Real cost to reload .380?

Discussion in 'P-3AT' started by RCACFBilly, May 8, 2009.

  1. RCACFBilly

    RCACFBilly New Member

    Mar 29, 2008
    Like so many others, I have considered reloading for my P-3AT but I don't think it would be a very good economic decision. Could some of you who actually do reload tell me the cost for .380 fmj rounds? I am also interested in an approximate number of rounds to pay for the equipment, supplies, etc. before any real savings could be realized. It seems that unless someone shots lots of rounds it is much cheaper to buy ammo, if it is ever available again. Since my wife has a .38 I would need another set of dies to load for her. More $$$.

    Thanks, Billy
  2. ChasF

    ChasF Member

    Feb 14, 2009
    Like the answer to almost all of life's question, the answer to yours is, "It depends......."

    I reload primarily 9mm, .357, and .223, and here are some representative numbers:
    Powder - 1 lb (7000 grains) - $25
    Bullets - $22/100
    Primers - $2/100 (old price from last year when they still grew on trees)
    Brass - $0 (I reload brass that I bought factory loaded)

    If you use a powder charge of 7 grains (it makes the numbers easy) you will get 1000 loads from a pound, which means $0.025 per round. Bullet is $0.22 per round, and primer is $0.02 per round. The grand total is $0.245 per round. The 380 cost should be fairly close to that; and recall that this reflects prices in my area and from when I last bought primers and powder, so the current price may be higher.

    When ammunition costs 50 cents and up per round, reloading seems quite attractive if you can find the components. The savings applied to offset the equipment cost is obviously the difference between factory ammunition cost and your production cost. Thus you could be saving 25 cents or more per round to offset the press and other equipment.

    Since cost of equipment is variable (not least according to what you think you need), the payback time will vary. For example, if you can equip yourself for $200, then you will need to reload at least 800 rounds to "recover" the cost (at 25 cents avoided cost per round.) After that, maybe, you'll start to save money.

    Hope this helps.

  3. billjohnso20

    billjohnso20 Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
    Getting started is a cost it takes years to recoup. That being said, reloading is the way to go. When you subtract the start up cost, it is cheaper to reload. That, however, is not why I reload. I reload because I enjoy reloading. I enjoy making something with my own hands that works the way I designed it to work. I say the way I designed because I choose the primers I use (Magtech), the powder I use (Alliant Unique & Hogdon Titegroup), the bullets I use (Berry Bullets), the amount of powder in the case, It all goes together and goes bang when you pull the trigger. That is what handloading/reloading is all about. It is about the experience not the money. Once you start reloading, shooting factory ammo isn't as much fun. In all reloading your own ammo just makes a trip to the range even more enjoyable. In fact, I broke in my P3AT with two hundred rounds I loaded myself. That was a very good day at the range. ;D ;D ;D ;D
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel New Member

    Feb 6, 2005
    Eastern Kansas
    The major stumbling block to reloading for the P3AT is finding the empty brass.

    Mine puts it in low earth orbit!

    Where I shoot, I don't find much of it.

  5. lcdrdanr

    lcdrdanr Well-Known Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    And you can reload on a budget, I still have a .380 Lee Loader I bought years ago for $10.00. It's slow but if you don't shoot many rounds its fine.

    Save even more money and cast your own bullets, the 22 bucks you spend on a 100 bullets will buy you a mold, scrounge the lead from the tire places and garages in town, or salvage it from your range.

    I started reloading on a shoestring, a set of Lee powder measures, one can of Bullseye powder, a couple hundred primers, and a Lee Loader. Total outlay was around $30.00 at the time.

    Check your local gunshops for second hand dies, my LGS has a box in the back where he sells loose dies for $5.00 a pop. So, adding the .38 to your reloading is a simple matter of adding another set of dies, you already have the powder, the primers, the press, etc for the .380. Maybe even the bullets if you use heavy for caliber projectiles. But, for a .38, you're wasting money if you don't cast your own, you can make 4 boxes of ammo from under 5 lbs of lead (158 grains) and that's the major cost in reloading.

    How would you like to shoot a 440 grain bullet in a 500 S&W for less than 15 cents a round?

    I do.

    How about your wife's .38 or .357, feeding it with ammo that cost less than a dime a round?

    You could.

    You could reload and find that not only do you save money, you shoot three times as much as before.

    And, here's the kicker. You always have ammo. Doesn't matter what the hoarders do at Wally World or what they gougers are charging, you always have ammo.


