To reload or not to reload, that is the question

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To keep your weapons fed in the PAW it's better to:

Use ready-made cartridges from a reputable maker. Buy it cheap; stack it deep!
6
43%
Stock reloading components and add reloading equipment to your preps.
8
57%
 
Total votes: 14

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To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by NT2C » Sun Sep 30, 2018 1:09 pm

So, which would be the better plan? Only stock manufactured cartridges or stock some manufactured ammo for ready use and plan on reloading your brass?
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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by Stercutus » Sun Sep 30, 2018 1:59 pm

From a prepping standpoint factory loaded ammo makes the most sense. It will last longer than most adults will live. It is more reliable, less likely to damage a gun and does not require any precursors that may be hard to find or produce.

It also stores better and more easily when stored properly. I find that storing loaded ammo takes less space than storing brass, bullets, powder, primers and reloading equipment.

You can buy practically any load that you can make and the cost difference is not that great for the amount of ammo one is likely to use for defense, subsistence survival and other minor uses.

For a person who shoots a lot in normal times reloading makes the most sense if you have the time and energy to spend reloading as opposed to shooting or doing other tasks. You can make better loads and it can be cheaper depending upon what you are loading.


The exception would be if you pick oddball cartridges for prepping guns that are relatively expensive. Reloading then is much cheaper and likely the best way to go. For example the wife's hunting gun is in 35 Remington. It is a tough round to find and runs expensive in stock. I can make them more cheaply.
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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by flybynight » Sun Sep 30, 2018 1:59 pm

NT2C wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 1:09 pm
So, which would be the better plan? Only stock manufactured cartridges or stock some manufactured ammo for ready use and plan on reloading your brass?
YES

ETA Also I would consider Black powder cartridge/muzzle loading guns and powder and bullets /ball and even a good stick bow. This of course would be prepping for TEOTWAWKI not Hurrican (insert name here )
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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by woodsghost » Sun Sep 30, 2018 3:19 pm

It depends on the context.

In 2013 to about 2015, maybe 2016, 38spl was about $.40/round for Winchester 130gr FMJ. I could reload for $.15 a round, and if I'd bought cheaper bullets, I could have reloaded for $.12 a round. In that case, I was reloading.

Now, 38spl is about $.25 a round, which is still more than $.15 a round, but the difference is less vast. But now I'm mostly shooting 9mm, and the cheap stuff is about $.15 factory loaded. I cannot handload that cheap and call it economically viable. I"m much better off working at Walmart and putting my extra paycheck into ammo.

So context matters. There are some European and maybe other countries where there are restrictions on how much ammo you can buy. If those countries have fewer restrictions on how much ammo you can handload, then reloading may be a much better option.

Then there are space considerations. If you have 150 brass casings (loaded), primer & powder for 1850 reloads, and you plan to barter for lead and cast your bullets, then your reloading option will take less volume and space than 2000 loaded factory rounds. If your brass is not loaded then this "volume and space" argument falls apart completely. (I'm ignoring the volume and space of the lead smelter, the reloading press/dies, & bullet molds, but around 100,000 rounds, we can start to realistically let our "volume & space" argument include those items).

Just my thoughts.

I think reloading makes much more sense when access to lead for bullets is easy/cheap and access to factory ammo is limited.
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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by NT2C » Sun Sep 30, 2018 4:42 pm

woodsghost wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 3:19 pm
It depends on the context.

In 2013 to about 2015, maybe 2016, 38spl was about $.40/round for Winchester 130gr FMJ. I could reload for $.15 a round, and if I'd bought cheaper bullets, I could have reloaded for $.12 a round. In that case, I was reloading.

Now, 38spl is about $.25 a round, which is still more than $.15 a round, but the difference is less vast. But now I'm mostly shooting 9mm, and the cheap stuff is about $.15 factory loaded. I cannot handload that cheap and call it economically viable. I"m much better off working at Walmart and putting my extra paycheck into ammo.

So context matters. There are some European and maybe other countries where there are restrictions on how much ammo you can buy. If those countries have fewer restrictions on how much ammo you can handload, then reloading may be a much better option.

Then there are space considerations. If you have 150 brass casings (loaded), primer & powder for 1850 reloads, and you plan to barter for lead and cast your bullets, then your reloading option will take less volume and space than 2000 loaded factory rounds. If your brass is not loaded then this "volume and space" argument falls apart completely. (I'm ignoring the volume and space of the lead smelter, the reloading press/dies, & bullet molds, but around 100,000 rounds, we can start to realistically let our "volume & space" argument include those items).

