I have never re-loaded a shell or a bullet in my life. I might have saved money reloading shotgun shells because I used to hunt birds/waterfowl/targets daily for 6 months a year for about 8 years. I only shoot a rifle about 30 rounds a year to keep it sighted in, and because I like to shoot it, I just dont have time to shoot hundreds of rounds through it. I dont however buy the cheap ammo. I buy the best factory ammo money can buy and have never had any "failures" yet. Maybe one day I will start reloading as a hobby and can do it together with my son when he is old enough.
I have often thought about re-loading, but have come to the conclusion that I have enough hobbies. I have respect for those who do, but don't think that necessarily makes a person a better shot. The one guy in our hunting camp who reloads is probably the worst shot in the bunch. I think he just tinkers with things too much! I also think he gets a bit more "buck fever" in the field than the rest of the group.
First let me suggest that there is likely a misconception about reloading rifle ammo. It's not about saving money!
The investment in quality equipment and components would require the average guy to shoot many thousands of loaded rounds to even come close to breaking even.
The reason for me to reload is the quality ammo, and the better selection of components I can choose to build the ammo I like. 20 years ago the factory ammo availabale was loaded to the lowest common denominator. As an example; There are a lot of really old cheap poorly made 30/06 rifles. And there are a lot of very high end rifles like a Montana for example that can handle way over what is considered safe in a 30/06.
IF you buy and shoot factory ammo, your gonna be stuck with a load that must be safe in the lowest quality piece of crap made so the Mfg is not going to be liable for blowing up a guys gun. That is a poor choice for a modern heavy duty rifle. I was shooting some Federal Factory loads to test through a chroniograph. They werre 165 grain Fusion bullets. They managed 2700 fps yet my 165 grain TSX and Swift Aframe loads were at just over 2900fps and not even close to max load. I could get 3000fps at max load in I chose to. Not only that but the Fusion loads were grouping about 2" or a bit better. The TSX bullets shoot through the same hole at 100 yards. 1" difference at 100 yards is no big deal but that doubles every hundred yards and the fusion factory load would also be dropping much more. So at 300-350 yards you now see 4-6" of difference in group size. That is the difference between wounded and dead with the 30/06 level rifle.
The beauty of handloading is in the quality of the loads, not the cost savings.
I reload rifle ammo, but don't reload shotshell ammo. The reasons follow JJ's explaination.
I can't come close to reloading quaility nontoxic ammo the way the factories do. Nor are my reloads even close to waterproof, which is the first priority in any shotshell ammo that I purchase now. The factories do a great job in quality and the big retailers use it as "loss-leaders" all the time, so there is no advantage to tinkering forever with the shotshells. Target rounds are also found really cheap if purchased on sale.
I started reloading rifle ammo to satisfy my 30-06, I have yet to find a factory load that it likes. I now use a 180 grain Barnes X "XLC" with 60 grains of IMR 4350 and a CCI 200 primer. I use this round for all my big game hunting and only need to reload for this every other year or so. Mostly due to general shooting of the ammo, I only need a couple a year for game.
I also found great value in reloading varmit rounds for my 22-250. Quality and value, it is also fun!!
I reload for several rifle and pistol calibers. Reloading allows me to tailor a load to a specific task and a specific gun. One of the biggest advantages for me early on was the ability to safely under load pistol cartridges for my wife to practice with. No way you want to start out a tiny girl with full power .357 rounds. Even .38 Special loads were too much of a jump from the .22 training sessions. I was able to start out with very mild loads and work up to very hot self defense loads without having my wife develop a flinch. That's been over 30 years ago and you wouldn't want to be on the wrong end of any handgun she happens to be toting.
For those with the time and inclination, handloading can be a fun and productive hobby.
I bought a .300 wby, and started reloading because the ammo is $45-$55 a box. I mentioned that I was going to reload to my father and he dropped off his old reloading equipment that he hadn't utilized in years. I guess I have loaded at least 20-30 boxes of ammo in the last couple years. Once you figure out what your doing its pretty simple. You have to have a "spot" set up that can remain untouched, so you can sit down, and do it when there is an extra hour or 2 here and there. I reload in steps. I will go and resize 100 or 200 rounds one day, then trim/prime another day etc...
I recently purchased a Dillon 550 loader off CL, and will try loading quantity of 30-06 rounds for plinking.
Don't have the time or desire to load my own ammo. I know what my rifles like and buy accordingly.
I shoot 2-3 rounds at the range to verify the zero hasn't changed and then go kill something. My party (10-11) hasn't killed an animal over 100 yds away in probably 10 years. Don't need much to accomplish that.
The furthest Deer I've killed was about 175 yds out. The furthest Elk was maybe 100.
I reload 6.8 Remington SPC for my AR, as factory ammo @ $17.00 a box is nuts...I can reload better rounds for about 1/3 the price. Tup:
I have friends reload my .223/5.56 and .45 ACP, that way one can afford to shoot alot.
I personally have not reloaded, I have all of the equipment for shot gun reloading but have not found the time to work with it, my 30-06 shells are 165 grain hand loads from a hunting partner, I have not shot a better round than he loads. grouping in 1 inch at 100 yards.