    Dan R
  6. ChasF

    ChasF Member

    Feb 14, 2009
    As noted above, reloading isn't always economical. I just bought 2 boxes of WWB at the local Walmart for 21 cents per round. That is less than my estimated cost to reload. So, I enjoy loading as an exercise in and for itself. I'll keep on doing it if only to produce rounds that are 'tailored' to my pistols.

    As for my 380 brass, my P3AT also sends the brass to parts unknown - although I think it is in orbit about Jupiter rather than earth. I recently bought a metal detector to help me recover the brass that is strewn across the hay field where I shoot, so hopefully I'll be getting some of it back.
  7. ned69

    ned69 Member

    Aug 13, 2006
    Cost is one thing, readily available ammo is another.  

    Not only am I tired of searching for .380 target ammo, I don't like paying 25 bucks for a box of 50 rounds of 92 or 95 grain.

    My P3 likes 88 grain for target.

    I just bought a Lee Deluxe 4 hole turret press for $127 - now I just need the dies, primers, powder and bullets.  

    Like I said, readily available, and the right ammo is the most important for me...not price.

  8. regrip

    regrip New Member

    Aug 10, 2007
    I just purchased a Lee Turret Press also. Mainly for myself and my brother. We both have a p3at and a 9mm. I will set it up in my Golf Club Shop and we will both use it when time allows.I have both .380 and 9mm brass. Just ordered bullets and powder. Venders are not taking any orders for primers till they get them. I put my name on several of the sites wish lists which means I should get an email when the primers arrive. I think my press, both sets of dies and an extra turret was about $240 from Lee. Good Luck, and have fun.. Tom :)
  9. joje

    joje New Member

    Nov 1, 2007
    reloading for the 380 doesnt have to cost 25 cents / round. berry bullets costs ca 6.6 cents a piece shipped, primers ca 2.5 cents. powder ca 0.05 cents. thats less than 10 cents a round, or $5 for a box of 50.

    this of course doesnt take startup cots into account, nor the occasional loss of brass when shooting an auto-loader
  10. frankmako

    frankmako Well-Known Member

    Mar 11, 2006
    Chattanooga TN
    in the long run after startup cost you will save money. i reload rifle, pistol and shotgun, been doing it for 35 plus years. the only problem i have found reloading for the p3at is brass, or the lack of brass. my p3at throws the brass and it is hard to find at the end of the day. and i shoot in the front yard at my farm. i can find all of the 22lr brass, but the 380 i get around 60'%.
  11. Moose

    Moose New Member

    Jun 22, 2005
    Here's another cost calculator just for kicks.

    Years ago when I started, I used a pencil and paper, and a calculator, and figured when I had loaded 1000 rds all my equipment was paid for. I got 9mm and 357 carbide dies, along with all the other items needed. Shooting 200-300 rds at each outing, didn't take long to break even. Now it's only $5-$7 a box, when I can find everything.

    To me it's a hobby, not a job.
  12. Robert357

    Robert357 Active Member

    May 11, 2009
    WA, the State
    From my perspective, handloading is a hobby. If you honestly think that you are going to save money you are probably mistaken. By the time you purchase reloading equipment, components, and then accessories like loading books, fancy scales, primer cleaners, tumbler, various brass cleaning products, sizing waxes, etc. you are probably going to break even if you are lucky and value your time as nothing.

    Right now I am extremely frustrated in try to purchase loaded .380 Auto ammo and decided I would again reload .380 Auto so I can shoot more. Well, I can't find any new brass anywhere. Primers are hard to find at reasonable prices, pistol powder is in short supply and quality hp bullets are not be found.

    Since I have spent .380 brass, 8+ pounds of titegroup powder, lots of small pistol primers, I decided to look for more bullets. The best I could do was find a couple hundred FMJ Winchester bullets at Midway, and 500 95 grain cast lead round point bullets from an outfit on the east coast. This should be fine for target practice, and I still have about 100 rounds of .380 jacketed HP from a long ago purchase.

    This is not a good time to start reloading for any pistol caliber. :-/
  13. billjohnso20

    billjohnso20 Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
    Try giving Berry Bullets a look see Turn around time is 4-6 weeks due to the volume of orders they are now getting. I've used them for .380 and 40S&W. They make a great, reasonably priced bullet. Best of all, no shipping on orders over $50.00.
  14. joje

    joje New Member

    Nov 1, 2007
    i ordered from them some one month ago. back then their website also said it'd take about a month but i had a heavy little box sitting on my door step later that same week
  15. RCACFBilly

    RCACFBilly New Member

    Mar 29, 2008
    Thank you to all who responded to this question. I have done a bit of reading and searching for reloading supplies and discovered the supplies are as scarce as ammo. It looks like I will not be starting this until the shortage subsides a bit.