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Reloading is rapidly becoming a more common hobby, especially for common firearm enthusiasts like 9 mm or M16 owners. Today, let’s get into the cost to reload 9 mm ammunition both initially and over the long run.
Before You Reload – Reasons to Consider
Reloading offers a plethora of benefits to anyone who takes the time and effort to learn the craft. But saving money is the only reason to reload, and it may end up being more economical to purchase manufactured ammunition rather than reload your own 9 mm casings depending on several factors.
This is why it’s important to consider why you should reload beyond saving money. Reloading comes with additional advantages that make it worth the time and effort for most people.
For instance, reloading your own ammo allows you to customize the powder or primer you use, which can enable you to change the way a 9 mm round works with your chosen pistol. Or you can use different sizes of casings or powder weights to further personalize your firearm’s performance (although these aspects are best left to those who have lots of experience reloading their own ammo).
In short, reloading can save you money but it’s all of the benefits combined that make it worth your while.
How Much to Get Started?
This is an inherently tricky question answer because there are lots of factors that will go into your initial start-up costs. It depends on how often you can get 9 mm brass casings, what tools you might already have, the local rate for powder, and so on.
For instance, you’ll need brass casings to get started with, and you might have already been collecting casings before starting on your reloading journey in anticipation of this moment.
Typical factory loaded ammunition for 9 mm casings runs for anywhere around $.10-$.15 per round depending on the manufacturer in question. This means you can usually get a 50 round box for around 10 bucks or so or a 1000 round case for under $200.
Many don’t consider these initial costs as part of the overall cost of reloading 9 mm ammo, but they absolutely are. You’ll be better equipped to start reloading in earnest if you’ve been collecting your brass casings from your earlier shooting sessions all the while. Even if you have, you’ll still need to purchase new brass casings sooner or later.
Brass casings can be purchased from recycling or ammunition centers for anywhere between $.75 to one dollar per pound or even a little more expensive. It all depends on where you source your brass and the quality of the casings when you receive them. Keep this initial startup cost in mind as we move on to other factors.
This is a cost you’ll have to eventually add even if you purchase new brass casings that haven’t ever been fired before. Cartridge case cleaners are what you’ll use to clean out casings you’ve already expelled from your firearm; they remove the loose powder residue or any other debris your brass might have picked up as it hit the ground. This doesn’t necessarily make your brass shiny but it does get rid of any dirt that might interfere with the reloading process.
Brass case cleaners are usually bowls that rely on vibrations and a special cleaning solution to adequately clear away all the dirt and residue. They can run anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars depending on the model you choose. Or you can go extremely economical and start with a bucket and clean the cases yourself, though this takes a lot more time.
The next major component of the reloading process for 9 mm ammo is a reloading press. You don’t have to get anything particularly fancy, especially if you’re just starting out. In fact, if you’re a beginner to the reloading craft, you’d be better off picking up a simple and inexpensive single stage reloading press. These don’t have as many moving components and are easier to handle and understand.
Reloading presses are devices that use mechanical power to squish components together. In the reloading process, they:
- press cases against decapping pins to push out bold primers
- press cases into resizing dies which re-forges the brass back into their original dimensions
- press new primers into empty primer pockets
- press casings against expanding dies that open the mouth to allow you to insert a new bullets
- press the bullet down into the casing itself
- finally crimp the casing around the bullet to remove the bell
As you can see, a reloading press is a necessary device for any reloading ammunition session. Single-stage presses only operate on a single case and perform a single operation at a time. You’ll have to load your ammunition in batches: resizing all of your cases, then priming all the cases, then adding powder and so on. This can become tedious but it’ll be helpful for beginners as it’ll teach you the correct reloading routine.
Reloading presses can be purchased from around $100 and up and still be in decent quality. You can get a more expensive reloading press later once you’re more experienced with reloading as a whole.
Remember those dies we mentioned above? You’ll definitely need a set of these. Reloading dies are steel cylinders that are used as inserts with the reloading press apparatus. The interiors of various reloading dies are cut specifically to match the shapes of your cartridges. This means you’ll need special 9 mm reloading dies in order to effectively reload 9 mm ammo.
Reloading dies screw into the reloading press, and there are three major types in a full set: decapping and resizing dies, expanding dies, and seating and crimping dies. You need a set of all three in order to accomplish every aspect of the reloading process.
These cost around $50 at market value and if you want to get something that’ll last for a long time to come. We’d recommend not skimping on the dies, as they can affect the quality of your final ammunition unlike any other component.
