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The wife and I have been shooting for over a year now and we’ve gone through a lot of rounds of ammunition. While we were first getting the hang of it, we were going to the range at least once a week to practice. It gets expensive, especially if you’re shooting anything other than a .22.

Over the course of that year, not only have we gone through a lot of ammo, we’ve also gone through an ammo shortage. I know that there have been ammo shortages in the past, but this was our first one and it has been a doozy. We’re just starting to see some relief from it in our area. Ammo is starting to line the shelves again, but the price is typically about 25% higher than it was this time last year. What was expensive before is even more expensive now.

The bottom line is that we haven’t been able to afford to shoot as often as we’d like. We almost stopped shooting altogether during the worst time of the ammo shortage because we didn’t know when, or even if, we would be able to replace the rounds that we were using. Now we’re shooting just enough to maintain our skills, but not enough to improve them.

And like I said earlier, this isn’t the first ammo shortage ever. It’s just OUR first ammo shortage. It has happened before and I can guarantee you that it will happen again. The run on guns and ammo over the past couple of years has swept a massive number of new gun owners into the market. That means increased demand for ammo in the future. One more incident like the Connecticut school shooting that triggered this most recent shortage could put us out of commission for a long time. I don’t like that. I don’t like being at the mercy of market forces. I like being the captain of my own ship. I’ve given the problem a lot of thought and it seems to me that the best way around this situation is reloading your own ammo.

Yeah, I know. It wasn’t appealing to me at first either, but the idea is growing on me. I’ve wrestled with my objections to reloading and thought you might benefit from the results of that wrestling.

  • It’s dangerous. Gun owners hear a lot of bogus, uninformed safety concerns from non-gun owners. We know that guns are inherently dangerous, but there is a correct and safe way to handle, use, and store them. Surprisingly, there is a large number of gun owners who have the same kinds of uninformed concerns about reloading. “You’ll blow up your house!” As it turns out, that’s not the case. The smokeless gunpowder that is used in handgun and rifle ammunition is flammable, but not explosive. I’ve got a lot of other flammable things in my house right now and I’ve managed to not destroy anything so far. Be diligent and careful with the storage and usage of reloading components and you’ll be OK. “Your gun will explode in your hand!” Not if you following the instructions in your reloading manual and exercise proper quality control during the manufacturing process. Gun owners place blind faith and confidence in the factory ammo they buy off the shelf. Why not have the same (or greater) degree of confidence in ammo that you have made yourself and have carefully inspected through every stage of the manufacturing process? Learn about it before you do it, of course, and then do it with care.
  • My insurance company will freak. This was Sandy’s major concern. Is this OK with our homeowner’s insurance or would they deny a claim because of it? (Because yes, she hasn’t completely gotten over the “We’ll blow up the house” concern, although she admits she has no rational reason to feel that way.) We’re with USAA. They’re a company that only insures military, ex-military, and their dependents. USAA is fine with it, up to me having as much as 20 pounds of gunpowder in the house. That’s enough to load 20,000 rounds of 9mm. I’m good with that. But check with your insurer to see what they say. Your mileage may vary.
  • It’s expensive to get started. Maybe. You can go high-end, low-end, or something in between. I recommend the middle path for most beginners. But even with that, there’s still a considerable cash outlay to get equipped properly.
    • You’ll need a reloading press of some sort and a set of dies for each caliber that you want to reload.
    • You’ll also need a scale for weighing powder — one that is accurate to about one-tenth of a grain. (There are 7,000 grains to a pound, so one-tenth of a grain is 0.00001428571 pounds. Needless to say, a postage scale won’t do.)
    • You’ll have to have a powder measure that reliably dispenses gunpowder in the desired quantity.
    • And calipers (preferably digital) for measuring case lengths and overall cartridge lengths.
    • Don’t forget a sturdy workbench to do your reloading on. And storage units that lock to keep your supplies away from children.

All of this before we get to the actual reloading components of brass, primers, powder, and bullets. Some reloading manufacturers offer beginner’s kits that have a press and most of the tools that you’ll need to get started. The kits are attractively priced and they offer one-stop shopping, but most buyers have complained that some of the items bundled in these kits aren’t adequate for their purposes, so they had to buy replacements for them, negating the “good deal” they got on the kit purchase. I haven’t bought my reloading rig yet, but I’ve got all of my desired bits and pieces wish-listed on Amazon, ready to go when I get the cash together. I may go through my list in a subsequent blog, but for now all you need to know is that I’m looking at a bottom line of about $600 to buy all the equipment that I’ll want to get started with reloading. About the same amount of money as a moderately-priced handgun or rifle. You can go considerably cheaper and get in for about $200 or considerably higher and be looking at a couple of thousand dollars.

