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What's the best bang-for-the-buck in reloading? [ambien fueled question]

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by jrpascucci, Feb 12, 2019.

  1. jrpascucci

    jrpascucci NES Member

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    ...by which I mean, what normal-for-purpose cartridge would save you the most?

    Basically, could I buy a (non-curio, no parlor guns) gun where if I reload the ammo, it would "pay for itself", eventually, pull for pull?

    So, like good factory 338 lapua magnum is 4 or 5 bucks a round.

    Nossler brass: 3 bucks per case, 4(?) reuses. = .75 + .05 primer + .0165 powder + 1.00 bullet + conditioning = about 4.5 factory-2 production = 2.5. Thus, if I fire 1000 rounds, I've "saved" 2,500 dollars. (p.s. I am well aware I am doing math on ambien, now shush). So, if I buy a gun for 5000, reloading for it would 'pay for itself' after 2000 rounds.

    Is there a better whizbang round that does better at those calculations? I'm basically looking for a long range rifle to invest in (although I'm willing to hear the ambien-based economic argument for something like 458 socom or even federal 45-70 - I think a 50bmg is already almost a commodity, isn't it?) that will "pay for itself" if only I fire enough rounds using the above calculations.

    (To reiterate: normal, average cartridges for the use, not some special one-offs, not to sell, but to shoot)
     

  2. EddieCoyle

    EddieCoyle Consigliere Moderator NES Member

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    How about 44 Special?

    You can get 100 cases for $24, good quality jacketed 240gr bullets for $0.18 per bullet and you'll need $0.10 worth of primer and powder per round.

    That's $404 for 2K rounds. The cheapest you'll find good jacketed ammo is about about $0.85 per round. So you'll save about $1296 per $2000 rounds.

    Almost enough to buy this:

    [​IMG]

    and this....

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. daekken

    daekken NES Member

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    In my experience basically every cartridge would "eventually pay for itself." I don't load any rounds at a loss--the closest are 9mm and .223 but even those there's a slight margin. Conversely, my 303 British is a good deal better. You also need to define "normal average cartridge" - I wouldn't consider .338 to be "average" but I would consider 7.62x54R to be average. Most centerfire rifle I save around 30 cents per round or so. I've been reloading for about 3 years now and I am around $96 away from "paying it off." I track everything though, including tumbling media, case lube, etc. If you cast the savings can be even better. I'm doing all single stage but I'm tempted to use some tax return for a progressive to 9mm, 38spl and maybe .223.

    In the end it's a matter of:
    - Do you enjoy reloading as an art unto itself? (I do)
    - Is the potential savings worth your time investment (I don't tend to do .223 for this reason)

    Your savings will be amount per round multiplied by the number of rounds. Save a lot per round? You don't have to make that many to offset your costs. Can you crank out tons of them? Then even saving a few cents per round will cover the price in time. A progressive will allow you to recover your costs fairly quickly even on a cartridge you're barely saving on. Since I use a single stage, I tend to opt for higher savings per round like 30-06, 9x18 Mak, 8mm Mauser, etc.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  4. pastera

    pastera

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    30-06
    Grabbed an insane deal on Nossler 155 grain match bullets - $.16 each
    Can load for around $.37/round versus almost $1/round for cheap factory ammo.

    Need to keep an eye out for another deal like that.
    Have an old Lyman mold for a 180g gas checked bullet - between gas checks and harder alloy, I'm not sure I can cast much cheaper than $.16 (to make it worth casting)
     
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  5. MarkT

    MarkT NES Member

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    Wow, that's cheap. How much powder are you using?
     
  6. pastera

    pastera

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    42g of 4895 - shoots better than I can in my 1903 (sporterized a long time before I got it)
    $28/lb * 42/7000 = $0.17
    Primer 0.03

    I think there was a pricing error when I got the bullets but didn't hesitate on hitting the buy button.

    Edit - boarding my flight interrupted my post
    PS - I hate United and can't think of anything positive about their experience except getting off one of their flights.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  7. Wickedcoolname

    Wickedcoolname NES Member

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    I was loading .38 special, 158 grn, SWC with scrounged brass, power and primers purchased in 1989 and bullets cast from free wheel weights. If I remember correctly a box of fifty had less than $2 worth of material. That's a lot of bang for the buck.
     
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  8. Fritz the Cat

    Fritz the Cat NES Member

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    Like pastera said, 30-06 or 308 is going to give you the best bang for your buck. The components are everywhere and often on sale. A quick trip over to Midway shows Hornady 30-06 brass at 40¢ and Hornady 338 Lapua at $2.45 and those are the regular prices without searching for sales.
    Same story for 308 cal. VS 338 cal. The 338 is always a pit pricier per piece. And if the case has a higher volume, more powder per round needed.
     
