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Old 12-06-2015, 04:31 PM   #1
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Default Official reloading thread

Okay, maybe I'm in the minority of people obsessed with DIY Mania but I crunch quite a bit of my own ammo and am learning new stuff about it all the time. I figured maybe build out a thread for questions, comments and banter relating to ammo making. Here's a list of stuff I've done personally and gear I've used:

Calibers:223, .357mag/.38 spl and a little 9mm

Equipment I own:
-Lee single stage "C" press
-C-H dies .357 mag
-RCBS 2 die set 223
-Dillon Powder Scale
-Lyman case trimmer
-primer pocket crimp remover
-Lee Perfect Powder Measure
-Classic Auto Prime

Stuff I've used helping others out:
-Auto Prime II
-Dillon 550 press, 223/9mm w/Dillon Dies
-Dillon powder measure (for above and as a standalone)
-Lee Classic Turret
-powered Lyman case trimmer (HIGHLY recommended)
-Hornady Digital scale (HIGHLY recommended)
-Lee Powder Scale (NOT recommended)

Powders I've worked with are AR-Comp, Unique, H110, Power Pistol and Bullseye.

Calibers I'd like to work with in the future are a .32 pistol of some kind, 30 AAC and more 9mm. I'd also like to build an AR-10 variant in a non-308 caliber, 22-250 and 243 win, an ackley variant or 6/6.5 creedmoor are primary candidates.

Feel free to ask questions, I will say that you can crank a ton of ammo out on a single stage like mine but my buddy's Dillon makes doing a fuck ton of ammo easy.
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Old 12-06-2015, 05:00 PM   #2
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OH OH! This is awesome. I got a ton of reloading stuff last year for Christmas... and sadly, didn't do much with it all year. However... I DID reload 200rnds of 9mm just yesterday! I work with a Lee single stage press.

A few things I need:
Case trimmer:
Lyman Case-Prep Xpress : Cabela's

Tumbler:
Amazon.com : RCBS 87088 Vibratory Case Cleaner-2 : Gunsmithing Tools And Accessories : Sports & Outdoors

and an electric scale of some sorts.
@1MEANGT was kind enough to show me the ropes. Maybe he will chime in.
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Old 12-06-2015, 05:24 PM   #3
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I'm currently using a single stage Lee press. Right now I've only done .223 and .308 loads because that's the only brass I had (I don't even have a 308 gun... lol...). Looking to get into more as I'll be picking up a pistol here shortly so I'll start doing 9 as well.

Definitely want to get a progressive because doing 500-1000 rounds and 500-1000 steps for every. single. step. of. the. way gets old.
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Old 12-06-2015, 05:26 PM   #4
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I think single stage is great. Unless you're manufacturing, single stage will probably yield better and more consistent results than a progressive.
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Old 12-06-2015, 06:14 PM   #5
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OH OH! This is awesome. I got a ton of reloading stuff last year for Christmas... and sadly, didn't do much with it all year. However... I DID reload 200rnds of 9mm just yesterday! I work with a Lee single stage press.

A few things I need:
Case trimmer:
Lyman Case-Prep Xpress : Cabela's

Tumbler:
Amazon.com : RCBS 87088 Vibratory Case Cleaner-2 : Gunsmithing Tools And Accessories : Sports & Outdoors

and an electric scale of some sorts.
@1MEANGT was kind enough to show me the ropes. Maybe he will chime in.

What I'll say about the tumblers is I have about 2K-2500 rounds through the HF tumbler. I doubt it's as quiet as the RCBS, but it was $30.

In terms of the scale, the Hornady is about $30 as well. I like using my Dillon with the beams for more precise stuff, but the Hornady is flat out awesome for stuff like quick charges and weighing bullets for consistency.

In terms of the case trimmer, I have the old "lathe" style one with the hand crank. My buddy bought the one that included the drill adapter. I'll be converting mine to the drill adapter as well. If you're doing rifle that's money well spent, or pistol that's picky about the brass. I've got several loadings on my .38 spl and .357 brass and it hasn't caused a problem yet. Then again my nickel plate brass seems to have a problem maybe I should check it for stretching..............

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I think single stage is great. Unless you're manufacturing, single stage will probably yield better and more consistent results than a progressive.
I'm about at the point where I want to "press up." I'd at least like something that's got quick change dies so I'm not adjusting constantly but would prefer even a manually indexed progressive. I'm making enough ammo where the effort and time savings is going to start being nice. Could also be jelly of my buddy's 550.
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Old 12-06-2015, 08:10 PM   #6
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Granted its a little of a investment for all the reloading equipment but once said and done how much are you actually saving? I haven't shopped other calibers but 9mm is about 25 cents a round at store or 19 cents online. When you go to a range are you allowed to take any brass home?

