Surely readers of this magazine are well aware of how prices of both factory ammunition and reloading components have skyrocketed these past few years. It’s not uncommon even for run-of-the-mill factory ammo to cost a buck a round. I can’t even guess what some of the more exotic calibers are priced now per shot.
Then there’s reloading components. Most jacketed bullets—again for run-of-the-mill calibers—cost about $20 to $30 per 100. Competition grade bullets are more. Premium hunting bullets cost that much or more per box but with only 50 bullets inside. Don’t forget powders: most I’ve priced on store shelves now require about a $20 bill.
That said, folk can still do a considerable amount of rifle shooting by spending effort instead of money. I’m talking about casting their own bullets. By making lead alloy rifle bullets the price per projectile can be reduced from perhaps $.30 each to maybe $.03 each. Then consider powder price. A full load in a .30-06 will run about 50 of powder. That’s 140 loads per $20 can, or about $.14 per shot. My favorite cast bullet .30-06 powder charge is 25, so there’s 50 percent savings on powder. The price of primers is a given. We have to live with that, but at least our brass cases have very long life spans when used for reduced pressure cast-bullet shooting.
The above is the positive. There are negatives. An area of your home must be set aside for the casting endeavor and there will be some mess and aroma. Also it does cost to get set up for bullet casting. A basic outlay includes a lead pot, a lube/sizing machine, a mold with handles, appropriate sizing dies and top punches, and a few other odds and ends. Everyone must handle those purchases by their own budget and enthusiasm.
Some people might think it a negative to spend time casting bullets. I don’t. In fact my life is generally so hectic that when I can steal some hours for bullet casting they are treasured as pure relaxation. Here’s why. I’m addicted to books recorded on CDs or cassette tapes, the full-length readings, not abridged ones. I can go for lightweight novels that last a half-dozen hours or serious historical research running scores of hours. When I get hooked on one of those big books Yvonne can tell because I tend to disappear for longish periods. When that happens the piles of bullets I have to shoot are considerable.
While writing this, I just took a break to do a personal survey. At this time in my life I am set up to reload for 51 different cartridges—23 are for handguns and 28 for rifles. Some of these calibers are reloaded fairly often such as .45-90 for my two current favorite BPCR Silhouette competition rifles. Others not so often: it’s been perhaps 5 years since I’ve put together rounds for my Ruger .41 Magnum Blackhawk. On the shelves above my casting setup are bullet molds suitable for all 23 handgun cartridges and 23 of the 28 rifle cartridges.
By Mike “Duke” Venturino
Photos Yvonne Venturino
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