Should I start reloading?

Woodcarver

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Brass is the hardest component to calculate cost for. Normally I anticipate a minimum of 5 reloads for a belted magnum like the 300WinMag (they go into the bad brass box after #8, regardless). Others, like the 44-40, 45-70, and most straight walled cases, virtually never wear out. (I said virtually). I know there's some 44-40 brass that I am running out of case head to add another hash mark with the sharpie. Not unusual to get 10+ out of stuff like 30-06, 270Win, etc. The bench rest guys that only neck size can really get some longevity out of a case.
Other brass can suffer loss through loss, i.e., losing them. Semis can fling that stuff all over. Without a brass catcher or a hard floor, I always come home with less brass than I started with. Go prairie dog or coyote hunting without the brass catcher and I'm lucky to bring half the 223 brass home.
 

Ike85123

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I was looking at the mark 7 reloader along with the Dillion 1050. Seems automated would be much faster and easier.
Anyone have experience with this set up ?
And how would it be for a beginner ? Thanks
 
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I was looking at the mark 7 reloader along with the Dillion 1050. Seems automated would be much faster and easier.
Anyone have experience with this set up ?
And how would it be for a beginner ? Thanks
@Ike85123
Start simple and work up.
Bob
 

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I second @Bob Nelson 35Whelen comment. Start with a single stage, and work your way up. Focus on quality vs. quantity. My press was a small Lee single stage press, I believe I paid something like $19. Then I moved up to a bigger single stage and finally got into the progressive reloading, and got a Dillon 550.
 

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Only go progressive (i.e. Dillon 550, 1050), if you are a high volume competitive shooter AND already have some reloading experience. Even if using a Dillon (I have two), you need a single stage press on your bench.

All my hunting and precision reloads are loaded single stage, as setting up a progressive for 6 or 8 different lower volume calibers would be counter productive.
 

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I was looking at the mark 7 reloader along with the Dillion 1050. Seems automated would be much faster and easier.
Anyone have experience with this set up ?
And how would it be for a beginner ? Thanks
It would be bad for a beginner. Until you are intimately familiar with the process of reloading, you won't be able to see your progressive is making mistakes in volume. Keep it simple and straightforward. Get a single stage and learn how to make high quality, consistent, ammunition.
Progressives really are designed for the high volume shooter, read, thousands of rounds a month. And for the gadget guys with funds. But a solid understanding of reloading is needed first by either of them before getting a progressive.
 

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I'm quite confident that it's not worth reloading shotgun cartridges at all, unless it's something really niche like bismuth load 10 bore cartridges or something.

Certainly I can't achieve any savings for typical 12 bore steel or lead here in the UK.

Rifles however...
First, I realize that there is a HUGE difference between shooting and reloading here in Montana, USA and doing the same in the UK.

I have been reloading for rifles since I bought my first centerfire rifle, a .30-06, in 1967. I now load 10 different rifle cartridges.

I have been reloading shotgun and pistol cartridges since 1971. I am currently reloading 4 different shotgun gauges and 6 different pistol cartridges.

In the early '70s I also got into casting my own lead bullets. I now cast for most of my rifles, all of my pistols, 6 blackpowder rifles and pistols, and 12 gauge slugs.

And in the mid '80s when I was shooting over 10,000 shotgun shells each year, I began making my own lead shot. On my busiest years, I was making over 700 pounds of shot annually.

My reloading bench is set up with 4 Hornady DL 366 progressive shotshell presses (12, 20, 28, and .410) a 12 gauge single stage press, an RCBS Rockchucker press for rifle cartridges, and a Dillon progressive press for pistol, .223, and .308 cartridges.

I have had most of my reloading equipment well over 35 years and it all more than paid for itself many times over.

I am also lucky enough to belong to a gun club that sells reloading components to it's members, and I am able to buy components in quantity lots which is usually an advantage over retail quantities, when the retail stores have them. I buy most of my powder in 8# kegs, rifle and pistol primers in lots of 1,000, and shotgun primers and wads in lots of 5,000.

