Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Idle Hands

I had a pretty bad couple of days, and I decided that I wished to avoid being the devils plaything, and I had to do something useful and/or productive.

I mentioned a few days ago that I am running SEVERELY low on ammo, and that my reloading gear has just been sitting in a box the last year. Well, I decided to do something about that.

So, I gave my friend John a call, said "hey, I want to set up my reloading stuff, wanna chip in and help me out", and we went shopping.

We picked up most of my missing gear (still need a decent scale, a reader has generously offered to provide me with the economy model, and thank you sir), including a powder measure that doesn't work (and will be replaced), and a cheapo workbench kit (well... cheap for a workbench. It was still $60), and several hours later the closet in my office slash spare bedroom looks like this:

That's two lyman turret presses BTW, a T-mag and a Spar-T, neither of which are made anymore, though there is a new T-mag model.

Later today we are picking up a replacement powder measure, and 1500 tumbled rounds (at a penny a pop, not a bad deal), and then watch out world, we're makin ammo.

There's some things I love about the economics of handloading. Once the gear is all purchased (about $500 for a reasonable setup, maybe as little as $200 if you scrounge), your costs are a fraction of retail price.

I know guys loading .45acp at $0.03 a round, because they cast their own and buy powder in bulk, but we're starting small; even then though, our costs are looking pretty good.

Here's the breakdown for 1000 rounds.

Powder: $15
Brass: $10
Primers: $15
Bullets: $50 for hard cast lead, or $85 for jacketed (we bought half and half)

Total: $90 for 1000 rounds (we have $110 into it, because half are jacketed), or about $0.09 a round.

The cheapest I can get .45acp at online is about $220 for 1000, unless you want to go with Wolf, which isn't reloadable, and is $170.

It's even better if you are a Gold Dot shooter, like I am. .45 acp gold dot sells at a minimum of $15 per box of 20, and may be over $20 depending on where and when you buy it. Lets jsut call it a nominal $20.

Gold dot bullets are availble as low $16 per 100 (I payed $18), or $120 per 1000. Applying the same powder, brass, and primer costs, you get $160 per 1000, or $0.16 per round; about 1/6 the cost of gold dots at retail.

Basically, we just saved ourselves 50% on our practice ammo, and if we wanted to carry reloads (which can be a bad idea liability wise) we would save almost 85% on our carry ammo. Once we start reloading our own brass it will be more than that. I'm really going to need a tumbler for that, which is about $60 minimum, but other than that (and the damn powder measure) we've got most everything we need.

Next step, reloading for my AR and M14. The MilSurp otions are a lot cheaper (relatively speaking) than commercial pistol rounds; but still, I can get .308 brass at $0.03 a round, and at $30 per thousand for powder, $15 for primers, and about $90 per thousand for bullets, thats $165 per thousand, about $20 less than Argentine MilSurp, and better quality - with, once again, a bigger difference when you take out the brass cost. It's even better compared against U.S. MilSurp, at about $250 per thousand, or U.S. Commercial at $400-$500 per 1000.

Oh, and again, if you want to go to premium grade ammo, the reloading components will run about $250 per thousand, and the commercial match grade... Oh, about $800-$1000 per thousand.

Unfortunately I seem to have lost my .308 and .223 die sets. I have my taper crimp dies for them, my case trimmer, and my berdan decapper and reamer even, but I can't find the actual dies. I've been through everything I have on the reloading front, so they are just gone. That means I'mna need to drop another $30 or so per die set, which I don't have., but it's still cheaper than buying the commercial stuff.

Oh, and the first loads we made up?

5.8gr titegroup pushing a 185gr GDHP - Should be a 19.5-20k psi load according to data; hot, but with plenty of room to spare under the 21k (or 23k for +p) pressure ceiling. We just ran off about 20 as a test, the rest of what we load is going to be lower pressure practice loadings.

What I'm thinkin on the hardcast 200gr SWC, is 5.1gr of titegroup, and maybe another loading at 5.6gr of HP-38; both ought to give about 900fps, give or take (damn, I wish I had a chrono). I've got some 185gr and 200gr JSWC as well, and I'm not sure what to load them to (damn, I REALLY wish I ahd a chrono).