Every round of ammunition you create needs powder, so you’ll need a good scale in order to adequately reload and customize your 9 mm ammunition. If you charge your cartridges with too much or too little powder, you can end up creating dangerous ammunition that has the potential to cause misfires or worsen your accuracy.
Because powder is measured in units of grains (or about 1/7000 of a pound), you need a pretty specific scale in order to adequately measure the amount of powder down to the grain. There are both traditional beam or mechanical scales and electronic scales. Electronic scales are a little more expensive but are exceptionally reliable and easy to use, whereas mechanical scales are a little cheaper off the bat and never need batteries.
All in all, a good powder scale will cost you around $50-$75 depending on the model you choose. You may already have a scale for cooking or for other home hobby needs; in this case, you can use that scale provided it goes down to the grain measuring amount.
Many reloading starter kits don’t include calipers, which is a big issue. In our eyes, calipers are a must-have component of any full reloading kit. In a nutshell, calipers accurately measure casings and other things, allowing you to fine-tune your reloading process.
Basically, 9 mm reloading sessions require that you accurately measure the overall cartridge like. This helps you make sure that your bullets are seated correctly and that you don’t reduce the interior case volume 2 drastically. Calipers can help you ensure that these values are set properly, and they can help you check the diameter of your cases.
Calipers cost around $40 either in digital or analog format. Go for digital if you want something super precise or analog if you like tools that don’t run on batteries.
We’d always recommend that you get your hands on a good reloading manual before ever attempting your first reloading session. Reloading manuals have the best combinations for various calibers, powder and primer types, and bullet types and weights. They’re essential if you want to combine your 9 mm casings with the right kind of powder and primer for the best results.
The good news is that most reloading kits come with reloading manuals included in the purchase. You can also purchase reloading manuals online or from source for about $25.
Putting It All Together
So, what’s the total cost to reload 9 mm ammunition so far? When you add together all the components we’ve discussed at this point, you end up with a general total between $300 and $500 depending on the quality of various devices and whether you may or may not have some of the tools (like a powder scale) on hand already. This also doesn’t take into account the requirement for brass, which may be expensive or cheap depending on your current brass supply.
So $300-$500 is a good starting amount for reloading 9 mm ammunition. It sounds like an expensive ask upfront, but it may end up being more affordable in the long run.
In fact, it’s usually more affordable to reload your own ammunition as you fire more rounds. The thing about ammunition reloading is that it becomes more affordable and cost-effective as your economy of scale goes up.
Basically, it costs a few cents less in total to reload a single 9 mm round than it does to purchase a new 9 mm round. Of course, a few cents isn’t a lot of savings by anyone’s account. If you only fire 100 rounds of ammunition in a month, it’s much more cost-effective to purchase manufactured ammo.
But what if you fire 10,000 rounds of ammo every month? Reloading your own ammunition will eventually save you hundreds of dollars.
Let’s break down a basic example. Brownell sells a 100 box of 9 mm Luger ammo for $22.99 at $.23 per round. You could theoretically reload your ammunition for about $.14-$.15 per round, meaning you’ll save between eight or nine cents for every round of ammunition. These savings can eventually add up over time. Over 1000 rounds fired, you’ll end up saving a minimum of 8000 cents or $800.
However, you also have to consider the initial start-up costs, which can be quite high for those on a tighter budget. That’s why grabbing reloading starter kits are often an economical solution. Reloading kits like the Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit have all the components you need to start reloading immediately and even come with special instruction manuals to help you get your bearings.
What about ongoing costs? Powders that work well with 9 mm weapons can run anywhere from $15 to $25 for a single box. Meanwhile, primers are similar, with a box of 500 ranging anywhere from $25-$33. Then you always have to take casing costs into account, which we covered earlier.
In total, after you have your reloading kit set up, it’ll likely cost you about $75-$100 to reload a hundred to a few hundred rounds. Again, you end up saving a handful of dollars per batch, but this can easily add up to hundreds of dollars if you fire thousands of rounds over several months.
So how much does it cost to reload 9 mm ammunition consistently? It’ll cost you at least $300 to get started and it’ll then cost you anywhere between $75 to $100 to reload a traditional “box” amount of ammunition of around 50 to 100 rounds.
In the end, the potential savings you can enjoy from reloading your own 9 mm ammunition shouldn’t be underestimated. Many hobbyist marksmen or target shooters enjoy making their own ammunition because of their lifetime savings and their ability to customize their own pistol rounds. It’s a great way to feel more connected to the hobby and save some cash in the long run.
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