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To Reload Or Not To Reload, That Is The Question

LRZ

Operator
Hi all-
I've been searching handgun forums all day, and The Armory Life seems to be the most 'currently active' so I'm hoping to get advice/opinions.

My wife and I purchased our first handguns exactly 6 weeks ago (both 9mm). Since then, I have been to the range at least once a week, if not twice. Other than the simple joy of shooting, I want to be good at it, and can honestly say I am seeing improvement from my sessions. As much as I can, I've been watching and reading everything gun related as well. Which leads me to the big question of reloading.

Ammo is obviously very scarce right now. I live in IL where I can't even get ammo shipped to me (when I find them online), and have to have them shipped to a friends house in IN. The one store that always has ammo by me charges 5c for every round due to the county I live in. In a nutshell, to date (6 weeks), I have spent almost $1500 on ammo (have about 1200 rounds left). When I calculated cost (I included tax, shipping etc), I'm about 34c per round (those include 150 defense ammo, rest are FMJs).

Since I didn't own a gun before COVID hit, I don't know how much folks were able to get 9mm ammo then. I've read many posts saying 9mm are not worth reloading due to how cheap you can get them (doesn't seem too cheap to me, but again, maybe 9mm ammo were cheaper pre-Covid), and/or the start up cost would take a long time to make up. I enjoy learning new things, so I think I would enjoy the process of reloading. And right now, I make sure I go to the range with no more than 150-200 rounds at a time else I'd 'splurge' too much in one visit!

So all that being said, what would your thoughts be on reloading for me? If nay, why? If aye, where/how would I begin? I am brand new to this-saw a guy with a dust pan picking up his shells at the range and wondered why he was doing that. Yes, I'm THAT new to it!!I saw a thread on here for a Hornady kit for under $450 or RCBS kit for under $400. Could kits like that get me started, with minimal additions if I'm only thinking 9mm right now?

I have more questions, but I'll start there. Any and all feedback from those of you much more seasoned at this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Z
 

Annihilator

Ronin
Founding Member
Ok, my opinion here, there will be other replies, lots of good knowledgeable members here. It just depends on how much you are planning on shooting, I gave up reloading a few years ago, I own several 9mm pistols, and buy my ammo now because it was cheap, now, with all this panic buying and hoarding, it’s a little rough getting ammo. My local shop has tons of 9mm right now, so far no limit on purchasing yet. I usually buy in bulk, 500-1000 rounds at a time. So I can’t say yay or nay on reloading, also welcome to the forum and enjoy yourself here.
 

LRZ

Operator
Ok, my opinion here, there will be other replies, lots of good knowledgeable members here. It just depends on how much you are planning on shooting, I gave up reloading a few years ago, I own several 9mm pistols, and buy my ammo now because it was cheap, now, with all this panic buying and hoarding, it’s a little rough getting ammo. My local shop has tons of 9mm right now, so far no limit on purchasing yet. I usually buy in bulk, 500-1000 rounds at a time. So I can’t say yay or nay on reloading, also welcome to the forum and enjoy yourself here.
In general, is 35c per round for 9mm a pretty decent price? I'm always online looking for good deals, and since free shipping doesn't come easy, I'm usually buying in bulk of 500/1000. Thanks for the welcome and input. I'm loving the plethora of info on this forum! Great job for newbies like me.
 

benstt

Custom
Founding Member
I think it'll take you a long time to recoup you investment in equipment and raw materials before reloading 9mm pays off. Another thing to think about, small pistol primers seem hard to find right now. If we were talking 10mm or a magnum revolver round where you can make your money back pretty quickly or for a rifle where you can get more out of your rifle if you tailor your rounds to it I'd say go for it. Not so much with the 9mm. Between the relative cheapness of 9mm ammo, the time necessary to work up a good load, and the time investment in sitting down to load a bunch of bullets it's a costly thing to get into. If it were me, for a pair of 9mms, I'd take the cash you would spend on a full reloading setup and make a big bulk buy of ammo.

If you do decide to reload, you'll need more than the basic kit. You also need the die set, a shell holder, and most likely a good caliper (I'm not sure if the setup you're looking at includes one). Thet'll probably be over $100. You'll also need a tumbler or other cleaner to clean the brass, as getting too much carbon buildup on it can mess with function. Those are at least $100, plus the media you use. All that said, I have the RCBS Rockchucker setup. It's worked great for me.

