Graybeard Outdoors banner

1 - 20 of 23 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
68 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I am just getting into Cowboy Action Shooting and am trying to get a handle on the cost difference between reloading and just buying ammo from the a local store or the internet. I am shooting .38 Special in both my rifle and my handguns. I can buy my ammo for a little over .15 cents per round. I think I would enjoy reloading, but I have absolutely no equipment and no experience. For those who are experienced reloaders, what do you think your cost per round is after your equipment is paid for.

I specifically chose .38 caliber because the commercial ammo is cheaper than most others. From my research it seems that a Dillon 550B can be had for about $350 plus the cost of dies. There are cheaper presses available but when I compare what you get for your money the 550B seems like a good choice. I have read that some folks suggest that a newbie start with a single stage press, but the prices I have seen for decent single stages are not that much cheaper than the 550B. And, I really don't have a lot of time to spend reloading.

What do you think?

Thanks, JR
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,075 Posts
If your prices are about the same as mine, a loaded round costs between six and seven cents per round, not including the cost of brass. That's about the least you can spend on a round of .38 special unless you cast your own bullets from very inexpensive lead. If you don't use a crimp on the bullets and aren't prone to losing brass, 38 special brass will last a very long time. Figure around $20 for a box of 500 bullets, $16 for a thousand primers, and $17 for a pound of powder.

If you're shooting a lot, get a progressive press. You can't go wrong with Dillon. My critical point was when I was shooting more than 100 rounds per week. After that I wanted something faster because I didn't want to spend a lot of time reloading. It'll be more than $350, though. You'll want to get extra primer tubes and a maintenance kit and spare parts kit for the Dillon. Figure around $50 for that. You need a good scale and a caliper, figure another $100 for that. It's worth it to use Dillon dies in a Dillon press. They really are easier to load with. You'll also need shop glasses. Realistically, you're looking at about $600 to get set up right.

If you've got an indoor range nearby you may want to ask them if they will sell you used brass. I get mine that way and it saves a lot of money.

You could also do like a lot of guys and get set up wrong the first time, in which case you will pay to get set up wrong and then pay again to get set up right.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,398 Posts
JR, I come in under a nickel a pop for .38 Special, but I cast my own. If you have a local source for decent cast bullets, you should be able to load for 7-8 cents a round.

I'd say go with the Dillon 550B. I'm still mostly with single stages despite dabbling with most of of the stuff out there, and am about ready for the Dillon. One of the things that I have noted is that they don't depreciate enough to matter. Same setup you can get new for $400 is selling used on Ebay for over $300.

You are about ideally situated for starting with a progressive because you are shooting the same cartridge in everything and don't have to worry about changeovers. You can also use the 550 as a single stage until you get the hang of things.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,748 Posts
Very good advice from Questor and Leftoverdj. :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
834 Posts
If you're looking at reloading strictly from a cost view, remember that to get that $.05 or whatever ammo you need to recoop that initial investment. How long does it take to pay for that $350 press at a savings of $.10 a round, in other words.

Plus, as someone wrote, leisure time is the most valuable time there is, and it takes a moderate investment of that time to reload.

It probably does not pay me to reload, but I do it because it's fun and I can make ammo that's not commercially available.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,398 Posts
Jack Crevalle said:
If you're looking at reloading strictly from a cost view, remember that to get that $.05 or whatever ammo you need to recoop that initial investment. How long does it take to pay for that $350 press at a savings of $.10 a round, in other words.

Plus, as someone wrote, leisure time is the most valuable time there is, and it takes a moderate investment of that time to reload.

It probably does not pay me to reload, but I do it because it's fun and I can make ammo that's not commercially available.
3500 rounds, Jack. Less than a year. Less than one PPC season for me when I was shooting PPC. Quicker than that really, because you can recoup 3/4 or more of the cost on ebay if you quit reloading.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,526 Posts
Like all of you I was able to reduce my ammo costs through reloading. I also enjoyed the benefit of being able to effectively tailor my loads to the particular caliber or firearm, especially before the advent of so many different bullet styles and weights in just about every caliber there is.

However, with the advent of mil-surp ammo and inexpensive reloads, I looked at what it cost me to reload in comparison to what it cost to purchase some amounts of bulk ammo and found that when I factored in two very important elements, the cost of my time and the loss of leisure time that could be spent more enjoyably, purchasing some quantieis of bulk ammo actually cost less and gave me more time to enjoy what I like doing.

Now, when I sit at the reloading bench it is to kick out specialty loads that I cannot purchase. These may be match loads, hunting loads or test loads but for my purposes I need to reload for these as they are not available commercially. Mikey.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
834 Posts
Leftoverdj said:
Jack Crevalle said:
If you're looking at reloading strictly from a cost view, remember that to get that $.05 or whatever ammo you need to recoop that initial investment. How long does it take to pay for that $350 press at a savings of $.10 a round, in other words.

Plus, as someone wrote, leisure time is the most valuable time there is, and it takes a moderate investment of that time to reload.

