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Thread: Some basic questions...

  1. #1
    Member bgreen's Avatar
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    Default Some basic questions...

    I am doing some calculations and research to see if reloading is the way to go for me, maybe some of you can provide me with a little assistance.

    I am starting out wanting to reload for 44 Magnum, 243 Winchester, and 338 Winchester Magnum. Later I would be reloading for 223 Remington, 270 Winchester, 30-06 Springfield, 375 Holland & Holland, 20 ga, 12 ga, 357 Magnum, and possibly anything under the sun. (I could get the bug, you just never know )

    1. How many shots is a piece of brass good for if one doesn't load for maximum velocity, etc.?
    2. At what point (# of rounds / year) would a person start to greatly benefit from a turret press?
    3. What kinds of equipment would you recommend for an anal machinist obsessed with accuracy (as in dimensional accuracy, not necessarily shot/group accuracy) and fine craftsmanship, VS your typical new reloader with no technical background. I have mild OCD and I know it, so if I get into reloading I want to purchase equipment that I wont later want to replace with "the next best thing", what would you recommend?
    4. I added 12 and 20 ga in the above list because I rarely see anyone talk online about reloading for shotguns, but since I just now getting into this aspect of shooting sports I have the opportunity to make purchases that might benefit rifle, handgun, and possibly shotgun reloading. Any thoughts on what equipment might be better with the knowledge that shotgun reloading might be part of the equation?
    5. Any words of wisdom you might have that I might not find by searching this forum?
    As always, thank you for anything you might provide.

    Sincerely,

    Brook Green
    The individual right to keep and bear arms shall not be denied or infringed by the State or a political subdivision of the State.

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    Anytime you start shooting reloads for fun it gets hard to keep up with. So unless you have lots of free time, a turret or progressive press is a good idea. Though I will say a single stage is good to learn on and still handy to have around. I do all my loading on an RCBS Pro 2000, you should also look at Dillon Precision, both companies have really good service.
    Brass is usually good for multiple reloads, upwards of 10 if taken care of and not loaded hot. I always inspect before loading for signs of stress.
    I load from the .357 Sig up to the .45-110 on my press. It seems I can never make enough ammo for the autoloaders, they just eat it too fast. lol
    I dont load shotshells, so I'm no help there.
    Most of the companies that make reloading equipment build good stuff, though personally I would rank Hornady, RCBS, Dillon, and Redding at the top of the pile.

    hope this helps!

  3. #3
    Member bgreen's Avatar
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    Here is the calcs I've been doing, see whatcha think...

    Store bought ammo (these rough numbers are based on what I have paid for the ammo I have shot since last November)
    .338 Win Mag - 69 rounds in 1 month, will avg. about 50/mo @ 2.25/round = $112/month and $1350/year

    .243 Winchester - 245 rounds in 5 months, will avg. 50/mo @ 1.25/round = $63/mo and 750/year

    .44 mag - 150 rounds in 5 months, will avg. 30/mo @ .70/round = $21 $252/year

    Totals for off the shelf ammo
    130 rounds/mo actual @ $196
    $2352/year

    Hand loading ammo
    .338 win mag
    Primers .025/round
    Powder .16/round 65 grains on average, 1lb of powder = about 107 rounds for about $17 = .16/round
    Bullets .50/bullet
    Total per .685
    Total/month $47.27
    Total/year $567


    .243 win
    Primers .025
    Powder .10 40 grains on average, 1lb of powder = about 175 rounds for about $17 = .10/round
    Bullets .30/ bullet
    Total per .425
    Total/month $21.25
    Total/year $255


    44 mag
    Primers .025
    Powder .04 15 grains on average, 1lb of powder = about 460 rounds for about $17 = .04/round
    Bullets .14/bullet
    Total per .205
    Total/month $6.15
    Total/year $73.8

    Overall handloading totals per year - $895.8
    *per month - $74.68

    Handloading savings per year - $1456.2
    *per month - $121.32

    Percent savings - 62%, slightly less when I have to start buying brass

    Basically it all boils down to the 62%, and that if I keep shooting at the same average rate for one year I will have spent almost 1500 dollars on ammo that could have gone toward reloading equipment that will provide me similar savings for years to come. (I didn't include brass because at this point I have about a years supply of brass if I can get about 10 reloads per)

    Question #6: What percentage of your reloading ends up being money spent on brass?
    Last edited by bgreen; 02-11-2007 at 19:40.
    The individual right to keep and bear arms shall not be denied or infringed by the State or a political subdivision of the State.