Welcome to the hobby! Shooting is definitely a fun activity and a great way to clear your head and relax. I find focusing on the front sight post and concentrating on a good trigger pull blocks out everything else going on and I leave feeling great. I'm glad you're enjoying it and the forum. There are a lot of good people on here.
 

adam sr

Professional
Founding Member
If you shoot every week (150 to 200) and reuse the casings it might be a little cheaper to reload. If you plan on doing this for a long time it will be. The most important thing is you can try out different load to get better accuracy. And if you like reloading its worth it because you enjoy doing it.
 

TEXASforLIFE

Professional
Hi all-
I've been searching handgun forums all day, and The Armory Life seems to be the most 'currently active' so I'm hoping to get advice/opinions.

My wife and I purchased our first handguns exactly 6 weeks ago (both 9mm). Since then, I have been to the range at least once a week, if not twice. Other than the simple joy of shooting, I want to be good at it, and can honestly say I am seeing improvement from my sessions. As much as I can, I've been watching and reading everything gun related as well. Which leads me to the big question of reloading.

Ammo is obviously very scarce right now. I live in IL where I can't even get ammo shipped to me (when I find them online), and have to have them shipped to a friends house in IN. The one store that always has ammo by me charges 5c for every round due to the county I live in. In a nutshell, to date (6 weeks), I have spent almost $1500 on ammo (have about 1200 rounds left). When I calculated cost (I included tax, shipping etc), I'm about 34c per round (those include 150 defense ammo, rest are FMJs).

Since I didn't own a gun before COVID hit, I don't know how much folks were able to get 9mm ammo then. I've read many posts saying 9mm are not worth reloading due to how cheap you can get them (doesn't seem too cheap to me, but again, maybe 9mm ammo were cheaper pre-Covid), and/or the start up cost would take a long time to make up. I enjoy learning new things, so I think I would enjoy the process of reloading. And right now, I make sure I go to the range with no more than 150-200 rounds at a time else I'd 'splurge' too much in one visit!

So all that being said, what would your thoughts be on reloading for me? If nay, why? If aye, where/how would I begin? I am brand new to this-saw a guy with a dust pan picking up his shells at the range and wondered why he was doing that. Yes, I'm THAT new to it!!I saw a thread on here for a Hornady kit for under $450 or RCBS kit for under $400. Could kits like that get me started, with minimal additions if I'm only thinking 9mm right now?

I have more questions, but I'll start there. Any and all feedback from those of you much more seasoned at this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Z
1 question too get started answering your beginning question? How many calibers/cartridges do you have or want to reload?
 

HansGruber

Professional
In general, is 35c per round for 9mm a pretty decent price? I'm always online looking for good deals, and since free shipping doesn't come easy, I'm usually buying in bulk of 500/1000. Thanks for the welcome and input. I'm loving the plethora of info on this forum! Great job for newbies like me.
$350 a case (1000 rds) is about double what 9mm blasters were running in January, so, no, I wouldn’t call that reasonable, at all. That’s even a little high, imho, for current panic pricing.

Get thee a Dillon progressive. A Square Deal, if you only plan on shooting one caliber...or a 550 if you think you'll expand.

Single stage or turret presses are nice to learn on, but a buddy recently dove in head first with a 550, and was putting out good loads pretty much after he figured out how to set it up. There was a fairly steep learning curve (get a bullet puller—you'll need it), but it paid off rapidly. He figures he easily loads 2-300 rounds per hour with it, being meticulous with checking everything as he goes.
 
Here's a easy to use cost calculator.

If you're going to purchase a Single stage reloading set up figure $250.00-$500.00 including a bench. Progressive Press would cost $500.00 to unlimited.

Well worth it if you use a lot of ammo.
 
I never reloaded 9mm because it was so cheap to buy. I reloaded .40 and .45 but prices have gone crazy lately. My last buy a month ago from Natchez was 1000 rounds for $257. Not great but not as good as the $157 6 weeks earlier. Prices will come down they always do. The problem is availability now. Target Sports has the best prices plus no shipping AND they even ship to NY.

Your best bet is a Dillon progressive with and entry level 550. They stand behind their product and replace any broken part without question. They even refurbish the machine after a few years no charge. They will give you one set of dies and parts for one caliber to start. You will need a tumbler, cleaning media, caliper, and scale all of which you could purchase at Dillon or Midway. There are many places to buy bullets, powder, brass, and primers. ALWAYS pick up your brass and if you have friends that shoot ask them to pick up their brass. Supplying your own brass it should cost you $8-$10 for a box of 9mm to reload which is why I never reloaded 9mm because you could buy it for that. But now cost and availability changes a lot. Even if prices go down it will not hurt to have a reloader available.
 

