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Thread: Surprising 9mm Reloading Cost Calculations

  1. #1

    Surprising 9mm Reloading Cost Calculations

    I'm posting this for the benefit of the community and also inviting some criticism as well to use as a learning experience - either to show that I am missing something in my calculations or that I need to consider a different approach.

    Bottom line - With my current system, I am basically paying more to reload my own 9mm range/plinking ammo than buying remanufactured. My current system and costs aren't perfect so feel free to comment.

    Current costs:

    Brass - Starline 9mm Brass is currently $130 per 1,000 (or .13 per case). I shot 300 rounds yesterday and was only able to retain 45% of the cases at the range. I started not picking up other people's brass due to in the past accidentally mixing in .380 rounds and also getting some split cases when reloading due to not knowing how often a case was shot. Decided I would try experimenting with buying brand new cases and seeing how long they would last.

    With a 55% lost brass factor, I am able, if my calcs are correct, to get 1,811 shots out of every 1,000 cases (after 7 iterations of factoring 45% retention, you get down to 8 cases left). Basically that equals a cost of .07 per case for Starline Brass purchased new.

    Primers - Typically average around .03 per primer locally when you include tax.

    Powder - About .02 per round (5 grains of powder at around $30 per lb after tax. I could get this lower buying in bulk but not sure how much difference it would make).

    Bullets - Currently using Xtreme plated 115 grain. Lots of 500 run about .08 a round.

    Total Costs per round:

    Brass - .07
    Primers - .03
    Bullets - .08
    Powder - .02

    Cost per round - .20

    Remanufactured ammo with any shipping costs and tax is typically around .20 a round. Plus if I reuse 45% of the cases down the road, cost goes down further.

    So here is my current thinking - buy 9mm remanufactured ammo (or low cost new ammo like CCI Blazer Brass) and shoot for awhile and accumulate cases. Once I have enough cases, use those to reload and basically eliminate (sort of) the brass cost in reloading.

    So fire away - feel free to point out any inaccuracies, areas of improvement, and your own current thinking on reloading 9mm range/plinking ammo.

    I may just switch to reloading revolver rounds exclusively until I build up enough 9mm cases since of course you retain 100% of the brass with revolvers.
    Last edited by FPS; 11-15-2016 at 03:09 PM.

  2. #2
    Jesus loves you! Luke's Avatar
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    I stopped at the word starline. Have you lost your mind?


    Edit: went back and finished it.

    I've never bought brass, and I've never had any of the issues you describe. I can feel the instant a .380 makes it onto my shell plate, I stop and grab it and throw it in a bucket. Where is the brass splitting? It sounds like a lack of QC before loading is causing your issues.

    Buy coated lead Bullets in bulk and get them for 6.5cents, switch to tight group or ETR7 and make that pound go farther for cheaper per pound prices. I'm at like 9 cents a round, for quality anmo tailored to my gun and desired PF.

    Also, $130 will buy a ton of used brass. Like 10,000+
    Last edited by Luke; 11-15-2016 at 03:19 PM.
    i used to wannabe

  3. #3
    I stopped at the word starline. Have you lost your mind?
    I assume you've already decided on the answer to that question The purpose of posting was to learn a better way. Would you mind offering some helpful advice?
    Last edited by FPS; 11-15-2016 at 03:14 PM.

  4. #4
    Hobbyist JAD's Avatar
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    Once fired 9mm brass is available from Southernbellebrass . Com for about half of what you're paying. Use a tarp when shooting and sort through your stuff; mark all your loaded rounds with a sharpie across the headstamp. You should retain 80% or better. Brass should therefore be costing you well under $0.02 a round. That brings you to $0.15 per round, or $150 per case. I don't shoot re manufactured ammo -- search this forum for mentions of Freedom Munitions to see why -- nor steel case stuff, so to me the competition is stuff like Geco for around $230 a case shipped. It's up to you to decide whether $80/k is worth your time. For me it's not; I reload .45, super, and .38.

  5. #5
    Site Supporter GreggW's Avatar
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    No doubt.

    Your brass and bullets are killing you. Use whatever used brass you can find, sort it, clean it, and don't worry about it. You're loading 9mm not .308. I rarely find split cases. When I do it's usually nickle cases.

    Extreme bullets are nice but if you are trying to save money go to a coated lead bullet. I've used Blue Bullets and Bayou and have been happy with both. There are other options.

    One more thing. This won't save you a lot of money but what power are you using? 5.0 grains seems like a lot unless you are loading for major or using a powder I'm not familiar with. In the grand scheme of things powder doesn't have a big effect on your overall cost, but, if you can switch to say 231, HP38, even Bullseye, you will save a little money. I'm currently using 4.0 of 231 and it works really well. It's $22-$24 dollars a pound locally.

