Reloading vs. buying factory ammo

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I suppose I could whip out a calculator, but at what point with today's prices would it be worth it to buy factory ammo, or just bite the bullet so to speak and get some dies, brass and (yikes!) primers to reload. This - in thinking about a new caliber.

I suppose it makes a difference in how much the gun in a new caliber would be shot. But I do see ammo prices dropping, however, I do NOT see primers for sale at all, and the same with dies. They seem to be in limited supply.

The primers and reloading supplies being scares is starting to get to me. I still have primers in the calibers I reload, but am running low on large pistol. I'm just thinking about a new 45 acp.
 

NikA

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The cheapest .45 ACP I've seen recently is reman from Freedom Munitions at ~23$/50 before tax and shipping. Figure at least 50c/shot to the end user.

Pistol powders are running 35-40$/lb, figure 1500 loads per lb for .45 ACP. 3c/shot, roughly.
Primers are ~10c/shot.
Plated bullets are ~15c/shot. If you don't have casting equipment, it's an objectively terrible time to buy it now. If you do, lead is 1.5-2$/lb, so something like 7c/shot for cast.
.45 ACP cases for reloading are running 5-7c/ea in my area. If you have to have new cases, bad time look for them as well.

I get a total of 33c/shot before factoring in equipment at today's prices. .45 ACP dies are pretty common, but even if you ended up paying 50$ for them, you'd break even in ~300 rounds.

All this assumes your time is worth nothing/you place some value on time spent in the reloading room. If you don't, you're probably always better off buying commercial ammo.
 

Cholo

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The reason I began reloading in '76 or '77 was:

1) Cost

2) I could customize my own loads with my preferred bullets

I sold my 9mm reloading dies and bullets in '81 because I swore I'd never have another 9.

In 2021 I bought 9mm dies and bullets; I already had the other components. My reason was completely different than in the 70's. My reason now?

1) I want to have 9mm cartridges when none are available elsewhere.

It's not a matter of if ammo will be in short supply in the future, it's when.

The 45 ACP is by far my favorite centerfire semi auto caliber bar none :)
 

Johnnu2

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Today, I opened a new sleeve of pistol primers. I couldn't help but notice the price was $26 for the 1000 round pkge. No idea why (or when) I bought it at that price; I'm sure that I musta felt like I was being robbed. It appears I was clairvoyant.... :)
I'm finishing a pound of 231 that I bought and dated in 2016 (I guess I don't shoot as much as I used to); it's good to be old and lazy.

J.
 
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I've been reloading for about 12 years, probably 13 actually. But, I was on CCI's website today, a brick of 1000 primers is $60 some dollars. It wasn't like that back in the 70's or 13 years ago, or even 3 years ago. I know costs have risen, and that's what I'm curious about.

Have the costs of a reloaded round surpassed -- or come equal too -- that of a factory round? It's getting very, very close...
 

gunzo

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I think your question is hard to answer considering the current state of supply & demand.

Actually I'm completely serious when I'd say get ammo anyway you can. Factory loads, find dies & components, build up to, maybe, better times. Factory ammo for shooting now, & for a source of brass for later.

Dies are out there, 100's of sets available. Maybe not the best prices, but not hard to find a reasonably priced set. Ebay has a few pages of them listed. The reloading section at Gunbroker has several. Midsouth, Natchez, & Grafs have some.

More bullets have been showing up lately. Powder & primers will be the last to settle down, but I'm seeing prices fall. The really high priced stuff is not being grabbed up as quick, it stays for sale for a long time. Price adjustments being made.

I see a flicker of light coming through.

