I’ve been reloading cartridges for about 25 years. Like a lot of people, I started reloading because the amount of factory ammo I could afford was a lot less than the amount I wanted to shoot. The economics are inescapable. Let’s say you shoot .45 ACP. Even if you buy factory ammunition in big bulk lots, you are going to pay at least 35 cents per round. That is certainly better than the 50 cents per round that you’ll pay if you buy in the usual 50-round boxes. If you reload and you buy cast lead bullets though, you can expect to pay around 14 cents per round. That’s a savings of $36 for every 100 rounds you shoot. It’s like getting every third box for free.
Those savings are based on scrounging up your cases for free and buying your bullets. I would like to point out that I have never bought brass for .45 ACP or .38 Special. Between the occasional factory ammo I shoot and recover, and other people’s abandoned brass that I pick up off of the range, I have coffee cans full of free brass. Furthermore, if you cast your own bullets, your cost can drop to under 5 cents per round. That .45 ACP now costs about the same price of .22 LR ammo.
That’s almost like shooting for free, except that the brass doesn’t load itself. You’ll need equipment to assemble your ammunition and that costs money. For the moment, let’s take bullet casting off the table. You should start off by buying cast lead bullets. When you are first starting out, you should concentrate on becoming a competent reloader before you tackle bullet casting. For reloading, you can get the bare bones equipment you need for under $150; so by the time you’ve shot 400 rounds, you will have saved enough money to pay for your equipment.