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Reload 12 Gauge Steel

| September 4, 2020
Reloading 12 Guage Steel
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.

Want to reload 12 Gauge steel shot? Tired of not having the right ammo locally available? Living in California an dealing with ammo background BS? I got over it, and I’m happy to be able to produce any shot shell I want or need, at an economical price.

With California ammo background checks and associated costs, plus the lead free ammo cost compared to lead, as well as the lack of local availability, reloading hunting shot shells makes economical sense.

Equipment
12 Gauge Lee Load All 2 - $58.99 - $72.99

Consumables
10 Lbs. Steel #5 Shot – $19.99
200 Steel Shot Specific Wads – $20.12
200 Primers (x2 100 box) – (3.59*2) = $7.18
250 Overshot Cards 1/8″ – $5.03
1 Lbs. Shot Powder (Alliant Green Dot, Alliant Steel) – 23.99

Consumable Cost
$76.31 = 19.99 + 20.12 + 7.18 + 5.03 + 23.99

Total Cost = Equipment Cost + Consumable Cost
$135.30 = $58.99 + $76.31

You can expect to load 160 1 ounce loads, with the limiting factor being the steel shot. All the other supplies will load nearly double that amount of shells. If you can even get a hold of #5 steel, and its a decent hunting load. A box will probably cost between 12 and 17 bucks for 25 rounds. The above listed equipment will load 160 shells, or 6.4 boxes. Meaning you’ll probably break even on the consumables, and break completely even after your first 400 – 500 rounds.

All of the above doesn’t even consider the ammo background check costs, lack of availability of ammo, and any costs saved on trips to the sporting goods.

Its a winning deal just to avoid California’s asinine ammunition laws.

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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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