Just my thoughts.

I think reloading makes much more sense when access to lead for bullets is easy/cheap and access to factory ammo is limited.
Okay, let me ask this... How many times are you going to be able to reload that brass? Assuming you find and recover all your brass every time you shoot, brass still has a "lifespan" and is subject to being damaged. You're also limiting yourself to just 5 thirty round magazines, which is a pretty light loadout for maybe having to defend the BOL. Of course, not all those rounds would be the same since you'll likely have pistol and rifle arms, so you'll have even less rifle ammo ready to defend with. 500 rounds might be a better number to start from.
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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by woodsghost » Sun Sep 30, 2018 6:39 pm

38 spl brass should be reusable up to 50 times, depending on what pressures it was loaded to. I believe an average is about 30 times before being tossed, but lower pressures can extend that.

5.56 is usually discarded after 10 uses, I believe. My understanding is the higher pressure causes faster extruding of the brass and thinning of the walls and a much shorter usable lifespan. Other rounds will vary between 10 and 30+, depending on the pressures of the round and whether you resize just the neck of the round or the full casing.

38spl should not be difficult to collect the brass after shooting if using a revolver. 5.56 and other rounds should be easy to collect brass if using a bolt action or single shot.

So I think it depends heavily on your setup.

Edit: a .357 rifle and pistol might be a great way to simplify logistics and keep your ammo needs low while being able to collect brass after use. Running mags of reloaded ammo out of your AR while fighting zombies might not work out as well. It would make a lot t of sense to me to rely on factory ammo in that situation unless you were loading custom or precision ammo.
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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by boskone » Sun Sep 30, 2018 7:01 pm

I think it depends on your particular guns and what you want to do, as well as what how you plan to use the ammo.

If you're sport shooting (3-gun or the like), reloading can save a lot of money over time. If you shoot a box every 3 years hunting, not so much. Also, reloading's just kinda fun; fire up the TV or an audio book and let your hands run the press.

Similarly, some guns seem to need tweaked loads to reach full potential. My .223 shoots good with just about anything reasonable off the shelf (it doesn't do well with the extremes, but does fine in the middle of the .223 pack); with a load dad worked up when I was a kid, it shoots spectacularly.

I kinda do both: buy a bunch of good loads, and try to catch the brass for reloading. I kinda enjoy fiddling with loads, and look forward to being in a location I can readily go out and shoot.

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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by NT2C » Sun Sep 30, 2018 7:58 pm

Okay, fair enough. I suppose I should have stressed this is from a prepping standpoint, not just day to day shooting.
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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by woodsghost » Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:59 pm

Loading for a shotgun would be interesting and potentially take very few tools. A tool to punch the primer, a tool to insert a primer, and a roll crimper.

https://ads.midwayusa.com/product/73014 ... 8mEALw_wcB

Otherwise, some powder and shot. And wads. Again, I think the most space efficient way to do this is buying/bartering lead after a PAW has kicked off. But for my money, I think handloading 38spl & .357 mag would yield the most efficient results with cast lead rounds. Otherwise, I can see strong arguments for buying and stacking deep.
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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by RonnyRonin » Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:49 pm

I decided against reloading some time ago, and thus far have been quite happy with my decision.

I shoot relatively little, so for starters my return on investment for even a mediocre reloading setup would be pretty far out. Secondly beyond the startup costs I think the time and bandwidth to refine a reloading setup is undervalued, if you enjoy it that is one thing, but for me it would likely never be anything but a chore. Not only do I not want to spend much time in my garage working a press, I don't even want to spend the time researching what press to buy. Past that, my attention to detail isn't the greatest so consequences range from a lower score at the carbine competition to a ruined gun to a dirt nap in the most extreme case for an error on my part. Certainly these are all risks with factory ammo as well, but for myself likely much lower risks compared to reloading. I also stick to common calibers in the extreme, 5.56 and 9mm are almost all I shoot these days and as such can leverage some of the lowest prices around.

It seemed to me that during the most extreme ammo shortages reloading components where scarcely easier to source (or even harder) then factory loadings, at least at times (second hand info, feel free to correct me). Of course in a mad-max level SHTF event reloading would mostly be limited to what components you had stockpiled, so no advantage over stockpiling factory loadings.

