Monday, August 13, 2012

On Home Brewing and Reloading

In a recent thread on the Virginia IDPA mailing list someone commented about placing an ammunition order with a popular vendor. The thread quickly morphed, or rather degenerated, into a discussion of why people did or did not reload their own ammo, as opposed to buying commercially. The discussion got me thinking about an interesting parallel between reloading and home brewing.

For as long as I've had an interest in craft beer, people have been asking "Do you brew your own beer?" Sometimes they don't ask, they simply assume that I must. When people ask me if I am a home brewer, I often jokingly reply that when I've tasted them all, I'll know what I want to make for myself. In all seriousness, I really have no desire, at this time, to brew. I respect the people who do, and I've been the beneficiary of many of their efforts. If you really think about it, does the question logically follow? I love a good steak too. But I've never been asked if I raise my own cattle.

The same pattern follows for shooting and reloading. It doesn't take long before the topic of reloading comes up in a conversation about shooting. People assume that the second activity automatically follows the first.

The ammo reloading question is almost always based on a presumed economic advantage. If you compare the cost of the components alone to the cost of commercial ammunition, reloading is going to win hands down. The same could probably be said for brewing, though I've never actually done the math on that. For the sake of argument, let's ignore the start up costs in acquiring the equipment to do either activity. We'll assume those costs will eventually be recouped. But we must add in the time factor. Both brewing and reloading require a time investment, and not an insignificant one at that. How much is my time worth? Better yet, how much time do I have to devote to reloading or brewing, however much fun it may be? These days, very little time it seems. Hardly a month goes by that I don't have opportunity to lament missing some shooting event, or some craft beer tasting, simply because they conflicted with other demands on my time.

When I stop to think about it, I see both home brewing and reloading as distinct activities or hobbies from the related interest that may spawn them. They are hobbies in and of themselves. Sure someone may start brewing or reloading as an offshoot to their interest in drinking good beer or shooting, but these interests aren't a mandatory part of the first activity. Someday I may even try both, but for now I'm very happy to stick with beer and ammo created by dedicated professionals.

Reload or buy, we'll have to do something about this empty box!

Based on some other conversations I've had, maybe next I need to discuss the difference between IDPA and IPA. :-)


  1. Same here. People always focus on cost in terms of actual dollars spent and while I am quite frugal, there are other things to consider. Regardless of the savings, I have absolutely zero time to reload. I barely have enough time to shoot:)

  2. Over the past 5 years or so(pre Obama gitters) I have seen many new shooters appear on the horizons. I am constantly approached by these folks wanting me to guide them into "reloading". My first question to a person is "how much time can you donate to this new hobby"?

    Reloading takes time and attention to detail. Typically a straight walled pistol caliber is the easiest to load, but I have seen those too butchered up good, with little or no efforts!

    Proper reloading also requires space. I wish I had a dime for every guy I saw fail at reloading attempting to do so in a kitchen counter area. It requires a STURDY, CLEAN, SOLID workbench / table,,,,dedicated to reloading ONLY,,,,with lots of light, and NO interruptions. Reloading 101; Interruptions = bad loads.

    For casual shooters who have visions of saving BOOKOO, don't be misled. Often the initial outlay of cash on your end to obtain GOOD reloading equipment will take 2 lifetimes to recover, unless you are a serious shooter, consuming mass quantities of ammo. Ten years ago I could recycle the same brass cases and load a typical 200 Gr. semi wad cutter in .45ACP for 3.5 cents each (powder, lead head, primer, FREE labor). Today, it will cost me over 20 cents each using the same formulas.

    For anyone convinced that they are about to embark on the paths of rolling your own, find a knowledgeable reloader, buy him lunch, buy him dinner, buy him a new car,,,but get him to show you HOW & WHY first, before you "dabble". Buy the BEST equipment money can buy,,,if you only have $XX but need $XXXX to buy good stuff, then save your funds and wait till you can buy the best. I like Dillon!

    Just my take.

  3. AGirl and Ron, right exactly. I prefer to spend my time shooting and (then) drinking. :-)

  4. My understanding is that with reloading you can, if you want, develop more accurate loads for your particular firearm. I'm not sure an equivalent is true with home brewing.

    1. Good point about developing accurate loads. This is of course assuming that you have a firearm worthy of such and you are shooting an accuracy based competition, target, or discipline. I guess what I am saying is I personally see no need to demand extreme precision accuracy if I am only shooting COM at 7 yards. I use my "range loads" for such. Range loads are my version of production ammo,,,nothing fancy.

      I am near the tail end of a long session of experimenting to develop loads. Talk about anal,,,,good grief. Change brands of primers and watch the chronograph tell the tale.

      Reloading can be fun,,,,,assuming you are willing to dedicate the effort, time, money, space, and remain constantly committed to details. And for the record,,,this is probably a good time to NOT have a few beers!

    2. Andy, I suppose if there was that one special ingredient you just had to have in your beer...

  5. The difference is a "D".
    Did I win anything? No? Figures, used up my luck not getting crushed.
    The lovely Southern Belle and I have conversations about reloading, all too frequently for my comfort. So far, my reminding her that reloading requires Participation, has been enough to squelch her desire to go and buy a bunch of 'spensive equipment.
    We have enough exercise bicycle shaped clothes racks as it is.

    1. kx, No reloading for you all. It's more dangerous than boating I'm sure! :-)

  6. Yes, being frugel is definately part of it for me. But, I have to say that the biggest draw to it, whether it be fixing the leaky copper pipes, reloading your own ammo or brewing your favorite beer recipes is knowing & enjoying the proccess of doing these tasks/hobbies. I know I can't do or learn to do everything or even have the wallet for it but I try as much as I can. I know, there's some self-sufficiency issues going on there.

    1. Mark, I definitely can understand the "do it yourself" aspect.


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