Can You Save Money Reloading? – Ultimate Reloader

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Can you really save money reloading? In this video we calculate how much it costs to load popular calibers and how much you need to load for the most savings.

Disclaimer

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Should I Reload?

While there are many reasons to reload, one of the most common questions I get is “Will I really save money?” With the equipment needed, time investment, and sometimes hard to source components involved, it can be difficult to determine if reloading is truly worth it. There’s no question that reloading gives you far greater control over your ammunition and its accuracy than buying factory does, but not everyone cares about this. To help answer this question, I built the Ultimate Reloader Cost Calculator. I’ve had this calculator on the Tools section of my website since 2009 and just recently updated it with modern component costs. (Reloading costs have approximately doubled from 2009 to 2024!) 

Equipment

There is a wide range of reloading equipment available, all at different price points. I consulted Midsouth Shooters Supply for some prices and offerings. A quality, simple reloading setup like the Lyman Ultimate Reloading System Kit or Brass Smith Ideal C-Frame Press Reloading Kit will cost about $600 with dies and extras/supplies. A similar progressive reloading setup, like the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP, will run approximately $1,200 with extras and supplies.  A more complicated setup like the auto-driven Mark 7 Apex 10 will cost far more. Much of the cost comes down to how many calibers you plan to load. Each caliber requires a different set of dies at a minimum. Some items, like shellplates, may be able to be shared between calibers. For easy reference, I have full lists of what you need to load rifle ammunition and pistol ammunition.

While initial costs are one consideration, reloading equipment resale value is another. For this exercise, I’m estimating depreciation at 50%. I used Berry’s bullets for all the below cases as to me they represent incredible value without sacrificing quality. 

Case 1: 9mm Parabellum

I used the Reloading Costs Calculator with component costs from Midsouth Shooters Supply to determine the costs per round. Using Federal small pistol primers, Hodgdon CFE Pistol powder and Berry’s 9mm 124 grain HBRN thick-plated bullets, the cost per reloaded round came to $0.252.

In contrast, equivalent factory ammunition cost $0.47 per round. This is $251.97 per 1,000 9mm reloads and $497.60 for 1,000 rounds of factory ammunition (Winchester 9mm 124 grain FMJ). While these are great savings, it’s also prudent to consider how many rounds you need to load to break even on your reloading setup costs. 

 

 

Case 2: .223 Remington

Berry’s .223 55 grain FMJ over 26.0 grains of CFE 223 with Federal small rifle primers came out to $0.422 per round for reloads and $0.65 for factory (Winchester .223 55 grain FMJ).

 

To break even on a simple setup with no resale, you’d have to reload 2,632 rounds. If you sold the same setup at 50% of what you paid, the break even point would be at 1,316 rounds. Breaking even with a more expensive progressive setup would take 5,263 rounds or 2,632 rounds if you also sold your equipment.

 

 

Case 3: .44 Magnum

Reloading cost savings get even greater as you move to more specialty calibers. I first bought a .44 magnum for hiking carry for defense against bears. I wanted to be proficient with it, and reloading practice ammunition was much cheaper than buying it. 

Using Hodgdon H110, Winchester large pistol primers, and Berry’s .44 caliber 240 grain target hollow point, reloads come in at less than half the cost of factory ammunition!

Reloaded .44 magnum is $0.470 per round while factory ammunition is $1.20 per round (Federal American Eagle .44 Rem Mag 240 Grain Jacketed Hollow Point). This savings means you also need far fewer rounds to break even: 818 on a simple setup and 1,635 on a progressive with no resale. Keep in mind that this is a plated bullet practice load and comparable factory ammunition—factory defensive ammunition costs are much higher.

 

 

I started with a $120 reloading setup so I made my money back quickly. Then I started Ultimate Reloader and things quickly escalated. 

Case 4: .30-30 Winchester

The case of .30-30 Winchester is very close to the case of .44 magnum. Using Federal large rifle primers, Hodgdon’s LEVERevolution, and Berry’s .308 caliber 150 grain bullets, reloading costs were approximately a third of factory ammunition (Federal .30-30 Winchester 150 Grain Power-Shok Soft Point).

My reloads came to $0.440 per round ($439.61 per 1,000) while comparable factory came to $1.25 per round ($1,249.40 per 1,000). Loading 741 rounds of .30-30 would allow you to break even on a simple setup with no resale or a progressive setup with resale. 

 

 

Case 5: .300 AAC Blackout Subsonic

You can save money reloading standard .300 Blackout, but subsonic .300 Blackout is extremely popular, and expensive, largely due to heavy projectiles. I used the Berry’s .300 AAC .308 diameter 220 grain TMJ spire point Bullet with H110 and Federal small rifle primers. (I’ve had great success with these bullets!) Cost per reloaded round was $0.415, factory (Federal American Eagle .300 Blackout 220 Grain OTM Subsonic) was $1.30 per round. You would need to load 679 rounds on a simple setup without resale, 339 with resale and 1,357 on a progressive without resale, 679 with resale. 

 

 

Conclusion

Of all five cases, loading subsonic .300 Blackout required the smallest number of rounds to break even. This was followed by .30-30, .44 Magnum, .223, and 9mm. Even though .223 and 9mm require more rounds to break even, people generally shoot more of these rounds, especially competitive shooters who also want to fine-tune their ammo.

*Without Equipment Resale

Most people do not buy reloading equipment just to load one caliber, so how much you save depends on how much shooting and reloading you decide to do. Another path to more savings is to buy reloading equipment secondhand. Also, remember that there are more reasons to reload than just savings and your time is worth something. You ultimately have to look at your needs, overall budget (time and money), and determine what works best for you.

Get the Gear

Equipment:

Lyman Ultimate Reloading System Kit at Midsouth Shooters Supply

Lyman Brass Smith Ideal C-Frame Press Reloading Kit at Midsouth Shooters Supply

Hornady Lock-N-Load AP at Midsouth Shooters Supply

9mm:

Berry’s 9mm 124 grain HBRN Bullets at Midsouth Shooters Supply

Hodgdon CFE Pistol at Midsouth Shooters Supply

Federal Small Pistol Primers at Midsouth Shooters Supply

.223:

Berry’s .223 55 grain FMJ Bullets

CFE 223 at Midsouth Shooters Supply

Federal Small Rifle Primers at Midsouth Shooters Supply

.44 Magnum:

Berry’s .44 Caliber 240 Grain Target Hollow Point Bullets

Hodgdon H110 at Midsouth Shooters Supply

Winchester Large Pistol Primers at Midsouth Shooters Supply

 .30-30 Winchester:

Berry’s .308 Caliber 150 Grain Round Shoulder Bullets

Hodgdon LEVERevolution at Midsouth Shooters Supply

Federal Large Rifle Primers at Midsouth Shooters Supply

.300 AAC Blackout:

Berry’s .300 AAC .308 Diameter 220 Grain TMJ Spire Point Bullets at Midsouth Shooters Supply

Hodgdon H110 at Midsouth Shooters Supply

Federal Small Rifle Primers at Midsouth Shooters Supply

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Thanks,
Gavin Gear

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