I think it is entirely possible that new taxes could someday be passed that made reloading orders of magnitude cheaper then buying factory, but I both hope against such days and stockpile in case of it. This is the most likely scenario I can think of that could dramatically change the math, but if at all feasible I would still try to outsource the reloading to friends or family.

Going in on a setup with a group of course lowers the entry cost and dramatically shortens the return on investment, I have heard of this working well on many occasions, but I remain uninterested.
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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by NT2C » Mon Oct 01, 2018 12:27 am

woodsghost wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:59 pm
Loading for a shotgun would be interesting and potentially take very few tools. A tool to punch the primer, a tool to insert a primer, and a roll crimper.

https://ads.midwayusa.com/product/73014 ... 8mEALw_wcB

Otherwise, some powder and shot. And wads. Again, I think the most space efficient way to do this is buying/bartering lead after a PAW has kicked off. But for my money, I think handloading 38spl & .357 mag would yield the most efficient results with cast lead rounds. Otherwise, I can see strong arguments for buying and stacking deep.
The shot is going to be the difficult part. Once what you have runs out producing more would likely be difficult.
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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by Stercutus » Mon Oct 01, 2018 1:59 am

NT2C wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 12:27 am
woodsghost wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:59 pm
Loading for a shotgun would be interesting and potentially take very few tools. A tool to punch the primer, a tool to insert a primer, and a roll crimper.

https://ads.midwayusa.com/product/73014 ... 8mEALw_wcB

Otherwise, some powder and shot. And wads. Again, I think the most space efficient way to do this is buying/bartering lead after a PAW has kicked off. But for my money, I think handloading 38spl & .357 mag would yield the most efficient results with cast lead rounds. Otherwise, I can see strong arguments for buying and stacking deep.
The shot is going to be the difficult part. Once what you have runs out producing more would likely be difficult.
Why can't you just buy a shot making machine like a Shotmaker 65?

http://www.littletonshotmaker.com/
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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by NT2C » Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:19 am

Stercutus wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 1:59 am
NT2C wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 12:27 am
woodsghost wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:59 pm
Loading for a shotgun would be interesting and potentially take very few tools. A tool to punch the primer, a tool to insert a primer, and a roll crimper.

https://ads.midwayusa.com/product/73014 ... 8mEALw_wcB

Otherwise, some powder and shot. And wads. Again, I think the most space efficient way to do this is buying/bartering lead after a PAW has kicked off. But for my money, I think handloading 38spl & .357 mag would yield the most efficient results with cast lead rounds. Otherwise, I can see strong arguments for buying and stacking deep.
The shot is going to be the difficult part. Once what you have runs out producing more would likely be difficult.
Why can't you just buy a shot making machine like a Shotmaker 65?

http://www.littletonshotmaker.com/
Well, A) because I didn't know they existed, and B) because you're going to need lead, antimony, and tin from somewhere.
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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by emclean » Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:42 am

from a prepping standpoint knowing more is always better than knowing less, and having done is even better.

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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by Zed Hunter » Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:42 am

Just like knowing how to make soap, can foods, first aid, I like learning and maintaining new skills that could keep me alive. I have cast bullets, dripped shot, and reload every caliber I own as part of the hobby. I'm currently slowly learning how to make .224" bullets out of fired .22 lr brass, reload said .22 brass, and reload primers of all types by making the priming compound in very small lots. This way if I am surviving TETOWAKI I have tradeable skills. And can support clearing settlement's area of (fill in the blank).

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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by NT2C » Mon Oct 01, 2018 12:55 pm

Zed Hunter wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:42 am
And can support clearing settlement's area of (fill in the blank).
Careful with those blanks. They can still hurt you. :wink:
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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by Stercutus » Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:21 pm

Lead and tin are easy. Perhaps copper instead of antimony.
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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by NT2C » Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:31 pm

Stercutus wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:21 pm
Lead and tin are easy. Perhaps copper instead of antimony.
I think the melting point of copper would be too high. Antimony melts ~1,150 F and copper ~2,000 F
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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by eugene » Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:53 pm

economical or not, I reloaded to learn how to reload. Around 2015 everywhere started limiting 9mm and .22 to two boxes, then after a month or two there was none available. I was making weekly trips to Cabela's (one opened near me and wasn't far out of the way on the drive home from work). So I started buying reloading supplies. At the time 9mm factory was twice the cost and I bought several different kind of powder and bullets over the next couple years. As factory ammo started coming back in stock I started buying some factory in the brass that I preferred. So I still reload some since I have all the tools to d it but 9mm got boring as I just lead the same thing all the time now.

