Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Handloading/Reloading - A New Hobby?

I recently thought it would be a good idea to get into handloading / reloading my own ammunition. What with the costs of ammo being so high and promising to go higher under the current administration if they ever start to get any pull among the American people (maybe even if not) the cost of commercially available ammunition may become too much for me to shell out. There are a couple of ways around that - like buying as much ammo now as possible before there is another shortage and the price goes up even further, stealing a lot of it, or just loading my own. Buying a whole lot more is pretty much out for now. I do not have the funds to do so. No I am not broke, I just have other things on which I prefer or need to spend right now. Stealing is out of the question unless it becomes TEOTWAWKI. So that leaves me pretty much with the reloading option if I want to have lots of ammo available to me at a lower price than the commercial stuff.

Of course handloading/reloading cost money too. The thing of it is though that in the long run it is less expensive than buying ammunition over the counter. Why in the long run? Well the expenditure that you have to lay out is fairly substantial. A decent reloading kit that has almost all of the necessary components needed to reload will run anywhere from about $250 to $400. Then you need to add a few things that are not included in the kit such as dies, shell holders and of course all the components of the actual ammunition such as bullets, casings, primers and powder. I am going to guess that to handload 100 rounds of

Brass: $50.99
Bullets: $31.49
Primers: $43.49 (for 1,000)
Gunpowder 1 lb.: $24.99 (I am pretty sure I would have a lot left over after loading only 100

Let's see, if I bought a reloading kit for $350, dies and shell holder for $40.00, case trimmer (needed for rifle ammo) for $65.00 and the actual ammo components as above that would come out to a whopping: $605.96 not including shipping charges or anything that I did not think of putting into the mix. Considering that I can buy a box of 20 rounds of ammunition (all ready to fire) for $25.49 that would make it $127.45 for 100 rounds or a long way until I get my money back handloading my own ammunition. Now I know if you add up just the ammo component prices above it works out to more than the cost of ready to fire ammunition but you have to figure that I would be left over with a lot of gunpowder and 900 primers (by the way it seems most primers are out of stock everywhere). Then consider that brass cases can be loaded a few times at least (if done right each time and you don't blow them up) so the expenditure for brass is a once in awhile thing only. Bullets are another story and seemingly would have to purchased new each time. of course I could buy in bulk and pick up 500 or 1,000 at a shot. I imagine that after awhile it would give me my money back and then actually start to save me money over buying ready to shoot ammunition.

Imagining that, I decided to check out getting into handloading/reloading. First of all let me explain why I use two terms - handloading and reloading. Handloading includes reloading under its umbrella so to speak but not all handloading is reloading. Handloading can consist of making totally new ammo from components or loading using previously fired brass casings. Reloading of course would always utilize previously fired casings therefor the 're' before the 'loading'. I think I got that right but maybe some real handloading guru will correct me on it. So how to get started on either one. Well you may realize by now that I am The Great Procrastinator. It takes me eons to accomplish just about anything like this on which I set my sights. So I went online and went to a few gun forums and asked about how to get started. I received lots of advice on what reloading presses to buy, which kits were best, which had the most bang for the buck and so on. I was also told that reloading requires some study before starting and it is probably best to have someone teach you how to go about it. I have no friends who reload, so I suppose that is out unless someone who is near to me reads this and wants to volunteer their time and instruction. The other option I was given was to read up on it and then teach myself using the books as a guide.

Taking that last piece of advice I decided to go out to buy The ABC's of Reloading. This was the number one book suggested to me. I have had it a week or more and have not gotten passed page one. Why not - I need new reading glasses. I am hoping to get the glasses today. In the meanwhile, Brendan came home a couple of nights ago and handed me an issue of Combat Handguns Magazine, the December 2009 issue. Therein, on page 62, is an article titled: Reloading 101! I think I will start reading that one first since it is only about 2 full pages long and has much easier to read print than the book I bought. I will also read the book but it has sort of faded or light print on crappy textured paper (in my opinion) that makes it hard to read and I will need new glasses for that one.

Once I go through all of that, I will set my sights on making the purchase of a reloading kit. Remember I said I did not have all that much cash thus the reason for thinking about getting into reloading. Happily though, I will only have to shell out about half the price of a good handloading kit because for my birthday a short time back I received a gift of $150 to be spent specifically on a reloading kit. That was from my children and my son's girlfriend. Nice youngsters to think of me like that.

Right now I have to finish up with this piece, get off my behind, and head out to do some shopping for groceries and such. I will also make sure to buy a few pairs of reading glasses (I buy the over the counters type in three packs when I can). That way, once I am done with chores around the house today, I can start reading up on how to spend more of my money on guns and ammo. At least handloading will accomplish a couple of things: save me money in the long run if I stick with it, and give me a good hobby to keep me busy when I retire. retirement is not far away, I can only go three more years on my job before they wallop me with a size 12 and kick me out the door.

All the best,
Glenn B