Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin
*Please note I have corrected the miscalculation on the primer cost on the updated version below.
There is no getting around the fact that shooting is an expensive sport if you do enough of it. As a handloader, my drive to start was to save money while shooting something no longer offered in factory ammo. This raised the question, how much money am I really saving? We can go through this on an individual round count basis.
All of these prices were taken from a single, reputable mail order distributor and were calculated from their non-sale prices to keep everything on a level playing field. To remain on that level playing field, let’s not worry about sales tax or shipping costs and enjoy the fact that this reloading equipment was an inheritance (mine wasn’t but oh well). Our base line is a 308 Winchester cartridge loaded with Sierra’s #2145 165gr SBT GameKing® and factory ammo is listed at $32.79 for 20 rounds. Since reloading components usually run on a 100 count standard, let’s multiply that number by 5 to get $163.95 for 100 rounds (or $1.64 per round). So by using this $1.64 per round standard, can we shoot the same thing for less money by reloading? Let’s find out.
The same distributor sells reloading components but we will need to take into account certain facts like powder is sold by the pound so we will need to convert the cost. A pound translates to 7,000 grains so if your firearm likes 40 grains of brand X to propel this bullet, 100 rounds would take 4,000 grains to fill them. If the price of powder was $26.99 per pound, then 4,000 grains of it would cost $15.42 or so for 100 rounds. Bullets were priced at $31.99 and match primers were priced at $4 per hundred. This only leaves the brass to price and by using the same brand as in the factory ammo, they were listed at $25.49 per 50 so $50.98 per 100 count. Let’s add them up to get $102.39 per 100 rounds or $1.02 or so per round. Compared to the factory round price, we’ve saved $61.56 or $0.62 a round.
Here is the next thing we need to take into account and that is we can reload the brass more than one time. Let’s figure that we can reload this brass 5 times and calculate for a 500 round count. Our cost of factory ammo went up to $819.75 and even though that is a lot of hunting rounds, it wouldn’t be out of line to have purchased them through a lifetime of hunting. Our cost of reloading, on the other hand, was reduced by $50.98 per hundred rounds because we are reusing the same brass over and over again. This makes reloading the next 400 rounds total $205.64 or $51.41 per hundred so in addition to our original cost of $102.39, this would give us a $308.03 total for 500 rounds. I don’t know about you but I can use that $511.72 we just saved to invest in another 500 rounds. By the way, if we could reload the brass another 5 times, the cost of 500 rounds would only be $257.05 for a total of $565.08 for 1,000 rounds. Compared to the $1,639.50 we would have used for factory ammo, we would have saved enough ($1074.42 in total) to purchase another firearm. If I really wanted to gain some brownie points, I would take my wife out in style and maybe still have enough left over for lunch tomorrow. Good luck making the right decision on that last part!