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)
23 HOURS TOTAL
$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.