Reloading for cost savings? Maybe not advantageous now, but it will be. And, reloading is as much about having alternatives & offers more independence IMO, as well.
 

jgt

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It depends on what you are comparing. If you are comparing the cost of personal defense ammo against the cost of raw materials to make it, then it is cheaper to reload. If you are comparing cost of components to cost of bulk plinking ammo then the factory can probably equal or beat the cost of components in the market place, because of their wholesale cost of those components. I try to buy in bulk from suppliers that make their profit from selling bulk amounts. As a result, I usually have enough on hand to see me through times when the scalpers are looking for prey. If you make your own bullets that changes the picture quite a bit. Then it depends on your supply of raw materials and tools to process those raw materials into quality projectiles to do what the demand calls for. If one can make their own bullets, then they have an advantage that is hard to overcome.
 

Dan in MI

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I have done the math hundreds of times since I started reloading. (1983) If you compare apples to apples - bulk ammo versus bulk components, retail vs retail, Wholesale vs wholesale, etc... It has always come out to roughly 50% savings. Handgun, rifle, shotgun, doesn't matter. The only time it didn't add up was high volume milsurp. And that wasn't much different, usually labor cost/time. (but there are times you get tired of the one arm bandit)

I'm sure even at today's inflated prices it would still work out that way. (not buying at scammer prices but retail/wholesale level)

Add in all the variety you can make, fine tuning to your guns (or not) it really is a worth while hobby.

The equipment costs get quickly covered if you shoot any volume.
 

Paul B

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Back in the day when I first reloaded my ammo, (1954) savings could be fairly substantial, especially if you cast your own bullets. Today, sad to say not so much. About the only place in the process that still promotes a saving is in the brass case. Every time you reload it it saves you 50% of it's original cost. 8) Say the case cost you a dollar. At the first reload it now has cost you $.50. The next time $.25 and so on. Reload conservatively and in the case of rifle brass anneal the necks every so often, say after every third to fifth reload and that brass will last a long time. How long? Who knows? I have a box of twenty rounds of .375 H&H brass that I use for a fairly warm cast bullet load that I use for rapid reloading practice in a Ruger #1 Tropical. Brass is lightly crimped and has been reloaded 20 times so far. Prime pockets are still tight and neck have not cracked. They are usually neck sized until a bit too snug in the #1 at which tike they get a full length sizing. At the rate they're holding up they may outlive me. :shock: :roll:
On handgun brass, I much prefer shooting revolvers as I don't have to chase brass in the grass. Some semi-auto kick brass out way the hell and gone. My Sig P220 is really bad for that and brass loss is well over 50%. It stays home.
Paul B.
 

blammer

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Local LGS says no chance of primers at his place until Oct/Nov this year. They have gotten pallets of 9mm/45acp/556 that just started lasting more than a few hours. Shelves are pretty much bare of anything else (nice lonely stack of 50BMG, though).

I agree with other posters that if you can't reload now or are close to running out of components, bite the bullet and buy some factory to tide you over. Factory seems to be more available locally here (though costly). Be sure to save the brass. Even if you don't reload, you can give or sell it to someone who does. Worst case, take it to a recycler.

The pessimist in me says pay for a few each of expensive components that you can find now to keep you going. There are so many pieces of the supply chain falling that I don't see a return to old pricing and plentiful availability soon: raw material shortages, transportation availabilty and cost, scarcity of any employees let alone those that know what they are doing.
 
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Thanks for all the replies...Occasionally my daughter wants to know when she will use some obscure math formula in real life. I'd say this is a good "real world" math problem.

Yes, all of ya'll are correct to one degree or another. There are some calibers where it is simply cheaper to reload, like 41 magnum. But that's always been the case. I've never bought factory ammo in that, never could afford it. 45 Colt comes close. Boxes of that are pretty expensive and always have been.

But with something like 9mm. I see factory ammo prices dropping almost daily on that. It's now down to about $20 for a box of 50. Which accounting for inflation, puts it right back to where it was just a couple years ago. Same with 5.56. That ammo is back to what it was in the fall of 2019, more or less.

Anyway, thanks for all the input. It's good thinking material. :D
 

Rick Courtright

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gunzo said:
Reloading for cost savings? Maybe not advantageous now, but it will be. And, reloading is as much about having alternatives & offers more independence IMO, as well.

