101

Basic Reloading Equipment

| September 11, 2020
basic reloading eguipment
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

I’m going to cover the basic reloading equipment needed to get started reloading. I won’t get into the why you should or shouldn’t reload.

The gist is this… If you want to reload to save money, you probably won’t achieve your goal of saving money. Its not true all the time, like with reloading premium hunting rounds or thousands of rounds, but most of the time, you won’t save money, you’ll just get to shoot more for the same amount of money. It usually takes A LOT of rounds for the average shooter to break even. Basic benefits are ammo availability, custom load development, ammo security, and volume.

Now that I’ve briefly commented on why someone might reload, I’ll dive right into the basic reloading equipment that you’ll need. Beyond the equipment, the most important things you can get, in any combination, are a mentor, reloading training, a reloading data book.

I’ll use the .223 Remington as a reloading equipment example, since its in such high demand. However, dies, shell holders, and other equipment and consumables like gun powder, for 9mm, or other calibers are all similarly expensive or inexpensive to get into depending on your perspective. My reloading equipment list also assumes a single stage press, where you only perform one reloading step at a time. Its the cheapest method to start reloading your own ammo.

Reloading Steps

I’ve broken down the functions of reloading equipment into the six steps they perform.
1. De-prime/Resize
2. Clean
3. Prime
4. Powder Fill
5. Seat Bullet
6. Measure/Adjust/QC

Equipment List for .223 Remington

This is the equipment list that you will use forever, or untill you upgrade to other presses. It excludes consumable equipment, and ammunition consumables listed further below.

Consumable Equipment List

This is equipment that lasts a long time, but eventually needs replacement.

Consumables .223 Remington

  • Bullets
  • Cases(pick them up after you shoot them, and pick up other peoples cases)
  • Powder
  • Primers
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Reloading Ammo

| April 11, 2020
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Why should you be reloading ammo? There are a few reasons to be reloading ammo, and if you can afford the upfront costs, you should look into it.

Reason #1: Cost Savings
If you are looking to save money, it will take some volume before you really benefit, but you’ll be able to develop and load high end rounds for cheaper than you could buy them. Range finds, and buying things in bulk or on sale can make reloading ammo more cost effective than store bought ammo. However, cost shouldn’t be the only focus of reloading.

Reason #2: Precision Ammunition
You can produce more accurate, and consistent ammunition, versus off the shelf ammunition.

Reason #3: Availability
You can produce a specialty round that isn’t commonly available, or create a round that is in low supply at retailers

Reason #4: Freedom
If you live in California, you can avoid the ammo background checks and fees. (This is a big perk for me in California, where legislators and idiots are constantly trying to take away or infringe 2A rights). Background checks add to the cost of ammunition, and upfront fees to buy ammo from a store you aren’t on record already is an egregious 20 dollars.

My Big Game Hunting Round. Used for examples below.
I experimented with powders, seating depth, and settled on a load for my 270. It’s a 140g Barnes TSX, doing 3100+ fps and around 3000FPE at the muzzle. It doesn’t recoil badly, isn’t even the hottest load I could run, and is producing accurate results. When I put a highend name brand round with similar ballistics through a chronograph, it performed over 300fps slower than advertised. So even when you pay for a premium round, you may not be getting ammo that is nearly as good as you could create.

Equipment Cost Breakdown(All Available in one stop at Brownells)

Equipment Cost Link
Lyman Press $89.99 Buy It Here
#3 Shell Holder $5.98 Buy It Here
Priming Unit $11.99 Buy It Here
Powder Funnel Free I designed and 3d Printed my own.
Powder Scale $29.99 Buy It Here
Digital Caliper $38.99 Buy It Here
Dies Set 2 Piece $40.00 Buy It Here
Total $216.94

I bought stuff on sale, price shopped a couple other places, even 3D printed stuff, and got all of the above for $172.65.

Consumable Cost Breakdown

Consumables Cost Link
RE 22 Powder 1 lbs (120 rds) $28.00 Buy It Here
Bullets(50) $28.00
Primers(1000) $33.99 Buy It Here
Primers(100) $3.99 Can be bought in smaller 100ct amounts

 

My Specific Example Ammo Reloading Costs
$0.24 powder, $0.56 Copper 140g Bullet, $0.04 Primer, 270 Cartridge(I have a bunch that I’ve saved)
Box of 20 = $16.80 or 84 cents per round

Compare the above to Lead Free commercial round: Hornady Superformance GMX 130g
Box of 20 = $29.99 or $1.50 per round

So for a ‘specialty’ lead free hunting round, my reloaded ammo cost a little more than half that of a commercially available round, but I can be assured of performance, and quality.

My example focused mostly on a centerfire hunting round, that uses premium bullets and a magnum rifle powder, and not bulk shooting rounds. For bulk reloading it’d be wise to read what you can about a turret press, which is faster at creating bulk ammunition, than a single stage press would be. Reloading ammo in smaller calibers like 5.56/223 could be much cheaper, based on powders, and the use of copper jacketed lead bullets.

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