Is Reloading Shotgun Shells Cost Effective? [Complete Comparison Breakdown]


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Reloading shotgun shell cost varies.

It adds up the individual price of different items of the recipe.

The cost varies based on the gauge you are going to use.

Not to mention, the different brand offers different prices for individual items.

In this article, I’m going to show you the reloading cost for 12 gauge 2 ¾”, 20 gauge 2 ¾”, 28 gauge 2 3⁄4”, and .410 bore 2 1⁄2” shotshells.

During each cost calculation, I will compare the reloading cost with the cost of a similar off the shelf shotshell.

After the calculation, I will show you how much we saved, and which one is better for you (i.e., reloading or buying new shell)

I have followed the recipe from the Alliant Powder site. Each time I will mention a reference link to the recipe as well.

The average costs of reloading different gauges of shells are very close to each other. Whatever the case is, it’s always a cost-saving solution to reload a shell than buying a new shell every time.

Let me prove it.

I’m going to start with the reloading cost calculation of 12 gauge 2 ¾” shotshell.

Recipe for 12 gauge 2 ¾” shotshell

The recipe reference link.

Primer: CCI 209M (1000 pcs per pack) – $41.99 (As per Cabelas)

Powder: Alliant UNIQUE Smokeless Powder (1 lb) – $22.99 (As per Mid Way USA)

Powder Required = 23.5 grains.

Wads: WAA12F114 (Bag of 500 pcs) – $10.99 (As per Mid Way USA)

Lead Shot: Eagle Magnum Lead Shot (#4 shots, 25 lbs bag) – $42.99 (As per Cabelas)

Lead Shot Weight: 1 ¼ oz.

Reloading Cost Calculation for 12 Gauge 2 ¾” shotshell

Primer Cost

CCI 209M price for 1000 pcs = $41.99

So, the price for 1 pc = $41.99/1000 = $0.042

Powder Cost

Alliant UNIQUE Powder price for 1 lb = $22.99

That means the price for 7000 grains = $22.99 (as 1 lb = 7000 grains)

So, the price 1 grain = $22.99/7000 = $0.003284

As per the recipe, we need 23.5 grains of powder.

Therefore, the total powder cost = 23.5*$0.003284 = $0.077

Wads Cost

WAA12F114 wads, the price for 500 pcs = $10.99

So, wad price for 1 pc = $10.99/500 = $0.022

Lead Shot Cost

#4 lead shot 25 lbs bag price = $42.99

25 lbs = 400 oz.

So, the price for 400 oz of shots = $42.99

The price for 1 oz of shots = $42.99/400 = $0.107475

Therefore, the total price for 1 ¼ oz = $0.107475*1.25 = $0.134

So, the total cost for 1 shell = $0.042+$0.077+$0.022+$0.134

= $0.275

Now let’s see how much a similar off the shelf shotshell costs. Let’s say you want to buy this shell box of Fiocchi.

It costs $10.49 for 25 shells. So the price for 1 shell = $10.49/25 = $0.419

As you can see, for this recipe, you are saving = $0.419 – $0.275 = $0.145 per shell if you reload the shell instead of buying.

Now let’s see how much does it cost for 20 gauge 2 ¾” Shotshell.

Recipe for 20 gauge 2 ¾” Shotshell

The recipe reference link.

Primer: Win 209 (1000 pcs per pack) – $31.99 (As per Ballisticproducts)

Powder: Alliant 20/28 Smokeless Powder (1 lb) – $22.99 (As per Mid Way USA)

Powder Required = 15.7 grains.

Wads: CB1078-20 (Bag of 500 pcs) – $10.99 (As per Mid Way USA)

Lead Shot: Eagle Magnum Lead Shot (#8 shots, 25 lbs bag) – $42.99 (As per Cabelas)

Lead Shot Weight: 7/8 oz.

Reloading Cost Calculation for 20 Gauge 2 ¾” shotshell

Primer Cost

Win 209 price for 1000 pcs = $31.99

So, the price for 1 pc = $31.99/1000 = $0.032

Powder Cost

Alliant 20/28 Powder price for 1 lb = $22.99

That means the price for 7000 grains = $22.99 (as 1 lb = 7000 grains)

So, the price 1 grain = $22.99/7000 = $0.003284

As per the recipe, we need 15.7 grains of powder.

