Common misconception: How long will it take to justify my reloading equipment purchase?

I hear a lot of people online asking the question: “When should I buy reloading equipment, and how long will it take to pay for itself?”

Usually the equation goes something like this:

Equipment Cost = ((factory box ammo cost) – (reloaded box ammo cost)) * X

Solving for X:
X = (Equipment Cost ) / ((factory box ammo cost) – (reloaded box ammo cost)) 

Where X is the number of boxes of ammo that need to be loaded in order to “break even”.

Example:
Equipment Cost = $1000, Factory box ammo cost = $20, Reloaded box ammo cost = $9

This yields:
X = (1000) / (20 – 9) = 90.91 Boxes of ammo = ~ 4550 rounds.

This is where a lot of people may stop, scratch their head, and say “perhaps I’ll just shoot less, and use factory ammo”.

But, this is not the “true equation”. What people are forgetting about here is the value of their used equipment, which is actually about 60-75% of what they paid for the equipment new in some cases (especially in this economy).

So, the new equation becomes:

(Equipment Cost – Used Equipment Value) = ((factory box ammo cost) – (reloaded box ammo cost)) * X

In terms of X:
X = (Equipment Cost – Used Equipment Value ) / ((factory box ammo cost) – (reloaded box ammo cost))

Re-calculating our example: (assuming 65% relsale value)
X = (1000 – 650) / (20 – 9) = 31.81 Boxes of ammo = ~ 1590 rounds.

Of coarse there are a LOT of variables here, bullet selection (lead -vs- jacketed), actual equipment cost, and so on and so forth. The point is, factor in your used equipment value, and the outcome is drastically different. I experienced this when upgrading from my first progressive to my second progressive (sold the 1st on ebay for about 75% of purchase price).

Hope this helps!
-Gavin

3 thoughts on “Common misconception: How long will it take to justify my reloading equipment purchase?”

  1. course..not coarse….
    I just bought a Dillon 650 with many extras for $600…it’ll be worth $850 in 5 years as they keep going up in price. I’ve bought and sold 3 of these so far and made money on each one.

  2. I think we should be looking at the independence we have as reloaders as opposed to “is it cheaper to reload”. As a reloader you will never be short of ammo. Look what’s happened over the last eighteen months.

  3. I’ve always heard “you don’t save anything by reloading, you just get to shoot a lot more”. I suspect most of us have a “reasonable” budget for ammo. I can spend $100 on 300 rounds of factory ammo, or $100 on 800 rounds of reloads. In either case, I’ll still probably only spend $100, but I’ll get a lot more enjoyment out of the reloads.

    Also, reloading is a great gun related hobby for when you can’t be at the range (too cold, too dark, too wet, too far.)

    I don’t know about the residual value of the equipment, I won’t really care about it’s value after I’m gone. Myself, I tend to hold onto older stuff “just in case”. I still have my original Rockchucker press although I haven’t used it since I bought the Dillon 15 years ago.

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