I agree, it is a bit expensive to get started, but people do it because it’s cheaper than buying new ammo all the time. I primarily shoot 9mm handguns. My standard factory ammo is CCI Blazer Brass. To buy 1,000 rounds of this stuff (if you can find and buy that much right now) is in the neighborhood of $300 – $380. I just priced the components needed to reload 1,000 rounds of 9mm using my own once-fired brass that I’ve collected after my practice sessions. Buying primers, powder, and bullets to reload 1,000 rounds of 9mm would cost me $143. I would save about $200 over buying new factory ammo. All it would take to make up my initial equipment investment is 3,000 rounds of 9mm. It’s even better with some other calibers. I don’t have an AR-15 that shoots .223 or .308, so I’ve never bothered to price the savings from reloading those rifle calibers, but I’ve seen many postings on blogs and forums that say the savings on those are much deeper than for 9mm handgun rounds. So yes, it can be a bit spendy to get started, but if you want to have a stash that will get you through another ammo shortage, this is the cheap way to do it.

  • It’s complicated. It can be, but doesn’t have to be. Consider this — a lot of people who aren’t as smart as you have been reloading their own ammo safely and successfully for a very long time. Start with a simple press and work your way up to more sophisticated equipment over time. Your investment in basic equipment won’t be wasted. You’ll either want to hang onto it for any of a multitude of good reasons, or you can sell it for almost what you bought it for. Resale values on reloading equipment are high.

I’ve overcome all of my original objections to reloading and am ready to take the plunge. As with all significant new endeavors, I’ve studied the topic a lot and have formulated some opinions about how to begin, which I’ll share with you in later postings. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from any of you who are currently reloading, considering reloading, or still have objections to reloading. Leave a comment below this blog or on our facebook page.

23 Responses to Objections to Reloading Ammo

  • Lou says:

    Thanks for this article!
    So, so many newbie shooters, who are getting into shooting as preppers. Many of whom have no history with firearms and are literally struggling to get up to at least some minimum level of proficiency.
    Me?, I’m a certified instructor, and ex-tactical shooting match frequent flyer. Got into shooting over 45 years ago. Am well over 10 thousand rounds fired.
    Sometimes on Sundays I hang around our club ranges offering to help those who are struggling with fundamental skills. Our Club is growing at the unprecedented rate of about 20 new members a month. I suspect that a number of them are preppers looking for a place to shoot.
    Problem is though, preppers, by nature, are generally very secretive about why the are getting arms, and trying to learn how to use them. I find that this often makes them standoffish about openly seeking help from those of us who are trained to give it. Something to think about?
    Last Sunday I conducted a “running deer” shooting match at the club. Nine shots with high powered rifles at a moving and standing deer target. We had 18 paid turns.
    One guy was shooting his own reloads. He had overloaded his cartridges to where some blew out the primers, and split the cartridge cases. Fortunately, the rifle was strong enough to survive intact.
    In the last several years, I’ve taken friends who wanted to learn to reload under my wing, and sat with them at the loading bench, until they were well started.
    I believe that every prepper must have, at least, the minimum ability to make their own ammo, should no other source present itself. But reloading is a clearly definable skill set that needs some study, training, and practice to achieve reasonable results. It’s not something that one can achieve by just sitting down with the equipment and trying to wing it.
    Oh,… also, factory made ammo is always better than home reloaded. It’s safer, more consistent, and lasts much longer in storage. I have factory loaded ammo from the 1960s that has been kept in cool, dry places and produces very few functional failures. I find that my reloads from a year ago are giving me 2 or 3 misfires per box now, even though stored on the same shelf as the factory rounds.
    Reloading was all about saving money. Now with the cost of reloading supplies going though the roof, it’s become about availability of ammo.
    Great article. Thanks again!

    • Lou — Thanks for another great comment. And once again the high priority for training comes shining through. I’m interested in what type of press you use for your loading. Seems like everyone has strong feelings and brand loyalties when it comes to reloading. You find something that works for you and you stick with it. I hope to be pulling a handle by Christmas.

  • Boyd Smith says:

    Interesting article. I didn’t think there would be any real objections to reloading except the time factor. I mean, it saves a ton of money and allows me to get away from the missus when I can! 🙂

    • Boyd — Yeah, hard to believe that anyone would have any objections to reloading. But I’ve encountered plenty of folks, even experienced shooters, who want no part of reloading. Usually it’s because of their fear of handling the components or getting the recipe and procedure right. The other big source of objections to reloading is from non-reloading spouses (generally referred to as wives). They typically have concerns about the safety of handling and storing these sensitive components in their homes, especially if there are children in the household. So yes, there are some objections to reloading, but nothing that a good dose of knowledge of the process, respect for the components, and discipline in the procedure can’t overcome.