RangerBill

Operator
Welcome to the forum! It has been said that reloading is a "Hobby for a lifetime", and in my case, it has been just that. I think everyone here has started reloading for various reasons, from the simple enjoyment of it, the technical aspects, or for the "economy" of "Rolling your own". By the same token, there have been some that have gotten out of the hobby for different reasons, some sooner than later.

Since I can assume this is a first step in your research, keep at it. There are some folks on some forums who put out bad if not dangerous advice on handloading. At the very least, purchase a handloading manual from any of the various bullet and or powder makers. Sierra, Speer, Nosler, Western Powders are just a few, and they have put in considerable time and effort to not only list load data that is safe, but they also explain the reloading process very well. Read that manual. Pay attention to it. It will keep you out of trouble.

You do not have to spend a Kings Ransom on equipment to get started. I would especially urge you to NOT get into a progressive press right away. Those have a learning curve all their own, and if you are not familiar with the basics, you can get into trouble you don't need. If something is amiss with the set up, you can get a whole lot of "finished" ammunition that either won't fit the chamber, or have over / under charges of powder. Start out with a single stage press / kit. They are all just fine for starting out, whichever brand you choose.

I started reloading long before the hobby became political like just about everything else, and I am still using equipment my Dad bought me when I was in high school, and other things I have upgraded and added to. There are times now when finding and buying components can be just as difficult as buying factory loads. Call me a hoarder or a prepper, take your pick. Over the years I have accumulated many firearms that I reload for, and I keep stocked up on whatever I might need. The one thing I do not worry about is where my next round is coming from.

Regards,
Bill
 

RangerBill

Operator
One other item. You can go to the NRA website and search your area for certified instructors in Rifle, Handgun, and Metallic Cartridge reloading (I happen to teach all three). Not that it's a requirement, but taking a reloading class and getting some hands on experience is a nice way to see if you might like it. Sometimes, sporting goods stores will put on a show and tell thing for reloading that is educational (as well as a sales pitch, yes sir).

Regards,
Bill
 

LRZ

Operator
Thank you ALL for your responses. I've been like a little kid waiting all day to get off work and get back on here to read and respond! (Haven't quite figured how to quote multiple responses so guess I'll use handle names):

@benstt: You answered one of the questions I had-if 9mm ammo are hard to find right now, is it the same for the items I'm going to need to reload? As much as I'm loving my HK VP9SK, everyone keeps telling me that it's only a matter of time before I start wanting and collection additional guns! And I love expanding my skills and knowledge of whatever it is I'm into, which tells me I may be needing to reload more than just 9mm down the line! I'm definitely enjoying this new hobby, though it feels I know so little right now.

@adam sr: Interesting you should point out load. Thus far, I've been at the mercy of what's available, and most of the time it's 115 gr. However, I managed to score some Winchester 147 gr, and it was like a light switch went on! I haven't quite figured out why, but I liked it much better. Couldn't find them anymore, but then got a few Federal HST 147, and it was the same...I liked the 'feel' a lot more than the 115 gr. So now I'm trying to learn the effects of the heavier , but long story short, if I'm able to reload to my liking, that is very very appealing to me.

@TEXASforLIFE: at this moment I just own a 9mm (HK VP9SK). I got a chance to shoot my friend's full sized Canik (don't remember the exact specifications), and I was already in the store looking at other sized/caliber guns after that! I guess all that to say I have an innate feeling that I'm eventually going to own other calibers. As for how many, let's put it this way....when I go to the range right now, I only take a max of 150-200 rounds. But when it's time to leave, I'm like a kid being forced to leave a birthday party-I don't want to leave! I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, but more recently, I've told myself that I need to leave to refocus and think of how my session went, what I could improve on, then hold my breath until the next time!

@HansGruber: Great handle name! Think the first 2 Die Hard's were the best. Thanks for breaking my heart about what I've been paying for ammo; and here I was thinking I was getting great deals! Lol! But in all seriousness, this is exactly why I started thinking about reloading. As I mentioned in my original post, I couldn't figure why the guy next to me was picking up his brass. I go to the range at Shoot Point Blank, and the one time that had 9mm ammo, I saw a guy grab 30 boxes. So I grabbed 15, which is when another fellow said "You might as well be reloading if you're buying that much ammo." I went home that day and researched what "reloading" meant, and here I am now!

@Blackgun34: That calculator was awesome; thanks. I don't know how much everything costs, so I was just googling random costs. Very eye opening!

@SCfromNY: I've come close....$275ish/1000 for Midwest "remanufactured." But as you said, availability is the problem these days. I'd love to see $150's come back, but who knows when that will be. Thanks for the breakdown of parts I'm going to need, and advice to pick up after myself! Now that I'm learning more and more of parts and cost, you bet I'm going to pick up all my brass! Lol!

