Whilst on the surface the decision to start reloading your own ammunition may seem a simple one, in practice there are several reasons why, or why not, commencing to reload ammunition is for you, personally.
There is no doubt that reloading can be a costly capability to set up, and a time consuming one to continue. However, there are both positives and negatives to consider before you decide whether or not it is for you.
I consider there are 4 types of shooters who get into reloading:
- Those who want cheaper ammunition.
- Those who need good quality, consistent performing ammunition for competition or hunting use.
- Those who want a reliable source of ammunition independent of commercial ammunition availability.
- Those who enjoy the challenge of developing and shooting their own ammunition.
Many of us fit into one or more of these descriptions. If you are one of them, please read on.
- Cheap Ammunition. In my next article I am going to address specifically the economics of reloading. In essence, if cost is your primary motivator, the cost of setting up a reloading capability needs to be offset against the cost savings from the reloaded ammunition. If you shoot small amounts of ammunition, infrequently, then reloading may not be for you. If, on the other hand, like me, a typical weekend sees you and your wife burn through 200-300 rounds of ammo (that’s 10,000 – 15,000 per year), well that’s a different story.
- Consistent Quality Ammunition. Whilst factory ammunition is produced to high quality standards, it is generally manufactured towards the high end of power factors. For competition use, meeting power factor (which I will discuss in a future article) is critical to not being disqualified, whilst keeping the power factor to a minimal, but consistent, value is essential for accuracy and high scores.
- Reliable Ammunition Supply. The recent shortage of commercially available ammunition has highlighted the need to have an independent source of ammunition. I try to keep at least 6 months supply of ammunition available to get over any short term limitations in the supply of ammunition or ammunition components (cases, powder, primers & projectiles).
- The Challenge of Reloading. Shooting your own ammunition and getting great results in competition or hunting adds a new dimension to the enjoyment of your sport.
Finally, I see a question coming already. I only have a firearm for personal defense and shoot it occasionally for practice. Should I reload my own self defense ammunition?
The simple answer is probably no. If you consider that one day that firearm is going to be necessary to save your life, then it had better be clean, well maintained and use the best available ammunition. If it hits the fan one day, the first malfunction you have could well be your last! If you want to reload your own ammunition, my suggestion would be to firstly characterize your factory produced self defense ammunition, i.e., projectile type and power factor. Then, produce your reloaded ammunition to replicate the performance of the factory ammunition, and use the reloaded ammunition for range practice only. At the end of each range session, put a few rounds of factory ammo through your firearm to ensure the performance of your reloads is the same as the factory ammunition. Keep a supply of factory ammunition for everyday use. This will certainly keep the cost of range practice down, and maximize opportunities to hone your skills for the situation that hopefully will never come.
Next time, the economics of reloading—stay tuned.
Featured image a compilation using photos from sportsmansguide.com