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Store bought/handloaded: cost vs performance

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by Border Bandit, Sep 23, 2011.

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  1. Border Bandit

    Border Bandit Well-Known Member

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    It seems we talk about two different things when discussing reloading vs buying factory loaded shells. Many handloaders are striving to load the very best shell possible, using premium components, on high volume, consistent machines, while others consider savings only. We can argue the merits of one reloading machine over the other; but will agree that there several competent machines available to the handloader, if he has the time and patience to learn how use it to it's potential.

    In my case it's a P/W electric drive that will produce a flat of nearly exact copies in 30 minutes. These shells are cleaned and inspected Remington STS hulls, Remington primers, Spolar wads, American Select powder and 1 1/8oz of West Coast magnum shot, chronographed in a 34" barrel at ~1230fps. The failure rate due to bad primers is less than 1 in 5,000 shells. Better, in my experience, than factory loaded STS or Nitro 27; although I have no data concerning failure rates of other factory loads.


    The point is, some folks talk about the cost of the least expensive shells they can buy, often failing to mention tax, or what it cost to go and get the shells, all the while comparing performance and reliability to the best factory component shell, newly bought or handloaded. It makes little difference what it costs to load high quality shells, since many don't believe they can buy better ones. The object being, to shoot the best shell possible, at the target, which coincidently, is the same approach applied to benchrest shooting. How many lost targets are there in a flat of cheapie shells manufactured with inferior components vs a flat of the best shells available? The end game therefore, is not how many bangs you get for the buck; but how many broken targets you get per flat of shells, all else being equal.

    best....mike
     
  2. chipking

    chipking TS Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
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    1,761
    Well put Mike. I shoot nothing but reloads but being a wimp I only put 1oz of magnum shot in mine and push them at 1180fps. If I lose a target it isn't because of the quality of the shell it is because of the quality of the shooter.

    And I can still load them with all quality components for over a dollar less a box than the cheapest factory loads.

    --- Chip King ---
     
  3. miketmx

    miketmx Well-Known Member

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    I buy cheapie steel base shells for Singles and Doubles but I load my own shells for Handicap with AA hulls and West Coast magnum shot. I believe my reloads are superior to the cheapies but on a par with the premium shells and my registered Handicap scores seem to prove this theory.
     
  4. GrandpasArms

    GrandpasArms Active Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    About 40 miles west of Chicago, IL
    I regularly ponder these reloading/cost factoids in my head, especially since I found that repeated pulls on a manual loader aggravate a prior shoulder injury. The obvious answer is to purchase an automated, progressive machine.

    Loading a full flat per hour, at $10 per hour, I would need to make and use 260 flats of shells before I break even. Blowing through 50 flats a year would put my date about 5+ years into the future - assuming all components stay at today's prices.

    I understand that the reloading would happen during my free time and when weather prohibits being at the range. Still, I conclude that 260 hours have value above and beyond the $10 wages I'd earn, maybe to $20 per hour. I'm fortunate to still be working at age 65 and there is little question that this will continue (I own the business). At $20, the breakeven point is 11 years, placing me at the ripe age of 76.

    There is a value in reloading that is not directly related to costs or savings, however. There is a vibrant community that reloads and it affords many hours of good conversation and the opportunity to search out that "perfect" load. I have decided to forgo that benefit in favor of using factory ammo. That old shoulder injury also takes a beating with most factory loads. However, I have recently begun shooting B&P and I am impressed and pleased. I continue to break/miss at the same rate as before but I can make far more attempts because of those shells. For me, shooting B&P Competition One (1 ounce at 1160 fps) is a shoulder-saver and a fatigue buster.

    I am not trying to brag or show off with this post (few shooters would want to brag about my scores). My initial concern is that the cost calculators don't include the cost of my time or the rate of production. I did a little manipulating and came up with the figures I mentioned above. Clearly, I may be off, but by how much?

    Having written all the above, I'd invest in a heartbeat if I was 25 years younger.

    Larry
     
  5. halfmile

    halfmile Well-Known Member

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    15,639
    Location:
    Green Bay Wisconsin
    My good quality Nitro clone reloads cost just a little less than the cheap steel base when they are on sale.