Our club also sells target load shotgun shells for $6 a box for 12 and 20 gauge, and $9 a box for 28 ga and .410 shells. We sell new shot for $44 a 25# bag, re-dropped shot for $30, and reclaimed shot for #24 a bag.

Most of the lead that I now use to cast my rifle and pistol bullets and my shot, is reclaimed range lead. The last batch of range lead that I smelted had enough copper jackets in it that when I sold it at the recycle plant, it more than paid for the propane that I use to smelt it. So basically, my lead bullets and lead shot is free. My time cost no more to reload than it costs to read and post on these various hunting and shooting Forums.

So, to breakdown some of my reloading costs:
.300 Weatherby
R-P cases at $90/100 divided by 5 loadings per case = $0.080 each
Magnum primers at $34/1,000 = 0.034
Powder at $169/8# = $0.003/grain x 84.5 grains = 0.254
Bullets, Barnes 180 TTSX at $45/50 = 0.900
Total $1.268 ea x 20 = $25.36/box
Practice loads with
Hornady 168 gr BTHP bullets at $73/250 = 0.290 ea
Total $ 0.658 ea x 20 = $13.16/box

.308 Win

Range pickups = Free = $0.000
Primer at $30/1,000 = 0.030
Powder at $166/8# = $0.003/grain x 45.0 grains = 0.135
Bullets, Sierra 150 gr SP at $30/100 = 0.300
Total $0.465 ea x 20 = $9.30/box

12 Gauge Target loads, 1 oz.

Hull, Win AA, Range pickup = Free $0.000
Primer, Fiocchi 616 at $25/1,000 = 0.025
Wads, Claybuster CB-1100 1 oz at $90/5000 = 0.018
Powder at $144/8# = $0.003/grain x 16.8 grains = 0.050
Shot, I make = Free = 0.000
Total $0.093 ea x 25 = $2.33/box
A savings of $3.67/box from our Club price of $6/box

With New shot at $44/25# = $0.110/oz = 0.110
Total $0.203 ea x 25 = $5.08/box
A savings of $0.92/box from our Club price of $6/box

With Reclaimed shot at $30/25# = $0.075/oz = 0.075
Total $0.168 ea x 25 = $4.20/box
A savings of $1.80/box from our Club price of $6/box

28 Gauge Target loads, 3/4 oz.

Hull, Win AA, Range pickup = Free $0.000
Primer, Fiocchi 616 at $25/1,000 = 0.025
Wads, Claybuster CB-5034 3/4 oz at $92/5000 = 0.018
Powder at $140/8# = $0.003/grain x 14.2 grains = 0.043
Shot, I make = Free = 0.000
Total $0.086 ea x 25 = $2.15/box
A savings of $3.85/box from our Club price of $6/box

With New shot at $44/25# = $0.110/oz x 3/4 oz = 0.083
Total $0.179 ea x 25 = $4.48/box
A savings of $4.52/box from our Club price of $9/box

With Reclaimed shot at $30/25# = $0.075/oz x 3/4 oz = 0.056
Total $0.142 ea x 25 = $3.55/box
A savings of $5.45/box from our Club price of $9/box

And one of the best parts about reloading is that I have several years worth of components, so I just shoot, reload, shoot, reload...and don't have to worry about the stores not having any of the ammo that I need.
 

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First, I realize that there is a HUGE difference between shooting and reloading here in Montana, USA and doing the same in the UK.

I have been reloading for rifles since I bought my first centerfire rifle, a .30-06, in 1967. I now load 10 different rifle cartridges.

I have been reloading shotgun and pistol cartridges since 1971. I am currently reloading 4 different shotgun gauges and 6 different pistol cartridges.

In the early '70s I also got into casting my own lead bullets. I now cast for most of my rifles, all of my pistols, 6 blackpowder rifles and pistols, and 12 gauge slugs.

