You need to ask yourself “What are your goals for reloading ammo”
I’ll break this down so you understand the question.
- Is your goal to save money on ammo?
- Is your goal to produce superior ammo compared to factory loadings?
- Do you not want to be dependent on the supply chain of loaded ammo?
- Are you just interested in a new hobby?
I’m going to start with the last and work my way back up. Your already into firearms so you think reloading is just a natural progression of your hobby. The short answer is Yes. Nothing wrong with this step you can soon learn way more about ammo than you ever considered before. You will now start to understand the hype and flop of a new cartridge on the market. Not that you will necessarily care if it succeeds or flops just the why it was developed in the first place. The strengths and weakness of a cartridges performance will no longer be a mystery. You will learn to understand what makes a good cartridge.
Now on to the next question “you don’t want to be dependent on the supply chain at the store.” The short answer is NO. You will be dependent on the supply chain of the reloading market. In my experience it always follows the loaded ammo supply. Once their isn’t any ammo on the shelf at the store the reloading components will soon be gone as well. With that said there is one thing you can do to resolve the supply chain issue on both sides of the coin BUY CHEAP STACK DEEP. This is were reloading has the edge it is cheaper to stock up on loading components than loaded ammo. You also has the universal aspect of powder and primers. The most common pistol calibers all use Small Pistol Primers even I believe it is federal uses small pistol primers in their brass for .45 acp. (Don’t get me started on that topic ) You can use the same powder for most common pistol cartridges. (should you well that’s up for debate as far as pistol goes yes, as far as rifles that is a much longer answer). So yes it is more affordable to partially severe you need from the supply chain. During this mini scare of Covid 19 and BLM unrest in the nation right now I have not worried at all about my supply because I am stacked deep. During the Obama years I was caught off guard and under funded to stack deep and it hurt. I was desperate for pistol powder. So this time I was prepared.
So on to the next topic. You want superior ammo compared to what you can buy. The short answer is YES. This is a yes in spades. All firearms and in particular rifles have a personality. What I mean is I can develop a load for my rifle that shoots one ragged whole in a target at 100 yards. Then I take that same ammo and put it in your rifle that is the exact same rifle as mine and it shoots a 6 in group. Or I take that ammo across the country and shoot it in my rifle and I get a 3 inch group. This has more to do with atmospheric conditions that rifle personality though. You can learn how to tailor a load for a rifle and conditions that will out perform anything on the shelf.
Here is the big one “you want to save money on ammo.” The short answer yes and no. Seriously?? How can it be both you ask. I’ll tell you why by breaking it down further. YES because your cost per round will go down if you buy your components wisely. Unless you are trying to make superior performance ammo in which case the cost of brass and bullets is very high. NO because in my experience reloaders shoot more than none reloaders. Why??? They got into reloading to save money on ammo with that accomplished they shoot more. Now as far as Loading equipment goes I consider this a sunk cost but others may not. So as far a the equipment cost weather you consider it a sunk cost you can go in different directions High end, Middle Road, or Low cost, notice I say low cost not cheap I’ll explain. LEE Precision is the king of low cost reloading equipment. Their products are capable of producing high quality ammo. They use a lot of plastic in their presses. That plastic wear out but you can buy these disposable parts from them so who cares I don’t have to buy the whole thing just the part I need. (This is not unique to LEE) With all that said why choose more expensive stuff. That will only be clear once you travel down the road and see where the Reloading Hobby takes you. If all you want to do is produce quality ammo at low cost LEE will get you there. If you want to produce volume loads i.e. 1000’s of rounds in an hour LEE will not get you there. Middle road won’t get you there. Only high end will get you quality ammo in high volume with limited time.
This has been a long post. If anyone is interested I will continue this post with a breakdown in the different presses not their mechanical function but what they can do for someone on a practical aspect I will.
Also I will post a breakdown of the path I would recommend based on the starting points above 1-4 if their is an interest.
Or if someone wants to suggest a path forward on this post I will consider it.
IF you made it this far thank you and God Bless.