Poll : Do you reload ammunition?

Also feel free to let us know what you consider to be the best re-loaders and tools…

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. recoveringidiot says:

    I have seen times when if I weren’t reloading there would be no practice and no competitions. Sometimes because of lack of funds on my part and sometimes because of lack of availability of components that I had the foresight to stock up on when they were available and cheaper. Now its more about savings and maybe a way to barter for other things later….

  2. Yes right now only shotshell but wish to get into rifle/pistol really only lack of components in my area holding me back.

  3. Of course I answered ‘yes’, though I’m not really saving any money due to shooting more than I would were I not reloading. So, in that regard, I’m saving money while not really saving and I do get to shoot more.
    (I really wish I wasn’t so confused. :-/ )
    Most of my reloading is pistol calibers- .357 and 9mm, while the rifle reloads are for precision matches (we call them ‘MOA’ shoots) so I’m saving tons there since I sure couldn’t afford to shoot factory match ammo. Also, the .357 rifles get fed reloads. For trap/skeet/birds I reload 12 gauge with #6, #2 and 00 buck shot.
    Finding lead is becoming a dilemma of sorts and I’d hate to have to buy all the bullets I make- I’d have to stop shooting. Wheel weights and range found are the most popular methods of lead mining and those are drying up with the recycling craze going into overdrive around here. Not to mention, formerly great places to get wheel weights have new ‘environmentally friendly’ employees who take the rules a heckuva lot more seriously than the old timers did. Someday I’ll convince one of them that I am recycling the lead, too, so they’d may as well just give it to me- really, it isn’t as though they’re losing money on the sale or that uncle fed knows how much they sold me.
    Whatever happened to our education system? EEEKK!

  4. I reload for 2 reasons. The primary is to have the loads I want available to me. The second is to have something to shoot, both in quantity and price.

    Back in the day, when I moved to Montana, ammunition was readily available in standard loadings, including magnum hunting rounds and high end defensive rounds (although selection of these was generally poor). As I began to explore Cowboy Action Shooting, I discovered that in 45 Colt I was limited to 2 manufactures and the costs were high and the availability was low. Most places we willing to special order it for me, but stocked very little.

    It was at this time I started using a progressive reloader. Dillon’s Square Deal is great for a single caliber reloader (you can get conversion kits for other calibers but if you go past 2 calibers there are better options).

    When I converted to shooting 38 Special and 9mm, the prices were such that reloading didn’t make sense. I could either spend what little spare time I had then shooting or reloading (ammo was $6-8 for 50). I shot and saved the brass.

    I was already reloading rifle and some pistol ammo, but I would spend my spare time for a month loading what we would shoot in a day. I started in the ’70’s reloading for my M1 Carbine as ammo was $15 for 50, with no surplus available (equate that to 3 hours of work, and I got paid fairly well then).

    I currently have 3 rifles that I must reload for. 2 because the guns shoot best bullets that are not factory loaded. The other is because the ammo is $50-$85/box of 20.

    I currently use a Dillon 650, a full sized/multi-caliber progressive press. But it was not cheap. I can reload, using quick conversion kits, 6 pistol and 2 rifle calibers with unlimited variations, but I have spent over $2000 in the equipment.

    There are cheaper was to go, at least on paper, but I just love Dillon’s warranty and customer service. Last year I bent a part that was sticking on mine. I called on a Thursday afternoon, the rep apologized about how it would take a bit to get it to me. I arrived in Monday’s mail, no charge for the part or shipping. Since most of there sales are direct, they had a full record of what I had bought and knew exactly what I needed (even with my poor technical jargon).

    With my just having found 357 Magnum ammo available for the 3rd time in 12 months, I’m glad I can load my own ammo. Prices have changed to the point that it cuts the cost of my ammo by 25+%. I still look at the gun shows for used range brass for the calibers I use, so occasionally I get a real good deal.

    I also started reloading shotgun shells, as my DW likes 20 ga, and I like #4 buck shot. Again only 1 company makes any and that has been mostly unavailable for the last year.

