Common Sense – Reload Your Own Ammunition

By Tom McHale

We see the President talk about “Common Sense” stuff all the time, so why not a “Common Sense” look to reload your own ammunition?

Reloading your own Ammunition
Wait in line for M855? Nah, I make my own.

Tom McHale headshot low-res square

USA –-( I picked up the ammunition reloading bug about fifteen years ago — most likely by touching a copy of the Lyman Reloading Handbook at a local gun show. Who knows where that book was before I touched it? No wonder I caught a bug, always wash your hands people!

Since that day, I’ve reloaded billions and billions of rounds of rifle and pistol ammunition. Well, maybe not billions, but certainly enough to cause two-thirds of the members of Congress to scamper off to their therapist’s office or the nearest oxygen bar.

What do I have to show for it?

  • A family of very good shooters. They should be, as they collectively consume my reloaded ammunition faster than the space shuttle main engine burns liquid hydrogen.
  • A garage full of lead, brass, and millions of cartridges in various states of construction or deconstruction.
  • Lots of reloading toys!
  • Critically important experience that will come in handy when the Apocalypse comes and ammunition reloaders are treated like 13th-century sorcerers. Call me Merlin, bring me a fresh possum or two, and I just might share some ammo.
  • Total relaxation. For me, reloading is an enjoyable hobby. After a rough day, there’s nothing more soothing than assembling a batch of 6.8 Remington SPC or perhaps some lead bullet cartridges for my Springfield 1903A3. Boom.

Reloading is a great hobby if you’re cut out to enjoy that sort of thing. Yes, you can save money, but the real fun is the process and the satisfaction of being able to create the perfect ammunition for any of your firearms. With that in mind, I came up with a list of reasons you might want to consider reloading your own ammunition.

It’s a Way to Relax after Watching the NBC Nightly News.

Hornady handbook of reloading
What better way to relax than digging into a pile of reloading manuals?

I do find it amusing, that with all the “FAUX News” jokes, it seems to be NBC that keeps getting busted for actually fabricating news. Brian Williams fairy tales aside, they’re the ones who got caught doctoring George Zimmerman video and audio, and If I remember correctly, they’re also the news team who rigged General Motors side-saddle gas tanks to explode to make their Dateline expose more “enlightening.”

But that’s beside the point.

Trying to figure out if the news is real or not is a stressful endeavor. What better way to relax than to reload some ammo? Who knows, maybe it will inspire you to shoot an old TV set to pieces.

You Can Customize Your Ammo.

In the movies, custom ammo is kind of cool. In The Man with the Golden Gun, Scaramanga uses custom gold bullets. In the real world, custom ammo is more practical. Want less recoil in your competition pistol? No problem! Want to get your bolt-action rifle to shoot one half inch groups at 100 yards? No problem, assuming your rifle is up to the task. Want to hunt with ammunition you made yourself? Got that covered! Want to make light-recoil and inexpensive plinking loads for your old battle rifle? Piece of cake.

You Can Avoid The Ammo Shortage Stampedes.

At times, we’re all a bunch of thoughtless lemmings. One breath from someone with a dot gov email address about restricting ammo or guns, and we all rush off to the nearest store to clear the shelves of anything that goes bang. Just look at the latest kerfuffle over M855 green tip ammo. Turns out here’s nothing of substance happening on that front (yet), but we’re all hoarding ammo of virtually any caliber and prices are going through the roof.

Investors preach a strategy called dollar-cost averaging. The idea is that you don’t try to time your purchases to hit the lowest point of the market. You buy a little every month, and over time, your average cost represents a “fair and rational” price over time. You can certainly do the same thing with ammunition, but it’s kind of built-in with reloading. If you save your fired brass and purchase components like powder, primers and bullets over time when you need them, you’ll have supplies readily available at any given time. You won’t need to feel compelled to rush off to the nearest Ammo Panic World Bazaar Stampede sale when the next whiff of gun control efforts hit the news.

Reloading press
Don’t be fooled. You’ll never stop wanting new reloading toys once you start.

You Like Wearing Tinfoil Hats.

If you’re one of those types that won’t buy a gun because you don’t want to be on a government list, reloading might be for you. Yes, you have to buy components over time, but there’s a bit of a vague trail between random component purchases and ready-to-use ammunition.

Hey, if components like powder and primers become regulated, you can always get industrious and figure out how to make ammo by mixing Mentos and Diet Coke. As far as I know, you can buy as much candy and soda as you like without government intervention,,, except in New York City.

You Like To Spend Money On Gadgets.

I’m going to let you in on THE BIG LIE. Everyone talks about how you can save tons of money reloading. Your buddies who do reload have probably told you that they actually get paid by the International Monetary Fund to reload their own ammunition.