  9. Coyote33

    Coyote33

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  10. EddieZoom

    EddieZoom NES Member

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    Right on, with an emphasis on the first one.
     
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  11. andrew1220

    andrew1220 NES Member

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    You can get good quality 240 gr JSPs for ~13 cents shipped when buying 1k. So the savings is even better.

    But yeah reloading 44 spl/44 mag saves me a ton. One of my favorite calibers to reload and shoot - so versatile. 357 mag is close too...
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  12. mannydog

    mannydog NES Member

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    Eddie has it right, in my humble opinion.

    Long story, and I'm not going to go on about it, but I have plenty of components, 4 presses, and all the gear packed in boxes, and I haven't been able to reload in 18 months. I really miss it. To me, the whole process is very satisfying.

    It's been said a hundred times on this Forum, you'll save money but shoot more.

    I say do it.
     
  13. Arto

    Arto NES Member

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    Reloading used to be about saving money... now it's mainly about optimizing accuracy/loading specialty bullets
     
  14. nhams

    nhams NES Member

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    +1 to 44 magnum (or 44 special, if you prefer).

    Factory ammo seems to be about 50 cents/round. Handloaded ammo is far cheaper, plus quite accutate. Plus, you can make anything from mousefart target loads to H110 fireballs that make the rest of your fellow shooters on the line look over :).

    And, if you are in a state that allows it, the right 44 magnum ammo is a proper hunting load for some larger game in the northeast.
     
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  15. jrpascucci

    jrpascucci NES Member

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    Thanks for the thoughts. (No longer on ambien, but catch me again in a few hours.)

    Point taken: I'm looking for some kind of non-exotic cartridge that has a fundamental, optimal purpose, at a particular range (i.e. probably avoid anything I can think of with Wby, Rby, and most things with "Nitro" in the name, or their less well known and metaphorical equivalents)

    For _this_ particular completely fake exercise in fiscal responsibility, I'm more looking for the excuse for something significant in a rifle, more for target than for hunting, 338 lapua and 458 socom being indicative of the class I was thinking about. (I should have been more specific, sorry.)
    I'm already planning to reload 223, 308 and 6.5 creedmore for match accuracy (got a rock chucker just for this).

    In general, I'm already planning to 'pay off the reloading setup' within 2 years (all inclusive) with competition handgun rounds. This is really easy to justify when my one of my two preferred round ended up being 147 9mm Rem HTP subsonic, which I was stupidly buying from cabella's for $30 a box without really thinking about it. The other one, which is sufficiently inexpensive at .30/rd, is one I can't seem to keep in store regularly without making it a chore.

    "Eventually" would be measured in like the 1000 rd range, I guess. Something in lapua is a dice roll at the 2000 round mark if you include appropriate optics.
     
  16. dw617

    dw617 NES Member

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    I fail to understand this logic, perhaps I have a different perspective around reloading.

    For me, it's two fold. The hobby aspect of making ammo was what originally attracted me. I loved the concept of being able to make ammo in the morning and then go shoot it in the afternoon.

    Second, as a high power shooter, reloading is a requirement. Financially, I would be unable to compete if I had to buy factory ammo. It's not how much I can save over factory ammo, it's how cost effectively I can put together quality ammunition. Reloading becomes more cost effective when you can afford to jump on components during sales and buy in bulk. A good example is a few posts up, when the nosler 155's were on sale for 15/16c shipped. I have a few K of those on my shelf.

    Something else to consider is the time commitment. What's your time worth?

    Additional thoughts - your reloading setup isn't a static one and done cost. Once you trim several hundred cases by hand, you're going to want to find a better way via something like a Giraud trimmer. Another example, I have several 223 seating dies for each brand and weight of bullet I seat, as I don't want to have to re-adjust the same one every time. You will always be able to find something to spend money on to help optimize your workflow on the reloading bench. Also, don't buy a cheap electronic scale. Get a beam scale straight out of the gate and learn how to use it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
  17. mac1911

    mac1911 NES Member

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    Factor in any increase in accuracy also, I can load 338 lapua with cast loads for about .20 cents. ? Depends on what your end goal is. If your shooting a lot of expensive ammo that runs $4 per round can you load better ammo for less: sure.
    If you only shoot 20-30 rounds of $4 ammo a year is it worth reloading for?

    I think trying to reload the cheapest ammo components you can is not worth time and effort , generally. Unless your just. Blasting.
    I have a stock pile of 223 55 grain bullets few thousand cases of free cases and use powder I paid $75 for 8lbs so I can load cheap ammo that shoots much better than the cheapest brass cased ammo out there for around .16 cents. - until I run out of these supplies. When I do I would just buy plinking ammo
    My most “expensive” cal is a little old 32sw runs about .50 cents round retail. I can load it for about .07 casting my own bullets. The primer is the expensive part .02 cents!
    Grain for grain it’s a expensive round!
    Reload to load the ammo you want and what works for you.