Are we talking 25%, 50%, 80% off new? Id assume it would pay off even more with the bigger calibers.
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:18 PM   #7
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You're usually allowed to take your own brass home.

Cost effectiveness? That's not what its all about, but if you wanted to figure it out... I'll try to do some basic math on the fly.

Take 9mm. Good prices considered, it costs about $.18/rnd. Assuming you have collected brass already (so free brass basically), here's the costs:

Primer: $.031/ea
powder: $.013/ea
projectile (basic FMJ): $.078/ea
= ~
$0.122/each

So you're saving $.06 per round, roughly.

Figure to get all the stuff to reload costs you roughly... $500 (press, dies, starter kit, hand primer tool, caliper, etc)... you'd have to reload 8,334 rounds of 9mm to begin to break even. If the starting costs were dropped to $400, its 6,667rnds; $300, its 5000rnds - for the critics out there.

However, and more importantly.... if you reload, you have the ability to make ammo until you run out of supplies. Which is something that is invaluable to a lot of people.
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:20 PM   #8
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And by reloading, you are controlling the entire process and can adjust the bullet size and charge to give you what you want. More punch, longer distance, more precision, etc.

The VERY first thing I noticed after reloading was that my ammo is extremely more precise than off the shelf/bulk ammo. I'll see if I can find my pictures.
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:21 PM   #9
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Plenty of manufactured match grade ammo matches reloaded ammo consistency - but you'll pay 3-4x the amount for it than bulk reload FMJ stuff... which throws off the calcs a bit. Cut your round-count-to-break-even by 50% if you want to consider the cost of match grade ammo vs cheap FMJ.
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:24 PM   #10
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The money starts to make sense when you're talking rifle ammo. That's where the big bucks come in. Basically, if you own a .308, you should really be reloading to make it cost effective to shoot. The larger the caliber, and the jump to rifle rounds GREATLY reduces the # of rounds you need to make to hit the break even point.
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:33 PM   #11
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Same math for .308. Cheap FMJ = ~$.50/ea (and thats CHEAP online prices. Walmart sells their cheapest 308 for $1/rnd!)

Primer: $.031/ea (same price as small pistol surprisingly)
powder: $.129/ea (@42gr/ea)
projectile (basic 150gr FMJ): $.187/ea
= ~
$0.347/each
Saves about .15ea

$500 starting costs = 3,334rnds ([email protected]$)
$400 = 2667rnds ([email protected]$)
$300 = 2000rnds ([email protected]$)

BUT if you already have the setup for 9mm, you just buy another die set for another $45 and you're on your way. In that case....

$45 breaks even in 300 rounds, or just 69 rounds @ Walmart prices!
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:39 PM   #12
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I just got a box of 308 for $.46ea the other day!
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:05 PM   #13
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Let me toss a few ecconomics out for some rounds I make:

158gr SWC .38 spl:
-free range pick ups (A lot of the ranges I go to don't care if you're not an asshole and pick their buckets but grab from the floor)
-3.2 gr Bullseye. $28 which is a good price these days. I get just under 2200 rounds out of a pound. ~1.3 cents/round.
-Primers are .04 regardless of type it seems. Tulas run cheaper, never tried em but price is .03 each.
-Bullet. These are typically about .10 each, I can get em a bit cheaper. Going to casting is going to make it .02-.03 each depending on the weight I settle on.

Throw these parts together and I'm cranking out ammo for ~15.5 cents a round, or $7.25/box. That isn't great for 9mm when you can buy a box for $14, but for $24 a box for .38 it's really nice. When I get back to casting again, I'll be at 22LR pricing for my ammo. I could do 9mm for basically the same cost if the gun is cool with lead bullets. The brass also grows on trees. I'm starting to save a bunch up, as I wanna do a 9mm AR and it will probably ONLY see a diet of cast bullets.

Now then, 5.56 ecconomics are another beast; first off, you spend more on labor with them because of the trimming and resizing. I pretty well never resize my pistol brass or even trim it. Regardless, lets do a break down:

-.15 is what I've been paying for bullets. Can easily go to a quarter or .30 each plus.
-say 22-23 grains of AR-Comp. I may switch to IMR 4198 due to it needing about 20% less powder. A can gets you about 300 rounds and costs about $30 so you're at .10 a shot.
-Primers are still .04 each.

Putting this together, you're at 29 cents. If you're lucky you can find decent (not Tula) ammo on sale for just a bit more, and perhaps Tula for even less. That being said I've been loading some 69 gr (Nozzler Factory seconds, kicking my self for not picking up the Hornady 77gr at .15 each) and if you start pricing out 69gr ammo it gets a lot pricier really quick.