    I would say that every prepper GROUP should have someone who reloads. Just remember it is time consuming and the equipment, although quality equipment will last generations, can be expensive initially. Don’t think of it as something that one person can do to keep a group “feed” for large quantity shooting every weekend. But it will greatly decrease the cost (especially if you need enough to buy components in bulk). Plus when things get scare……..

  5. I would encourage all readers to reload ammo as part of the prepper mindset. Reloading equipment is readily available and like everything else can be inexpensive and acquire or you can spend a lot to get very sophisticated.

    The biggest challenge right now is finding basic components like primers, powder and bullets. Like ready made ammo there is a pretty severe shortage. Check out your local gun shop and see what they have.

    As mentioned in the previous comment bullet casting can be done with salvaged wheel weights. This is a great way to DYI. A word of caution however, working molten lead can be very dangerous and should not be taken lightly. To do it right and safely you must take precautions and think about what and where you are working.

    When the SHTF wouldn’t be better to self resupply ammo than depend on Wallyworld to get more? If more can be gotten at all. I make sure I have enough components to reload 2 times what. I have in ready made of my primary battle rifle, riot and handgun.

    • Everything Carl said.

      I use RCBS stuff….Rockchucker press/dies, case tumbler.
      LOADED up on primers, bullets and powder over the years….before this ‘shortage’ hit.

      • I use RCBS and LEE, Not the most expensive but they work well for me. One of the guys in my group is also very much into reloading. Between us we have a pretty vast array of calibers and bullet molds. We take a day every now and then to travel around to auto shops and ask for wheel weights to recycle. Of course there may be some beer stops as well. We then spend a day smelting in my very well ventilated garage to make ingets. I also have been slowly acquiring “stuff” over the years. Stored correctly it will last a very long time .But you just never have too much…..LOL

  6. I used to feed my 06 with a lee loader. Nothing fancy though my gun went bang with them and it was pretty accurate. I have 2 single stage presses now. I need to start getting dies and etc. Handloading is the thing to do.

  7. There are a lot of reasons to reload. The two primary practical reasons are economics and customization. I got into reloading because I liked the science of it, and because early on I was interested in frugality. I found that, once I amortized the marginal cost of reloading equipment, I could shoot more for lower cost than factory ammo. You can purchase a complete reloading kit with one set of reloading dies for less than $100 new. Typically, a good starter kit will cost about $150. Supplies for reloading, especially if re-using brass, is about 1/3 the cost of similar quality factory ammo. If you don’t shoot very often, reloading has no economic benefit. However, being a good shot requires a lot of shooting on a regular basis. So anyone who takes practical firearm ownership seriously would realize an economical benefit from reloading.

    After becoming a competition shooter, reloading became an imperative, as I could manipulate far more variables that would contribute to accuracy and efficiency, though economics diminished some. My most accurate target loads are the result of reload development requiring hundreds of hours of calculation, experimentation, testing, analysis, and adjustment. There is no factory load made that will match the performance of my best reloads in my guns. When money, game in the bag, or even you life depend on ammunition performance, reloading is the best option.

    It’s like cooking vs. going to a restaurant. You can get a really good meal at a lot of different places, and you will pay for it. But the best ribeye I’ve ever had came off my own grill from my own cattle.

  8. It is also good to get into because then the Goberment doesn’t actually know the quantity you posses. Trust me they do keep tabs on this stuff. Also accuracy I found is my number one.

  9. only reload shotgun shells, i often get the shells free by wandering dirt roads (old and unused dirt roads are used as ranges around here). rebuild the primer cap and refill it, and then reload the shell. homemade shotguns plus scavenged and reloaded shell=dirt cheap hobby and no paper trail, good for gunning down wood chucks in the garden too.

  10. I have been reloading for well over 25 year’s,,I reload for all my firearm’s..I really love the Dillon 550 press and have 14 head change unit’s for it..it’s fast,,accurate,,easy use,,set up is simple..

