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September 01, 2013

Gun Thread (9-1-13)

The Economics of Reloading

This topic comes straight out of the email queue from a reader who writes,

I mostly shoot walmart .22 long rimfire for practice to avoid expensive ammo.

My buddy reloads his .45 acp brass, so he can shoot what he carries.

I still think he is blowing $$ out his butt.

Confirmed or Busted?

There are actually two issues involved here. One is the "economics" question and the other is whether you should practice with something other than your carry gun. Let's tackle 'em both.

First, the economics. Walmart doesn't list ammo prices on its website, but let's stipulate that we're trying to save money here and just go for a good deal on bulk ammo somewhere. The Civilian Marksmanship Program (that President Go-It Alone is trying to kill, BTW), has some Aguila .22 available at a price of $260* for 5,000 rounds (or about $0.05/round).

Setting aside the cost of getting set up with reloading equipment for a minute, the cost of assembling a round of .45 ACP 230 gr. ball is about $0.25/round (based on bullet, powder and primer prices from MidwayUSA.com). So, much more expensive than bulk .22 (which we kind of already knew, right), but ... BUT! ... compared to about $0.44/round for a case of .45, the reloaded round is a good bit cheaper.

Presuming you spend $500 for a reloading press, dies, scale and assorted equipment, your breakeven point is about 2,700 rounds. Or, put another way, if you go to the range every other week and shoot 100 rounds through your trusty 1911, reloading pays for itself over the course of a year (give or take).

But what about the "value of your time"!!?? Meh. If you're reloading when you could be out making money, sure. But if you're reloading instead of keeping up with the Kardashians, the value of your time was obviously pretty low to begin with. And now you can listen to the AoSHQ Podcast while you reload, so you don't even have to miss out on the goings on at the HQ.

That said, I've never reloaded for the purpose of saving money so much as for being able to tailor rounds to a particular gun (e.g., pointed .30-30 bullets for my Contender). There's a "fun" element of reloading for gun enthusiasts that shouldn't be discounted.

Now to the second point ... should you practice with something different than your carry gun? I think this really depends on individual factors too numerous to put in the post. How much experience do you have in general? How familiar are you with your carry gun? How recoil sensitive are you? Are you planning to also shoot IPSC, IDPA, etc.?

In a perfect world, I'd say you shouldn't shoot anything other than a .22 until you have all the mechanics of aiming, breathing, trigger control, etc. completely down. But it isn't a perfect world and you may only have a carry gun in the budget, etc.

My usual trip to the range involves a .22, since I have a couple that I really like shooting (S&W 41 and 10/22), but I always have a centerfire too. And I usually take one of the carry guns but not always. However, I've been shooting for ... hmmm ... ~35 years. At this point, it isn't much of a struggle to switch between any of my guns since I'm very familiar with all of them. Most new shooters don't have this luxury and will take varying amounts of time to become thoroughly familiar with any particular firearm.

Where concealed carry is concerned, there's a tension between knowing how to shoot and knowing your gun. If you can afford it, I'd say shoot the carry gun exclusively until you're throughly familiar with it, but after that, IMO, time at the range is better than no time at the range, and if it's economics standing between you and getting there, go for the .22.

What say you, commenters?

* All prices reflected in this analysis ignore sales taxes and shipping & handling for simplicity's sake. They also presume normal availability of ammunition and components ... because a guy can dream, can't he ... and acknowledge that there are a thousand different ways you could go and get marginally different pricing on loaded ammo or components. The .45 ACP example here is illustrative, but the basic economics hold across calibers.

Gun Of The Week

For Ace: Is this a rifle or not? (video hint immediately below the fold)

(answer below)

Marksmanship Award

Gun Of The Week - Answer

That's a rifle. Good job, Ace. Bonus points for the rest of you who knew it was an M-14.

Charles C.W. Cooke on Bill Clinton's Voter ID Lie

Bill Clinton wags his finger and says it's easier to buy an assault rifle than it is to vote, and Salon.com dutifully gave this idiotic claim a Lewinsky. Cooke dismantles them both.

Yesterday, once again, the Internet was aflutter with the slippery words of Bill Clinton. “A great democracy,” the former president claimed, “does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon.” This is vintage stuff from Slick Willy: It contains just about enough truth to seem credible while leaving a distinct and outsized — and thoroughly misleading — impression upon the listeners, most of whom will never bother to check the facts.


What Clinton and Seitz-Wald are ultimately arguing is this: “Providing that you live in one of the states that have not banned ‘assault weapons’ and in which private sales are not covered by background checks and you choose not to purchase through a gun store or a licensed dealer, then, in what is currently seven, but may soon be thirteen, states, you may have to jump through fewer hoops to get hold of your firearm than you would to vote.”

This is not quite as catchy as the original, I grant you.


If there are topics you're interested in seeing in the gun thread, please send them to AoSHQGunThread at gmail. You can also send them to me on Twitter at @AndyM1911.

The owner's manual for your concealed carry permit: The Law of Self Defense

Defend the Second Amendment. Join: The National Rifle Association * Gun Owners of America * The National Shooting Sports Foundation * Your state's second amendment org.

Celebrate America's firearms heritage: participate in Project Appleseed.

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