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    Member bgreen's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply tenmm, you bring up a good point.

    I personally don't need to justify hand loading by cost, I'm interested in it for other reasons as well... fun, accuracy, loads I cant purchase off the shelf, etc. Cost just happens to be the main factor that my lovely wife is most concerned with. [grin] For some reason she thinks I might already have enough expensive hobbies. [/grin]
    The individual right to keep and bear arms shall not be denied or infringed by the State or a political subdivision of the State.

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    Member Kay9Cop's Avatar
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    I've never used a turret press so I can't tell you when you might need to switch to one. I can load 100 shells in a couple of hours so I haven't gotten to the point where I will shoot more often than I can reload.

    If you're concerned about tolerances you'll want to weigh each powder charge. A digital scale/dispenser combo is the way to go if you weigh each one. I was never fond of weighing charges until the powder charge came out to the weight I wanted and then not checking the weight anymore. A balance scale takes forever to weigh each charge.

    Most any single stage press is good. The difference is in the dies. You can spend a lot of money to get really good dies. If you want the most accurate you'll cast your chamber and send it to a custom die maker to have dies made specifically for your gun.

    I usually chuck my brass after five firings for belted magnums and 10 firings for the rest. I'm sure I could get more but that's my cut off. I use Norma brass because it has a good reputation, but it's a little spendy. Remington and Winchester seem to go through phases where the brass is good then a few years later it will be not so good.

    I've got no idea about shotgun shells.

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    Brook,

    As much ammo as you shoot you could save enough to buy a house in just a few years. :-)

    1. Ten. Pretty safe bet for normal loads. Loading technique matters.
    2. I don't think a turret will make a difference with a large number of rounds, but it is mucho convenient. I use one almost every day. If you're reffering to a progressive loader, such as a dillion 550 which can be used to load all you listed, I would think at about 500 rifle or 1000 pistol per month would be the point to invest in a Dillon.
    3. Redding; presses dies and powder dispensers. Forster; case prep tools and RCBS; bench mounted Auto primer tool.
    4. Shotgun shells are a totally different operation and should not be considered on the same bench.
    5. Buy a bunch of manuals first and read them all. Buy the best equipment you can afford and take care of it.

    For this OCD you should consult with Doc. He can help but if it is in regard to reloading he would likely be guilty of aiding and abetting.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  7. #7
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    Brook-
    If you are serious about precision-made equipment, you'll probably want to check out Sinclair. The stuff is out of my price range, but I haven't heard anything bad about it.

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    ...thanks for bringing me into this discussion Professor M...

    Brook,

    You've gotten lots of good advice regarding materials and brands to consider from the other guys, and I really can't add anything to their good points. However, let me comment from a slightly different perspective that I am sure is also shared by the others who responded to you. Speaking as a handloader (not as a behavioral health expert), I encourage you to pick up the hobby...if you think you'll like it, not primarily to save money. I personally enjoy handloading, and I actually find it to be relaxing. Carefully working up loads at my bench, fine tuning them at the range with people who share in my interests, and then actually taking game with my own stuff is truly rewarding for me. I like all of it...although at times it can be maddening and I have to remind myself that it's just a hobby. Personally, I'm not that sure about the cost savings. I guess I've saved money over the years...in ammunition costs. I'm a quality over quantity guy, using a single stage press all along and taking pride in my product (...I'm a little OCD myself). I don't handload huge volumes of ammunition, but for the last ten years or so I have only shot handloads in all of my rifles and .44 mag pistol. On the flip side I buy ammunition on sale for my autoloading pistols (even though I have the dies). I'm just not that interested in mass production of ammunition. To each his own...

