Two months ago I attended hands-on instruction and purchased all the equipment and components necessary to begin homeloading.
My plan was to take it slowly due to lack of experience and overall safety involved with this hobby. Rushing through the process is unadvisable especially the charging and seating and eventual unintended results. Looking back there is nothing I would have been done differently. It isn't about breaking a speed record and the process does not need to get done all at one time or in one day.
Before loading a large batch it is best to load three to six rounds according to the recommended formula then go out and test the results. I headed for Kingsbury, packed my three freshly homeloaded rounds into a magazine alternating between four factory loads to see if there was a noticeable difference in feed/eject or recoil. Couldn't tell the difference.
Not long ago I sat down to finish loading 250 rounds in one sitting. One by one I made progress charging and then seating the bullet heads. My powder charge amount was measured precisely between the recommended high and low grain weights. The overall length was .015 less than the recommended size. Cleaning, priming and sizing took place as time permitted during the previous few weeks.
Making notes are very important. Not only for recording into my formula binder but making reference notes that I insert into containers holding either unclean and unprimed brass or cleaned brass that has been sized and primed as well as the finished product. It's important to me that all cases are marked as once-fired, twice-fired, etc. Brass becomes weak the more it is used. But reloading multiple times is where the real savings take place.
My calculations tell me it cost 1/4-1/3 the retail price of fresh-picked retail factory loads in packages of 50. This includes once fired brass, primers, powder and bullet heads, it does not include the cost of the press, scales, tumbler etc. At retail .380 now costs $1-$2 more per 50 than 9mm, about $20. Saving money don't matter that much to me. What matters most is it will cost the same or less to train and practice more often not to mention the warm, fuzzy feeling of accomplishment and self-reliance that follows.
I'll still purchase the fresh-picked garden variety factory ammo in the future if only to up my quantity of future spare once-fired brass when it's available and if the price is fair. For self defense only the finest factory produced CorBon, Speer Gold Dot or Hornady Critical D will do for me. I choose not to load hollow points.
And so it grows. That's 250 .380acp rounds ready to go right there whenever I want them. I'll be loading another batch soon doubling and then tripling my quantity so there is more work to be done. Soon it will be on to homeload .40S&W. As of now I have nearly 500 cleaned once-fired brass cases of .40 waiting. All I need are the dies, some bullet heads and my powder of choice.