual who cannot legally own a firearm due to permanent mental incapacitation (which is how I understand "mental disability") can come into possession of one without going through the NICS check: black market, borrowed from a friend, found, "found" (wink wink), etc.

I read you implying a permanent state but for completeness' sake... temporary incapacitation would be: alcohol, medicine, illness, knocks to the head (we're not dealing with no MD here, no sirree (yes, I'm talking about myself)), etc. None of which matter NICS-wise. Imagine...

"Have you ever been knocked on the head?"
"Have you ever been so ill you no longer knew left from right and up from down, or how to unload a gun?"
"Have you ever been drunk?"
"Have you ever been mentally affected by medicine? (Sleeping pills qualify, and all those that make you drowsy. Anesthesia too.)"

Hmm... there's something I never considered: if someone becomes permanently mentally incapacitated after buying guns, what happens? The database is updated, then the ATF gets flagged and raids the guy's house?

Edit: see above.
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#19 Post by Wabatuckian » Wed Jul 04, 2012 1:20 am

Hello,

I cast handgun bullets and I handload. The .45 bullets for the 1911 are 230 grain (nominal) truncated cone. I make these out of dead soft lead and load them for varmint rounds. With the dead soft lead they cast closer to 240 grains.

I handload because

1. I can highly customize each around and each round gets individual QC. While I use a Lee Auto Disk

Image

for the handgun rounds, I use a Lee Perfect Powder measure for rife rounds and I weigh each load with a beam scale. I do not allow them to be even half a grain off either way.

Excuse the mess:

Image

Image

2. For me, crafting ammunition is relaxing. It's what I do in my off time instead of watching TV or whatever.

3. My handgun ammo is pretty precise, but by no means match grade. I turn out 50 to 100 rounds an hour of handgun ammo. I do maybe 10 or 20 of rifle ammo in that time. You can see the different approaches I take by my press setup:

Image

The only station that's used for rifle loading is the one that is above the ram right now. I have been working over some 7.62x54r cases. The rest are .45 decapping/sizing, powder and expanding, belling die for cast bullets, and seating and crimping die. (You do not want to use a Lee Factory Crimp Die with cast bullets as it will resize the bullet and make the ammo perform poorly. Just set the sizing die to kiss the bell off the case mouth and call it good!)

I make my own case lube. Booby Butter (what I call lanolin since it's used by nursing women) mixed with 90% alcohol on an ink pad is what I use. It's what most commercial lubes are, too, and works very well.

If I were handloading to save money and shoot in volume, I'd upgrade to an auto-indexing turret or even a progressive press, put a powder check/stop die on one station, and have at it.

I like to do more than pull a lever, though. There's something special about knowing I crafted the ammo I shoot.

Regards,

Josh
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#20 Post by SwampGrouch » Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:02 am

Ultravox wrote:Can you expand on point number 5?

What would be ethical/unethical about reloading?
Reloading is recycling brass.
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#21 Post by JoelB » Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:18 am

One of the things I collect is old English big bore rifles. You can not go to the store and buy 500/450 No.1 Carbine ammo, but its simple to form it from .348 Win brass.
BTW, most commercial lubes are repackaged STP, not lanolin.

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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#22 Post by eelj » Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:39 pm

JoelB wrote:One of the things I collect is old English big bore rifles. You can not go to the store and buy 500/450 No.1 Carbine ammo, but its simple to form it from .348 Win brass.
BTW, most commercial lubes are repackaged STP, not lanolin.
Joel you tease us so much, I for one would love to see some pics of you shooting those magnificent beasts and reloading the ammo.
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#23 Post by ErikO » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:36 pm

I'm with Lee, pictures would save you a lot of typing. ;)
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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#24 Post by aprayinbear » Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:45 pm

Joel... one more vote for a few pics....please.

My 2 cents about reloading.....

I have about the cheapest set-up available. I bought a Lee single stage kit for $82 bucks from Lee Factory Sales. I don't even use the powder measure. I measure every load on the scale. As a target shooter, that means more accurate rounds! Then I Purchased a few sets of dies, a few sizing dies, and some bullet molds to complete my set-up. All Lee. That means cheap, accurate loads for my handguns and antique milsurp rifles. I get most of my handgun brass for free from the range and cast my own bullets whenever possible from wheel weights that so far I have gotten for free!. In fact I picked up about 40 pounds of WW today from a local tire store, made some friends in the process, and encouraged a few guys to consider reloading themselves! It doesn't get much better then that!

I reload 50 .357 target rounds for about the price of a box of .22s. 9mm ... about the same. :yahoo:

And yes it does take a lot of time, but some folks worry about time a lot more then I do. I mean... it takes time to shoot, but for me there's no better medicine after a long week or a hard day! I look at reloading the same. I know I do it the slow way, but to me its all time well spent. When I'm done I have a sense of accomplishment, I feel like I've recycled something that would have been tossed, and I can actually afford to participate in my favorite sport. (I live on a limited income and could not shoot otherwise.)

I suppose I could save a chunk of time, head for Wallyworld and spend 5 - 10X what it costs me now, but Look what I'd be missing in the process!

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Re: Reloading - The Time vs. Money Trade-Off

#25 Post by ErikO » Thu Aug 09, 2012 4:16 pm

I'm looking forward to finishing my AR build so I can shoot the load workups I built the other day. 62 gr penetrators over 22.5-24.5 gr of TAC, should be able to dial in what load my pistol will like best.

Considering that I've dropped most of my hobbies aside from firearms and reloading, I have some time to use persuing this. I hope to get my loads dialed in to the point where I can teach my son how to reload. He already enjoys decapping, once I have some spent brass again I'll show him how to resize and trim cases as well.
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