@RangerBill: Thank you for the welcome. For whatever reason, I heard the equivalent of the wise Yoda speaking when I read your response! Personally I learn best by watching/hands on training, so was at first thrilled at your advise to look up NRA instructors, but then disappointed to learn there weren't any close to me offering classes on reloading. Nonetheless, there's definitely no shortage of information on the web these days, so I guess that will have to suffice for now. As with many other things, there is so much to read/watch/learn. While I love new hobbies (which I have a good feeling will be the same with reloading), if I were to pick one reason on why I want to get into it, I think you said it best....."The one thing I do not worry about is where my next round is coming from." Going to continue researching and see where it leads me!
 

benstt

Custom
Founding Member
Thank you ALL for your responses. I've been like a little kid waiting all day to get off work and get back on here to read and respond! (Haven't quite figured how to quote multiple responses so guess I'll use handle names):

benstt: You answered one of the questions I had-if 9mm ammo are hard to find right now, is it the same for the items I'm going to need to reload? As much as I'm loving my HK VP9SK, everyone keeps telling me that it's only a matter of time before I start wanting and collection additional guns! And I love expanding my skills and knowledge of whatever it is I'm into, which tells me I may be needing to reload more than just 9mm down the line! I'm definitely enjoying this new hobby, though it feels I know so little right now.

adam sr: Interesting you should point out load. Thus far, I've been at the mercy of what's available, and most of the time it's 115 gr. However, I managed to score some Winchester 147 gr, and it was like a light switch went on! I haven't quite figured out why, but I liked it much better. Couldn't find them anymore, but then got a few Federal HST 147, and it was the same...I liked the 'feel' a lot more than the 115 gr. So now I'm trying to learn the effects of the heavier , but long story short, if I'm able to reload to my liking, that is very very appealing to me.

TEXASforLIFE: at this moment I just own a 9mm (HK VP9SK). I got a chance to shoot my friend's full sized Canik (don't remember the exact specifications), and I was already in the store looking at other sized/caliber guns after that! I guess all that to say I have an innate feeling that I'm eventually going to own other calibers. As for how many, let's put it this way....when I go to the range right now, I only take a max of 150-200 rounds. But when it's time to leave, I'm like a kid being forced to leave a birthday party-I don't want to leave! I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, but more recently, I've told myself that I need to leave to refocus and think of how my session went, what I could improve on, then hold my breath until the next time!

HansGruber: Great handle name! Think the first 2 Die Hard's were the best. Thanks for breaking my heart about what I've been paying for ammo; and here I was thinking I was getting great deals! Lol! But in all seriousness, this is exactly why I started thinking about reloading. As I mentioned in my original post, I couldn't figure why the guy next to me was picking up his brass. I go to the range at Shoot Point Blank, and the one time that had 9mm ammo, I saw a guy grab 30 boxes. So I grabbed 15, which is when another fellow said "You might as well be reloading if you're buying that much ammo." I went home that day and researched what "reloading" meant, and here I am now!

Blackgun34: That calculator was awesome; thanks. I don't know how much everything costs, so I was just googling random costs. Very eye opening!

SCFromNY: I've come close....$275ish/1000 for Midwest "remanufactured." But as you said, availability is the problem these days. I'd love to see $150's come back, but who knows when that will be. Thanks for the breakdown of parts I'm going to need, and advice to pick up after myself! Now that I'm learning more and more of parts and cost, you bet I'm going to pick up all my brass! Lol!

RangerBill: Thank you for the welcome. For whatever reason, I heard the equivalent of the wise Yoda speaking when I read your response! Personally I learn best by watching/hands on training, so was at first thrilled at your advise to look up NRA instructors, but then disappointed to learn there weren't any close to me offering classes on reloading. Nonetheless, there's definitely no shortage of information on the web these days, so I guess that will have to suffice for now. As with many other things, there is so much to read/watch/learn. While I love new hobbies (which I have a good feeling will be the same with reloading), if I were to pick one reason on why I want to get into it, I think you said it best....."The one thing I do not worry about is where my next round is coming from." Going to continue researching and see where it leads me!
Man, you caught the bug. It's a fun bug, though, and we welcome you to our ranks. There's a ton of knowledge on here so ask whatever questions you might have.
 