And in the mid '80s when I was shooting over 10,000 shotgun shells each year, I began making my own lead shot. On my busiest years, I was making over 700 pounds of shot annually.

My reloading bench is set up with 4 Hornady DL 366 progressive shotshell presses (12, 20, 28, and .410) a 12 gauge single stage press, an RCBS Rockchucker press for rifle cartridges, and a Dillon progressive press for pistol, .223, and .308 cartridges.

I have had most of my reloading equipment well over 35 years and it all more than paid for itself many times over.

I am also lucky enough to belong to a gun club that sells reloading components to it's members, and I am able to buy components in quantity lots which is usually an advantage over retail quantities, when the retail stores have them. I buy most of my powder in 8# kegs, rifle and pistol primers in lots of 1,000, and shotgun primers and wads in lots of 5,000.

Our club also sells target load shotgun shells for $6 a box for 12 and 20 gauge, and $9 a box for 28 ga and .410 shells. We sell new shot for $44 a 25# bag, re-dropped shot for $30, and reclaimed shot for #24 a bag.

Most of the lead that I now use to cast my rifle and pistol bullets and my shot, is reclaimed range lead. The last batch of range lead that I smelted had enough copper jackets in it that when I sold it at the recycle plant, it more than paid for the propane that I use to smelt it. So basically, my lead bullets and lead shot is free. My time cost no more to reload than it costs to read and post on these various hunting and shooting Forums.

So, to breakdown some of my reloading costs:
.300 Weatherby
R-P cases at $90/100 divided by 5 loadings per case = $0.080 each
Magnum primers at $34/1,000 = 0.034
Powder at $169/8# = $0.003/grain x 84.5 grains = 0.254
Bullets, Barnes 180 TTSX at $45/50 = 0.900
Total $1.268 ea x 20 = $25.36/box
Practice loads with
Hornady 168 gr BTHP bullets at $73/250 = 0.290 ea
Total $ 0.658 ea x 20 = $13.16/box

.308 Win

Range pickups = Free = $0.000
Primer at $30/1,000 = 0.030
Powder at $166/8# = $0.003/grain x 45.0 grains = 0.135
Bullets, Sierra 150 gr SP at $30/100 = 0.300
Total $0.465 ea x 20 = $9.30/box

12 Gauge Target loads, 1 oz.

Hull, Win AA, Range pickup = Free $0.000
Primer, Fiocchi 616 at $25/1,000 = 0.025
Wads, Claybuster CB-1100 1 oz at $90/5000 = 0.018
Powder at $144/8# = $0.003/grain x 16.8 grains = 0.050
Shot, I make = Free = 0.000
Total $0.093 ea x 25 = $2.33/box
A savings of $3.67/box from our Club price of $6/box

With New shot at $44/25# = $0.110/oz = 0.110
Total $0.203 ea x 25 = $5.08/box
A savings of $0.92/box from our Club price of $6/box

With Reclaimed shot at $30/25# = $0.075/oz = 0.075
Total $0.168 ea x 25 = $4.20/box
A savings of $1.80/box from our Club price of $6/box

28 Gauge Target loads, 3/4 oz.

Hull, Win AA, Range pickup = Free $0.000
Primer, Fiocchi 616 at $25/1,000 = 0.025
Wads, Claybuster CB-5034 3/4 oz at $92/5000 = 0.018
Powder at $140/8# = $0.003/grain x 14.2 grains = 0.043
Shot, I make = Free = 0.000
Total $0.086 ea x 25 = $2.15/box
A savings of $3.85/box from our Club price of $6/box

With New shot at $44/25# = $0.110/oz x 3/4 oz = 0.083
Total $0.179 ea x 25 = $4.48/box
A savings of $4.52/box from our Club price of $9/box

With Reclaimed shot at $30/25# = $0.075/oz x 3/4 oz = 0.056
Total $0.142 ea x 25 = $3.55/box
A savings of $5.45/box from our Club price of $9/box

And one of the best parts about reloading is that I have several years worth of components, so I just shoot, reload, shoot, reload...and don't have to worry about the stores not having any of the ammo that I need.
Fair enough.