Hi,

In my little pea brain, these points are at least as important as monetary savings, considering the political climate of the last dozen years or so.

I started reloading shotshells in 1965 with a Christmas gift of a MEC loader. For probably 40 yrs or so, I figured reloaded shotshells ran about half what a competing factory shell did. Metallics, for me, were all over the chart, especially 9mm when I was using gifted powder, hand cast bullets made from free wheel weights, etc, but I think the average guy was still in that half as much as factory group.

Then came the shortages, panics and hoarding, blah, blah. Things went absolutely nuts, and haven't recovered. Here in CA, I can't find a shelf with ammo on it that I need. I can't order it online. I probably can't even pass the background check if I find something I need on a shelf because I haven't jumped on the Real ID bandwagon so I have the right kind of driver license, and even if I can find some dove loads for sale in Yuma next week for the season opener, I'm not supposed to buy them there and "import" them here. Most of the things I mentioned are working thru the courts, but that's a "forever" process.

Those things bother me philosophically whether we're talking factory or handloaded ammo. And they most certainly would bother me from a practical stand point if I didn't reload! Instead, I've "planned" ahead over the years and built up a modest inventory of components so that I can still have some ammo to shoot, at least until the court cases are resolved. That "peace of mind" as it were is worth a lot more than the dollars saved by reloading.

Rick C
 

K. Funk

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I have been fortunate to have amassed quite a bit of reloading components over the years, usually at auctions or estate sales. Just when you think you have way too much, an ammo crisis sets in. I can load .44 mag and .45 Colt for pennies per round based on what I paid for stuff years ago. .45-70 at $4 per round?? Not me, pennies per round. For commodity stuff like 9mm and .223 which may not make sense to reload for economic reasons, I have what I need to reload in case it is not available in stores. I swore I would never reload shotgun shells, but this last crisis saw me pick up a MEC Jr and now I can if I need to. I will continue to pick up odds and ends on components found at auction if the price is right...Like 1000 primed .223 cases for $70 when 1000 SR primers went for $200 5 lots earlier. I passed on a 20 Ga Mec Jr. at an auction this weekend, figured it was going to go too high. I should have bid on it, it only went for $40. I have also started casting for the same reasons. I have molds for all my handgun calibers and the rifle calibers that make sense to cast like .45-70.

krf
 

Mobuck

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I've been well sourced with ammo since the 'Y2K' scare. Fully refilled the voids when 'the big zero' was elected. For years, I was buying ammo & reloading supplies that I could use when prices were attractive. I have no real need to buy loaded ammo but would buy some specialty stuff if prices weren't so steep. Lately, I even hesitate to pay asking prices for reloading dies.
 

kmoore

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I guess it was said already maybe even several times but, I too have found reloading anything is about half cost of retail as long as you compare low end ammo to low end reloading. Premium factory ammo to Premium hand loads. Even better when you do not buy the brass for that reload. I started reloading mid 70s and just did some this week also seen current costs of factory ammo. Still saving about 50%.
Yeah, costs have gone up in both hand loading components and factory ammo.
 

Rclark

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It isn't all about cost. I admit maybe it was to start with when I was a kid (without much money for cartridges). But later it was more about tailoring the load to shoot accurately and at velocities that make outings fun. For example, take .357. I like my 158g SWC loads to be in the 1000fps to 1100fps range now. I don't want .38 loads, nor do I want full magnum loads. I can do that by rolling my own and testing over a chronograph. Of course the money you 'save' only goes for more shooting.... So instead of saving money, you are just able to shoot more :) . Not a bad thing at all!
 

