Last Updated on October 19, 2020
Editors Note: An article from Eric at Pew Pew Tactical to The Prepper Journal. One of my go to resources for information, they are in the business of selling and this is their case for getting into reloading. I have always wanted to take the plunge and knew the general buy in cost, but like a lot of people things like needing new tires or replacing a failing appliance always step in front of the purchase. Now, with the crazy guns laws being proposed, time to think this through again.
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It’s often prohibitively expensive to head to the range these days, and with ammunition prices always seeming to creep ever higher, every round is precious. On top of that, if you want to use premium loads, you’ll barely be able to afford to put those down range and get actual practice time with the bullet you intend to use in the field.
That is, of course, unless you learn how to reload. With a very reasonable initial investment, you can turn a $100 day at the range into a $25 trip by saving a huge amount on ammunition. If you have the smarts and dedication to follow simple instructions and safe handling procedures, you can turn an expensive, occasional hobby into a real chance to hone your skills.
Of course, in the process, you’ll probably end up shooting more — rapidly improving your skills in the process — so in that sense, you’ll be spending more. But with amount you’ll save in the long-term, you’ll be making a very good investment toward becoming a better shooter.
Reloading is intimidating at first, and you absolutely do have to acquire the procedural knowledge to begin. Luckily, it’s never been easier, with books, websites and videos dedicated to helping you get started. But that’s not what we’ll be looking at. Instead, let’s break down the other side of the equation, and figure out what the initial costs really are so that you’ll have one less excuse to take the plunge and start making your own ammunition.
Of course, you’ll need brass, powder, and bullets, but there is a very wide range when it comes to prices for these, and you’ll always need more as you progress. As such, we’ll leave this out and instead discuss the actual one-time equipment purchases you’ll need to make to get started. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll assume you’re reloading 9 mm ammunition where appropriate.
Bare Bones, Must-have Starting Gear
This is the essential piece of gear that will resize your spent brass and fit your bullet into the casing. You can’t reload without this.
Single Stage Press, Ultimate Reloader
A simple, decent single-stage unit will run you around $50, but you can spend all the way up to $300 or more for a high-quality progressive press. For our purposes, we’ll assume you’ll spend around $100 for your press.
This fits in your single-stage press, and is sized to the caliber you intend to reload. This will cost you approximately $5.
This component is vital, and must be exact to accurately measure your powder load. A decent, analog beam scale will cost you around $75.
These precisely measure your overall cartridge length to the thousandth of an inch, and are a requirement to ensure safe loading. A high-quality analog unit will run you around $50.
You’ll need three die:
A de-capping and resizing die to push out old primers and resize the casing to the proper initial diameter;
An expanding die to resize the casing mouth to accept a bullet.
Finally, a seating and crimping die to seat a bullet in the casing and fit the casing mouth securely to the bullet. You’ll need a set for each caliber you intend to reload. A good starter set will run around $50.
This is the most important item of all. You can’t reload without it. The manual will give you recipes for different loads, and you should always follow these parameters as you reload. A good manual will cost about $25.
This is simply used to pour powder into your casings. It’s designed to cut down on static electricity, which is detrimental when working with gunpowder.
Some kits and setups may not require this piece of equipment, but for beginners it’s very useful, so we’re including it here. The cost is around $5.
Case Conditioning Kit and Case Length Gage
This allows you to trim cases to spec, clean primer pockets, and bevel casing edges to simplify reloading.
While not strictly necessary for reloading 9 mm cartridges, this is something we think you’ll want right from the start. A kit plus the gauge will run you around $20.
Hand Priming Tool (if your die doesn’t include a priming feature)
Some die kits include a priming feature, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll need a priming tool, which will run around $30.
Total Initial Cost: $360.00
Though these aren’t necessary to get started, you’ll very likely want them after a very short time reloading.
Cartridge Case Cleaner
This is an automatic unit that will clean spent casings for you. While not strictly necessary, it’s a time-saving item any serious reloader will want.
A good unit will cost you in the ballpark of $50.
This will measure and dispense a set measurement of powder into your casings.
While isn’t strictly necessary at all, it is a huge time saver. You can buy a good, simple unit for around $60.
Shell Holder Tray
This holds casings while you’re prepping them. It’s cheap at around only $5, and it saves you having to set cases with powder in them loose, so why not?
Bullet Trays with Lids
These organize your ammunition after you’re finished reloading. It beats holding ammunition loose. The cost is around $5.
My last recommendation is to buy a good bullet puller.
There are cam lock models that fit into your press that allow you to easily extract a bullet from a casing — say if you made a mistake, for example — which you probably will when you first start out. A simple model will run you around $25.
All-in Cost: $505.00
Worth the Plunge
Our all-in cost may seem like a lot, but keep in mind, over time your setup will pay for itself. Also, keep in mind that you can get started with a cheaper press, which will save you $50 off our estimate, and if you only go with the initial required equipment, you’re looking at spending $310.00.
This is absolutely worth the self-sufficiency and freedom you’ll gain by reloading yourself, not to mention the skills you’ll build while shooting more frequently. And if you live in a state such as California, where buying any ammunition is set to require a background check starting in 2019, there’s almost no reason not to make the investment now and set yourself apart from the rest of the shooting public.
How much money you’ll save in the long run really will depend on how much you shoot. Remember, the more you reload – the more you save!
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