    You won’t really save money I still manage to spend $2000 yr on reloading supplied vs buying $2000 worth of ammo. I can just shoot more.

    You really only get ahead if you buy your own reloads at market value and actually put that money away.
    I buy my own reloads , every box I shoot I stuff the cost of the reloads plus $5 in a box. It helps pay for supplies
     
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  18. jrpascucci

    jrpascucci NES Member

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    In a sense, I consider my post and this thread to be an exercise in brainstorming, and thank you all for your participation thus far.

    I don't know if I will enjoy it over the long term (it's interesting now because it's new), but I'm looking to optimize what it gets me in the way of 'experiences'.

    As for potential savings...and answering dw

    Did you ever know a woman who spent $500 worth of clothes 'on sale', who came home excited and satisfied she had saved almost $1000?

    In my particular case,
    • I can afford factory ammo and have been going through high quantities for the last two years. I'd say outside of winter, I went through $700-1000 a month last year (you'd think I'd be better at it for all that), although I do have a stockpile sufficient to last me through most of the uspsa competition season this year. Since then, I have picked up some more things to do.
    • Once I made the decision, I could justify already investing whole hog in reloading (just received another big box of stuff from fedex while I was writing this) with an eye to 1) optimization of time for some things, 2) optimization for accuracy for others.
    • Thus, I can consider those decisions as a 'sunk cost': that money is gone (even if I haven't spent it yet). 9, 40, 45acp, 223, 308 and 6.5, and shotgun are or will all be accounted for. So, for the marginal value of a set of dies and reloading components, I can afford to try new things.
    So, given those facts, of the money I may have spent on factory ammo, what's the most efficient use such that I'll get the most interesting and varied shooting experiences?

    Put another way, from a absolute perspective without regard to the reloading cost, it's easy for me to justify getting 50 BMG barrett or a DE in 50 ae, a bolt action 338 lapua (probably) or 300 winmag for range (although the longest I might regularly be shooting is 600yrds and 1k if granby gets out of troubles), 300blk and 458 socom if I decide to try a suppressor platform, 45-70, 45lc, or 30-30 for an excuse to have a lever rifle, 44 mag and (as mentioned) 38 spl/357mag and download them to do CAS if it ever sufficiently interests me. And, of course, I don't own a 22.

    In that context, this is just one way I may decide between the above (or other things I haven't thought about yet).

    I mean, maybe looking at one gun as the 'best victim' to slake my incessant need for novelty isn't the proper way to look at it given my goals. Perhaps the right plan for me is to buy used guns and used reloading dies and small amounts of components and such, try things for a while, then sell them as a package, and then buy something else.
    Hum - if I do that, that actually changes the way I should set up my bench a little. But it also seems like even more work.

    Anyway: more ideas welcome, and thank you for the stimulus thus far!
     
  19. daekken

    daekken NES Member

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    Like mac said, it does give you more options; for pistol I can save about 18 cents per round of 9mm Makarov. After about 250 rounds I've paid the dies off. It also provides these benefits:
    - I'm not as beholden to availability; if I can find the projectiles, I'm safe. I can convert 9x19 brass if needed, small pistol primers are plentiful, powder is available. I only know one store near me that has it in stock somewhat regularly, and it ain't cheap.
    - I can load it "light" - 9x18 in the Mak from the factory can be slightly snappy; I can load down if I want for just casual practice/enjoyment

    I don't consider myself as having "saved" by reloading per se, but I do get to go to the range probably 2x or 3x as often for the same net cost. PPU M1 30-06 runs 65 cents each; when you can reload for roughly half, you can do two trips instead of one for the same price. It grants a degree of invulnerability to panics/import issues, though not entirely as components can dry up. For certain stuff, I believe, PPU only imports once a year, and when it's gone, it's gone. As long as I can scrounge up components, I can keep shooting.

    Before Targetsports, the shops near me wanted $1/round for 303 British. I can reload a box of 20 for about $7.50, so I very quickly "saved" a lot--but it was actualized in the form of shooting my Lee-Enfield a lot more than I would have otherwise been able to.

    As others have said, reloading costs are not fixed. You'll need case lube, media for tumbling, etc. I factor all those into my costs. On top of that there's lots of doodads I'd like--I weight every charge by hand, and I'd like a dispenser to speed that up. I've also been adding neck dies for my bolt gun cals to make it a little easier both in terms of energy and brass strain. Basically, I keep trying to analyze my biggest pain points/least enjoyable phases/largest time investment to improve my efficiency. It's cost-benefit analysis too. I know there's some really great high end equipment out there but I don't load in the volumes to justify that.
     
