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billt 07-25-2008 02:57 AM

Reloading Cost Breakdown For .223. Does It "Pay" To Reload?

With the rising cost of ammunition over the last couple of years, many shooters are considering the alternative of reloading to help cut costs. A lot has been written about how much, if any, money is actually saved when everything is taken into account. This is a cost breakdown for the 2,350 rounds of .223 I finished loading a few months back. A fellow on another forum, who was interested in reloading for his AR-15's had asked me. The brass I used was mixed headstamp. CCI, Remington, Winchester, Lake City, S&B, and a few others I'm forgetting. This brass was obtained from on line sources on the web. I processed it all the same. First I resized and deprimed all of it with a RCBS Small Base Sizing Die. Then I processed all of the primer pockets on my Dillon 600 Super Swage, because some of them were military with crimped primer pockets. I then trimmed all of them to uniform length on my Giraud Powered Case Trimmer. After that they went into the tumbler for several hours and received a polish with ground corn cob and Dillon Rapid Polish added to the media. The final step was to run it through my Dillon and crimp with a Lee Factory Crimp Die. They turned out very good. My total investment in this batch of .223 was:

Brass---------$20.00 total. (It was free, but I paid the shipping).

Powder-------$65.00 for 8 pounds of AA 2230C. (25.0 Gr. per load X 2,350 = 58,750 Gr. 58,750 divided by 7,000 Grains per pound = 8.39 pounds of powder total.)

Primers-------$59.38 for 2,350 primers @ $25.00 per thousand.

Bullets-------$172.21 (2,350 Winchester 55 Gr. FMJBT from Midway)

Boxes--------$52.00 for 100 boxes and trays from Midway. (Actually $26.00 because I used only 47.)

Grand Total = $342.59

By comparison the 1,000 rounds of Remington UMC FMJ in .223 pictured above cost me $371.00 delivered from Natchez, (9 months ago). Reloading can be extremely cost effective but you must find good sources, and buy in bulk. Here are 2 very good sources for brass, bullets, and powder. If you are willing to do a little Internet hunting, brass can be found quite inexpensively. It may require cleaning, and primer crimp removal, but tools to do that can be purchased cheaply, and the amount of time added to the operation as a whole isn't much.

Now let's make some adjustments, then do the math to find out just how much, if anything, I really saved. Before we do that we need to make one critical adjustment. The $371.00 I paid for the 1,000 rounds of Remington UMC is LONG GONE. Rising fuel prices along with non ferrous metal prices have driven that number to new heights. Especially when you include shipping. If you buy locally, whatever you save in shipping you'll eat in sales tax. So it's pretty much tit for tat. The Glendale, Arizona Cabela's 2 miles from me as of last week, charges $10.00 a box of twenty for Remington UMC .223. Let's roll with that figure. Cabela's is a very large retailer, and while others might stock ammo a little cheaper, Cabela's most always has it in stock which is important because you can't very well buy what a store doesn't have when you need it. So, using Cabela's $10.00 a box of twenty price for Remington UMC 55 Gr. FMJ .223 ammo that comes to:

$500.00 per 1,000 plus 8.1% Arizona sales tax. That's $540.50 per thousand. $540.50 X 2.35 = $1,270.17 for 2,350 rounds.

So as I type this it would cost me $1,270.17 to walk out of Cabela's with the same 2,350 rounds of .223 that cost me a grand total of $342.59.

Now let's do the math.

$1,270.17 - $342.59 = $927.58 Savings over what it would cost me right now to buy the exact same thing 2.5 miles from my home from one of the biggest shooting and hunting retailers in the country.

Now let's talk time.

Resize and deprime all 2,350 cases....... 9 hours. (That's only 4.3 cases a minute, but I'm 55, and not the fastest guy when I reload.)

I tumbled all 2,350 cases over 2 nights while I slept. Adding the time to install plus remove 3 loads, (I use a Dillon FL-2000).......2 hours. Again I'm slow.

Run all 2,350 rounds through my Dillon Progressive.......Approx. 300 rounds per hour. Yeah, I know they say 500 to 600 rounds per hour, but that's not very realistic. You have to include refilling powder measures and primer tubes, plus taking a break once and a while. 2,350 Divided By 300 R.P.H. = 7.83 hours. But let's be generous and call it 9 hours.

My wife has nimble fingers and she enjoys boxing and labeling them for me, but I'll toss in another 3 hours for that as well to keep things on the up and up. So, the grand total in time invested runs:

9 Hours (Resize and deprime)

2 Hours (Putting in and removing from tumbler)

9 Hours (Yanking the handle on the Dillon)

3 Hours (Labeling & Boxing)
.................................................. ...........


$927.58 Savings Divided By 23 Total Hours = $40.33 PER HOUR.

