Reloading .45 ACP ammo

Discussion in 'Ammo & Reloading' started by JeremyC, Jul 7, 2012.

  1. JeremyC

    JeremyC New Member

    With the high prices of ammo and being a college student with my only income being the Army National Guard i am on a tight budget. I love to shoot and am looking into reloading but have some questions. My main question, will it be worth it to reload .45 ACP? If so how does one get started?
  2. G-23

    G-23 Premium Member

    I hear ya pain. Costs have skyrocketed in the last five years for everything. Your not in this boat alone Jeremy. And we still need a hobby to some degree to help refresh ourselves from time to time.

    Reloading and shooting are two good hobbies as they can provide us with a good skill, quality and quiet time. Not to mention we are helping to keep the shooting areas picked up and in general just good stewardship for our sport.

    I know (well, at least I think I do) where your question is headed but before we get into cost and savings let's look at the first basic step.


    I think the number one reason more shooters don't reload is because they are untrained in how easy and safe it can be. Learning the procedures on any rig is as easy as throwing some hard earned cash at a distrubutor and jerking on their rig, making rounds. But many folks find out after buying the equipment, for whatever reason, it isn't what they need in the long run.

    I would hate for you to go buy a SUV when what you really need is a small pickup truck. Reloading is alot like that. Simply put, do you just look into the future and ask, "What direction in my life is shooting going to go?" Sure. Then focus on the idea that you're going to only shoot pistols/revolvers or long guns. There are simple and complicated presses for all this alone, not to mention shotguns.

    OK I've bore you enough, I would say pick up a cheap book that details reloading in general or maybe find a class that teaches the basic NRA Guide to Reloading. I help teach the latter one at my gun club. Prices for education, like the level of expertise, or instructor knowledge can vary so check around. But books can't get you the practical experience that hands on training provides. Buddy that is confidence just like what you get in the Guard!

    But that is what I did and it gave me a solid ground plane to work from simply because I now know HOW to ask the stupid questions (and there's still none, really!) with some knowledge of the correct terms, procedures and safety factors involved.

    As a basic reloader for the pistol and rifle rounds I use, I can utilize either a single or progressive reloader with confidence after briefly studing an owners manual.

    Of course, safety is paramount. Safety is easy, if you guide it with education.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2012

  3. I couldn't shoot my 45acp(or any other center fire ctg. for that matter) if I didn't reload and cast my own bullets. Once you've got brass and if you cast your own bullets all you'll have into the price of a box of ammo is primers and powder. Powder is about $24 bucks a lb including tax so for a 6.0gr charge you're looking at about .02 cents per round. Primers have gone sky high, last ones I bought cost me $4.40/100 with tax(OUCH!!) so if you do the math you'll be into a 45acp round for about 6.4 cents or $3.20 a box if you cast your own bullets.
    If you don't cast your own and have to buy em' then you can add another $45 bucks per 500 plus shipping, say about $13 for "IF it Fits It Ships" shipping by USPS. Most bullet manufactures do it that way so you can actually order up to 2000 45cal bullets and still only pay the $13 for shipping which will help cut costs. Still, if you just get the 500 we'd be at 11.6 cents a bullet which drives cost up quite a bit. Still, we'd be talking $9 bucks per box which is about half of what you'd pay at WalMart for WWB or UMC stuff.
    You can pick up a Lee Anniversary Kit in one caliber for about $100 bucks, that'll get you started. Upgrade as you see the need to so you can spread the cost out over time but at least getting the Kit you'll have everything you need to start with to get your feet wet.
    If you do need brass there's a couple places online with pretty good deals on Once Fired brass, IIRC I paid $65 bucks for 1000 cases.
    The really neat thing about reloading isn't only the savings, you can also custom taylor your loads to your gun. I've been reloading for about 32 years now and still have a lot of stuff I bought back in the late '80's. If you take care of your equipment it'll last a lifetime so once you get your initial investment "paid off" by the savings you get from loading it's all gravy from that point on.
    Hit the Midway USA or Graf & Sons web site and look around for a Kit and get busy saving some cash, you'll be glad you did and wonder why you didn't do it sooner. ;)
  4. Happysniper1

    Happysniper1 New Member

    A couple of questions that will point you in the right direction in regards to deciding whether or not to get into reloading are:

    1. Do you have the disposable income available to invest in reloading equipment? After all is paid for and brought home, this can be in the $1,000 range. If you settle for a simple and inexpensive (note: didn't say "cheap") reloading press, you may find yourself wishing you got that fancy-shmancy progressive when you had the money. That being said, I still use a simple but reliable RCBS single-stage press that I bought many many years ago...does the job, not as quickly as a progressive, but it does the job.

    2. Do you have the time to dedicate to the reloading processes? This involves case preparation (cleaning, polishing, measuring and trimming, etc), as well as actually cranking the ammo out. Several hours each weekend, or a weekend every month or so.