It probably does not pay me to reload, but I do it because it's fun and I can make ammo that's not commercially available.
3500 rounds, Jack.
Thanks, I ran out of fingers and toes at twenty.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,748 Posts
Reload for the 500 Mag and you will save a lot and recoup your money spent on the press in no time. I reload for about 25 different pistol and rifle rounds. I don't know how much I saved not shooting factory. Plus I get to shoot more. :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,982 Posts
It saves as little as about 30% for rounds like the 223 up to about 60% or more for rounds like the 45-70, 41 Mag and some others.

I put together an Excel spreadsheet that you enter the cost per pound of powder, cost for 100 primers and cost per 100 bullets along with you powder charge weight and it will calculate the cost per reload. You can also enter the store bought ammo price and it will calculate the savings. If anyone has Excel on their computer and would like a copy give me your e-mail address and I will send it to you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
500 Posts
Re: leisure time. If you don't enjoy handloading, don't do it. Or rather, if you don't enjoy handloading you WON'T do it. I found "new" leisure time I had previously wasted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,075 Posts
Mikey brings up an excellent point. Cabelas sells bulk 38 special ammo at very good prices. If you think Cowboy Action may be a passing fad with you, you may want to buy a couple of thousand rounds of the low cost 38s and use them for a year. If you decide that Cowboy isn't something you want to stay with, then you've saved the considerable expense of buying reloading equipment. If you decide you like it, then you've got a good supply of brass to reload.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
98 Posts
Reloading

If I add the floor space in the house and the shed, the equipment costs for casting and reloading, the time spent reloading, and the time spent collecting brass I could walk away from, reloading isn't worth it. Add the danger of inattention, and 38 Specials go from $.035 each to astronomical. I like reloading, so I do it. If money was that important, would you be shooting?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
151 Posts
Don't think in the short term - bulk ammo may not be that easy to get 10 years from now - who knows? What if you buy a gun which ammo is almost impossible to buy, or cost a small fortune?

Best thing about reloading gear - stuff just about lasts forever. And the stuff that breaks, most companies will replace it.

I've had most of my stuff since the 70's, still going strong. I figure I paid off my investment way back by 1980 - since then I've been saving money with every reload.

When my Dad passed away a couple of years ago - I got his stuff, and some of it is being used by my sons.

If you're serious about shooting - then reloading is the only logical answer in my book. With states like California trying to do crazy things with the purchasing of ammo - being able to reload is the smart choice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
252 Posts
Here are some quick figures I put on a spreadsheet.

Retail prices are an average of 3 'good' brands of ammo, not wolf etc.

Brass is included but is a reusable item. After the security guys at the local plant finished qualifying I crawled around the firing point and picked up approx 600 fired once 38 sp cases. Of those I threw away about 20-30 that had dents etc. Savings, savings everywhere.

See at http://www.bghi.us/reloading/reload_calc.xls
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,068 Posts
I shoot 45 acp and 45 Colt for $ 0.04 each. When you find bulk ammo that will compete with those prices, please pass along the information, 'cause I'm gonna morgage the house!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
151 Posts
MG66 - nice spreadsheet -

one suggestion - your price per round including brass cost needs to take into consideration the amount of times you can reload a brass cartridge.

Typically, I can reload anwhere from 15 to 50 times depending on the caliber, brass, and type of load. Even at 10 reloads per brass, the cost per round, even if you were to buy the brass drops down to a cent or two max over the cost of bullet, powder and primer.

Certainly makes the numbers look even better!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
252 Posts
Thankyou.

Coz of brass costs I added the cost without brass. So the 600 cases I picked up at the range were free so the brass cost would not even need consideration.

Bottom line I guess is the savings (and the fun) of reloading far out weigh any cons in my opinion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
677 Posts
For me, I'm spending about the same money on shooting, but I'm shooting a lot more. If I was shooting just 38's I'd probably just order it in bulk and be done with it. Not worth my time.

However I mainly shoot 38 long colt, 45 colt and 45-70, mostly with black powder loads, very very little smokless. I also cast for everything.

I generaly reload when it's too hot/cold/rainy outside to get anything else done.

If your wanting to reload for 38 special, talk to the range officers and guys running the cowboy match, most people shooting 38's there don't reload so you can pick the brass up for free most times.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
319 Posts
I can honestly say I haven't saved a damn penny by reloading. Oh I can quote you statistics on a per shot basis and make it sound good. Statistics can prove whatever you want to prove. Most liars are actually very good with statistics. The truth is you're going to have to recover your investment in reloading tools and components. That's going to take quite a while. You're probably going to be shooting a lot more once you start reloading. That'll jack your cost up also. When I started reloading I owned 3 rifles, really grew to love reloading, have changed myequipment sever times and added more tools than the basic reloader requires. I also now have 17 rifles and shoot a **** of a lot more than I did when I started. If I save any more by reloading I'll soon be in the poorhouse.
Reload because it gives you enjoyment which I can almost guarantee. Don't do it to save money. It's the wrong reason. Best wishes.

Cal - Montreal
 
1 - 20 of 23 Posts
Top