The last thing I'll say is that I can tell you my .38 Specials group at 1/3 to 1/2 the size than the commercial 130gr Remington FMJs I shot in comparison and at 1/3 the cost too. I even did a double blind with my shooting buddy and had him test it.

Eagle:if you can find decent 9mm at that price, I'd buy it. Lots of it quite honestly.

Lastly, I will say reloading equipment cost can vary WIDELY. My advice is find a mentor and try someone else's gear. You'll be surprised what you learn. A lot of my gear is gun show finds, and the press I have now was about $35. The scale was used at $50, the dies were used at $7, the powder measure was $3, and the prime tool was a $5. My tumbler was a $26 HF wonder and the media was nearly the same price. If you think about the fact I've cranked a couple thousand rounds out with this gear, it pays for its self quickly.

The more exotic the round, the quicker it pays for its self. I'm wanting to get a .32 S&W Long or 32-20 revolver such as a S&W 1903, model 30 or 31 just because I think I could drive the cost down to under .22LR. You can practice guns you don't normally practice with because of ammo costs. (.380 ACP comes to mind.)
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:43 PM   #14
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Eagle:if you can find decent 9mm at that price, I'd buy it. Lots of it quite honestly.

Lastly, I will say reloading equipment cost can vary WIDELY. My advice is find a mentor and try someone else's gear. You'll be surprised what you learn. A lot of my gear is gun show finds, and the press I have now was about $35. The scale was used at $50, the dies were used at $7, the powder measure was $3, and the prime tool was a $5. My tumbler was a $26 HF wonder and the media was nearly the same price. If you think about the fact I've cranked a couple thousand rounds out with this gear, it pays for its self quickly.

The more exotic the round, the quicker it pays for its self. I'm wanting to get a .32 S&W Long or 32-20 revolver such as a S&W 1903, model 30 or 31 just because I think I could drive the cost down to under .22LR. You can practice guns you don't normally practice with because of ammo costs. (.380 ACP comes to mind.)
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Old 12-07-2015, 07:14 AM   #15
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i have been wanting to get into reloading for the past year or so, have done some reading online, bought a few books, even bought some dies. i just don't have the balls to start doing it. i wish i had someone a little closer to me to help mentor me/ show me the ropes but i don't know anyone local that does.

that being said....

i have brand new RCBS carbide die sets for 9mm, 45acp, and 40/10mm for sale if anyone is interested.
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Old 12-07-2015, 07:21 AM   #16
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Don't sell the dies! Buy a single stage press and get learning!
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Old 12-07-2015, 07:24 AM   #17
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can anyone link me to a good starter setup in which i wouldn't need to buy anything else to get started. ...just in case i actually talk myself into starting this year.
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Old 12-07-2015, 07:30 AM   #18
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you guys also making your own bullet's too ?

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Old 12-07-2015, 08:01 AM   #19
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you guys also making your own bullet's too ?

have in the past, getting back into it.
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Old 12-07-2015, 08:03 AM   #20
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is melting the lead and the process doable at home then?
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Old 12-07-2015, 08:16 AM   #21
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I'm 99% sure you can.

Way back in the day a childhood friend's dad made his own bullets. Just need a flame hot enough and the proper dies. Anything lead can be melted into a bullet.

Hence why I always say lead will be the currency in an apocalyptic scenario.
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Old 12-07-2015, 08:19 AM   #22
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Yesterday I was using a brake drum and the bottom quarter of a cut off oxygen tank with some charcoal; I've done it with a gas stove and a small cast iron pot.
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Old 12-08-2015, 08:52 AM   #23
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Just figured I'd post a few images up:



Some ballistic biscuts. These are just drops out of a ladle I have that's cast iron. scoop or pour into it, let sit for 5 minutes, dump it and move on. Next time I'll probably end up with a muffin tin set. These drop at roughly 2.5-3 pounds each based on my count.



The setup I used to melt it. Crude, but it did work and it filled the pot up at one point. Future additions are going to be a better way to hold the pot its self and a taller container so I can put more charcoal around it. If I can find one probably half an R22 jug.
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Old 12-08-2015, 09:19 AM   #24
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Pics of the forms? What caliber are you casting? Where'd you source the lead?
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Old 12-08-2015, 10:14 AM   #25
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The lead was from All American recycling, about $1/lb. The molds, well I'm about to give up on my Lee 158gr single cavity and go buy this:

Lee 6-Cavity Bullet Mold 358-105-SWC 38 Special 357 Mag 38 Colt New

Dropping singletons is still decently quick, but having the 6 popper should make things go a lot better.

If I was making stash ammo I'd be all about this:

Lee-new style block 38/357 revolver 38-158-SWC #90322 « For sale « Hollow Point Bullet Mold Service

It'd be a great way to replicate the "FBI load" .38 special +P rounds.
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