This myth about saving money persists because there is a nugget of truth in there. On a cost per round basis, if you don’t factor in the value of your time, you can save money by reloading your own ammo. It takes a little while, depending on your shooting volume, to recover the cost of the equipment you buy to get started, but even with that, you can come out ahead, in the long run.

Reloading brass storage
Think how happy your family will be when you start filling up the garage with brass casings!

Here’s the dirty little secret. You never stop buying reloading equipment.

As your volume and interest in the hobby both increase, you’ll find you want more gear and toys.

A case concentricity gauge? How could I have ever lived without that?

It’s A Great Excuse For Poor Shooting.

Don’t get me wrong, reloading your own ammo can help you get maximum possible accuracy out of any given gun. When you can tweak every dimension to the exact preferences of your rifle or handgun, you can really make it sing. Here, I’m talking about a total red herring. If you’re having a rough day at the range and getting hazed by your shooting buddies, you have an out. Just turn to them and say, “it’s no big deal, I’m working up a new hand load recipe for this gun, so I expected some anomalies.” They key to success here is the delivery. You’ve got to deliver that line with absolute confidence. You know. Bond… James Bond style. Using a fancy word like “anomalies” doesn’t hurt either.

But seriously, check it out, it is just “Common Sense“. In these days where Big Brother seems to want to be in control of every aspect of your life, think about asserting a little independence. Why subject yourself to the wild price fluctuations and buying frenzies? Wouldn’t you rather spend a few hours reloading your own as opposed to waiting in line for your rations?

If you want to get started reloading, consider checking out my book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Reloading Ammunition. It’ll teach you what you need to know to get safely started reloading your own.


Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Capn Jack

Pay Back Time I decided to beat the cost of copper Gas checks, approx. $35.00k so I bought a gas check cutter. $100.00 Right away I found it was very difficult to make it work in my RCBS jr. press, so I bought a 1 ton Arbor press.$50.00 The Arbor press was great, but the cutter kept falling over, so I had to buy some oversized drills and counter bore the press anvil to hold the cutter. $25.00 Now for material….. My local Sears has .014 aluminum flashing 50’x6″. You can special order it from their supplier, for $40.00 a… Read more »

john s richards

I cast my own bullet’s and reload my own ammo. very enjoyable hobby. some times getting powder can be a problem, especially living in a small town in NC. do a lot of online shopping! great article, keep it up!!!!

William B Schinella

I have been reloading for about 30 years and enjoy it very much and I some times have to have the latest gadget, but not always. I would like to know why nobody has any of the new Hodgdon recently introduced a new gunpowder to pistol shooters known as CFE Pistol. Every place I look it is listed but not available and almost every other powder listed on the sites is listed the same way!


Out of 100 shooters, how many are reloaders? Of those reloaders, how many are bullet casters? How many are bullet makers? Does anyone know these numbers? I’d guess that the numbers are shockingly low…


Count me as a caster. I enjoy it immensely.

Guy Burroughs

Another great article. Thank you for good particle common sense information. Tempted with reloading but it will never be a money saver based on what I know about myself. I’ll jump in eventually.

george bennett

If you live in NY it’s the way to go,they are getting rid of many firearm stores and going out of state is a pain.They will outlaw powder and primers soon,so stock up


I’m glad we moved out of NY years ago. Thank “GOD”! We are living in Va. now. They are really trying to suck up all the ammo out there. There are groups of people who try to buy up the powder and primers at the gun shows also. Ya gotta stay 3 steps ahead of them. Find a big time reloader who is licensed in your area and hook up with them. good luck. Yes I’m stocking up.

Grey Beard

I’ve been reloading and handloading since the 70’s and have my share of gadgets. But I’ve been pretty successful in warding off the “got to have it” bug on Most new tools. Once in a while with a new tool I do recognize the answer to an issue I’ve had or am having and Jump on it. Amortization of capital expenditures does take a lot of time, but I’ve done well as Most of my large purchases were done long ago (and with Much more valuable money) so time has helped a lot. I feel I’m in that “less expensive”… Read more »

Chuck Burns

Great article.
I got into reloading when Obama won re-election. I understood that the Progressives would go after guns and ammo during his second term. I discovered after getting into the hobby that I really enjoy reloading. So much so that I have actually purchased a few guns just to get a particular caliber to reload. I now reload .380, 9mm, 10mm, 357 Mag, 45ACP, 44 mag, .223, 7.62×39, 308, 3030, 35 Rem, and 444 Marlin. Great hobby.


I’ve actually started acquiring stuff to reload for calibers I don’t even own (yet), just in case someone in my tribe needs some rolled up. Very likely this will be a premier barter item in the not too distant future. If not, it’s still fun and relaxing.


The gadget part is so, so true for me. I have more than enough tools to cover every aspect of loading but as soon as I see a new gadget that interests me my mind becomes a master at blurring the line between “need” and “want”. My pocket book can tell you exactly which side usually wins.