Basic Reloading Equipment

Benjamin David | September 11, 2020
Photo Credit: The authors' reloading bench.

I’m going to cover the basic reloading equipment needed to get started reloading. I won’t go into heavy detail as to why you should or shouldn’t reload, but I’ll just speak to it briefly.

If you want to reload to save money, you probably won’t achieve your goal of saving money. It’s not true all the time, like with reloading premium hunting rounds or loading thousands of rounds on a multi-stage press, but most of the time, you won’t save money, you’ll just get to shoot more for the same amount of money. It usually takes a large volume and a long time for the average shooter to break even on equipment costs. The real benefits are ammo availability, custom load development, ammo security, and volume.

Now that I’ve briefly commented on why you might reload, I’ll dive right into the basic reloading equipment that you’ll need. Beyond the equipment, the most important things you can get are a mentor, reloading training, a reloading data book.

I’ll use the .223 Remington as a reloading equipment example since it’s in such high demand. However, dies, shell holders, and other equipment and consumables like gun powder, for 9mm, or other calibers are all similarly expensive. My reloading equipment list also assumes a single-stage press, where you only perform one reloading step at a time. It’s the cheapest method to start reloading your own ammo, but not ideal for loading tens of thousands of rounds of ammo.

Reloading Steps

I’ve broken down the functions of reloading equipment into the seven steps they perform.
1. Clean/Polish
2. De-prime/Resize
3. Clean/Polish
4. Prime
5. Powder Fill
6. Seat Bullet
7. Measure/Adjust/QC

Equipment List for .223 Remington

This is the equipment list that you will use forever, or until you upgrade to other presses. It excludes consumable equipment, and other consumables listed further below.

Consumable Equipment List

This is equipment that lasts a long time, but eventually needs replacement.

Consumables .223 Remington

  • Bullets
  • Brass(pick them up after you shoot them, and pick up other peoples cases)
  • Powder
  • Primers

Total Cost?

Basic reloading equipment, including a single die set is about $200 to $250 dollars. Other consumables are another $25 to $40. 100 bullets, 1lbs of powder, primers and brass, will set you back about $100. Some consumables are cheaper than others, and prices for things like primers are based on demand, and can be absurdly expensive or unavailable. And yes… 1lbs of powder will give you more mileage than 100 rounds, but thats where volumes start to come into play

At a minimum, expect to invest $325 to almost $400, to be able to do 4 25 round mag dumps of .233 out of your AR15. Or 10 mag dumps for restricted 10 round magazine states like California.

Caveats

Quality of brass, and bullet quality and materials will change you consumable pricing a lot. For example. 100 cheap jacketed lead 223 bullets can be bought for $12. Whereas a 50 lead free .223 bullets required in California for hunting costs about $30. My example assumed a middle ground. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to think you could get through 2 or 3 hundred rounds… on top of basic reloading equipment, for about $400.

Lastly, there is a lot of price gouging in todays market. High demand, and low supply means higher prices, and unscrupulous vendors willing to take your money in exchange for quelling your rational or irrational fears. Personally, I’d rather shoot less, and never support those people. Things will get better, and so will supply, but you can spend your money how you please.

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Written By Benjamin David
Benjamin David is an avid outdoorsman with a wide range of experience hunting and fishing. He brings his knowledge and wisdom from hunting in a variety of environments, to Sportsman's Magazine, and is a major contributor of content. Leave Ben a comment or question, and he'll do his best to reply.

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