I just "finished" the same journey. Got into shooting in Jan and realized real quick I was going to h ave to reload to afford my habit. Researched Dillon and Lee pretty extensively (good use of lockdown time). Went down the Lee path as I couldn't justify the Dillon price (to my wife). Purchased a Lee Loadmaster and am loading 9 mm. Was able to buy from Midway during the approx 1 week they were available. About 3000 rounds through it in the last month. I'm happy with it but it took a while to get it going. Priming was tough at first and I suspect the Dillon primer system is better. Did some tweaking and I think it had to break in a bit...knock and burrs or sharp edges off. Lots of tipped primers at first. Runs like clock-work, almost, now. Did 300 rounds in an hour last night with 2 tipped primers and 5 missed primers. Hadn't actually had a tipped primer in several hundred. I would not recommend depriming and loading in one pass. Primers and debris seem to carry into the primer pocket and muck it up. I purchased and extra die plate and universal depriming die. At the end of every load session, I remove the priming system and deprime everything I have shot. Tear the press down and clean it. When it's time to load, I'm GTG on a clean press. I also remove the priming plunger when I deprime. I'm pretty happy with it, now and I think I'm glad I didn't dump the money into Dillon. Putting that money towards primers and bullets. Would be more than willing to share any experiences if you are interested. I'm an Engineer so I enjoyed the research (as much as I enjoy shooting AND reloading).
 
If you are going to shoot a lot a single stage press will drive you crazy after a while. Takes way too long. Progressives are easy to use believe me. If I can use one anyone can. Not familiar with Lee. All I know is I am the second hand owner of my Dillon 550 and if anything breaks I call them and they ship the part NO QUESTIONS< NO CHARGE. The primers can be an issue but readily solved.
 
SCfromNY, I think I would second that....if you can afford a Dillon, it seems to be the gold standard. However, the Lee seems adequate for my uses (200-300/week workouts, 200/month @ friendly club matches). Good luck finding a used Dillon. From my Facebook marketplace searches over the last 4 months, they go for almost new prices and stay on the market only a few hours. I tried that route but got impatient....nervous.....desperate....... Had passed on Lee in-stock at Midway a few times and a $600 used Dillon 550 then decided I was taking the next thing that popped up. It's interesting that, at least for me, ammo became hard to come by...a few weeks later presses were scarce, then primers and now bullets. 2-4 week lag between each pucker increment. Seems like there are a lot of us going down the same path. Don't pass anything up if you think you may need it.

Was happy in Jan buying at $.18/rd. Hard to justify $.15/rd for handholds (beyond just the joy and customization). Now at $.40 or zero availability and my loaded down to $.10, the hardware is paid off and a Dillion would probably only have taken another 3 months to break even.
If you can front the cash, I would probably recommend Dillon.

For the record I did NOT hoard TP, hand sanitizer or pork. Haven't decided if my 4,000 primers and 5,000 bullets is hoarding yet......Thinking of going to SNS Castings as a volunteer to help them catch up :)
 
SCfromNY, I think I would second that....if you can afford a Dillon, it seems to be the gold standard. However, the Lee seems adequate for my uses (200-300/week workouts, 200/month @ friendly club matches). Good luck finding a used Dillon. From my Facebook marketplace searches over the last 4 months, they go for almost new prices and stay on the market only a few hours. I tried that route but got impatient....nervous.....desperate....... Had passed on Lee in-stock at Midway a few times and a $600 used Dillon 550 then decided I was taking the next thing that popped up. It's interesting that, at least for me, ammo became hard to come by...a few weeks later presses were scarce, then primers and now bullets. 2-4 week lag between each pucker increment. Seems like there are a lot of us going down the same path. Don't pass anything up if you think you may need it.

Was happy in Jan buying at $.18/rd. Hard to justify $.15/rd for handholds (beyond just the joy and customization). Now at $.40 or zero availability and my loaded down to $.10, the hardware is paid off and a Dillion would probably only have taken another 3 months to break even.
If you can front the cash, I would probably recommend Dillon.

For the record I did NOT hoard TP, hand sanitizer or pork. Haven't decided if my 4,000 primers and 5,000 bullets is hoarding yet......Thinking of going to SNS Castings as a volunteer to help them catch up :)
I still have over 10,000 primers each large and small from my days of competition when they were readily available and guys used to sell them at the match for $30 per thousand so don't worry about hoarding.
 

RangerBill

Operator
Admittedly, a progressive has a place. A friend who took up shooting 3 Gun was reloading on a single stage for several years before finally being worn into submission. My semi's are limited to a few 1911's, a Berreta 96, and a couple 9mm's. Can't forget the M1A. Other than that, it's bolt actions or single shots. I have a system in place for loading many rounds at a time, bit it entails processing and prepping brass in stages until it's ready to load. It may take several weeks to months before I sit down for a loading session, but charging with powder and seating bullets goes by quickly when that is all that is left to do. Cleaning, sizing and priming are long finished.

Regards,
Bill
 
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