    Good luck to you sir,

    Doc

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    I have to agree with Doc, its not really about saving money for me either. Its fun, a good rainy day or cold weather activity. Taking several components and assembling them into something never gets old, I'm always refining loads or trying something new, though I do have a couple loads for most calibers that I dont change because I know how they perform. Its alos pretty fun to be cutting up an animal and find a bullet, you can check expansion and weight retention and see how far it penetrated and say, 'yep, I made that!'.
    I dont load much of my own plinking ammo anymore, (Takes too long) most carefully built custom loads.

    Either way, enjoy!

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    Brook,

    I can't add much to what others have said.

    For your wife's benefit (as a guy with too many expensive hobbies myself), I'll help adjust your numbers a very little bit:

    My primers are costing 3 cents apiece.
    I can't seem to buy powder for less than $22.
    I'm spending a few more pennies per bullet for the .44 than you project, too.

    I'm not as high volume a shooter as you are, so maybe you can get the bullets and primers at your projected prices. And you may live in a community where powder costs less. Finally, there's the value of your time -- if reloading is fun, you can factor the recreational cost savings into your estimates (you're not buying tickets to the movies during that time, are you?). If reloading isn't fun, you have to factor the value of your time into the per-round costs, and the numbers don't look nearly as good.

    I've just found that if my numbers are more accurate, there's an appreciation of the cost savings, rather than a sense that the projections were artificially low.

    Be safe and Have fun!

  11. #11
    Member bgreen's Avatar
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    Great responses guys, thank you all very much.

    Murphy, in regards to my turret press comment... Frankly, I don't know. I know so little about hand loading at this point that I don't really know what might be better for my application. I certainly do not shoot 1000 rounds of pistol or 500 rounds of rifle a month, but I can take some extra overtime at work or do a little moonlight fabrication to pay for upgraded toys from time to time. If the progressive press will do what a turret will do, and more, but costs a couple bills more, then I would most likely just save up enough money to get the progressive.

    A co-worker has a Dillon 550 that I can take a gander at, and a single stage press that he may sell on the cheap. That would be a good starting point if the price is right.

    Tenmm, I think I would enjoy it enough that the cost savings over the long run would be ancillary. I am just getting into shooting sports beyond the occasional fall moose hunt where I end up shooting nothing but grouse, and I am learning that there are so many aspects of this hobby that I am really going to enjoy. Right now my main focus is to improve my off-hand shooting skills for moose and bear hunting. After that, well, it could be anything. I have great interest in shooting at long ranges for groups and possibly varmints. Somewhere mixed in there will be lots of pistol practice for self defense against 2 legged critters as well as the brown furry ones. oh, and I cant forget just plain old plinking!


    8x57 Mauser, I just took those prices from a catalog I had laying around. I'm sure the numbers will be off after I pay shipping and what not. I just needed some rough numbers to get started. What I did learn with the (most likely low) numbers is that I wont be loosing money by hand loading.

    The 44 mag bullets I priced were the cheapest I could find in that catalog. I went this route because for the most part I want to train out flinch and getting on paper quick. Bullet construction and accuracy weren't a consideration since I wont be hunting with this gun, nor will I be interested in shooting it with full house loads as it only weighs 27 ounces.

    Its funny you bring up movie tickets, its been a quite some time since I took Molly to the movies, maybe I should do that a few times before I spend any more money on gun stuff. [grin] I did buy here a 20 ga so we can shoot clays together, and she actually likes it. I'm hoping she will like big game hunting as time goes on, my 243 Sako would be just right for her.

    Doc, I think we are on the same page. I've been working on one of our bedrooms turning it into a hunting/fishing den. Its in the far corner of our house, away from the TV and this darn computer. It should be a great reloading room. I am even looking forward to building the reloading bench which is weird because I normally stay as far away from wood working as possible. (I'm a metal guy by trade... ha, maybe I will fabricate the bench out of SS tubing and machine the table top from 12L14 lead-alloy)


    One of the things I enjoy the most about any new hobby is the research and discussion. Thank you all for your input, keep it coming. I'm sure I will have many more questions in the near future.


