I’m excited to be writing to you about reloading. Today I’ll mainly be going over why I decided to start reloading, my decision-making process for which press to buy, and all about my first experience actually reloading. I’ll link some of what I bought to begin reloading, and explain why. (Please note, some of the links in this post are affiliate links and we are given a small commission for sales through those links, at no extra cost to you. We only ever link products we love.)
Reloading? Ammo is pretty readily available, right?
There are several reasons to get into reloading. In this family, we try to be as self-sufficient as possible. If I can reload my own bullets, that’s one less thing I’ll have to go to the store for. Reloading is a useful skill, and as a handyman, I’m always interested in gaining another useful skill. I hoped that reloading would be something fun to do, but even if it was more like work than fun, I was sure I would still want to do it. I’m here to tell you that reloading is more than fun, it’s a blast! It’s also a very rewarding pastime.
Perhaps the biggest reason to reload, however, especially in this family, is that the cost is significantly less to reload your own cartridges! Here’s the breakdown for the 9mm cartridge, which is some of the cheapest handgun ammo to buy. I can go down to my local Walmart and get a box of 50 9mm cartridges for about $12 for steel casings (generally agreed to significantly less quality than a cartridge with a brass casing). So, Walmart steel cased bullets are approximately 24 cents a piece. If you’re willing to buy in bulk online you could pay as little as around 17 cents a piece, plus shipping.
Reloading, I can make 50 9mm cartridges for about $4! Finding a good deal on brass casings is paramount. I bought mine from Snap Caps and Things for a really good deal. I highly recommend them. The best part is that you can reuse the brass casing 5+ times. I’ll be doing experiments on this for a later post. So after shooting the 50 I just loaded and reusing the brass, the cost is down to $3 for 50.
How is it that cheap?
If you want any kind of significant savings on reloading your own cartridges you’ll cast your own bullets out of lead. You can buy one pound of lead for about 50 cents to a dollar. With one pound of lead, you can make about 56 125 grain bullets. Primers are about $30 for 1,000. Handgun powders go really far; four pounds of powder can be used to make about 5,600 cartridges and costs around $115. So for each cartridge, of 9mm, it costs about 8 cents: 2 cents for the casing, 2 cents for the powder, 3 cents for the primer, and about 1 cent for the lead bullet. That alone makes it worth it to me; not to mention that I have 10+ people in my family that I would like to thoroughly train how to shoot each type of cartridge… Buying that much ammo would be enough to make almost anyone cringe.
What press do I buy?
I researched this question for many months before finally pulling the trigger on purchasing a press and other equipment. To answer that question you need to ask yourself many more questions: How much would you like to produce? What skill level and effort are you willing to put into learning? What’s a good price? What equipment is readily available and won’t be on back order forever? What calibers are you going to reload?
Through all my research and answering those questions, I determined that I would quickly outgrow a single-stage press, that I wasn’t ready for a progressive press, and that Lee products are decently priced and readily available. With that in mind, I decided that I would purchase a Lee turret press with interchangeable heads so I wouldn’t have to adjust every time that I want to change calibers.
What I bought to get started
After determining what press and equipment I wanted to start out on, I had to find a good deal and purchase the equipment. The Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit on Amazon was a great deal – all I would need to buy on top of that were dies and a caliper to start reloading. I also purchased a Lyman Pro 1200 Tumbler (115-Volt), Lee Precision 20 Pound Electric Metal Melter, and molds for the bullets I wanted to cast, but that was just the direction I wanted to go.
When I ordered my equipment, I reached out to a dear friend of mine for some guidance on reloading. He invited me over to do a quick run through of what to do. Everything I had read about the process clicked and it went really well. My friend was so excited about my interest in reloading that he gave me a Tupperware container full of 115 grain 9mm bullets and a pound of Power Pistol powder!
He told me to follow the book for how much powder to use and just make 10 without overthinking it or worrying about the process, and then go from there. Also, he added, if I start at the minimum recommendation for powder charge, everything will be fine.
So that’s what I did
I’ll admit, I did worry as I made each cartridge, though. There wasn’t any load data that matched the exact bullet and powder I was using, so I had to find a similar bullet that did use the powder I had, then compare powders that both bullets used to find a ratio that each powder changed and adjust the charge for power pistol accordingly. I’ll explain about that more another time. I came up with 5.6 grains of Power Pistol powder for an 115-grain bullet. Perfection and I both loaded 5 cartridges, following that load data.
It turns out that I really love the reloading process. That was one worry about the process I had. It was unnecessary because it was so much fun and really exciting! The only thing left to do, to officially consider myself a reloader, was to shoot the cartridges I made and load them again. I admit I was a little nervous to shoot them. Because of all the horror stories of what could go wrong.
Nonetheless, I still fired them… It was AWESOME! On top of successfully firing them without any issue, the rush was great and the bullets were extremely accurate. Consider me officially hooked on reloading!
I learned a few tips and tricks along the way that I’ll be writing about soon. I’ll also be doing another post about my experimentation with powder charge, and other variables, to determine the best cartridge I can assemble. Until next time…
Handyman is on the job!