    I use the reloads for serious and the cheapies for short yardage. I reload the cheap ones once and toss for skeet or 16 yard.

    The best of both worlds.

    HM
     
  6. fssberson

    fssberson Active Member

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    Larry: Being that you own the business, does the business pay for the shells?
    Fred
     
  7. billyboy07208

    billyboy07208 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    571
    shotgun reloading for better than factory, I`ll just buy factory.
    money is time is money,but to tell you the truth,factory shells beat me up for my gun weights dynamics over a couple boxes,so I load 7/8 lite shells.performance wise,these shells are probably not as consistent pressurewise as factory,
    but the recoil comfort level over many targets allows me to concentrate more on my form,and I pick up targets because of it.no recoil distraction.recoil causes spasmodic movements/flinching.
    the perfect load is one that is comfortable and has enuf pellets of the right size.
     
  8. earlybird

    earlybird TS Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2011
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    98
    My prior serious shooting interest was benchrest, so I appreciate the op's benchrest analogy. Right now, I have the worst of both worlds. When we started all this business, it was just for my grandson shooting 4-H, and I foolishly bought a single-stage reloader. As his stepdad and I have gotten interested enough to start shooting, our reloader is insufficient to keep up comfortably. I'll do something different when I've decided which reloader I want to try. I follow the reloader threads on this site with great interest. Currently, I'm shooting factory ammo, the other two are shooting reloads. Right now, I shoot cheapies for practice, STS for score. Our reloads are every bit as good, maybe better factoring in recoil, as the factory ammo. When I've upgraded our machine, I'm sure I'll shoot our reloads again, practice and score. BTW, the only bad shell of ANY kind any of us has had: I recently had a misfire with a LH8 STS factory shell.
     
  9. John Thompson

    John Thompson TS Member

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    Aug 22, 2007
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    P&W with auto shell feed & hydraulic power. Reloads which perform in an autoloader for doubles more reliably that "cheapies". I spent over 20 years on the 27 using reloads. I get less felt recoil using 24.5 of 7625. Also, I read a study which determined that using a quality loader with a hydraulic or electric power source (consistent vibration on each cycle) resulted in a much lower spread of FPS through a chonograph than even premium factory loads.
     
  10. Hap MecTweaks

    Hap MecTweaks Well-Known Member

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    There's several kinds of people reloading shotshells for various reasons. Some for cheap/cost, some for volume, some for consistency with reloads that surpass the standard deviation numbers of most new factory fodders! I consider myself in that last group of shotshell reloaders. A lot of people reload lighter charged shells with reduced powder and shot weight thinking only of velocities? Reduced shot weight requires a different set of parameters to maintain good SD numbers. Because they go bang some feel things are just dandy but those aren't my kind of reloaded shotshells for competitions!

    That's the same way we wring out the best accuracy from our rifle reloads for paper punching and a great hunting load.

    Hap
     
  11. GRUMPN

    GRUMPN TS Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
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    49
    Unlike some I do NOT reload because I like to reload. Cost and type of load drives my loading. I'm a skeet shooter so the 28 and 410 reloading produce huge ammo savings but the quality and prefered payload also count heavily. My Spolar has produced just over 170,000 rounds, saved me a ton, given me ammo I trust over even the AA & STS with shot sizes I can't get in factory ammo and with the hydraulics its painless. For cost savings and performance its reloads. Ric
     
  12. Chuckbuster

    Chuckbuster TS Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2006
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    Reloading is a labor of love. I have been doing it for about 45 years. It is not always the cheapest, but the loads are the best. I have loaded thousands of rifle, pistol, and shotshell rounds over the years. It used to save about 50% compared to factory rounds. Not so today. Components have skyrocketed. I would guess the savings is now about 30% less compared to factory rounds. Handloads should be compared to the most expensive ammo, not the cheap stuff. Anyhow, if you like to reload you will do it even if the cost is the same as factory. I think it is fun and relaxing even after 45yrs of doing it. Enjoy and save. RCBS, MEC, and name brand components work for me. SHOOT STRAIT AND KEEP EM IN THE TEN RING.

    TOM
     
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