To a beginner, reloading ammo can seem complicated. Getting started requires a lot of upfront costs—specifically, buying a press—and a ton of knowledge about the process. At Powder Valley, we firmly believe that reloading ammo is not only worth it, but connects you more deeply to the art and science of firearms. Of course, reloading may not be for everyone— so to decide if reloading is something you want to explore, we’ve put together this guide to help you make an informed decision. Also, check out our ammo reloading basics guide for more information on the process of reloading.
What Is Reloading Ammo?
Though crystal clear to seasoned firearm users, the term “reloading ammo” may not be commonly understood by every gun owner. In this guide, “reloading ammo” refers to turning brass casings, gunpowder, and a few other components into live ammunition. It does not refer to the process of placing bullets in your firearm.
With this term now clearly defined, we can begin to discuss whether reloading ammo is worth it.
Firearm Users That Benefit From Reloading
Here are some common instances where it would make sense to reload your own ammo:
You are a consistent high-volume shooter
The main part of the cost of reloading is mostly your press, which can run into the thousands of dollars. Dies, case holders, and cases themselves are part of the initial investment, too. After this, you’re basically only spending money on powder, bullets, and primers, while also investing the time it takes to manufacture your rounds. With every round you reload, you’re saving money, but you have to make enough rounds to pay down the costs of the initial investment before reloading is really “worth it” in an economic sense. Of course, if you shoot a lot, saving even a few cents a round will quickly add up. If you rarely hit the range, reloading might not save you a substantial amount of money, though the slightly increased cost might be well worth it if you love the process.
You Shoot an Uncommon Caliber
It can be difficult to find uncommon or obscure calibers on the open market. If you’re dedicated to using uncommon calibers, reloading your own ammo may be the only way to ensure you’ll have enough rounds for a trip to the range or a hunting expedition. If you shoot with bigger calibers, you might also find reloading makes sense from an economical and availability standpoint.
You’re Ultra-Concerned With Accuracy
If you’re a competitive match shooter, a few millimeters can mean the difference between winning the competition and going home empty-handed. By reloading your own ammo, you can oversee every aspect of the process and make sure that each round meets the exact same specifications. Of course, there’s always something special about hitting your mark, whether it’s a target or a buck, with ammunition that you made yourself, even if you’re not saving boat-loads of money by reloading your own ammo.
You Want to Avoid Ammo Shortages
There have been a few ammo shortages in the past years, due mostly to the inability of the primer industry to keep up with increased demand. By spending the money to stock up on reloading primers, bullets, and powder now, you can ensure that you can manufacture your own rounds, even if another shortage strikes.
The Economics of Reloading: Does Reloading Ammo Save You Money?
In most cases, the answer is yes – reloading ammo will save you money as compared to buying ammo at a brick-and-mortar store in your town or online from a trusted retailer. However, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into when investing in reloading your own ammo. Here’s a quick breakdown of the economics involved.
The Reloading Kit
For those looking to get into reloading, buying a reloading kit is the most cost-effective and straightforward investment to make. Standard reloading kits from top brands like Lee, Redding, Hornady, and RCBS contain most (if not all) of the tools you’ll need to start reloading, such as:
- A single-stage press
- Reloading block
- Chamfer tool
- Deburring tool
However, these kits do not typically contain the consumable components required for reloading ammo, which we’ll cover below. For a quality kit, expect to spend somewhere between $200 and $400.
The Consumables (and the Die)
With tools in hand, you’ll need to purchase all consumable components required for the ammunition itself. In most scenarios, this supply list can be boiled down to four components: cases, bullets, powder, and primers.
You’ll also need a die—which is reusable—to seat your bullets to the correct depth to fit whatever cartridge you’re working with.
Depending on the ammunition in question, a box of each of these components (which typically works out to a few rounds) can range in price by a few cents to a few dollars.
As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to pay as low as half the price for all components, in total, versus what you’d pay for ready-made ammunition.
Market prices for ammunition can fluctuate significantly—and this fluctuation makes a strong case for having a reloading setup on standby in case of a shortage. By buying your supplies individually, and stockpiling if you have the means, you can save yourself money and headache when the market for your ammunition trends in wrong direction.
Shop Online and Save
At Powder Valley, we offer a gigantic selection of reloading supplies for practically any caliber, all available at the best possible prices. Whether you’re preparing for a match, mass-producing plinking ammo, or preparing for an uncertain market, you’ll find the reloading supplies you need in our inventory. Brush up on reloading basics, and find the components you need to put together the perfect round at Powder Valley today.