    Brook
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  12. #12
    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    Like many others have suggested, I get pleasure from reloading, so cost of equipment isn't as big a deal vs. enjoyment of using it. Yes, reloading will save you money on a "per round basis", but the satisfaction of squeezing extra accuracy out of rifle or handgun is money well spent, IMO.

    I recommend starting with a single stage press. A good single stage always has a place on my loading bench. Even with all the other equipment I have, I still use my single-stage for loading my rifle rounds.

    As you become proficient with the basics of reloading, you can increase your production of handgun rounds by moving to a progressive machine, and skip the turret press altogether. Dillon makes several outstanding progressive machines. I own a 550 and a 650. All my handgun ammo is done on a progressive press. For handgun ammo, a progressive press is the way to go.

    I don't skimp on loading equipment, but I do try and find the best deals I can on loading components. Once I find components that work well, I buy them in bulk. Buying powder in 5 or 8lb kegs will save you several dollars a pound. While not as big a savings, buying primers by the 1000 or 5000 will save you some money as well. Powder and primers need to be purchased locally, since no one will ship them to Alaska.

    I buy pistol bullets by the 1000 or case; this will save you a ton of money as well. Montana Gold has great bullets at a reasonable price, and they will ship USPS Flat-Rate to save on shipping. For rifle bullets, I try to buy them on-line. Mid-South Shooters Supply has really good bullet prices, and they will also ship via Flat-Rate.

    Another way to save money on loading components is to limit your options. Finding a single powder that works well with your .30-06 and .243, for example. IMR 4350 works really well for both rounds, so don't be temped to buy a separate powder for each round. Many handgun powders overlap well with each other and have shotgun applications as well.

    I don't do much shotshell loading anymore. Back when shot was less than $15 a bag, it paid to load your own. Now that shot prices are over $25 a bag, I can just about buy 12ga ammo for what the Estate or Gun Club stuff sells for. Just about the only ways to make shotshell loading pay anymore is to either load your own magnum hunting rounds or load sub-gauge target loads (20, 28, or .410).

  13. #13

    Default Caution

    If you decide to reload 223, watch the brass for stretch and lengthening necks. Semi-auto rifles seem to allow brass to work the shoulders and neck harder. Also if you have any semi-auto rifles use small base dies. Good Luck.
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  14. #14
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    Default Component cost...

    Primers are about $25/thousand. 2.5 cents each round.

    Powder, most recently was purchased at $15 per pound, here in Fairbanks. typically is $25/lb. A pound of powder is 7000 grains, 7.0 grains of 3N37 will net 1000 9X19 rounds /lb. A big bore revolver will take 25-30 grains of powder or more. A charge of 70 grains of H4350 in the 338 Win Mag will net 100 rounds /lb.

    Powder Cost: 7000 divided by chg.wt. = rounds/lb.
    $Powder divided rounds/lb = cost/round of powder.

    $25 divided by 1000 9mm loads = 2.5 cents each for the powder.
    $25 divided by 100 338mag. loads= 25 cents each for the powder.

    Pistol bullets are $20-$30 per 100. $25/100 for an average.
    Rifle bullets are much more at about $25/50, but can be $50/50 for the premium stuff.

    Rifle rounds, in your once fired brass are typically $1 to $1.25 each, for bullet, powder and prmer. If you buy new brass it varies from $25 to $100 per 100 pieces.

    30-06 in new Winchester brass with Nosler 180 grain partitions will cost about $1.35 per round. Or $27 for a box of twenty. Can you buy factory ammo cheaper? Oh yeah! But not with Nosler partition bullets.

    I'm now buying Lapua brass at the price of Winchester in the 30-06, $30 per 100.

    This is a great hobby and it really isn't about saving money, but that is often plus. Shoot more, pay less!
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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