For my part, it doesn't seem worth the hassle. For fullbore, absolutely. Spend a couple hours to make 50 rounds of .270, save £20 ($28), it's two entire weekends worth of comp ammo, oh, and it's more accurate and I know I have ammo to hand that my rifles like. Worth it. I don't cast bullets or use range brass either.

Contrast that with spending a couple hours to make 100 12 bore cartridges, saving £2.40 ($3.34), shoot the lot in one morning of sporting clays and gain no accuracy advantage, whilst my shotguns shoot just fine with any brand or load I feed them? Not worth it.

The savings are always going to be limited in a shotgun when I can buy 250 12 bore cartridges for less money than 40 .270win rounds, and when you're shooting volume and aren't gaining meaningful precision, I can't see the point.
 

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For me, it has never been a financial decision except when I first started I didn't have much money for more than the least expensive tools and components. IIRC I started loading for a 30-06 with a $10 Lee Loader, a box of Sierra bullets and a pound of IMR 4320 powder. I learned an extremely important reloading lesson right away!.... which in hindsight, was truly a most fortunate one... trim brass after firing!! That was 53 years ago. I'm certain that one booboo, which locked up a bolt action but did no harm, implanted a permanent habit in me for meticulous loading techniques and for in-depth study of reloading and ballistics that persists to this day.

When I shot competition handgun, no way to load enough or have enough time to load enough without a progressive for the matches and practice. So all that was factory loaded-- it was before the Blue Press :) If doing it now I'm sure I would be loading progressive. No, I never reloaded to save money, it has always been an interest thing. By reloading, I have been totally immersed in the shooting sports and have real skin in the game when shooting those cartridges I've reloaded for- basically all my rifles now and sme of the handgun and msot of the shotgun in the past. Right now, I have little interest in shooting factory ammo in anything except handgun or shotgun. I shoot very little of ether these days- just enough handgun to stayed tuned up.

Over the years I've loaded at least 42 different cartridges. There is simply no factory ammo available for many of them. Loading has been and still is the only reasonable choice for those. I'm now down to 7 different rifle cartridges I reload for. I've had a table at the local gunshow the last few years and have been able to liquidate most of the extra NOS components for many of the cartridges I no longer shoot. At this most recent show, I came really close to complete disposal. Right now, the demand is so high for any thing "shooting", had little trouble selling at 50% below current retail which in most cases is well above what I paid for the stuff to begin with just a few years ago! a real Win-Win.

The real dividend for reloading right now however, is not saving money nor the small, one time profits to be made at guns shows, but in the ability to shoot when I want, the ammo I want and in the volume I want to shoot. I built my reserves pretty well during and after the Clinton and BigO shortages and read the tea leaves correctly for this one. I have enough reloading components to shoot at will. I now go to the range, which is eerily quiet compared to just a couple of years ago, and shoot unfettered by rattle battle berm blasters and the like :) Reason? folks are afraid to burn up ammo they can't find or can't afford. I don't know about shortages in different countries, but here in the US it is becoming worrisome. Not from a supply-demand perspective, but from a long term political one.
 
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Bullthrower338

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I get a lot of enjoyment out of reloading, talking about reloading and acquiring more reloading stuff. When I die I want my kids to fondly remember me every time their back aches from hauling loads of 500 grain bullets out of the house when they clean it out! But there is nothing like putting an A-Frame that you lovingly crimped into a fresh piece of Norma brass through a buffalo’s heart. Well worth the price of admission!
cheers,
Cody
 
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For me, it has never been a financial decision except when I first started I didn't have much money for more than the least expensive tools and components. IIRC I started loading for a 30-06 with a $10 Lee Loader, a box of Sierra bullets and a pound of IMR 4320 powder. I learned an extremely important reloading lesson right away!.... which in hindsight, was truly a most fortunate one... trim brass after firing!! That was 53 years ago. I'm certain that one booboo, which locked up a bolt action but did no harm, implanted a permanent habit in me for meticulous loading techniques and for in-depth study of reloading and ballistics that persists to this day.