      Hey, I love your blog. If anyone reading this hasn’t found their way to http://www.ReloaderAddict.com yet, do yourself a favor and click on over there. Good stuff. I’m a subscriber.

      • Boyd Smith says:

        Thanks for your vote of confidence re my blog! I’m going to check out your site more. Add it to my Best Resources (once I get the Best Resources page up, that is!).

        • Boyd,
          Yeah, I’m a fan of . Great site for people who want to get started with reloading and need some solid advice. I’m planning a blogroll here soon, too. I’ll be sure to list your site on it.

  • Larry Kool says:

    I started reloading about a year ago. It isn’t as complicated as some would have you believe. I started out loading shotgun shells and later, pistol and rifle shells. I load 9mm and 380 on a Lee Pro 1000. Rifle rounds I reload on a single stage. One item you will need that you didn’t mention is a kinetic bullet puller

    • Mr Kool — Reloading has all the look and feel of rocket science, what with the reloading manuals and ballistic charts and esoteric tools. But like you said, it’s not. There are a lot of people who are not rocket scientists that have been reloading expertly for years. And you’re dead on about the kinetic bullet puller — for all of those times when our reloading efforts are less than ideal. Is there any particular brand of bullet puller that you prefer? Thx for writing.

      • Larry Kool says:

        Every person has to “tailor fit” their reloading equipment to their particular tastes, similar to the way we purchase automobiles. BTW: I drive a Chevy, not a BMW. For me, payback period is an important factor when deciding to make any purchase. That is why I buy Lee and not Dillon equipment (don’t get me wrong, Dillon makes great equipment but, so does Lee at 1/3rd the price). As for my kinetic bullet puller, I have a Frankford Arsenal. Why?….because they are reasonably priced and reliable.

        • Roger that, Mr. Kool. I hold the Dillon line of products in very high regard and would love to have some blue stuff sitting on my bench some day, but for the right now it’s out of my pay range. And like you, I chose the Frankford Arsenal bullet puller as my tool of choice.

          • Larry Kool says:

            I use my Lee single stage and Lee progressive presses entirely as they were designed to be used. I have a brother and two friends who all own Dillon reloading equipment. My brother is the only one of the three who uses his Dillon entirely as it was intended. One of my friends primes his cases in a separate operation (with a hand primer) and the other hasn’t had great luck with the powder measure on his Dillon 650 (he says it varies considerably after 15 rounds). I’ve checked on-line and there are very, very few used progressive presses for sale (of any brand). All of this tells me that once the buyer becomes accustomed to the “quirks” of the press, they settle down and make it work for them, no matter what the brand. In the relatively short time that I’ve owned it, I’ve reloaded well in excess of 3500 rounds on my Lee progressive and have been very happy with the results. I’m sure that my brother and friends feel exactly the same way about their Dillons.

          • What you said about becoming accustomed to the quirks of any given press brings up some interesting points. First, any model of press made by any manufacturer may have its share of quirks that the user may need to learn to live with. Second, those quirks can be overcome. Over time, it becomes business as usual. I suspect that once one has accommodated to the quirks of their chosen brand, adjusting to the quirks of another brand could be more difficult rather than less. It involves unlearning as well as learning, something that most people are resistant to. And so brand loyalties are born.

            Of course, that’s all baseless speculation on my part. Thanks for writing.

  • OkieVet says:

    Well, for what it’s worth here’s my take on a 9mm setup that I’m getting in the next couple of weeks.
    I don’t have any friends who do reloading, and when I’ve brought it up everyone thinks that you’ll have to shoot a crap-ton of ammo to even hope to break even, so this is the result of checking reviews from at least 3 sources for the press, the powder measure, and scales. Collet puller was chosen over inertial because if it’s plastic I will break it. From what I’ve read I don’t need a case trimmer because apparently straight cases don’t tend to have stretching problem like a shouldered case a la .308 or 5.56, I’ll eventually get one when I start reloading .308, but not right now.

    Everything I’m getting is from a single well known online site but I’ll leave that out, total including shipping was $415 including shipping.

    I’m going with a Lee Classic 4 Hole Turret Press. It’s the better of the Lee turret presses, cast iron instead of aluminum. From what I’ve seen they’re about the best bang for the buck for turret presses. None of the rest of the parts that came with the Lee kits were particularly impressive, it’s not that they’re bad, but are better parts available at reasonable prices. So here goes.

