One of the more basic questions asked regarding ammunition reloading is: Should I even bother to reload my small pistol calibers...especially, 9mm? After all, 9mm ammunition is usually quite plentiful on store shelves, and more times than not, fairly inexpensive.
The fast answer to this question is, ‘YES,’ you should reload your small pistol
calibers. Okay, maybe that answer is a little too quick, but one doesn’t have to remember too far back to recall the empty shelves and astronomical prices. In times of high demand, even the small pistol rounds can be hard to find. Because the 9mm pistol is one of the more common firearms in the US, it follows reason that its ammunition is the first to disappear during ‘peak-market’ times.
Below are some simple reasons why you should reload your 9mm ammunition (and other small pistol rounds):
Peak-markets, not withstanding, it is helpful to know that the typical savings enjoyed by reloaders runs around 25% to 45% per round (depending on caliber). As ammunition prices rise and fall, so too do their component parts, thus, reloading typically remains cheaper than purchasing fully-loaded ammo. With all things being equal, you’re still saving on the reuse of your brass casings.
And, yes, we all understand the initial investment costs associated with reloading (i.e., reloading press, caliber dies, scales, calipers, manuals, etc.), but once invested, the payback can happen quite fast if you shoot a lot. For beginners looking to get into reloading, the initial ‘starter-equipment’ can cost as little as $500. A relatively small price to pay to put you in the personal manufacture of ammunition.
Ammunition is crafted and designed for its particular use. Whether you’re shooting for competition, recreation, hunting, or self-defense, the components of an ammunition cartridge will vary considerably via the caliber, brass casing, bullet weight, bullet shape, bullet materials, bullet seating, propellant types, propellant loads, primer types, etc. Reloading opens the door to customizing your ammunition for its desired use. NOTE that one should always follow their reloading manuals.
Let’s be honest, some firearm calibers seem to induce volume shooting (target shooting mostly). Whether its because the ammunition is cheaper, or because the calibers are more enjoyable to shoot repeatedly, certain caliber firearms get rigorous workouts. Small caliber pistols tend to live in this high-volume category. As most brass casing can be reloaded about 5 to 8 times (on average) reloading becomes especially useful when shooting a lot of rounds. Again, this may lead to a cost issue, but it also offers a self-sustained availability of ammunition.
For competitive shooters, or those shooting long-range, or high-precision firearms, reloading is all about quality control. Most notably, this applies to ‘fire-forming’ the brass casing to that of their firearm’s specific chamber and headspace. Beyond this feature is the control over the precise cartridge dimensions, as well as the configuration of projectiles and powder-loads. This is no different for small caliber pistol ammunition. Quality control plays a large role with all reloaders. They know exactly what they are producing and for what results – range, accuracy, rapid-fire, stopping power, etc. With ammunition, low quality produces low results.
When it comes to reloading small caliber pistol ammunition, not all needs to be so practical. Reloading overall is an enjoyable activity that offers direct satisfaction in creating and controlling the performance of one’s firearm, while learning the nuance and variants in extreme physics (ballistics). What else are you going to do on a rainy day?
Bearing in mind that brass casings are highly engineered / manufactured components capable of reuse (typically, 5 to 8 times), it follows that reloading for all calibers makes sense. Brass is a metal alloy, which means it is made up of two or more metals. In this case, copper (semi-precious) and zinc. It seems worthwhile to reclaim the ‘spent’ casings.
So, should you reload your small caliber pistol ammunition? For the shooter who likes to fire-off a lot of small pistol rounds, or the reloader who enjoys the hobby, or the target shooter who wants to control range and accuracy, the answer is an easy, ‘YES.’