Reload Your Own Ammo? It Might Not Be So Easy These Days – Even before the great ammo shortage began in late 2020, there were plenty of shooters who opted to “make” their own firearms cartridges. Doing so isn’t really all that complicated and some will be quick to tell you that reloading components can cost far less than loaded ammunition. That is true to a point, but only a point.
Today, even serious “reloaders” – as such individuals are often known – have found that some of the key “ingredients” used in the production of ammunition are in short supply. Among them are the primers.
While the brass cartridges can last a long time, primarily when used with moderate loads, and bullets can be cast from lead and even gunpowder can be made, primers have long been another story.
Reloading: Time Consuming?
Yes, it is possible to make a primer – and there are more than a few YouTube videos out there that will help you – the truth is that it is a time-consuming process that really should be left to the pros or at least those with experience in reloading.
Primers are actually the tricky part in the reloading process, and even with the right tools, it can take about a minute to produce each primer – the same amount of time required to reload ammunition using the simplest hand-loading tools. While making your own primers for reloads could result in enough ammunition for most hunting, and even home defense needs, it can still be a considerable investment of time.
That is why even experienced reloaders opt to get pre-made primers to cut down on the production time. That has only resulted in greater demand, especially as only two companies actually produced commercial primers.
Fortunately, earlier this year Expansion Industries announced that it would soon begin producing primers. The company announced it was planning on hiring more than 400 new employees by the end of 2022 at its facility in Hooks, Texas, about 12 miles west of Texarkana.
“We have invested $100 million into the site so far,” Richard A. Smissen, owner of Expansion Industries, said via a statement in February. “This is all about supply and demand. There is serious demand in the industry for this product and right now, for various reasons, the supply chain is falling woefully short. So we are getting ready to do our part to help out with that issue.”
And Does It Save Money?
The final consideration is whether the process of reloading is actually worth the time. For those who find the process relaxing, it is time well spent.
However, as Field and Stream noted recently, right now 1,000 rounds of cheap 9mm FMJ (full-metal jacket) ammunition was running around 36 cents per shot. That works out to $360. Now, should you save every one of those 9mm brass casings, the rest of the components – bullets, powder and primers – would still run around $295, which means you’d save only about $65 to do the reloading.
As it takes about a minute per round to reload, you’re looking at spending at least 16 hours to produce another 1,000 rounds. All that time could be spent on literally anything else, so again, unless you find reloading fun and not a tedious experience that requires patience and precision, reloading isn’t all that good of an investment.
More importantly, the prices were for the components not the tools that are required to do the handloading.
Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.