    Apparently there are issues, regardless of press manufacturer, with priming in the press with small pistol primers, so that brought me to the RCBS APS Hand Priming Tool. It’s a universal tool with descent reviews. Primers need to be loaded in a strip, but once that’s done it looks easier than shucking peanuts.
    Next, a Lyman #55 powder measure, this was based on numerous highly positive reviews from a lot of web sites.
    Then an RCBS M500 Magnetic Powder Scale for quality control. Again, price vs features and +/- 0.1 gr accuracy.
    For dies, Lee Deluxe Carbide 4-Die Set 9mm Luger, figure since it’s a Lee press…honestly that’s the only reason.
    Not a huge fan of inertial bullet pullers based on reading. I guess it’s fine if you only mess up occasionally, but I figure if I make a mistake, it won’t be just one cartridge, it will be a bunch. Also, the hammer shaped things will eventually break – why deal with a headache, therefore a RCBS Collet Bullet Puller along with the appropriate sized collet – RCBS Collet 35 Caliber, 9mm (357 Diameter)
    Also, a Lyman Case Prep Multi Tool. Some of the bits appear to be the right size to chuck up in a cordless drill to speed things up.
    Finally, some universal reloading trays to round it out.
    In the end, not cheap, but not hideously expensive. It’s not a Dillon, but I think its an above average set of selected components.

    Even if you buy the Lee kit, you’ll still have to spend about another $70-100 to get dies, case prep tool, and some sort of bullet remover. So, about $300 for the Lee Precision Classic Turret Press kit ready for 9mm, or pay about $115 more and get a better scale, better powder measure/dispenser, and a less frustrating priming tool.

    • Larry Kool says:

      I’ve heard very positive things about the Lee Classic turret press. They are generally held in high regard and many reloading pundits consider it to be the best of all turret presses. I shoot a moderate amount and probably could easily get by with a turret press rather than a progressive. I was a relative newb when I purchased the Pro 1000 and I made the selection based on personal preferences and research. There was a learning curve but, once I got past that curve, I never regretted the decision. I find that priming small pistol primers in the normal progression of events (letting the press do the work),, is not an issue for me. I have friends who differ from me in that choice. You will have to make your own choices regarding priming, since you will have to be content with whatever choice you make.

      • Hey Okie — I’ve heard good and bad about the Lee progressives, but I don’t have any handle time on any of them. I’m glad that you weighed in with a positive report on your experience. Having said that you were a newb when you bought it, what other presses would you consider right now if you didn’t already have the Pro 1000? Thx for writing.

  • Larry Kool says:

    I’m not Okie but, I believe that you have directed your question at my comments. I would consider the following presses. The RCBS Rockchucker has a stellar reputation as does the Classic Turret by Lee. I personally use the Lee single stage “C” press for rifle rounds. It’s inexpensive and more than adequate for most applications. It’s also faster than an “O” type press like the Rockchucker due to easier access. On the more expensive side,my brother has a 550B Dillon and he highly recommends it. One of my close friends also has the 550B and likes his tremendously. For shotgun shells I use a Lee Load-All 2. It’s very inexpensive and, in spite of it’s looks, seems to be a quality loader. A buddy of mine uses an older Pacific for shotgun shells (I don’t believe that Pacific is still made though)..

    You commented earlier that you would love to have some blue equipment in your stable. I would not, simply because what I have works extremely well and I would rather spend the money saved on additional firearms. I am nearing retirement and my presses will probably outlast me at this stage in my life.

    • I don’t normally allow comments that promote products or services that I’m not acquainted with, but since this one is so central to the topic of reloading, I’ll allow it. Has any of our readers used Allison Supply’s brass? How’d you like it?

  • Larry Kool says:

    I’ve never used Allison’s once fired brass but, I have purchased once fired brass from a local range. I’ve only purchased 380 ACP “once fired brass”.. 9mm is so common that you can find it anywhere, especially lying around most any range. I was not able to do the same with 380 ACP since it is far less common. I have found that i needed to “police” my purchased “once fired brass” because the range had not done a good job of it, mixing in a few other calibers.

  • Really interesting read! I recently did a cost comparison of reloading 9mm vs buying them new and after all, I can only recommend getting started to reload your own ammo. Sure it might be more pricey for the first few rounds, but as you pointed out correctly already, over time you will be glad you started. After all, everything that makes you less dependent on stores and shopping is a good thing, right?
    Cheers!
    A. Scopes

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