  11. Schatzie Ohio says:

    Very satisfied with the Redding Turret 7.

  12. Yes, I reload but not it does not save me any money. I just get more ammo for what I spend. 😉

    I reload for 5 pistol calibers and 6 rifle calibers. I also collect brass at the range for calibers that I don’t load for yet. You never know when it may come in handy.

    I also cast bullets from used wheel weights that I pick up from some local tire shops so my cost per round for the pistol calibers is around $0.05 per round (power and primer) if I don’t count my time.

    I use a Lee Turret press and can get 200 – 300 pistol rounds per hour.

    For the AR-15 I can get about 100 – 150 per hour on the Lee press but my “target” rifles take a lot longer.

    But I get 1/4 to 1/3 MOA from my .308 Win and my .300 RUM so as JSW said I can shoot with high accuracy and precision for a fraction of the cost of factory match ammo.

    Also, as Carl said, reloading should be part of everyone’s prepper mindset.

  13. Western_Reservist says:

    I reload 7.62mm and .45acp. Folks–this isn’t hard. Just obey common sense.

    Best to buy your propellant and primers locally (funshow or local retailer), as the haz-mat + shipping fees will kill you.

    Want to know what I did? Back in 1985 I figured I would live to be “X” years old. I figured out what I shot per year, then multiplied by the number of years I figured the Good Lord will give me.

    Then (and this really ruined our budget for a while), the wife and I of 48 years bought all the propellant, primers, brass, and extras we needed. They have been stored in optimum conditions. The propellant and primers we bought years ago work just fine today, Thank you very much.

    Back in 1985, we paid .01 for Remington and CCI primers ($10/1,000), and “top-shelf” propellant was $4/lb. Brass we were paying .04 for the 7.62 and about the same for commercial .45acp brass.

    Best investment we ever made! Sure beat our 401-K (which is now a 201-k since the 2008 stock bloodbath.)

    Moral of story: buy now. Pay once, cry once. Reloading supplies will not decrease in price and they are a fab barter item.

    God Bless America!

    • recoveringidiot says:

      W_R, I did the same thing for different reasons, I was shooting thousands of rounds yearly in practice and competitions so I had to keep lots of stuff on hand plus it was more efficient to buy in bulk and pick up at the national matches to avoid ship/haz fees. Then my neck spine trouble set in and I had to stop competing which left me with years supply on hand. I’ll probably never use up the powder and primers iI had on hand at the rate I’m shooting now. I even supplied the state Jr high power team with primers one year when they could not find them anywhere.

  14. No, but my son would like to get into it. My future son-in-law does.

  15. OwlCreekObserver says:

    My personal opinion of reloads is that they’re probably okay in most cases for target shooting, unless your gun is super finicky as some are. But for personal defense, I wouldn’t use anything but new, manufactured ammo. I’ve seen guys spend a considerable amount of time at the range clearing jams and I’d hate to have that happen to me when my life depended on it.

    On the other hand, I suppose if you were in a survival situation where the good stuff couldn’t be found, then it would make sense to have your own reloading gear, including a stockpile of supplies for it.

    I’m sure many will disagree with me on this, but that’s how I see it.

  16. I voted yes; but, it has yet to save any money, just let me shoot more.

  17. I don’t reload . Just don’t have the space or time . That said I do have friends that reload and I save all my brass for them.

  18. What is going to happen now that there’s no more lead being produced in the US anymore

  19. Chuck Findlay says:

    I’ve reloaded for years, I use to make extra money reloading for one of the gun shops I worked at.

    As to why I reload because I have thousands upon thousands of primers, bullets and brass cases, and a lot of powder.

    I can custom-load ammo for maximum accuracy.

    I own a few calibers that are wildcats that factory ammo was never made for.

    I enjoy doing it

  20. I don’t reload because it saves money, I reload for accuracy. Those generic loads you purchase from vendors are made to work in all firearms of that caliber no matter what the barrel length etc. So they tend to be underpowered and don’t hit the right optimal barrel time to resonate your barrel at just the right frequency so the bullet is leaving with the most stable flight.

