There will very likely be further parts to this saga since I’ve not actually purchased anything yet, but stay tuned.

The expensive part of guns in the long term is ammunition. In this case I’ll be using the 9mm Luger round as my benchmark, and occasionally I’ll mention other rounds as well. I’ve been buying my ammunition online from a shop out in Texas: They seem to have about the best price I’ve seen online for 9mm rounds.

The cheap Russian stuff weighs in at $172 per thousand — $0.17 per round. (Note: this uses steel cases and can’t be reloaded)

A better one, Federal, is $230 per thousand — $0.23 per round.

So, let’s take a look at loading my own:

  • Brass: Free if I use my own or I’ve seen used brass cases for around $30/thousand. New brass is around $170/thousand.
  • Powder: While this depends on the recipe, I’ll use 4.5 grains of powder per round. (7000 grains per pound BTW) Bought in 8 pound jugs, it’s roughly $130. This works out to just over $0.01 per round of powder/
  • Primer: Around $30 per thousand — $0.03  per round.
  • Bullet
    • Cast lead: $55 per thousand — $0.06 per round
    • Jacketed: ~$100 per thousand – $0.10 per round

Let’s assume that I pick up my own brass most of the time. If I shoot cast lead bullets, this is around $0.10 per round! FMJ is only $0.16. Either one I wind up saving pretty big!

Not only that, but by all accounts I’ll have better ammunition than the commercial stuff!

Ok, so for bulk practice I’ll shoot the lead. I’ll split the difference between the cheap Russian stuff and the American ammo and say I’m saving around $0.10 per round. The cost of a good reloading setup is around $1000. That works out to an ROI of around 10,000 rounds.

Not too bad.

But this isn’t even getting to the bigger and more expensive rounds — 9mm is almost on the margin.

Take my father-in-law’s old WWII .30 Carbine. 100 rounds set me back $48. The same rig with a different set of dies can load it for around $0.15/round. A set of dies runs around $50. ROI on that is well less than 200 rounds. .45 ACP runs almost $0.50 a round… but loading your own is roughly $0.17 for lead! Around $0.25 for FMJ.

It seems that no matter how you slice it if you shoot enough, you’ll wind up saving money. Ok, you probably won’t save money, but you’ll get better since you can shoot more.

Right now I’m just saving up some brass to start loading my own. I’ll likely load up a batch or two in a couple of months. I’ll let you know how it goes!