  6. #6
    Thanks. Cant spread a tarp at the indoor range so once it goes over the divider or forward of the line, it is gone. Shooting outdoors is inconvenient and adds a time cost to factor in but I appreciate the tips for when I am able.

    Re: 380 rds, they dont creep in often but when they do, it just slows down the reloading process. Not a huge factor but I was trying to eliminate.

    Re: split cases, only had a couple out of about 10,000 reloads, no idea what caused it, was assuming the brass I had been picking up reached the end of its lifespan.
    Last edited by FPS; 11-15-2016 at 03:24 PM.

  7. #7
    I'm meh at best.
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    Use range pickup, and re-run the calculations. There's absolutely no need for star line brass unless you're loading to major (and even then, it's a lost brass situation). Seriously, range pickup, toss it in the tumbler for a few hours or let it run overnight. That's where you're messing up.

    You should be doing some QC on your finished ammo, as sometimes you'll find a split case or .380 - I find it easier to hunt for .380's when it's completed if you don't have a shock bottle case gauge (does 100 at a time, finds any rounds that aren't perfect). Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're buying new brass because you don't trust your QC measures and are trying to eliminate a potential problem.

    One way to address this while keeping speed is get a Mr. Bulletfeeder, and adjust the feeding die to barely get activated by 9x19 - .380 won't drop a bullet and will be painfully apparent, remove and move on. 9x18 occasionally drops the bullet - but again, it comes down to driving home that QC is important - and sometimes having the right tool helps dramatically.

    It costs me less than $4.50 for a box of 50 9mm. I use range pickup, including after IPSC and IDPA matches. Bullets are home-cast from wheel weights. My buddy buys his bullets (I think Rainer, but might be Berries) and bulk 80 pounds of sorted brass online, and it costs him about 8 bucks per 50.

    http://shockbottle.com

    Snag one of those bad boys. I load it up, cull out anything that isn't a 9x19, put anything that doesn't fit into the practice pile, and then flip the gauge over into my box (bullets pointing up), then put another box on this and flip it (first box becomes a flipper, basically).
    Last edited by jeep45238; 11-15-2016 at 03:24 PM.
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  8. #8
    Jesus loves you! Luke's Avatar
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    How much are you shooting? If you don't shoot much it may be better to simplify your life and just buy it.

    Also, idk of its 650xl specific, but if you can't feel a .380 in the sizing die I'd think your either not paying attention or going too fast.
    Last edited by Luke; 11-15-2016 at 03:26 PM.
    i used to wannabe

  9. #9
    This won't save you a lot of money but what power are you using? 5.0 grains seems like a lot unless you are loading for major or using a powder I'm not familiar with
    I'm just working up loads out of the manuals with the powder I have. I started reloading when components were hard to find after Newton so I didn't have ideal powder available. I think I started with SR4756 and once I ran out of that, moved on to Longshot since I found a ton for 10mm (its dirty and not ideal). I do have a couple pounds of HP-38 so I can switch over to that.

    Current QC on finished ammo is spot checking with a 7 hole EGW chamber checker (was too cheap when starting out to buy the 100 hole version) and I check the primers for proper depth. Maybe the 100 rd case gauge is the way to go in order to eliminate some of the costs I am incurring on the front end.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're buying new brass because you don't trust your QC measures and are trying to eliminate a potential problem.
    It was more of collecting advice here and there on the Internet than anything, trying to shore up my ignorance. It is hard to find guides that spell it all out for you when you are starting so I filled in the holes with my own research. Apparently I didn't fill them in in the most efficient way

    How much are you shooting? If you don't shoot much it may be better to simplify your life and just buy it.
    Between my wife and I, 600-1,000 rds a month depending on if we are taking a class or not. Basically a couple short reloading sessions a month takes care of it with the XL650 (don't want to spend more time than that for 9mm).

    Also, idk of its 650xl specific, but if you can't feel a .380 in the sizing die I'd think your either not paying attention or going too fast.
    I don't feel them, although I had one fly out of station 1 once having come down the tube upside down. I tend to watch the Hornady powder cop, maybe I should move to an RCBS lockout die (yeah, i want a powder checker) so my eyes can be a bit more freed up.

  10. #10
    Member
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    Like others have said, it depends on how much you shoot. My per round cost for 9mm is about .11 each, excluding brass, for 124 grain plated FP bullets that run about 1134 fps out of a G19. I could save a cent and a half per round by using cast bullets but cleanup is a little more difficult and the Glock bore and chamber must be inspected at least every 100 rounds to detect leading. Dardas 127 grain cast bullets sized at .358 work fine in my G19 and my Beretta. No leading to speak of.
    Last edited by deputyG23; 11-15-2016 at 04:05 PM.

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