This post is meant for folks who reload or thinking about starting to reload, to everybody else you may be bored by the following. In preparation for the aforementioned lee loader review I wanted to share a fun fact I discovered a few months ago while talking about the availability of .22 LR with some other shooting folks. It seems to me that some people in the firearms culture are static when it comes to ammo availability. They obsess over what they can't get instead of seeing the opportunity to see what they can get in order to prepare for the next "paradigm" shift we will experience in this crazy world. IE.....primers are widely available right now, remember in 2007/8 or so when primers were none existent on shelves? AR mags were kind of the same thing there for awhile as well. Now .22 LR has seemed to have held on the longest to being absent from the shelves.
Now, that isn't the fun fact I discovered....the fact is reloading (small center fire pistol) is now cheaper than buying .22LR ammunition (even cheaper if you are REALLY lucky and get it for shelf price of $27) but it seems like everybody has it (2nd hand) at $60 per 550 round bulk packs. This isn't a new fact really for those of us who have reloaded for awhile, but it wasn't until now when I actually looked at the cost and was kind of pleased to see what it was(n't) costing me to shoot as often as I like.
Lets take a look at the numbers really quick, these are prices I have paid within the last 3 months. Store shelf purchased, no special deals here. Though I will admit availability in your area will vary. obviously reloading equipment is not factored in.
1lb of Bullseye powder- $19
1,000 small pistol primers $30
Lead is for the taking really, you just have to know where to look.
Brass...you've been saving your brass haven't you? I have only traded or picked up all the pistol brass I have with few exceptions.
Now on that 1lb of Bullseye, if I'm throwing a common 2.7gr charge it will give me 2592 charges, that is less than 7/10 of a penny per round. Let that sink in for a moment and at the same time remember .22LR is selling between $.05 and $.11 per round....with some brands going for more. The proof is in the math however, start multiplying and we quickly see that in 500 rounds of .38 special we've only used $3.66 worth of powder. Primers??? $15 for that same 500 rounds. That's $18.66 for 500 rounds of ammo.....
You can get well into reloading for under $100, you really don't need much in fact the most expensive thing is going to be a good powder scale. Even if you use a lee loader you will want a good powder scale to double check your charges. Used lee loaders are everywhere and affordable. Even if you want to get into die sets you can still do it for under $100 with a press. My point is be dynamic to the situation, learn to be resourceful as well as frugal as time permits (and resources). If you're not happy with the availability of one commodity like .22 rimfire, don't focus on it especially while the price is so high. Instead look elsewhere for the things you need.
A 2 cavity mold would cost you somewhere around $20 or so from lee, smelting pots can be found cheap at garage sales or flea markets (plumbers pots as well).
This is also a good argument for staying with common calibers like 40 S&W and 9mm.....I don't think I will ever have a want for 9mm brass for all the range pick up I have, same with 40 S&W....and .223 rem in fact. Now obviously there are lots of exceptions, if you have a 50bmg or a 5.7x28 or any other cost not a factor type gun and you don't reload and have not won the lottery or are otherwise well off then reloading is a way for you to shoot that firearm more. Nobody is a master of a safe queen, practice practice practice. May be time to look at options that would allow you more range time, true you may have to buy a gun in a different caliber....but last I checked not a single one of us ever complained about that. Just remember to clean/lube that .22LR gun before you put it up for awhile, this foolishness with the .22 ammo may go on for some time.