Relative Cost of Reloading – So Why Bother?

Match Grade M1 Garand in 30-06.

Match Grade M1 Garand in 30-06.

Well the first reason you reload is for an extension of the hobby.  If you’re a rifleman, you simply can’t seem to get to the range as often as you’d like so you spend your off hours cleaning your stuff and making ammo.  Simple!

Beyond that, you’re probably running around in search of the holy grail, tweaking every batch of ammo you build to make that old piece hold better groups than a bench rest rifle.  Good luck with that one, but you’re having fun right?

Probably the last reason you handload is that if you completely eliminate any labor cost (or even add back the money you saved by reloading versus painting the living room, falling off the ladder, and paying chiropractic fees) you can actually spend less money per bang!

Here’s the tale of the tape: Prices were randomly derived from published prices online at Cabelas, Brownells, and E. Arthur Brown.  The costs DO NOT include shipping fees or hazardous shipment fees.  I did not look for, but neither did I decline special pricing where available.  I looked at a single round of .308 using 41.5 gr of IMR 4895, over a CCI Large Rifle Primer, behind a 168 Gr. Sierra Match King. No attempt was made to maximize savings with blemished bullets or any other savings hunting.

  1. IMR 4895 8 lbs @ 161.99 (powder)
  2. 168 Gr Sierra Match King HPBT 100 @ 29.99 (bullet)
  3. Primers Lg Rifle CCI 1000 @52.99 (primer)
  4. 7000 grains per pound.  170 rounds per pound at 41.5 grains
  5. This equates to roughly 11.8 cents per round for the powder.
  6. The projectile costs 30 cents
  7. The primer is roughly a nickel.
  8. Without the case or shipping each round will cost roughly 47 cents.

New unfired Remington cases cost roughly 50 cents per purchased in bulk and depending upon load (heavy high velocity loads with heavy bullets wear out cases quicker) and rifle type (bolt actions are kinder on cases than semi-autos) you can get between 4 and 10 or more reloads per case (or loaded cartridge).

A loaded Remington .308 cartridge purchased in 100 rounds quantity will set you back a dollar on sale. If you bought the case new and used it only once, your handloaded cost would be 97 cents a round.  But by using a case from loaded ammo that you have fired and writing off that cost on the initial firing you can produce a round for 47 cents, exclusive of labor.  If you amortize the cost of the case across five firings you can add a dime per round making your true cost 57 cents.

Of course we haven’t included any costs for your initial reloading equipment setup or your ensuing divorce, but hey, it’s a hobby!  🙂

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About Gary L. Miller

I have many hobbies and spend a fair amount of time playing at them. I'd love to spend more, but there's this earning a living thing... So I often fill my idle hours spewing forth ideas and opinions, unsolicited or not. This is merely an extension of that propensity.
This entry was posted in Reloading for the Rifle!, The Arts of the Fusilier and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Relative Cost of Reloading – So Why Bother?

  1. Sara B says:

    I love reading your posts on reloading. Excellent data, presented in a very readable way. Thank you!

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