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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Re: Handloading Shotgun Shells
30 years ago, when I first started reloading 12 gauge shotgun shells, shells were cheap. You paid $3.50 a box for high brass Duck n Pheasant loads. Then again, I was working a construction job and was only making $3.50 an hour!
The Lee Load All press was about $50 and a box of primers was $8.50 and a can of IMR Hi Skor 700X was $3.50 a can.
I balked when the price of powder went to $7.50 a lbs.
Lead was about $12.00 for a 20 lbs bag...
At first the powder was hard to get, later the lead became harder to get than the powder or the primers.
I drove 100 miles and paid $50 for 40 lbs of lead last year and was lucky to get it! I paid $150 for a 1 gallon jug of powder ( 8 lbs. ) about 2 years ago.
Figuring that I shot 3 boxes of shells a year for 10 years and I reloaded 20 boxes of shells at a time and I have enough powder to last the rest of my life, but I can't afford the lead, I would have been 10 times further ahead of the game had I just bought shells one box at a time, when they were on sale and just paid the asking price.
You never recoup your losses unless you reload specialty shells. 3 inch Nitro magnums I can reload for almost half of what they cost in the store. 3 1/2 inch Turkey loads sold for $3.50 a box of 10 when I first bought them and are now $20.00 a box.
Buying a Mec 500jr. press only increased the cost of reloading shells. I only bought it because some of the premium field loads - Winchester, Federal etc wouldn't crimp with the Lee.
If you are going to shoot skeet, you could probably break even if you raked up your old wads and reused them and conserved your hulls and picked up what others leaves behind.
If you have to buy components, a reloader, reloading supplies and build a bench to reload from, you will never recoop your losses. All you will get is a more powerful load for the same amount of money.
With shotguns, the quality of the crimp and the quality of the wad determines your range, effectiveness, and your pattern. Reloading for competitive shooting is more for performance than for cost effectiveness.