$40.33 per hour is a damn good wage, let alone getting it for doing something you enjoy in the comfort of your own home.

So in conclusion I would say reloading is still worth it, but you must buy your components wisely, and use good equipment. As for "earning" $40.33 per hour doing it. Let's just call that icing on the cake. That cake will get more and more "frosted", as ammo prices just keep getting more and more expensive. And rest assured THEY WILL! Bill T.

cpttango30 07-25-2008 06:05 PM

Nice that is the best break down of reloading savings I have seen yet even the ones I have done.

I am glad you did not add in the cost of reloading equipment to this as some people say that you have to add in the cost as well. The way I figure it if I get 100,000 rounds of ammo out of a press then the cost is nill. Will I ever load that much who knows. But I am trying.

Good job, pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

billt 07-25-2008 10:25 PM

Thanks, but I did leave one thing out. That was the time I spent trimming and chamfering the cases. I used a Giraud Power Case Trimmer.

I didn't include it because it only took a couple of hours to do all 2,350 cases, and wouldn't have affected the outcome very much from a cost vs. time standpoint. It is a fairly specialized piece of equipment that most reloaders don't own because of cost. I purchased one because I shoot a total of 7 firearms chambered for the .223 / 5.56 MM round, and reload for that caliber in high volume, so the cost is well worth it for me. Trimming is something that is hard to estimate in reloading time wise because cases of different calibers grow at different rates depending on what type of firearm they are fired in, headspace, and other factors. Overall I tried to keep all the estimates as realistic as possible. I think as ammunition and component costs rise, the gap of savings will narrow slightly, but overall I think reloading will have a place in the shooting sports regardless of the type of shooting discipline. Bill T.

cpttango30 07-25-2008 11:39 PM

WOW I am now really impressed. I wish I had one of them jsut for the cool factor.

Have you ever thought about upgrading to a Dillon 1050?

Dillinger 07-26-2008 05:18 AM

Really well done Bill T. That is a great example to show the masses what you can save, and put towards your next firearm, after buying some equipment early and putting it to good use.

Very well done - A great addition to the Knowledge Base!


billt 07-26-2008 07:45 PM


Originally Posted by Dillinger (Post 33460)
That is a great example to show the masses what you can save, and put towards your next firearm. Very well done - A great addition to the Knowledge Base! JD

It's funny that you should mention that, because that is exactly what I did. I applied the $927.58 I saved on 1 batch of .223 to the new Savage F/TR I bought last week. (I bought the last one they had). ock=all&manufact_combo=Savage+Arms&mod_ser_combo=N one&category_combo=None&model=None&g_type=None&act _type=&finish_type=None&calib_combo=308&sight_clas s_combo=None&price_range=None&left_handed=&youth=& Offset_rec=0&num_rec=50&item_num=

Now I've got to get busy and start saving by reloading for .308! (Those are bigger, and I should be able to box them myself). :D Bill T.

billt 07-26-2008 07:54 PM


Originally Posted by cpttango30 (Post 33408)
WOW I am now really impressed. I wish I had one of them jsut for the cool factor.

Have you ever thought about upgrading to a Dillon 1050?

Not really. Nothing wrong with the Dillon 1050 mind you, it is a super tool and if I did purchase one it most likely be in .223. My Dillon Progressive is an older RL-450 Model I bought back in 1982. It was the first progressive loader that was direct marketed by Mike Dillon. It has manual priming and powder drop. I've found it really isn't much slower than the RL-550B that a lot of guys I know have. What I like about it is I can adopt either of my other 2 powder measures to it. The Dillon powder measures meter ball powder just fine, but sometimes I've found they can bridge or bind up with long grained, slow burning rifle powder like IMR 4831. When I'm going to load those type of powders I usually will install either my Lyman 55, or my Redding 3-BR. They both seem to meter those kind of powders a little smoother. Bill T.

Bob Wright 07-28-2008 03:51 PM

There is one point I often make when askled about reloading: I don't save money, but I shoot a heck of a lot more for the same amount.

So far my log book shows an expenditure of close to 250,000 rounds fired. Think I've gotten my value of the loading equipment.

Another stock answer, when asked about the quality of my reloads: I can't load a better round than I can buy, but I can't buy a better round than I can load. And, I can load a round that is completely tailored to my gun, my shooting demands, my accuracy standards.

Bob Wright

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