    3. Will you be reloading for more than one caliber? Some reloading presses are only good for pistol ammo, so if you end up getting one of these, forget reloading rifle ammo. BUT, as a general rule, if you reload more than one pistol caliber, it becomes worth the investment right away.

    4. Do you understand that reloading does not make the ammunition free? It only makes it more affordable since you are not paying yourself for the labor, so you only buy components (example: 1 lb of gunpowder contains 7,000 grains of powder, at 6.0 grains per load, that one pound can load over 1,100 rounds, and costs only about $29; .45 plated RN bullets cost about $37 for a box of 500; a box of primers (Winchester Large Pistol) costs about $40 for 1,000, so not counting cases and labor you are looking at $143 to reload 1,000 bullets).

    If the answer to all questions is YES, then you can begin now to convince yourself to get into reloading.

    It is a fun hobby to get into as a support hobby to shooting, and nothing will delight you more than having several thousands of rounds put away in your garage when ammo becomes scarce on the shelves at stores, or going shooting with buddies and when they run out of their store-bought ammo you still have thousands of rounds in ammo cans in the back of your truck! Whooo-hoooo! The look of envy is priceless! :D Of course, being a buddy, you'll probably give them a couple hundred rounds each to "tide them over" (and maybe accept their cash donations), and then make everyone pick up brass for you!

    You will at first rely on other reloaders' advice, but once you start, you will develop your own flavor of the reloading process. I know the method I use will not work for others, but it is how I choose to do it. So ask all the questions you can think of, and any others along the way, before you spend that first dollar!

  5. Tape

    Tape New Member

    I bought a 50ct box of .45ACP for 12.50, Blazer alum cased, I am sure you reload a little cheaper than that but is it worth your time?
  6. Happysniper1

    Happysniper1 New Member

    Exactly my point.

    It is worth it to me, especially for multiple calibers, but it may not be worth it for others.

    I have heard of shooters who eventually got disgusted with the cost (like I said, reloading does not make the ammo free) or with all that was involved in reloading, that they got rid of their rigs. Check Craigslist in your area, you may find a lot of people getting rid of reloading gear.
  7. Tape

    Tape New Member

    I believe most are selling their rigs is because it is not worth their time.
    that would be my argument plus the other very good points you brought up.
  8. Happysniper1

    Happysniper1 New Member

    It's kinda like when the wife goes and buys a designer handbag "on sale" at $880, and tells me she saved 20%, so I tell her to show me the money she saved by buying the handbag....she just gives me an evil stare and cooks liver for dinner. :rolleyes:

    If it's something you really want (reloading) then the savings in components is there, it ain't much, and it certainly isn't enough to pay yourself minimum wage to do the reloading.

    I do it because I don't care about paying myself to do it: the payoff is in the shooting as well as the pride and comfort of knowing I have enough ammo to start a small war if I needed to.

    Additionally, with a good chrony (like the RCBS AmmoMaster), I can tweak my loads the way I want for the shooting that I like to fit the gun I want to use. I can load plated flat points to max velocity for steel plate, plated flat point or round nose to medium velocities for paper, or hollow points for max expansion. I can shoot ammo that doesn't care if it is 120*F out there, or below freezing. I can use powder with low flash so I don't get blinded at night. I can shoot powders with low residue so no smoke and reduced gunk to clean outta my gun. Whatever. The ammo then complements the gun that complements my shooting style.

    Hope that helps somebody!

  9. For me reloading is a relaxing hobby that I enjoy so the "time" element doesn't really matter anymore then the "time" a person would take to play a round of golf or go jogging would matter.
    Even though Progressive presses aren't "Rocket Science" to operate I still think it's best for a person who's new to reloading to start on a single stage just to keep things simple until they get the hang of what it's all about.
    I've been loading on an RCBS Partner Press that I picked up over 20 years ago on sale for $27 bucks. Still using my RCBS 5-0-5 powder scale too, got that in '87. Take care of your equipment and it'll last a good, long time.
    One nice thing about the Kits is that you get pretty much all the equipment you need to get started. Granted it's sometimes not the top of the line stuff but you're not paying top of the line prices either. $100 bucks for the kit and another $30 for a set of dies and you'll have everything you need to get started. Just pick up some primers($3.99/100 around here), powder(Unique is $22/lb here) and bullets and you can load your brass back up and have ammo on hand.
    I've never had to trim any of my handgun brass since most semi-auto brass will actually get shorter with use, not longer like a bottle neck rifle case will.
    My procedure is as follows.
    1)Put brass in case tumbler and clean.
    2)Size and De-Prime then Neck Expand.
    3) Using my RCBS "Handi" primer I'll prime my cases.
    4)Sit down and Cast some bullets, lube, size then re-lube them so they're ready to load.
    5)Adjust my powder measure so I'm throwing the right charge of powder, install my seater/crimp die then load powder, place bullet on case, seat and crimp then once I'm done I clean all the lube off of the outside of the bullet so they look pretty,LOL.
    If you're using Jacketed or Plated bullets you can skip step 4 and you won't have to clean up the lube so that makes things go faster.
  10. Happysniper1