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  20. mac1911

    mac1911 NES Member

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    I will add, I started reloading just because I would need to go to several gun shops on a Saturday or Sunday to get a 1000 rounds of anything ! There was no shortage of ammo but other than a few gun shops in NH there where just not a lot of shops stocking large quanities here in SE MA. Other than bulk cans of x39 and 54r which where 3x the cost vs other places. As internet availability grew so did options

    Then the time factor. 10 years ago I would not think twice about taking a 3-5 hr road trip on a sat morning to gun shop tour and meet up for group buys and trade/swap. Now with 3 kids and life as busy as can be I’m gathering up all my 223 to send out to be processed. Enough so that I won’t have to prep 223 for at least 3 years ! It’s worth the .07 cents a case for time saved in that aspect.
    Reloading is like this

    You do it cause your young and broke and can shoot more
    As you shoot more you load for more accuracy
    As you get older you can afford to buy ammo but still reload
    Then you get old and don’t want to waste what little time you have reloading you just buy ammo and shoot when you can until you can’t.
    I reload because I get the ammo I want and it’s a little break from everyday life. I don’t find to many ammanufactures selling a 200 grain cast load that will cycle a M1 garand and shoot about 3moa. That’s cost me nothing but powder and primer
     
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  21. cjrubes

    cjrubes NES Member

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    This is one of the main reasons why I got into reloading...to have the ability to shoot all my milsurps on a more regular basis without paying $1 per round in most cases. Plus I like the added benefit of being able to tailor loads to each rifle. That goes a long way to getting good accuracy out of them. I've found that factory loads don't necessarily shoot all that well in my milsurps.
     
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  22. daekken

    daekken NES Member

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    When I got into shooting, 7.62x54R was normally 40-45 cents per round for corrosive surplus. I can load it cheaper than that today, non-corrosive, obviously, and make "light" loads that have plenty of comparable accuracy with a lot less recoil.
     
  23. 44marty

    44marty NES Member

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    Weatherby magnums (any of them) are pricey ammo, but the brass just lasts and lasts. My .300 WBY brass lasts much longer than .300 Win Mag.
    7.5 Swiss also a cost saver.
    Both these rifles are absolute tack drivers (I'm talking about better than 1/2 MOA) with reloads
     
  24. Howland

    Howland

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    Now you're talking.

    100 pieces of Lapua brass $260 (on sale, see what I did there). 10 loads per case (conservative, you should get more) = 26¢ per round.

    Federal 215M primers, $60/1,000 =6¢ per round.

    Powder, $32/lb. should get 80+ rounds = 40¢ per round.

    Bullets, the ones I just got are $37/box of 50 = 74¢ per round.

    $1.44 per round. Factory ammo, $4 per round. Minimum.

    So you save $2.56 each time you pull the trigger. Spend a full day at the range and you might be able to save $1,000. In a couple months you'll be rich.

    BTW, definitely get the Giraud .338 Comparator Guage. At $33 it's nice. Knowing chamber headspace and exactly where ogive contacts the lands is critical to get you to 2,000 if that's what you want.
     
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  25. TrashcanDan

    TrashcanDan NES Member

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    Typically the more costly the store bought ammo is where you'll see the biggest return (if there is such a thing), meaning it'll take longer to recoup on 9mm vs. .338. Obviously loading for precision long distance rifle is also going to cost more per round than loading bulk 9mm for minor p.f.

    Scrounge up brass and lead and it cuts the cost down even more. Depends on how much work you want to put into it and what you want to accomplish.

    Lets not forget the ever so famous counter-argument : "well whats your time worth?", which I see used mostly in reference to buying reloading presses or casting lead.


    Amen to that. Saved a ton with reloading .44 spl.
     
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  26. andrew1220

    andrew1220 NES Member

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    I’m not a precision rifle shooter but if you’re shooting 600-1000 yards, 308 and 6.5 would be perfect for those distances? No? 338 will give you great long distance results but at the cost of some serious blast/recoil. And cost of course - even if you reload. YMMV.
     
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  27. daekken

    daekken NES Member

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    What about 224 Valkyrie? I'm kind of interested in it myself.
     
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  28. NavelOfficer

    NavelOfficer

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    Another candidate: .277 Wolverine.
    Take advantage of all the discounted .277" diameter bullets that go unsold in most guns shops.
     
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  29. TrashcanDan

    TrashcanDan NES Member

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    I'd kind of like one of those. Looks like a .222 mag on steroids.
     
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  30. daekken

    daekken NES Member

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    I like the 22-250 a lot, so for me it seems like an AR in 22-250 which would be kind of cool.
    I have done very little research into it but the premise is interesting and I bet you could save a ton reloading it.
     
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