If you’re like most of us, your reloading activities have to fall within a budget of some sort. Some reloaders are sponsored (competitive shooters, etc), others have a fat budget, and others need to make the very most of every dollar spent on reloaded ammunition. If you’re like me, above all you want to prevent waste and get a good value for your reloading dollar.
Here are some ideas that should help optimize (or minimize) what you spend on reloading.
Equipment: Focus On What You Need
Sure, that 7-station progressive reloading press with case feed and bullet feed systems is awesome, but do you really need it? What I have done in the past is to create a simple total of all of the major components (press, dies, shellplates, etc) and accessories/parts to get a “total cost of ownership”. You may be surprised when you compare more expensive but more fully featured press systems to less expensive and more stripped down setups. Some times the cost is close, and the quality difference is big. The point: calculate the true cost, focus on quality rather than features. Wait to have a sustained and proven need, then buy the upgrades.
Use What You Have
Especially when you’re just getting started, it helps to use some creativity to help keep the initial cost of reloading reasonable. When I started reloading, I used a rock polisher tumbler that was on hand for case cleaning, and Lemon Pledge for case lube. They both worked, but I’ve moved on over time to more expensive/elaborate equipment and supplies. Little by little you can develop a comprehensive reloading setup.
Look For Deals
If you keep you eyes out you may just find some killer deals on equipment and supplies. I’ve purchased primers at a neighbor’s garage sale, discounted bullets online, and have inherited items from friends. A friend of mine made a great trade at a local pawn shop for a Dillon XL-650 reloading press outfit. The best deal is a free deal right? Look for pickup range brass where you shoot, and always ask other shooters and friends if you can take their brass. It doesn’t hurt to ask does it?
Use Lower Cost Components
If you are shooting a lot of ammunition, the cost of the consumables will comprise most of your expenses. If you are a savvy shopper, you may find good value in lower cost components. Examples include cast lead bullets, plated bullets (if appropriate for your application), Wolf primers, (or similar) and powders with low charge weights for your application. Be careful not to scrimp (cheap hardcast lead bullets of improper hardness, etc) but don’t over-pay either.
There you have it- a few ideas for how you can keep your costs down. Have ideas to share? Please drop a comment!