Is reloading worth it? I saw an interesting question about reloading the other day:
So here we go. First off, if this offends you, you’re reading it wrong because it’s not my intent. Secondly, if you load for the enjoyment of it, I totally get that and this isn’t a question towards you. This is ONLY for the people that are loading for the sole purpose of saving money over buying retail. I’ve seen a bunch of guys lately(not in this group) bragging about loading 9mm for 3-5 cents per round. Then they list everything they’re getting and do all the math to show me that it’s actually 3-5 cents per.
My issue is, that’s 3-5 cents per round for materials only. Why does nobody figure in the time it takes to actually put the materials together into actual ammunition? The manufacturers don’t charge you for materials only. But people all the time compare their 3-5 cents per round for materials to the manufacturers 16-20 cents per round for finished ammunition. This is only cheating yourself if you don’t count your time spent actually loading the ammo. Again THIS IS NOT for people that load to pass the time or for enjoyment.
It’s actually a common question, but not usually put so bluntly. So… is reloading worth the time and effort? Here’s the best answer I saw:
That’s kind of a hard question to answer because everyone values their time differently. It also depends on how fast you reload. If my time is worth 20 per hour and I can crank out 50 rounds per hour on my single stage press, that adds .40 per round for my labor. If I think my time is only worth 10 per hour but I’m cruising through 500 rounds per hour on a progressive then I’m only adding .02 per round for labor, for a total of .07 per round.
In the first case, reloading is more expensive than just buying brand new ammo in 9mm or 223 if you’re talking plinking ammo. In the second case, I’d be saving about .12 per round over the cheapest 9mm plinking ammo I can find. A progressive press and dies is about 5 bills, so I’d have to reload about 4200 rounds before I break even.
That’s also assuming I can get the components for .05 per round. A more realistic figure where I live is .03 for primer, .02 powder, .08 bullet, plus my .02 labor and I’m at .15 and only saving .02 per round. That’s 25000 rounds before I break even, 50 hours doing something I don’t enjoy (according to parameter by OP).
If you don’t like reloading and the only reason you’re doing it is to save money I’m not sure it’s worth it.
So is reloading worth it?
If you’re only reloading plinking ammo, I agree with the answer given above. If all you care about is saving money, it’s probably not worth doing. It would take me at 5 – 7 years to shoot through 25,000 rounds of 9mm, so that’s at least 5 – 7 years until I break even if saving money is all I care about.
What about reloading more expensive ammo? I like shooting 44 Special so we’ll look at that. Factory ammo (cheapest I can find) is about $0.45 (.45) per round. To reload, it would cost about .03 for the primer, .03 for powder, .15 for the bullet (240 gr LSWC), and .02 for my time (assuming 500 rounds per hour on a progressive). Now I’m saving .22 per round. That’s a lot better than .02 per round for the 9mm, so I only need to shoot about 2300 rounds to break even. 44 Special isn’t a high volume round for me though (maybe 500 rounds per year), so it would still take me over 4 years to “break even.”
How do you value your time?
I value my time at $20 per hour. How much do you value your time? Putting a money value on my reloading time doesn’t make much sense to me though, even if I hated reloading. It’s kind of like “charging myself” for working out. I hate working out, but I do it any way. Not because it saves money over going to a gym, but because it improves my health.
Really, adding the “cost” of your time to the cost per reloaded round only makes sense if you’re selling the ammo you produce. If you’re doing that, you’s also better add in the cost of an FFL, liability insurance, and other costs you’ll incur from making and selling ammunition.
The true value of reloading
So… is reloading worth it? Sure you can save money reloading, but not as much as some people tell you. If saving money is your only reason for reloading, then no, it’s probably not worth it. That’s not the true value of reloading though…
The true value of reloading comes from learning a useful skill. It comes from being able to make custom ammo that’s optimized for your gun. If you shoot competition, making custom loads for accuracy is probably a necessity. It’s a more productive way to spend time than staring at the TV for hours. Sure, you might save some money in the long run too. That’s not really the point though. Is reloading worth it? It is for me, what about you?