    I have different loads for different guns, specifically formulated and crafted to what gave it the best grouping. Some rifles have longer barrels so I can get a higher accuracy node using more powder.

    I got into Optimal Charge Weight and Optimal Barrel time and had a field day, and now have groupings twice as good.

    Also quickload is fun as heck to play around with, and the science of ballistic flight is even more fun to tweak. It’s half the fun of shooting for me now.


  21. A Dillon 550 that’s done over 30,000 rounds – mostly .45 – but I do all of the following: 9mm, .380, 40S&W, 45ACP 44mag. 9x23win .357mag .38special 223 (5.56).
    A Forster Coaxial single stage for my rifle rounds .308, 45-70, .30-06

    Highly recommend both (or either) You can do bottle neck rounds on the Dillon but the way I do it, there’s not much advantage. For .308 match – I much prefer the single stage. If I were just doing volume practice where I could just throw the powder with out measuring it, then the Dillon would be peachy for everything. If you don’t do pistol – and a fair amount of it, the Dillon is maybe overkill, but it’s also safer – much less likely to get a double load or a squib. Need to be careful to double check your powder when you’re using presses that don’t do it for you.

    At some point I’ll pick up a Black Powder Measure (don’t use a smokeless one for BP).

  22. i dont reload but im getting ointo it slowly. i started by getting the dillon calender. yowzaaa!

  23. Chuck Findlay says:

    You don’t really need to weigh power charges. All factory rounds are measured by volume.

    I have a good power measure and trickler, but years of shooting a lot of ammo I reloaded myself in an attempt to get the most accurate group. What I have found is that the powder charge is not super important. I have loaded the exact round (same cases, same powder, same primer, same trim length on the case) and varied the powder up and down and a 1-grain difference didn’t make any change in group size. I did notice that the primer brand made a difference or a different powder made the group size and point of impact change as does bullet seating depth in rifle rounds.

    To work up a accurate load I change things and load up 20 rounds of each change and head to the range with 10 different changes and do testing.

    • recoveringidiot says:

      See if you can serch Creighton Audet (sp?) Ladder method. It will save you much time and many rounds finding the best load for a particular rifle. Not sure if it will work for pistol or not.

    • unknown suspect says:

      The gap between the bullet and the edge of the chamber makes a difference. Those that are using a drop-block receiver (Ruger #1) have the luxury of bringing the bullet right up to the edge of the chamber. The gap creates a condition of the bullet jumping out of the casing and into the chamber when it’s fired. This jump can effect accuracy. Unfortunately, bolt action and semi-autos cannot attain this because the cartridges have to be a standard left to fit into a magazine. Otherwise the tips of cartridges are dragging against the wall of the magazine.

      • Leade is possible with any rifle but more readily noticeable if it’s too long for the magazine, though most magazines have allowances built.

    • To a small point, you’re correct, Chuck- if you’re using black powder. Factories may charge by volume measure, but that volume is carefully controlled- powder weights vary very little from round to round. Too, the factory uses the optimum powder for a particular load, and when a mistake is made, entire lots are recalled, not just a particular box.
      Yes, primer brand will make a difference, especially with CCI primers. Powder will make a larger difference, especially if volume measured.
      All told, with the same primer, powder and case, changes as small as 1/2 grain will make a really big difference in point of impact in some rifles, especially precision rifles. My son’s .243, for instance, will open groups to inches with less than half a grain change.
      Bullet seating is a place to be cautious: seating it too deeply can cause excess pressures and seating it too far forward can excessively reduce the lead, building pressures- all changing the POI. So, yes, load several rounds the same, test, and test again.
      Be careful when reloading, especially for others.

  24. I vote “No, but I really want to get into it.” I have been interested for years but have been waiting on a good deal for the equipment. I shoot lots of 7.62 which wouldn’t be worth it, but I might shoot the AR more if I could reload rounds for cheap.

