Thinking About Reloading

I’m sure there are some of you out there that are reloaders.  The price of 5.56x45mm has me seriously considering taking it up as a hobby.  It looks to me like the money saved doing it yourself is really negligible unless you reuse your brass.

What are the advantages to reloading really?   Can it save money?  How many times can you typically reuse brass?  Is it worth it for me to invest in all the equipment to do it?  Are there hazards?  The ammo I spend the most amount of time shooting, other than .22LR, is .223, 9x19mm, 9x18mm and 7.62×39.   I think the latter two, because they are typically Berdan primed, would be hard to reload.   Any advise is appreciated.

8 thoughts on “Thinking About Reloading”

  1. With medium pressure loads like 30-30 and .38 special I would expect each case to last for about 20 reloads. Failure will be head separation if there are head space issues and neck splitting otherwise. For non self loading rifles, neck sizing will extend the case life significantly.

    All of the cartridges you listed for reloading are higher pressure so if you do not load down, I would expect up to 5 reloads. You could do better then that depending on the specific circumstances. Maximum loads in some firearms will preclude reusing the brass.

    Besides saving money the advantages include tailoring the loads to the application. You could use less expensive bullets and smaller charges of faster burning powder yielding a lower cost per shot.

    Unless you are committed, I recommend starting with a simple setup using a strong single stage press just to get an idea of what you are getting into.

  2. While hardly an expert myself, I find reloading economical if I weight the math some.

    Compared to $35.18 per 50 ($0.70 each) for Subsonic 9mm, I figure my hand loads cost 4 1/2 cents each, at $0.65 per round savings, the press was breakeven after a little more than 1,000 rounds.

    I chose a different avenue than David recommended above and went for a high speed multistage loader (Dillon XL-650). The less hassle in the process and more output (number of rounds per hour) make reloading something you will be more likely to do again and again.

    Read up (multiple source) on the various load recommendation. Start with lower-power rounds and build up.

    Weigh the powder charge constantly even if you use an automatice powder thrower.

    You may want to test reound with a Chrony to time your loads.

    Keep a log file of batches. Powder tiype, grains of propellant used, bullet wieight, etc.

    Get it all dialed in, crank out a few thousand and enjoy!

  3. You can get both those last two in Boxer primed brass, then after shooting the factory loads reuse the brass. Also there are vendors who deal brass of all types to meet reloaders’ needs Starline is the only one that comes to mind at the moment, but there are quite a few others.

    I have a Lee single stage set up for reloading that I bought brand new for about a $100. I haven’t used it yet, due to some serious interruptions in normal life around here. Also I want to get or build a small outbuilding dedicated just for that.

  4. A lot of vendors advertise in Shotgun News. A tabloid style paper dedicated to guns and shooting.

    And of course there are reloading manuals available. I have a Lee’s. Good magazine racks wil also have mags dedicated to reloading. You could probably find a lot of vendors advertised in them.

    sorry, I couldn’t be more specific. Hope it helps, though.

  5. Stay away from the Lee stuff. It is not top quality.

    My reloading stuff is RCBS and Dillon, outstanding warranties from both companies. RCBS replaced some parts that I lost. Dillon will replace my press if I decide to toss it out of a helicopter and let a truck run over it.

    Reloading pistol ammo is not a huge deal, and is fairly easy to do in quantity, expecially if you use a progressive press like a Dillon. Rifle ammo is more of a problem. Resizing rifle ammo takes more force, requires the cases to be lubed to pass through the dies, and generally requires the brass to be cleaner.

    Back when I did a bunch of reloading, it did save money. I stopped reloading 9mm when Walmart cut the price of it in half. I have no choice but to reload .303 Brit for the Lewis — factory ammo in that caliber is way too pricey. I have to reload for the Lahti — Walmart doesn’t sell 20mmX138mm. It makes no sense to reload 8mm Mauser, given that it usually costs less than 9mm.

    I don’t think I would reload .223, I would (and do) just buy Georgia Arms reloads. The only time I reload .223 is when I need a WHOLE lot of tracer.

    Get a progressive press to save you time. This is serious business though, if you make a mistake while reloading you can get seriously hurt.

    My advise is calculate how much it will cost you to reload a given caliber, how much you will shot, and how much you will save over factory ammo. Consider these dollars saved against your free time. Which is worth more to you?

  6. Nothing wrong with Lee stuff. This is kinda like the “which is better, Chevy or Ford?” question. It’s all good, buy what best fits your budget. I’ve used Lee equipment for years with no problems.

  7. For good info on reloading, try the Reloading Forum at He’s a rep for Dillon and Dillon is held in very high regard among ipsc shooters, but for the most part it is just a matter of taste. Lee, RCBS, Dillon, seems like whichever one was your first press is the best press.

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