The best part, though, is once you have several 5-gallon buckets full of reloads it seems like ammo is free, even though you paid for all the components a while ago.
Someone asked me recently if ammo companies kept me in free target loads. Alas, they do not. I reload, I said.
So, he wanted to know, how much do you save?
I hadn’t figured it out in a while, and I was curious. Reloading is a pain these days. Powder shortages make it hard to find the powder you want at the price and in the amounts you want.* The local stores only have one pound bottles, not the more cost-effective four and eight-pound jugs, and ordering powder requires paying a hazmat fee. Lead prices are stable right now, but shot is still expensive. I wondered if I was still saving money.
I ran the numbers on an online reload calculator. As far as I can tell, if you’re paying full price for components, buying them in small amounts and loading 1 1/8 ounce 12 gauge shells, you are saving a few pennies a box at best. If you have to buy hulls, too, you’re losing money in the short term, plus there’s that reloader to pay off. Now, if you’re reloading 28 gauge and .410 you’re saving lots, because those low-volume factory loads cost a lot, yet they use very little powder and shot.
As for me, I have two full-size trashcans full of 12 gauge Winchester AA hulls and a pile of Remington STS as well so my hulls are free. I got a good price on primers and shot from a friend recently, and I load lower priced “clone” wads from Claybuster that are more less identical to the costlier Winchesters I used to load. Most important, I load 7/8 ounce 12 gauge shells and even some ¾ ouncers. Shot is your biggest per-shell cost. Every eighth of an ounce less shot per shell and you save about .30 per box.