  25. Chuck Findlay says:

    JSW I do most of my precision target shooting with a Thompson Center Contender in several calibers, I have 14 barrels for it. My most accurate barrel and the one I most enjoy shooting is the 7-TCU, it’s a 5.56 Nato / 223 Remington case blown out to 7-MM. Through 20 years of shooting it I am able to get a 3/4 inch group at 200-yards, at least most times I can shoot it that well. I have loaded a lot of different loads with it over the years and I really don’t see the power charge (up and down 1/2 / 3/4 grain making a big difference in impact point. I shoot H-322 powder (H-322 was on sale in the early 1990s for $7.99 a pound and I bought 40 pounds over a 6-month time) it’s a bench rest powder and it gives me very good results in every small rifle case I use it in. In larger cases. In 22-250 and larger cases I use H-414 as it’s slower burning (longer burn time) and gives better results on the larger cases. It may be prone to the weight of the charge, but I don’t experiment as much with it. I stumbled on a few very accurate loads years ago and have stuck with them. I’n not arguing with your point about the powder weight, it’s just in my case I have not seen it.

    Other then the 357 Mag contender handgun reloading I don’t reload endless variants of loads like I do the 7-TCU. I don’t feel handguns are worth the time to spend endless hours playing with a load because handguns are not that accurate compared to a rifle round.

    I also enjoy single shot target shooting much more then loading up 14 rounds in my Beretta 9-mm handgun and ripping through them in 3 seconds. Nothing against burning through a lot of rounds quickly (I have lots of them to burn up if I want to.) but I’m more the target shooter type.

    As the saying goes :Any day you are burning powder is a good day”

  26. Like many others I’m a fan of Lee and RCBS. I have loaded in the hundreds of thousands of 45s on my Pro 1000 and would not trade it for the world. I’m a big fan of a great product at a great price. Not sure how many different calibers I have loaded over the years but definitely over 20. I have used a Dillon press and surely consider it to be one of the best presses for metallic cartridges ever made. Yet I have no complaints at all about my RCBS Partner and multiple Lee and MEC presses.

    I’m a believer in K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid!
    The easier the better. The more forgiving the better.
    Keep your machines clean and well lubed and they will provide you with years of reliable service.

    I must disagree with one thing said I believe that a pistol round can be just as accurate as a rifle at shorter distances. I can shoot 5 round 3/4″ groups with a 357 Mag all day @ 25, 50 and 75 yards, and still keep them inside 1″ out to 125 yards.
    I have a round for the 44 Mag that shoots equally well in a 7 1/2″ pistol and a 20″ barreled rifle.

    Any round can be accurate in well trained hands. Reloading allows you to find a happy spot for each round to find the best combination of speed, accuracy, penetration and reliability.

    Happy reloading!

  27. Jerry R Howell says:

    I use Lee equipment. Started out with the Lee Loaders and think everyone should have one in every caliber they own. I have the Lee Classic Cast Press. I use Lee dies, three set dies for my 357/38s and the four set dies for my friend’s 45ACP and 40S&W. I use a Redding Roll Crimp die for the revolver calibers.

    I also use my press for resizing 500S&W bullets, casted pure lead, to be paper patched for my 50cal muzzleloader. Speaking of casting, I cast my own bullets in the fore mentioned calibers plus 30/30 and 30/06. Lee equipment as well.

  28. I reload everything that I Shoot in Pistol & Rifle. But I do not reload Shotgun Shell’s. I use a Dillion RL550B progressive reloader. I reload 9mm & 45ACP in Pistols & In Rifle I reload 308, 30-06, 223 & I also reload my Swedish Mauser in a 6.5 x 55 mm. I do buy Ammo when I run across good deals but mostly reload. I shoot competition with several of my Rifles & Pistols so I try to pull as much accuracy out of my reloads as I can. Enjoy reloading and Shooting as you can see.

  29. The way I see it, there is no reason not to reload your own ammo, even if you don’t plan on reloading often. Even if it’s just for practice. Chances are that at some point you will need to know how and it will be better having already learned how, than learning on the go.

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