The Price of Your Time, Part 1

So, you like shooting, do ya’? You just bought that wonder gun and you’re getting into competitive shooting, going to the range to practice regularly, maybe trying to make a match a month. Right after you bought the gun you ordered a 1000 round bulk pack from your favorite online vendor and it seems to be melting away like a snowman on a warm sunny morning.

You had saved for almost a year to get the gun and that crate of ammo, and while buying more isn’t impossible, the idea that you will be doing this every couple of months is making you consider getting a .22 revolver. This is not necessarily a bad idea, plenty of people decide to go this way, but you keep hearing about reloading with cast bullets.

Reloading and bullet casting. It is a number of different things.

1. It can be a way to save a lot of money.
2. It can be a way to create ammo that is more accurate than anything but the finest match ammo you can buy
3. It can be a way to learn a lot about about firearms and ammunition, mostly by making mistakes.
4. It is a way to spend a lot of time.
5. It is a way to spend more money on a bunch of specialized equipment and components that you have to use to break even on.

It was hard to get started. I didn’t know what to buy, how to use it, if I could do it safely, or if it was even something I wanted to do. I was finally pushed by one friend and taught by another. I learned how using someone else’s equipment before I bought anything. This isn’t one post, or even a series of posts, it’s a book. In fact, it’s several books and better, more experienced reloaders than me have already written them. Still, since everyone likes things for free and I am always looking for blogfodder, I’ll write about it.

Here’s my introductory observation about reloading.

Those are real values for powder and primers. I’m using cast bullets I make myself and used brass that I tumble. There are some incremental costs for bullet lube, propane, and electricity. Even if that added up to another dollar a hundred, for $50.00 a thousand I am making good quality reliable ammo. I can afford to practice and compete at that price. Everything else that follows circles back to that.

By sowing frugality we reap liberty, a golden harvest.
–Agesilaus

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4 thoughts on “The Price of Your Time, Part 1

  1. What a coincidence.

    I've been close to getting started reloading for months now. I've saved all my rifle brass for my last few range trips. But I figure if I'm going to reload, I should reload both pistol and rifle, because I'll save the most on pistol ammo.

    Last weekend I put together a spreadsheet estimate for what I want to do and I'm coming up with around $1200 to get started. My biggest problem is not knowing what I need, but wanting to order everything at once, so I don't sit down on a Saturday to start and end up being short of some widget.

    Any more info would be appreciated.

  2. If I remember correctly, (this was a few years ago), the break even point is 5000 rounds before you actually see the reduction in costs (assumes you amortize the physical equipment over 5000 rounds)… I WISH I could reload where I live, but the apartments would have kittens…

  3. Graybeard,
    I just started reading this blog and the posts about reloading. But, I went through the same process about 4 years ago, getting started with another guy showing me what to do and letting me borrow his equipment at the beginning.

    You can get into reloading for a lot less, a lot less, than $1200. My suggestion is to get a moderate kit to get started, not the greatest and best, and not the least, and start with pistol ammo only. (Rifle is a bit more complicated, get some experience with pistol before launching into that).

    1) –> The best bang-for-the buck I think is a Lee Classic Turret Press kit. Order the kit (a little over $100 at Midway and other places). Buy a set of dies (get the Lee 4 die set) for 9mm, 38, 40, or 45 or whatever it is you shoot.
    The kit will have most of the stuff you'll need, it doesn't cost much more than a single stage press kit, but it will let you make a lot more ammo than with a single stage. And the turret press is simple enough you can start out with it. DO NOT start out with a progressive press, there's too much going on to learn it safely.
    2) Get a few other things and tools that aren't in the kit. Get a dial caliper, a small or a big tumbler, some tumbler media (corncob and/or walnut).
    3) Buy some components at Bass Pro or the gunshow or somehere. Get a couple hundred primers, a pound of some kind of pistol powder, and some bullets.

    Before you do any of this though, check out “The ABCs of Reloading” from your library, and read it. It explains how all the tools and processes work.

    There is no cooler hobby rush than screwing up your courage to shoot your very first reloads, pulling the trigger, and wow- it works just like the book said it would! Great stuff.

    Later on you can spend more on better equipment and so forth. I started out 4 years ago loading just 9mm and 38, maybe a hundred rounds at a time. Now I reload EVERYTHING except my rimfires, even got into reloading for shotgun. I also got into casting bullets and do my own handgun bullets, shotgun slugs, and buckshot. Rifle cast bullets are a special case and you don't necessarily need to go there, at least not at first.

    Good luck, and have fun!

  4. Graybeard,
    I just started reading this blog and the posts about reloading. But, I went through the same process about 4 years ago, getting started with another guy showing me what to do and letting me borrow his equipment at the beginning.

    You can get into reloading for a lot less, a lot less, than $1200. My suggestion is to get a moderate kit to get started, not the greatest and best, and not the least, and start with pistol ammo only. (Rifle is a bit more complicated, get some experience with pistol before launching into that).

    1) –> The best bang-for-the buck I think is a Lee Classic Turret Press kit. Order the kit (a little over $100 at Midway and other places). Buy a set of dies (get the Lee 4 die set) for 9mm, 38, 40, or 45 or whatever it is you shoot.
    The kit will have most of the stuff you'll need, it doesn't cost much more than a single stage press kit, but it will let you make a lot more ammo than with a single stage. And the turret press is simple enough you can start out with it. DO NOT start out with a progressive press, there's too much going on to learn it safely.
    2) Get a few other things and tools that aren't in the kit. Get a dial caliper, a small or a big tumbler, some tumbler media (corncob and/or walnut).
    3) Buy some components at Bass Pro or the gunshow or somehere. Get a couple hundred primers, a pound of some kind of pistol powder, and some bullets.

    Before you do any of this though, check out “The ABCs of Reloading” from your library, and read it. It explains how all the tools and processes work.

    There is no cooler hobby rush than screwing up your courage to shoot your very first reloads, pulling the trigger, and wow- it works just like the book said it would! Great stuff.

    Later on you can spend more on better equipment and so forth. I started out 4 years ago loading just 9mm and 38, maybe a hundred rounds at a time. Now I reload EVERYTHING except my rimfires, even got into reloading for shotgun. I also got into casting bullets and do my own handgun bullets, shotgun slugs, and buckshot. Rifle cast bullets are a special case and you don't necessarily need to go there, at least not at first.

    Good luck, and have fun!

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