When I shot competition handgun, no way to load enough or have enough time to load enough without a progressive for the matches and practice. So all that was factory loaded-- it was before the Blue Press :) If doing it now I'm sure I would be loading progressive. No, I never reloaded to save money, it has always been an interest thing. By reloading, I have been totally immersed in the shooting sports and have real skin in the game when shooting those cartridges I've reloaded for- basically all my rifles now and sme of the handgun and msot of the shotgun in the past. Right now, I have little interest in shooting factory ammo in anything except handgun or shotgun. I shoot very little of ether these days- just enough handgun to stayed tuned up.

Over the years I've loaded at least 42 different cartridges. There is simply no factory ammo available for many of them. Loading has been and still is the only reasonable choice for those. I'm now down to 7 different rifle cartridges I reload for. I've had a table at the local gunshow the last few years and have been able to liquidate most of the extra NOS components for many of the cartridges I no longer shoot. At this most recent show, I came really close to complete disposal. Right now, the demand is so high for any thing "shooting", had little trouble selling at 50% below current retail which in most cases is well above what I paid for the stuff to begin with just a few years ago! a real Win-Win.

The real dividend for reloading right now however, is not saving money nor the small, one time profits to be made at guns shows, but in the ability to shoot when I want, the ammo I want and in the volume I want to shoot. I built my reserves pretty well during and after the Clinton and BigO shortages and read the tea leaves correctly for this one. I have enough reloading components to shoot at will. I now go to the range, which is eerily quiet compared to just a couple of years ago, and shoot unfettered by rattle battle berm blasters and the like :) Reason? folks are afraid to burn up ammo they can't find or can't afford. I don't know about shortages in different countries, but here in the US it is becoming worrisome. Not from a supply-demand perspective, but from a long term political one.
@fourfive8
I bet that old Lee loader is still capable of making accurate reloads as it only sizes the neck and keeps projectiles straight when seating. A bit like a poor man's bench rest set up..
One thing about reloading is you usually only make a mistake once and hopefully live to tell the story.
Mine was putting in a primer upside down and the other was failure to lube the case properly, one stuck case and PIA to remove.
Bob
 

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We can debate the pros and cons of reloading forever, but for me reloading isn't a hassle, I enjoy it, and with the volume of shooting that I've done and want to do, it saves me considerably. With my reloading room set up, it takes me about 30 minutes to load 50 rounds of most of my bottleneck rifle cartridges . . . .22-250, .257 Ackley, 7 mm Rem mag, .300 Weatherby, or .375 RUM. . .and I've developed moa or better loads for each of them.

As an avid big game and international hunter, I also am proud to shoot my animals with my reloads.

With my Dillon progressive press it takes about 15 minutes to load 50 rounds of .223 or .308 cartridges, and again they shoot moa or better.

As for shotshell reloading, with my Hornady 366 progressive loaders I normally load 100 12 or 20 gauge shells in 20 minutes, the smaller mouth 28 ga and .410 bore shells take about 5 minutes longer per 100. My reloads save me $14.68/100 on 12 and 20 gauge shells and $27.40/100 on 28 and .410 shells.

When I was shooting competitive Skeet, a typical weekend shoot would be at least 300 12 ga shells and 100 each of 20, 28, and .410 shells. If I didn''t reload, those weekend shoots would have cost me at least $113 more if I had shot factory shells.

Reloading may not be for everyone, but for me, it's an enjoyable hobby, it allows me to shoot more (which hopefully makes me a better shot), and I get a great satisfaction in shooting a high score or taking my game animals with shells that I loaded myself.
 