Johnnu2

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Rclark said:
It isn't all about cost. I admit maybe it was to start with when I was a kid (without much money for cartridges). But later it was more about tailoring the load to shoot accurately and at velocities that make outings fun. For example, take .357. I like my 158g SWC loads to be in the 1000fps to 1100fps range now. I don't want .38 loads, nor do I want full magnum loads. I can do that by rolling my own and testing over a chronograph. Of course the money you 'save' only goes for more shooting.... So instead of saving money, you are just able to shoot more :) . Not a bad thing at all!

I'll second that!! My wife and I used to be woodchuck (gopher, rock-chuck, etc) hunters. We would normally shoot at ranges of 100 - 300 yds. I would tailor hand loads to our individual bolt-guns; they would have to be 3/4" at 100 yds as a minimum requirement. If my WIFE missed a chuck, it was MY FAULT and our marriage was definitely in jeopardy.

J.
 

Biggfoot44

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As of Today , it's not yet the time to start reloading , if you don't have a stack of pre panic sourced Primers .

About a month or six weeks ago a modest batch of primers hit the distribution channels , and is already gone . Without giving away my FFL friend's wholesale pricing , he retailed them just under $100 , and most dealers pre- panic margins would have put them a bit over $100 . But no further batches have since hit the distribution channels .

For a recent aquisition for which I will be doing cast bullet handloads on purpose , I was cought with zero LRP , and had to pay Market Rate from gun show seller of $15/ hundred for 300 . ( Did fine once fired .30-30 brass for $17/ 50 on the internet , but brass prices are spotty and volitile .

Conversely , I've been finding powder throughout the panic at not outrageous prices . This weekend found 3031, 4064, 4895, BL-C2 , Unique , and 4759 all for $20- 25 .

Ammo prices have been gradually dropping . ( The long term trickle up effect of the Russian Ammo Ban to be determined .

As of Today , my recommendation for PP as regards .45acp is to purchase medium quanities of reloadable factory ammo , and save the brass . Meanwhile picking up reloading equipment ( hardware) as you find it at decent- ish price new or used , and powders . Once supply and cost of primers and bullets drop to within 100% over pre- panic , get medium quanities of those , and start reloading .

******************

The other - other factor of handloading is that even when component costs are close to cheap generic blasting ammo , you can make much higher quality ammo , tailored to your guns preference , and at your desired velocities .
 

wwb

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Reloading for a shotgun is a no-brainer.... for target shooting. Hunting quantities are small enough that it's not worth getting into reloading. If you're already a reloader, then adding hunting loads to the mix is easy.

I shoot a 1 oz load of #8 at 1150 fps for 16 yard trap. Low recoil, 1 oz instead of 1-1/8 oz (shot currently running $50 per 25 lb bag). Try finding a factory load like that. If you're on the bird, it breaks,and if you're not on the bird, a pound of shot won't break it.

For skeet practice, I use a Claybuster wad that puts a 3/4 oz load in a 12 gauge with #8-1/2 shot (basically a 28 gauge load). Shooting in league, I up the load to 1 oz of #8-1/2. Again, you can't buy a factory load like that.

Even with current prices, the 1 oz loads are just over $5 per box, while factory target loads are now $8 for the cheap ones, and $10 to $12 for AAs or STS.
 

Rick Courtright

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wwb said:
Even with current prices, the 1 oz loads are just over $5 per box, while factory target loads are now $8 for the cheap ones, and $10 to $12 for AAs or STS.

Hi,

In late June I was at the CA State Trapshooting Championship. The 16 yd championship event is a 200 target race. Read "8 boxes of shells required." We shot a short squad, 4 of us instead of the usual 5. Three of us were reloaders, and had adequate amounts of $6/box shells in the vehicles.

The fourth guy told us he'd scoured all of the northern half of Los Angeles County to come up with 8 boxes of shells to shoot that event. He finally found 8 boxes of a matching load from Fiocchi (usually a dollar or so less than AA/STS in my part of town) for the princely sum of $20/box. $160 for the event. It cost him more for ammo than the other 3 of us combined!

This is one reason price is still a consideration with my reloading, but not necessarily the most important any more!

Rick C
 

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