Therefore, the total powder cost = 15.7*$0.003284 = $0.052

Wads Cost

CB1078-20 wads, the price for 500 pcs = $10.99

So, wad price for 1 pc = $10.99/500 = $0.022

Lead Shot Cost

#8 lead shot 25 lbs bag price = $42.99

25 lbs = 400 oz.

So, the price for 400 oz of shots = $42.99

The price for 1 oz of shots = $42.99/400 = $0.107475

Therefore, the total price for 7/8 oz = $0.107475*0.875 = $0.094

So, the total cost for 1 shell = $0.032+$0.052+$0.022+$0.094

= $0.2

Now let’s see how much a similar off the rack shotshell costs. Let’s say you want to buy this shell box of Federal Game Load.

It costs $6.56 for 25 shells. So the price for 1 shell = $6.56/25 = $0.2624

As you can see, for this recipe, you are saving = $0.2624 – $0.2 = $0.062 per shell if you reload the shell instead of buying.

Now let’s find out how much does it cost for 28 gauge 2 ¾” Shotshell.

Recipe for 28 Gauge 2 ¾” Shotshell

The recipe reference link.

Primer: Win 209 (1000 pcs per pack) – $31.99 (As per Ballisticproducts)

Powder: Alliant 20/28 Smokeless Powder (1 lb) – $22.99 (As per Mid Way USA)

Powder Required = 14.1 grains.

Wads: PT-28 (Bag of 500 pcs) – $16.99 (As per Ballisticproducts)

Lead Shot: Eagle Magnum Lead Shot (#8 shots, 25 lbs bag) – $42.99 (As per Cabelas)

Lead Shot Weight: 3/4 oz.

Reloading Cost Calculation for 28 Gauge 2 ¾” shotshell

Primer Cost

Win 209 price for 1000 pcs = $31.99

So, the price for 1 pc = $31.99/1000 = $0.032

Powder Cost

Alliant 20/28 Powder price for 1 lb = $22.99

That means the price for 7000 grains = $22.99 (as 1 lb = 7000 grains)

So, the price 1 grain = $22.99/7000 = $0.003284

As per the recipe, we need 14.1 grains of powder.

Therefore, the total powder cost = 14.1*$0.003284 = $0.046

Wads Cost

PT-28 wads, the price for 500 pcs = $16.99

So, wad price for 1 pc = $16.99/500 = $0.034

Lead Shot Cost

#8 lead shot 25 lbs bag price = $42.99

25 lbs = 400 oz.

So, the price for 400 oz of shots = $42.99

The price for 1 oz of shots = $42.99/400 = $0.107475

Therefore, the total price for 3/4 oz = $0.107475*0.75 = $0.08

So, the total cost for 1 shell = $0.032+$0.046+$0.034+$0.08

= $0.192

Now let’s see how much a similar off the shelf shotshell costs. Let’s say you want to buy this shell box of Fiocchi.

It costs $8.99 for 25 shells. So the price for 1 shell = $8.99/25 = $0.3596

As you can see, for this recipe, you are saving = $0.3596 – $0.192 = $0.168 per shell if you reload the shell instead of buying.

Next, let’s find out how much does it cost for .410 Bore 2 ½” shotshell.

Recipe for .410 Bore 2 ½” shotshell

The recipe reference link.

Primer: Fed 209A (1000 pcs per pack) – $31.99 (As per Ballisticproducts)

Powder: Alliant 410 Smokeless Powder (1 lb) – $22.99 (As per Mid Way USA)

Powder Required = 11.8 grains.

Wads: SP410 (Bag of 500 pcs) – $15.99 (As per Mid Way USA)

Lead Shot: Eagle Magnum Lead Shot (#9 shots, 25 lbs bag) – $42.99 (As per Cabelas)

Lead Shot Weight: 1/2 oz.