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@fourfive8
I bet that old Lee loader is still capable of making accurate reloads as it only sizes the neck and keeps projectiles straight when seating. A bit like a poor man's bench rest set up..
One thing about reloading is you usually only make a mistake once and hopefully live to tell the story.
Mine was putting in a primer upside down and the other was failure to lube the case properly, one stuck case and PIA to remove.
Bob
:) I never stuck one in the Lee loader- sheeeeer luck in those early days of not knowing what I was doing-- but that was called learning. Although I have stuck a couple in regular sizing dies since then! You're absolutely right about producing good, accurate ammo though! And it still would today. Matter of fact I was digging around in a storage box last week and still have that 30-06 Lee Loader.
 

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I was looking at the mark 7 reloader along with the Dillion 1050. Seems automated would be much faster and easier.
Anyone have experience with this set up ?
And how would it be for a beginner ? Thanks
As someone who reloads dozens of different rifle, pistol and shotgun cartridges since the 1980's I'll echo @Bob Nelson 35Whelen and @PARA45 on this: You NEED a single stage press(es) for reloading metallic cartridges. A single stage is way, WAY more versatile than a progressive which is ideal for one thing (cranking out a lot of a specific, already developed load).

Much of the reloading process will be load development, involving testing with different projectiles, powders, powder charges, seating depth, etc. This is a royal PITA on the progressive, and will take a lot longer. The only time a progressive saves you time is when you want to crank out several hundred cartridges at once, and that is only when you have found the specific load. Even now, almost all of my reloading is on a single stage for rifle and sometimes pistol.

As for shotshell reloading (if that is an interest) progressive is absolutely the way to go.
As someone mentioned, the cost savings for 12ga target loads is minuscule, but can be significant for heavy field loads, or a way to make loads that aren't offered commercially (I load/shoot a lot of 3/4 oz and 7/8 oz loads out of my 12ga for clay shooting; low recoil and low cost). For 28 and 410 the savings is substantial, and for 16ga it's both savings and availability.
 
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As someone who reloads dozens of different rifle, pistol and shotgun cartridges since the 1980's I'll echo @Bob Nelson 35Whelen and @PARA45 on this: You NEED a single stage press(es) for reloading metallic cartridges. A single stage is way, WAY more versatile than a progressive which is ideal for one thing (cranking out a lot of a specific, already developed load).

Much of the reloading process will be load development, involving testing with different projectiles, powders, powder charges, seating depth, etc. This is a royal PITA on the progressive, and will take a lot longer. The only time a progressive saves you time is when you want to crank out several hundred cartridges at once, and that is only when you have found the specific load. Even now, almost all of my reloading is on a single stage for rifle and sometimes pistol.

As for shotshell reloading (if that is an interest) progressive is absolutely the way to go.
As someone mentioned, the cost savings for 12ga target loads is minuscule, but can be significant for heavy field loads, or a way to make loads that aren't offered commercially (I load/shoot a lot of 3/4 oz and 7/8 oz loads out of my 12ga for clay shooting; low recoil and low cost). For 28 and 410 the savings is substantial, and for 16ga it's both savings and availability.
@Rimshot
If it wasn't for load development my Whelen would still be back in the 1900s. Fortunately I dragged it into the 21st century and gave it a boost to equal and surpass the 338 win mag and do it SAFELY.
Bob
 

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Brass cleaning with Jerry Michulek

There's high volume shooters and then there is Jerry Michulek high volume shooting. Jerry shoots more in one range session than most people shoot in a year.

Thats pretty involved ! Doubt if I ever buy a cement mixer and extra oven. Haha
I guess for a man that shoots that much, its a good deal !
 

Ike85123

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So being new to reloading. I guess the consensus is to start with a single press. So would starting with 3 presses be desirable, if I basically only shoot 3 calibers?
 

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