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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

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Sunday, May 29, 2005

things that go bang: reloading .38 specials

or how i spent a couple of hours this evening.

i love to shoot. i love to shoot a lot. almost more than i love a good cigar and a fine glass of port following a tremendous meal. but shooting requires a bit of coin, if you know what i mean. if you aren't shooting .22's it can get downright expensive. one of the ways i "thought" i would cut costs was by reloading my own ammo. WRONG! i haven't saved a damned dime. but what i have done is discovered a hobby that's right down my little anal-geek-engineering heart. yup. reloading can save you money, if you shoot enough to recoup the startup costs of your gear. but let's check this out.
tonight, i reloaded 500 rounds of 148 grain bevel backed wad cutters over 3 grains of bullseye powder, with an overall length of 1.170 inches for the .38 special. i don't own a 38, but one of life's grand coincidences (well, it's really not a coincidence, since it was planned this way) is that my two .357 magnums shoot 38 special just fine, thank you very much. as a matter of fact, if all i ever shot was 38's out of my 357's, they would last millions of rounds, since the 38's are little pussycats compared to a full house load in 357.
so, i loaded 500 rounds. this is what 500 rounds looks like:

click on pictures for larger image
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the fruits of my labor, 6 boxes of 50 and two bags of 100 each. let's do a breakdown of cost.
  • 500 western nevada 148 grain lead wadcutters: $20.00
  • 500 winchester small pistol primers: $7.50
  • approximately 1500 grains of alliant Bullseye powder: $3.60
grand total: $31.10
now compare that to the cost of purchasing match ammo, which is what this is. a box of 50 runs around $15.00, but if you aren't concerned with match, you can find 38's going for 8-9 dollars a box. so, worst case, i loaded the equivalent of $150.00 dollars of ammo, and best case, $80.00 dollars of run of the mill stuff.
wow, bothenook, that is a real savings!
not when you have 500 rounds readily available, and you don't have to pull out the wallet a couple of times to restock the ammo pile while shooting.
i'll probably shoot off most of this this afternoon, in a casual day of target practice at the range.

so i don't save money, but i get to shoot 5 times as much with quality handrolled ammo.

here are a couple of pictures of my reloading bench. the first one above shows some of the stuff needed to reload, like a scale and a vernier caliper, along with the fruits of my labor.

this is a shot of the reloading bench in all it's glory
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my reloading press is an RCBS 5 stage progressive. the nice thing about the progressive press is i bought individual die plates for each caliber i reload. that way i have the reloading dies already installed in the plate, preset for use. no tinkering around with getting them set properly. all i need to do change calibers is swap out the die plate, change the shell holder, re-adjust the powder charger to the new powder, and whammo, back to work. it saves a ton of time, and it also keeps my rounds consistent, since i've already preset the dies, and locked them into place. i don't leave anything to chance, and run trial rounds through to make sure nothing shifted, but that's just common sense. counting loading the primers into the tube, but not the tinkering with powder charge weight adjustments, it takes me about 20 minutes to load 100 rounds, if i'm not in a hurry. if i'm in a hurry, it always takes longer.

and any reloader worth damn has at least a couple of reloading manuals on his shelf
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and a stack of bullets waiting to be reloaded
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i like using Oregon Trails Laser-Cast bullets a lot. i buy direct from them, and that helps on the cost. shipping costs on a box of lead sucks though, let me tell you. their 255 grain semi wadcutter for the 45 long colt is great, as are all their other bullets i've tried, like the 170 grain flat nose 30-30 bullets. shot a boar through the skull AND severed it's spine with a head on shot with one of those gems, and the bullet held up. dropped that big tusker in his tracks. he was a damned good tasting critter. mmmmmm, smoked honey and salt cured ham. mmmm. homemade bacon. mmm. oop, sorry. mind kind of wandered there for a moment

here is a box of jewels. this is another way i make shooting a little more affordable. this is a box of remington 125 grain golden saber hollow points for the .357's. when i buy 2000 at a time, it costs me a lot less than buying them by the 100, as is typical. i bought this box on sale for less than $100.00. two boxes of these usually last me about a year. (thanks to smith and wesson, i have a .22 that is a great substitute for practicing, since it has the same weight and feel of my 6" .357) i bought these from Midway USA, which is one of the best online and catalog resources for shooters and reloaders. they even carry a ton of gunsmithing products, which i've tapped into from time to time.
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most ex-military guys will find the following true at home. no matter what room you go into in my house, there will be some reminder of my time in the military, even if it's some trinket i picked up overseas stashed away in the drawer in that room. my reloading bench is no different. this is a belt buckle i bought and wore during the 70's. i broke the clip off the back, so now it's just another piece of memorabilia laying around.
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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I thought radical terrorists would have a problem on the East coast! Looks like the West coast is ready too! -Transylvania, NC

5/29/05, 10:32 PM  
Blogger bothenook said...

don't know about terrorists, but the targets have something to worry about!

5/29/05, 11:33 PM  
Blogger Va Beach Herb said...

Boat,

After seeing you post comments on Willy Shakes site I thought I would check your blog out. Great stuff, with a wide variety of topics. I dare say that nowhere else can you get info on how to make great stir-fry and reloading ammo all in one web page!
By the way, I have that exact same belt buckle.
I am bookmarking your site for future visits, keep up the interesting stuff.
Regards,
Herb

6/7/05, 8:17 AM  
Blogger Countertop said...

Great post, and great blog BTW, but this post in particular has motiated me to redouble my efforts to finish my reloading bench and begin on another fine hobby right away (even if I aint an engineering type)

6/10/05, 7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog! I see you have a 50th anniversary Sierra reloading manual. You should get their latest edition. It's got great info for reloaders.

10/30/06, 1:48 PM  

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