Reloading Cost Calculation for .410 Gauge 2 ½” shotshell

Primer Cost

Fed 209A price for 1000 pcs = $31.99

So, the price for 1 pc = $31.99/1000 = $0.032

Powder Cost

Alliant 410 Powder price for 1 lb = $22.99

That means the price for 7000 grains = $22.99 (as 1 lb = 7000 grains)

So, the price 1 grain = $22.99/7000 = $0.003284

As per the recipe, we need 11.8 grains of powder.

Therefore, the total powder cost = 11.8*$0.003284 = $0.039

Wads Cost

SP410 wads, the price for 500 pcs = $15.99

So, wad price for 1 pc = $15.99/500 = $0.032

Lead Shot Cost

#9 lead shot 25 lbs bag price = $42.99

25 lbs = 400 oz.

So, the price for 400 oz of shots = $42.99

The price for 1 oz of shots = $42.99/400 = $0.107475

Therefore, the total price for 1/2 oz = $0.107475*0.5 = $0.053

So, the total cost for 1 shell = $0.032+$0.039+$0.032+$0.053

= $0.16

Now let’s see how much similar readymade shotshell costs. Let’s say you want to buy this shell box of Aguila High-Velocity.

It costs $9.29 for 25 shells. So the price for 1 shell = $9.29/25 = $0.3716

As you can see, for this recipe, you are saving = $0.3716 – $0.16 = $0.212 per shell if you reload the shell instead of buying.

How Much We Saved – Cost Savings of Reloading Shotgun Shells

From the above calculation, it’s clear as crystal that reloading a shotgun shell is a cost-effective solution.

For 12 gauge 2 ¾” shotshell, we saved $0.145 per shell. That means for 25 shells you are saving $3.635

For 20 gauge 2 ¾” shotshell, we saved $0.062 per shell. That means for 25 shells you are saving $1.55

For 28 gauge 2 ¾” shotshell, we saved $0.168 per shell. That means for 25 shells you are saving $4.2

For .410 Bore 2 ½” shotshell, we saved $0.212 per shell. That means for 25 shells you are saving $5.3

That means it’s quite evident that in each case, we are saving money by reloading a shotshell.

While the above calculation is based on the current market price and it’s pretty accurate, at the same time, the cost may vary depending on a couple of other factors.

Here, I used lead shots and assumed that you have the hulls already.

But if you don’t want to use lead shots, the cost may vary.

If you don’t have old hulls, then you may want to buy empty hulls. It will add up to the cost.

However, the good thing is, you won’t have to buy the hulls for every reload. You buy it once and use it for 15 to 25 reloads depending on the quality of the hulls.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have any empty or used hulls at all, better buy one pack of a shotgun shell of your desired recipe. Use the shells and save the hull for reloading.

Cost of Reloading Shotgun Shells vs. Buying – Which One is Better?

Well, it depends.

It depends on how frequently and how many shots you need per day.

If you are a hobby shooter, then you might want to buy new shotshells every time you go out for shooting. Purchasing and setting up a reloading press and spending your time for reloading shotgun shell might seem overkilling for you.

On the other hand, if you are a regular shooter and need hundreds of shells per week, then you should opt-in for reloading shells. In that case, setting up a reloading pressOpens in a new tab. is well worth, and in the long run, it will save your money.

To me, reloading shotgun shells is way more cost-effective than buying new shells every time.

How Many Times Can You Reload a Shotgun Shell

It varies hulls to hulls. You can use a hull for reloading as long as the crimp quality remains ok and the shell doesn’t split.

From time to time, the crimp quality will be weaker than before. You will start to see the split, damage, holes, etc. to the crimp area. Consider rejecting the hull at that point.

If you see the hull itself becomes weak and splits, considering rejecting that hull too.

On average, you can expect 15 to 25 reloads using AA or similar hulls.

Read the full guide for shotshell reloadingOpens in a new tab. in this article.

Final Words

After all the calculation and considering different factors, it’s quite apparent that reloading shotshell costs less than buying a new shell.

Mainly, if you are a regular gun user, you must set up a reloading press for reloading shotshellsOpens in a new tab..

I’m sure you can’t agree more.

Now it’s your turn.

Whatever you do, you must follow the reloading data properly.

Kalvin Frank

This is Frank. For the last 5 years, I am in love with hunting and reloading. On this journey, I learned a lot of things. This site is for sharing those experiences with you.

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