Then I bought a .357 so I'm reloading for it now. Its more fun to re-learn and test different loads plus I don't have to pick up the brass from the ground and clean it. I bought a couple bags of .357 brass and figure those will probably last a lifetime. So I'm going to slow down on the 9mm loading and maybe just buy some bulk factory while continuing to re-load the 357.

But I still have gained the knowledge and have the tools should it be necessary,

You can buy a $50 lee hand press and a set of dies and be set to load for under $200 if you don't want to make a huge investment. I think my 9mm dies were $30-35, then the ram prime another 25-30, lee scale was 25-30 and a micrometer for however much (I already had one).
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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by Halfapint » Wed Oct 03, 2018 8:08 pm

Why not both? I still purchase new ammo when I find a great deal or it's part of by 5 boxes get 3 mags free.

However the majority of my budget goes into buying reloading supplies. I like learning and when reloading I am constantly learning. It's true reloading takes up a lot of room but you don't need a progressive press. Even when I was hand dipping my powder, and doing everything one by one, I could load 200 rounds in a few hours. For me its relaxing, and can be done pretty much whenever so its something I do when the gf is watching one of her reality tv shows, or in winter when outside activities are limited.
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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by raptor » Wed Oct 03, 2018 9:58 pm

As noted above doing both and learning by doing are good strategies.

IMO It is not really cost effective to reload 5.56mm and 9mm at today's prices. Tomorrow who knows.

I do reload. 38 spl and .357 magnum using a hand reloaded. It is not fast and not really cheap if I include my time. However it is great experience.


From a preps standpoint I prefer to buy bulk and stock deep. I view the handloading more as a learning experience.

My $.02.

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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by SRO1911 » Thu Oct 04, 2018 8:09 pm

I am very much in the roll your own camp. I'm not the best record keeper (my load data would give an IRS accountant priapism, counts not so much) but I am can honestly say I've loaded well into the 6 figures rounds.
While you can often find common caliber ammunition in general purpose bulk forms for less or break even reload costs, the qualitative aspect is unarguable.
I can bombard you with statistics, but I will limit myself to one. I shoot quite a bit of 1000 yard matches, lapua scenar 175gr match ammo shoots extremely well in my rifle - quarter m.o.a. at 100 yards and near moa at 600 of I do my part.
Lapua is typically $2.00 per round/99.99 for 50, new.
My load for the same rifle, with readily available components, not counting for my time since I find the process therapeutic, costs me between .38 and .42 cents per round (catch powder/primers on sale or free hazmat shipping).
This difference adds up when you calculate a few hundred rounds per month in practice.
In that same vein - While I do not beat surplus ammo prices on bulk 308 for my G3's, I get pretty close. My 'cheap' plinking loads shoot between 3/4 moa and 2 moa depending on rifle, typical milsurp in those same rifle under the same conditions are closer to 3-6 m.o.a.
That might not be significant for some circumstances but for me it is huge.

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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by JF89 » Fri Oct 05, 2018 11:15 am

https://forum.full30.com/t/the-ammo-top ... 188?u=jf89

https://forum.full30.com/t/80-1911-buil ... 924?u=jf89

You know if any of you are interested in joining another firearm forum, full30 is very active and growing. a lot of the firearm related youtube channels have switched over and join in on the forums every now and then. The link above was from before they revamped the forum, there is now a reloading and ammo subforum. After reading through the posts here its obvious those of you still around bring a wealth of knowledge to the table and would be more then welcome over there. Just thought I would give you guys a heads up. Most people know theres a video site but not quite as many know about the forum. Im not into spamming so I wont bring it up again and I apologize if I disrupted this thread too much.

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Re: To reload or not to reload, that is the question

Post by taipan821 » Fri Oct 05, 2018 7:24 pm

I reload my ammo, 10 reloads per case, batches of 100. but everytime I go to the range i buy a box of factory ammo so I have a supply of ammo which I know will work safely. I shoot the reloads, the factory ammo is kept for emergency use. This allows me to practice my shooting, develop my reloading expertise and build up a supply.
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