To Reload or not to Reload


Back some years ago when I was shooting a lot of IDPA and bowling pin matches, I reloaded most of my .45 and .40 brass. I shot a Kimber Stainless Custom in .45ACP and a Colt Mk IV in .40S&W. I reloaded both on a Lee Progressive press. It worked quite well.

I usually reloaded around 1000 or more rounds of each caliber per month. After a few years of use, the Lee indexing mechanism broke. I could have gotten it fixed, but I didn’t. I had built up quite an inventory of reloaded rounds of both caliber.

About the time the Lee press broke, the pin-shooting and IDPA groups broke up. My shooting volume dropped from a couple of thousand rounds each month to just a couple of hundred. In fact, until CCW was passed in Missouri, my shooting declined almost to zero.

Now a few years have passed. While my shooting declined, it didn’t reach zero. I got interested in benchrest, highpower and varmint shooting. I added an AR, a Garand and a Rem700 in .223 to my collection and started reloading rifle cartridges on a single-stage RCBS press.

While my rifle collection has grown, so has my handgun collection. In 2004, CCW became legal in Missouri. My two existing pistols were large and I needed some new. I bought a Para LDA CCO (.45ACP) for carry. Practice ammo was not a problem. I had several thousand rounds of reloads remaining from my match days.

Last year, I added two revolvers to my carry rotation. A S&W M13, .38Spl/.357Mag, and a S&W M442 snubbie also in .38Spl. I had to buy some .38 practice ammo. Now bear in mind, that for several years, I’d been using my stock of reloads. My ammo costs had been limited to .45ACP carry ammo.

Shock! Thirty-eight practice ammo was expensive! In the intervening years, ammo prices had gone up! To make matters worse, I bought a 9mm pistol last month. Now, I have three calibers that I will be carrying. That means three calibers of practice ammo will be needed.

I still have quite a bit of .45 practice ammo. So far, 9mm value packs at Wally World is relatively cheap—$20 per 100 rounds. The price of value packs for .38 and .45 is half again that of the 9mm.

I picked up a Dillon RL550b, NIB. I have Lee dies for .45ACP and .40S&W. I need to buy dies and shell plates for .38/.357 and/or 9mm, but I can only afford one set. On one hand, the price of practice .38s is higher and that is a driver for choosing the .38/.357 dies. On the other hand, I expect I’ll carry the 9mm more often and the need to practice more with what you carry is a driver to choose 9mm dies.

What to do? What to do?

Where’s my silver dollar? Perhaps it’s coin-flipping time? Suggestions anyone?

2 thoughts on “To Reload or not to Reload

  1. Me personally if I had .38 & .357 dies? I'd stick to those…..a .38 used regularly in practice can stop a target just as readily as any other handgun.

    Visit Law Dog for some coll info from him on that one. I think he must of ran with my older bro's to tell you the truth.

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