    Happysniper1 New Member

    And with step4 above, first replace your factory Glock barrel with an aftermarket barrel safe for bare lead bullets....
  11. And unless you want to spend time with your Dremel opening up the barrel throat get a KKM barrel. Not that the LWD barrel for my G30 isn't good, it's just their barrel throats are way too small. They need to open them up to .452" for about the first .050" after the chamber so you can shoot standard length ammo in em'.;)
    Of course I've also read about a lot of folks shooting lead ammo out of their factory Glock barrel without problems, you just need to make sure you clean the heck out of it before you shoot jacket stuff later on. Still, I went with a replacement barrel with regular rifling just to be on the safe side.:)
  12. Happysniper1

    Happysniper1 New Member

    Amen to that!

    ROYALE-W-CHEESE New Member

    Cost not withstanding, what specific setup would (or do) you use? Your dream setup, as it were.
  14. Even if you get a quality single stage it'll not be totally useless once you pony up the funds for a progressive. You can still use it with the Lee Sizing dies for bullet sizing or for test runs of a new load or for case forming. A single stage press always has uses around the loading bench.
    I've still got 400 rounds of my 1100 left to load but I'm not in any hurry. I have to cast bullets for it once I buy some wheel weights then I have to get those bullets prepped by lubing and sizing them. For me Bullet Casting and Reloading is a fun, relaxing hobby, don't really care if it takes me a while to load up a box, it's not about speed for me. If it were I'd get a Dillon Square Deal "B" or 550B and load up 600-800 rounds in an hour but then I'd not having "Thinking Time" and once I was done I'd just have extra time on my hands to sit around and get bored.
    Once you get your ammo on hand, say 1000 rounds and if you only shoot a box or two a month then a good single stage would work out great for you since all you're really going to do is keep your ammo supply topped off. If on the other hand you'll be shooting a lot of IPSC, IDPA and GSSF events where you're going through 2000 or more rounds a month then you very well may actually need a progressive press just to keep up with ammo supply and to free up your time to go and shoot those events.
    That's the cool thing about reloading, you can make it what YOU want it to be for you, from mild to wild, 100 rounds a month to 5000 rounds a month. It's all up to you as to what you get and how involved you want to become.
    Regardless of if you can get 45acp for $12.50 a box and it'll cost you $9 a box to load it as long as you've got primers, powder and bullets on hand you'll have ammo even when the WalMart shelves run out of the $12.50 a box stuff and if you get into Bullet Casting then you just need to stock a boat load of primers, powder and wheel weights or other casting lead and you'll never run out of ammo until your supplies dry up.
    Also, if you think about it, in a SHTF situation most folks will grab up all the loaded ammo but will leave the primers and powder so after they've shot up they're ammo you'll still be reloading stuff to hunt with and protect yourself with.
    I don't think I can ever get out of reloading and just depend on store bought stuff, reloading is way too much fun and helps to cut costs and I can dang sure know I'll have ammo as long as the primers and powder holds out.
  15. Happysniper1

    Happysniper1 New Member

    If I were to start over and get a "dream setup", I would get the Hornady Lock-N-Load progressive with the motorized case and bullet feeders and accessory bins, motorized case prep center (Hornady or RCBS), and the stainless steel rod cleaning system for case cleaning.

    But that's just me....
  16. dutchs

    dutchs Well-Known Member

    Like this???? hornady 2.jpg

    Hornady 3.jpg

  17. Happysniper1

    Happysniper1 New Member

  18. My Dream press would have to be Dillon. I pulled the handle on a couple 1050's at Caswell's Shooting Range in Mesa, AZ. for about a year to earn some part time cash loading range ammo for them. Awesome press, Lifetime Warranty, Excellent Customer Service. Yep, Dillon for me, thanks. ;)
  19. dutchs

    dutchs Well-Known Member

    Kolchak: The Night Stalker night stalker.jpg

    Watch out!!!
  20. Happysniper1

    Happysniper1 New Member

    Oh, and another thing I failed to add....RCBS Tungsten Carbide dies.

    Most reloading rigs that I know of can accept the dies from other brands, and I absolutely love the customer support I have gotten from RCBS, even to the point once that they made and sent me a bullet seater insert for 9mm that fit right with the plated RN bullets I no charge.

    RCBS is great that way, just let them know (via email from website or contact form from website) if there is a problem and they will make it right for you no questions asked!

    Jes thought I'd toss that in as well....