I'm at a social event and someone asks what I do and after telling them, usually they say, 'I have a gun', then the next thing is 'Why reload ammo?'. I would really like to say, it 'saves money', however, it only does that in the long term, in the short run, it is not cheap to buy the equipment and supplies you need to get started.
Some of MY reasons to reload are:
1. Improved accuracy. Each gun 'prefers' a slightly different load, and generic ammunition doesn't fill the bill. For example, I have one .45 from Kimber that is the full size version and it does better with an extra grain of powder than the compact version (which I carry.)
2. Cost savings. Normally I shoot around 1,000 rounds a month, 357, 44, 10mm and 45 (but mostly 45). As you can imagine, this would be quite expensive (about $750 at WallyWorld), but since I reload (and have been for 5 decades), my equipment has more than paid itself off, many times over. Since I buy in bulk this only runs me about $100 a month, so you can see the savings real mount up.
3. Personal satisfaction. I enjoy the quiet time and the detail of the process. After a rough day at the office, it is a nice way to finish up the day. To me this is similar to completing a remodeling project or restoring an antique.
Some of the other question I hear are:
How fast can you load? Well, it is not really how fast I can load but how fast I want to load. The faster you load, the more chances you may make a mistake and the accurate you will probably be. Personally, I use a Dillon 650 and I load about 700 rounds an hour. Can you do it faster? Sure some use the same press and do 1,000+ an hour… If you are using a Lee HandLoader, and doing it one shell at a time, you may only be loading 50 an hour, however, your loading accuracy would probably be higher than someone using a progressive press.
What does it cost to get started? If you had the time and didn’t need a big press, you could probably get started for under $300. That would be your biggest purchases, then after that, unless you decided you wanted more equipment (which many of us do), then you would only need more bullets, powder and primers.
How long can you reload brass? If you don’t load you shells ‘hot’ and take care of them, you could get from 5 to 20 loads out of them. Much depends upon the caliber. For .45 ACP, I usually get about a dozen loads out of them, I’ve got friends however that only get 6 or 7 out of them. The key is to inspect each lot and ensure they are still in specs and don’t show issues where they should be discarded. Remember, safety is always key to reloading.
How long does the press and dies last? I don’t know, I’ve never had one go bad and have never hear of it happening either. Normally the reloader decides they want a different press, and sells the old one to buy the new one. However, most of us have more than one press. Many have a progress press AND a single stage too.